Archives For Culture

Around-the-Horn[1]8 Things Everybody Should Do Before 8 am
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.  How do you move forward?

Stott Bowdlerized
Clearly the editor wanted to introduce a new generation to Stott’s beautiful book; his intentions were noble. But the project was a mistake. The Basic Christianity people are buying and reading today is a bad imitation of the original. The editor and publisher had no right to transform Stott’s book as they did, whether or not the author granted his permission.

Keeping the Faith In A Faithless Age: The Church as Moral Minority
“The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Preston Sprinkle on Grace, Truth, and Homosexuality
It is an understatement to say that the question of homosexuality stirs up controversy among Christians today. Every month, we see news of various denominations and churches either struggling to come to agreement or taking opposite sides on questions related to sexual morality, love, fidelity, and marriage.

Knox: The Life and Legacy of Scotland’s Controversial Reformer
Renegade. Reformer. Revolutionary. Five centuries after his birth, the influence of John Knox can still be felt right across Scotland. But who was this man? What did he do and why today is he both valued and vilified?

Pope Francis and The Shipwreck That Is Marriage In The Modern World
Imagine that there is an active Catholic layman named “Bob” and that his complicated life has included a divorce or two. But there is no one person named “Bob.” Instead, there are legions of Catholics whose lives resemble this case study described by Father Dwight Longenecker in an online essay responding to “Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family),” a 60,000-word apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis.

Watch: College Kids Can’t Explain Why A Short Man Is Not A Tall Asian Woman
An amusing and incredulous video.  This isn’t moral relativism, it’s a completely fact-free new moral code, one based entirely on consent and harm. Or, I should say, immediate harm.

[youtube width=”525″ height=”444″][/youtube]


Getting Better By Not Trying Harder
It’s not our hard work that changes us, as if we were paying God back, it’s the Spirit of God within us, empowering us to do what God wills.

Gender Non-Conformity Running Roughshod Over Parents’ Rights
Excellent article from Carl Trueman at First Things: One objection that has been made a number of times to my criticisms of transgenderism is that, if someone want to change from their birth sex to the opposite, what harm does that do to me? Why should I worry if, to borrow from Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg? That is true, and from that perspective I care as little about the issue as I do about what my neighbors may or may not be doing in their bedrooms after dark. That is part of what living in a free country means. What I do care about, however, is how the issue is being used to transform the public square, in particular to undermine parental and women’s rights.

Will Pope Francis Break the Church?
From Ross Douthat, NYT: The media are not deceived in thinking that Francis differs from his predecessors in substance as well as style. He may not be a liberal Catholic as the term is understood in an American or European context, but he has a different set of priorities than the previous two popes did. He reads the times differently, and elements of his agenda are clearly in tune with what many progressive Catholics (and progressives, period) in the West have long hoped for from the Church.

Keeping the Faith in A Faithless Age
From Albert Mohler: “The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Is Speaking Your Mind A Christian Virtue?
We live in an age where “speaking your mind” is considered a virtue and a hailed as a sign of good leadership. But is this trait something the Bible commends? Should Christians be known for “speaking their mind?”

Church in Hard Places
The Church is a display of God’s glory, mercy, and wholeness in the midst of a broken and hurting community. Churches in hard places often share common struggles: A lack of well-trained leadership; a lack of resources to equip workers in these communities; a sense of alienation from the broader evangelical church.

How Your Possessions Are Affecting Your Heart
It is not necessarily that my actions follow the desires of my heart. Instead, I find that my heart appears naturally drawn to the places where I have invested most.

Ann Voskamp Addresses Conference Via Translator
From the Babylon Bee: Ann Voskamp, author of the immensely popular One Thousand Gifts, spoke to a packed house last night at the Passionate Borderless Empowered Frontiers Without Borders Conference through her recently-hired translator, who is fluent in Voskamp-to-English.

Adam Lambert, Mad World


Carrie Underwood, I’ll Stand By You


Phillip Phillips, Home


Jordin Sparks, I Who Have Nothing


Katharine McPhee, Somewhere Over the Rainbow


Lee DeWyze, Hallelujah


Kelly Clarkson, Respect



Reuben Studdard, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart


Fantasia Barrino, Summertime


William Hung, She Bangs


We’ll end with Daughtry’s performance of Home.  While it was not a song he sang in competition he did come back the following year and perform it live on the show.  It would also be the walk off song for those eliminated in season 6.


Around-the-Horn[1]‘Who Are You Sleeping With?’ My Conversation with Timothy Keller
Drawing on his experience in urban, culture-shaping Manhattan, Keller responded that one of the biggest obstacles to repentance for revival in the Church is the basic fact that almost all singles outside the Church and a majority inside the Church are sleeping with each other. In other words, good old-fashioned fornication.

Everything That is Solid Melts into Air – The New Secular Worldview
The story of the rise of secularism is a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. It defies exaggeration. We must recognize that it is far more pervasive than we might want to believe, for this intellectual revolution has changed the worldviews of even those who believe themselves to be opposed to it.

Howard Schultz Wants You To Try Some Civility With Your Coffee
“I’ve always viewed the American dream as a reservoir, and it has constantly been replenished with values, work ethic and the spirit of the American people,” he said. “But sadly, our reservoir is running dry — depleted by cynicism, despair, division, exclusion, fear and yes — indifference.” 

The Death of Moral Relativism
“Some sort of moral system is coming into place,” Brooks says. “Some new criteria now exist, which people use to define correct and incorrect action.”

White City: The New Urban Blight is Rich People
There is really only one strike against the New Urbanism, but it’s a strike thrown by Nolan Ryan: It turns cities into playgrounds for moneyed, childless whites while pushing out the poor, the working-class, immigrants, seniors and anyone else not plugged into “the knowledge economy.”

How To Read Dante in the 21st Century
These breathtaking lines conclude Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line epic written in 1321 on the state of the soul after death. T. S. Eliot called such poetry the most beautiful ever written—and yet so few of us have ever read it. Since the poem appeared, and especially in modern times, those readers intrepid enough to take on Dante have tended to focus on the first leg of his journey, through the burning fires of Inferno. As Victor Hugo wrote about The Divine Comedy’s blessed realms, “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.”

5 Ways “God’s Not Dead” Fails Christians
“God’s Not Dead 2” opened this weekend.  I have low expectations and zero desire to see it. “God’s Not Dead” sets out to be an encouragement for young Christians encountering challenges to their faith. But in the end, it actually fails its key audience and becomes the thing it’s preaching against. Here’s how:

I’m A Christian and I Hate Christian Movies
It’s practically catechistic among many faith-based devotees and movie producers that mainstream critics pan the films because they “don’t believe in Jesus.” The problems run deeper. Jesus is all right; the screenwriters, not so much.

The Omni-Directional Blessing of Bible Reading
I can easily name the most important lesson I ever learned about being a Christian. This advice has guided me for nearly 20 years as I’ve walked as a disciple of Christ. And it applies to every single believer.

Around-the-Horn[1]50 Books J.I. Packer Thinks You Should Read
As I look down the list of what Packer has read I’m struck yet again by the crucial role of reading in the life of the believer. That may sound trite, but in our highly image-driven world many have lost their zeal for reading. I can almost guarantee that Packer has not spent his life watching the banal and mind-numbing drivel of television nor has he squandered his mental and emotional energy in the world of social media. If one wonders how a man such as Packer could have attained the knowledge and wisdom that he so consistently displays and could exert such a remarkable influence on the life of the church, I suggest it largely has come from having immersed himself in reflective reading of good books.

Moral Relativism Gives Way to a New Moralism
Moral relativism is over.  Moral absolutes are back.  The problem is, these are new moral absolutes, with little connection to traditional objective morality.  And yet because the new moralism is concerned only with tolerance and inclusion, it lacks principles such as justice, temperance, and mercy that can temper its harshness.  As a result, it is just as judgmental, shame-inducing, and self-righteous as the old moralism at its worst.

Hope For A Hopeless Marriage
An encouragement for you and your marriage

Will Phoebe Have Down’s Syndrome in Heaven?
It seems even too trite to write a blog post such as this but at our dinner table the other night my 6 year old son asked the question.

His Damnation our Liberation, His Defeat our Victory
Karl Barth on Easter

15 Pieces of Writing Advice From C.S. Lewis
In his letters and other sources, C. S. Lewis left various bits of advice on the craft of writing. Following are 15 of the things he said.

7 Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself About Church
Here are seven lies that you may also have encountered, whether personally or from other people, about church . . .

The Future of Religion in a Secular Age
Charting a future for Christianity first requires some genealogical work: How did we get here?


Around-the-Horn[1]What is An Anglican?
The word “Anglicanism” is a slippery one. In the nineteenth century, the “high church” Oxford Movement tried to invent this idea that the Church of England was a nice middle way (a via media) between Rome and Geneva. 

J.I. Packer – Why Christians do not need to fear death.

The HUUUGE Cultural Shift that’s Helping Trump Win Evangelicals
Could it be that America’s evangelicals just aren’t all that evangelical anymore?

Sex Trumps History
As a teacher of history, I often wonder why history as a discipline occupies such a low place in today’s society. When I tell people at parties that I teach church history, it is hard to tell whether it is the church or the history part which more marks me out as a sociopathic weirdo. Indeed, there are few trades which seem more irrelevant today than the traditional study of the past.

God’s Bounded Freedom
God’s freedom is a bounded freedom. The Father is not free to be other than Father, other than the One who loves and gives to the Son. The Son is not free to abandon His Father, to become un-Son. The Spirit is not free to become a free Spirit, free of the Father and Son. In their boundedness to one another and in their relations, they are free. We might even say, paradoxically, that this is precisely the form that God’s infinite freedom takes. God’s infinite freedom doesn’t mean freedom from all and every definiteness or boundedness, but freedom to be unboundedly the God that He is.

On Nude Selfies
Wendy Alsup (Practical Theology for Women) looks at this growing phenomenon and what it means.

Why A Synthesizer Isn’t The Holy Spirit
In recent decades ambient sounds have become omnipresent in church gatherings. Meetings start with a synth swell and every song after that is connected to the next with musical glue. Synth pads play softly behind prayer, Scripture readings, song intros, communion, and in some cases, the preaching. If you don’t have someone who can produce the necessary sounds, no worries. “Worship pads” in every key are available for purchase to smooth out the transitions.  Which raises the question: what’s going on?


Around-the-Horn[1]God’s Dupes?
Is the Christian faith intellectual nonsense? Are Christians deluded?

Downton Abbey and the Weight of Glory
Why exactly was Downton Abbey so popular in the first place?  What allowed it to break PBS viewership records and become an international phenomenon?

Priesthood of Believers
“Priesthood of believers” has come to mean that believers can do very well without attachment to any church, thank you very much. Each believer is a church unto himself. Renouncing Rome’s one Pope, Protestantism has created thousands.

The Identity of the Victim
We come to this Table in order remember certain things, and to remember them by means of an enacted memorial. The two principal things we are to remember have to do with the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Six Areas of End-Time Agreement
While there are many different interpretations of how events of the end times will unfold, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians passionately agree about the most important matters. Here I point out six end times areas of agreement about which the Bible is explicit.

In Memory of Pat Conroy, The Saddest Story Teller
But Conroy was more than a mere author; he was a tortured soul trying to come to terms with his past and his personal demons. Without ever having met the man I know this to be true because he wrote it into his stories. He wrote about himself and his family. He wrote about pain, but more than that he wrote from pain.

Has the Word ‘Evangelical’ Become Meaningless?
Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore said that he is no longer referring to himself as an “evangelical.”  He says that today’s political opportunism and theological heresies have made the term meaningless, though he hopes it might come back.

Around-the-Horn[1]5 Prayers to Pray for Your Husband
Five great ways to pray for your husband.

Speedos or Shorts? Bikinis or Bathing Suits?
Two things in the last week have brought to my attention that those who wish to maintain anything approaching traditional Christian standards are facing a brave new world. The first was a conversation with a young couple who were reflecting on the problem of finding modest, non-sexualizing clothes for their very young daughters, a point which led them to express concern about the educationally sanctioned sexualization of even elementary school children.

About the Chick on the Piano
To borrow a great phrase from Russell Moore, we are talking about a man whose attitude toward women resembles that of a Bronze Age warlord. We haven’t seen anything like that since . . . oh, since the spouse of the current Democratic front-runner, whose attitude toward women resembles that of Suleiman the Magnificent.

What to Do if You are Confused or Offended by Flannery O’Conner’s Stories
Readers are often offended by Flannery O’Connor’s stories. They ought to be; the stories are offensive. Jesus’s parables would offend us, too, if we hadn’t heard them so many times—or if we were paying better attention.

Bitter Contract Dispute Over Who Owns Yosemite Names
“It’s disgusting that a private company can trademark a name that belongs to the land and to the people,” said Mr. Whitcher, a retired doctor from San Francisco. “There’s one word for this: greed. In all caps.”

Building a Survival Fire
Because you really ought to know how to do something practical.

Around the Horn :: 2.25.16

February 25, 2016

Around-the-Horn[1]How to Criticize Other Christians Without Being Mean
Every now and again it’s good to be reminded of the obvious. We need such reminders more often than we’d like to admit.

Nothing to Celebrate
The seriousness of a society’s funeral rites speaks volumes about the seriousness of a society, for the way we treat the dead is really a function of how we value life.

Tim Keller’s Genius
Keller’s insights on preaching.

Five Questions About Sanctification and Good Works
Are good works necessary for salvation?

A 29-Year-Old Millennial Takes on a 25-Year-Old Millennial Over Poor Attitude and Entitlement Mentality
An excellent article from Business Insider.

The Place of Music and Singing in the Church
A good article from Vaughan Roberts

An American Lent
“What are you giving up for Lent?”  This question tells us a lot about American Christianity. While the question alludes to historic Christian practices of fasting and self-denial associated with the penitential season of Lent, the syntax of the question also points out a crucial shift: even our self-denial is an act of self-expression. Our submission to discipline is converted to act of will power.