I use the Pages app on MacOS, which very helpfully indicates the words it doesn’t know how to spell. For example, it flagged “peace” as either a typo or some obscure word that no ordinary dictionary would list.
Peter Attia podcast: Peter interviews Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water. An inspiring story of someone with a glamorous life who found real meaning and purpose.
Nonbeliever Tim Bray’s thoughts on attending a worship service on Christmas Eve.
Nutrition Coaltion: Low-Carb Diet Yields Groundbreaking Results for T2 Diabetes (Report to Congress). Plus this: Nutrition Coaltion: Diabetes and Obesity Still on the Rise – Billions Spent Promoting Dietary Guidelines Hasn’t Made a Dent. Some interesting stats in there. Also note where Alaska ranks!
“And among those animals on two legs there are some who are deserving of that description — humans.” Simcha Rotem, last surviving fighter in Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, dies at 94
A hero of the Rwandan Genocide has died. I’m still thinking about the theological implications of the method she used to deter the interhamwe militia.
Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ in the Bible is revolutionary. Some evangelicals silence her. “Some” people do all kinds of things. But good luck. It would be like trying to make water dry.
Six Reasons Why Young People Leave the Church
Capitol Hill has lost 40% of its buildings devoted to religious practice. Does a religious community need its own building to flourish? (WashingtonPost) (Note to self: Resist the impulse to tie this to the state of national politics.)
Sikhs, the new lions of the American trucking industry (GetReligion)
Cosmic Airburst May Have Wiped Out Part of the Middle East 3,700 Years Ago. My first thought on reading this was “Sodom and Gomorrah.” Someday I’m going to get around to reading 1177 BC: The Year that Civilization Collapsed.
Apropos the previous, consider the following from the ADN: Meteor swarm could be loaded with surprises in June.
But some of the traffic is going the other way: Voyager 2 Probe Enters Interstellar Space, Over 18 Billion Kilometers from Earth
Oops! I wrote all that late last year, but apparently I never got around to publishing the draft. I wonder how many of these links still work?
Martin Luther, in my devotional this morning:
The person who holds on to Jesus in faith will receive forgiveness of sins. God’s laws will be fulfilled, death will be conquered, and the devil will be overcome. That person will receive the gift of eternal life. For in this one man, Jesus, all is settled. He has fulfilled everything. Whoever accepts him has everything.
The key part is “who holds on to.” He came to fulfill the Law, yes, but apart from him, the Law continues to operate.
Meanwhile, in China: Pastor Wang Yi’s Declaration of Faithful Disobedience (Faithwire)
Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me.
Carey Nieuwhof: Sermon 2.0
Andrew Sullivan: America’s New Religions.
Church growth does not proceed from working harder or more diligently at what you are already doing. Growth means doing something new. And the first step toward doing something new is to quit kidding yourself about what you are doing now.
Infographic: How long does it take to read the Bible?
Is Jesus fully human, fully divine, or what? Scot McKnight on The Light of the World
Half of Americans plan to attend church at Christmas? Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life (Pew).
Who is Galileo, anyway? 43-year-old single now the most-streamed 20th century song on Apple Music and other platforms (9to5mac). See also this BBC interview with Brian May.
Food labeling laws used to prevent competition: Cato: No use crying over Spelt Milk.
I wonder how he fares on RateMyProfessors? Lund Professor freed student from Islamic State war zone. The campus security people sound pretty good too.
Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results. Nina Teicholz: Ketogenic Diet Myths vs. Facts.
Every additional human being born appears to make resources proportionally more plentiful. Human Progress: Introducing the Simon Abundance Index.
Tim Ferriss interviews Walmart CEO Doug McMillon
Sleep expert Matthew Walker at Google: “Why We Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams.”
He’s not worried that you’re following along on YouVersion: Pope Says No Phones in Church. Parishioners Keep Scrolling. (Note: you can get YouVersionhere.)
Not sure Francis would agree: The Reformation is over. Protestants won. So why are we still here? “Winning is dangerous — what do you do next? Do you return to Mother Church? … a number of my Protestant graduate students … convert because Catholicism is an intellectually rich theological tradition better able to negotiate the acids of our culture.”
Declining almost as fast as their congregations: UMC’s Young elder numbers slip in 2017
But some UMC congregations are fighting the trend, like Adam Weber’s Embrace Church: S.D. church makes ‘fastest-growing’ list. What’s their secret? “What we wanted to do was lower the bar for people to come in the front door,” Weber said. “We tried to open the door as wide as we possibly could.”
This played a role in my conversion: Are Free Minds and Free Markets Compatible With Christianity?
So much for the divide between science and religion: At Vatican, ‘Tenets of Faith’ Seen as Crucial in Climate Change Effort
Speaking of which, apparently there’s a debate between supporters of the Meteorite and Deep-Ocean Vent theories: We’re More Confident Than Ever That Life on Earth Really Did Come From Meteorites
Did the sun stop moving, or stop shining? How Scientists Identified the Oldest Known Solar Eclipse … Using the Bible
Like “Friendly” ones. Welcoming Churches are Dying Churches. “Yes, we need to be welcoming… but more importantly, we need to be invitational. That means taking a risk and putting ourselves out there for possible rejection when we invite people to our church. It means going out into the world, making contact with people and building relationships with them.”
When Everything Is Missions: Kevin DeYoung reviews When Everything is Missions, by Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison, who argue that a missionary is “(a) sent (b) across a boundary to where the gospel is not known, (c) to see a church planted that (d) can reach that region with the gospel once the missionary leaves.” I get what they’re saying, but I don’t think that (c) is always required and (d) defines the problem so nobody is a missionary unless they are planning to leave. But suppose you (a) go to work and (b) nobody there knows the gospel and (c) you invite them to be part of a home Bible study and (d) someday you move to a different town and the study moves to someone else’s home. Doesn’t that make you a missionary, even by their own definition?
(Cross-posted at jlppastor.)
It doesn’t seem like it. Mass killings happen randomly, yet rate has remained steady, study finds. However, other data support that conclusion: Kieran Healy: Assault Deaths to 2015
Point and Counterpoint: America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 17 maps and charts (Vox.com), and I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. (Leah Libresco, formerly with 538)
Christians don’t have to live in fear, but we do need to rethink what it means to be a church today: How Your Church Should Prepare for an Active Shooter
(Cross-posted at jlppastor.)
Church revitalization begins with knowing your why, your reason for existing, the irreducible minimum that everything else either supplements or, occasionally, is at odds with.
If you know your why, it’s easier to figure out what you must do, what you can do without if you have to, and (sometimes) what you need to stop doing. But it’s hard, because everyone in a church already has a why, a reason they attend church, support it financially, and participate in its community and ministries. Most if not all of those why‘s are good reasons, and most are roughly aligned with the why‘s of the other people in their church.
But most churches don’t do the hard work of figuring out their why. If it ain’t broke, why make waves, etc. What if you figure out your why and your best friends at church have a different one?
But it’s not just churches. Major League Baseball has the same problem. (And they charge a lot more for season tickets than churches do!)
I’ve enjoyed a lot of Bishop Barron’s postings inspired by things going on in pop culture. So I was intrigued when YouTube recommended this longer form interview between him and Dave Rubin. Barron is especially interesting here discussing gay marriage, since he’s talking to a married gay man.
Here’s part one of two:
The part about gay marriage is in part two, about 10 minutes in.
In the book of Malachi (Malachi 3:16) we read that “a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.”
What is the honor of God’s name? What does it mean to think about it?
I suspect that many of us have our own ideas about what would honor God’s name in different circumstances.
The first thing I noticed is that this is a continual rethinking: you can’t simply act as if you always know what brings glory to God’s name, as if it never changed in different circumstances.
The second thing is that our ideas are suspect, because we are the fallen people. The only trustworthy way to think about God’s name and what brings it honor, is by study of the Scriptures, and especially the example of Christ.
For example, we can honor God’s name by thinking what the name is. In the Hebrew Scriptures the name of God is YHWH, the Tetragrammaton. It means the living God: the God who is not a dead idol, but who acts.
In the New Testament the name is Jesus. Joseph is told to name the child Jesus … why? Because he will save his people from their sins. His name is the name of salvation. It is in his name that we are taught to pray—not our own name and our own merit, but his. It is his name that we are to gather in. It is his name that we are to baptize in. It is his name at which every knee shall bow, and which every tongue will confess. It is his name that is superior to the names of the angels.
In verses 12–13 of the first chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet affirms that God is sovereign. Israel’s troubles are not because God is unfaithful or weak. Rather, the Babylonians are tool God is using to punish Israel:
O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
The prophet poses this question:
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you are unable to look at disaster.
Why would you look at the treacherous
or keep silent when the wicked swallows one who is more righteous?
There’s an unstated assumption at the end, that Israel’s sin is less than Babylon’s. This is shaky ground. Who can say whether one sin is more offensive to God than another? Is religious pride and idolatry less offensive to God than violence and cruelty?
If we can find a way resolve that matter, however, there is a great question here: does the end justify the means? Is it right for God to use an evil tool to achieve a good result? That’s a great question even for us frail mortals, who work in a world where everything is tainted with evil. How much better a question is it for God? On the one hand, God can see everything clearly, and will not be overcome by the tools he uses. But for him not to stand off and watch, but to engage evil directly in order to use it: how can he do that?