Archive by Author

A Prayer for Sunday (Luther)

It hardly seems necessary to introduce Martin Luther, the famous German reformer, theologian, pastor, and inventor of many fabulous insults. So I’ll just say that tomorrow is the anniversary of his death (February 18, 1546). And in honor of his amazing life, here is one of the prayers that he wrote reflecting on the Lord’s prayer.

O Father, it is indeed true that we cannot be strong by our own power. How can we stand before your might if you do not yourself strengthen and comfort us? Therefore, dear Father, embrace us, accomplish your will in us, that we may be your kingdom to your praise and glory. But, dear Father, strengthen us in this life with your holy word. Give us our daily bread. Establish in our hearts your dear Son Jesus Christ who is the true bread of heaven. Sustained by him, we may gladly bear and suffer the breaking and the dying of our own will and the fulfilling of your will. Give grace to all your churches. Send us educated pastors and preachers who will not give us the crumbs and chaff of foolish fables, but who will teach us your holy gospel and lead us to Jesus Christ.


Flotsam and jetsam (2/15)

Good Reads

  • How Can I Tell If I’m Called to Pastoral Ministry? I’ve been asked the question many times, and I’m not sure I agree with it. The question often assumes that pastors, unique among all the vocations of the world, will (and sometimes must) have a powerful, divine, subjective call to ministry that overwhelmingly points them in their God-ordained direction. I don’t see support for that sort of normative experience in Scripture.
  • A Critic Reflects on Pope Benedict: I’ve written more than my fair share criticizing the way that some bishops, the Pope included, communicate their messages, whether through employing overly harsh language, creating too cozy of a relationship with right-wing politicos, or turning a blind eye toward those living on the margins of church and world. But these injustices didn’t spring to mind yesterday. Something else entirely filled my thoughts.
  • How the Internet Reinforces Inequality in the Real World: Every technological innovation today around a new smart-phone app or web platform improving quality of life in cities comes with a caveat. What about the people who can’t access those tools? What about the people on the other side of the digital divide who lack access to home computers, Internet connections, unlimited data plans? These are the people who go “unmapped” in the geoweb.
  • Is Love More Real When Grounded in Faith? The life of faith detects that there is a fourth dimension to add to this third, a divine love that is there waiting. It holds all because it is the source of the love that flows through all. Fear and uncertainty do not cease. Human love always feels a bit like that. But faith is the felt sense that love can be trusted because love is, in truth, the ground of reality.

Continue Reading…

How Movies Teach Our Kids about Gender

What are movies teaching our kids about gender, about what it means to be men and women? That’s the question Colin Stokes asks in this recent TED Talks video. Although he raises a number of good points, here are a couple of the more interesting ones.

The Bechdel Test

I’d never heard of the Bechdel Test, but it’s a way of gauging how a movie portrays its female characters. And it’s a pretty simple test.

  1. Are there at least two women who actually have lines?
  2. Do these women talk to each other at any point in the movie?
  3. Is there conversation about something other than the guy that they both like?

So the essence of the test is whether the movie contains “two women who exist and talk to each other about stuff.” That sounds like setting the bar pretty low. But the startling reality is that quite a few movies fail to achieve even this low standard. Either the movie has almost no significant female characters, or it fails to show them interacting with other women on issues unrelated to dating and/or marriage.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (2/13)

Good Reads

  • The Pope’s Legacy: Pope Benedict XVI may likely remembered as a pope who in his relatively short pontificate, sought primarily to strengthen the orthodoxy of the church in a variety of means, who authored several important encyclicals, notable for their theological depth and appeal, and who continued a full set of public appearances, and who, despite his full schedule, published three well-received books on the life of Jesus.
  • Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church: I work in a major college town with a large number of 20-somethings. Nearly all of them were raised in very typical evangelical churches. Nearly all of them have left the church with no intention of returning. I spend a lot of time with them and it takes very little to get them to vent, and I’m happy to listen. So, after lots of hours spent in coffee shops and after buying a few lunches, here are the most common thoughts taken from dozens of conversations.
  • Americans Reveal Their 3 Favorite Sins: “Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,” a survey conducted by the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, concludes that the moral struggles that vex most Americans aren’t the salacious acts that drive the plotlines of reality television shows. Most Americans are too worn down or distracted to get snared by those vices.

Continue Reading…

What You Wish You’d Known Before Your Job Interview

Although this infographic is geared for the general job market, much of this applies to interviewing for positions in ministry and higher education as well. Scanning through the data, I noticed that most of these job interview tips fall into four basic categories, all of which are worth keeping in mind:

  • First impressions matter: 33% of bosses claimed to know within in 90 seconds if they will hire someone.
  • Body language matters: Everyone knows to watch what you say in an interview, but you also have to watch what you’re not saying.
  • Personality matters: Check out the list of common mistakes, and you’ll notice that several of them emphasize the importance of letting your unique personality come through in the interview.
  • Preparation matters: It’s very difficult to “wing” a successful interview. If you want that job, do your homework.

job interview tips search market work

Via Classes and Careers

Flotsam and jetsam (2/11)

Good Reads

  • Why Only Some Grammar Rules Are Breakable: Deviate too far from the “who died and made you king” rules, and your writing will look ignorant and amateurish. Deviate from the descriptive rules and you’re no longer writing English. But deviate from the aesthetic rules, and you end up either with a mess or with a masterpiece. Art is like that.
  • The God of Job: A pastoral theology which has not grappled with the whirlwind and the speeches of the last part of Job is sub-biblical; and preaching which does not take these things into account is not biblical preaching.
  • These United States of Crunk & Bible Studies: A Sentiment Analysis of Geocoded Tweets. The goal was to determine the mood of a county’s population, whether they were tweeting more about getting drunk or going to bible study.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (2/8)

Good Reads

  • Resist the Urge to Do Cutting Edge Youth Ministry: In a valuable manner, youth ministry people seek to keep a watchful eye on the most efficacious means by which to reach teenagers. It is part of what makes the field exciting and dynamic. At the same time, youth ministry can dedicate exorbitant amounts of attention to finding a magic bullet in our methodology.
  • The Biblical Case for Immigration Reform: The key to this conversation is not to begin with the legal issue….You need to get there. You don’t start there. You start with these immigrants as people.”

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (2/4)

pirating pirates pirate

Good Reads

  • Foolishness!: It is perhaps fair to say that most believers do not quite realize the outrageous character of these most basic and taken-for-granted hallmarks of Christianity….Irrespective of whether they are true or not, these are surely among the wildest and most monstrous claims ever proposed in human history….Yet somehow, in the course of nearly 2,000 years, these claims have become so familiar, so tamed and domesticated, as to seem hardly worthy of comment, let alone wonder or puzzlement, among the great majority of those who profess them.
  • A Brief History of Nerds in Pop Culture: In news that is not actually news, nerds are no longer the shameful outsiders of society, they are celebrated and treated like exotic zoo animals, adorable and mystical and called fake by other exotic zoo animals. But how did this happen?
  • Was Ist das Super Bowl? How international news outlets cover America’s unique festival of “commercials featuring animals and blue-collar sexist smut.”

Continue Reading…

A Prayer for Sunday (Bonhoeffer)

Dietrich BonhoefferTomorrow is Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s birthday (February 4, 1906). Bonhoeffer was a leading German theologian and leader in the Lutheran church during the middle of the twentieth century, probably best known for his staunch resistance to Nazism and for his involvement with the German resistance and the plot to assassinate Hitler. Although he died when he was only 39 years old, Bonhoeffer still made a mark on theology with his sermons, letters, and his writings on the church, discipleship, and ethics, among other things.

In honor of Bonhoeffer’s 107th birthday, here is his famous morning prayer.

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

Flotsam and jetsam (2/1)

Good Reads

  • Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Online Education: The advent of massively open online classes (MOOCs) is the single most important technological development of the millennium so far. I say this for two main reasons. First, for the enormously transformative impact MOOCs can have on literally billions of people in the world. Second, for the equally disruptive effect MOOCs will inevitably have on the global education industry.
  • Five Things Evangelicals Need to Face in the Next 10 Years: The sky isn’t falling for evangelicals, but we do have reason to look in the mirror. As the church continues to navigate an increasingly post-Christian culture, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to face some truths and change some behaviors to reach the world with the message of the gospel.
  • Hebrews Out Loud: The book of Hebrews seems to have been written for the ear. Or, if that claim is true, perhaps it should be made in this form: the sermon to the Hebrews was designed to be spoken aloud.

Continue Reading…