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Flotsam and jetsam (8/22)

dark side cookies

Good Reads

  • Why We Never “Wait” for All the Facts Before We Speak: What wisdom is there in a silence that risks nothing for the oppressed and grants no opportunity for understanding? What wisdom is there in a call for “all the facts” while ignoring some basic and publicly available facts that give cause to lament? What wisdom is there in a silence that actually speaks volumes about its willingness to not even comfort the grieving? (Thabiti Anyabwile)
  • Four Unexpected Benefits of a Small Church: over the years I have been so grateful for our small church, and many of its unexpected benefits and opportunities are specifically related to its … smallness. (Leadership Journal)
  • Behind Ferguson: How Black and White Christians Think Differently About Race: With an increasing number of Christian writers arguing that a significant gap exists between black and white Christians, the latest findings from a significant ongoing study of religion and race in America offers some hard statistics—and suggest that polarization is increasing. (Christianity Today)
  • 5 Misunderstandings about Church Discipline: In the evangelical churches I have participated in during my adult life, there has always been a policy regarding church discipline, attempting to be true to the teaching of Jesus in this text. But a number of exegetical observations are often overlooked. (Craig Blomberg)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/18)

deadly water

Good Reads

  • While You Were Talking About Gungor, Driscoll, and Walsh: While the white evangelical twittersphere was debating whether Mark Driscoll should step down from his pastorship, members of the black twittersphere were guessing which picture of them the media would show if a white person or a cop gunned them down. This is the world we live in. (On Faith
  • When Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse: Several new studies show that praying might help alleviate worries—but only if the person has a secure relationship with God. (The Atlantic)
  • 13 Tell-Tale Signs of HR Problems in Your Parish: churches, which should be models of health and life, often are dismal places to work. And if they’re dismal places to work, you can bet that parishioners are feeling the effects, no matter how vibrant your parish may otherwise be. (Episcopal Cafe)
  • The Atrophy of the Evangelical Imagination: many Christians do not know how to receive art, they only know how to use it. Expressions of culture–whether through film, literature, television, or the fine arts–are typically seen as valuable only to the degree that they affirm Christian worldview or ethics. Those that don’t (which would be the vast majority) are labeled anathema. (Samuel James)

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Blaise Pascal (A Prayer for Sunday)

pascalOne of the most brilliant thinkers of his age, Blaise Pascal was a noted theologian, philosopher, writer, mathematician, and scientist. After undergoing an intense religious experience as an adult, Pascal became involved with the Jansenists, a movement within the Catholic church focused on promoting a robust form of Augustinianism, and wrote several influential theological works, including his famous Pensées.

Blaise Pascal died on August 19, 1662. In honor of his amazing life and legacy, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life
…..except to spend them for thee and with thee.
Thou alone knowest what is good for me;
… therefore what seemeth thee best.

Give to me or take from me;
conform my will to thine;
and grant that, with humble and perfect submission,
…..and in holy confidence,
…..I may receive the orders of thine eternal providence;
and may equally adore all that comes to me from thee,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Flotsam and jetsam (8/15)


Good Reads

  • Ferguson and the Quest for Racial Justice:  These divisions and hatred are older than America, and are rooted in a satanic deception that tells us we ought to idolize “the flesh.” The gospel doesn’t just call us individually to repentance, but also congregationalizes that reconciliation in local bodies of persons who may have nothing else in common but the image of God, repentance of sin, and the redemption found in Jesus Christ. (Russell Moore)
  • The parenting police state: Will we ever be able to go back to freer childhoods? There’s a strong developmental case to be made for a return to free-range childhood. Letting children navigate the world outside their door (but not too far) on their own and with friends can foster a sprit of independence, teach social skills, promote an appreciation of nature, encourage creativity, and allow a healthy space to learn how to fail. (The Week)
  • 5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist:  Ironically, I truly want them to listen and improve. Why? Because I want every worldview to have good representation. It does me no good in my pursuit of truth to have my worldview challenged by an impotent and weakly opponent. (C. Michael Patton)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/11)


Good Reads

  • The Secret Rules of Adjective Order:  An intuitive code governs the way English speakers order adjectives. The rules come so naturally to us that we rarely learn about them in school, but over the past few decades language nerds have been monitoring modifiers, grouping them into categories, and straining to find logic in how people instinctively rank those categories. (Slate)
  • Losing religion at college? New study flips the common wisdom: In other words, a college degree used to mean people were more likely to lose religion. Now, some people are losing religion whether they went to college or not but it’s especially true for those who didn’t go to college. (Religion News Service)
  • 5 Myths You Still Might Believe about the Puritans (#5 Will Blow Your Mind!):   Many of us have grown up with an understanding of Puritans as those gloomy religious folk who found joy in making sure others had none. The tale of spoilsport Puritans continues to be told, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are 5 myths about Puritans which you may still believe. (
  • The Squeeze on the Middlebrow: A Resurgence in Inequality and Its Effects on Culture:  Social inequality may be returning, but that doesn’t mean that the masterpieces will follow. The highbrows were co-opted or killed off by the middle, and the elitism they championed has been replaced by another kind, the kind that measures all value, cultural and otherwise, in money. It may be time to build a new ladder. (New York Times)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/8)


Good Reads

  • Advice to Young Scholars:   In the end, what matters is not winning approval or gaining celebrity. Your mission and vocation is to seek the truth and to speak the truth as God gives you to grasp it. (First Things)
  • Why I Accept Mark Driscoll’s Apology…And You Should Too:  When Christians have grown so bitter toward someone that we can’t even accept their apologies, something has gone seriously wrong. If Driscoll had ignored these comments, his critics would have excoriated him for his silence. But when he says he is sorry, they criticize him still. We must refuse to create lose-lose situations for each other where one is damned if they apologize and damned if they don’t. (Jonathan Merritt)
  • China Plans Its Own ‘Christian Theology’:  China says it may try to create a theology based on Christianity – that integrates the religion with Chinese culture and is compatible with the country’s socialist beliefs. (BBC)
  • Cultural Disintegration and the Revival of a Moral Imagination:  Such a conversion and revival of the moral imagination must begin with the church of Jesus Christ. As Peter reminds us, judgment always begins at the household of God. So what would such a revival of a robustly Christian moral imagination look like? (Canon and Culture)

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/6)

pocket elves

Good Reads

  • Well To Start With, Your Last Theologian Was A Idiot: Theologians and pastors, whether in person or in print, ought to bear this in mind when explaining doctrine. Explain sympathetically what previous teachers or traditions were trying to do….Explain doctrines and differences in such a way that your listeners focus their attention on the subject matter rather than the personalities. (Fred Sanders)
  • The Evangelical Persecution Complex:  If evangelicals want to have a persuasive voice in a pluralist society, a voice that can defend Christians from serious persecution, then we must be able to discern accurately when we are truly victims of oppression—and when this victimization is only imagined. (The Atlantic)
  • Gay, Christian and … celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate: For years, those who were gay or struggled with homosexuality felt like they had few good options: leave their faith, ignore their sexuality or try to change. But as groups like Exodus have become increasingly unpopular, Rodgers is among those who embrace a different model: celibate gay Christians, who seek to be true to both their sexuality and their faith. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
  • Go Ahead, Say the Wrong Thing:  When we create lists of things never to say or publicly rebuke people over what amount to trifling missteps in their language, do we not often do out of a sense of pride: that we, not they, know the right words; that we, not they, are righteous in our indignation, even if their intentions were innocuous? (Hermeneutics)

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This Year’s Back to School Series: Tips from the Writers Guild

back to school academics education teaching teacher teach learning study studyingLast August I ran some posts in a “Back to School” series focusing on things like making some “New Year” resolutions (part 1 and part 2), starting the new school year well (Don’t Start the Year with a Cat on Your Head), keeping your teacher happy the right way (6 Ways to Your Teacher’s Heart), and writing good papers (How to Destory Your Research Paper in One Simple Step). I had intended to write a few more, but that’s as far as we got.

The feedback on the series was quite positive, so I’m experimenting with making it a regular August feature. But this year we’re going to try something a little different. Over the last few months I’ve read a number of books about writing. Some focused more on the skill of writing and others more on the attitudes/tasks behind successful writing. But with all of them I noticed something interesting: the advice for being a good writer looks a lot like the advice for being a good student. So this year’s Back to School series is going to focus on lessons that we can learn as students from those who are, or strive to be, professional writers. We’ll be drawing on books like Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, among others.

I’ll update this page as further posts become available. Enjoy!

Flotsam and jetsam (8/4)

dogs and cats

Good Reads

  • A Twee Saint for the Internet:  A marketing campaign to celebrate Ignatius of Loyola’s feast day creates a remarkable intersection of pop culture, digital media, and spiritual recruitment. (The Atlantic)
  • Rock Star Pastors Lose Their Luster:  One of the problems with celebrity pastors is that it’s very difficult to draw a line between advancing the gospel and advancing the preacher. When a famous pastor grows his audience and fame, doesn’t this mean that more people are hearing his saving message about Christ? OnFaith)
  • Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval Manuscripts: Flipping through an illustrated manuscript from the 13th century, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Jesus loved a good fart joke. That’s because the margins of these handmade devotional books were filled with imagery depicting everything from scatological humor to mythical beasts to sexually explicit satire. (Collectors Weekly)
  • Responding to Five Trends in Youth Morality: Let me be clear — I’ll be the first to admit that some values or morals are relative. They change from culture to culture, person to person, and era to era. But in our desire to be progressive, I’m concerned we’ve discarded some timeless morals in the name of progress. (Growing Leaders)

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Top Posts for June & July

top fiveI neglected to list the top posts for June, so here are the top posts from the last couple of months. Enjoy!

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