Flotsam and jetsam (6/20)

could be worse

Good Reads

  • Pornolescence:  So many young Christians have stunted their spiritual growth through what I call pornolesence. Pornolescence is that period when a person is old enough and mature enough to know that pornography is wrong and that it exacts a heavy price, but too immature or too apathetic to do anything about it. (Tim Challies)
  • The Banality of Clergy Failure:  This is the banality of clergy failure—that we put ourselves between people and God. That we tacitly assume God is distant, remote, occupied, distracted, and so we, to compensate, must be present, intense, hearty, and inspiring. We must be more human than God. (Christian Century)
  • In Two Michigan Villages, a Higher Calling Is Often Heard:  In an era when the number of priests in the United States continues to dwindle — declining by 11 percent in the past decade and crippling the Catholic Church’s ability to meet the needs of a growing Catholic population — this rural patch of Clinton County offers a case study in the science and mystery of the call to priesthood. (New York Times)
  • The Great Calvinist Reawakening:  But the new Calvinist revival—which amounts to a partial shift in theological emphasis and style—is a far cry from the Calvinist revival that burned through the Northeast a few centuries ago during the Great Awakening….They wept, they trembled, they flushed, they fell senseless to the ground. They sang at the top of their lungs and threw their worldliest possessions on bonfires. They writhed with the shame of sin, and shook with the power of salvation, and fainted with the sweetness of the grace and glory of God. (Religion & Politics)

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Looking for Good Doctoral Students

Are you thinking about doing a PhD in theology or Bible? Then I’m not going to lie to you: it’s a tough road. You’ll invest tremendous time, effort, and money in the journey, and given the tough Bible/theology job market, you can’t know if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (And actually, given what academics spend most of their time doing, there’s not much gold in that pot anyway!) So you need to think about reality before launching down that road.

academia

But if you’re still interested in pursuing a PhD in theology or Bible anyway, then we should talk. My first doctoral student starts this Fall, and I’m pretty excited about the research he wants to do on the relationship between Christology and theological anthropology (esp. the incarnation and the mind/body relationship). I don’t know if that sounds interesting to anyone else, but I’ll enjoy it! And the good news for you is that he’ll be the poor sap that I get to practice/learn on. So by the time you arrive, I should have some idea of what I’m doing. (No promises.)

I won’t tell you how to pick your doctoral program: there are too many personal preferences involved (e.g. faculty, curriculum, placement rates, etc.). But about a year ago, I moved to Wheaton College largely because it has a doctoral program with some really attractive features. So if you’re looking to do a PhD in theology or Bible, then you might want to consider ours.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/18)

wishes

Good Reads

  • Generation X: America’s neglected ‘middle child’:  This overlooked generation currently ranges in age from 34 to 49, which may be one reason they’re so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change. They’re smack in the middle innings of life, which tend to be short on drama and scant of theme. But there are other explanations that have nothing to do with their stage of the life cycle. (Pew Research)
  • Intelligent Design: Slowly Going Out of Style?  There’s room for ambiguity in faith these days, it seems. Science doesn’t have to negate God; one man’s Bible interpretation doesn’t invalidate another’s. As evolution gains more and more traction, it won’t be a “loss” for religion; it will be just be one more change in how modern Americans are learning to believe. (The Atlantic)

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Some Advice on Reading Wisely from Maximus the Confessor

book stacks (300x373)“But if someone reads this or any other book whatever not for the sake of spiritual profit but to hunt for phrases to reproach the author so that he might then set himself up in his own opinion as wiser than he, such a person will never receive any profit of any kind.”

Maximus the Confessor, The Four Hundred Chapters on Love, prologue

A Coffee Expert Reviews Cheap Coffee

If you tend to drink coffee on the cheaper side of the cost spectrum, you’ll appreciate this expert reviewer testing several popular brands of cheap coffee. If nothing else, you’ll get to hear him describe the various coffees in oddly precise ways. The coffees taste variously like “soggy wheat cereal” (7-Eleven), “dirty asphalt (McDonalds, which he actually rated rather high), “burnt rubber” (Maxwell House), and “wet cardboard” (Starbucks). Makes you wonder if an expert taster just goes around the world tasting all kinds of random garbage just to know what it tastes like.

In the end, he did find a few that he liked, but definitely not Starbucks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu-S_USMQ0U#t=117

Flotsam and jetsam (6/16)

first world problems

Good Reads

  • Why Your Teaching Isn’t As Effective As You Think: Progressive bloggers ranting against conservatives is not teaching. Preachers ranting against the sins “out there,” while ignoring the actual sins in their church—that is not teaching. All these leaders are really doing is tickling their listeners’ ears and fortifying their already held beliefs. (Sharon Hodde-Miller)
  • Meet the Atheist…Who Believes in God:  Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account. Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God. Let me explain. (Frank Shaeffer)
  • Shun the Atheist Boyfriend: A poll reveals that parents of all political persuasions are very squeamish about the prospect of a godless daughter- or son-in-law. (The Atlantic)

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A Prayer for Sunday (G. K. Chesterton)

chestertonGilbert Keith Chesterton was a famous English writer and thinker, probably best known for his detective stories and his apologetic works, particularly his influential Orthodoxy. Writing during a time when the church faced significant challenges from the rising “modernism” of the early twentieth century, Chesterton encouraged many to retain a high view of Christian theology and its ability to answer its critics and deal with the most difficult questions of life.

G. K. Chesterton died on June 14, 1936. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

O God of earth and altar,
…..Bow down ahd hear our cry;
Our earthly rulers falter,
…..Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
…..The swords of scorn divide;
Take not thy thunder from us,
…..But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
…..From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
…..That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
…..Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
…..Deliver us, good Lord!

Saturday Morning Fun…When Time Travelers Review Books

You have to love an author with a sense of humor. The following is a comment that Patrick Rothfuss left at Goodreads upon discovering that hundreds of people had given his next book a 5-star rating despite the fact that he hasn’t finished it yet!

While it’s nice to see folks out there giving this book five stars, and in some cases even reviewing it, I’ll admit that I’m kinda puzzled.

After thinking it over for a while, I’ve realized there’s only one explanation for this:

Time travelers love my books.

This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.

I would also like to say, future readers, that I appreciate your taking time to read and review my books. It’s really flattering knowing that even with time-travel technology at your disposal, you’d rather read my stuff and mention it here on goodreads, rather than, say, hunt dinosaurs, get drunk with da Vinci, or pants Hitler.

Secondly, I’d like to say if you’re The Doctor, and you’re reading this, I would make an excellent traveling companion. I know you normally tend to hang out with pretty young women and robot dogs. And honestly? I respect that.

Still, I bring certain things to the table. Humor, witty banter, and a beard that will allow me to blend in seamlessly with any pre-industrial Germanic culture. I’m also an excellent kisser and play a mean game of Settlers of Catan.

Just throwing it out there.

Lastly, if any of you happen to have a digital copy of the book you’d like to e-mail me, I’d really appreciate it. I’d love to see the five-star version of the book, because right now, the one I’m toiling away at is about a three an a half-in my opinion. It would save me a lot of work if I could just skip to the end and publish it.

Sincerely yours,

pat

Fabulous World Cup Commercial

If you’re excited about the World Cup, or if you’d just like to see people do cool stuff with a soccer ball, here you go!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smh0QXSmF-A

Being More Gracious than Jesus

What should we do with the seemingly impossible demands of the Sermon on the Mount? The lofty character of the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:2-12), the expectation of pure attitudes and not simply moral actions (Mt. 5:21-47), the impossible ideal of divine perfection (Mt. 5:48). What do we do with all these demands and commands? Should we ignore them, explain them away, embrace them with all their implied perfectionism, or something else entirely?

Nobody's Perfect Concept

This is the question that Scot McKnight wrestles with at the beginning of his excellent new commentary Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan, 2013). Like all the volumes in The Story of God Bible Commentary, McKnight’s book focuses on connecting the truth of the text with the everyday world in which we all live. And he starts strong with this book, quickly raising some good questions for those who want to place the “demands” of the Sermon inside a broader framework of grace. Although he’s clearly sympathetic to this approach, he’s aware that it can come with some major drawbacks.

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