links to 4 helpful articles

1. How to Make Friends as a Middle-Aged Man, Even if the Idea Makes You Feel Weird [required reading]

“… the overarching principle of healthy male friendship is: Throw off the burden of hyper masculinity placed on us by the fathers and grandfathers and coaches who snuffed out our crying and smiling and general emoting. They were wrong. And they were lonely.”

2. These Pastors Loved America So Much, They Wanted It to Stay British

“One of the most significant features of Loyalist arguments in support of the British government is that they were not entirely uncritical.”

3. Should You Keep Taking Those Fish Oil And Vitamin D Pills

“… 19 million Americans take fish oil supplements and some 37 percent of us take vitamin D. Many may be motivated by research that has suggested these pills can protect heart health and prevent cancer. On Saturday, NPR published a story on long-awaited research on both supplements that called those claims into question. The findings of the trial, called VITAL, were complex.”

4. Man-eating Fish, Tower of Babel Revealed on Ancient Mosaic

“More stunning scenes have been uncovered at the site of a fifth-century synagogue in Israel, where archaeologists have been excavating an ornate mosaic floor since 2012. The discoveries at Huqoq, a site three miles west of the Sea of Galilee, are especially striking due to the unusual subject matter depicted on the floor of the synagogue …”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to several posts that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Ancient world, archaeology, children & toys: Ancient Toys

“It is often easy to forget that the characters we read about in the Bible and in the history books were real people, and lived much like we do today.”

Bible, culture, faith & reading: * These Are the Most Godless Cities in America; * Actually, THESE Are the Most Godless Cities in America

* “The American Bible Society measures ‘Bible-mindedness’ by how strictly survey respondents read the book and believe in its accuracy. … The American Bible Society found that only 27% of Americans are Bible-minded. The data was based up on telephone and online interviews with 62,896 adults …”

* “In response to the ABS study, the popular Bible-searching website BibleGateway.com has released a study of its own with some striking findings. Based only on how often people in a given city use its Bible-searching software (and controlling for population size) … Bible Gateway’s different methodology—which, perhaps most significantly, does not take into account whether or not a reader considers the Bible to be literally true—yields some remarkable differences from the ABS study.”

Fear & idolatry: The Greatest False Idol of Modern Christianity [essential reading; spot-on!]

“Parroting the politicized talk show hosts and reposting the latest terrible news stories, we perpetuate the now comfortable, Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and we make it clear at every opportunity: The sky is falling.

“Though we will loudly, repeatedly and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, in reality, many of us no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, any true control or inherent God-ness. We seem to have little more than a neutered figurehead Deity, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle much at all anymore. He’s lost His Old Testament swagger.

“The truth is, Fear has become a false God, one too many of us worship with complete and undying devotion.

“Dig just beneath the sunny ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Bible covers, and the ‘God’s judgment is coming’ bullhorn warnings and you’ll find that much of America has imagined a powerless God who’s mostly just keeping Heaven tidy until all the Christians get there. In the meantime, we live in perpetually frightened freak-out mode.”

Fear, manhood, men & respect: The Problem with Men and Why We Ignore It/Them at Our Own Risk

“…  human males crave respect. For most males, boys and men, respect is somewhere near the top of their hierarchy of needs. I would go so far as to say that, if they were to be completely honest, when asked which they would prefer if they had to choose one over the other most males would take respect over love. And, perhaps unfortunately, part of that craving for respect is desiring to be respected for their maleness. …

“… “when boys and men conclude they will not gain respect they turn to fear. That is, for many, creating fear of them in others becomes a substitute for respect. Fear feels, to them, like respect or at least is an acceptable substitute. Boys and men who feel respected rarely turn to fear as a substitute. They are satisfied with respect (or the real prospect of it). However, boys and young men who believe respect is out of their reach often turn to implied violence if not real violence such as intimidation.

“Nothing I have said implies this is how things should be. However, I have concluded that this male habit of the heart is so deeply ingrained that it is unlikely to be changed by social engineering or anything else. We ignore it at our own cost as a society.”

God, providence & sports: Aaron Rodgers: God Probably Doesn’t Care Who Wins Football Games

“‘I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,’ Rodgers [quarterback for the Green Bay Packers] said. ‘He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.’ …

“… [meanwhile,] Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — an outspoken Christian — told reporter Peter King that a divine influence made Sunday’s barnburner so exciting. ‘That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,’ Wilson said, according to King.”

links: this went thru my mind

Church, culture, demographics & multi-racial: The Changing Face of the American Church

“If you ask, would you like to have a multiethnic church, everyone says, ‘that would be wonderful’ … When you ask, what are you doing to make that happen—that’s when you hear the crickets.”

Contentment, life, meaning, significance & stimulation: What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?

“What we are called to do every day, right where God has placed us, is rich and rewarding. … Sometimes, the best way to change the world is to live extraordinarily in what looks like an ordinary existence—to radically love and serve those around us every day, no matter where we are.”

Pornography & repentance: * Men and Porn (a four-part series; parts 1, 2, 3 & 4)

“The tips and suggestions below are based on my research into cognitive psychology over the years as well as from reported experiences of men who have quit using porn. Again, there’s no silver bullet. What works for one man, may not work for you. You need to be ready to experiment and try different things.”

Water: Water is the New Oil: How Corporations Took Over a Basic Human Right

“Water has become a commodity …and the world’s poor are paying the price. … Twenty percent of the world right now does not have access to clean water. Twenty percent of the world also happens to live on less than a dollar a day. And it’s interesting to look at how much those two groups overlap.”

this went thru my mind

 

Awareness, focus, inattentional blindness, & thinking: Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight [required reading]

“… what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see.”

Books & bookstores: Buying is a Hard Thing for Bookstores to Do Effectively, and That Becomes an Increasingly Important Reality for Publishers

“As the shelf space for books being managed by retailers that accept the high cost of managing book inventory and commit to doing it effectively continues to decline, publishers need to understand that it will be really hard for non-book retailers to replace them.”

Churches of Christ: “Why Churches of Christ are Shrinking” Blog – More Thoughts by Joshua Tucker

“Lord, help us not to be bound by personal preference, but by an overwhelming desire to please You and see Your Church grow. Help all of us to be selfless, full of Your Love, and the ability to judge things objectively.”

Civil War & Les Miserables: In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’

“Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was published in 1862 and English translations of the five parts that constitute the novel began to appear in America by year’s end. … While Hugo may not have had the Civil War in mind, American reviewers certainly did and many viewed the novel through the prism of the war.”

Death & fear: America’s Culture of Death by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“When a culture replaces the value of everlasting life, with the value of this life extended as far as possible, the culture has become totally myopic, unable to see beyond the immediate, the tangible, the empirical. And oddly enough when the lie that ‘this life is all there is’ is believed, it makes it much easier to allow death to rule one’s mind, one’s fears, one’s behavior. Death simply becomes the price of doing business, or surviving. A culture becomes fear based and makes decisions on the basis of fear, rather than faith and a belief in the life to come.”

Millenials: FactChecker: Are Millennials More Self-Sacrificing and Community-Minded Than Previous Generations?

“For those who pay attention to the different opinions and declarations on how the various generations are different than the ones that came before, you have no doubt heard that while Generation X was the slacker generation, Gen Y, or the Millennials, are very different, the most community service-minded, action-oriented, let’s change-the-world-generation alive today, perhaps in the history of our nation. Generation We. It’s taken as a nearly uncontested reality. Except it’s not true. The best research on this topic, relying on nationally representative research by the leading scholars on the issue comes to essentially the very opposite conclusion.”

Small groups: Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt

Parts one [introverts], two [guys] & three [anyone].

Submission: The Most Offensive Word in America [required reading]

“The most offensive word to Americans is a simple, two-syllable word that insults our beliefs and violates our value system: submit. We inherently believe no one has the right to tell us how to live, where to go or what to do. We are our own masters.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation: The Purpose of the First Testament by Chaplain Mike

“After 35 years in pastoral ministry and Biblical study, I’m convinced that many if not most Christians have a simplistic view of ‘The Bible’ and how it came to us (if they even think about that question at all).”

Communication & relationships: Communicating With Men Tips by Ron Edmonson

“My counseling background and years of experience working with couples has given me insight into some of the barriers men and women face when communicating. I realize not all men are alike, but there are some generalities that can perhaps help a woman better understand a man and improve communication.”

Control, gender roles, men & women: Control over Races and Women: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“Throughout human history, various cultures have adopted the idea and practice that men are superior to women. The Bible itself reflects this view. But this is not a truth of God as presented in the Bible–Old or New Testament!!!”

Foreign missions & missionaries: Do You Really Support Our Troops! by Mark Woodward

“When the nation is tired of foreign entanglements, the church becomes tired of them as well.”

Gossip: Stopping Gossip in 7 Ways by Ron Edmonson [required reading]

“…  I’m listing 7 suggestions for how to stop, or at least slow, the spread of gossip. Will you consider each and take them personal? If the shoe fits will you wear it. Together, perhaps we can help stop the deadly spread of this harmful virus!”

Les Miserables: * A Pastor’s Take on the New Les Miserables by John Frye; * Jesus Himself Would Have Bought a Ticket and Waited on a Half Hour Line to See ‘Les Miserables’ by Peter Enns [required reading]

* “Anyone who knows the storyline of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (Les Mis) knows that any cinematic rendition will push strongly against the most common USAmerican movie theme: revenge. … If you’re not the church going kind of person, or if you were but left because Christians are fake and self-absorbed, or if your main exposure to Christianity has been TV evangelists or the Tea party, you ought to see this movie.”

* “Les Mis will help you see what the Bible means, and what the church at its best has meant, by ‘good news.'”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, discipleship, evangelism & salvation: Saving Souls is More Than Counting Baptisms by Terry Rush

“Be about soul winning this week.  If any should be at the waters of baptism, praise God.  But, too, if any happen to be over a cup of coffee or in a waiting room and you seek to inspire someone back to greatness….this too would be winning of the soul.”

Bible interpretation: My Take: The Danger of Calling Behavior ‘Biblical’ by Rachel Held Evans

“… the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”

Military service, pacifism & the early church: What Can We Learn From the Early Church? – Living Like the First Christians

“There can be no question but that Christians of the earliest period were overwhelmingly pacifist. I would say, until the year 200 pacifism was the norm for Christians. That began to change slightly from 200 to the Constantinian Edict in 313. Tertullian (160-225) was very strong in arguing that Christians could not participate in war, and he went so far as to say that those who were already soldiers must quit the military when they became followers of Jesus.  There are cases during this early period where Christians chose to be martyred rather than to serve in the military.”

Movies & politics: Why We Love Politics by David Brooks

“… ‘Lincoln,’ directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. … portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.”

Reading: Four Reasons Men Don’t Read Books (with a Practical Suggestion) by Tony Reinke

“… many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why: Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. … Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. … Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. … Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline.”

Special needs: 4 Ways the Church Can Support Families with Special Needs Children by Chad Nall

“A parent of a special-needs child shared with several of us in a seminar four things the church can do to support families. They include …”

this went thru my mind

 

Church & men: Why Men Still Hate Going to Church: An Interview with David Murrow

“Ninety percent of churches are under 150 on Sunday morning. Many of them have tremendous growth potential. Their buildings are paid off and they sit in a strong financial position. But many are graying and failing to reach young people. The problem is that they’re trying to reach young people by reaching young women. They do things like improving the nursery or starting a ladies’ Bible study. Those things aren’t wrong, but you’re never going to get guys that way. You might get a few people right away, but what you don’t realize is that you’re hobbling your church for the long term.”

Hurricanes: Hurricanes Since 1851 [infographic]

“… here’s a bottoms-up view of known tropical storms and hurricanes dating back to 1851.”

Parenting, politics, respect & speech: A Mother’s Plea To Christians During This Election Season by Tara Edelschick

” … if I want our three children to be healthy citizens in a democracy, I get little support from our culture this time of year.  To be sure, I don’t get support from the secular circles in which I run; but it’s more upsetting to me when the vitriol I see comes from within my faith community.  This post, then, is my plea – as a mother – for civil, Christian political discourse.”

Religion & nones: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation

“The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).”