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Flotsam and jetsam (11/2)

star wars, han solo, chewbacca, movie quotes

Good Reads

  • Why Zombies Matter: Zombies are horrifying not simply because they’re mean and aggressive. They are horrifying because they represent what ought to repulse us: the rotting decay of death. But they still walk. And, beyond that, they still crave. In their search for human brains, they are driven along by their appetites, though always under the sway of a slavemaster’s will. That’s our story.
  • Technology Is Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say: There is a widespread belief among teachers that students’ constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks, according to two surveys of teachers being released on Thursday.
  • 9 Lies the Media Likes to Tell about Evangelicals: So while there are certainly exceptions, I’ve identified nine common lies perpetuated by people in the media. Granted, there are enough vocal evangelicals to bolster each of these stereotypes, so the media isn’t completely responsible. But nuance is necessary here. Thus this post.

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Existential Thoughts on Halloween from Henri the Cat

Henri the Existential Cat shares some sobering thoughts on Halloween. Today of all days it must be tough being a depressed, black, French cat.

Flotsam and jetsam (10/31)

Good Reads

  • 9.5 Theses on Martin Luther Against the Self-Indulgences of the Modern Church: So, in honour of the good Doctor and in the cause of saving him from the domesticated historiography of the Beautiful Young Things, here are a series of theses about  the Wittenberger, the cumulative force of which is to prove that in today’s evangelical world he would have made a most excellent taxi driver.
  • A Zombie Is a Slave Forever: Most people think of them as the walking dead, a being without a soul or someone with no free will. This is true. But the zombie is not an alien enemy who’s been CGI-ed by Hollywood. He is a New World phenomenon that arose from the mixture of old African religious beliefs and the pain of slavery, especially the notoriously merciless and coldblooded slavery of French-run, pre-independence Haiti. In Africa, a dying person’s soul might be stolen and stoppered up in a ritual bottle for later use. But the full-blown zombie was a very logical offspring of New World slavery.

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9 Reasons We Need the Gospels

Some Christians downplay the Gospels. We don’t do it on purpose, of course. After all, those are the books about Jesus, so they must be important. But we still have a tendency to prefer the letters to the Gospels. Stories are interesting, but they’re also a bit messy and complicated. So it seems easier, faster, and clearer to skip past the stories and just hear Paul tell us what we’re supposed to believe.

In Reading the Gospels Wisely, Jonathan Pennington offers nine excellent reasons that we should not do this. Beyond some nifty stories and fascinating parables, the Gospels have a lot to offer. And we’re missing out on a lot as Christians when we don’t allow us ourselves to soak in these life-changing narratives.

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Flotsam and jetsam (10/29)

humor, movie summary, wizard of oz

best movie summary ever

Good Reads

  • The Famous Battle That Changed History: There aren’t many battles that changed history, and making this sort of claim for any battle may seem pretty melodramatic. But the events of October 28, 312 were melodramatic. On that day the Roman emperor Constantine defeated his rival emperor Maxentius, and in doing so found proof that he had made the right decision a few months earlier. That decision was to become a Christian.
  • My year of biblical womanhood: Last year, I determined that I would live biblically as a woman. That is not news.  I determined to do that every year of my life when I was converted at the age of 20.  It has been uphill and downhill, depending on the year.

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How to Break through Your Creative Blocks

It happens to everyone. Maybe you’re working on a sermon, a research paper, a poem, or anything else that requires you to come up with some new ideas and express them in unique ways. Whatever it is, you run into the dreaded “block,” that state of being that seems to keep you from coming up with anything more interesting than what you ate for lunch. And, when that happens, it can be pretty frustrating.

A new book takes a unique approach to tackling that problem. Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination offers tips and suggestions from 90 people from different walks of life on how to break through creative blocks. And the suggestions themselves are often rather creative. (One of my favorites is to check into an expensive hotel for a couple of days. The thought of how much money you’re spending just to be there will motivate you to keep working!)

Much of the advice, though, boiled down to two somewhat contrary-sounding ideas:

  • Creativity is hard work and sometimes you just have to push through.
  • When you’re stuck, you often need to take a break and come back fresh.

And the book offer some great suggestions for how to do both of these. But it still leaves you with a pretty fundamental problem: How do you know when you should push through and when you need to take a break?

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A Little Philosophy Humor: Why It’s Impossible to Read Zeno’s Paradox

I am teaching a class on philosophy and theology this semester, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed this cartoon so much. Unfortunately, like a lot of philosophy humor, you may need to brush up on a few things.

  • Zeno’s paradox is the famous question of whether you can continue dividing something in half forever, ending up with infinitely smaller pieces.
  • And Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is his way of explaining how this world is just a shadow of the real world of the Forms.

A Prayer for Sunday (Erasmus)

Desiderius Erasmus was one of the great reformers of the 1500s. Protestants tend not to think of him as a reformer, of course, because he remained a committed Catholic throughout the Protestant Reformation, and famously disagreed Luther on the nature of human free will. But Erasmus was also an outspoken critic of the late medieval church, and one of the key voices calling for institutional, clerical, educational, and moral reform. As such, he should definitely be regarded as one of the most important of the early reformers.

Scholars are somewhat divided on his precise birthdate, but it was either October 26, 27 ,or 28. (Or maybe it was just a really long delivery!) Regardless, in honor of his birth, this morning’s prayer comes from him.

Lord Jesus Christ, the world’s true sun, always rising, never setting,
whose life-giving warmth engenders, preserves,
nourishes and gladdens all things in heaven and on earth,
shine into my soul, I pray:
scatter the night of sin and the clouds of error;
blaze within me, so that I may go on my way without stumbling,
taking no part in shameful deeds done in the dark,
but ever walking as one born to the light.


Saturday Morning Fun…How to Diagnose a Zombie

Extroverts and Introverts Need Each Other

If you haven’t read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I strongly recommend it. She does an excellent job pointing out the many ways in which we overemphasize the importance of being extroverted and downplay the unique contributions that introverts make in the world. And she does it without pushing the pendulum in the other direction and arguing that introverts are somehow better. She just wants us to see the need for both.

Here’s a great animated video summarizing the main argument of the. Check it out.