Hey! This is the old a broken mold. Newer stuff is at abrokenmold.net.
That being said, feel free to rummage through the archives over here. Also feel free to leave comments; we're still keeping an eye on this.

So I just thought I'd put fingers to keyboard, so to type, since I had a couple thoughts...

(Yes, that was a not-so-subtle parody of Nat's post here.)

-Part 1

Well, over the course of our vacation/trip, we've been staying at the houses of various friends and relatives (similar to Linux distro-hopping, I daresay) and one of the features that varies between locations is the reading selection. At one of my uncles and aunts' house, they had a number of Frank Peretti books; I've read several of his: The Oath, Hangman's Curse and Nightmare Academy, some from the Cooper series, and also Piercing the Darkness. However, I had not read Monster or House, a book he co-authored with Ted Dekker, nor had I read This Present Darkness, to which Piercing the Darkness is a sequel. They had all three of these books, and I read all three last weekend.

This, I imagine, puts me in a somewhat qualified position to review and comment on Peretti's literary offerings, and that is what I intend to do.

Peretti's books might be generally described as supernatural thrillers; he gives angels, demons, and spiritual warfare a very real place in everyday life. In addition, he provides insight on modernity and culture from a biblical perspective; his plots depict the consequences of fallen human nature in a gripping and lively fashion. His simple and unrefined dialogues and almost over-the-top vivid descriptions combine to create an urgent, driving story.

In Monster, for example, the story begins with a handful of people taking a weekend retreat into the wilderness, but an ongoing thread of perplexing hints and puzzle pieces races through the building tension to form an entire web of intrigue that involves Sasquatches, hair-raising hunts and gruesome deaths, and the ruthless advance of Atheistic science. House deals with a deadly game of manipulation and greed, fueled by fear and Satanism, and ultimately exposes our bondage to Sin in our own hearts, and liberation through Christ and sacrifice.

"Light came into the darkness, but the darkness did not understand it."

This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness vividly depict the struggle of the Remnant against the onslaught of Humanistic (and ultimately Satanistic) agendas, power struggles for the education system, government, and even entire towns. But beyond this superficial picture, the awesome conflict between angels and demons, good against evil, is beautifully portrayed. These books are a powerful testament to the efficacy of prayer, with the prayers of the saints providing "prayer cover" for angels to carry out maneuvers, and strength to meet demons in battle. Finally, the assurance that shouts so gloriously from the pages is that God IS ultimately in control, and "light will always pierce the darkness." Shades of C.S. Lewis's deeper magic. I get goosebumps.

So, as the angels say, "For the saints of God and for the Lamb!"

-Part 2-

Now, a bit on mewithoutYou (mentioned of course in many previous posts), arguably my favorite band. To be perfectly honest, my estimation of mwY may have been somewhat lowered by what I've recently learned. Then again, maybe I've just *altered* my preconceptions, while still holding their work in the same esteem. I think that really is the key word-- preconceptions. Not to flood this post with C.S. Lewis references or anything, but I think there is something to be said for his (if somewhat Universalist) account in The Last Battle of the dialogue between Aslan and Emeth (a Calormene), where Aslan explains that, while Emeth thought he had been worshipping Tash, he had in fact been serving Aslan, "For I and he [Tash] are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him." Okay, so it isn't just Lewis's idea either... maybe that's what Paul was getting at in the Areopagus, eh?

The point I'm trying to pose for consideration is the possibility that, despite maybe not holding the correct understanding/belief of Scripture, it is still possible to worship and obey the one true God. That does seem to be validated by Paul's speech. Of course, you don't yet know what I'm referring to, do you? Sorry...

*deep breath*

Well, being on vacation and all, I was able to take some time to do a bit more research on mwY, the band philosophy and background, etc. And I came across a few things that I found a bit unsettling. First there's the fact that their lyrics and philosophy are influenced by Sufi Islam teachings (Aaron was raised in a Sufi household before he converted to Christianity; his father converted from Judaism and his mother from Episcopalian). Then again, it isn't as if such beliefs are *necessarily* in contradiction with a Christian aesthetic. However, it does indicate to me that they aren't on the page I thought they were, at least not nominally, and sometimes nominally can be important. More on that later. Next, I found a couple of interviews with lead vocalist Aaron Weiss found here and here. From the first interview, we find this excerpt:

It’s not like I’m offended if someone says we’re a Christian band. I just don’t think it’s true. I don’t think we live up to that calling, so I’d be reluctant to go saying that, and God knows the truth. Our hearts are very far from Jesus.
Now that concerns me somewhat. However, if you take that in perspective with their lyrics, what do you end up with? They certainly don't seem "far from Jesus" in the many references to Jesus in their songs and the story that they tell. Eh. Hmm.

From the second interview:
I'm trying to understand the Bible, and um, but I definitely don't put it on the same pedestal that I used to. You know, where I'd say, "this is the word of God that I'm holding in my hand and this is infallible and perfect, and there's no contradictions and is scientifically accurate," and all the rest...
And then he goes on to point out reasons he now regards it as more of collection of holy Jewish stories and poems. In this list he cites various "inconsistencies," and how he just wasn't convinced by efforts to sustain their validity. I'm glad, however, to see that he goes on to say, "There's just some things that I pray to God to guide me in the right way and to guide me to the truth in the best way." He's evaluating things that the Bible says by what is written on his conscience, and I hope God will grow him that way.

So, to conclude, I want to express a few final thoughts about the worship/worldview issue. Looking at Romans 1, we seem to find another indicator of God's natural revelation and the potential to worship Him with the knowledge given. Is one absolutely required to have received the gospel to be included in God's kingdom? I hope not... what about those far-flung tribes who have lived for centuries "without excuse"? Then again, I do think it's important to claim the name of Christ if you've received the gospel. I don't know how that all works out... I realize this is sort of a whole different topic, but it is one that pertains directly to the subject at hand, so I'm trying just to briefly set up a framework. C.S. Lewis (last reference, I promise), in Pilgrim's Regress, outlines such a model, where he describes the heathens as being given a "picture" of "Sweet Desire" by God, and in striving towards that, they were living by His law. The Christians in Puritania, however, have the law without the picture. At any rate, I think it does make sense.

However it may be, I love the poetry and passion of mewithoutYou and believe their theme is in worship to God, and I certainly pray for them and hope to see them in Heaven. Can't wait to listen to It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright when I get home in a week or so.

Bonus material: check out http://improveverywhere.com. Hilarious stuff, but language disclaimer.