Writing

From the Archives: Argue Like a Saint

First appeared at SharperIron on June 25, 2008.

Verbal communication is one of God’s favorite inventions. He created speaking beings in His image and then spoke to them. Over the millennia, He gave visions to prophets and commanded them to speak or write what they had seen. And He inspired select prophets to write His words as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. He gave us a book.

So whenever we use words, we’re doing something of personal importance to God. And since we believers are at peace with God through Christ and represent God to a world that does not know Him, our writing and speaking carry that much more importance.

We should not be surprised, then, that Scripture has so much to say about how we use words. And we should attend energetically to how that instruction applies to posting in Internet forums.

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Made for More: An Interview with Author Hannah Anderson

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Moody Publishers recently released Hannah Anderson’s first book, Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image. Hannah is a familiar presence here at SI, having written articles for us in the past and often sharing her blog writing with us as well. She was happy to take the time to answer a few questions for me about the book, related themes, and writing in general.

Q. When did the idea to write about imago dei come to you and why this eventually become the focus of your project?

A. The vision to write about imago dei came because I saw a lot of young women struggling to make sense of their lives and their Christian experience. They were not rebels, but they were struggling to find fulfillment in roles and family structures alone.

Many women’s discipleship programs are framed entirely around gender. By sheer weight of conversation, these women were being taught that sanctification means becoming a certain type of woman, not being conformed to Christ’s image. The more I explored, the more I realized that (1) We were starting our conversations about calling and identity in Genesis 2 and (2) We were parsing the sum total of human experience through gender.

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Woman in the Image of God

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Last month, Edith Schaeffer passed away at the age of 98. Despite the potential to have been overshadowed by her husband, Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer, she held her own as a writer and thinker, delivering a message of joi de vivre and teaching a generation of women that there is power in the small moments, that even things like mothering and domesticity are an expression of God’s image. She taught us that when God takes up residency, our homes will be filled with His nature—filled with art and music and beauty and wonder and hospitality and joy.

But something’s happened to Christian women in the subsequent years—something that I’m not sure even Mrs. Schaeffer herself would approve. Over the last several decades, we’ve flipped the paradigm; instead of seeing womanhood (and all that comes with it) as an expression of imago dei, we’ve come to see our womanhood as an end in itself. We’ve come to believe that our core sense of self rests in our gender and our ability to conform to certain paradigms. And in doing so, I’m afraid we’ve developed a bit of identity myopia.

This idea has been rolling around in my head for a while now, but I didn’t quite see it clearly, didn’t quite have the words to speak it, until one day. It was the same day that I resolved to start blogging. It was the same day that I realized that my daughter was growing up.

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Toward Arguing Better: A Trusty Tool

Read Part 1.

Teachers are supposed to discover things ahead of time and then share them with students. But sometimes the discoveries come during the teaching. It’s part of the compensation package.

A month or so ago, I experienced one of these moments of discovery during the 9th grade class I teach three days a week—a class in formal logic. (Yes, logic. I dare you to read a short essay about formal logic. What are you afraid of?)

My light bulb moment was not the discovery that evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity are desperate for more constituents capable of thinking clearly about hard questions. That reality struck home a couple of years ago, and I’m reminded almost daily. (Often enough, the guy in the mirror is the evidence.) Nor was my light bulb moment the realization that if we start teaching kids logic again, as in the good old days, we might see a generation of better Christian thinkers succeed the “this feels true to me” generations we’ve raised up in America over the last century or so. I already believed that. It’s why I’m teaching the class.

The light bulb came on when an idea I’d accepted as true in theory became “real” by experience. The students and I were working through some exercises sixteen chapters or so into our textbook1 when we arrived at this question:

Smith said, “Pro-lifers don’t care about children who are already born. All they care about is their stupid political agenda.” Jones disagreed by saying, “No, there are many pro-lifers who are involved in caring for children.”

The assigned task was to analyze the paragraph, “isolate the related statements, and put them into categorical form. Assign abbreviations to the terms, place them on the square of opposition, and determine their relationship.” In this case, the available relationships were contradiction, contrariety or subcontrariety.

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