- 7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books: In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn’t read one at all in the past year. But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment. (Huffington Post)
- A Theologian’s Influence and Dark Past Live On: All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.By that standard, few failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. (New York Times)
- Asian-Americans troubled by stereotypes from white evangelicals: Asian-American Christians are voicing concerns over how they’re depicted by white evangelicals, most recently at a conference hosted by Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California. (Religion News Service)
- The Big Business of Big Hits: How Blockbusters Conquered Movies, TV, and Music: The blockbuster strategy—betting more and more money on fewer and fewer titles—has taken over the entertainment world. (The Atlantic)
If you have a couple of extra minutes laying around, you’ll appreciate this video, which highlights the importance of maps both for conveying information about the world and for shaping thew way we view the world.
If you say “Libya” to most Americans, certain ideas will come to mind: maybe Islam, the recent Benghazi attack, or Muammar Gaddafi. I think it’s relatively safe to say that most people would not think “one of the most important centers of Christianity in the early church.” According to Thomas Oden’s Early Libyan Christianity: Uncovering a North African Tradition (IVP, 2011), that’s a problem.
The first issue, of course, is that many Christians remain unaware of the vital role that African Christians played in the history of early Christianity. For them, Christianity didn’t show up in Africa until the colonial powers imposed it on the continent during the modern era.
And that’s tragic. Some of the oldest and most influential centers of Christianity were in North Africa, places like Alexandria and Carthage. And many of Christianity’s most influential leaders and theologians likewise came from and ministered in North Africa, people like Clement, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Cyprian, and Augustine. African Christians were shaping Christianity 1,500 years before the rise of the European colonial powers.
If you’d like to explore the significance of African Christianity further, I strongly recommend Thomas Oden’s excellent little book How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the Seedbed of Western Christianity.
But there’s a second problem. Even after studying church history and gaining an appreciation for how important Africa is, many of us still leave out an important part of the story: the huge section of North Africa between Alexandria (Egypt) and Carthage (Tunisia): the region known in the ancient world as Libya.
My daughters love their technology. My 12-year old has an iPod and a laptop — in our defense, they were both given to her as hand-me-downs — and my youngest already uses my wife’s laptop to do her homework. (I could have also mentioned her using the same laptop to play games or watch movies, but it sounded so much more responsible to point out the educational use of technology. So I’ll stick with that.) They can go days without watching TV, but rarely does a day go by without some iPod/laptop time.
So we’re keenly interested in what people are saying about how technology impacts children. And this infographic does a nice job summarizing some of the more interesting findings.
- The Meaning of Martyrdom: For people who practise religion in comfortable, well-ordered places, and face no greater physical danger than sore knees or feet, the idea of being a martyr (in the sense of dying for one’s faith and receiving a heavenly reward) can seem rather remote. But in almost all the world’s religions, martyrdom plays an important role. (The Economist)
- In the Developing World, a Renaissance in Christian Higher Education: Of the nearly 600 Christian universities outside the United States and Canada, 30 percent were started since 1980. Since 1990, 138 new Christian universities have been started, 46 of them in Africa. (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Using Music to Close the Academic Gap: New studies on the cognitive advantages of learning instruments at early ages. (The Atlantic)
- What Multitasking Does To Your Brain: In case we needed another reason to close the 15 extra browser tabs we have open, Clifford Nass, a communication professor at Stanford, has provided major motivation for monotasking: according to his research, the more you multitask, the less you’re able to learn, concentrate, or be nice to people. (Fast Company)
Almost 20 years ago, Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind critiqued evangelicalism, quite simply, for not having much of a mind. In this short video, three leading evangelical, all presidents of key evangelical institutions, discuss whether we can now talk about “the maturing of the evangelical mind.” Al Mohler (Southern Seminar), Phil Ryken (Wheaton College), and Michael Lindsey (Gordon College) all argue that we’ve come a long way in the last two decades.
In the video, they specifically highlight the following as evidence of evangelicalism’s increased intellectual vigor:
It’s always a little sad when you run across someone who is excited about some theological concept they just came across, thinking that it will revolutionize the way people think about God or themselves, and you have to point out that it’s actually an ancient heresy that the church considered and rejected long ago.
That’s the gist of this cartoon: “new” theological ideas are almost always simple repetitions of older heresies. There’s nothing new under the sun, right?
Not quite. At first, I thought this comic was just funny. Then I thought again. Scroll down to see what I mean.
I have written before about why we need to eliminate the idea of a “Golden Age” of Christianity, a time when the church was nearly perfect, an era that we just need to imitate if we want to create healthier churches today. And, after a few minutes reflection, most people accept that every generation had its flaws and foibles. We learn from them not because they were perfect but because they walked before us and modeled how to live faithfully in the midst of a horribly broken world.
But many still want to hold on to the Golden Age’s evil twin brother: the Dark Age, an age where the church was so fallen and its understanding of the truth so twisted that we have virtually nothing to learn from those who lived through those dismal days. An age when the lights went out, leaving only darkness.
For most Protestants, the Dark Age was not just a particular generation, or even an entire century. No, we have our sights on something bigger, blacker, and more tragic: the wasteland of medieval Christianity. A thousand years lost in the dark void between the bright lights of the early church and the Reformation.