I have been pretty busy in the last month trying to get caught up on a few writing project. So most of our top posts from the last month have been things that I’ve found elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t found fun with them! So here are the top five posts from February. Enjoy.
- Why are Millennials less religious? It’s not just because of gay marriage: Among those who have abandoned their childhood religion and are now religiously unaffiliated, one quarter say anti-gay teachings factored into their decision to go faithless. Among Millennials in the religious turned irreligious camp, almost one third said the same. At first blush, that would appear to suggest clear causation….But while there is certainly a link between the two, it is an overly simplistic analysis that glosses over a host of reasons that Americans — and particularly younger ones — are losing their religion. (The Week)
- How iTunes Radio Is Bad for Your Soul: One overlooked spiritual consequence of our noise addiction is a failure to hear spontaneous sounds. By tightly controlling and curating what we hear, we may block out everything else and muffle the God-messages sewn throughout the fabric of the world. (Jonathan Merritt)
- America’s Angriest Store: Whole Foods tries to bring to market the best products an area’s surrounding farms and suppliers have to offer, in a socially conscious way with high-touch customer service at the point of sale. Yet in doing so, they’ve brought out the worst in the people who are attracted to that idea. (Medium)
- How to Debate a Christian Apologist: This one is rather painful to read, but it’s a good summary of some common responses to common Christian arguments. They’re not necessarily good arguments, but they are common. (HuffPo)
Seventeenth century Britain produced a number of impressive figures, but few as creative and provocative as the poet George Herbert. Though he died young (only 39), he still produced an amazing body of work, and is considered one of the most influential of the “metaphysical poets,” or people who used poetry to craft their ideas about the essential nature of the universe. And Herbert’s poems continue to be widely read and studied today. In addition to his poetry, Herbert also served in Parliament for a couple of years and spent the last decade or so of his life as the rector of a small church near Salisbury.
George Herbert died on March 1, 1633. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him. It’s actually a sonnet that he wrote about prayer, filled with powerful and often conflicting images about what prayer is, ultimately concluding with the simple assertion that despite the mystery of prayer, it is “something understood.”
Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age,
…..Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
…..The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinners towre,
…..Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
…..The six-daies world transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
…..Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
…..Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The Milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
…..Church-bels beyond the starres heard, the souls bloud,
…..The land of spices; something understood.
- Six Major Issues Regarding the Digital Church: This phenomenon is not transitory. It will be with us for the foreseeable future. As I speak with pastors and other church leaders across America and beyond, here are the key issues being discussed. (Thom Rainer)
- The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking: According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. (The New Yorker)
- Can I Reject an Eternal Hell and Still Be Saved? I am afraid that some of those who are attempting to be theologically astute wind up becoming academically agnostic. That is, they are agnostic enough to find every place where they don’t have to take a stand, which allows them to remain neutral for the sake of evangelism. (Michael Patton)
- Would Jesus Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding in Arizona? Russell Moore says no, Kirsten Powers says yes, as bill awaits governor’s decision. (Christianity Today)
- After-Birth Abortion: The case for “after-birth abortion” draws a logical path from common pro-choice assumptions to infanticide. It challenges us, implicitly and explicitly, to explain why, if abortion is permissible, infanticide isn’t. (Slate)
- Wait, I thought that was a Muslim thing?! Americans…might have certain assumptions about what beliefs and practices are distinctly “Islamic”….However, my time spent living in Jordan and touring Israel/Palestine has revealed that some of these stereotypically “Islamic” things are also quite Christian. These unexpected points of contact between Christianity and Islam may help Christians appreciate our own diverse religious heritage, and develop a better understanding of a people and a religion that often seem utterly ‘other’. (Commonweal)
- Do We Really Need to Go Back to the First Century? Rather than long for another place and time, I believe we will more boldly fulfill our calling when we embrace the idea that God has placed us here and now and called us to express what it means to be the church–full of flawed people–with the cultural conditions, personalities, and living conditions we are given. (Amy Simpson)
- 28 Books You Should Read If You Want To: I discovered one of my favorite books because the author called our store and charmed the living daylights out of me. I found another in a box of old books that my Russian literature professor left outside his office to give away. So while I do think that you should read the canon if it interests you, I think it’s more important that you read the books that find their own way into your hands.
Martin Bucer may well be one of the most influential figures of the Protestant Reformation that people haven’t heard of. Working with a group of reformers in Strasbourg, Bucer played a mediating role between Luther and Zwingli, influenced a young John Calvin, led efforts to continue theological dialog with Catholic theologians, and eventually ended up in England where he helped shape the reformation efforts there as well. Bucer was, therefore, one of the few reformation figures who truly impacted the reformation throughout all of Europe.
Martin Bucer died on Februrary 28, 1551. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.
The “translation” makes this video. By the end, I was really rooting for Bob to get his act together and help set the record for “goats on metal.”
- 5 Quotes that Luther Didn’t Actually Say: Here are a few quotes you’ll often hear attributed to Luther, though none of them are exact actual quotes, and a few of them are things that Luther would have disagreed with! (Justin Taylor)
- The Age of Ageism: We are in an age of ageism where many of the young men I meet today in the church do not know how to relate to older men in ways that honor them and God all at once. (Bryan Lorrits)
- Why We Don’t Just Need Community, We Need Church: In libraries and parks and museums, I can marvel at our Creator; I can shiver at his goodness; I can beat out my laments in angry stomps along trails; I can get lost in the created images and words and catch glimpses of Imago Dei along the way. I can worship; I can feel; I can ask. I can learn. But not like I can in church. (Hermeneutics)
- True Greatness Never Goes Viral: Despite his lack of public fame, my grandpa was truly great in God’s eyes. That’s the funny thing about true, biblical greatness. Biblical greatness almost never goes viral, because biblical greatness almost always involves doing things no one ever sees. (Stephen Altrogge)
- Islam, the American way: A new generation of Muslim Americans separate what is cultural, what is religious, and what is American, finding that the ‘straight path’ isn’t the same path for all. (Christian Science Monitor)
- Escaping the Prison of the Self: If the celibate person, no less than the husband or wife, is called to go out of himself in the love of friendship and siblinghood and in other bonds of kinship, then he also should want to guard his heart from constructing self-serving fantasies that have nothing to do with self-giving. (Wesley Hill)
- Not Quite Two Cultures: Headlines regularly illustrate divides between science and religion over issues such as evolution, which many evangelicals reject. But poll results presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggest that the divide may be less absolute than many imagine (at least if you go beyond issues such as evolution). (Inside Higher Ed)
- The Cold that Bothers Us: The Pixar conquest of Disney—the ongoing effort by the new recruits from Pixar to change the Mouse House’s shallow culture of self-indulgence and self-esteem with something much more morally serious—has been an uneven battle up to now. But Frozen is an unqualified victory for Pixar’s morally serious and culturally edifying storytelling, and its stratospheric success with audiences and critics may well turn the tide of the war. It’s a profound movie on many levels.