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Flotsam and jetsam (6/17)

Good Reads

  • Do You Need a PhD to Understand the Bible? When I say you need a PhD, I don’t necessarily mean that you yourself need to earn a PhD, much less several. But you will need multiple people with PhDs involved in the process.
  • Why Reconciliation Needs Justice: Therein lies the problem: so many of us want a reconciliation that looks like a happy-go-lucky Kinkade painting. We want a reconciliation that is tidy, cheery, uncomplicated and unrealistically bright. We want oppressed people to forgive us for a history of wrongs but we don’t want to pay for that forgiveness….In short, many of us want reconciliation without justice, much like we want the resurrection without the crucifixion.
  • Why Emailing Gives You A (False) Sense of Progress: Why do we fritter away our days responding to email, and then kick ourselves for not working on our most important creative projects? It turns out that there are actually some pretty good reasons. Number one among them is that responding to email gives us a sense of progress.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/10)

Good Reads

  • When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/5)

Good Reads

  • The Books Americans Are Reading—And What that Reveals About Us: It is not a surprise that so many practicing Christians report reading their primary sacred text from front to back. It is surprising that nearly a fifth of people who claim another faith than Christianity and nearly a tenth of people with no faith claim to have done the same.
  • Folk Theology: Twenty Urban Legends in Theology:  Folk theology describes beliefs, generally shared by a large group of people, which said adherents have rarely thought through in a critical way. These beliefs are normally inherited (passed on through rote teaching and tradition).
  • Read, Write, Worship: Finding God between the lines of literature: Reading can create an intangible sanctuary where all are invited, regardless of faith, to receive benedictions that send us back into our respective broken worlds with more courage, strength, and hope. Reading can be an invitation to turn, face God, and live.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/3)

Good Reads

  • Eager to Adopt, Evangelicals Find Perils Abroad: But the movement has also revived debate about ethical practices in international adoptions, with fears that some parents and churches, in their zeal, have naïvely entered terrain long filled with pitfalls, especially in countries susceptible to corruption.
  • It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad: as long as the narrative continues which articulates that men lack what it takes to nurture and raise children; as long as some argue that the cultivation of children is the domain of women only, we will continue to produce dads who believe they risk their “man-card” by trying.
  • Christians & Masturbation: Seven Perspectives: I wanted to get a diversity of perspectives in response to this question, so I contacted several folks whose opinion on matters related to sexuality I respect, and asked them this question: Is masturbation an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians?

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/31)

Good Reads

  • 7 Ways to Boost Your Creativity: Creativity can seem innate, but like many things, it is actually a delicate balance of nature and nurture. In other words, creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.
  • John Piper Got Rob Belled: Tribalism, from the progressive side. The side that talks against America’s Jesus and against tribalism. And there it is, lurking just under the surface. It reminds me of the book Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. All of the obvious Jesus’ stand out. The trendy Jesus, the churchy Jesus, the American Jesus. But just when you think you’ve found the right one, the genuine one, it is discovered that yours is imaginary too.
  • I’m Gay, but I’m Not Switching to a Church That Supports Gay Marriage: Moreover, celibate gay Christians can offer proof that friendship can be real love, and deserves the same honor as any other form of lovingkindness, caretaking and devotion….The cultural changes which would better nourish celibate gay Christians, then, would be good for everyone else as well.
  • Doubting Thomas: a patron saint for scientists? Dawkins is right that we are not supposed to admire Thomas’s refusal to believe, but he is wrong about the reason. Thomas’s behaviour really is a little irrational. What better basis for belief could he have had than the testimony of his most trusted friends? We all have to rely on testimony rather than first-hand experience for the vast majority of our knowledge.

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/29)

Good Reads

  • Why Rituals Work: Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • How Happiness Changes with Age: Happiness becomes less the high-energy, totally-psyched experience of a teenager partying while his parents are out of town, and more the peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked mom who’s been dreaming of that hot bath all day. The latter isn’t less “happy” than the former — it’s a different way of understanding what happiness is.
  • Flipping the 40-Minute Sermon: When we hear a lecture we receive information into our short-term memory, but to learn, we also need to assimilate the information we’ve received; meaning, we need to engage and apply the information.
  • How Residential Mobility Patterns Perpetuate Segregation: Much research shows that when people change neighborhoods, they tend to move to a new one that closely mirrors the racial makeup of the neighborhood left behind. In this way, children grow up to live in segregated communities like the ones they grew up in. And segregation itself persists from one generation to the next.

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/27)

Good Reads

  • Twelve Ways Pastors Went from Burnout to Vision: I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/22)

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Good Reads

  • All the Lonely People: The hard question facing 21st-century America is whether this retreat from community can reverse itself, or whether an aging society dealing with structural unemployment and declining birth and marriage rates is simply destined to leave more people disconnected, anxious and alone.
  • How Religions Change Their Minds: Once upon a time, animal sacrifice was an important part of Hindu life, Catholic priests weren’t celibate and visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad were part of Islamic art. And soon some churches in the UK may be marrying gay couples. How do religions manage to change their mind?
  • What Is Flourishing? This idea of flourishing should be important to Christians today. But what is flourishing? Is it biblical? And how do we get it?

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/20)

Good Reads

  • What Day Changed the Course of Christian History? For the inaugural article in our new series “Big Questions,” The Gospel Coalition asked four Christian historians, “After AD 70, what day most changed the course of Christian history?”
  • Girls on Film: The real problem with the Disney Princess brand: The evolution of Disney’s princesses was stymied by the arrival of the Disney Princess line in the late 1990s. The Disney Princess franchise doesn’t celebrate the increasingly diverse world of princesses; instead, it pulls back the progress the company had made, pushing the more forward-thinking female characters back into the reductive feminine stereotypes of the past.

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/15)

Good Reads

  • Tragic Worship: The problem with much Christian worship in the contemporary world, Catholic and Protestant alike, is not that it is too entertaining but that it is not entertaining enough.
  • From Dante to Dan Brown: 10 things about Hell: Very few of these ideas are from the Bible. The Bible does refer to Hell and its fires, but more of the details in Dante are drawn from Greek and Roman myths, and the vast majority are the creation of medieval Western imagination.
  • Jesus Is the Worst Superhero Ever: Jesus, according to Paul (in a totally anti-climatic origin story), gave up his cool powers and humbled himself to the position of a slave. Not even a cool “Django Unchained” slave. A plain old slave with nothing. No place to sleep. No power. All Jesus had was complete dependence upon God the Father. And dependence is a terrible super power.
  • The heart of Christianity: A theological defence of apologetics: The practice of “apologetics” has fallen into disrepute. This is due in part to the associations that cling to the word itself, which suggests, at worse, that one must apologise for something, and, at best, that one must defend a doubtful or compromised position.

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