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

More Surprising Book Facts

Yesterday I posted an infographic about the reading habits of Americans after high school college. I mentioned in my post that it was interesting “if the stats in the infographic are correct,” which is a needed caveat for these notoriously unreliable infographics. And several people did question whether these stats could possibly be correct. So I looked into them a bit more, which didn’t take long since the infographic’s own creator has updated information on his blog.

The short version is that the stats in the infographic are not as authoritative as they appear, but they still reflect an interesting perspective on the state of reading in America. Here are the facts:

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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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Surprising Book Facts

I remember being surprised the first time I ran across someone who told me that he hadn’t read an entire book since he finished college. It took me a while to wrap my head around that one, but I’ve discovered since that this isn’t terribly uncommon. And, if the stats in this infographic are correct, not always a safe assumption, it’s even more common that I thought.

surprising book facts

 

Favorite Books of 2013

Just one more list before we close out 2013. I’ve already done my 10 Favorite Posts of 2013 and my Favorite Albums of 2013, so now we just need to wrap things up with my favorite books of the year. As usual, I’m not saying that these were the “best” books, just the ones that I particularly enjoyed.

Books

You’ll also notice that a couple of these books were actually published in 2012. That means that were published so late in the year that I couldn’t include them on last year’s list. Rather than exclude them completely, then, they get grandfathered in for this year.

If you love books and know of some particularly good ones that you’d like to recommend in any of these categories, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m always in the market for more books.

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Favorite Albums of 2013

I am running a little behind on getting my “favorites” out there, but it’s still 2013, right? Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone cares what a theologian’s favorite albums are. But every year I enjoy looking back and trying to figure out which albums stood out the most.

Keep in mind that I’m not saying these are the “best,” just my personal favorites. And no comments about the genres in which I placed various groups. Some groups are a pain to pin down, and musical genres are notoriously ill-defined anyway.

And if you’re a music fan, let me know if there’s an album you loved that isn’t on the list. I’m always on the lookout for something new.

Favorite Overall Album

loud city songJulie Holter, Loud City Song

This was also one of my go-to albums for writing music this year. Lots of twists and turns to keep it interesting, but mellow enough to have in the background while I’m reading, taking notes, or banging away on the keyboard. I’ll be listening to this one for a while yet.

  • Runner Up: The National, Trouble Will Find Me
  • Honorable Mentions: Phosphorescent, Jason Isbell, Lucius, Alice Smith, Vampire Weekend, Neko Case

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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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Gifts, Grace, and Christmas Morning

I love watching my daughters on Christmas morning. As the youngest members of the family, Leah and Sydney are usually tasked with the job of pulling the presents out from under the tree and distributing them to the rest of the family. It’s an important responsibility. And one year it offered an amazingly simple lesson in the beauty of grace.

This short post is a re-post of one of my favorite Christmas reflections. Enjoy.

presents (550x367)

I remember the first Christmas the girls did this together. They were busy grabbing presents and sorting them into different piles. After a few minutes, I realized what was happening. The girls were shoving the presents for the adults off to the side and pulling their own presents into two large piles right in front of the tree.

“Of course,” I thought, “they’re just trying to find presents for themselves. Greedy little urchins. Must take after their mother.”

I quickly realized how wrong I was.

They weren’t building their own little stash. They were trying to find the presents they had made for each other. One after another, they held out their little treasures, watching with delight as their sister received these gifts of grace.

In my brokenness, I had assumed that they must be greedily hoarding presents for themselves. Instead, they taught me about grace. There is nothing like a small child, eyes bright with excitement, wanting only to give. In that exchange, there was no merit, no earning, no shame—only the joy of giving…only grace.

Apparently they take after their mother after all.

I can easily imagine God being like that—eyes bright with excitement, unmoved by words like “ought” or “deserve,” interested only in reaching into his pile of presents under the tree, eager to share the things that he made specially for us.

Christmas morning.

A son, a sacrifice, a savior. A gift joyfully given. The good news of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).