June 21, 2007

Family Camp

Category: Literature,Updates :: Permalink

Last week, Moriah and I attended Reformation Covenant Church‘s annual family camp on the Oregon coast near Rockaway Beach.  We arrived Sunday evening and returned home again Saturday.

The speaker this year was Peter Leithart, who gave a series of lectures on prayer.  In the first, he told us that he had only two things to say all week: (1) Pray, and (2) Pray according to the Scriptures.  But of course that last exhortation was the one that we often need unpacked more, which he proceeded to do, showing us some things in the Scriptures that ought not only to encourage us to pray but also to shape our prayers.

For instance, he spent part of one lecture dealing with whether we are righteous.  James says that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, but, some say, we aren’t righteous.  We’re miserable sinners.  Leithart strongly emphasized that in Christ we are righteous and, more than that, that God is changing us to be faithful and righteous.  This promise in James isn’t only for specially holy people; it’s meant to comfort all of us and move us to pray fervently.

A couple of the lectures dealt with the imprecatory prayers in Scripture and with the authority of believers and of the church to pass the sorts of judgments contained in the imprecatory psalms.  Other lectures covered such matters as unanswered prayers and the relationship between personal prayer and corporate liturgical prayer.  The lectures are available from Reformation Covenant Church.

I very much like the camp’s schedule.  There was a lecture in chapel in the morning and one in the evening, both begun with some very enthusiastic and beautiful singing led by Mark Reagan from Moscow, Idaho, who taught us several songs, some of which he himself composed.  But the rest of the day was basically free.  There were games and competitions.  Some people went to the beach.  Some sat and read.  Almost every evening there was a campfire, one evening there was a ball, and the final evening was the talent night.  I’d highly recommend this camp to you.

We greatly enjoyed spending time with some old friends and meeting some new ones.

During the camp, I finished up Gene Wolfe’s magnificent The Wizard, which is the second volume of his two-volume novel The Wizard Knight.  The ending, as if often the case with Wolfe’s books, made me want to start reading the novel from the beginning all over again, looking for clues I’d missed and trying to figure out some of the stuff that I didn’t catch the first time.

I also read a good chunk of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I highly recommend, not only for the main story, which is about a literature prof in Iran during the Islamic revolution, but also for its discussion of several novels, including Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice.  She made me want to read the books she was discussing.  I especially appreciated her approach to Pride and Prejudice, treating it as a sort of dance, where the characters draw together and then apart in various combinations.

I also started read Brendan O’Donnell’s Rain from a Rainless Sky: A Work of Theological Botany.  Brendan is a friend of mine and this book was his dissertation at New St. Andrews College.

I had heard some time ago that Brendan was doing his dissertation on sagebrush, and sagebrush is indeed what this book is about.  But it’s also about the symbolism of the world God has created and why God, who spoke the world into existence, has created “words” like sagebrush and places such as the desert of western Washington.  It’s about apostasy, and how thorns and thistles can grow in the church and choke out life.  It’s about the history of Israel and the coming of Jesus.  It’s about Gene Robinson, the homosexual bishop of New Hampshire, and about Peter Akinola, the bishop of Nigeria. 

Brendan writes well.  He makes you smell and feel and perhaps even taste the sagebrush, nor does he rush to give you answers or the finished results of his meditations on why there is such a thing as sagebrush.  He makes you share his quest and his questions.  Would that there were more such books.

And now that I’m home, by the way, I’m reading N. D. Wilson’s Leepike Ridge, which is a very fun young adults adventure story.  C’mon: Buy a copy and let’s cataput Nate into teenage stardom (albeit a bit late).

Posted by John Barach @ 11:49 am | Discuss (0)

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