Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer: A Biography impressed me from the start. I was skeptical coming in because I had heard negative reviews of Metaxas’ Amazing Grace, mainly that it was overly academic sounding while attempting to be a popular level biography. I had not read Amazing Grace, and my only experience with Metaxas was when he came to Union University and spoke in chapel, which frankly, the only thing I remember is that he came. On of my professors at Union, Greg Thornbury, is a good friend of Metaxas and spoke highly of him, but more importantly, over the years I have greatly enjoyed history of World War II Europe and have come to appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer greatly.

Coming in with my skepticism, I was immediately impressed, not only with readability but the high amount of detail woven into a single narrative. Metaxas weaves together personal accounts to show the character of the family and of Dietrich himself from a young age, showing his vivaciousness and sensitivity to both God and to others. He was always a servant to others, putting everyone else before himself. While this was in many ways simply his moral compass, he knew from an early age that he would study theology, and persevered even through opposition from his overly rationalistic family. He maintained his character throughout his life, even through the hardest of ethical choices during Hitler’s rule over Germany. I'll let you read the rest yourself. This is a great book that paints a great picture of such a hero of the faith.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tornado, Pt. 1

At 7:02 PM on February 5, 2008, Union University was hit by an F4 tornado. I’ve decided to post my recollections of it, being over two years out, and some reflections based on them. The actual account of the event is as accurate as any account from me could ever be, as I wrote it from February 7-9 of that year. The divisions are completely arbitrary, and just seem like good points to stop, so that this would be given in multiple parts. There are a lot of names, just to warn you. Scripture quotations are new reflections

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. Psalm 24.1-2

The weather was odd that week. It was February, which is normally supposed to be cold, but I suppose that in the south the winter is always more of a variable. There had been warm days and cold days cycling that week. It was only the fifth day we were back in school for the spring semester, and all non-weather issues seemed pretty normal. With all the changing weather, on that day, February 5th, 2008, the weather men projected a huge cold front would come through, ending our pre-spring spring. We heard that there was bad weather coming because of the cold front, but that didn't surprise us.

We have had tornado warnings in the past, but never had much trouble, just had to sit in bathrooms with each other. Having gone running in the early afternoon (well, around 3:00), I took a shower, a pretty long one, and then ate dinner with my roommate Matt Kuchem. We cleaned up and I headed down to the commons to work on some various classwork. I went to my usual spot and got out my Macbook while I talked with my good friends Kyle Clark and Austin Ward.

Soon after I got to the commons, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Jackson, TN. The resident advisors rushed for the McAfee sirens and rushed us into bathrooms. I left my backpack in the chair, but took the notebook I was using and my laptop into the bathroom and we all "settled in" for a while. We still were jovial and unconcerned. Austin and I were in the stall and I was finishing typing up some notes, and every few minutes I was checking the weather updates.

Things were ok when the power went out. We still were unconcerned because because again, this had happened before. We even lost power for a few hours one night in the fall when a car ran into a utility pole. We all groaned but were relieved to find that the Wi-fi was still working. We started checking the weather more frequently but were still unconcerned.

A few minutes in, a couple of us used the bathroom but nothing seemed to be happening with the weather. A few minutes went by when we felt the air pressure change in our ears. No one thought anything of it until a second later when Matt Kuchem said, "Did anyone else feel that pressure change?" When Kuchem said that, we all basically dove for corners of the bathroom. Some of us heard a low roar, not really like a train, and a few seconds in we heard the glass shatter, and we knew it was bad. A minute after the noise subsided, some of the guys, I think John Henson or Jonathan Moore (J-Mo), looked out into the Commons and simply said, “Wow."

5God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,'
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. Job 37.5-13