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All of a sudden, we are surrounded by myth. As parable-based religion has receded from the public square, heroic myth, and the competitive virtues it celebrates, has rushed in to fill the space. …

[Myths] tend to see the line between good and evil as running between groups, not, as in parable, down the middle of every human heart.

David Brooks, “The Fourth Great Awakening,” The New York Times (Jun 20, 2018)

On a three-axis chart of holiness, capitalism, and lumbar flexibility, [Ramdev] occupies a point beyond anyone else on Earth. …

“This earth, sun, and all of nature are doing their jobs without any expectation,” Ramdev said, burping midway through the sentence. “So I am doing my job.” …

In speeches and on TV, the yogi blamed India’s unhealthy bodies on foreign products, which he called “poison.” The nation suffered from “self-confusion,” and he promised to restore it to strength through the “traditional sciences practiced by our great hermits.” An India where everyone practiced his yoga would be an India without disease or sin.

Ben Crair, “This Multibillion-Dollar Corporation Is Controlled by a Penniless Yoga Superstar,” Bloomberg Businessweek (Mar 15, 2018 at 1:30 PM)

“Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons?” /

Russell Moore, “Watchful Dragons: Neil Gaiman’s Brush with Narnia Lingers,” Touchstone (Mar/Apr 2018)

Narnia, after all, was initially created to rescue a sense of the sacred from the established church and from what Inklings biographers Philip and Carol Zaleski describe as “the moralistic sentimentality by which it has been deadened” (The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, 2015, p. 390). This was why, Lewis concluded, he didn’t feel the weight of the stories of Scripture. They were too familiar to him.

“But suppose that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency?” Lewis wondered, in retrospect. “Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could” (ibid.). …

But how did Lewis do this? It wasn’t his characters. As the other Inklings knew, Narnia wasn’t a carefully constructed mythic sub-creation, as Tolkien’s Middle Earth was. But for many of us, including Gaiman, there was something else at work in Aslan’s realm.

“The weird things about the Narnia books for me was that mostly they seemed true,” Gaiman reflected. “These were reports from a real place” (Laura Miller, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventure in Narnia, 2008, p. 23). …

“Sometimes fiction is a way of coping with the poison of the world in a way that lets us survive it,” he recounts. “And I remembered. I would not be the person I am without the authors who made me what I am—the special ones, the wise ones, sometimes just the ones who got there first.”

“It’s not irrelevant, those moments of connection, those places where fiction saves your life,” Gaiman continues. “It’s the most important thing there is.” Indeed, it is. And perhaps there is more yet of Neil Gaiman left to be saved. …

Even in the sterilized secularity of the West, there are yet signposts in a strange land. There are yet intimations of interest in something, or someone, just out of reach, even when those intimations are safely hidden away in science fiction or fantasy. Christians should take note. Perhaps the way to speak to a transcendence-starved West might include not only a cathedral liturgy or a revival tent, but also, even still, a lion, a witch, and a doorway, just where one least expects it, to Narnia.

Paradigms in Conflict /

I wish David Hesselgrave’s 2005 book, Paradigms in Conflict, was available as an ebook. I could spirit it here, to “where there is no bookstore,” or to other laborers abroad. I first found it on a cast-off clearance shelf not long after it was published. I’m glad to have stumbled across it; most Christian bookstores don’t even have a missions section. If we avoid tough questions in missions, it should come as no surprise that it remains in conflict.

Hesselgrave is a former pastor, missionary, missions administrator and professor. He asks “10 key questions in Christian missions today,” as it says in the book’s subtitle (and listed below). He is discerning and brave in writing Paradigms. He not only perceives the issues spot on, he is not afraid to give thoughtful and biblical answers. There is always the temptation when in conflict to be defensive, complacent or agnostic.

Many missionaries and theologians talk past each other because of a difference in underlying assumptions. The confusion is even more-so when proponents defend their views using Scripture verses. We need grace and help to understand and apply “the whole counsel of God” to missions together. Which of these 10 questions can Paradigms help you think through?

  1. Sovereignty and Free Will: An Impossible Mix or a Perfect Match?
  2. Restrictivism and Inclusivism: Is This Missions Trip Really Necessary?
  3. Common Ground and Enemy Territory: How Should We Approach Adherents of Other Faiths?
  4. Holism and Prioritism: For Whom Is the Gospel Good News?
  5. Incarnationalism and Representationalism: Who Is Our Missionary Model — Jesus or Paul?
  6. Power Encounter and Truth Encounter: What Is Essential in Spiritual Warfare?
  7. Amateurization and Professionalization: A Call for Missionaries or a Divine Calling?
  8. Form and Meaning: How Does the Inspiration of Scripture “In-form” Contextualization and Make It “Meaning-full”?
  9. Countdowns and Prophetic Alerts: If We Go in Force, Will He Come in Haste?
  10. The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ: What on Earth Is God Building — Here and Now?

It is easier to comprehend the cosmos than to comprehend the ego; it is easier even to know where you are than to know who you are. We have forgotten our own meaning, and we are all wandering the streets without keepers. All that we call commonsense and practicality and worldly wisdom only means that we forget that we have forgotten. All that we mean by religion and poetry only means that for one wild moment we remember that we forget.

—G. K. Chesterton

In Doug TenNapel, “It is easier to comprehend the cosmos than to comprehend the ego…” (Dec 2, 2014)