Flotsam and jetsam on vacation

Travel PosterFlotsam and jetsam will be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks while I spend some time with my family on the West Coast. We’re currently in Northern California (Monterey) for a family birthday celebration, and then we’re heading up to Portland for a week so I can teach a class on the Greek Fathers for Western Seminary’s ThM program. Very much looking forward to being back in the great NW for the first time since we left last summer, and how can you complain about spending a week discussing theologians like Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor with some terrific ThM students? Should be great fun.

I have some other posts scheduled while I’m gone, so the blog won’t go completely silent. But since there’s no way to schedule Flotsam and Jetsam posts in advance, those will need to shut down in the interim. They should start up again later in July.

Have a great summer!

The World Cup of Everything Else

World FootballThe World Cup is well under way with quite a few teams having already qualified for the next round. But if you’re curious about how the countries participating in this years’ World Cup stack up in other areas, here’s a great interactive chart comparing all 32 countries across a range of measures: The World Cup of Everything Else.

You’ll have the peruse the chart yourself to see all the data, but here are some of the results I found most interesting.

  • The US pops up in quite a few places, of course, but some of the more ignominious include highest obesity rate, most McDonalds per capita (as well as the most Starbucks per capita), and most CO2 emissions.
  • Some of the other expected results included France having the most total tourists, Russia being the biggest drinkers, and Honduras having the highest murder rate.
  • Ghana spends the most on education as a percentage of GDP.
  • Algeria has the highest military spending as a percentage of GDP.
  • Japan has the most forest as a percentage of total land.
  • The highest percentage of internet users lives in the Netherlands, which also the most water as a percentage of total land.
  • Iran gets both the highest inflation rate and the highest traffic death rate.
  • The team with the most Twitter followers is Mexico.
  • Costa Rica has the highest percentage of women in government.

There’s more, but you can read it for yourself.

Flotsam and jetsam

England fan

England fan

Good Reads

  • Their Blood Cries Out: Rupert Shortt and John Allen want readers to wake up. In books chock full of details—names, dates, places, circumstances—they document violence against Christian believers that in various forms has been building steadily in many parts of the world. (Mark Noll)
  • When Words Mean What They Don’t Mean:  As I like to say: “language is the stringing of one ambiguity after another.” There is so much more to communication than merely words….Our words create pictures, and those images communicate and fill in the blanks (and at times straighten out the absurdities of the words we use). (Bill Mounce)
  • Understanding Millennials: 3 Pillars of the Millennial Generation:  As you can imagine, there is a LOT of diversity within the Millennial generation, which is the case with any generation to be sure, but it could be argued that diversity defines Millennials. In fact, because of the widespread diversity in the Millennial generation, the predominance of diversity is one of the only definitives of this people group. (Millennial Evangelical)
  • Putting Religion in its Place: The Secular State and Human Flourishing – A Debate:  Few topics are as contentious today as the role of religion in political debate and public deliberation. Rival positions rely on differing accounts of history, conceptions of “religion” and convictions about the role of the state. Russell Blackford (University of Newcastle) and William Cavanaugh (DePaul University) have both written extensively on this topic, and thus their wide-ranging exchange represents an uncommonly sophisticated treatment of the issues at stake and why they matter. (Religion and Ethics)

Continue Reading…

6 Reasons Pastors Need Learning Communities

Most pastors understand the importance of learning continually. There’s just so much you have to know to be an effective pastor, and the rapid pace of change in the modern world has only made that more difficult. So the pastors I’ve known all push themselves to keep learning and growing. Excellent.

The problem is with their approach.

Focused student reading book

With just a few exceptions, most of the pastors I know take a self-directed, independent approach to their continuing education. They stay sharp by reading books, listening to sermons, and preparing to teach others. They’re constantly learning, but mostly on their own.

And there’s nothing inherently wrong with independent learning. Most of the greatest minds in history did the bulk of their learning on their own. I do the same.

Interestingly though, few pastors would advise the average Christian to do the bulk of their studying/learning alone. That’s why we encourage people to join small groups, Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and more. But as pastors, we seem to think that we’re above all that, skilled enough to do it on our own. Sure we’ll throw in the occasional pastors conference, but that’s about it.

And although there’s tremendous value to independent learning, there are some inherent dangers as well. Dangers which suggest that we should supplement our independent learning with some good, old-fashioned group learning. In other words, pastors need learning communities too.

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Maternity Leave Policies Around the World

Mom’s apple pie may be one of the things America cherishes the most, but mom herself? Not so much.

maternity leave

 

via The Atlantic

Flotsam and jetsam (6/23)

adults on board

Good Reads

  • The Dead White Poet You Need in Your Life:  Why all this interest in Herbert, and why now? I believe it’s because Herbert writes with unblinking candor about both the joy of faith and the ongoing pain of our remaining weakness. We need his words today, to remind us that the Christian life is one that invites hope, but makes room for struggle as well. (Christianity Today)
  • The Last Crusade: The First World War and the Birth of Modern Islam:  How to live without a Caliph? Later Muslim movements sought various ways of living in such a puzzling and barren world, and the solutions they found were very diverse: neo-orthodoxy and neo-fundamentalism, liberal modernization and nationalism, charismatic leadership and millenarianism. All modern Islamist movements stem from these debates. (Religion & Ethics)

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Saturday Morning Fun…Do You Want to Kill Some Rebels?

You probably don’t need another spoof of Frozen‘s “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” but this one is worth it. And a little Star Wars humor on a Saturday morning is always a good idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eJeCM60awo

Flotsam and jetsam (6/20)

could be worse

Good Reads

  • Pornolescence:  So many young Christians have stunted their spiritual growth through what I call pornolesence. Pornolescence is that period when a person is old enough and mature enough to know that pornography is wrong and that it exacts a heavy price, but too immature or too apathetic to do anything about it. (Tim Challies)
  • The Banality of Clergy Failure:  This is the banality of clergy failure—that we put ourselves between people and God. That we tacitly assume God is distant, remote, occupied, distracted, and so we, to compensate, must be present, intense, hearty, and inspiring. We must be more human than God. (Christian Century)
  • In Two Michigan Villages, a Higher Calling Is Often Heard:  In an era when the number of priests in the United States continues to dwindle — declining by 11 percent in the past decade and crippling the Catholic Church’s ability to meet the needs of a growing Catholic population — this rural patch of Clinton County offers a case study in the science and mystery of the call to priesthood. (New York Times)
  • The Great Calvinist Reawakening:  But the new Calvinist revival—which amounts to a partial shift in theological emphasis and style—is a far cry from the Calvinist revival that burned through the Northeast a few centuries ago during the Great Awakening….They wept, they trembled, they flushed, they fell senseless to the ground. They sang at the top of their lungs and threw their worldliest possessions on bonfires. They writhed with the shame of sin, and shook with the power of salvation, and fainted with the sweetness of the grace and glory of God. (Religion & Politics)

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Looking for Good Doctoral Students

Are you thinking about doing a PhD in theology or Bible? Then I’m not going to lie to you: it’s a tough road. You’ll invest tremendous time, effort, and money in the journey, and given the tough Bible/theology job market, you can’t know if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (And actually, given what academics spend most of their time doing, there’s not much gold in that pot anyway!) So you need to think about reality before launching down that road.

academia

But if you’re still interested in pursuing a PhD in theology or Bible anyway, then we should talk. My first doctoral student starts this Fall, and I’m pretty excited about the research he wants to do on the relationship between Christology and theological anthropology (esp. the incarnation and the mind/body relationship). I don’t know if that sounds interesting to anyone else, but I’ll enjoy it! And the good news for you is that he’ll be the poor sap that I get to practice/learn on. So by the time you arrive, I should have some idea of what I’m doing. (No promises.)

I won’t tell you how to pick your doctoral program: there are too many personal preferences involved (e.g. faculty, curriculum, placement rates, etc.). But about a year ago, I moved to Wheaton College largely because it has a doctoral program with some really attractive features. So if you’re looking to do a PhD in theology or Bible, then you might want to consider ours.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/18)

wishes

Good Reads

  • Generation X: America’s neglected ‘middle child’:  This overlooked generation currently ranges in age from 34 to 49, which may be one reason they’re so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change. They’re smack in the middle innings of life, which tend to be short on drama and scant of theme. But there are other explanations that have nothing to do with their stage of the life cycle. (Pew Research)
  • Intelligent Design: Slowly Going Out of Style?  There’s room for ambiguity in faith these days, it seems. Science doesn’t have to negate God; one man’s Bible interpretation doesn’t invalidate another’s. As evolution gains more and more traction, it won’t be a “loss” for religion; it will be just be one more change in how modern Americans are learning to believe. (The Atlantic)

Continue Reading…

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