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Flotsam and jetsam (1/8)

cartoon paradox

Good Reads

  • The Absurdity of Christian “Obsession” with Abortion and Single-Issue Voting: Let me put it this way: nobody today would say that MLK Jr. was wrong for fixating on race and equality issues. Nor would anybody today complain about abolitionists’ single-minded obsession with slavery. I shudder to think what future generations will think when they look at Christians today and their lack of horror at the tragedy of abortion in America. (Reformedish)
  • 3 biggest reasons why Bible reading is down: Apparently, Bible reading is way down in churches, and Biblica has dug into finding out why. Here’s what I learned at the conference I attended last week sponsored by Biblica. (Peter Enns)
  • The Confidence of Jerry Coyne: One of the problems with belonging to a faction that’s convinced it’s on the winning side of intellectual history is that it becomes easy to persuade oneself that one’s own worldview has no weak points whatsoever, no internal contradictions or ragged edges, no cracks through which a critic’s wedge could end up driven. (Ross Douthat)
  • Is Recreational Marijuana Use a Sin? Although many Christians consider the answer to the question to be rather straightforward, it can be helpful to examine the reasoning process that allows us to determine how biblical principles can be applied to this issue. (Gospel Coalition)

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Flotsam and jetsam (1/6)

churchill

Good Reads

  • Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival: Increasing numbers of preachers and professors teach the views of the 16th-century French reformer. Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller — megachurch preachers and important evangelical authors — are all Calvinist. Attendance at Calvin-influenced worship conferences and churches is up, particularly among worshipers in their 20s and 30s. (NYT)
  • Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck: I never subscribed to the fundamentalist vision that saw holiness in terms of cultural retreat or worldliness as anything that smacked of cultural engagement. I don’t subscribe to that position today. But sometimes I wonder if evangelicals have swung the pendulum too far to the other side, to the point where all sorts of entertainment choices are validated in the name of cultural engagement. (Trevin Wax)

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Saturday Morning Fun…Trapped in IKEA

I remember the first time I entered an IKEA store. One had just opened in Portland, and I thought I’d run in and check out one thing I was interested in for our kitchen. I quickly discovered that one does not simply “run in” to an IKEA. It took about five minutes to find what I was looking for, and twenty minutes to find the stupid exit.

So I can sympathize with the poor people who got caught when Ylvis (the people behind “What Does the Fox Say?“) arranged this prank.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XLPmY89cGM

Flotsam and jetsam (1/3)

wishing you 2014

Good Reads

  • Where is God When the Economy Collapses? Rethinking Economic Theodicy:  How we think about economic suffering matters for our actions, both individually and through policy processes. Is poverty natural and hence inevitable? Is it an inevitable consequence of modern market arrangements? Where is individual responsibility for economic choices? Our answers to these sorts of questions determine how much effort we put into alleviating economic suffering and how this effort is directed. (ABC)
  • What I Wish I’d Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry: I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines. (Sam Storms)
  • 4 Early Church Writings Every Christian Should Read: C.S. Lewis writes “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in-between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.” New books are great, but they are untested—we don’t know which ones will stand the test of time. But old books have been sifted by time. It’s always good for us to look at the context of the people that came before us and see how the world looked from their time and place. (Relevant)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/30)

but mom

Good Reads

  • When Demons Are Real: To be in Africa is to encounter a God different from that of a charismatic church in the United States. People say that the boundary between the supernatural and the natural is thinner there. (NYT)
  • 5 Ways You Can Bomb a Sermon to Young People: Finding your own voice, style, and rhythm as a communicator of God’s Word is a journey that takes a lifetime. However, you can get a head start by learning to avoid these common mistakes preachers make. (Resurgence)
  • Ten Most Amazing Archaeological Discoveries of 2013: This year has seen some incredible discoveries in the field of archaeology – from ancient myths proven true, to evidence of ancient technology, and findings that have solved enduring mysteries, such as the death of Tutankhamun. Here we present what we believe are the top ten archaeological discoveries of 2013, excluding those relating to human origins which will be announced tomorrow. (Before It’s News)
  • Seven Reasons Teachers Burn Out: When I began the teaching profession, I believed that there were things that might ruin me as a teacher. On the top of my list was “working too hard,” followed by “not taking care of myself,” and then “a really horrible year with a tough class.” In other words, I thought that if the job became too hard or I was having to give too much of myself, I’d lose all passion and give up. I was wrong. (Education ReThink)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/27)

dead soon

Good Reads

  • The Most Incredible Historical Discoveries of 2013:  From 1.8-million-year-old hominid skulls to rewriting the Buddha’s birthday to sunken Nazi subs, 2013 was another incredible year for archaeologists and historians. Here’s the best the year had to offer. (io9)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/23)

grumpy reindeer

Good Reads

  • Christmas Is for Worship: It’s time to worry a lot less about getting Christ back into Christmas (he can’t be blasted out of Christmas, no matter how hard anyone tries). What needs to get back into Christmas is worship(HuffPo)
  • Angels We Ignore on High: My ambivalence about angels was not due to reason; it was a failure of my imagination. (Hermeneutics)
  • Ideas from a Manger:  Pause for a moment, in the last leg of your holiday shopping, to glance at one of the manger scenes you pass along the way. Cast your eyes across the shepherds and animals, the infant and the kings. Then try to see the scene this way: not just as a pious set-piece, but as a complete world picture — intimate, miniature and comprehensive.(NYT)
  • Fourteen Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Pastor: The list is meant to be both humorous and serious. And I bet almost every pastor has heard all of these in the course of a ministry. Enjoy. But do not repeat (at least to your pastor). (Thom Rainer)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

lloyd-jones_martyn The famous welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones was an influential British pastor through most of the twentieth century. One of the leading evangelical voices of his day, Jones was famous for his expository sermons and his resistance to liberal aspects of the British church. Although Jones ministered mostly in England, Jones’ influence has been felt through the English-speaking world.

Martyn Lloyd Jones died on March 1, 1981. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

“Oh Lord our God we thank thee more than ever that thou has been pleased to give us thy Holy Word. We realise what frail, fallible creatures we are, and how prone we are to go off on tangents and to trust to our own understanding only. We thank thee that thou has given us thy Spirit and thou has given us thy Word.

Oh God we cry out to thee, as a company of thy people, to have mercy upon us. God of our fathers, let it be known that thou art still God in Israel. Let it be known in this arrogant 20th Century, that thou art the same God who has acted and operated throughout the running centuries.

Honour thine own Word, oh Lord. Honour thine own dear Son. Exalt his precious name, and bring many to a knowledge of him as their only Saviour and their Lord.

Lord have pity upon us. In the midst of wrath remember mercy. Revive thy work, oh Lord, thy mighty arm made bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead, and make the people hear.”

Flotsam and jetsam (12/20)

beard facts

Good Reads

  • My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2013: The only thing I know about your reaction to this list of top 10 theology stories is that you won’t agree. Maybe partially, but not entirely. And that’s okay. None of us sees the full picture from God’s perspective. In five years we may not be talking about any of these events and trends….Actually, you’ve probably already forgotten a number of entries on this year’s list! (The Gospel Coalition)
  • Art as Therapy: It comes naturally to most of us to think of music as therapeutic. Almost all of us are, without training, DJs of our own souls, deft at selecting pieces of music that will enhance or alter our current moods for the better. We know to go for something sonorous or vulnerable to dignify a downward spirit or to regain hope with a fast, generous rhythm. Yet few of us would think of turning to the visual arts for this kind of help. (Alain de Botton)

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What an A+ Means at Harvard College

grading (300x288)People have lamented grade inflation for a while now. And Harvard College has come under particular scrutiny as many professors have complained about lax grading standards there. In light of that controversy, journalist Nathaniel Stein produced a fabulously satirical set of grading standards to be used at Harvard. You’ll have to read the entire post to get the complete standard, but here is how he describes the criteria to be used in awarding an A+.

The A+ grade is used only in very rare instances for the recognition of truly exceptional achievement.

For example: A term paper receiving the A+ is virtually indistinguishable from the work of a professional, both in its choice of paper stock and its font. The student’s command of the topic is expert, or at the very least intermediate, or beginner. Nearly every single word in the paper is spelled correctly; those that are not can be reasoned out phonetically within minutes. Content from Wikipedia is integrated with precision. The paper contains few, if any, death threats.

A few things can disqualify an otherwise worthy paper from this exceptional honor: 1) Plagiarism, unless committed with extraordinary reluctance. 2) The paper has been doused in blood or another liquid, unless dousing was requested by the instructor. 3) The paper was submitted late (with reasonable leeway — but certainly by no more than one or two years).

An overall course grade of A+ is reserved for those students who have not only demonstrated outstanding achievement in coursework but have also asked very nicely.

Finally, the A+ grade is awarded to all collages, dioramas and other art projects.

I’m strongly inclined to agree that if a paper includes more than just a few death threats, 2 or 3 at the most, it definitely should not receive an A+. And if the death threats aren’t at least somewhat creative, I may bump it all the way down to an A-.