Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“How Should I Think About Money” by R.C. Sproul

The Bible is filled with stories, sayings, and observations about money and wealth. Jesus and the rich young ruler. The parable of the man and his barns. The Book of Proverbs. We’re reminded again and again to lay up our treasures in heaven and not on earth. And yet we continue to have to be reminded.

The trick about money and wealth is just that – a trick. We come to see ourselves as the source of our money and contentment. We come to see our wealth (especially in America) as a measure of virtue and moral superiority. It’s all a trick because it’s not really about money. A fixation on money is really a fixation on self.

As part of his Crucial Questions series, R.C. Sproul has produced How Should I Think about Money?. And he starts where he should start – with the concept and definition of stewardship. The Biblical idea of stewardship, in fact, frames the entire book, and he notes the connection between stewardship as taught in the Bible and the academic discipline of economics. How we use our resources, he says, is the concern of both. And the understanding stewardship is the foundation for understanding about money and resources.

R.C. Sproul
The author considers the reasons for poverty, the building of wealth, the theory of value, why money actually is, inflation, interest, and participating in ownership. All of these topics also fall into the province of economics, but what Sproul does is to ground his discussion in Biblical principles.

Sproul is the author of numerous books, articles, sermons, and speeches on Christianity, church history, theology, Calvinism, and related topics. He leads the teaching fellowship Ligonier Ministries, based in Sanford, Florida. The series now includes some 25 topics which are free as eBooks.

How Should I Think about Money? is a primer on the Biblical understanding of money. But it is also something more – a primer on stewardship, and how we are to use the resources God has given us.


Top photograph by Aidan Bartos via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The First Poetry for Children: “Divine Emblems” by John Bunyan

During his lifetime, the English Puritan minister and writer John Bunyan (1628-1688) wrote some 60 works, mostly collections of his sermons. After the death of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, Bunyan spent 12 years in prison for refusing to stop preaching.

John Bunyan
It was during his imprisonment that he began work on his best-known work, still in print today, the allegory Pilgrim’s Progress. The work wasn’t published until 1978, six years after his release from prison.

Bunyan also wrote poetry. Specifically, he wrote poetry for children. First published in 1686, his A Book for Boys and Girls, or, Country Rhimes for Children is considered to be the oldest book of poetry for children. In 1724, the work was renamed Divine Emblems, which makes it sound less for children and more for religious adults.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Top illustration: two pages from the original Divine Emblems.

Monday, September 18, 2017

“The Girl from the Train” by Irma Joubert

It’s 1944 Poland. Gretl, a six-year-old German girl, is on an open-car train with her older sister, mother, and grandmother. She doesn’t understand where the train is going, but the reader does – Auschwitz. Gretl’s mother is half-Jewish, and even though she was married to a now-dead SS officer, the family has too much Jewish blood to be exempt from the Final Solution.

The train cars are not locked; Gretl’s sister jumps first. And then Gretl jumps and tumbles down the embankment. She’s to meet up with her sister, and then together they’ll find their mother and grandmother, who also plan to jump. Except the train reaches a bridge – and the bridge has been wired with a bomb. The target was an expected German troop train; no one in the guerilla Polish Home Army unit expected the train headed the other way, to Auschwitz.

Gretl hears the explosions but doesn’t make the connection to the train. She eventually finds her sister, who after years in the ghetto is extremely sick, and dying from tuberculosis. The are found by Polish partisans and taken to a farm family. The teenaged boy who set the bomb, Jakob Kowalski, takes Gretle to his family, where she will live for the next four years. She has to keep quiet about her Jewish blood; Jakob’s family likes Jews even less than Germans.

Based on actual accounts, The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert is the story of Gretl and Jakob. It moves from the family farm, to the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis (which the Russian Red Army, across the Vistula River from Warsaw, sat out), to the program that took German war orphans to South Africa for adoption, and to the first decade of Poland under Soviet communist rule.

Despite the 13 years difference in their ages, the little German girl and the Polish teenager forge a strong and tender relationship. It’s one that will span decades and continents, experience separation and reunion, and eventually have to battle through religious and ethnic intolerance.

Irma Joubert
Joubert is the author of two novels in Afrikaans, Ver Wink die Suidenkruis and Tolbos, and two other novels in English, Child of the River and The Crooked Path. A graduate of the University of Pretoria, she taught history for 35 years. She lives in South Africa.

The Girl from the Train tells a little-known story – what life was like in rural Poland during World War II and its aftermath – and combines it with other little-known stories, like the German war orphans and South Africa’s role in World War II. It slows a bit in the early South African middle, but it becomes a fascinating, engrossing story of a relationship that survives despite everything thrown against it.

Top photograph by Tom Barrett via Unsplash. Used with permission.