The Norwegian Association for the Blind put together this funny PSA trying to get people to be more open to having guide dogs accompany blind people in public places. After, it could be much worse.
- 14 Hopes for 2014: I commit to shut down murmuring and cynicism and gossip and slander and all forms of passive aggression (even on the blogosphere!) – and to exorcise the demons of negativity. St. Benedict said that speaking negatively about people (even with well-warranted reasons) is “poison”, and it rots away the foundation of community. In its place I hope to practice honest confrontation when hurt or offended and encourage others to do the same. (Shane Clairborne)
- A Splash of Sanctity: It is one of the most eye-catching and resonant moments in the calendar of the Christian east. On January 6th (or January 19th if you are observing the old calendar) the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river is ritually commemorated when a priest or bishop casts a cross into the nearest available stretch of water. (The Economist)
- What’s Ahead for Education in 2014: The last several years in education have been filled with turmoil: cheating scandals, debates and protests over curriculum and testing, big changes in the way students are taught. The new year offers brings more changes—but also an opportunity to find solutions to old problems and reach common ground on the divisions of the past. (The Atlantic)
- Hollywood Declares 2014 the Year of the Bible: Russell Crowe is Noah. Christian Bale is Moses. Brad Pitt is Pontius Pilate. With pages of action and a faithful fanbase, Hollywood is mining the good book for blockbuster stories. (Daily Beast)
When I first tell people that I study theological anthropology, they’re immediately fascinated, and they ask all kinds of interesting questions: What Amazonian tribes have I visited? What archeological digs have I gone on? What social experiments have I performed? Good stuff. And then I get to explain that they’re actually talking about cultural anthropology, archeology, and/or sociology. Theological anthropology is about exploring theological perspectives on what it means to be human.
The interest dries up pretty quickly after that.
As far as I can tell, there seem to be three reasons that, for the average Christian, studying theological anthropology just doesn’t sound terribly interesting.
- They think they already know what it means to be human. Why waste your time studying something you already understand? And people think they have a pretty good handle on what it means to be human. After all, they are one.
- They don’t think theology has much to offer. Of course, people know full well that humans are rather complex creatures. That’s why they’re initially fascinated when they think I’m talking about cultural anthropology or biology. Studying how humans differ in varying cultures or the complex physical and biological realities that comprise the human body, those seem like they’d have a lot to offer for understanding human persons. But theology? Not so much.
- They don’t think it matters for everyday life. Even if they’re curious enough to ask about some of the specific topics that theological anthropology addresses (e.g. the body/soul relationship, free will, gender/sexuality, etc.), it’s not immediately evident that such things have any real practical value for everyday life and ministry. They sound like things that people have been debating for millennia with no resolution, and, consequently, things that might be worth discussing over a cup of coffee, but not things with any real pressing relevance.
Obviously either I disagree or I enjoy spending my time on things that don’t really matter. And since life is short enough that I prefer not to do the latter, it’s probably the former. So let me explain.
- The Absurdity of Christian “Obsession” with Abortion and Single-Issue Voting: Let me put it this way: nobody today would say that MLK Jr. was wrong for fixating on race and equality issues. Nor would anybody today complain about abolitionists’ single-minded obsession with slavery. I shudder to think what future generations will think when they look at Christians today and their lack of horror at the tragedy of abortion in America. (Reformedish)
- 3 biggest reasons why Bible reading is down: Apparently, Bible reading is way down in churches, and Biblica has dug into finding out why. Here’s what I learned at the conference I attended last week sponsored by Biblica. (Peter Enns)
- The Confidence of Jerry Coyne: One of the problems with belonging to a faction that’s convinced it’s on the winning side of intellectual history is that it becomes easy to persuade oneself that one’s own worldview has no weak points whatsoever, no internal contradictions or ragged edges, no cracks through which a critic’s wedge could end up driven. (Ross Douthat)
- Is Recreational Marijuana Use a Sin? Although many Christians consider the answer to the question to be rather straightforward, it can be helpful to examine the reasoning process that allows us to determine how biblical principles can be applied to this issue. (Gospel Coalition)
“Men may differ from each other in many religious opinions, and yet all may retain the essentials of Christianity; men may sometimes eagerly dispute, and yet not differ much from one another: the rigorous prosecutors of error should, therefore, enlighten their zeal with knowledge, and temper their orthodoxy with charity; that charity without which orthodoxy is vain.”
Samuel Johnson, The Works of Samuel Johnson (New York: Collins and Hannay, 1825), pp. 413-414.
- Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival: Increasing numbers of preachers and professors teach the views of the 16th-century French reformer. Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller — megachurch preachers and important evangelical authors — are all Calvinist. Attendance at Calvin-influenced worship conferences and churches is up, particularly among worshipers in their 20s and 30s. (NYT)
- After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last? the New York schism raises critical questions about the Sunday Assembly. Namely: Can the atheist church model survive? Is disbelief enough to keep a Sunday gathering together? (CNN)
- Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck: I never subscribed to the fundamentalist vision that saw holiness in terms of cultural retreat or worldliness as anything that smacked of cultural engagement. I don’t subscribe to that position today. But sometimes I wonder if evangelicals have swung the pendulum too far to the other side, to the point where all sorts of entertainment choices are validated in the name of cultural engagement. (Trevin Wax)
- Can Great Literature Really Change Your Life? Stop beating yourself over not reading the “right” books. Fiction is about two things: curiosity and pleasure. (The Daily Beast)
I remember the first time I entered an IKEA store. One had just opened in Portland, and I thought I’d run in and check out one thing I was interested in for our kitchen. I quickly discovered that one does not simply “run in” to an IKEA. It took about five minutes to find what I was looking for, and twenty minutes to find the stupid exit.
So I can sympathize with the poor people who got caught when Ylvis (the people behind “What Does the Fox Say?“) arranged this prank.
Yesterday I posted an infographic about the reading habits of Americans after high school college. I mentioned in my post that it was interesting “if the stats in the infographic are correct,” which is a needed caveat for these notoriously unreliable infographics. And several people did question whether these stats could possibly be correct. So I looked into them a bit more, which didn’t take long since the infographic’s own creator has updated information on his blog.
The short version is that the stats in the infographic are not as authoritative as they appear, but they still reflect an interesting perspective on the state of reading in America. Here are the facts:
- Where is God When the Economy Collapses? Rethinking Economic Theodicy: How we think about economic suffering matters for our actions, both individually and through policy processes. Is poverty natural and hence inevitable? Is it an inevitable consequence of modern market arrangements? Where is individual responsibility for economic choices? Our answers to these sorts of questions determine how much effort we put into alleviating economic suffering and how this effort is directed. (ABC)
- What I Wish I’d Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry: I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines. (Sam Storms)
- The Most Important Skill for 2014…and Beyond: The most important skill for 2014 is deciding what you will pay attention to. (Executing Ideas)
- 4 Early Church Writings Every Christian Should Read: C.S. Lewis writes “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in-between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.” New books are great, but they are untested—we don’t know which ones will stand the test of time. But old books have been sifted by time. It’s always good for us to look at the context of the people that came before us and see how the world looked from their time and place. (Relevant)
I remember being surprised the first time I ran across someone who told me that he hadn’t read an entire book since he finished college. It took me a while to wrap my head around that one, but I’ve discovered since that this isn’t terribly uncommon. And, if the stats in this infographic are correct, not always a safe assumption, it’s even more common that I thought.