Archives For Culture


In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas
Hands down the best article I read this week.  From the NYT; the article address the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being ‘bombarded’ by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints.

iPod Preachers and the Local Church
From Barnabas Piper: A few years ago my iPod was filled with sermons from the usual gospelly suspects, and I listened to them fairly regularly. But I realized something wasn’t quite right.

God Doesn’t Want Matt Chandler to Be Your Pastor
From Stephen Altrogge: The massive availability of fantastic preaching presents a problem as well. It can tempt us to be discontent with our own pastors.

The Short Life-span of Contemporary Worship Songs
Because of the increasingly short shelf-life of modern worship music, worship leaders should make sure we . . .

Keep Writing
From the NYMag: Ask seasoned writers to come up with an ending to an unfinished short story, and their brains seem to switch into a sort of automatic story-sculpting mode.

Sabermetrics for the Church?
Every year [Anglican] churches prepare parochial reports, which are aggregated and become the basis for the assessment of the health of dioceses and of the national church. We measure membership, attendance, total activity (number of services), and giving. But are we measuring the right things?

What the English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur Actually Sounded Like
From the Washington Post: Let’s hop into a time machine and go back to the England of yore!

9 Traits of Mean Churches
From Thom Rainer: I collected characteristics of these (mean) churches, and I found nine that were common.

The Integrity of Our Words and Confession of Faith 
From Albert Mohler: In the end, theological education–and preaching–is all about the stewardship of words. So it was when Paul commissioned Timothy. So is it now.

With Race-Together Starbucks is Using the Worst of Evangelical Techniques
The campaign was aborted but Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz still declared it mission accomplished.

An excellent offering from Chris Rosebrough at Pirate Christian Radio.

Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, the public bulletin board of his day. In like manner, we post these 95 theses on the door of the internet. Like the original theses, these are debatable, for we believe that it is through vigorous debate that the spirits are tested and truth is revealed.

In publishing these theses, we do not intend to foment division, but to expose those who are creating division within the body of Christ. We invite all who love the Gospel of Jesus Christ to engage in this debate. We do so in the spirit of the great Reformer, Martin Luther, as we implore the mercies of God upon His Church, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church and shepherd of our souls. 

Read through them here.

What do you think?


There’s been a bit of a flurry in the news (Post & Courier and the City Paper) about the increased panhandling in Charleston in light of the ACLU’s successful challenge to the restrictions imposed by city ordinances.  Much of it has been, frankly, ugly.

Somewhere (I don’t remember where) I ran across a website, Rethink Homelessness.  I don’t know much about the organization other than they’ve collected a good number of community leaders to develop a common plan addressing the problem of homelessness in Central Florida.

I thought about the panhandlers in conjunction with the recent video, Human, that Rethink Homelessness produced.  It reminded me of something I’ve always known; there are real people behind the “problem” of homelessness.  I think that simple truth is forgotten sometimes.

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Around-the-Horn[1]The Ultimate American Road Trip
Who needs an atlas when you have an algorithm?

A Culture of Irrational Parenting
From the NYMag: Observing the rise of not just a culture of irrationality around safety issues, but of moral high-handedness and gratuitous censure among parents themselves.

Marks of a Healthy Church
As the church in the West faces social marginalization unknown for over 1500 years, the question of the marks of the church, those identifying features which she possesses, is likely to become more pressing.

The Church of TED
From the NYT: A great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon. There’s the gathering of the curious and the hungry.

Want More Sex? Ignore Sheryl Sandberg and Her Silly Talk About Choreplay
It may sound counterintuitive but if you focus your marriage on serving your spouse and appreciating everything your spouse does for you, you end up being far happier than when you focus on how your spouse isn’t doing enough and how you’re working too hard.

I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBQT Agenda (And I’m Not A Bit Sorry)
From the Huffington Post.  Pretty direct.

Family Rows: Followers of Calvin and Calvinists
It is always a tad awkward when two people one highly respects have a go at each other’s positions on the Web. Thus, Phillip Jensen has drawn a distinction in a recent video between followers of Calvin and Calvinists, very much to the latter’s disadvantage, while Paul Levy has responded with a piece affecting to see this as advanced Australian satire.


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Around-the-Horn[1]Leave It To Beaver, Sex And The City And A Woman’s Happiness
From Mary Kassian: Today’s women have realized the feminist dream of being freed from the June Cleaver feminine mystique. But studies indicate that they are more miserable than ever before.

Paying Tribute to ‘The Simpsons’
Sad to read about the death of co-creator, Sam Simon (at 59). So many great episodes.

For My Nephews
An uncle writes his young nephews about life lessons using the mini-series Lonesome Dove as the video guide.  A great read.

A Father Writes to His Children About How Christians Handle Their Finances
Excellent article from John Piper: One of my deep desires for my sons is that they handle their money in a God-exalting, biblical way. You’ll see why this matters so much to me as their father before we’re done.

9 Marks of An Unhealthy Church
From Kevin DeYoung: No doubt, there are dozens of indicators that a church has become dysfunctional and diseased. But let’s limit ourselves to nine.

The Gospel According to Pinterest
Projects I will never tackle, recipes I will never cook, and homemade cleaning solutions I will never try – they all mocked me horrendously. Staring at all the amazing things other women are doing, I felt ashamed.

6 Reasons Why Sexual Predators Target Churches
A sobering read.

Double or Nothing?  Martin Luther’s Doctrine of Predestination
Of the many great doctrines rediscovered and revived during the Protestant Reformation, one in particular has and continues to be one of heated debate and discussion: the doctrine of predestination. This doctrine, perhaps more than any other, has caused division and strife within the Christian Church, and in particular, has historically been a dividing line between the traditions of Calvinism and Lutheranism. Why is this? What significant differences between Lutheran and Calvinist thought concerning predestination cause such a division?

Around-the-Horn[1]How Memorization Feeds Imagination
First in a series of excellent articles on using memorization to increase knowledge of the Bible and develop a sanctified imagination.

I Switched to A Standing Desk, So You Should Too
From the New Yorker: Wake up, America! Sitting all day is killing you.

The Puritans Were Like ISIS?
From the IRD: Volf seems to think the Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s were like ISIS. The commonalities would apparently be that both were theocratic and punished dissent.

Should We Pray for the Defeat of ISIS or Their Conversion?
A pastor friend told me last week that he had church members enraged with him when he suggested from the pulpit that we ought to pray for the salvation of Islamic State terrorists.

What Do We Mean By “Person” and “Essence” in the Doctrine of the Trinity?
A helpful picture of a complex doctrine.

The Last Enemy
we are told that Christ must reign as He progressively puts down all opposition to His rule. All rule and authority and power is being made subject to Him, and in this verse we see His triumph over the last and greatest enemy, which is death.

1996 Called, Wants It’s Clinton Fundraising and Document Scandals Back
From Mollie Hemingway: I know that some of you were too young to remember the 1990s, but this was basically what happened with the Clintons all the time.

Georgetown and the Death of Moral Discourse
Last week at, Maureen Sullivan published an article on the latest developments regarding free speech at an American university campus. In this case, it was Georgetown, the Jesuit university in D.C.



Great article (h/t Dave Libbon)

From the NYT:

What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?

I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshman in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.

What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Read it all.

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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.