Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: April, 2009

This Brought a Smile…

A wholesome, happy prank.

This Brought a Smile…

A wholesome, happy prank.


Stumbled across a blog and a podcast I like. I hope you like them, too.

Stuff Christians Like.
Writing Excuses (thanks, Mack!)


I came across an essay written by James S. Spiegel about art and aesthetics. I get a little depressed whenever I think about the state of Christian aesthetics like literature, film, drama, art, music and the like. This essay is a bit of fresh air and a serious encouragement for those of us who love Jesus and are creatively inclined. Here’s an excerpt:

Surely the fact that God himself chose an artistic medium as his primary vehicle of special revelation ought by itself to persuade us to place a special premium on the arts. But the Bible also speaks explicitly to some specific art forms. With regard to music, the Bible is replete with injunctions to “sing a new song” (Ps 33:3, 98:1), to praise him using a variety of instruments (Ps 98, 150), and to “play skillfully” in doing so (Ps 33:3). Dance, too, is endorsed in the Psalms: “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing…” (Ps 149:2-3; see also Ps 150:4).

The Bible sanctions drama as well. In Ezekiel 4:1-3 we find these instructions:

Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.

This directive of the Lord to Ezekiel continues at length, symbolizing truths of both civil and spiritual significance. It essentially constitutes a prophetic drama, portraying Israel’s sad fate due to her disobedience.

Lastly, the scriptures speak to the visual arts. The most celebrated example appears in Exodus 35:30-35, regarding the construction of the tabernacle. Here Moses declares to the Israelites,

See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others…. Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

From this passage we learn not only that the visual arts are a worthy pursuit but also that gifts in this artistic domain are endowed by God himself. And it is the Lord’s desire to have skilled persons do such work, whether that skill is a natural (or, better, supernatural) gift or trained ability. Furthermore, we should note that artistic ability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for doing such work. The artist must also be willing to contribute (v. 35).

I especially liked his section on artistic virtues and vices. Read it!

We have failed in the arts as a Christian community because we have not sensed the urgency of the endeavor, and as a result we have succumbed to the aesthetic vice of laziness.

Moving right along…

Update your bookmarks, folks. In the future you can reach this blog at Joy and happy!

I was reading Matthew this morning. Jesus suggested that every scribe who is trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house that brings out of his treasure what is old and new. I used to think that a scribe was just someone who could read, therefore we are all included in this. But a scribe writes, I realize.

I like to write.

A good writer who loves Jesus brings old and new treasures to his readers. I like that idea. But I need to recognize that I’m pretty much illiterate, unless Jesus is helping me out. So the Cracked Pot becomes the Illiterate Scribe. Hope you still visit.


You called him a…what??

I recently heard a man say that, on the cross, Jesus Christ became a rapist, a murderer and a pedophile.

I didn’t like hearing that.

In fact, physically felt a little sick to my stomach. Every part of me starting screaming out ‘NO!’ So, yeah, I didn’t like hearing that at all.

But my wife, blessed woman, counseled me to think about it for a bit before violently rejecting it. And so I did. And I found out that Mark Driscoll said something similar in his book, Death by Love:

The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther rightly declares that at the moment Jesus became the most grotesque, ugly, and hideous thing in the history of all creation. In what Luther calls “the great exchange,” the sinless Jesus so thoroughly took our place that he became the worst of what we are – rapists, thieves, perverts, addicts, liars, gluttons, gossips, murderers, adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals, and idolaters. Importantly, Jesus’ work on the cross was not just a bookkeeping transaction in the divine economy. Jesus actually took to himself our sin with all its horror and shame, (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Hmm. So Driscoll also says that Jesus became a rapist. You know what? Unless he means something different by it that I’m not understanding, he’s dead wrong. He seems to say that Luther agrees with him. If so, I guess that Luther is wrong, too.

Christ was made sin, yes. Christ took the sin of the world on his shoulders and brought it down to the grave with him, yes. But Christ did not become a sinner. Christ did not become a pedophile. In a strange way he became something worse.

He became pedophilia.

Or at least the root sin that causes it. He became sin, not a sinner. He became dirt, not dirty. To say that Jesus was a pedophile has a lot of shock value (whatever value that has), but it has not root in reality and it’s bad theology. And bad theology leads to many nasty places that we don’t want to go. Because if Jesus only took the place of the sinner, that’s not much good for us.

If Jesus became a pedophile and took the place of the pedophile, what does that do to the pedophilia? Nothing, as far as I can tell. But Jesus became pedophilia, so now not only can the pedophile rejoice in mercy that he can be pardoned, but he can rejoice in hope that his root problem of pedophilia is killed and he can be free of the horrid darkness that it is!

Through Christ I am not only pardoned for my pride, but my pride has been dealt a death-blow, and I can have hope that, since he became pride and took it with him to the grave, I will be free of pride, ultimately.

Five Whole Minutes?

I usually have a few buttons pinned to my jacket. I like them. This is one of them.

In 1947 the board of directors for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created this clock, called the Doomsday Clock, as a method of gauging how close to utter, nuclear destruction the human race is. Since 1997 it has stood at five minutes to midnight. Midnight, of course, being when we all evaporate in a cloud of radioactive smoke.

So I wear it. Why? Because I agree that we are a mere five minutes to midnight, though I think the source of our danger is a much more powerful and all-permeating thing than nuclear war.

We can all agree on one thing: Nobody’s perfect. But we fail to realize what a huge problem that is. I think it may be the only problem we really have. Novels and books come up with all sorts of ideas on how we can save the world. The Watchmen has one of the most interesting and original ideas. But in the end, all the ideas are bunk. True peace can never come and last because we, as a race, hate each other. We are inclined to spite and malice and hate. We may put our hate away for a moment to pursue another goal, but it will always come back. The Taint forces us to kill each other.

And it will always be like that until we recognize that Jesus is the only one who can change us.

So I wear the button. I think the whole human race is at five minutes to midnight. But I don’t think that reducing the nuclear stockpile will ensure peace (though I certainly think it will help). It’s not the nukes that make me nervous. It’s the sin. Without Jesus we’re all doomed.


Talking with a co-worker today who’s into sales and marketing. He’s been doing some courses about it and working out the strategies for promoting whatever product or services you need to promote. He was trying to explain the intricacies of how to get your market to want to buy whatever you’re selling. A lot of it was going over my head. All sorts of stuff about the four Ps of this and the eight Rs of that. Stuff about how all your sales guys need to take this course and that training and read these books. It seemed pretty complicated. He made it sound like if you don’t have eight years of classes and books behind you, you’ll probably not be able to sell anything.

And I was wondering amid it all, what about the product? Wouldn’t it be easier just to have a killer product that everyone would want and tell them about it? I dunno, maybe I’m being overly-simplistic or naive. But do we really need all these courses and conferences to sell stuff? I guess they might come in handy if we’re trying to sell something that’s no good. But I don’t know why I would try selling something that’s no good. Why sell it?

And this brought my thinking around to Jesus. I skim a lot of Christian blogs. I hear about a lot of Christian courses, book and conferences. And sometimes I can’t help but wonder, when does the rubber hit the road?

I have a neat dream. What if, instead of reading missionary books and debating contextualization and community living and stuff like that, what if we just did it. Quietly. Prayerfully. Powerfully.

I ain’t against conferences. Heck, I’m trying to help promote one. Conferences are neat. Bible colleges are neat. If it wasn’t for KLBC I may never have woken up as much as I have. But we can’t stay there. I would have loved to just hang out at Bible college all my life, just spending all my time reading, writing and complaining about how lukewarm the mainstream church is.

But the point of the college and conferences and books and seminars is to get you OUT. Guys, we KNOW this stuff by now, don’t we? And even if we don’t, we should at least know Jesus enough to show people that he’s something they ought to check out.

Our rubber is too often spinning in the garage.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

And so it is official.

A part of Pakistan died this day. A part of me went with it.

Such darkness. Where is the light? Why are we hoarding it? Who will go to Nineveh?

Oh, but it’s far too hot there, eh?

And dangerous, too. Yep, way too dangerous.

And the waves of the sea may dampen my cloak. Yeah. Yeah I definitely can’t get out of the boat. Besides, Peter already went. I don’t want to look like I’m trying to prove anything.

Wanna watch a movie?

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

And so it is official.

A part of Pakistan died this day. A part of me went with it.

Such darkness. Where is the light? Why are we hoarding it? Who will go to Nineveh?

Oh, but it’s far too hot there, eh?

And dangerous, too. Yep, way too dangerous.

And the waves of the sea may dampen my cloak. Yeah. Yeah I definitely can’t get out of the boat. Besides, Peter already went. I don’t want to look like I’m trying to prove anything.

Wanna watch a movie?