- WSJ offers another take on the extended adolescence of men in their 20s.
Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.
- Patheos is starting a new series on preachers dialoging with other preachers.
Just as each writer must find her or his own voice, I believe each preacher must find her or his own way into the call of preaching. However, we don’t do it alone. The most healthy preachers know they are always in conversation with their congregation, their local community, the world, the books in their library, those closest to them, their own lives. They know that throughout these conversations, scripture winds its wisdom, prophecy, incongruities, humor, and stories.
- Jason Goroncy offers a pastoral reflection on the Christchurch earthquake. (Here are some pictures of the devastation.)
In the face of death, suffering and grief, what the Jesus community is given to know and to hope in and to proclaim is the word of the cross and resurrection. We have no other word!
- Kyle Robert offers a troubling look at evangelical attitudes toward national budget cuts.
The study, as reported in a recent online Christianity Today article, reveals that the category evangelicals are most willing for the government to cut is economic assistance for global poverty. Fifty-six percent of evangelicals preferred to chop from the federal budget aid for the world’s poorest people. The next highest choice, at 40 percent, was economic assistance for the unemployed. As the CT article notes, evangelicals were more supportive of decreasing spending in these areas than were other Americans. Evangelicals were much more reticent, on the other hand, to cut terrorism defense and military defense. In fact, 45 percent of evangelicals favored increasing spending for military defense, a percentage well higher than non-evangelicals (28 percent).
- Here’s a way to win a set of N.T. Wright’s books on Matthew.
- And here is Nerve’s list of Oscar best-picture winners ranked from worst to best.
I’m flying to Phoenix this morning for a conference, so just a couple of quick links today.
- Matthew Anderson, The Conversation Our Culture Cannot Have, But Must Anyway
Here’s the painful reality to someone like me: it doesn’t matter how carefully I make the arguments, how vociferously I contend that people with gay desires are Christians, how rationally and civilly I try to make my case. In a world where news stories dominate and facts are hard to obtain, the perception is all that matters. And when the perception is that evangelicals hate gay people, every argument–of any sort–is inevitably one more piece of proof for the case.
- Kevin DeYoung, Something We Can All Agree On
Why can’t all the professing Christians in the world look past their differences and just get along?
Because some of those differences are irreconcilable. Most significantly and most foundationally, the three main branches of Christianity in this country–Roman Catholic, Liberal Protestant, and Evangelical Protestant–do not agree on the locus of authority. We don’t answer the question, “What is our final authority?” in the same way.
From the first pages of Scripture to the last, God demonstrates that where there is need, there is also provision. Where there is emptiness, there is also a remedy. Where there is the aching fear that we navigate our days on earth alone, there is a loving God always present and actively sovereign. But our perception fails at times.
- And a UK immigration official has been fired for putting his own wife on the no-fly list.
An immigration officer in the U.K. found a novel way to end his relationship with his wife. His cunning plan was to wait until she went abroad to visit family, then add her to name to the terrorist no-fly list. Unable to return from Pakistan for three years, with officials refusing to tell her why, it took three years for the truth to emerge
- Blog post title of the day: I Read Dead People, from Skye Jethani.
People ask me all the time, “Who do you read?” In most cases they’re looking for book recommendations. (Some people, particularly Calvinistas, are trying to determine if I’m safe–are my ideas and my theology grounded in what they see as credible sources.) But my answer usually surprises them: “I read dead people.”
- Mike Bird addresses the question, When Did Jesus Become the Messiah?
One of the problem in the origins of christology is the question, “When did Jesus become the Messiah?” Scholarship has often assumed that Jesus’ life was non-messianic, not only that, but Jesus in fact repudiated the messianic role.
- Jeff Dunn talks about Our Intimate God and our problems with grace.
I refuse. I absolutely refuse to go back to a god who is only interested in what I do, not who I am. I have no interest in a god who keeps score, who I have to appease by doing good things and avoiding bad things. A god who is more interested in institutes and forms and structures than he is in relationships.
- Jerome Wernow responds to Michael Jenson’s post on suffering, arguing that suffering does have inherent value.
To sum, I appreciate his provocative introduction of the subject but find his primary notion that “suffering has no inherent value in biblical faith” seriously wanting
- Mark Goodacre offers a couple of good videos from E.P. Sanders and John Dominic Crossan on the historical Jesus.
- And, here’s a list of 10 Things You Might Not Know about Xena Warrior Princess
- Larry Hurtado has started a new blog. He’s already posted a couple of videos that look interesting. This one should definitely be worth following. (HT Near Emmaus)
- New Leaven has an interesting discussion of whether Jesus really suffered, or whether he actually had a pretty cushy life compared to the kinds of suffering experienced by other people.
- NPR considers a claim that Plato hid a secret musical code inside his written works indicating that Plato was actually a closet Pythagorean.
- Parchment and Pen has begun a series on the Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archeology.
- ERB has some good review this week including Mark Shaw’s Global Awakening: How 20th Century Revivals Triggered A Christian Revolution, Greg Boyd’s Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now, and Jürgen Moltman’s Sun of Righteousness Arise! God’s Future for Humanity and the Earth.
- The New York Times reports on the rise of the religious left and the significance that this has for political discourse today.
- Mark Goodacre has been adding quite a few resources over at NT Gateway.
- Richard Beck asks why social scientists haven’t paid more attention to the impact that trintiarian beliefs may (or my not) have on the actual lives of Christians.
- Jim West reports a study indicating that people read slower on e-readers like the Kindle and iPad, but like them better than traditional books anyway. Apparently speed isn’t everything.
- Jesus Creed reviews Marilynne Robinson’s new book, An Absence of Mind. If she isn’t already, she really should be on your “must read” list. And there’s a review of John Stott‘s new The Radical Disciple over at ERB.
- NPR did a story today about a group of Italian women, all of whom are or have been priests’ lovers, who wrote a letter to the Pope asking that clerical celibacy be reconsidered.
- After an earlier post in which he pointed out the similarities between the Genesis creation account and other creation myths like Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, Peter Enns now looks at the theological distinctives of the Genesis account.
- Ben Myers posted his thoughts and resources from a talk that he recently gave on “God and evil.” The resources are interestingly diverse and he concludes: “A Christian response to evil is not theodicy, but struggle – the struggle of taking God’s side against the world’s disorder, and of refusing to treat evil as an acceptable part of a larger harmonious vision.”
- James McGrath offers a roundup of posts related to the recent discussion of diversity and unity in the early church.
- Justin Taylor notes three new introductions to the Reformation.
- And, they think they’ve discovered a gladiator graveyard in northern England.
Sometimes you almost hate to distinguish someone’s argument by commenting on it. And then you do it anyway. I think it has to do with a deep-seated need to punish ourselves for all the undiscovered misdeeds of our lives by repeatedly doing things that we know will only frustrate and anger us. Kind of like golf.
This is one of those times. Princeton ethicist Peter Singer, best known for his arguments in favor of animal liberation and ethics based on personal and group self-interest, raised the question in a NYT online piece yesterday of whether the world would be a better place if all the humans would agree that this will be the last generation of humans. We’ll stop reproducing and just agree to put an end to the human race when we’re done. If nothing else, Singer has a penchant for asking provocative questions.
Singer’s argument actually runs along a couple of veins. First, he argues that our lives are generally less pleasant than we like to believe and that bringing a child into the world is almost certain to cause significant pain and suffering for that child. So, reproduction is far more likely to be harmful to future generations than beneficial. Therefore, we should stop hurting our children by not having them in the first place.
Second, he argues that this is actually in our own best interests. We waste a lot of time feeling guilty for the terrible things that will happen to later generations because of the mistakes that we’re making (e.g. climate change). So, if we agree not to have any future generations, we won’t feel anywhere near as guilty. (Of course, based on the same logic, shouldn’t I just go home and kill my daughters now so that I won’t feel bad about not being a good father?)
Singer is well known for taking the logic of an atheistic, utilitarian worldview and pressing it to see where it ends up. Interestingly, though, here he backs away from the logic of his own argument. Although in the essay he at least tacitly approves the idea that we should reject our “pollyannaism” (i.e. an overly optimistic view of reality), he concludes by arguing that we should not actually off the human race. Instead, he concludes:
I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now.
What? We’re basically torturing small children by bringing them into existence, but it’s okay to continue doing so on the off chance that somehow we’ll figure things out a few hundred years from now? That’s very comforting.
Apparently Singer finds the vacuousness of his own worldview unpalatable. I don’t blame him.
I’ll stick with my pollyannic conviction that God’s people in God’s creation to God’s glory is a good thing. It’s hard to see at times through the muck and the mire, but I’ll take my hope over Singer’s any day.