this went thru my mind

 

Bible, change, growth, learning & openmindedness: Afraid of the Bible by Dan Bouchelle [essential reading]

“Here is the stark reality: churches are resistant to open Bible study because we fear new insights from scripture. … What does this say? I think is says at least four things: 1. We over estimate our understanding of scripture and have largely closed off our ability to hear fresh wisdom from God through his primary means of communicating to us. … 2. We fail to understand the role of the Holy Spirit working upon a community as it encounters God in his Word. We can’t control the Spirit or explain him and we fear what we don’t understand and control. … 3. We are still modern thinkers who believe … Scripture may describe what God did once, but it won’t help us much with methods for what we should do. 4. Since we know we can’t reconcile seeing something new in scripture and discounting it, as we can easily do with human writers, it is just safer to avoid seeking to learn anything new from the Bible. Who wants to be responsible for making changes if we did learn better?”

Catholicism: * Would You Pray for the New Pope? by Mark Woodward; * Virtual Reality Sistine Chapel; * It Is Better To Have People Think You Are A Fool Than To Write A Blog And Remove All Doubt ; * 5 Things to Know About the New Pope

* “The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. said that Anti-Catholicism is ‘the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people’ (Gibson, The Coming Catholic Church, HarperCollins 2004). That’s a very strong statement in the face of both our racial biases and our economic and political biases.”

* The inside of the Sistine Chapel in virtual reality.

* “… I do not want Roman Catholic readers to judge me by some of the hate filled, ignorant posts written by some of my non-Catholic counterparts.”

* “He’s the first Jesuit and the first Latin American in modern times to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.”

Church: Pope Francis Calls Out the Church

“We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church. It’s true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that’s sick because it’s self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former.”

Communication, listening, relationships & words: Barriers to Conversation by Scott Elliott [required reading]

“Here are a few common barriers to conversation.”

Controlling: Are You in a Controlling Environment?

“Ask yourself: Do ideas determine systems? or Do systems control ideas?”

Just for fun: The Greatest Homes Made from Shipping Containers Around the World

“The relatively cheap shipping container is a good foundation for a strong, mobile, and post-apocalyptic home. In the last two decades, architects have been incorporating shipping containers into everything from schools to houses — for aesthetic reasons, but also out of economic necessity. Here are some of their most eye-catching creations.”

Logic, reasoning & thinking: How Not to Argue Like an Idiot … The 15 Most Common Logical Fallacies

“… I’ve used and heard plenty of bad reasoning from Christians. The following list is composed of some of the most common logical fallacies; I’ve chosen to limit it to only those I’ve actually heard in the last couple years.”

 ; * 5 Things to Know About the New Pope

this went thru my mind

 

Attack ads, critics & hate: Jesus and Paul Under Fire & The 2012 USA Presidential Election by Frank Viola [required reading]

“… why do politicians spend obscene amounts of money on ads which attack their opponents – most often falsely? Because they work. In general, people are gullible and will believe whatever they hear or read without checking the facts or going to the sources themselves. … his got me thinking. What’s happening in the political world right now in the USA has been going on in the “religious” world for over 2,000 years. Consider the misrepresentations and false accusations leveled at Jesus during His earthly days, thousands of years before the Internet and cable news …”

Evangelicals, history & politics: Pro-Life, Pro-Left ‘Moral Minority’ by David R. Swartz [a book review]

“So why did the evangelical left seem to dissolve into irrelevance? Swartz argues that evangelicals’ mass enlistment in the conservative Republicanism of the “culture wars” was not the inevitable consequence of doctrine or history: Jesus did not leave behind a clear party platform. But while members of the Christian right set aside doctrinal differences to rally around a shared cultural agenda, the left fell victim to internal identity politics and theological disputes.”

Logic, discussion & reasoning: Making An Argument the “Christian” Way? by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“… if we want to discover more truth. Here are my suggestion of arguing styles to be wary of.”

Migration & US population: American Migration [very interesting!]

“Close to 40 million Americans move from one home to another every year. Click anywhere on the map below: blue counties send more migrants to the selected county than they take; red counties take more than they send.”

Movies: Hollywood’s New Bible Stories

“The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible—the best-selling book in history—certainly has. And like the comic-book superheroes that movie companies have relied on for the past decade, biblical stories are easily recognizable to both domestic and the all-important foreign audiences. What’s more, they’re free: Studios don’t need to pay expensive licensing fees to adapt stories and characters already in the public domain.”

Non-Christians & perceptions: Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make About Christians by Thom Rainer

“Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians. In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian.”

this went thru my mind

 

Charitable giving & money: * Faith and Giving; * Study Reveals The Geography of Charitable Giving; * How America Gives [interactive; very interesting!]; * How America Gives [article]

* “Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity—both to religious and to secular groups—compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent. … But the generosity ranking changes when religion is taken out of the picture. People in the Northeast give the most …”

* “Households with incomes of $50,000-$75,000 donate on average 7.6 percent of their discretionary income. That’s compared with about 4 percent for those with incomes of $200,000 or more. … The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become. … it’s not that rich people aren’t generous. They’re often just isolated. They don’t see a lot of poor people in their daily lives. [As you read this quote, recall Houston’s ranking as #1 in the state in terms of economic segregation.] Simply reminding wealthy people of the diversity of needs that are out there is going to go a long way toward restoring the empathy or compassion deficit that we otherwise see.”

* Texas ranks #14 out of the 50 states & the District of Columbia in terms of percentage of annual income given to charity (5.1%) by those who have an annual income of between $50,000-99,999. Harris County, for this same salary bracket, ranks #1,383 out of 3,115 counties at 6.0%. Chambers County, for this same bracket, ranks #1,793 out of 3,115 counties at 5.3%.

* “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.”

Civility: Civility in Argument by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse [required reading]

“Democracy’s success depends upon our ability as a citizenry to reliably make the distinction between argument and sophistry.”

Journaling: 6 Ways to Make Journaling Work by Rachelle Dawson

“Journaling is usually used as a way to chart your spiritual growth. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Nigeria, persecution & terrorism: Fifty Christians Burned Alive in Pastor’s Home in Nigeria

“… 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the village of Maseh were burned alive after they took refuge in their pastor’s house following a terrorist raid.”

Worship gatherings & mountain-top-experiences: When Worship is Wrong by Skye Jethani

“The problem with these mountaintop experiences, whether legitimate … or fabricated, is that the transformation does not last. … This pursuit of transformation by consuming external experiences creates worship junkies who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that will not fade. … The New Testament emphasizes a different model of transformation.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism: Good Reasons for Being Baptized by Edward Fudge

“If we are saved by being believers, what is the use in being baptized?”

Books: The Book That Drove Them Crazy by Andrew Ferguson [on Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind]

“The trends that followed the crisis in higher education that Bloom identified have only intensified since 1987: toward weaker academic requirements for students, greater specialization in the departments, a rigid orthodoxy in the university’s politics and cultural life. The university we face today is still the one he described, only more so.”

Burnout: Six Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout by David Murray

“Stress, the root cause of burnout, costs U.S. businesses $300 billion in lost productivity each year.”

Child development: Insights from the Youngest Minds by Natlie Angier

“All this time I’ve been giving infants objects to hold, or spinning them around in a room to see how they navigate, when what they really wanted to do was engage with other people!”

Church: * The 10 Warning Signs of an Inwardly Obsessed Church by Thom Rainer; * What’s a Church to Do? by Larry James

* “In my research of churches and consultation with churches, I have kept a checklist of potential signs that a church might be moving toward inward obsession. No church is perfect; indeed most churches will demonstrate one or two of these signs for a season. But the real danger takes place when a church begins to manifest three or more of these warning signs for an extended period of months and even years.”

* “Maybe what we need is a movement, a movement back to our roots, back to the foundational “value propositions” of our faith, ancient, but powerful … if, the church will surrender itself to the mission Jesus pursued.”

Computing: Add Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive to Windows’ Send-To Menu by Rick Broida

“Sometimes it’s just easier to right-click a file, then choose its destination from Windows’ Send to menu. … Wouldn’t it be great if you could add Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, SkyDrive, or another cloud service to that menu? You can; here’s how.”

Environmentalism: Ask An Environmentalist … (Response) by Rachel Held Evans

“You guys asked some really tough questions of Scott Sabin for “Ask an environmentalist,” but Scott rose to the occasion with some wise, winsome, and informative responses.”

Football: Is it Ethical to Watch Football? by Brian LePort

“Is it ethical to watch football? For those of us who consider ourselves Christians do we have an obligation to disengage from the culture of violence promoted by college and professional football? … I find myself a bit confused by those who watch and enjoy Mixed Martial Arts. It is blood sport and savagery. I’ve told myself that the NFL is better. MMA aims to harm people. Boxing aims to harm people. The NFL aims to keep a ball from crossing the line, right? Well, maybe not the Saints.”

PacifismWhy I Am Not a Pacifist by Daniel Heimback

“The short answer to why I am not a Pacifist is that Jesus was not a Pacifist and what Jesus taught, and what the rest of the Bible teaches, does not align with Pacifist teaching. That for me is the bottom line.”

Thinking: 24 Logical Fallacies by Eric Dye

“Learning these concepts will not only improve your critical thinking skills, but make you a better blogger, commenter and all around sharper person.”