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Flotsam and jetsam (11/26)

Good Reads

  • Neuroscience: Under Attack: The problem isn’t solely that self-appointed scientists often jump to faulty conclusions about neuroscience. It’s also that they are part of a larger cultural tendency, in which neuroscientific explanations eclipse historical, political, economic, literary and journalistic interpretations of experience.
  • Scientists See Promise in Deep-Learning Programs: Using an artificial intelligence technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs.

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/19)

how books feel about being turned into movies

Good Reads

  • 10 Thoughts for turning an Academic Work into a Public Talk: I offer this in the hope that it might encourage academic folk–whether students or professors or otherwise–to craft public talks that demonstrate care for the audiences which God has entrusted to them in any given case. (Read: please don’t be tediously abstruse or intellectually pretentious.)
  • The I’s Have It: We are becoming a conceited nitwit society, pushy and self-aggrandizing. No one is ashamed to brag now. And show off. They think it heightens them. They think it’s good for business.
  • Why Go to Seminary: So before the first seminary class was offered in America, Dwight sought to answer the question, Why go to seminary? His answers may be 204 years old, but they can still help us today.

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/12)

Praise Squirrel

Good Reads

  • 7 Ways Diversity Played in the Election: “It’s demography, stupid!” is the new mantra for analyzing the 2012 election, in which African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos cast their votes in overwhelming numbers for President Obama. But religious diversity was another key theme. How so? Let me count the ways.
  • Duly Noted: The Past, Present, and Future of Note-Taking: We’re not talking about failed collegiate attempts to scribble down everything your history professor said. It’s becoming ever easier to record something. The trick is to be selective about what you make it a point to remember.
  • Goodbye, Christian America; Hello, True Christianity:  While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the gospel rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic “love your neighbor” kind. Its appeal can’t be legislated through court battles and neither can courts stop its spread.
  • iPhones, iPads, and Christian Parenting: Here’s what I just don’t understand: the trend among professing Christian families to give their pre-teen children iPhones and iPads or their equivalent devices, with unrestricted Internet access.

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/9)

Good Reads

  • Former Oil Executive Appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury: The bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, a former oil company executive, was named on Friday as the new archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the world’s estimated 77 million Anglicans, saying he would support the elevation of women as priests to the senior clergy and warning against homophobia.
  • The Googlization of Bible Study: Google disseminates information.  That’s great and helpful…when what you need is information.  But the vast majority of what I need in personal Bible study and even sermon preparation is not information.  I need the Spirit of God to enliven the Word of God and transform my heart.  I need to chew on a text and sweat through it.  Google gives me too quick of an out.  It shortcuts my labor.  And as a result it shortcuts my ownership of the truth as well as my heart.
  • Aquinas: How He Might Help Evangelicals:  Thomas had particular brilliance on many issues of great concern to evangelicals. And because of his depth and vision, he saw some of these issues in ways that will be of immense help to us both spiritually and intellectually in our pilgrimages toward the heavenly city.
  • Can Paper Survive the Digital Age? Money, laws, tickets, newspapers, not to mention its many uses in art … despite the digital revolution, our world is still built on paper. Ian Sansom reflects on an enduring addiction to the white stuff

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/7)

Good Reads

  • 8 Observations about Sacrificial Giving: Even though God didn’t need their stuff, he chose to use it. The work God does on earth is always facilitated through the gifts of his people. Think about when Jesus fed the 5000: he used a kid’s lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish. Clearly a God that could do that did not need the 5 loaves and 2 fish . . . as if he could not have pulled it off with 1 fish and a bread crust!
  • Should You Quit Your PhD? You’ve been plugging away at your PhD for a while now, maybe a year, perhaps a couple of years. But you don’t seem to be making that much progress. The prospect of getting up in the morning to go to the university or to continue work on a chapter doesn’t thrill you the way it did during the first few months of your studies. But you force yourself to do it, because you have to, right?

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/5)

Good Reads

  • Incredible Credibility: We live in a society in which credibility in one area is granted based on success in another. Actors endorse presidential candidates, and people listen. Musicians write books, and people read them. Athletes pontificate on same-sex marriage, and are given a platform. As egregious as these examples are, pastors are often lifted to even higher heights, as people turn to them for advice on such nuanced and complex subjects as sex or finances.
  • “You Can’t Judge a Person’s Salvation”…And Other Stupid Statements: I don’t believe that once someone says he is a Christian, we are somehow obligated to take them at their word. In fact, my default position (at least here in America) is that this is nothing more than a verbal affirmation of their initiation into American culture. I normally start by not believing them.
  • Why You’re Probably Not as Rational as You Think You Are – and What You Can Do about It: When it comes to self-improvement, few people consider their reasoning skills. Most of us simply assume — and take for granted — that under most circumstances, we formulate perfectly rational opinions. But according to an emerging subculture of rationality gurus, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. They believe there are ways we can train ourselves to make better decisions, as well as increase personal control over our lives, health, and happiness. Here are a few of their ideas about how you can become more rational.

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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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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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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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Flotsam and jetsam (10/26)

Good Reads

  • 12 Guidelines for Deciding When to Persist, When to Quit: When you’re getting something new going, the difference between success and failure is often a matter of time: how long you give it before you give up. Efforts that begin with high hopes inevitably hit a disappointing sag. It’s Kanter’s Law: “Everything can look like a failure in the middle.”
  • Why IQs Rise: Seen in this light, the Flynn effect does not reflect gains in general intelligence, it reflects a shift to more abstract thinking brought about by a changing social environment. We aren’t getting smarter; we are getting more modern.
  • When ‘Theology’ Gets in the Way: There is an urgent need of evangelistic effort, yet here we are spending precious time, emotions and energy ripping into other evangelicals over their different views on secondary issues. If we aren’t doing the ripping, then we spend time reading about it and commenting about it.
  • Some Guidelines for Voting in This Political Season: I have discovered a number of thoughtful voices who would argue that the church should steer clear of any political involvement, lest we be soiled by politics….We’re called to be an alternative community, resident aliens….The problem with this stance is that faith loses a certain integrity. The church becomes irrelevant as it takes itself out of the public square.

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