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Flotsam and jetsam (1/14)


Good Reads

  • Disparity in news coverage: As many as 2,000 dead in Nigeria, but France dominates front pages: Terror attacks in France carried out by militants claiming allegiance to al-Qaida and Islamic State extremists dominate the world’s front pages. On the other hand, the Muslim militant group Boko Haram’s slaughter of as many as 2,000 Nigerians — its “deadliest act” yet, according to Amnesty International — generally settles for less-prime real estate inside newspapers. But why? (Get Religion)
  • No, the Internet Is Not Killing Culture: In some ways, creative people, broadly defined, are better off in the U.S. today than they have been throughout much of human history….Still, this contemporary outlook would have astonished the struggling writers of Gissing’s day, and reflects, in part, the spread of creative work in the current economy. (Slate)

My Unexpected Silence: A Personal Update

You may have noticed that things have been rather quiet around here lately. No, I haven’t forgotten how to type, been kidnapped by my students, or forgotten where I put my computer. But I did realize a few months ago that I needed to focus almost exclusively on some other writing projects if I wanted to come even close to meeting my deadlines. So I had to put my online writing on hold for a while. I hope that’s coming to an end soon, though I’m still not done with my other projects. So we’ll see how it goes.

dog computer

If you’re curious, the biggest and most time-consuming piece has been trying to finish up a book on theological anthropology for Zondervan. The focus of the books is how theologians have used Christology to inform their understanding of the human person. So it’s really a series of case studies, with each chapter looking at a major theologian to see how they’ve done anthropology from a christological perpective, focusing on how the interaction shaped their approach to a particular anthropological issue.

  • Gregory of Nyssa (gender and sexuality)
  • Julian of Norwich (suffering)
  • Luther (vocation)
  • Schleiermacher (ethics)
  • Barth (body/soul)
  • John Zizioulas (personhood)
  • James Cone (race)

Needless to say, that’s kept me a little busy. The Julian chapter in particular consumed a lot of time since that was a new area of research for me. Well worth it, though.

I’m also writing a piece on Jonathan Edwards’ ontology and how it impacts his understanding of the resurrection. That should be fun.

So I’m still alive and writing, but largely offline. We’ll see if I can change that soon.

Flotsam and jetsam (1/12)


Good Reads

  • 5 Reasons Not to Use Gender-Based Jokes from the Pulpit: If you’re in Christian leadership, and you find yourself with a microphone in hand in front of a room full of people waiting on your every word, do everything you can to avoid using stereotypical gender jokes. (Rob Dixon)
  • Scientists Seek Religious Experience—In Subjects’ Brains: The researchers want to see more than religion’s registry on the brain. They want to know whether it differs across sects, or by intensity of belief. They want to see what genes it activates, what hormones it releases, and how it relates to social behaviors. Can the same basic circuitry produce Mother Teresa and the Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta? If so, how? (Los Angeles Times)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/5)

how worried

Good Reads

  • 15 Trends for Churches in 2015: At the beginning of every year, I attempt to present to you the major trends for congregations for the coming twelve months. I review my predictions from previous years to see how accurate I am. I have come to two conclusions. First, I am far from perfect in my predictions. Second, I do have a decent track record. (Thom Rainer)

Top 10 Posts of 2014


As usual, here’s a quick look at the most popular posts from the last year. I’m quite pleased that the post about depression topped the list, and I’m also glad that only of the posts was an infographic (Surprising Book Facts). It’s always annoying to reach the end of the year and realize that your most popular posts were random comics or infographics rather than that carefully crafted piece you wrote about that really important issue.

1. Breaking the Silence: When Christian Leaders Speak Openly about Depression

There is still a stigma around depression that silences many Christian voices and prevents them from letting anyone know about their painful, personal struggles. A stigma that destroys people by making them suffer alone.

2. We Won’t Solve Biblical Literacy with Bible Trivia

If you know the trivia, great. The devil isn’t in the details; it’s in the way that we sometimes use the details to neglect the story itself. Biblical literacy is far more than Bible trivia. And suggesting otherwise contributes to the problem, not the solution.

3. Become a Heretic for a While

I recently spent several hours trying to convince a class that Arius was right, the Son is not equal with the Father, and Athanasius blew it.

4. Surprising Book Facts

Just a random infographic.

5. Sometimes You Just Have to Land the Plane

I’d love to stay in the air cruising lazily through the atmosphere. But as much as I enjoy the time out, eventually you have to land. Clouds are nice, but life happens on the ground.

6. 6 Reasons Pastors Need Learning Communities

Although there’s tremendous value to independent learning, there are some inherent dangers as well. Dangers which suggest that we should supplement our independent learning with some good, old-fashioned group learning. In other words, pastors need learning communities too.

7. The Growth of Global Pentecostalism

My summary of one of the more interesting sessions from this year’s Wheaton Theology Conference.

8. Why Do We Read Fiction?

Why do we read fiction? I’m sure everyone has their own reasons. For Lewis, though, good fiction leads us out of ourselves and introduces us to worlds that we have not made, worlds that we cannot see on our own, the worlds that other people inhabit.

9. The Best Theology Books from the First Half of 2014

The title pretty much says it all.

10. Why Study Theological Anthropology?

So why study theological anthropology? Because what we think it means to be human shapes almost every aspect of our everyday lives and because we cannot understand humanity adequately unless that vision is rooted in theology. Is that enough?

Flotsam and Jetsam (12/29)


Good Reads

  • The Surprising Ways That Chickens Have Changed the World: For most of us, the word “chicken” spells a cold, clammy slab of plastic-wrapped white meat plucked out of the refrigerated section of our local supermarket. But in the ancient world, and in many cultures today, chickens had deep religious and social significance. (National Geographic)
  • Why Christmas Is Huge in China: The Western religious festival is so trendy, in fact, that it may be the second-most-celebrated festival in China after the Spring Festival among young Chinese. (The Atlantic)

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (12/17)


Good Reads

  • The Biggest Myth in Time Management: The truth is, we can’t ever really get away from it. There is no escaping the nonstop surge of email, text, voicemail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — and that’s just the technology-based stream. How can we ever catch up? We can’t. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Gay Christians choosing celibacy emerge from the shadows: The reaction among church leaders themselves has been mixed, with some praising the celibacy movement as a valid way to be both gay and Christian. But others have returned to the central question of how far Christianity can go in embracing homosexuality — even if people abstain from sex. (Washington Post)
  • The Myth of the Exceptional Woman: But women leaders aren’t that extraordinary. The differences between female leaders and women in general are not as great as we think they are—at least, they’re not differences that we can’t address through education and more opportunities. (Christianity Today)
  • The Rise of Mindfulness: The ages-old practice teaches a person to be more focused on the present moment, rather than caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about the future. The practice has gained popularity in the U.S., and apparently with good reason: Every other week there seems to be a new scientific study showing just how it can change the brain. (Forbes)

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (12/15)


Good Reads

  • An Open Letter to the Dad Looking at Porn: Dear Dad, I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this effects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well. (Faith It)
  • Fred Sanders on John Wesley and Arminianism: Reading John Wesley can certainly make you look around at contemporary preaching and wonder where all the serious business went. The judgment he pronounced on university students in his day –“you are a generation of triflers, triflers with God, with one another, and with your own souls”–strikes a nerve for us. (Jesus Creed)
  • Future Perfect: Social progress, high-speed transport and electricity everywhere – how the Victorians invented the future. (Aeon)

Flotsam and jetsam (12/12)


Good Reads

  • Sorry, Tertullian: Church growth is “not strongly” correlated with either governmental or societal persecution. However, Christianity “tends loosely” to change more rapidly (grow or shrink) when governmental restriction is high, and stays relatively stable when such pressure is low. (Christianity Today)
  • 10 Ways That Brain Myths Are Harming Us: Governments are pouring unprecedented sums of money into neuroscience…..Unfortunately this ignorance is providing the perfect breeding ground for myth and misconception. For every genuine break through, there is parallel excretion of hype or utter neurobunk. (Wired)
  • Will Evangelicals Continue to Support Torture? In  2009, the Pew Research Center released a headline-grabbing survey showing that 6 in 10 white evangelical Protestants supported the use of torture against suspected terrorists. White evangelicals were the only religious group with a majority of respondents who believed torture was often (18%) or sometimes (44%) justified in defense of United States interests. (On Faith)
  • After Ferguson: America Must Abandon “Sick Christianity” at Ease with Violence: Violence has won in America, and we live always in the break, in the silence, like that of a musical break between movements where violence is being prepared to answer back to violence, and where someone is about to be seduced into believing that peace and stability will be established through violence. (Willie James Jennings)

Flotsam and jetsam (12/10)

 americans think

Good Reads

  • 10 Historical Myths about World Christianity: As followers of Christ and adherents of the Bible, Christians are called to be a people of the truth. Thus, it is crucial that we seek to understand our tradition as accurately as possible. So consider these top ten historical myths about world Christianity. (Gospel Coalition)
  • Chimps Aren’t People—for Now: Tommy, a 26-year-old caged chimpanzee, has been denied the right to personhood and habeas corpus, but not for the reasons you might think. (The Atlantic)
  • Whose Gender? Which Identity? Good arguments are no protection against bad arguments or no arguments at all, especially when the latter are allied to the rhetoric of medical professionalism and personal sincerity, touching story lines, and the organized determination of small groups of activists. (First Things)
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