Flotsam and jetsam (4/24)

the perfect birthday card note

Good Reads

  • Wanted: An Adult Faith in a Youth Culture: I want a church where I know and feel that the adults are in charge, where wisdom trumps enthusiasm, where historical perspective is considered, where depth is valued as much as breadth, where stories have shaped us for generations.
  • There Are No Saints Online: Hate is a source of acknowledged pleasure. Hate-watching. Hate-listening. Hate-reading. These are all things that you, your friends, and your neighbors, not monsters, likely do. We deliberately expose ourselves to objects of contempt to stoke inner outrage in order to enjoy the release of fury.
  • The innovation of the early American church: Although it is commonplace today for Christians to create organizations that tackle social problems, that approach was an innovation in the American Protestant church, says one of the nation’s top church historians.
  • The Place of Blogs in Academic Writing: In this post I attempt to tackle a complex but increasingly important question: Should writers cite blog posts in formal academic writing (i.e. journal articles and books)? Unfortunately, rather than actually tackle this question, I find myself running sporadically around it. At best, I bump into the question a few times, but never come close to pinning down an answer.

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I’m Just Not Wired That Way

I spend a lot of time alone. And I like it. Working on my laptop, reading a book, or just listening to the birds outside my window, I cherish any time I get to myself. As an introvert, I’m wired that way. I enjoy (some) people, but I need my time alone.

I worry, though, about the possibility that embracing how I’m “wired” can become an excuse, a temptation to avoid opportunities/responsibilities simply because I don’t enjoy them or because they’re hard for me. When that happens, my strengths turn into weaknesses and I become my own enemy.

Quite a few recent books have proclaimed the virtues of the introverted life. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop TalkingIntrovert Power, Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, and The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World all emphasize the importance of introversion. And Adam McHugh applied many of the same ideas to the Christian life with Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.

And I think this emphasis on understanding introversion is a good thing. As a society, we tend to force everyone into the same extroverted mold, often failing to appreciate and develop the qualities of the introverted life.

Nonetheless, we need to be careful here. All good things have a corresponding danger, a temptation to press that good thing in unhealthy directions. And the danger of understanding how you’re wired is the temptation to avoid opportunities/responsibilities because “you’re just not wired that way.”

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Flotsam and jetsam (4/22)

Good Reads

  • The Lost Boys Give Back: The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of thousands of young men from Sudan who fled the violence of their villages and lived in refugee camps for years before they were relocated to the United States, Australia, and other nations. After the cease-fire in 2005, many of them are looking homeward, and using the education and skills they’ve learned to help those who remain in Sudan.
  • Heaven Won’t Be Boring: If you lack a passion for heaven, I can almost guarantee it’s because you have a deficient and distorted theology of heaven (or you’re making choices that conflict with heaven’s agenda). An accurate and biblically energized view of heaven will bring a new spiritual passion to your life.
  • The Benefits of Church: One of the most striking scientific discoveries about religion in recent years is that going to church weekly is good for you. Religious attendance — at least, religiosity — boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. It may add as much as two to three years to your life. The reason for this is not entirely clear.
  • The Mystery of Original Sin: We don’t know why God permitted the Fall, but we know all too well the evil and sin that still plague us.

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A Prayer for Sunday (Anselm)

Saint Anselm of Canterbury was one of the greatest figures of the medieval church. Philosopher, theologian, monk, and churchman, Anselm influenced the course of the Western church in many ways, most notably through his reflections on the relationship between the incarnation and the atonement.

Anselm died on April 21, 1109 after serving as the Archbishop of Canterbury for sixteen years. In memory of his life and service, today’s prayer comes from him.

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Saturday Morning Fun…Best Filibuster Ever!

Patton Oswalt pulls off the best filibuster ever with a brilliant, ad-libbed discourse on what Disney should do with the next Star Wars movie. Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes enjoying this video.

Flotsam and jetsam (4/19)

Good Reads

  • Do e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?  evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension.
  • Why the Sermon Is Not Enough: even faithful attendees of weekly worship can overestimate what our attendance accomplishes, particularly if our weekly investment in learning Scripture begins and ends with listening to a sermon.
  •  A Final Wrap-Up: Doug Wilson and Thabiti Anyabwile finish up their discussion of race, theology and politics with a  nice summary of what they accomplished and where they still differ.
  • You’ll Probably Never Upload Your Mind into a Computer: Many futurists predict that one day we’ll upload our minds into computers, where we’ll romp around in virtual reality environments. That’s possible — but there are still a number of thorny issues to consider. Here are eight reasons why your brain may never be digitized.

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Here I Stand: Luther at Worms

Today marks the anniversary of Luther’s bold stand at the Diet of Worms, where he famously stood before his critics and refused to retract his teachings which had already sparked such controversy in the Church.

For those of you who are wondering, Worms is a city in Germany, and a “Diet” is basically a council, an official gathering of some kind. So, although a diet of worms might be an intriguing way to lose weight, the Diet of Worms was an imperial council that met in the city of Worms in 1521. (And if you want to sound all germanic and cool to your friends, you pronounce it like Deet of Verms.)

Here are a few highlights from Luther’s speech that day. You can read the whole thing here.

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The Digital World of Teens (infographic)

Here’s an interesting infographic summarizing stats on how teenagers use and perceive social media. Among the more interesting stats:

  • 21% say that they wish their parents spent less time on their cell phones and other devices. 
  • 43% wish they could unplug sometimes. That makes me think we need to do a better job helping them see that they can.
  • 88% of teens using social media say that they have witnessed people being mean or cruel on social networking sites. That means the other 12% just aren’t paying attention.
  • I love survey stats. Apparently 55% of teens ignore that kind of cruelty, but 86% sought advice from their parents about it. That means a fairly large number of teens managed to ignore the cruelty and get advice about it at the same time. Impressive.

Flotsam and jetsam (4/17)

Good Reads

  • Religious women press for change: Mormon women cannot be priests. Catholic women cannot be priests. Muslim women cannot lead prayers in mixed-gender congregations. Jewish women are restricted in praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But Mormons have the “Let Women Pray” campaign. Catholics have the “Women’s Ordination Conference.” Muslims have “Muslims for Progressive Values.” Jews have “Women of the Wall.” What is going on here?
  • The Real Value of a College Education: Christians might thoughtfully reconsider the utilitarian language used describing the value of education today. A college degree isn’t only to be equated with job preparation and salary potential, and the value of college is far greater than the sum of a student’s potential earnings.
  • A New Wave of Complementarianism: There’s a new wave of complementarianism stirring. It’s not made up of true egalitarians, though those in this new movement respect many egalitarian concerns.

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Flotsam and jetsam (4/15)

Good Reads

  • For Evangelicals, a Shift in Views on Immigration: The shift among evangelical Christians could have a powerful effect on the fight in Washington, as Republican lawmakers, including many who have opposed any amnesty for illegal immigrants, look to see how much they can support measures to bring those immigrants into the legal system without alienating conservative voters.
  • The Sorry State of the Apology: Though the word apology, as we know it, does not exist in the New Testament, an absence of the specific word does not indicate an absence of the concept. Scripture provides lessons for how to do this well and demonstrates that there is more to making an apology than what a press conference can provide.
  • A Non-Calivinist, Relational View of God’s Sovereignty : My own view of God’s sovereignty is what I call “relational.” I believe in God’s “relational sovereignty.” What I want to do here, today, is explain what I mean by that and invite you to consider it as an alternative to the view of God’s sovereignty currently enjoying great popularity—the Augustinian-Calvinist view that I call, for lack of any more descriptive term, “divine determinism.”

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