Consumerism is the reason for the season

Since it’s Black Friday today (one of the busiest shopping days of the year in America), I thought it would be good to remember  the real reason for this holiday season – rampant consumerism.



What else could possibly explain the long lines of people, sometimes camping out for hours at a time, waiting for stores to open so they can continue the unnecessary accumulation of “stuff”?

Flotsam and jetsam (11/26)

In my judgment, however, the claim that Wright has changed his view on justification is misguided and results from the misreading of Wright that has been rampant in the Reformed world for quite some time.

  • John Byron offers a good thought on celebrity-ism and the academy.

What are we doing? Our scholarship has become, in some ways, a celebrity sport. We stand in awe of speakers who are introduced as the author of twenty books, over one hundred articles and three video series. Bart Ehrman and NT Wright appear on the Colbert report, and while I admit I found their performance entertaining, I wonder why it is that these people are held up as the representatives of scholarship in our field?

it is worth wondering if Christians (or anyone for that matter) might be attracted to artwork that portrays a world “without the Fall,” a sweet, shiny, untroubled and Disneyesque existence.

James McGrath on responsible blog ownership

James McGrath has a fun post today comparing blog ownership to dog ownership. All of the rules were fun and worth reading. But, I have to say that I particularly enjoyed the last piece of advice:

Pick up after your blog. No one wants to step in or smell that “gift” your blog left behind. Please pick it up right away and dispose of it properly. For convenience, try enabling comment moderation.

Fortunately, we haven’t had to do a lot of cleaning up around here. Apparently we’ve been blessed with a pretty well behaved blog. That’s nice. Maybe I should give it a special treat.

Karl Barth on giving thanks to God alone

Only God deserves the thanks of man. We speak of true and essential gratitude – of the gratitude in which man must accept permanently and unreservedly the benefit he has experienced as the benefit which he simply cannot do without, as the perfect benefit showered upon him in the sovereign freedom of the Benefactor. We thus speak of a gratitude in which acceptance of the blessing has a depth and abandon and constancy corresponding to its character, in which obligation towards the Benefactor is felt to be absolute so that it cannot be fully discharged by any attitude of gratefulness which it may arouse. There are also other and more modest benefits. All the benefits which one creature can be or give towards another belong to this category. We do not underestimate the fact that these other more modest benefits exist, and that they are genuine benefits because first and last God the Creator is their source. Similar there is also another and more modest type of gratitude – the gratitude which creatures may show one another for reciprocal favour, and which can be genuine because first and last it is to God that they are thankful when thy receive genuine benefits. Butt his also implies that all other thanksgiving is weighed in the scales and placed under the question whether it refers to a genuine benefit of God for which man is giving thanks, and whether it is therefore the true and essential gratitude which is appropriate to this benefit. Our present theme is this true and essential gratitude. The divine benefit demands this. And it alone can do so. It alone is the indispensable, perfect and free blessing poured out upon man. It alone promises the grace which maintains and saves man. It alone spells the salvation which alone can and does help the creature living on the edge of the abyss of destruction. Hence it alone merits thanks in the strictest sense of the term. Because God alone can be and is a Benefactor in this sense, the One in relation to whom man can and will transcend the limits of his intrinsic possibilities (which is what happens when he thanks God), therefore God alone deserves thanks. Thanksgiving is wasted, indeed, it rests on error and can only lead to further error, if it is not directed tot he one benefit of this one Benefactor, even in the grateful acceptance of benefits from creaturely benefactors. As thanksgiving which is part of an absolute obligation and is permanently binding, it can be directed to this one benefit alone and therefore to this one Benefactor alone.

Church Dogmatics III/2, 169

Why NT Wright is like Hootie and the Blowfish

Fred Sander has a fun post today on why NT Wright is like Hootie and the Blowfish:

I was driving cross-country in the summer of 1995, at a time when the music of Hootie and the Blowfish was inescapable. My wife and I listened to the radio from Kentucky to California, and the soundtrack assigned to us by American pop music was song after song from the multiplatinum album Cracked Rear View. Now, I happened to like the band’s acoustic-stadium sound, and Darius Rucker’s über-masculine vocals. But it didn’t matter whether I liked it or not, I was getting it from both speakers no matter what. Hootie’s dominance was unquestioned: At best, DJs could manage to alternate one song by somebody else in between songs from Hootie. Change the channel, more Hootie. At one point (somewhere in New Mexico?), a DJ shouted, “This is Hootie’s world, and the rest of us are just livin’ in it!”

The theological Hootie of our age is NT Wright. He’s everywhere. Multiplatinum, hit singles, the whole package. I happen to like his work, but it doesn’t matter if you like it; you’re getting it from both speakers anyway. This is NT Wright’s world, and the rest of us are just livin’ in it.

He goes on to offer some thoughts from the recent discussions about Wright’s view of justification, but I really just enjoyed the idea that Wright was like that band on the radio that everyone keeps playing over and over. If you want to modernize the analogy, he’s the Lady Gaga of the theology world. (Now, close your eyes and try not to picture NT Wright dressed like Lady Gaga.)

Infographic on what stoning an adulterer entails

Canad’s National Post recently produced a two-page infograhic on how exactly one goes about stoning an adulterer in modern Iran. Unfortunately, the text in this image is pretty hard to make out, but the pictures tell the story fairly clearly.



McGrath’s paper on biblioblogging now online

James McGrath’s SBL paper is now available online, “The Blogging Revolution: New Technologies and their Impact on How we do Scholarship.” You should definitely check it out. It looks really good.

Harry Potter as a critique of consumerism

Thanks to Byron Smith for pointing out this interesting take on the Harry Potter books/films as a critique of consumerism. I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical going into it, but the video raises some good points. At the very least, it demonstrates how one could use the Harry Potter stories as an entrance into some important themes and ideas relative to consumerism.


Flotsam and jetsam (11/24)

There are various things that you could say that are sufficient to give some moral status after a few months, maybe six months or something like that, and you get perhaps to full moral status, really, only after two years.

Let it be clear:  The earliest Jewish Christian believers did not see themselves as departing from full loyalty to their ancestral deity.  They saw their devotion to Jesus as mandatory, in response to God’s exaltation of Jesus as recipient of this devotion.

  • David Fitch explains why he thinks that Youth Groups Destroy Children’s Lives. He concludes by saying how important that well-done youth ministry is for the church, but here’s his critique in a nutshell.

I think youth groups often do things that work against the formation of our youth into life with Christ and His Mission. They also soak up huge time and resources in ways that are a detriment to the community life of the church.

it seems fairly obvious that if a squad of terrorists did try to infiltrate Manhattan or any other urban area, they would not dress in camouflage to do it, and would not be sprinting.

Weird truths about Disneyland

On my way home last night, I listened to some local DJs sharing weird truths about Disneyland. It sounds like they may have taken them from this list of 50 Things You Didn’t Know about Disneyland. It’s been around for a while, but it was new to me.

Some of my favorites:

  • On opening day, Walt Disney had his gardeners cover bare patches of dirt by replanting weeds from the parking lot and labeling them with long, horticultural-sounding names.
  • Disneyland is home to feral cats – nobody knows how many – that come out at night, after visitors leave. Years ago, more than 100 were discovered living inside Sleeping Beauty Castle.
  • Walt Disney wanted to populate the Jungle Cruise with live animals, but zoologists convinced him they’d be asleep during most park hours. In the early days, though, live alligators were kept in a pen near the turnstiles; they occasionally escaped into the lagoon.
  • When it opened in 1967, Pirates of the Caribbean used real human skeletons as props. In an upcoming book, imagineer Jason Surrell writes, “Because the original imagineering team felt that the faux skeletons of the period were just too unconvincing, the grotto sequence originally featured real human remains obtained from the UCLA Medical Center. The skeletons were later returned to their countries of origin and given a proper burial.”