Excerpt: Blue Planet II

I recently wrote an essay about the excellent BBC documentary Blue Planet II for Think Christian. Here’s a snippet. You can read the full thing here. Viva la mer!

To understand the consequences of our authority and vulnerability run amok, we must start with a sense of the glory of our only world. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved nature documentaries. When I first encountered Blue Planet, the David Attenborough-narrated BBC masterpiece, I was captivated. Now, 17 years later, we have Blue Planet II, a fascinating sequel balancing delight in the wonder of creation, and lamenting the role humans have played in its destruction.

Each episode of Blue Planet II reveals a window into a world usually hidden from view below the water. Racing pods of dolphins joining schools of tuna and pods of whales to feast in the vast open ocean. Teams of sea lions hunting fish in the rocky lagoons of the Galapagos. The first glimpse ever at the teeming life on the Antarctic sea floor. The entire series resounds with the wonder and intricacy of God’s creation.

Excerpt: Embodied Psalms

I recently wrote a short piece for Think Christian about a less recent mountain biking excursion with my oldest son. The ride was as near a perfect afternoon as I’ve had with him and I’m pleased with how my short essay turned out. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Riding in the slipstream of an almost 7-year-old’s exhilaration as we sped through Louisville’s Turkey Run Park, it clicked that mountain biking is like an embodied psalm. I watched my son, the boy whom, for better or worse, I am helping to mold, and I saw him in a way similar to how God my Father might see me when I, his child, take joy in what he provides. At the same time, I could look at the beauty of the land—the hills, the trees, the creek, the occasional panicked squirrel—and be humbled by the expanse of God’s promiscuous outpouring of creativity. And what are the psalms but attempts to see the world like God sees it, while also bowing before his greatness?

You can read the rest here. And while you’re there, check out their other good work.

Excerpt: the grace we are built to bear

While Our Man is stripped of the kind of hope he’d always known, the director, JC Chandor, never lets us escape beauty. His shots of the stillness, and expanse of the ocean, his gift of the silence of Our Man’s solitude—unspoiled by dramatic music or inner monologue—give even this disaster a resonant grandeur. The most affecting reminders of goodness come when Chandor shoots the raft from below, finding tiny fish and other sea creatures gathered in the sanctuary of Our Man’s raft. The images are electric, jolts of life in stark contrast to the endless austerity Our Man sees to the horizon. Even this ocean, harsh to a man, nurtures any life willing to depend on its provenance, built to receive it (which Our Man is not. His free will has lead him beyond the grace he was built to bear).

This excerpt is taken from All Must Be Lost or How to Live When Lost at Sea, a reflection on the 2013 film starring Robert Redford and a most unfortunate boat.

Excerpt: a fellowship of the redeemed

Excerpt: a fellowship of the redeemed

This is an excerpt of an essay called ‘In Community Group with David Foster Wallace’ that can be read in full at The Gospel Coalition blog.

Wouldn’t this be a great kind of church, a great community to be a part of? One filled with listeners who identified your pain as part of their own. One of such un-pretense that even the most bottomless confession is received with grace by people who all count themselves as the chief sinner. One of such consistency that the people live life together instead of merely gathering when they feel like they need it and scattering until the next crisis. This sounds like the kind of community that would give life. This sounds like the kind of community that is so thoroughly and humbly acquainted with themselves that they can see Jesus with a magnificent, binding clarity. This is not [high-achieving, upper middle class][1] Christianish-ity[2]. This is a true fellowship of the redeemed.

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[1] Edit thought up while driving to work, made post publication at TGC

[2] TGC editors calmed Christianish-ity down as ‘Christianity’, perhaps understandably not wanting the homophone sounded out by the double suffix on their blog. Though, that’s kind of the joke.

Excerpt: Sold our own demand

I am limited, though. I can only take in so much information before, overwhelmed, I begin to forget. Who can remember everything they have read, seen, heard, or even themselves said? Yet this unlimited access to information is ever on hand and offered as a sacrament. Some digi-evangelion, the gateway to a better life. Information has become so saturate as to flow like water from our screens. The preachers at the riverbank, that’s the marketing department. They call to us, ‘Wade in and be born into this new life.’ Baptized, full submersion. We have indeed been born away by the flood…

If this stream of information which data bears to us breaks over our limited minds and washes away lasting impressions, what does Sprint really mean when they compel me to be unlimited? Here it comes to a fine point: Sprint doesn’t really care if I am actually unlimited (I am not). They simply want me to feel unlimited as I consume their product because then I would ostensibly consume it limitlessly, which is a handy trait to have in a customer when you’re selling something and you’d like it to be expensive. What we are really being sold is our own demand, by which we will be sold more.

This portion was excerpted from ‘You Deserve To Be Unlimited’.