Russell and Duenes

Archive for June 2011

Evil “is simply good spoiled”

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I was reading Justin Taylor’s blog the other day, and he had posted this quote by C.S. Lewis, which I thought worth re-posting here…

I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God, some other country into which he forbids us to trespass, some kind of delight which he ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it.

The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as he can, or else a false picture of what he is trying to give us, a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. . . . He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. . . .

The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply good spoiled. . . . You know what the biologists mean by a parasite—an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.

—C. S. Lewis, They Stand Together: The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-1963), ed. Walter Hooper (New York, 1979), p. 465. Italics original.


Written by Michael Duenes

June 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Lilias Trotter: A Passion for the Impossible

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This quote by Lilias Trotter, in Miriam Huffman Rockness’ A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, gripped me, and goads me on as I begin a new course in life.

Let us dare to test God’s resources…Let us ask him to kindle in us and keep aflame that passion for the impossible that shall make us delight in it with him, till the day when we shall see it transformed into a fact.

Yea and amen!


Written by Michael Duenes

June 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Unnatural Selection

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I highly commend to you this book review by Jonathan Last in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. The book under review – Unnatural Selection – chronicles what sex-selective abortion has done to the female population on our small little planet. I agree that the book’s thesis is important, and I agree with Mr. Last’s conclusion,

Despite the author’s intentions, “Unnatural Selection” might be one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion. It is aimed, like a heat-seeking missile, against the entire intellectual framework of “choice.” For if “choice” is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against “gendercide.” Aborting a baby because she is a girl is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother’s “mental health” requires it. Choice is choice. One Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: “I have patients who come and say ‘I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.’ ” This is where choice leads. This is where choice has already led. Ms. Hvistendahl may wish the matter otherwise, but there are only two alternatives: Restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.


Written by Michael Duenes

June 25, 2011 at 5:42 am

I’m Still Here, Only on the Prairie Now

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For all of my loyal readers – all ten of you – I have not dropped off the planet, or out of the blogosphere. Rather, I’ve been moving and am currently borrowing my next-door neighbor’s unprotected internet signal in order to write this.

We arrived in Topeka on Monday and have been going non-stop since. I’ve painted a couple of rooms, gotten Kansas plates for our car, checked out the public library – the best public library I’ve ever seen, bar none – unloaded the moving truck, and generally tried to get the lay of the land. I’ve eaten at the Cracker Barrel three times already, and am enjoying the Kansas hospitality. One of my sons decided that tonight, with all of our unpacked boxes sitting in our house, he would get some kind of stomach thingy and start upchucking. So I’m taking a few minutes here between heaves to check in and let you know that I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging – Lord willing – sometime around the first of July.

I’ve got some law school assignments that must be completed even before my classes begin in August. Welcome to the world of being a student again. Did I mention that I really seem to be taking to Topeka? I’m very grateful to be here, and I trust that our Lord Jesus has brought me and my family here for good purposes. I go forward with fear and trembling. May our great God be honored, and our neighbors blessed, by our presence and lives here.


Written by Michael Duenes

June 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Feeling Nostalgic: Why Alameda is the Best Place I’ve Ever Lived

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I’m writing something here that ten years ago I would have thought impossible: I like the Bay Area far more than the L.A. area. My dad couldn’t believe I said this, but it’s true. Indeed, Alameda, CA is the best place I’ve ever lived. As we spend our last day here, I wanted to reflect on why I’ve enjoyed living here more than any other place.

1) Alameda has a great small town feel, while being close enough to any big city amenities anyone could want. The great thing about where we’ve lived in Alameda is that we can walk about a half mile and be on the main street of town, which harkens back to main street in the 1800s. On the other hand, we can walk a half mile in the other direction and be at a glorious shoreline where one can take in a pristine view of the S.F. skyline, enjoy the cool bay breeze, and head into the Towne Centre shopping area, which is second to none.

2) There are parks galore within a mile or two of our house.

3) The geography cannot be beaten. The city of Alameda, as I said, affords wonderful views of the Oakland hills and the San Francisco Bay, but the entire Bay Area beats any other place hands down. You’re less than four hours from world class skiing, watersporting, and white-water rafting along the American River and at Lake Tahoe, hiking trails abound all over the Bay Area and can be gotten to in less than an hour, the city of San Francisco holds a beauty not matched by flat Manhattan, the weather year-round is pleasant and yet variable enough to be interesting, and the traffic does not yet choke the life out of you like LA’s does.

4) Even though I already mentioned it, the weather deserves its own reason. Everywhere east of here you’re dealing with sweltering temperatures, high humidity, and bugs during the summer. Here we enjoy temps in the 70s – 80s for about 5 months out of the year and no bugs or humidity. The falls are cool and crisp, and the winters give you a good chill with lows in the 30s, but not such bone-chilling cold that you’re miserable, like Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and the like. It beats LA weather because, well, let’s just say that LA weathermen should never, ever be given a paycheck. You could pay a well-trained monkey to say, “Highs today and tomorrow will be in the mid-70s to 80s with lows in the upper 40s to low 50s” for practically the entire year.

5) The access to food and culture is better up here overall. Yes, there are more plentiful Mexican places in LA, but not better ones, and every other kind of food, though to be found in LA, is more easily found up here. And Manhattanites, don’t flatter yourself. Everything you got we got here, too. You’re on the wrong rim.

6) Everything is closer in up here. LA is so vast and sprawling that it takes at least a half hour just to get to a freeway on-ramp. You could drive 45 minutes just to get to the next city over. Up here, you can get most places in less than an hour.

7) Victorian Homes

8) Trader Joes and Chipotle within easy walking distance.

9) The airport that is the best-kept secret in all of California: Oakland International. Orange County airport choked with traffic, both vehicle and airliner. LAX is, well, LAX. SFO is also a mess and you have to pay $6.00 toll to get to it. I simply can’t think of an international airport in California, or anywhere else for that matter, that beats Oakland. We’re literally 10 minutes from it, and can wait in the comfort of our living room for a guest to call and say “I’m in,” and then be at the curb by the time they are.

10) The air is clean up here virtually all the time, which means better health and better vistas.

There’s more, to be sure, but these stand out. So why are we leaving all this? Well, in the kingdom of God, we have no earthly home, and God has seen fit to move us out from here. Finally, all these bennies don’t come to us free. As a friend of mine, who moved to Alaska, wisely said, “There’s no law that says you have to live in California.” So we’re not.

Bon Voyage!


Written by Michael Duenes

June 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm