Archives For Culture

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Around-the-Horn[1]If Everyone Consents Why Not 50 Shades of Incest?
At this point in our culture’s sexual devolution, the only recognized boundary on sexual expression is consent.

Congratulating Wesleyan :: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM 
From First Things: This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square.

Social Media and the Return of a Shaming Culture
From the NYT: In those early days, the collective fury felt righteous, powerful and effective. It felt as if hierarchies were being dismantled, as if justice were being democratized. As time passed, though, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive. I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script.

Mapping Migration in the United States
From the NYT: A map showing where the people in each state were born.

Egypt Roars for its Christians: “They Have a Shield”
When the Islamic State group paraded before the world its grisly slaughter of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, it could hardly have expected Egypt’s response: a massive outpouring of solidarity for Christians from their government and Sunni Muslims in society.

CT Scan Reveals Mummy Inside Chinese Buddha Statue
Researchers at Norway’s Meander Medical Center found the preserved body of a Buddhist master who likely died around the year 1100, believed to be named Liuquan, in a statue that had been exhibited last year at the Drents Museum in Netherlands.

We Don’t Have A Wage-Gap Problem, But Hollywood And The White House Do
Patricia Arquette railed against wage gaps in her Oscar speech. They don’t actually exist in the real world. But they do in Hollywood and the White House.

Somethings To Look For In Faithful Preaching
Faithful Bible preaching is not always easy to find. In some churches the Bible is barely opened, much less preached. And even when it is preached, how do we know that what is happening is faithful and helpful by God’s standards? Things like our feelings or filled pews, for example, are not good barometers.

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Quiz: Can You Match the Dog with their Owner?
A fun quiz from the NYT: Some people believe dogs look like their owners. To put this theory to the test, we asked Fred R. Conrad to photograph Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show entrants with their prize pups. See if you can match the dog to its owner.

What ISIS Really Wants
An EXCELLENT article from The Atlantic: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Andy Stanley’s Rules on Love, Sex, and Dating
As hard as it is to admit, America’s most influential pastor will not define or defend the sanctity of marriage because he doesn’t want to upset anyone.

How Americans Got Red Meat Wrong
A fascinating review of the correlation of red meat and heart disease from The Atlantic: Ironically—or perhaps tellingly—the heart disease “epidemic” began after a period of exceptionally reduced meat eating. In other words, meat eating went down just before coronary disease took off.

President Obama and The Problem of Religious Conviction
From Trevin Wax: So here we are in the 21st century. And ironically, despite the popular pluralism espoused by the President, one of the drivers of religious conflict today and one of the explanations of the West’s inability to deal adequately with radical Islam is exactly this failure to consider the content of the beliefs being presented.  It’s simply not true, no matter how often our leaders tell us, that confidence in our beliefs is bad while the content of our beliefs is neutral.

Obama the Theologian
From Ross Douthat: The deep problem with his Niebuhrian style isn’t that it’s too disenchanted or insufficiently pro-American. It’s that too often it offers “self”-criticism in which the president’s own party and worldview slip away untouched.

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing Our Piety
From Carl Trueman: I suspect that the reasons evangelicals are rediscovering Lent is as much to do with the poverty of their own liturgical tradition as anything. American evangelicals are past masters at appropriating anything that catches their fancy in church history and claiming it as their own, from the ancient Fathers as the first emergents to the Old School men of Old Princeton as the precursors of the Young, Restless, and Reformed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer as modern American Evangelical. Yet if your own tradition lacks the historical, liturgical and theological depth for which you are looking, it may be time to join a church which can provide the same.

Four Love Languages That Gary Chapman Forgot
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, is no mere best-seller. It’s a phenomenon. But you know what? Gary Chapman forgot a few love languages.

From Church Leaders:

What you may not have realized is we have our own special code language. If you’re going to communicate with other Christians, you need to memorize our code words and their definitions. What exactly are these code words? I’m glad you asked. What follows is a guide to understanding Christian-speak. Think of this as the Rosetta of the Christian world.  A few examples: 

Do Life—Christians don’t simply live life. No sir, we do life! And don’t you DARE confuse the two. Living life is boring and shallow, while doing life involves thrilling, exciting, awesome things, like Wednesday night Bible studies.

Authenticity—Ahh yes, authenticity, the Bigfoot of Christianity. Everyone talks about it and searches for it, but no one has ever actually seen it. I suspect this is what Bono (our favorite maybe-Christian) was referencing when he discussed not being able to find what he was looking for. It is essential that you always be looking for new ways to be authentic, regardless of whether you actually know what authenticity is. There is a theory that authenticity can be achieved by drinking coffee out of a Mason jar, but that theory has not been definitively proved yet.

Love On—When someone is going through a tough time, we don’t simply love them. We love ON them. Granted, to the average observer, this term sounds vaguely creepy and stalker-like, but it most certainly is not creepy. Loving a person involves sending them a condolence card. Loving ON a person involves gallons of sweet tea, a five-pound green bean casserole, a book written by Beth Moore and a coffee mug with the “Footprints” prayer on it. We take care of our own, gosh darn it. Kind of like the mob, except without killing people or putting horse heads in people’s beds.

Read it all.

RowChinese Christianan Williams writes:

We would probably take it for granted that someone reading a religious text in Arabic would be a Muslim – but the truth is that you will find plenty of Christians reading their Bibles and books of prayers in the language.

It is a sharp reminder of the diversity that once marked the Arabic-speaking world.  It is a reminder, too, of aspects of Christianity’s history the majority of us have little idea about: a period when there were probably as many Christians in Asia as in Europe.

The familiar story is of the Christian faith moving west, towards Rome – spreading out from there to more remote areas, as far as Britain and Scandinavia, then being spread again outside Europe by missionaries.

But the facts are dramatically different. Christians were active in what is now Iraq and Iran by the 2nd Century. They were in India and the north of the Arabian Peninsula by the 3rd Century.

By the 7th Century there were monks and scholars from Iraq working in China, translating texts and ideas into Chinese and building Chinese-style churches and monasteries.

Read it all.

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Around-the-Horn[1]Fifty Shades Against Gender Neutrality
From First Things: While Fifty Shades subverts Christian sexual morality, it subverts the modern crusade for “genderlessness” all the more.

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis
From The Atlantic: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.”

Kayla Mueller’s Smuggled Letter :: ‘I’ve Learned That Even In Prison One Can Be Free
The family of Kayla Jean Mueller, a 26-year-old American captive of the Islamic State whose death was confirmed on Tuesday, has released a letter from her that was smuggled out of Syria last year. In the letter, which is believed to have been written in late 2014, Mueller told her family that she was in a safe location, unharmed and healthy, and was being treated with “the utmost respect and kindness.” She had even put on weight.

Share Jesus with ‘Joy’ and ‘Delight” :: ++Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to Synod
Witness and evangelism are expressions of the overflow of the love and joy of the grace of God into our lives, and the life of His whole church and His whole world. They are inescapably tied up with the kingdom of God, with lives lived incarnationally full of the hospitality and generosity of Christ. They are as much a part of the life of the church as worship . . . and should be about as guilt-inducing as breathing.

The President at The Prayer Breakfast
From Albert Mohler: The real problem with President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast was not his reference to Christian history, but his refusal to acknowledge the reality of our current challenge — a refusal growing more dangerous by the day.

Brian Williams Is No Exception.  Media Lying, Exaggeration Are The Rule
From Mollie Hemingway: Whether or not the entertaining Williams keeps his job, we have a media establishment overrun with serial distorters, gotcha artists, exaggerators and liars. And whether Williams stays or goes, people will continue to report low levels of trust in journalists. That’s because the problem is far bigger than the occasional Sabrina R. Erdely, Stephen Glass or Brian Williams.

I Know God Loves Me But Does He Like Me?
When Jesus first saved me I believed God forgave my sins. Gradually I came to believe God loved me. But . . . I wasn’t sure God liked me. I believed he put up with me because he’d saved me, but didn’t have any sense that he delighted in me. I was wrong.

Don’t Use The Holy Spirit As A Rug
Ironically though oft-noted, one of the most wretched crimes of Charismaticism is the shabby treatment they give to the Holy Spirit.

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A Word to Famous Pastors
The church is both blessed and cursed by its well-known pastors. Some like T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer and Brian McLaren have distorted the gospel and done great damage to the church. Others however have blessed the church by contending faithfully for the truth and advancing the gospel of Jesus.

What is Anglicanism?
From J.I. Packer: Here, then, are the four characteristics by which Anglicanism, meaning the reformed faith and practice of the Church of England and all other churches descended from it, is best and most basically defined.

Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent
It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one.

Ancient Tablets Reveal Life of Jews in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon
A new exhibition of ancient clay tablets discovered in modern-day Iraq is shedding light for the first time on the daily life of Jews exiled to Babylon some 2,500 years ago.

The Silence of the Gods
Another evangelical megachurch congregation has come out in favour of same sex marriage.  This time it is GracePointe Church in Nashville, TN.  The evangelical collapse is coming.   A set of circumstances is conspiring to make it so.  The external pressure is easy to identify: the sentiment, the aesthetics and the rhetoric of the wider world are overwhelmingly on the side of change.  Then there is the fact that so much evangelical Protestantism does not possess the resources to resist this pressure.  It simply does not have the depth of theological anthropology to realise that this is not a straighforward matter of ‘love’ or ‘equality.’

7 Lessons From 50 Shades of Grey
On one level, this is just another in a long line of films with a storyline that portrays sex and relationships in ways far removed from God’s design. But it is so much more than that. I believe that 50 Shades of Grey can serve as a kind of cultural barometer that alerts us to the colossal changes that have been occurring in recent years, and to the consequences they bring.

Keith & Kristyn Getty’s New Song: My Worth is Not in What I Own
Lyrics and video

An NFL Quarterback and SBC President Rebuke NewSpring – The Story of What Happened Next
By NewSpring’s silence regarding the SCBC rebuke, the church is telling the world that it really doesn’t care what the church at large thinks of it. Noble is showing the same insolence to authority that his friend Mark Driscoll demonstrated just a few months ago.