Saturday, July 10, 2010

Review: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna (Barna Books, 2008) addresses current issues in the modern church. Viola analyzes today's church in light of a New-Testament church model. He also examines the extra-Christian influences on the church throughout history.

Viola makes the point that many traditional aspects of today's church are simply the results of pagan influences throughout history. Viola believes that these non-Christian influences have undermined the integrity of the modern church. Viola believes that the modern church could solve many of her current issues by simply adhering solely to a New-Testament model.

Viola walks readers through a fairly comprehensive history of the church in order to demonstrate his point. He demonstrates why he believes specific current church practices such as the church building, church leadership structures, and the traditional order of worship are simply remnants of pagan influences.

While thoughtful readers could certainly benefit from considering the issues that Viola raises, his choppy style and lofty tone are difficult to overlook. Furthermore, his arguments are hard to follow, are occasionally based on inaccurate interpretations of historical events, and often only make sense if the reader agrees with Viola's initial analysis of the problem.

His all-encompassing statements, his vilification of opposing arguments, and his overly exaggerated examples make many of Viola's points hard to swallow.

Mark Driscoll provides a fairly comprehensive analysis of Pagan Christianity here.

Jessica Muto provides another insightful review at her blog Shiny Mess.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Linkage

Here's the week's gleanings.

"90...Say What?!" by Chelsea Munneke and "Expect Ingratitude, Practice Gratitude" by Heather Koerner, both of Boundless, were just good. They were sweet and light, but both carried a message that I won't forget soon.

Donald Miller wrote a compelling three-part series entitlted "Toy Story 3: What We Can Learn From a Great Story." Here's the beginning.

In the archives of, I discovered "The Right Time for Babies" by Tony Woodlief. Make time this weekend to read this one. He has some convicting and convincing points that are especially relevant to young Christians.

Yes, I know there's no Thursday post about Shakespeare. I confess, I'm a couple of scenes behind. But I'm still making my way towards the goal post....I hope to finish All's Well that Ends Well by next Thursday.

I'm also trying to come up with a way to effectively track the Shakespeare reading here without turning this blog simply into a repetitious series of posts about Shakespeare. I'll keep you posted (no pun intended).

Finally, see the cute little box on the right? Simply by typing your e-mail into that box, you'll receive Halfway Down the Stairs updates by e-mail! Isn't that convenient?

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colors on My Mind

I like to test color combinations on smaller projects, like notecards, before using the color combinations for photo-album pages.

As I was scrapbooking last week, I felt in desperate need of some color inspiration. I was especially looking for ways to incorporate red and neutrals in a trendy, fresh way.

Pottery Barn's Chesapeake Collection combined light green, light blue, and red against a backdrop of sand.

I combined blue, red, and the sand color on one card.

I was happy with the result, although I think a series of red stripes behind the blue might have worked better than the red waves.

Where do you go for color inspiration?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well, Part I

Day 1 of this new endeavor was a success, although I am glad I didn't set my sights any higher than the completion of Act I. So here's the recap:

Main Characters:
  • The Countess, a nice old lady whose husband died.
  • Bertram, the son of the Countess.
  • Helena, the ward of the Countess
  • Parolles. I don't know yet how he is going to play into the plot, but Helena calls him a "notorious liar."
  • Lafeu, an ambassador from the King of France.
Scene I

In this scene, we are introduced to the main characters. We find out that Bertram's father has recently died and that Bertram is heading to France.

Scene II

In Scene II, Bertram arrives in France and is received kindly by the King of France, who is apparently suffering from some disease that no one can cure.

Scene III

A steward tells the Countess that Helena secretly loves Bertram. The Countess calls Helena in and tricks her into confessing her love for Bertram. Helena then explains that she has in her possession a cure for the King of France. The Countess sends Helena off to France to cure the King and win Bertram's heart.


For Monday.....Act II.

Friday Linkage

Happy Friday! Here are some weekend links.

Jonathan Acuff wrote an editorial for CNN called "My Take: Why Christians are jerks online." He made some thought-provoking points.

Asian Bees Photography has a beautiful blog that is just loaded with inspiration. Her pictures are stunning.

Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp never ceases to completely floor me. Her design is beautiful and unique. Her writing is quite unlike that of any other blogger I've seen. Then, this week, she wrote "When You Can't Quite Figure Out How to Live Your Best Life." Read it. You won't regret it.