Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee


The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy by The Babylon Bee. Salem Books. 256 pages. 2022
#guidetodemocracy
****

The latest of The Babylon Bee Guides is The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy. It is a hilarious look at all aspects of our democracy, from the founding of our nation to how our money is spent by the government. The book is essentially a graphic novel that had me laughing all the way through it. It is dedicated to “the one true president Donald J. Trump, long may he reign”.
The book begins by looking at some of the different forms of government used throughout history and the origin story of our democracy (technically a constitutional republic). According to historical fact, in answer to a prayer from George Washington in the late 1700’s, God handed down his chosen form of government: DEMOCRACY.
The book then humorously looks at how democracy works by reviewing the branches of the government, including the Corporate Branch, which writes the laws and hands them off to Congress for a quick sign-off. We are told that every branch is sacred and worthy of our respect.

The book then turns to the centerpiece of democracy – elections – and how to participate in them to make sure our votes are counted. For example, if you are a Calvinist, blindfold yourself and vote for random people to place it all in God’s hands.
We read of George Washington’s foundations (he was a child named Kirin-El sent to Earth from a doomed planet in another galaxy to Mary and Augustine Washington), the “completely true” story of the Revolutionary War and a closer look at the Founding Fathers. For example, John Hancock was the inventor of the signature and cousin to Herbie.
We read that there is nothing so important in our identity as our political party. It is the most significant thing about us, and we are given a flowchart to help us determine what party we are.
The book does a deep-dive on the legislative, executive, judicial, and corporate branches of government, and provides a handy list of your constitutional rights (including some “lesser-known” rights).
We are told that experts have found that every election that we participate in is the most important election in the history of the universe and that if our side loses, it is the end of democracy as we know it. We are told how to rig an election so that we can win every time. If we win, it was the fairest election in the history of the world. If we lose, it was the most rigged and unfair election ever held in the history of the universe.
The important thing to remember about the Electoral College is that it is racist and anti-democratic, unless our side wins the election. Then, it is fair and balanced and a bastion of true democracy in the world.
We read about insurrections and mostly peaceful protests, how to tell the difference between the two, and how to destroy those who disagree with you – including how to win an argument on social media, and how to own your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner. We read about the government’s relationship with money, and that the government doesn’t make any money so it has to take yours by force.
The book includes a helpful glossary. A few of my favorite definitions are:

  • CNN – The nation’s most popular, reliable, and trustworthy satire site.
  • Separation of Church and State. An important legal principle designed to prevent the worship of God from interfering with the worship of government.
  • Undocumented Immigrant – A Democratic voter.

Like any good book, each chapter has a helpful “Chapter Review” with probing questions. Some of my favorite questions were:

  • What’s the Revolutionary War going on in your life now? Give it to God.
  • Is Jesus Christ the founding father in your life? Why not?
  • Can you identify the bureaucracy in your life? Ask God to break those chains right now.
  • Which one of these amendments personally spoke to your heart? Why?
  • What is the election in your life that you need to focus on?
  • Are you more of an insurrectionist or a peaceful protestor?

This creative book is full of the type of satirical humor that you expect from The Babylon Bee.  Highly recommended for those who could use a laugh.


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


What Are We Waiting For? for KING & COUNTRY
***

The Australian duo for KING & COUNTRY, comprised of brothers Joel Smallbone and Luke Smallbone, follow up their 2018 album Burn the Ships and their 2020 Christmas album A Drummer Boy Christmas with What Are We Waiting For? Their fifth studio album features their distinctive sound of bass, drums and strong vocals. Themes on the album include being the same in different ways, letting go of mistakes we’ve made, God loving us as we are, racial unity, holding on till the pain ends, parents, commitment in marriage, differences, and worship.

Below are a few brief comments about each song:

Relate – This song was the first single from the album and was written by Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Josh Kerr and Tayla Parx, and produced by Kerr, Tedd T and for KING & COUNTRY. The song, which reached number one on Christian radio, features keys, bass, drums, and backing vocals, and tells us that we don’t know what it’s like to be one another but by the grace of God we’ll see each other’s heart.
Key lyric:
I don’t know what it’s like to be you
You don’t know what it’s like to be me
What if we’re all the same in different kinds of ways
Can you, can you relate?

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and a brief review of Milk & Honey Tour: Austin City Limits Live – Crowder
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith and Kristyn Getty & Michael W. Smith

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign? (Crucial Questions) by R.C. Sproul. Ligonier Ministries. 77 pages. 2022
****

This is one of the newest books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, all of which are free in the digital edition. These books/booklets offer clear answers to the most common and difficult questions about the Christian faith. In this volume, Sproul looks at God’s sovereignty over nothing, creation, salvation, human actions and evangelism.
Sproul writes that when we say that God is sovereign, we are saying that His power is supreme in all reality, and no power in heaven or on earth can possibly resist the power of God. He tells us that there are four ways that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over nature. He is sovereign over history and human affairs. And He is sovereign in His inherent right to impose obligations on His creatures, to say to them, “Thou shalt not do this” and “Thou shalt do that.” He writes that God is sovereign, not we ourselves, and His sovereignty extends to all things, not only the creation of the world but the sustaining and governing of the world, and what we describe as the laws of nature only describe the ordinary ways that God in His sovereignty governs nature.
As with all of Sproul’s teaching, he communicates what can be hard to understand subjects in an easy-to-understand manner.

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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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Tim Keller’s How to Find God Series of Books

Tim Keller published three short books – On Birth, On Marriage and On Death – in his How to Find God series. Tim Keller’s aim in his How to Find God series is to help readers facing major life changes to think about what constitutes the truly changed life. The purpose is to give readers the Christian foundations for life’s most important and profound moments, beginning with birth and baptism, moving into marriage, and concluding with death.

The foundation of the three books is a sermon Keller preached at his wife Kathy’s sister’s funeral in 2018. Here are my reviews of each of the books; On Birth is the first book in the series.


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THIS & THAT: A Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • How Should Christians View Sunday? Sinclair Ferguson writes “Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be “Father’s Day!” Thus, if here and now we learn the pleasures of a God-given weekly rhythm, it will no longer seem strange to us that the eternal glory can be described as a prolonged Sabbath!”
  • God-Centered Prayer. Derek Thomas tells us that our prayers reveal much about us.
  • 6 Ways Christians Can Respond to Our Strange New World. Carl Trueman writes “Sooner or later every single one of us is likely to be faced with a challenging situation generated by the modern notion of selfhood. And this means that for all of us the questions of how we should live and what we should do when facing pressure to conform are gaining in urgency. Here are six ways Christians should respond to this new world.”
  • 5 Ways to Maintain Unity amid Disagreement. Dan Doriani writes “We may want fellow believers to agree on social issues, but a church that opens its doors to its community—a church where unbelievers gladly attend—can expect both members and attenders to sometimes disagree. Is there a better way to maintain a unified community amid disagreement?”

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  • More interesting article links
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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How Can We Be Salt and Light in the Workplace?

In his “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus calls his disciples to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”:  
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Hugh Whelchel, in his article “Jesus Showed Us That Being Salt and Light is True Power” shares this quote from John Stott about being the salt of the earth and light of the world:
“The world, he says, is like rotting meat. But you are to be the world’s salt. The world is like a dark night, but you are to be the world’s light. This is the fundamental difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, the church and the world.”
What does it mean to be salt and light in the workplace? In his book Living Salty and Light-Filled Lives in the Workplace , Luke Bobo tells us that work is the most logical and likely place where Christians should be making the greatest impact. Salty and light-filled workers influence their peers; they push back the effects of sin and expose darkness.  When we live salty and light-filled lives in the workplace, others will witness or see our good works and give God our Father praise. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


What’s It Gonna Take? by Van Morrison
*** ½

This is Van Morrison’s 43rd studio album, following 2021’s Latest Record Project Vol. 1. See my review of that album here. With the fourteen new songs here, Morrison has now released an amazing forty-two songs over the past year.
The album cover features a couple running away from the city on puppet strings with “Wake Up” in the background. Many of the songs on the album are about Morrison’s reaction to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. I write this review from the perspective of living in a state that had some of the strongest COVID restrictions in the U.S. I’m also writing from the perspective of someone who nearly lost his brother to the virus.
My wife and I saw Morrison in concert two weeks before this album’s release. His voice is still an incredible instrument at age 76, as he leads his incredible band, showcased on this album. Morrison did not perform any of the songs on this new album in the concert.
Although some may disagree with some of the lyrics on the album, few will disagree that Morrison and his band deliver excellent performances here. Themes on the album are the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions (depression, misery and strife), the need to fight back, freedom, government lies, the media/fake news, free speech and celebrity.
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  • More of this review
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ The Goodness by TobyMac, featuring Blessing Offor

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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:

Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck. Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. 2022
***

Alan Shipnuck conducted nearly two hundred interviews for this book (players, caddies, swing coaches, etc.). He only spoke to Phil Mickelson once for the book, and that one call has caused all sorts of problems for Mickelson (his comments about Saudi Arabia and the PGA Tour), which continue to this day.
The author writes that Mickelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of six major championships and 45 PGA Tour wins, tied for eighth all-time, is an enigma. His fans adore “Lefty”, who responds to their cheers with a grin and a “thumbs up”. But his longtime caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay (who Mickelson owed $900,000), stated “Nobody knows Phil Mickelson. Nobody. I spent twenty-five years standing next to the guy and he’s still a total mystery to me.”
In this book, the author shares both positives (how he has helped other players, his philanthropic work, his generosity with those in the service industry, and his random acts of kindness), and negatives (his ties with men of ill repute, his huge gambling debts – he had gambling losses totaling more than $40 million in the four-year period 2010–14) – and becoming involved in a messy insider-trading case) about Mickelson.3 The author tells us that the book is an attempt to reconcile the multitudes within Mickelson, and help us understand who the real Phil Mickelson is.

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BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
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Why Do So Few Believe in Jesus Today?

Recently, as we were waiting in our car to go into a business, we watched as an employee bowed down repeatedly before a statue of Buddha that was surrounded by candy and candles. About a week before that, my wife Tammy had a conversation with a family friend who admitted that she had absolutely no interest in God, and never has. These two situations made me think about why so few believe in Jesus today. Here are some random and somewhat rambling thoughts about that.
We live in an increasingly secular culture today. As I was growing up, few businesses were open on Sunday. Now, it is the rare (Chick fil-A, Hobby Lobby) business that is closed on Sunday; everything else is open. Why is this so?
Research studies confirm the increasingly secular nature of our culture. For example, the Pew Research Center tells us that about three in ten U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones”, those who describe themselves as not having any religious identity. Membership in houses of worship continued to decline in 2021, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. Continue reading