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Flotsam and jetsam (1/26)

Embarrassing-State-Facts-13-685x356

Good Reads

  • William Willimon’s “The Culture is Overrated”: It is a strange assumption for Americans to feel they already have the equipment necessary to comprehend the gospel without any modification of lifestyle, without any struggle—in short, without being born again. The point is not to speak to the culture. The point is to change it. God’s appointed means of producing change is called “church”; and God’s typical way of producing church is called “preaching.”
  • 4 Reasons to Stop Obsessing about Heaven: What happens when people die? Their bodies and souls are unnaturally torn apart; their bodies stay here while their souls go to either heaven or hell. Praise God that those who die in Christ go to heaven, but never forget that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. The only reason anyone ever goes to heaven is because of sin. (Gospel Coalition)
  • Why Hollywood’s best directors are ditching movies for the internet: And while there’s still some debate about whether the new “golden age of television” is killing Hollywood, coming to an end, or really existed in the first place, one fact cannot be disputed: Artists are coming to TV and the internet for the creative freedom they offer. (The Week)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/21)

 phone checking

Good Reads

  • 7 Reasons to Teach Our Children Church History: By no means should church history supplant teaching your family the Bible. Family worship and God’s Word must come first in your home. But the benefits of teaching them something about the key figures and movements from the rich heritage of the church are myriad. (Gospel Coalition)
  • 4 Kinds of Fake Faith and How to Spot Them: Fake watches are tempting to buy, but so is fake faith. Fake faith is a faith that has elements of the real deal but that falls woefully short, lets us down in the long run, and denies the reality of our relationship with God. Like my friend’s watch, a fake faith doesn’t stand the test of time. (Transformed)
  • Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel: A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published. (Live Science)
  • Making Christianity Weird Again: if young people are given the choice between unbelief and a faith that puts a light God gloss on the same consumerism and materialism that everybody else lives with, then who can blame young people for rejecting it? Because that is not historic Christianity. The real thing is wild, and weird; it is not a set of ideas, but a way of life. (Rod Dreher)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/19)

Good Reads

  • Who Falls for Conspiracy Theories? So if you’re convinced that the world’s solutions could be easily solved if everyone simply fell in line with your self-evidently correct beliefs, it’s a puzzle as to why this doesn’t simply happen. Many people, it seems, conclude that the most likely answer involves a massive conspiracy of some sort. (The Week)
  • What We Talk About When We Talk about Race in Pop Culture: But I have to first listen. I need others to help me know when I am unwittingly offensive, when I think I know what it means to be a “real” black person or to live life in another’s skin. I don’t know what it’s like to be stereotyped for having dark skin, or to have people think I’m an ish because of upward mobility. (Christianity Today)
  • 5 Simple Ways to Teach Your Children Theology: How can you weave theological teaching into their daily lives, without necessarily setting them down for an in-depth family sermon (though there is nothing inherently wrong with that)? How can you impart good theology into the lives of your children, without possessing a theological degree (though hopefully there is nothing inherently wrong with that)? (The Wardrobe Door)
  • From Seminary to the Cemetery, Fascination Persists Over Pets and the Afterlife: Questions about the religious status of animals have always been with us; popular theology refuses to deny animals their souls. Our sense of spiritual kinship is already latent in the bootees and little sweaters we buy our pets, and the sidewalk baby talk with which we embarrass ourselves, and perhaps them. Consider how we treat our pets in death. (New York  Times)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/14)

taxes

Good Reads

  • Disparity in news coverage: As many as 2,000 dead in Nigeria, but France dominates front pages: Terror attacks in France carried out by militants claiming allegiance to al-Qaida and Islamic State extremists dominate the world’s front pages. On the other hand, the Muslim militant group Boko Haram’s slaughter of as many as 2,000 Nigerians — its “deadliest act” yet, according to Amnesty International — generally settles for less-prime real estate inside newspapers. But why? (Get Religion)
  • No, the Internet Is Not Killing Culture: In some ways, creative people, broadly defined, are better off in the U.S. today than they have been throughout much of human history….Still, this contemporary outlook would have astonished the struggling writers of Gissing’s day, and reflects, in part, the spread of creative work in the current economy. (Slate)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/12)

halos

Good Reads

  • 5 Reasons Not to Use Gender-Based Jokes from the Pulpit: If you’re in Christian leadership, and you find yourself with a microphone in hand in front of a room full of people waiting on your every word, do everything you can to avoid using stereotypical gender jokes. (Rob Dixon)
  • Scientists Seek Religious Experience—In Subjects’ Brains: The researchers want to see more than religion’s registry on the brain. They want to know whether it differs across sects, or by intensity of belief. They want to see what genes it activates, what hormones it releases, and how it relates to social behaviors. Can the same basic circuitry produce Mother Teresa and the Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta? If so, how? (Los Angeles Times)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/5)

how worried

Good Reads

  • 15 Trends for Churches in 2015: At the beginning of every year, I attempt to present to you the major trends for congregations for the coming twelve months. I review my predictions from previous years to see how accurate I am. I have come to two conclusions. First, I am far from perfect in my predictions. Second, I do have a decent track record. (Thom Rainer)

Flotsam and Jetsam (12/29)

hobbes

Good Reads

  • The Surprising Ways That Chickens Have Changed the World: For most of us, the word “chicken” spells a cold, clammy slab of plastic-wrapped white meat plucked out of the refrigerated section of our local supermarket. But in the ancient world, and in many cultures today, chickens had deep religious and social significance. (National Geographic)
  • Why Christmas Is Huge in China: The Western religious festival is so trendy, in fact, that it may be the second-most-celebrated festival in China after the Spring Festival among young Chinese. (The Atlantic)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/17)

 doctor

Good Reads

  • The Biggest Myth in Time Management: The truth is, we can’t ever really get away from it. There is no escaping the nonstop surge of email, text, voicemail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — and that’s just the technology-based stream. How can we ever catch up? We can’t. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Gay Christians choosing celibacy emerge from the shadows: The reaction among church leaders themselves has been mixed, with some praising the celibacy movement as a valid way to be both gay and Christian. But others have returned to the central question of how far Christianity can go in embracing homosexuality — even if people abstain from sex. (Washington Post)
  • The Myth of the Exceptional Woman: But women leaders aren’t that extraordinary. The differences between female leaders and women in general are not as great as we think they are—at least, they’re not differences that we can’t address through education and more opportunities. (Christianity Today)
  • The Rise of Mindfulness: The ages-old practice teaches a person to be more focused on the present moment, rather than caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about the future. The practice has gained popularity in the U.S., and apparently with good reason: Every other week there seems to be a new scientific study showing just how it can change the brain. (Forbes)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/15)

 beep

Good Reads

  • An Open Letter to the Dad Looking at Porn: Dear Dad, I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this effects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well. (Faith It)
  • Fred Sanders on John Wesley and Arminianism: Reading John Wesley can certainly make you look around at contemporary preaching and wonder where all the serious business went. The judgment he pronounced on university students in his day –“you are a generation of triflers, triflers with God, with one another, and with your own souls”–strikes a nerve for us. (Jesus Creed)
  • Future Perfect: Social progress, high-speed transport and electricity everywhere – how the Victorians invented the future. (Aeon)

Flotsam and jetsam (12/12)

cremation

Good Reads

  • Sorry, Tertullian: Church growth is “not strongly” correlated with either governmental or societal persecution. However, Christianity “tends loosely” to change more rapidly (grow or shrink) when governmental restriction is high, and stays relatively stable when such pressure is low. (Christianity Today)
  • 10 Ways That Brain Myths Are Harming Us: Governments are pouring unprecedented sums of money into neuroscience…..Unfortunately this ignorance is providing the perfect breeding ground for myth and misconception. For every genuine break through, there is parallel excretion of hype or utter neurobunk. (Wired)
  • Will Evangelicals Continue to Support Torture? In  2009, the Pew Research Center released a headline-grabbing survey showing that 6 in 10 white evangelical Protestants supported the use of torture against suspected terrorists. White evangelicals were the only religious group with a majority of respondents who believed torture was often (18%) or sometimes (44%) justified in defense of United States interests. (On Faith)
  • After Ferguson: America Must Abandon “Sick Christianity” at Ease with Violence: Violence has won in America, and we live always in the break, in the silence, like that of a musical break between movements where violence is being prepared to answer back to violence, and where someone is about to be seduced into believing that peace and stability will be established through violence. (Willie James Jennings)
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