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Flotsam and jetsam (8/19)

answering questions

Good Reads

  • Why We Talk in Tongues: Last month I was in Accra, Ghana, to learn more about the African version of the new charismatic Christian churches that have become so popular in the United States and are now proliferating in sub-Saharan Africa….What struck me was how much people spoke in tongues: language-like sounds…thought by those who use them to be a language God knows but the speaker does not. (New York Times)
  • Six Ideas on How to Lead Congregations to Integrate Work and Discipleship: Most Christians do not have a theological framework that accommodates the integration of faith and vocation. Many are even hostile to the idea. They are more comfortable with a life that is not integrated, compartmentalizing work and discipleship. Any attempts at integration feel like intrusions into their private lives. (The High Calling)
  • Before You Hit Send, Read This: While email can sometimes be a quick and convenient way to gauge interest or disseminate information, it’s often not the best tool for the job, he said. About 20% of the time, we’re using email correctly – leveraging it to communicate across time zones or answer a well-defined question. But 80% of email traffic is “waste,”…stuff that’s useless or really requires a phone call or face-to-face discussion. (The Wall Street Journal)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Blaise Pascal)

blaise pascalA famous theologian, philosopher, mathematician, inventor, and writer, Blaise Pascal was a polymath who explored virtually every aspect of human life. But he is probably best known among Christians for his Pensées, a defense of Christianity, and his famous wager on the existence of God.

Pascal died on August 19, 1662. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

Perfect, O my God, the good impulses that thou givest me. Be their end as thou art their principle. Crown thy own gifts, for I recognize that they are from thee. Yes, my God, and far from pretending that my prayers may have some merit that forces thee to accord them of necessity, I humbly acknowledge that, having given to created things my heart, which thou hadst formed only for thyself, and not for the world, nor for myself, I can expect no grace except from thy mercy, since I have nothing in me that can oblige thee to it, and since all the natural impulses of my heart, whether tending towards created things, or towards myself, can only irritate thee. I, therefore, render thee thanks, my God, for the good impulses which thou givest me, and for the very one that thou hast given me to render thanks for them.

Saturday Morning Fun…What Are People Looking For?

search (300x300)Every now and then it’s fun to check out the “search terms” that led people to this blog. Some are encouraging, some discouraging, some funny, and some just confusing. Here are some of my favorites among the most popular search terms that led people here.

At least some of the search terms make sense and lead me to believe that some people who find there way here might actually be happy with the results: Thomas Aquinas, religion, god, thinking, Karl Barth, theology, etc. These are encouraging signs.

Others searches, though, make me laugh, wonder, and cringe:

  • “great porn,” “powerful sex video,” and other porn related searches. I should have known that writing posts like this would result in lots of unexpected traffic. I suppose it’s too much to hope that they worked through the disappointment and actually read the post.
  • tırnak işareti – I don’t even know what this means, but lots of people are looking for it.
  • “confused” – I don’t know why, but it makes me happy to know that lots of people who search for “confused” end up on this blog.

I could keep going. But those were some of the more common search terms that made me smile. I hope they did the same for you.

Flotsam and jetsam (8/16)

HT Jim West

HT Jim West

Good Reads

  •  What Is the Unforgivable Sin? So when troubled souls come to us anxious about having committed the unpardonable sin, what shall we say? (The Gospel Coalition)
  • Are We Letting Kids Online Too Early? The biggest problem experts like Toyama see in the implementation of educational technology is that it is often viewed as an end unto itself and not a tool through which to achieve broader learning goals. (Daily Dot) 

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Avoid Bulimia Academosa (Start Strong #2)

Have you ever thought about how many of our metaphors for learning have something to do with eating? You consume knowledge. Teachers plant ideas and nurture minds. An interesting concept is food for thought, and a good book feeds the soul. I could keep going, but you get the point. Learning is a lot like eating.

studying learning cramming test preparation

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that you can also draw some interesting connections between unhealthy eating and unhealthy learning. You should avoid a steady diet of junk food in each, although the occasional treat is just fine. You need to use what you take in or you’ll end up being fat and lazy. And, of course, I recommend avoiding starvation if at all possible.

But the unhealthy analogy I want to focus on is the classic binge and purge approach to learning.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/14)

animals with mislead names

Good Reads

  • The Root of Evil: It is common in the secular West to run through a list of such episodes—the Crusades, the Inquisition, Aztec human sacrifices, the European Wars of Religion, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and so on—and conclude that religion has a peculiar tendency to lend itself to violent acts.
  • ‘Like’ This Article Online? Your Friends Will Probably Approve, Too, Scientists Say: If you “like” this article on a site like Facebook, somebody who reads it is more likely to approve of it, even if the reporting and writing are not all that great. But surprisingly, an unfair negative reaction will not spur others to dislike the article. Instead, a thumbs-down view will soon be counteracted by thumbs up from other readers.

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Don’t Start the Year with a Cat on Your Head

I woke up this morning to a cat. On my head. Or, more accurately, a cat leaping with surprising force next to my head and then sprawling on my head. Not good. My mornings are important. They set the tone for the rest of the day. Being shocked into wakefulness as a feline-shaped asteroid tries to send me the way of the dinosaurs does not bode well for the day to come. (By the way, how is it possible for such a light and nimble animal to shake the bed so hard when he jumps on it? Evil must weigh more than I realize.)

evil-cat (500x429)
As I said, I’m annoyed by this because the way I begin my day makes a huge difference. If I start off in lazy mode, pressing the snooze button fourteen times or maybe just sipping coffee and reading some light fiction all morning, I’ll stay in pretty much that same mode for the rest of the day. And there’s nothing wrong with that: some days call for large doses of laziness. But if I’m facing a day when I need to be really productive, I need to start differently, get the wheels turning early. And when I start the day with cat-on-head, I should avoid other living beings at least until after lunch.

Beginnings matter. They set the tone for what follows.

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a student, and one that I see students (and professors!) repeat every year, is not starting well. You may think that you can ease into things and not really get the ball rolling until a few weeks into the term. After all, professors aren’t usually mean enough to hit you with the tough stuff early. So you don’t need to hit your stride until late September at the earliest.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/12)

time travel

Good Reads

  • Fasting in an Age of Fast Food: Not only can this teaching be neglected and unknown, but it can also be shunned as somehow leading to legalism; the rationale being that it’s an “Old Testament” doctrine. What I want to explain here is not only that this is a biblical teaching and practice, but one that is so relevant in our time.
  • Why the Trinity can’t tell us about gender: Once we commit to the task of finding triunity in human relations, we enter a zone of free theological construction that lacks specificity, guidelines, and doctrinal seriousness. And we are very likely to bring to this task the resources at hand, the things that we already are most committed to and passionate about.
  • Commentary: The Frightening—But Biblical—Moral Logic of ‘Breaking Bad’: , the show runs on a frightening moral logic: No one gets away with anything. Breaking Bad revolves around the least fashionable concept imaginable: wrath. It offers something quite different from the fatalism of The Wire, where things start off ugly and pretty much stay that way. In Breaking Bad, things get steadily worse.

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6 Academic Resolutions for the New Year (part 2)

goals purposes academic resolutions planning objectives

With the new school year about to start, we’re discussing six academic resolutions you might want to consider for getting the most out of the opportunity. Yesterday we looked at the first three: grades, relationships, and health.  Here are the rest.

4. Ask Questions

The way we approach education, it sometimes feels like  memorization is the key to learning. It’s not. Questions are.

Most people think the value of a question comes with the answer. And there’s some truth in that. Obviously, if you don’t know something, asking and getting more information is a good idea.

But I think the real value of a good question comes from thinking up the question in the first place. Coming up with good questions requires you to engage the material deeply, reflect on its significance, and wonder what to do with it. A good question makes you think.

Questions have value long before you get an answer.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/9)

fear the cow

Good Reads

  • Families, Flourishing, and Upward Mobility: It is certainly true that this dream easily slides towards idolatry. It can become a nightmare of crass materialism and selfish ambition. But we shouldn’t confuse idolatrous perversions with more humble aspirations of families to simply enjoy a mode of economic security that is conducive with flourishing.The Invention of Teenagers: Historians and social critics differ on the specifics of the timeline, but most cultural observers agree that the strange and fascinating creature known as the American teenager — as we now understand the species — came into being sometime in the early 1940s. 
  • The $4 Million Dollar Teacher: Tutoring services are growing all over the globe, from Ireland to Hong Kong and even in suburban strip malls in California and New Jersey. Sometimes called shadow education systems, they mirror the mainstream system, offering after-hours classes in every subject—for a fee. But nowhere have they achieved the market penetration and sophistication of hagwons in South Korea, where private tutors now outnumber schoolteachers.
  •  The Invention of Teenagers: Historians and social critics differ on the specifics of the timeline, but most cultural observers agree that the strange and fascinating creature known as the American teenager — as we now understand the species — came into being sometime in the early 1940s.

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