Sunday, May 31, 2009

NEW RELEASE: The Betrayal, a novel on John Calvin

THE BETRAYAL, a novel on John Calvin (click to order) is now available. Here's what some reviewers have writtten about the book.
"Douglas Bond introduces John Calvin to us in a gripping way, colorfully taking us back to Geneva and its times, unveiling Calvin as the principled man of action, commitment, and love that he was. The Betrayal makes for an exciting read, showing the great Reformer's heart for theology, piety, and doxology, while almost effortlessly and implicitly undoing caricatures about Calvin along the way. If you want Calvin and his times brought to life in a page-turner, this is the book for you!"
Joel R. Beeke
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
Grand Rapids

"With masterful insight, Douglas Bond offers us an illuminating portrait of the life, ministry, and theology of John Calvin. For readers of all ages, this well-researched, historical fiction takes us back to the sixteenth-century Reformation as if we were eye-witnesses of all that God accomplished in and through the life of His humble servant John Calvin. If you enjoy reading the fictional works of C. S. Lewis, you will love this book."
Burk Parsons
Editor of Tabletalk magazine
Minister of congregational life at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida

"Another great piece of historical fiction from Douglas Bond! As in his previous books, Bond provides a compelling narrative with clear historical accuracy and rich theological reflection. I don’t know if I have ever seen these aspects so compelling combined as in Bond’s books. This is why Douglas Bond is one of my family’s favorite authors. In this book Bond helps the reader grasp the humanness of Calvin, the manner of life in 16th century Europe and the real struggle for the gospel. This is a great entry way into the life of Calvin and the Reformation in general. It is entertaining and spiritually edifying. I commend it heartily."
Ray Van Neste, Ph.D.
Director, R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies
Union University, Jackson, TN

“The events and ideas of John Calvin are captured in a lively, historical fiction, giving the famous theology a heart and voice. Douglas Bond’s eye for cultural detail frames the debates of the day in a specific time and geography, resulting in a fresh vision for our own times. Well done.”

Dr. Mike Sugimoto

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Four-Generations of Student Body Presidents

Nathan Baldwin, my maternal grandfather, was elected student body president, in 1927, of Trenton High School in Missouri. My mother, Mary Jane Bond, was elected,in 1954, the first female student body president of R. A. Long High School in Longview, WA. I was elected student body president of Tacoma Baptist Schools in 1976, and one of my sons, Cedric Christian Bond, was just elected student body president of Covenant High School, May 26, 2009. Congratulations!

Writing Awards Ceremony

May 27, 2009, Covenant High School student authors read their four winning short stories and one poem and received their monetary prices at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA.

In the Our Own Words thirteenth annual teen writing contest, 816 regional contestants competing for twelve high school prizes in the Our Own Words teen writing contest, five were won by Covenant High School students, pictured at left with English teacher Mr. Douglas Bond (and a peek at the magnificent Paul Fritz organ behind). Congratulations, gentlemen!

First Place ($100) in 9-10 grade fiction writing: Joel Kim (10)

First Place ($100) in 11-12 grade poetry writing: Nate Shelden (11)

First Place ($100) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Tommy Slack (12)

Second Place ($75) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Nate Shelden (11)

Third Place ($50) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Will Firch (12)

Monday, May 25, 2009


Modern Reformation, special John Calvin quincentenary issue, June/July, 2009, features an article by Douglas Bond, On The Road: In the Footsteps of John Calvin. Click here to order a commemorative copy of the magazine Below is an excerpt:

History is filled with ironic convolutions. Consider the bungling of Scottish moderns placing a life-size bronze statue of John Knox in the ambulatory of St. Giles, Edinburgh, the very church in which Knox preached against idolatry. Or consider John Calvin decrying simony after his conversion when funding for his entire education had come from benefices his father had secured for him in his childhood.

Or consider thousands of Calvinists flocking to Geneva July 10, 2009 to commemorate the 500th birthday of the man who considered the medieval sacrament of pilgrimage to be one of the "faults contravening the Reformation." Is this yet another instance of self-contradictory theological buffoonery, a quest for merit tallied by stamps in the passport?

Tempting as these conclusions are to critics, I think not. As he lay dying, Calvin insisted that his body be buried in an unmarked grave. Some believe this was Calvin trying to avoid being the object of what he termed the “fictitious worship of dead men’s bones.” I’m inclined, however, to think that his dying request is yet another myth-buster; he didn’t want his bones enshrined because Calvin was so taken with the glory of Christ that the veneration of John Calvin never occurred to him. And for such humble piety alone Calvin would be worthy of our perennial attention.

Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, in whose arms Calvin died, wrote of him on the final page of his account of Calvin’s life, “Having been a spectator of his conduct for sixteen years… I can now declare that in him all men may see a most beautiful example of Christian character, an example which is as easy to slander as it is difficult to imitate.” ...

THE BETRAYAL, A novel on John Calvin, by Douglas Bond, available soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frank Starr, decorated WW II veteran, dies

May 14, 2009, 4:00 pm, Frank Starr breathed his last and passed into glory. I last saw Frank the evening before he died. I prayed with him, and he gripped my hand and held on, shaking it with that tremulous shaking so characteristic of those suffering with Parkinson's Disease. A faithful friend who was with Frank and his dear wife Minda when Frank died, told how Minda leaned close and said, "Frank, I love you." Frank's eyes opened for an instant, filled with tears, and moments later he took his last breath. Imagine his joy in the next instant: Glory! Tears wiped away! Pleasures at God's right hand forevermore!

Frank was born in Seattle, WA, March 3, 1919. He served two combat tours in Europe during WW II after entering the army at Ft. Lewis, WA in the Hq Btry 376th Parachute FA (I'm taking this directly from his military paperwork). According to his record and to pieces of stories he has told me over the years, he served on a tank crew, as a heavy machine gunner, and as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds sustained September 17, 1944 in Holland (see account below), earned four Bronze Service Stars, a Bronze Service Arrowhead, and other medals. Frank fought in many battles, including the battles of Rome-Arno, Rhineland, Ardennes, and battles in Central Europe.

Most of all, Frank was a humble Christian, who loved the Word of God, faithful preaching, and being in the Lord's House and worshiping with his church family. I'll never forget the first time he used the sound devices provided for those who are hard of hearing. He was so astonished with all he was suddenly able to hear of the preaching that he burst out talking right in the middle of the sermon. Imagine his joy and wonder at what he now sees and hears and understands in glory! "Blessed in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints."

Excerpt on Frank Starr from STAND FAST In the Way of Truth:

What you miss

Though an old man may go home from church as lonely as he came, the one who really loses when you ignore elderly folks--is you. Frank Starr is eighty-seven years old, hard of hearing, and he likes to shake hands. Because Frank has Parkinson’s Disease his prolonged handshakes really shake. Frank also loses his train of thought and breaks off for long stretches looking at you with his watery eyes—still holding your hand. Young men get uncomfortable holding the flinching hand of a silent old man.

One day after a sermon on dying, I grasped Frank’s hand and settled in for one of our visits. Seemingly out of the blue, haltingly, he began talking about the war.

“I jumped into Holland,” he said, his hand grasping mine and tugging me toward him.

“In the war?” I asked. He nodded. “Were the Germans there?”

After looking at me for a moment, he replied, “Yes.”

“Were you afraid?” I asked.

“No,” he said simply, as if it were an irrelevant question.

“Were the Germans shooting at you?”

Again he paused, looking at me with his large watery eyes. “They shot down the plane ahead of ours.”

“Was it a fighter plane?”

“No,” he replied. Still he gripped my hand. Another long silence. “It was full of soldiers,” he continued at last, “paratroopers, like me.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt like he was telling me something intensely important. “Did you have an M-1 Garand?” It was a silly thing to ask, but it was all that came to mind.

“An M-1? No, it was a small one.”

After another long pause, he continued. “The Dutch people were dancing all around us.” Another pause. “They were so happy, they were dancing. I could hardly get clear of my parachute.”

“But the Germans were nearby,” I said. “They’d just shot down the other plane. Weren’t you afraid they’d shoot you?”

He looked at me as if across a divide over which I could not pass. “No,” he said. “I was a soldier.”

The next Sunday his wife handed me a large envelope. I opened it and unfolded yellowed newspaper clippings from the 1940s and Frank’s service record. He had served in the 82nd Airborne Division and had fought in many major battles of the European theatre. September 17, 1944 he was wounded in Holland and decorated for it.

After the worship service, Frank picked up the story and told how he’d not been able to hear so well ever since serving for a time in a tank. He tried to explain just how loud things were when they fired the tank, and how the recoil propelled every man right off his seat. I’d seen his service record and knew that he’d earned a Purple Heart and other medals. I asked Frank about his medals.

“Medals?” he said. “Don’t remember that,” he concluded simply.

Believe me, you are the one who loses when you ignore old men, when you refuse to obey God’s command to show respect to the elderly, when you are so wrapped up in your petty teenage world that you have no time to be transported back in history, when you’re so enslaved to artificial thrills that you have little interest in being enlarged by hearing an eyewitness give you a peek at what World War II was really like...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cedric Bond, in Sports Illustrated

My 17-year-old son, Cedric is in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated! Below is an on-line brief.

Cedric Bond
GIG HARBOR, WASH. > Flatwater Kayak
Cedric, a junior at Covenant High, is the nation's No. 1-ranked junior flatwater sprint kayaker after winning all four events he entered -- the 500- and 1,000-meter solo races and two-man events (with Luke Potts of Lanier, Ga.) -- at the junior world trials in Chula Vista, Calif. He will represent the U.S. at the junior world championships in Moscow.

All of which reminds me of what I wrote about sports in STAND FAST In the Way of Truth, from chapter 4, The Way to Fall:

Sports and pride

Moments before the 500 meter US Sprint Kayak Nationals final I asked one of my sons what his race strategy was. “I win, they lose,” he said with a grin. He’s a big Ronald Reagan fan and likes quoting Reagan’s Cold War strategy. Two days earlier he’d lost the 1000 meter sprint to a Hungarian-born paddler by 4,800ths of a second and was absolutely determined not to cut things so close. He did win the 500 and by a bigger margin. And then the monster pride rears his ugly head.

Competitive sports, young men, and pride are a union forged in hell. If you are an athlete—or the father of one--you must particularly beware of pride. Why? Because, as C. S. Lewis put it:

"Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. It is Pride—the wish to be richer than some other rich man, and (still more) the wish for power. For, of course, power is what Pride really enjoys."

Most young men love competition. Men thrive on it. And we love power. We love being strong and being in control of people and situations. Many great things have been accomplished by powerful men straining to be the best. Consider General Bradley’s quip as George Paton led the 3rd Army in victory after victory, ever deeper into German-held territory in WW II: “Give George another headline and he’ll be good for another thirty miles.” It’s embarrassing, but we’re inclined to do more if we’re getting lots of credit for doing it. Feed our pride and we’ll conquer the world.

Unlike war, where pride might motivate a young man to do great deeds that benefit others, in sports young men are easily consumed with shameless self-interest. Listen to the boasting of professional athletes. Watch the swagger of the varsity basketball jock. See the jutted chin and hauteur of the All-American quarterback. Gaze in disgust at the unabashed self-conceit of the running back as he struts and preens in the end-zone. Listen to your teammates. Hear your own words. Look into your own heart. If you are a competitive athlete, beware of pride.

“If sports are supposed to build character,” wrote Brad Wolverton in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “recent evidence suggests that college athletics is falling down on the job.” He cites a study of the moral reasoning of 70,000 college students conducted over two decades. The result? “Athletes have significantly lower moral-reasoning skills than the general student population.” Moral reasoning—what the ancients called virtue--leads you to use your strength and skill in the interest of others. Competitive sports can flip things around. So impressed with your own athletic prowess, you sneer in disdain at others. Gradually, you begin to think of yourself as a worthy object of the most devout—and disgusting--self-worship.

Once on your knees before yourself, the absurdity of it all never occurs to you. How ridiculous for you to be puffed up over strengths and skills God ultimately gave you! But seeing your pride for what it is requires a changed heart.

Only a grateful heart will keep the nonsense of your pride in check. Just when you’re swelling up at your victory, offer thanksgiving that God gave you a healthy body, that he gave you the opportunity to develop your skill, and if you’re really good at it, the particular talent that sets your performance above the pack. Remind yourself that this is God’s doing.

Then brace yourself like a man. The devil slithers near. “Yes, but you’ve worked hard—harder than the rest,” he hisses in your ear. “You’re first on the water and last off every workout.” Stop your ears. The devil woos with “honest trifles.” Believe him and, as Shakespeare put it, he will “betray you in deepest consequence.”

Covenant High School Students Sweep Writing Contest

The regional writing contest, Our Own Words, sponsored by the Pierce County Arts Commission, the Pierce County Library Foundation, and The Morning News Tribune was an overwhelming success for my writing students. "The Devil hates goose quills," wrote Martin Luther. I am so delighted that these students, and many others who wrote fine poetry and fiction prose, are developing skills that the devil hates. Praise be to God!

The 816 contestants were competing for only twelve high school prizes in this contest, five of which were won by Covenant High School students:

First Place ($100) in 9-10 grade fiction writing: Joel Kim (10)
First Place ($100) in 11-12 grade poetry writing: Nate Sheldon (11)
First Place ($100) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Tommy Slack (12)
Second Place ($75) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Nate Sheldon (11)
Third Place ($50) in 11-12 grade fiction writing: Will Firch (12)

In a contest with over 800 entries, this year's contest marks several firsts for CHS and my students over the last thirteen years.

First time we've had all young men winners.
First time to win first in both poetry and fiction categories.
First time to have five winning entries.
First time to sweep (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) an entire category.
First time to have a single winner in both fiction and poetry in the same year.

Students writers will be honored May 27, 2009 at an event hosted by Pacific Lutheran University, where the students will read their work, be presented with a book of the winning entries, and receive their monetary prizes. Congratulations to all of you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Covenant High School Art Field Trip

May 6-8, 2009, Bond was a chaperon (and bus driver) on the Covenant High School Art Field Trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Setting off from Tacoma Wednesday morning, we found the weather to be particularly nasty, rain descending in torrents, and gusts pummeling the side of the bus. (at left, CHS students and the 99-year-old Pacific County Courthouse in Southbend, Washington)

Though theologically about as far from the Westminster Confession of Faith, the biblical standards informing CHS's raison d'etre, Seaside United Methodist Church for the third time generously and graciously hosted our students in their building only 2 or 3 blocks from the sand and surf of the Pacific Ocean. The evening ended in a blustery flurry of rainfall at the beach, then back to the church for devotions.

Thursday morning dawned much more promising. I had the responsibility of morning devotions on the tour and began with a reading from chapter 11 of arguably my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy, by CS Lewis. It is the marvelous passage where Shasta has a conversation with Aslan, though he is at first clueless that it is Aslan with whom he is speaking. Shasta was sure that there were several lions, and that he'd had bad luck all around on his efforts at escaping Tashbaan and fleeing to Narnia. "There was only one lion," Aslan said, and then he explains the many and varied ways he guided and governed all of Shasta's steps thus far. After which Shasta in wonder inquired, "Who are you?" The lion replied, "Myself," three times over. "Shasta was no longer afraid... but a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too." When at last his eyes were open and he could see the great lion pacing at his side, he was sure that "no one had ever seen anything more terrible or beautiful." I then took the students to Isaiah 43:1-7 where Lewis may have gathered some of his biblical material for this episode. "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine... Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you..." One of my favorite passages on the sovereignty of God precisely and lovingly superintending each of the myriad of details that make up any one's life--that make up my life. He is the redeeming God who "bring[s] my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth."

That day was gorgeous, sunshine, blue skies, crisp sea breezes, with kite flying, beach biking--and the ultimate sand sculpture contest, teachers and chaperones participating. We brainstormed over dinner and lunch that day, planning out a bas relief of Sola Scriptura in sand. Not the most fitting medium for the subject matter, but then sand is sort of obligatory with sand sculpting, isn't it? Here's a picture of the end product. Judging was a bit dicey. We were dependent on the whims of passers-by, most of whom preferred our creation, but felt sorry for the students and voted only for the four student categories. Fair enough.
After skim-boarding, seagull baiting, and pizza and s'mores around a blazing beach fire (not to be confused with a Bond fire), we sang "Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving," and other favorite hymns accompanied by the ever-talented Ralph McLin on his mandolin.

Next morning I read from Psalm 27:1-4, God is our light, salvation, and stronghold, focusing in particularly on an art field trip on verse 4, the Psalmists longing to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life and to spend those days gazing on the beauty of the Lord and inquiring in his temple (see HOLD FAST, chapter 11, Death of Art). We will have far fewer questions about what is beautiful in art if we are spending our days gazing on the beauty of the Lord.

Thinking of Lewis, reminds me of other observations I've had about how much better theologian Lewis is when writing Narnia than some of his more overtly intentional apologetic works. This from STAND FAST, chapter 27:

We call or he calls?

Though C. S. Lewis was an extraordinary Christian apologist, there were some holes, shall we say, in his theology. One of these reoccurs in the form of philosophical arguments favoring freedom of the will over against divine sovereignty. Put simply, Lewis was probably more of an Arminian than he was a Calvinist.
Nevertheless, writers are sometimes at their best when writing poetry or imaginative fiction, so in the Narnia books Lewis wonderfully illustrates the sovereignty of grace and the effectual calling of God’s Spirit. In The Silver Chair when Aslan tells Jill that he called her out of her world, Jill disagrees. “Nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call… And we did, and then we found the door open.” Jill, like most, mistakenly thought her calling was what opened the door. Lewis’s Lion wisely replied, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.”
Similarly, in The Magician’s Nephew, Lewis has Aslan utter “a long single note; not very loud, but full of power. Polly’s heart jumped in her body when she heard it. She felt sure that it was a call, and that anyone who heard that call would want to obey it and (what’s more) would be able to obey it, however many worlds and ages lay between.”

As it did Jill, the power of this call ought to fill us with the deepest wonder at the grace of our God, who alone elects, redeems, calls, and keeps all his sheep so that not one of them is lost...

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Betrayal, a novel on John Calvin

I completed my final review of the galley proofs of The Betrayal, my forthcoming novel on the life of John Calvin, to release June 1, 2009. So many details to attend to! Make sure that Sadoleto is spelled consistently throughout, that Neuchatel has that little Swiss mountain over the 'a', that Place de la Greve has the accent mark over the first 'e' in Greve, that I've checked and rechecked all those minute details--dates, precise quotations, sources in the "Guide to Further Reading" appendix. The making of books can be a wearying of the bones!

P&R Publishing asked for a short film clip of me introducing the books since I will be unable to attend ICRS (formerly CBA), the international Christian publishers trade show this July. I'll be leading a Calvin Quincentenary tour during the show at which The Betrayal will be released. I'll post the video as soon as it's finished. Visit to read a sample chapter of the book. [at right, the interior of Noyon Cathedral, where 12-year-old Calvin was made Chaplain of Le Gesine]

Lectures at Heritage Home Educators Conference

April 23-25, 2009, I had the delightful privilege of exhibiting and speaking at the Christian Heritage Washington State Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference in Redmond, Washington. An overwhelmingly record-breaking crowd (over 2,100) turned out for the fourth annual conference.

The conference is organized (and I mean organized!) by the delightful Bradrick family, the Christian Heritage Board of Directors, and an attentive entourage of cheerful volunteers. I was privileged to be at the receiving end of the attentions of the Hamilton family, who hauled loads of books and posters, set up the exhibit, escorted me to the different halls I was to speak in, ran errands, brought me lunch, and made me London Fog Lattes! I came away spoiled rotten! Seriously, it was one of the most Christ-like run conferences I have attended or participated in.

I delivered three addresses. The first, Teaching Truth With Fiction, to a large group (Scott Hamilton told me they had to turn 100 people away because the room could not hold anymore), where I concluded by reading an episode from Hostage Lands; the second, Heroes: Inspiring Servant Greatness in the Next Generation, where I read the story of my hero, WW II, P-47 flyer, John Hemminger, and War on Terror hero, David Uthlaut, from HOLD FAST In a Broken World; and the last an address entitled, Why Teach Poetry in a Post-Poetry World? wherein I emphasized that the Psalms are the model by which all poetry must be measured, and the enriching benefits of incorporating the study of hymns and hymn writing into instruction.

One of my favorite things as an author is to meet readers, answer questions, and sign books. Our booth was super well positioned to connect with lots of readers and get acquainted. Thanks to the good folks who put the conference together with such excellence and who invited me to participate as a speaker! Watch for audio exerpts from the conference, to be posted soon.