links to 4 items worth your time

1. The History of the Bible, Animated [4 min. video; National Geographic]

“… making the Bible available to the masses …”

2. ‘This Little Light of Mine’ Shines On, a Timeless Tool of Resistance

“You can’t just sing ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ You gotta shout it …”

3. The Gospel Work of Song

“Singing is part of what it means to be human.”

4. The Decline of American Christianity Is Real but More Complicated Than It Looks

“… this so-called decline is a bit more complicated than it might seem at first blush …”

links to 4 helpful posts

1. How the Baby Boomers Introduced One of the Gravest Spiritual Dangers of Our Era [talkin’ ’bout my generation; essential reading]

“If we are constantly searching for a better place, we’ll miss what he put us on the earth for, we’ll live small and shallow lives, and we’ll get older and grouchier.”

2. Older People are Worse Than Young People at Telling Fact from Opinion [our bs detector fades away with the rest of us; essential reading]

“The research tacks against the idea that younger people who are extremely online (or ‘digital savvy,’ in Pew’s terms) might be more exposed and/or more susceptible to misinformation. But the real correlation with poor performance is exposure to television news, which has fallen off among young people but remains very high among older people. This shouldn’t be surprising, if we consider the evolution of American media over the past 60 years. Someone born in 1958, now 60, witnessed two revolutions in media before the internet: talk radio and 24-hour cable news. Both blended facts and opinions in new and unprecedented ways, and they matured with the cohort of Americans who are now over the age of 50.”

3. Almost Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage, Signaling Cultural Shift

“Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970 …”

4. Five Museum of the Bible Dead Sea Scrolls are Fake

“… this should serve yet again as a prime example for why unprovenanced archaeological objects should not be published and displayed in museums. The days of the black-market trade of unprovenanced Dead Sea Scrolls fragments must come to an end!”

this went thru my mind

 

ChristmasChristmas Carols as Resistance Literature by Richard Beck [required reading]

O Holy NightCantique de Noël in the original French–was composed in 1847 by Adolphe Adam. … O Holy Night, it turns out, was a song of political resistance and protest. Imagine Americans singing in the years leading up to the Civil War the lyrics ‘Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.’ O Holy Night as political protest. A Christmas carol as resistance literature. This is as it should be. Consider the words of Mary’s Song, the Magnificat.”

Dead Sea Scrolls: The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library … preserves thousands of scroll fragments, including the oldest known copies of the biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.”

Faith, fear, guns & violence: Conservative Christian Priorities by Bob Cargill [required reading]

“Conservative Christians have spent more time defending their right to assault weapons this week than I ever recall having seen them defend the hungry, the poor, the sick (except to oppose their proposed healthcare), or the imprisoned. (Cf. Matt. 25:31-45) Priorities are very telling.”

Guns & politics: Party Identity in a Gun Cabinet by Nate Silver

“Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics. … Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all of the decrease has come from Democrats.”

Holidays & loneliness: Dealing With Lonely Holidays by Wayne Stiles

“For many people, the holidays draw up painful memories.”

Humor: 8 Funniest Verses in Bible by Ron Edmonson

“Here are 7 of the funniest verses I have read in Scripture.”

Memory: Ready. Set. Memorize!

“…  this year’s World Memory Championships … Nelson Dellis, the U.S. memory champion, says that in practice, he can memorize a deck of cards in about 32 seconds. Dellis is ranked 24th in the world.”

Parenting: 5 Ways to Play With Your Kids This Christmas by Trevin Wax

“During the holiday season, we’re tempted to spend too much time on our iPhones, on the computer, or watching television. Following our example, our kids isolate themselves too. We’re together physically, but no one is having fun. No wonder by New Year’s everyone is ready to get back into the normal routine. Can I challenge you, parents? Don’t let this holiday season go by without spending time just having fun with your kids. No agenda. Just fun.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church growth: Let it Grow – Advice on Church Growth by Tim Spivey

“Each church’s journey is different, and it’s hard to get down to the level this can be talked about. However, someone needs to put on the table: The reason some of us aren’t growing is because our soil is sick.”

Google: Get More Out of Google [infographic]

“Here are some crucial tips for refining your Googling …”

Discipleship, gospel, salvation & the sinner’s prayer: The Gospel of Sin Management and the Loss of Discipleship by Jeff Clarke

“When we reduce the gospel story to salvation and salvation to personal forgiveness and forgiveness to a plan of salvation that focuses exclusively on getting people to make a decision (what Dallas Willard referred to in The Divine Conspiracy as the gospel of sin management), we essentially de-storify the gospel of Jesus and offer people what proves to be a serious mutation. We move from the birth of Christ to the death of Christ and forget the in-between life of Jesus. As a result, we end up living as though the middle section (i.e., his teachings, miracles, healings, and other kingdom-of-God-has-come indicators) has no inherent significance and salvific import …

“When we couple this with our North American preoccupation and unhealthy interest in numbers, we end up trying to compel as many people as possible to make a decision (whatever it takes), but only end up presenting a powerless, lopsided, half-story. However, our methods of persuasion ask people to make a decision, not for Christ alone, as the goal of the gospel, but to avoid hell (fire insurance), make us happy, help us find a mate, heal our marriage, etc, setting people up for failure. Then we add up the ‘salvations’ as though numbers indicate success. …

“However, by reducing the story of Jesus, a story that calls people to a life of devoted discipleship, to a system of salvation that only asks people to make a decision, we effectively short-circuit the power of the gospel.”

Manuscripts & preservation: Papyrus Conservation Videos

“… two videos on papyrus preservation. The first describes the work of Leyla Lau-Lamb, the principle papyrus curator at the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection. he second video from the British Museum records the restoration of a Book of the Dead scroll which was pasted to a sheet of paper.”

Miscarriage: Letters to My Unborn Children: the Silent Grief of Miscarriage by Shawn Collins

“Our first pregnancy in 2004 ended in a miscarriage right after Easter. Through my wife Kristine’s five subsequent pregnancies—another miscarriage in 2004, healthy girls born in 2005 and 2008, a third miscarriage in 2010, and a healthy girl born in 2011—I wrote letters to my children to reflect on these experiences. These letters extended my lifelong habit of journaling about both formative and mundane events in my life.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Book of Nehemiah Found Among the Scrolls

“Scroll scholars find first fragment of Nehemiah [in the Dead Sea Scroll.]”

Biblical imagery: Desert Moments [4:43 min. Ray Vander Laan video clip]

“… a high percentage of the Biblical images that teach us about who we are, who God is, what life is, come out of the desert.”

Conflict: 5 Reasons We Argue When We Agree by Ron Edmonson

“Have you ever argued with someone only to discover you agreed?”

Do Not Track: Twitter Supports “Do Not Track”

“Do Not Track (DNT) is a privacy preference that users can set in their web browsers. [It is a] … a simple way for users to inform integrated web services … that they do not want certain information about their webpage visits collected across websites when they have not interacted with that service’s content on the page.”

Facebook: * As Facebook Grows, Millions Say, ‘No, Thanks’ ; * Why I Won’t Be Quitting Facebook

* “Facebook still has plenty of room to grow … As it is, about 80 percent of its users are outside U.S. and Canada.”

* “More than just a daily habit, Facebook has become the place where I get important, often surprising glimpses into the lives of the … people with whom I’ve chosen to connect.”

GestationAlexander Tsiaras: Conception to Birth – Visualized [9:38 min. TED talk video]

“Image-maker Alexander Tsiaras shares for TEDTalks a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond.”

Parenting: Would You Take Your Son to a Brothel?

“Would you have allowed your ten-year-old son to accompany you on that mission?”

Poverty: Sight-Seeing: Creating a Community of Love and Mutuality by Siu Fung Wu

“My experience in our community has convinced me that sharing lives with the poor and marginalised will help us come to a better understanding of the Scripture and God’s heart.”

Racism: Undoing Houston’s Racism: A Pastor’s Apology by Marty Troyer

“… if we in the church are going to lead the way in undoing racism, we need to understand this social evil.
So what does racism look like today in Houston?”

The Obama administration: The White House: Faith and the White House: Things I Bet You Didn’t Know by Mark Love

“The office for Faith Based Initiatives was formed during George W. Bush’s administration. It was an attempt to bring churches, synagogues, mosques, and other explicitly religious organizations into the mix in addressing pressing social needs. The Obama administration has not only continued the office, but greatly expanded its reach in virtually every corner of the federal government.”