Flotsam and jetsam (2/25)

it professional

it professional

Good Reads

  • Christian Persecution Has Never Been Worse: Last year—2014—will go down in history as having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era. The worst thing, though, is conditions suggest this is only going to worsen around the world in many areas where Christians face a lot of persecution. (Relevant)
  • Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas: In this intellectual history class, we talk about sexuality and identity, violence and revolution, art and obscenity, and the students are generally eager to weigh in. But when the topic of religious feeling and experience comes up, they would obviously just prefer that I move on to another subject. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How TV Made Christianity Radical Again: “The Americans,” along with the History Channel’s “Vikings,” has done something that almost nothing else in pop culture dares to attempt: It depicts Christianity as a seismic force, something capable of producing profound transformation in both individuals and society. (Washington Post)
  • When Your Faith for Fishing Is Small: How is your faith for evangelism? Too frequently mine is too small. I hate that sin of unbelief and having just spent a few days with some joyful, bold, fruitful evangelists, I am freshly encouraged to fight it. (Desiring God)

Flotsam and jetsam (2/23)

dog heaven

dog heaven

Good Reads

  • Does the MOOC spell the end for universities? What this suggests is that people want and expect something rather more than a purely virtual, entirely electronic experience of university. They expect it to be a place. Indeed, the last two hundred years, which have seen the foundation, consolidation, and expansion of hundreds of new campuses in England alone, have only served to reinforce the sense that a university is somewhere as well as something. A disembodied, displaced university does not quite do the job.(Oxford University Press blog)
  • Debunking 5 Myths about Social Justice: From abolishing modern day slavery to ending extreme poverty to confronting urban poverty, social justice often dominates conversations about faith. Some say justice waters down faith while others say faith without justice is dead. Amidst all the fanfare, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, confused, and even jaded. (OnFaith)
  • Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today: By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing. (Thom Rainer)

Flotsam and jetsam (2/18)

NVVPyOm

NVVPyOm

Good Reads

  • 12 Fiction Books That Will Shape Your Theology: When we think about the role of reading in our spiritual formation, we generally think of non-fiction books that help us understand scripture and theology, but fiction powerfully shapes the ways in which we think faithfully about God and the world. Here is some of the best fiction that has been most formative in my own theology. (Relevant)
  • Dear Student: No, I Won’t Change the Grade You Deserve: plenty of professors have told me that when many of their students get to college, they lug into the classroom a sense of academic entitlement—a belief that their papers and exams should be graded on how hard they’ve worked, not how well they’ve mastered the material. When they don’t receive the grades they think they deserve, many take the matter up with the graders. (Vitae)

Flotsam and jetsam (2/11)

19knJwF

19knJwF

Good Reads

  • You Cannot Serve Both God and Theology: Money is a tangible, countable, often visible god. Theology, on the other hand — if it is cut off from truly knowing and enjoying God himself — can be a soothing, subtle, superficially spiritual god. Both are deadly, but one lulls us into a proud, intellectual, and purely cosmetic confidence and rest before God. Theology will kill you if it does not kindle a deep and abiding love for the God of the Bible, and if it does not inspire a desire for his glory, and not ultimately our own. (Desiring God)
  • How Christianity’s Eastern history has been forgotten: Christians were active in what is now Iraq and Iran by the 2nd Century. They were in India and the north of the Arabian Peninsula by the 3rd Century. By the 7th Century there were monks and scholars from Iraq working in China, translating texts and ideas into Chinese and building Chinese-style churches and monasteries. (Rowan Williams)
  • 9 Ways to Find a Movie’s Worldview of Redemption: Screenwriter and reviewer Brian Godawa (who wrote the screenplay for the excellent film, To End All Wars) suggests what to look for in order to understand a movie’s vision of redemption, which is a key part of its worldview. (Justin Taylor)

Flotsam and jetsam (2/9)

S2IBJ9i

S2IBJ9i

Good Reads

  • Why the Secular Age Is Good for the Church: I suspect that many churches are actually contributing to their own decline by attempting to remain relevant to the culture of rampant individualism and materialism. Many churches, on both the congregational and denominational levels, have accidentally outsourced their significance; their stated purposes and conversations are so broad that people are increasingly realizing that they don’t have to wake up early on Sunday mornings to create community, sense the sacred, work for justice, and make meaning. (On Faith)
  • Americans Are Fleeing Religion and Republicans Are to Blame: Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer…argue that the retreat from religious affiliation is, essentially, a retreat from the political right. Religion has become strongly associated with conservative politics, so left-leaning people are choosing, instead, to identify as “spiritual but not religious.” (Pacific Standard)
  • The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: This is an arduous and painful journey, with many risks and harms, irremediable loss and regret among them. But it is considered worth these risks and pain. She is, after all, only fifteen, and it would be unfair at such an age to limit the horizon of her possible identity paths and the options available to her. All except one option, that is. (Public Discourse)
  • Inventing the Crusades: On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn’t stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, “How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?” I always answered: “They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.” That answer has never gone over well. (First Things)