Flotsam and jetsam (5/19)


Good Reads

  • People Who Eat People: Hannibal and TV’s New Darkness:  From Dexter and The Walking Dead to True Detective and Hannibal, our tastes for television are skewing darker; we’re losing ourselves not just in anti-heroes, but in horror itself. What are we really escaping into, though? (Hazlitt)
  • Theology Is Poetry:  It is the shading in a world of lines, the winch that straining, pulls words from the page and into the 3-dimensional. Despite being the study of an objective Truth, it is the thing that makes a complex faith applicable to a complex life. (Miriam Dale)
  • The Literature of the Standing Desk:  It’s taller, sleeker, and less hospitable than its slouchier cousin. In the way that it mimics a lectern, a podium, or a drafting table, it reminds the writer that this activity requires blood, enzymes, and exertion. Here is your novel, spread out like a map or a campaign speech. Here are your poems, arranged like blueprints. Pace, stamp your feet, fold your arms, but stay upright. Stand there like it’s the prow of a ship. (The Millions)

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/16)

kissing sister

Good Reads

  • Liberals’ Dark Ages:  How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card. (Kirsten Powers)
  • Pentecostalization and Pluralization: The New Latino Religious Landscape:  In short, pluralization and Pentecostalization are the two great takeaways from the new Pew survey of the Latino religious landscape. I expect that both trends will continue apace in the near future as the competitive marketplace of faith continues to diversify throughout the Americas. (HuffPo)
  • Read or Get Out of the Ministry:  John Wesley told young ministers to “read or get out of the ministry.” Those are strong words, but Wesley believed reading was essential for development. Of Wesley, A.W. Tozer wrote, “He read science and history with a book propped against his saddle pommel as he rode from one engagement to another.” (Eric Geiger)

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Grading Came Alive, And I Died (from the archives)

Huge stack of papersI was once alive apart from teaching, but when the end of the semester came, grading came alive and I died.

The very job that promised life proved to be death to me.

For grading, seizing an opportunity through the teaching, deceived me and through it killed me.

So the teaching is holy, and the classroom is holy and righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was grading, producing death in me through what is good, in order that grading might be shown to be sin, and through the classroom might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the teaching is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under grading.

Romans 7:9-14  VLT (very loose translation)

Romans 7 never made so much sense.

[At the end of each semester, professors everywhere take a collective deep breath...and then let it out in the form of one long complaint. I think we're mostly annoyed at ourselves for once again assigning more work than we actually want to grade. Anyway, this is a post I wrote a couple of years back, but it fit my mood this morning as I'm finally reaching the end of this semester's grading. Enjoy.]

Flotsam and jetsam (5/14)

this is rather terrifying

this is rather terrifying

Good Reads

  • How Not to Fight Calvinists:  This isn’t a post about how-to-not-fight Calvinists, because a clear theological dispute can be a good thing. It’s a post about how-not-to-fight them; it’s about one specific tactic that I think is both inaccurate and unproductive. (Fred Sanders)
  • Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good Time:  We say we want to be like God, and we feel we mean it. But we don’t. Not to be harsh, but if we did really mean it, we would be having a lot more fun than we are. We aim for safety and cultural respectability instead of following our stated first principles: that we are made in God’s image and should strive to imitate him. (N. D. Wilson)
  • 5 Ways to Integrate Theology into Your Ministry:  Do not, in the name of being faithful, stick to your preaching plan so rigidly that you fail to speak truth into significant events that shock or affect the sensibilities of your congregation….Show them how the Word of God addresses those types of events and how the gospel is the ultimate need. (Hershael York)
  • The Church Needs More Tattoos:  Not everyone with tattoos is an unbeliever or has lived a hard life, of course. But the larger point remains, how many people don’t listen to our gospel message because they assume they don’t “look” like the kind of people who would follow Jesus? (Russell Moore)

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Flotsam and jetsam (5/9)


Good Reads

  • Why Theological Study Is for Everyone:  But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine up to pastors and professors alone. (Jared Wilson)
  • R-Rated Texts for an R-Rated World:  I don’t know how you set the parental controls on your cable TV. I don’t even have cable, but if I did, I’d filter certain episodes to protect my three sons. Of course, we could similarly restrict some scriptural episodes due to explicit content not suitable for all audiences. Maybe that’s one reason many churches censor parts of the Bible for being too crass, violent, or sexual. (Gospel Coalition)
  • Even as U.S. Hispanics Lift Catholicism, Many Are Leaving the Church Behind:  It has been clear for years that Catholicism, both in the United States and Latin America, has been losing adherents to evangelical Protestantism, and, in particular, to Pentecostal and other charismatic churches. But…a simultaneous, competing form of faith-switching is also underway: More American Hispanics are leaving Catholicism and becoming religiously unaffiliated. (New York Times)

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The Danger of the Overly Simple Sermon

Simplicity concept.Many sermons are a lot like popular sitcoms. And I’m not referring to the fact that pastors seem to think that a good sermon has to start with something funny, although that’s an interesting connection in its own right. I have something else in mind, something deeper.

As many have pointed out, sitcoms are great for suggesting that even the most complex problems can be resolved in just 30 minutes. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s betrayal, innocent suffering, finding a soul-mate, or social injustice, give a sitcom thirty minutes of your time and they’ll present you with a gift-wrapped solution for whatever ails you.

Of course, we’re smart enough to recognize that sitcoms are more about entertainment than edification. So we don’t worry too much if they over-simplify the complexities of life.

But what about when we hear the same thing in a sermon?

That’s the beginning of my most recent post over at Christianity.com. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Look Up: A Spoken Word Poem for an Online Generation

I think the critique of social media here is a tad over the top, but this video still raises some legitimate concerns in a creative way. I’ll probably use this as a discussion starter with my youth group sometime.


Flotsam and jetsam (5/8)


I’ve been having some difficulty with my internet connection this week, so the posts have been rather sparse and today’s Flotsam and Jetsam was supposed to have gone out yesterday. Oh well, such is life.

Good Reads

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April’s Top Posts

top fiveAll five of the top posts in April had to do with the Wheaton Theology Conference. Since I didn’t want the list to completely dominated by one topic, though, I’m just including a link to the conference videos, which was the top post for the month and also includes links to the other posts. Then I skipped down to the most popular posts besides the conference. Enjoy!

Flotsam and jetsam (5/2)

exam stress reliever

Good Reads

  • 7 Worst International Aid Ideas:  Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Maybe not. Either way, these are solid contenders for the title of “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism. (Matador)
  • Why to Read Nietzsche:  But as hard as he is to engage, Nietzsche is well worth coming to terms with for several reasons. He pioneered the strategy of discrediting Christianity by ignoring the question of its truth, in order to cut straight to his major complaint: Christianity is bad for human beings and other living things like the mind, the arts, and freedom. That attitude is probably the dominant tone of popular atheism in our time. (Fred Sanders)
  • Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be…Paper:  Maybe it’s time to start thinking of paper and screens another way: not as an old technology and its inevitable replacement, but as different and complementary interfaces, each stimulating particular modes of thinking. Maybe paper is a technology uniquely suited for imbibing novels and essays and complex narratives, just as screens are for browsing and scanning. (Wired)
  • Life Worth Living: Christian Faith and the Crisis of the Universities: higher education (in the United States) is on a dead-end street because we have given up on university-based discussion of questions of deepest human concern: “What does it mean to flourish, not in one or another endeavour, but as a human being?” or, put even more succinctly, “What is a life worth living?” (Miroslav Volf)

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