Archives For Culture

Around-the-Horn[1]If It Makes You Happy
“Love” is bandied about as the answer to every societal ill. Every problem is met with the call to love. Racism, sexism, classism, terrorism, or whatever “-ism” that gets thrown out, the answer is love. What makes this solution so attractive and also so dangerous is that there is quite a bit of truth to it. If rightly understood, love is the answer to these problems. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? It is rare for the idea of love to be rightly understood. Often it is reduced to emotional or sentimental tripes that can be easily shared, retweeted, pinned, or liked.

Eight Reasons to Preach Through the Books of the Bible
Every fall we preach through a book of the Bible.  Jared Wilson offers a few supporting reasons.

The Legacy of One-Point Calvinism and Casual Churchianity
From John Piper: I grew up among a few million “one-point Calvinists” who misunderstood their one point: “once saved, always saved.” In general, it meant, if Johnny asked Jesus into his heart at age six, left the church at sixteen, mocked Jesus for ten years, and died in Vietnam with a bullet hole through his playboy bunny, he was in heaven.

The Myth of Cosmopolitanism
Ross Douthat: Now that populist rebellions are taking Britain out of the European Union and the Republican Party out of contention for the presidency, perhaps we should speak no more of left and right, liberals and conservatives.

Playing With Fire
Carl Trueman: The claim that “history is on our side” is one that has been debunked frequently, on this website and elsewhere. Yet it remains one of the most attractive and therefore persistent political myths of our day. And for radicals today, the idea that history is on their side has real plausibility because, to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, they intend to write it. Indeed, they are busily engaged in doing so.

Back to the Early Church?
You’ve probably heard it many times. “We just need to get back to the days of the early church.” “You know, things would be so much better in contemporary Christianity if we were more like the early church.” While there were some great things happening then, I’m not so sure that I am eager to get back to the early church days.


GREAT rendition (h/t Dwight Huthwaite)


Around the Horn 7.14.16

July 14, 2016

How Can Blacks And Whites Stand Together On Racial Injustice
A conversation with Garrett Kell (DelRay Baptist Church), Darryl Williamson (Living Faith Bible Church) and John Onwuchekwa (Cornerstone Church)

Are We On The Road To National Ruin?
Blood was in the streets last week — victims of police violence in two cities and slain cops in another. America’s leadership crisis looked dire. The F.B.I. director’s statements reminded us that Hillary Clinton is willing to blatantly lie to preserve her career. Donald Trump, of course, lies continually and without compunction.

Grieving Racial Injustice As Citizens of the Kingdom of God
Do not retreat to your racial, economic, or privileged tribes, but retreat with your brothers and sisters from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation, to the gospel tribe. Retreat to Jesus. And seek refuge in him as you weep and pray and work for justice.

On Abortion and Racism: Why There is A Greater Evil in This Election 
From Thabiti Anyabwile – What was the same in each instance was the dreadful sense that African-American lives were nothing to be respected, protected or celebrated. What was largely the same in those instances was an encounter with what generally felt like white American and Christian indifference, antipathy and resentment.

What’s Going On?
Marvin Gaye wrote these words in light of the political and social turmoil of the late 60s and early 70s. And yet, as we look out on the landscape of our time we could easily and rightly raise the question again, “What’s Going On?”

Our Fractured Society: A Conversation with Yuval Levin
MP3.  Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the founder and editor of the journal National Affairs. He is a former White House and congressional staffer and a contributing editor to National Review and the Weekly Standard.

What Shootings and Racial Justice Means for the Body of Christ
What we should understand, first, is that this crisis is not new. Many white evangelicals will point to specific cases, and argue that the particulars are more complex in those situations than initial news reports might show. But how can anyone deny, after seeing the sheer number of cases and after seeing those in which the situation is all too clear, that there is a problem in terms of the safety of African-Americans before the law. That’s especially true when one considers the history of a country in which African-Americans have lived with trauma from the very beginning, the initial trauma being the kidnapping and forced enslavement of an entire people with no standing whatsoever before the law. For the black community, these present situations often reverberate with a history of state-sanctioned violence, in a way that many white Americans—including white evangelicals—often don’t understand.

Three Compelling Questions for Us All
From Ray Ortlund: Brothers and sisters, we must come to grips with three hard questions. And because they are hard, we need help from Jesus.

How To Pray In Our Time of National Crisis
Our country is in pain.  A series of inexplicable killings, including five police officers in Dallas, has occurred this week. Many of us are anxious and hurting. All of us are confused.


Around-the-Horn[1]How To Recognize A Spirit-Filled Church
Are only some churches Spirit-filled? Or all of them? Or partially filled? What’s the difference between a Spirit-filled and non-Spirit-filled church?

Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Webcam.  Should You?
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently shared a picture of himself celebrating a milestone: Instagram now has five hundred million active users each month. There was Zuckerberg in his office holding an Instagram-like frame in front of himself. The picture would have been unremarkable and quickly forgotten but for this: Astute observers noticed that his laptop was on the desk behind him and that he had placed tape over the camera and the microphone. Those are small but significant details.

Character in Leadership – Does It Still Matter?
In the coming weeks, we are going to be learning a great deal more about the presidential candidates. But it’s also increasingly true that we’re going to be learning a great deal about ourselves as evangelical Christians in America. Perhaps we had better brace ourselves for what we’re going to learn.

7 Lies We Tell Our Children
We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help.

5 Reasons Your Teenager Needs to Know Theology
The world can be really confusing for teenagers. We’re coming of age in a shifting moral landscape, where the most pressing challenges and culture’s loudest critics are ever changing and perpetually conflicting. We see scandals and sound-bites, terrorism and Trump, new sexual ethics and harsh racial tensions, and we wonder, “How am I supposed to think about all this?”

It’s Time To Talk: 10 Reasons You Should Break-up With Joel Osteen
Yes we know, he makes you feel good . . . and he’s sooo nice. But let’s be honest: he’s not good for you.

California’s Religious Liberty Moment Coming to A State Near You
From Ed Stetzer: The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created.

Serving in Church When Your Spiritual Gift Isn’t Changing Diapers
The consumer mentality of church members and church-goers is not unique to my generation. It can be found in nearly every demographic in almost every church. Where I most often see it, and where I am most often guilty of it myself, is in the area of service.


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One of my favorites.  Sorry (for me) to see his passing.

From Geoffrey Himes in the Washington Post,

When Ralph Stanley died on Thursday at age 89, we lost more than the last surviving founding father of bluegrass. We lost one of our last links to a pre-television America.

He was a short, gaunt man in a white cowboy hat and gray suit, his features seemingly chipped from granite with a stony gaze to match. When he sang “O Death” at Wolf Trap in 2006 as part of the Great High Mountain Tour, Stanley’s scratchy high tenor made the Grim Reaper sound like an acquaintance of long standing. This traditional lament had revived his career when he sang it in the Coen brothers’ 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” but Stanley’s ghostly vocal made clear that the song was older than that movie, older than the whole history of talking movies.

Even in the 21st century, there was an echo in his voice of 19th-century mining and lumbering (his father worked in an old-fashioned sawmill) and of the 17th-century songs that immigrants from the British Isles brought to the Appalachian Mountains. It was in the southwest corner of Virginia, in Dickerson County under the shadow of Clinch Mountain, that Ralph Stanley was born on Feb. 25, 1927. Together with his brother Carter, two years older, Ralph learned the eerie harmonies of a cappella Sacred Harp singing in church and the spry rhythms of old-time string-band music at dances.

Read the rest.

Around-the-Horn[1]Garrison Keillor: Bob McDonnell and Rolex Christians
Jesus didn’t wear a Rolex. He did not hit up the Pharisees for thousands of shekels so the apostles could have rib-eye steak and a 35 B.C. cabernet at the Last Supper.

Pope Francis Denounces the Prosperity Gospel
via Vatican Radio: [The Pope] criticized the so-called “theology of prosperity”— according to which “God shows you that you are just if He give you great riches,” saying those who follow it are mistaken. The problem lies in being attached to wealth, because, as the Pope recalled, “You cannot serve both God and riches.” These become “chains” that “take away the freedom to follow Jesus.”

Feeling Good vs Doing Good
 “What prompts people to rally around destructive policies? The answer, I think, is that many people make up their minds on the issues of the day not according to the facts, but according to how it makes them feel about themselves.”

Majority of American Christians Do Not Find Bible Reading and Church Attendance as Essential
When you imagine “a week in the life of a Christian” you might imagine a church visit, an occasional Bible reading before bed, and some community involvement after school or work. However, this is not likely the case, if American Christians act in accordance with what they find essential to their faith.

You Are Not Your Sexuality
It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

You never forget a pile of amputated limbs. Or, at least, Walt Whitman never did.

ddayThis grisly sign of war was one of the first sights that greeted Whitman in 1862, when he went to the Civil War battlefield at Fredericksburg, to look for his wounded brother George. As he later recounted it, he saw “a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, &c.,” a pile so large he described it as “a full load for a one-horse cart.”

For Whitman, this heap of limbs became a representative image of the Civil War, which he imagined as unnaturally cutting off states from the nation. Indeed, the fragmented republic and its piecemeal human bodies weighed heavily upon Whitman, who carried with him the memories of countless amputations and deaths he had seen while volunteering in the military hospitals.

As we approach Memorial Day, a day whose origins lie in the American Civil War, we have an opportunity to reflect on how and why we remember the dead. Walt Whitman offers us his own answer, emerging from his own confrontation with the terrible violence and the human cost of war. For Whitman, memorializing the war in his writing allows him to both recall and “re-member” the broken bodies of the fallen—and in doing so, to act out a kind of healing for them and for their country.

Read the rest.

Around-the-Horn[1]Judge Dread :: More Madness on the Road to Serfdom
We should all reflect on the significance of this case because it has far-reaching legal and cultural implications. Can one not hold public office in the United States now unless one is committed to the latest ideological fad, regardless of whether that fad is actually relevant to one’s work? Could one be a public school teacher—or a teacher of any government accredited school for that matter—without subscribing ex animo to whatever the creed of the day happens to be? And where will this end? Given the Unholy Trinity’s ability to defy democracy and transform our world according to its own tastes, are private persons any safer in the long term than public employees?

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands: Unconditional Surrender
Now that the moral revolutionaries are solidly in control, what is to be demanded of Christians who, on the basis of Christian conviction, cannot join the revolution? The demands have now been presented, and they represent unconditional surrender. The latest terms of surrender were delivered last week by Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Devotional Theology: An Introduction
Looks like a good, practical series: “In recent years, however, there have been extravagant measures taken by women to try to “get more” of God; to hear from Him; to know Him better. Some of these efforts have ranged from painfully shallow to downright heretical. From the fallible, presumptuous words of Jesus Calling to the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer, eager Christian women everywhere are desperately seeking to know God better. However, the one thing we’re lacking is the one thing that’s sitting right under our noses—the Word of God; and further, a right understanding and application of it.”

What the Transgender Bathroom Debate Means for You
A very good article from Russell Moore: “In the meantime, what should the church do? First, we must bear witness to the goodness of what it means to live as creatures, not as self-defining gods and goddesses.” 

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil
Now that the Republicans are a handful of delegates away from nominating an ostensible conspiracy theorist* to be their candidate to lead the free world, it’s worth recalling this insightful post by Carl Trueman from  a few years ago. . .

What is the Internet’s Favorite Book?
Which is the better book: War and Peace or installment one of The Hunger GamesIf you ask a book reviewer or look at any of the “Best Book” lists compiled by  critics, you would say War and Peace. But what if you asked everyday readers on the Internet?



Around-the-Horn[1]The Rise of the Anti-Culture
Carl Trueman has a nice article over at First Things addressing the Christian’s inability to engage culture, not because the culture war is lost, but because culture as we have thought and spoken of it has collapsed: “For to engage a culture there must first be a culture to engage. And, as the ever-incisive Anthony Esolen has pointed out on numerous occasions we no longer have a culture. What we really have is an anti-culture.”

Seeing Christ in All of Scripture
I was visiting a LifeGroup last night and a man who had grown up in the faith made a comment that I (we) often hear at SA, “I have read the Bible my whole life and I have completely missed what you (and the other clergy) see in the text.  And once you say it, it’s so obvious I can’t believe I’d never noticed it.” So, how do we see what we see in Scripture?  Here’s an exceptional resource from Westminster (a free download – and worthy of discussion in your LifeGroups) to help you along in understanding Scripture.

Youth Ministry in a Secular Age
A great read for all parents – and those in church leadership.

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
God-bless Kristof, he usually gets around to telling the truth.  It may take him a decade or so, but he gets there.  Hard to believe he’s just recognizing this reality, but having recognized it – and now written about it – took guts.

Restroom Laws and Jim Crow
In American, even the restroom has become a place for politics.

Donald Trump’s Feud with Russell Moore Reveals Evangelical Fault Lines
Trump would be hard-pressed to go after a finer man than Russell Moore.  This from TIME: “Donald Trump escalated his fight with Washington’s evangelical leaders on Monday by attacking the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm. “’Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!’”


A funny yet tragic video about how many college students today have been conditioned to disregard obvious biological indicators to identity. Logic and analogical reasoning are sorely lacking; so too the capacity to make factual determinations that deny manifestly false subjective claims.

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