Flotsam and jetsam (1/16)

It's a trap!

Good Reads

  • Are Babies Born Good? Where morality comes from is a really hard problem….There isn’t a moral module that is there innately. But the elements that underpin morality—altruism, sympathy for others, the understanding of other people’s goals—are in place much earlier than we thought, and clearly in place before children turn 2
  • Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will: (As with much popular science writing, the title of this one is overblown. But the article is still worth reading.) As the early results of scientific brain experiments are showing, our minds appear to be making decisions before we’re actually aware of them — and at times by a significant degree. It’s a disturbing observation that has led some neuroscientists to conclude that we’re less in control of our choices than we think — at least as far as some basic movements and tasks are concerned.

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Questioning the Call

Sitting on the dock, looking out over the still, dark waters of the lake, I just knew. It wasn’t surprising; I’d been toying with the idea for almost a year. But now, after much prayer, and at the end of an especially meaningful retreat, everything was clear. My mind relaxed, the decision made: I was going into ministry.

I can still remember that easy certainty, the calm assurance that this was what I supposed to do. In hindsight, it’s a little surprising how quickly I set aside my other plans and launched into ministry preparation. At the time, though, nothing could have been more obvious.

Three years later, everything was different.

It was late, well after midnight, and the church was empty. All the kids had gone home hours ago. But I was still in my office, alone with my questions: Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? Why is it so hard? Why am I so drained? Am I cut out for this?

At first I was so sure. But now, just a few short years later, that quiet confidence eluded my anxious grasp. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be here. Maybe I was never really called to ministry.

This is the beginning of my most recent post over at Christianity.com. Please head over there to read the rest.

How to Make Decisions Like Gandalf

Everyone needs a little help making difficult decisions at times. And who better to offer advice than Gandalf, the White Wizard himself? Now if I could just remember where I put my giant eagles.

HT Neatorama

Flotsam and jetsam (1/14)

Calvin and Hobbes

Good Reads

  • Ten Things Church Members Desire in a Pastor: I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Though my approach was not scientific, these laypersons did represent over sixty churches.

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A Prayer for Sunday (Gregory of Nyssa)

St. Gregory Nyssen cappadocian fathers saint GregoryOne of three great theologians to arise in Cappadocia (central Turkey) during the fourth century, Gregory of Nyssa, along with his brother Basil the Great and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, was one of the leading theologians in the years following the Council of Nicea. Though his writings have not been as influential as his two counterparts, he is best known for his work on the Trinity, salvation, anthropology, and the infinite mystery of God.

Gregory died sometime around 395 AD and his feast day is traditionally celebrated on January 10. So, in his memory, today’s prayer comes from him.

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Saturday Morning Fun…The Science of Productivity

Should you really watch a video about productivity on a Saturday morning? Maybe not. But at least it’s interesting.

Flotsam and jetsam (1/11)

Good Reads

  • Time to ditch ‘evangelicals’? A national survey found that 53 percent of college faculty have negative feelings toward evangelicals–more than any other religious group. Of Americans age 16 to 29, just three percent had a favorable view of evangelicals in 2007. Young Americans-raised in the evangelical heyday of the 1980’s and 90’s–identified the group’s top three traits as “anti-homosexual,” “judgmental,” and “hypocritical.”
  • Why I Changed My Mind about the Millennium: I distinctly recall the horror (trust me, “horror” is by no means an exaggerated term to describe the reaction I received) in my church when I made it known that I could no longer embrace a pre-tribulation rapture. More than a few were convinced that I was well on my way into theological liberalism! But when in the early 1980s I abandoned premillennialism in all its forms, public reaction was such that you would have sworn I had committed the unpardonable sin.
  • There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”

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Why We Don’t Need Informed Opinions

You could try to disagree, but it wouldn’t work.

dilbert opinion argument ignorance is bliss

19 Emotions with No English Equivalent (infographic)

You know when you’re feeling something and you just can’t come up with the right word to describe the emotion. Apparently part of the problem comes from the limitations of the language(s) you speak. According to this infographic, English has no word equivalent for at least 19 different emotions.

And we definitely need to come up with words for some of these. I know I’d like to have a word for the feeling of “comfort and coziness of being at home, with friends, with loved ones, or general togetherness.” And why doesn’t it surprise me that Russian is the language with a word for feeling an “ache of soul, a longing with nothing to long for.”

I do have to register one disagreement, though. English has long had a word for “the bubbly feeling of the moment of falling in love.” It’s called “twitterpated.”

Here’s the infographic from Pei-Ying Lin over at the Unspeakableness Project. You should also check out the infographic on new emotions created by the internet.

click to embiggen

Flotsam and jetsam (1/9)

Good Reads

  • The Millennial Generation’s Acceptable Sin: Every human institution and society has its own list of sins and virtues that contradict the law of God. With the rise of the Millennial generation in evangelical churches, a vice is creeping up into the realms of acceptance, indifference, or at least resignation: fornication (i.e. extramarital sex or unchaste living).
  • God is alive and well in America, says Gallup chief: Despite a deep drop in the number of Americans who identify with a particular faith, the country could be on the cusp of a religious renaissance, says Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of The Gallup Poll

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