A Prayer for Sunday (Desiderius Erasmus)

ErasmusDesiderius Erasmus was one of the great reformers of the 1500s. Protestants tend not to think of him as a reformer, of course, because he remained a committed Catholic throughout the Protestant Reformation, and famously disagreed Luther on the nature of human free will. But Erasmus was also an outspoken critic of the late medieval church, and one of the key voices calling for institutional, clerical, educational, and moral reform. As such, he should definitely be regarded as one of the most important of the early reformers.

Erasmus was born on October 27 (give or take a day), 1466. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this morning’s prayer comes from him.

O God of love,
true light and radiance of our world,
shine into our hearts like the rising sun,
and banish the darkness of sin and the mists of error.

May we, this day and all our life,
walk without stumbling
along the way which you have set before us;
through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord

How to Get Admitted to an Insane Asylum (in the 1800s)

asylum entrance (250x385)

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Apparently it’s not that difficult. According to this list of reasons for admitting people to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane in the late 1800s, you could get locked up for anything from living an immoral life to egotism, even laziness. I think that covers just about all of us.

But a few of these are particularly hilarious.

  • Imprisonment: Really? You’re locking me up for having been locked up? That makes perfect sense. 
  • Novel Reading: I know people who don’t think much of fiction, but this is going a tad far.
  • Over action of the mind and over taxing of mental powers: Apparently lots of people got locked up back then for thinking too hard. As a matter of fact, hard study alone could get you locked up.
  • Religious enthusiasm: Anyone who gets excited about their religion should clearly be confined. And if you’re so messed up that you combined this with the previous one and end up in over study of religion, then you’re hopeless.
  • Bad whiskey: Ha! If anything could get you locked up for a while, this would be it.
  • Women trouble: Enough said.
  • Time of Life: This is one of my favorites. Why are you in here? I don’t know, it’s just that time of life.
  • Snuff eating for two years: Yep, seems like that would do the trick.
  • Asthma: Oh right, a little stay in a mental institution will clear that right up.
  • Masturbation: The list has a real issue with this one as it pops up no less than five times. As far as I can tell, the following are dangerous: mixing it with tobacco, doing it while having syphilis, doing it for 30 years or more, and doing it in a “deranged” manner, whatever that means. But whatever you do, don’t “suppress” it either. No mixed messages there.

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How to Read Stuff You Don’t Agree With

sad face (250x460)We’ve all faced the challenge. You see the link, and you know it’s going to take you to that blog, written by that person, about that stuff. And you’re going to hate it. What should you do?

When you face that situation next time, Derek Rishmawy has some great advice. His article is actually about handling Christian Celebrity Derangement Syndrome, and he has some terrific comments about how hard it is to say anything sane about people like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Rachel Held Evans. So make sure you head over there and read his whole post.

But I particularly enjoyed his advice for reading things you don’t agree with. Here’s what you do.

  1. Before you read the article, breathe.
  2. Count to 10.
  3. Read the article slowly noting key nouns, verbs, modifiers, and transition clauses.
  4. Count to 10 again.
  5. Read it slower.
  6. Pray.
  7. Now go ahead and tweet it out with the appropriate commentary.


  1. Don’t read the article.

Brilliant. I can just hear a mom whispering to her child, “If you can’t read anything nicely, don’t read anything at all.”

Obviously there’s a bit more involved, but you get the point. If you race into an article with your adrenaline receptors on high, your reticular activator going full blast, and your flux capacitor in overdrive, you’re in trouble (especially since that last one is going to land you in the middle of a gunfight in 1885). So slow down. If you’re not going to read the article carefully, prayerfully, and productively, walk away.

Flotsam and jetsam (10/25)

friend's password

Good Reads

  • Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic: There is a plethora of research on the causes of hostile environments for women in academia….These initiatives are important, but here’s the thing: gender equality has to be a collaborative venture. (Tenure, She Wrote)
  • I’m Done Fixing the Church: Turning the Future Over to God: If you have fallen into the trap of trying to “fix” the church, I don’t write this article to make you feel guilty or to encourage you to beat yourself up. At best, we are all stumbling along on the journey of faith in need of God’s grace….The time is ripe for us to confuse our human needs with God’s desires for the church. In addition to confusion over God’s desires, I believe a major reason for our misguided attempts to fix the church is a misunderstanding of our role as clergy. (Ministry Matters)
  • The Secret Women’s Porn Problem: It’s difficult to find concrete numbers on women’s pornography viewership. We shouldn’t be surprised; adult entertainment has always been designated as the “man problem.” But the little research on the topic, plus anecdotal evidence, reveals otherwise. (Hermeneutics)

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What You Would Be Doing If You Weren’t Online

When I was a kid, the concern was that we spent too much time watching TV. So you’d think that we’d all be excited that kids are now watching less TV. Nope. Now we’re concerned about how much time they spend online. I wonder what my grandkids are going to spend too much time on?

A new study looks at the “opportunity cost” of using your computer during your leisure time. In other words, we all know that browsing the internet when you’re supposed to be working or studying is probably a bad idea. But what are the costs of doing so in your free time?

offline things to do

A few things from the study jumped out at me. First, Americans have five hours of leisure time every day. Given how much we complain about being too busy and overworked, that’s a significant amount of time. And a widely cited study from a few years ago confirms that data. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Americans have more leisure time than we used to.

Second, our biggest concern about online leisure is that it’s interfering with our offline leisure. Don’t you hate it when you spend so much time on Facebook that you can’t watch as much TV as you used to? But wait, we can do those at the same time. Double leisure!

Third, the study claims that we only spend 13 minutes of that 5 hours on computer leisure. Given other studies reporting that we spend almost 7 hours per month on social media alone, that figure seemed way too low to me. But it’s entirely possible that we do a lot of our online leisuring when we’re at work. After all, we wouldn’t want our online leisure to interfere with our offline leisure more than it already is.

No matter how we slice it, the study is a good reminder that every activity comes with “opportunity costs,” even when we’re just doing it on our free time.



It Really Is Better with Bacon…Usually

I find it hard to believe that bacon wouldn’t make even pasta taste better, but I’d definitely think twice before wrapping bacon around my favorite desserts. Of course, my favorite dessert is a cup of coffee. So I’ll just take my bacon on the side.

better with baconvia Wired


Flotsam and jetsam (10/23)

french kiss

Good Reads

  • The Bible Paradox: Nearly 80 percent of all Americans think the Bible is either literally true or is the inspired word of God. And yet, most Americans have no idea what is actually in the Bible. (The Big Think)
  • How does a pastor wisely seek change in his church? Pastors who walk into existing churches are quickly burdened by needed changes to improve the church.  Where the challenge is for most of us is when and how those changes need to be brought.  If you are wondering how to choose those battles wisely, first receive this most excellent counsel I received as I entered my first Senior Pastor position at a church clearly needing change and revitalization. (Practical Shepherding)

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Could Jesus Be “Mostly” Divine?

Most Christians know you’re supposed to say that Jesus is divine. After all, you’ve got the Trinity, so you know you have to connect the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in some way. And you’ve probably heard that Jesus needs to be divine for salvation to work. It might be tragic for some random human to get crucified, but it’s hardly going to save the world. If Jesus is going to accomplish our salvation, he has to be divine.

But what if he was just mostly divine?

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That’s the question I received in an email from a friend the other day. He knew perfectly well that the gospel doesn’t work unless the Son is divine, but he still wanted to know if mostly divine was good enough.

Princess Bride Theology

If you’re like me, anytime “mostly X” comes up in conversation, you hear echoes of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride. And I can imagine how the relevant christological conversation might have unfolded:

Inigo Montoya: He’s divine. He can’t be otherwise.

Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly divine. There’s a big difference between mostly divine and all divine. Mostly divine is slightly not-divine. With all divine, well, with all divine there’s usually only one thing you can do.

Inigo: What’s that?

Miracle Max: Go through your clothes and look for loose change to tithe.

Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have gone quite like that. But you get the point. Does it make sense to draw a distinction between “all divine” and “mostly divine,” affirming only the latter of the Son?

This approach would seem to have some real advantages. On the one hand, you’re still saying that the Son is divine. So you don’t seem to have any problems affirming that he is the Savior of the world. Since he’s not as divine as the Father, though, you have a neat way of distinguishing the Son from the Father, thus avoiding all the complex logical problems those goofy trinitarians face. 

Mostly divine. Sounds good.

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11 Reasons You Should Drink Coffee Every Day

I don’t need an excuse to drink coffee. But I certainly won’t object if someone hands me one. Or eleven.

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But if you need a little extra convincing, here’s a post offering eleven reasons to imbibe the divine beverage every day. Check out the post for all the data, but here are the highlights.

  • Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else. I’m not convinced that antioxidants are all that, but they sure sound healthy.
  • Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed. Even my daughters agree that coffee smells good. And they think it tastes like boiled dingo.
  • Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. We have some family members who struggle with Parkinson’s, so I’ll take any advantage I can get.
  • Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol). Um, no comment.
  • Coffee can make you feel happier. Duh.
  • Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide. See the previous point.
  • Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman). I’m not, but I’ll err on the side of caution.
  • Coffee can make you a better athlete. Since I’m not much of an athlete, that’s not saying a whole lot. But I’ll take it.
  • Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. I think that means I can eat more chocolate.
  • Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer. Sweet.
  • Coffee may make you more intelligent. This might be a correlation/causation problem. It’s entirely possible that smarter people drink coffee, rather than that coffee makes you smarter. But I’ll stick with coffee either way.

So, if you want to be healthy, happy, and smart, grab a cup of coffee this morning. That’s what I’m doing.

Flotsam and jetsam (10/21)


Good Reads

  • What Does It Mean to Be Charismatic? There seems to be a failure to recognize how influential and growing the charismatic movement is these days among the most theologically astute. What I mean by theological “astuteness” is that this new breed of charismatics is thoroughly evangelical, orthodox, and Christ-centered. (Michael Patton)
  • How Cereal Transformed American Culture: More than a century ago, Christian fundamentalists invented cereal to promote a healthy lifestyle free of sin. Little did they know, their creation would eventually be used to promote everything from radio and cartoons to Mr. T and tooth decay. (Mental Floss)
  • Why Do Teachers Quite? And Why Do They Stay? Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all. With teacher effectiveness a top priority of the education reform movement, the question remains: Why are all these teachers leaving—or not even entering the classroom in the first place? (The Atlantic)

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