September 21st, 2016

he was exalted above the heavens into the presence of God on our behalf

It is in the cosmic flow of existence 9:53 AM Wednesday morning. Outside it is raining and thundering.

I got up this morning around 7 o'clock AM. I got up made a pot of coffee and ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I ate my cereal while messing with our main computer. After messing with our main computer I wrote in my paper diary and then read for devotions from a book titled, "God has Spoken in his Son: A biblical theology of Hebrews" by Peter T. O'Brien.

Carol got home from work 8:40 AM and has gone to bed for the day.

There is not much else to report at this present time. Last night I read and went to bed my usual time. I mainly read last night the novel, "Serena" by Ron Rash.

Carol yesterday had invited a young family Ross & Alicia and their two small children from her church to stop by so she could give Ross a bag of Christian books she had me buy for him from the library used books store. Ross plans to be a gospel minister in the future and Carol thought some Christian books might be useful as he prepare's to preach the Gospel of Christ/the Bible.

Ross and I had a good time talking about spiritual realities like for example Reformed Covenantal Theology.

I showed Ross my library and he was completely blown away!

I showed Ross a ton of books but failed to show him these books which are the ones I have been reading lately-

"Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation" by Michael Allen & Scott R. Swain

"Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology For The Church Catholic" Edited by Michael Allen & Scott R. Swain

"A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation" Edited By Craig G. Bartholomew & Heath A. Thomas

"Theology and the Mirror of Scripture: A Mere Evangelical Account" by Kevin J. Vanhoozer & Daniel J. Treier

"Progressive Covanantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenant Theologies" Editors" Stephen J. Wellum & Brent E. Parker

"The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective" Edited by Scot McKnight & Joseph B. Modica

"Making All Things New: Inaugurated Eschatology for the Life of the Church" by Benjamin L. Gladd & Matthew S. Harmon

"A Treatise On True Theology" by Franciscus Junius With The Life Of Franciscus Junius Translated By David C. Noe

"The Presence Of God: Its Place In The Storyline Of Scripture And The Story Of Our Lives" by J. Ryan Lister

"Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? A Narrative Approach To The Problem Of Pauline Christianity" by J. R. Daniel Kirk

"The Epistle to the Romans" [The New International Greek Testament Commentary] by Richard N. Longenecker

"God Has Spoken: A History Of Christian Theology" by Gerald Bray

Carol told me the other day that Ross was 27 years old. It was ages ago when I was 27 years old. I think when I was 27 years old I was still living in Richmond, California. I will have to check my Time Line to make sure. I think I was 28 years old when Carol and I got married.

Ross is married and works full time and has two small children and his wife Alicia is pregnant. Ross told me he starts next year a ministerial internship at Carol's church Covenant PCA.

I am sure Ross and I could have talked for hours last night, but Carol had to go to work and Ross and Alicia had to put their children to bed. I told Ross to feel free to stop by anytime. Ross has been taking classes online so as to get a degree in Christian leadership.

Well, I suppose I will close to drift through the day. There is no way out.

old diary entry

"[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
[2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
[4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
[5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Second Timothy 4:1-5
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old diary entry October 29, 2014

the American nightmare

Time Fragment
1986 graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson Miss.-we moved to Houston Texas Fall of 1986
(My minister internship at Covenant PCA Houston, Texas with Dr. Joey Pipa Jr. 1986-1988. Joey left for Calif. and I looked for a call and never received one. I remembered the Lord using these two books to keep me from cracking up. The books were these two "Waking From The American Dream: Growing Through Your Disappointments" by Donald W. McCullough and "God's Waiting Room: Hope In The Midst Of Uncertainty" by Rick Yohn. )
1991 We left Texas and moved here to Holland July 1991-we have lived in this house from July 1991 till October 29, 2014

It is 7:49 AM Wednesday morning in the flow of my Life time. Yesterday morning I dug out of a box of sermon cassettes a sermon I preached at Covenant Presbyterian Church in America January 27, 1987 on First John 2:29; 3:1 "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him" 1 John 2:29;3:1. I did not listen to all of the sermon because Carol came home from visiting one of her uncles (this uncle is 93 years old-his wife died soon after they had celebrated 70 years of marriage).

I thought my sermon was not bad-it was not a smooth delivery, but it had heart. I did sprinkle throughout the sermon Reformed Theology which was where I was at back then. I did mention though in the sermon Franciscan mysticism. When we lived in Houston doing my ministerial internship I got into Christian Spirituality/the Contemplative Life.

I did not my internship between 1987 and 1988 at Covenant PCA. But when I finished my internship we did not leave Houston till 1991. For three years I looked for a call from a PCA church or any conservative Presbyterian church to get ordained and begin my life as a Teaching Elder. I spent three years searching but there was nothing. I could not find the Church. Where was the Church? Where did the Church live? What was the telephone number of the Church? I was left absolutely alone those years in Texas. But I had my wife and kids. I had our dog Mack and my books to keep me going down the road of death.

Finally Carol and I decided it was time to leave Texas and move to Holland Michigan to raise our kids and be close to her family. By this time Carol's Dad had died and her mother was a widow. Well more could be written but it has all been written about here in the past.

I have nothing to do today super important. Existence keeps on decaying. No way out.

8:10 a.m. - 2014-10-29

"[12] Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
[13] Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
[14] For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Hebrews 13:12-14
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Review of the novel "Serena"

Review of the novel "Serena" The Murderess of Smoky Mountain by Ron Rash found in the Washington Post 2008

Serena, the Lady Macbeth of Ron Rash's stirring new novel, wouldn't fret about getting out the damned spot. She wouldn't even wash her hands; she'd just lick it off. I couldn't take my eyes off this villainess, and any character who does ends up dead. Alluring and repellant, she's the engine in a gothic tale of personal mayhem and environmental destruction set in the mountains of North Carolina during the Depression.

We meet her as the new bride of a timber baron arriving to survey 34,000 acres of virgin land that she and her husband, Pemberton, hope to strip as quickly as possible. The other investors don't bring their wives into the mountains like this, but Serena is no ordinary wife. At the start of the novel, the newlyweds are intercepted at the train station by the father of a pregnant 16-year-old girl. Pemberton can't even remember her name, but he doesn't doubt she's carrying his baby; Serena is unfazed. "You're a lucky man," she tells the girl's father, who's seething with drunken rage. "You'll not find a better sire to breed her with." Then she turns to the girl: "But that's the only one you'll have of his. I'm here now."

Yikes, is she ever. Wearing her leather jodhpurs and black boots, she strides through the story that follows with frightening self-confidence. She speaks with unquestioned authority to Pemberton's employees, rough-hewn men who've lived in these isolated hills for generations. The orphaned daughter of a wealthy timber man in Colorado, she immediately impresses even the most skeptical lumberjacks with her shrewd knowledge of the business. She can calculate board feet just by glancing at a towering tree, and though she attended finishing school in New England, she prefers the Spartan accommodations of her husband's Appalachian camp. "Money freed to buy more timber tracts," she reassures him. Drill, baby, drill!

Rash portrays them as the perfect power couple, not a match made in heaven, perhaps, but someplace much lower. "Their meeting wasn't mere good fortune," Serena insists, "but inevitability." A strapping, commanding man of 27, Pemberton is thrilled to have found a woman so in tune with his spirit, even if she sometimes pushes him toward actions more deadly than prudent. Nothing heats up their bed more than rubbing out a too-cautious investor or a potential opponent. Holding Serena in his arms, feeling her "severe keenness," he's filled with "a sense of being unshackled into some limitless possibility."

Serena is a blazing expansion of a short story in Rash's 2007 collection, Chemistry. Among other things, the longer form gives Rash room to set the ambitions of this rapacious couple against a seminal moment in the environmental movement. Even as Pemberton and Serena dream of denuding every mountain in Appalachia, the secretary of the interior, with backing from John D. Rockefeller, is aggressively buying up and seizing property for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Owners like Pemberton could make a fortune by raping the land before they lost or sold it to the government. Rash gracefully folds this history into his fictional drama and includes several other real-life figures, such as the nature writer Horace Kephart.

The political battle that rumbles in the background of the novel is all too sadly reminiscent of the one we're still fighting over vast tracts of untouched land. Rash, who teaches Appalachian cultural studies at Western Carolina University, constantly reminds us of what's at stake: "As the crews moved forward," he writes, "they left behind an ever-widening wasteland of stumps and slash, brown clogged creeks awash with dead trout. . . . The valley and ridges resembled the skinned hide of some huge animal."

But Rash's description of the laborers is filled with awe for the hellish conditions they endure, working six 11-hour shifts a week, in all weather. When winter arrives, frostbite is a fair trade for snakebites. In startling, brief scenes, we see men sliced, impaled, drowned and crushed. "Some used cocaine to keep going and stay alert," he writes, "because once the cutting began a man had to watch for axe blades glancing off trees and saw teeth grabbing a knee and the tongs on the cable swinging free or the cable snapping. . . . If you could gather up all the severed body parts and sew them together, you'd gain an extra worker every month." As the Depression grinds on, though, there are always cheap, willing replacements.

In addition to writing short stories, Rash is also a fine poet, and he brings a poet's concision and elliptical tendencies to this novel. As a result, these scenes and conversations constantly suggest more than they show, a technique that renders them alluring, sometimes erotic, often frightening. And his restraint is a necessity to keep this gothic tale from slipping into campiness. That's a real danger when you've got a beautiful murderess striding around the forest with a pet eagle on her wrist and a one-armed goon at her side. Frankly, it's sometimes difficult to catch the author's tone in these passages; the book seems deadly serious, but there are moments -- the bizarre battle between Serena's eagle and a komodo dragon, for instance -- when one suspects that Rash is rolling his eyes, too. But this is the challenge of the gothic novel: managing the accretion of excesses in a way that doesn't break the spell. The blind hag who delivers prophesies to the lumbermen, the insane preacher who warns of impending doom, even the portentous eclipse of the moon -- all these details rise up just right. The only weakness may be Serena herself; as her ambitions begin to outpace her husband's, I couldn't help feeling that she was shrinking toward a caricature of evil.

But by then, it's too hypnotic to break away from. Innocent people are in peril, and calamity seems as unstoppable as the millions of board feet Pemberton's men send surging down the river. And the final chapter is as flawless and captivating as anything I've read this year, a perfectly creepy shock that will leave you hearing nothing but the wind between the stumps.

Ron Charles is a senior editor of Book World. He can be reached at
  • Current Mood
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a photo of my brother Mike who works for the Washington Post newspaper

photo of my brother Mike

Was sent out to cover the Great Frederick Fair and I passed this Trump booth. I really had work to do but a Trumpster saw that I was a member of the Lame Stream Media and insisted that I get my picture taken with his favorite new sign. I tried to say "no thanks" but he REALLY insisted and then I remembered that these are serious second amendment folks and thought it was safest to just comply. Apparently the sign is a big hit...I just had to ask him why folks would embrace being called deplorable and the answer was very interesting, "To be honest, I think a lot of them don't know what the word means."
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Ron Rash

"God has Spoken in his Son: A Biblical theology of Hebrews" by Peter T. O'Brien

"The Letter To The Hebrews" [The Pillar New Testament Commentary] by Peter T. O'Brien

"The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance" by Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday

"Hermeneutics as Apprenticeship: How the Bible Shapes Our Interpretive Habits and Practices" by David I. Starling

"Serena" a novel by Ron Rash

"Above the Waterfall" a novel by Ron Rash

"The Cove" a novel by Ron Rash

"The World Made Straight" a novel by Ron Rash

"Chanel: A Woman of Her Own" a biography by Axel Madsen

"Roxana" a novel by Daniel Defoe

"Once Is Not Enough" a novel by Jacqueline Susann

"The Lost Girl" a novel by D.H. Lawrence

"The Horse's Mouth" a novel by Joyce Cary

"Honorable Men" a novel by Louis Auchincloss

"The Book Of Revelation" a novel by Rupert Thomson

"Mr. Bedford And The Muses" Stories by Gail Godwin

"The Friends of Freeland" a novel by Brad Leithauser

"In Paradise" a novel by Peter Matthiessen

"Portrait Of An Artist, As An Old Man" a novel by Joseph Heller

"Einstein's Dreams" a novel by Alan Lightman

"The Diagnosis" a novel by Alan Lightman

"White Trash Cooking" by Ernest Matthew Mickler

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