links to 4 items worth your time

1. God, Creation, and Cancer: Wrestling With the Difficult Questions [required reading]

“… cancer is not evil. At least, not any more evil than the weather, with its potential for deadly blizzards and hurricanes. I see cancer as a messy, ugly, yet necessary byproduct of the ever-changing planet we find ourselves inhabiting. … That the very blueprints for life — that is, DNA — can and do change, and rather often, makes me immensely grateful to God for having the audacity to create this universe as he did. We live in a world not ruled by an iron fist, but guided by a gentle whisper.”

2. So What is a Good Parent to Do? by Jim Martin

“A few suggestions …”

3. Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2018

“Some of the artifacts were made in previous years, but only announced in 2018.”

4. True Story

“For Christians the world is a different kind of mystery, one crackling with possibility and saturated with God’s goodness.”

links to 10 items worth your time

1. 18 striking findings from 2018

“Pew Research Center takes the pulse of Americans and people around the world on a host of issues every year. We explore public opinion on topics ranging from foreign policy to cyberbullying, as well as demographic trends, such as the emergence of the post-Millennial generation and changes in the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. Here are 18 of this year’s standout findings, taken from our analyses over the past year.”

2. What Happened When Dick’s Stared Down the Gun Lobby

“How can you truly be part of the conversation if you’ll only speak on your own terms?”

3. How to Fix the Apathy Problems in Schools [required reading]

“… this way of thinking has shifted the responsibility of learning, and of caring about learning, from the student to the teacher. Because it isn’t just administrators and parents who believe that it is a teacher’s job to make learning fun. Kids believe it, too.”

4. Generation – Not Millennials – is Changing the Nature of Work

“… Gen X is ‘America’s neglected ‘middle child’ …”

5. A bunch of millennials explained in a survey why they despise phone calls

“It’s simple: if you text or email someone, they can respond on their time. But if you call someone, they need to respond right now on your time. It’s just inconsiderate.”

6. Worry over kids’ excessive smartphone use is more justified than ever before

“New research funded by the National Institutes of Health found … lower cognitive skills among those using screens more than two hours a day.”

7. Email security best practices your team should be following right now

“The single biggest threat to your business’s online security is malicious emails.”

8. Facebook’s Data Sharing: 5 Takeaways From Our Investigation [required reading]

“… an investigation by The New York Times, based on hundreds of pages of internal Facebook documents and interviews with about 50 former employees of Facebook and its partners, reveals that the marketplace for that data is even bigger than many consumers suspected. And Facebook, which collects more information on more people than almost any other private corporation in history, is a central player. Here are five takeaways from our investigation.”

9. Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It

“Our richest experiences will come not from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and figuring out how to use them to our advantage — all in the service of hearing what writers are actually trying to tell us.”

10. A lawyer who represents cruise ship workers reveals the hardest job on a cruise ship

“Utility galley workers often work 12-14 hours per day, seven days per week for just $500-$700 per month … In some cases, they’re not able to take scheduled breaks, but are later required by their supervisors to change their timesheets to make it appear as if they took the breaks.”

links to 10 items worth your time

1. Can Israel and Jordan cooperate to save the dying Dead Sea

“… the Jordan River isn’t the only biblical-site-turned-environmental-disaster.”

2. America’s New Religions

“Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning.”

3. How N.T. Wright Stole Christmas

“As it turns out, Wright is no Grinch. He didn’t steal Christmas. What he stole was a false Christmas, a de-contextualized and apolitical Christmas. But we shouldn’t have bought that Christmas in the first place, and should have been embarrassed to display it so proudly on the mantle. Good riddance, and Bah humbug.”

4. Gun-shy About Committing to Church

“Surviving spiritual abuse means I’ve had to learn to balance my wariness (especially if I sense a leader is practicing those familiar old power games) with a commitment to remain vigilant about allowing bitterness to take root in my soul. I don’t try to silence my internal critic during a church service or gathering, as this voice serves an important role in helping me to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. However, I work to listen for the things that harmonize with that critic by seeking to worship God in community, be present with others he’s placed in my path, and serve without feeling the compulsion I once did to say ‘yes’ to every request.”

5. Becoming Poor and Finding Friendship on the Margins

“We assume God’s friendship is enough as we seek to make friends with God’s people: the poor, the suffering, the lonely, and all those who cry out from their hearts for mercy. This is how we live out Christ’s good news on the margins.”

6. Resilient Kids Come From Parents Who Do These 8 Things

“… resilience is a behavior learned through explicit lessons and examples, one that teaches kids how to, among other things, better handle stress, understand that rejection is not a comment on their entire existence, and view setbacks as things that don’t need to sideline them for good.”

7. ‘A Witness That They Were Here’: Los Angeles Honors 1,457 of Its Unclaimed Dead

“They are the forgotten people of Los Angeles — 1,457 people, to be exact. Old, poor, homeless, babies born premature and abandoned. They may have died alone, but they were buried together, in a mass grave, and were honored together this week in an interfaith ceremony that has been an annual ritual in Los Angeles for more than a century.”

8. Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world

“… conceiving of attention as a resource misses the fact that attention is not just useful. It’s more fundamental than that: attention is what joins us with the outside world. ‘Instrumentally’ attending is important, sure. But we also have the capacity to attend in a more ‘exploratory’ way: to be truly open to whatever we find before us, without any particular agenda. …

“So, as well as attention-as-resource, it’s important that we retain a clear sense of attention-as-experience.”

9. Millennials experience work-disrupting anxiety at twice the US average rate

“Nearly one in five US workers are debilitated by anxiety or depression, and the rate only climbs when you zoom in on younger generations.”

10. How Modern Technology is Bringing Ancient Writings to Light

“Powerful imaging tools are enabling researchers to see inside scrolls too fragile to unroll and recover texts too faint to see, making thousands of illegible manuscripts readable again.”

links to 10 items worth your time

1. Now Streaming: The Entire Catalogue of ‘Sesame Street’ Songs

“… new ‘Sesame Street’ music will soon be released on a consistent schedule, for the first time in more than two decades.”

2. I’ll Have Consequences

“… I have no magic formula for dealing with disobedient and unruly children, and certainly in a world where some children’s behavior has been malformed almost from the very start, we should not underplay the difficulties and frustrations parents face. But surely we also want to place the bond between parents and children within that circle of deeply personal relationships.”

3. Why you need a little resistance in your life

“We need the rain and the occasional storm.”

4. Why Did Early Christians Prefer the Codex to the Bookroll

“When we say ‘book’ today, we generally mean a tome of bound pages. Known as the ‘codex,’ this common book form has always (over the past two millennia, anyway) looked the same — like any book on your desk. While the origins of the codex are not sufficiently explained, evidence shows that the preserved early Christian manuscripts are more often codices (plural of codex) than the then-established bookrolls. Why?”

5. Science and Theology: Two Witnesses to Reality

“… we generally have it backwards in how we think the reasoning process works. We tend to think that we work out our conclusions through the process of reasoning about the topic. But the controlled studies show pretty clearly that most of the time we already have a conclusion based on our instincts and that our process of reasoning is employed to justify what we already think. And it’s not like the smarter you are, the more open you are to other possible conclusions. The higher your IQ, the better you are at producing reasons to support your views; you’re no more likely to change your views than people with lower IQs. This might be depressing to those who have an exalted view of the human intellect, but it sure explains the inability for rational discourse to move us closer together, even when the facts are overwhelmingly on one side.”

6. Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral

“So far, that data has helped create a 3D digital reconstruction of what the basilica would have looked like in the 4th century. And Haynes and his colleagues are also trying to understand what it would have sounded like. Using the laser scans and information from earlier excavations, they created a simple 3D model to reconstruct the acoustics of the original cathedral.”

7. The Costs of the Confederacy

“‘It was like we were not even there,’ she said, as if slavery ‘never happened.'”

8. ‘Prosperity preachers’ like Joel Osteen can cause risky financial behavior, university report says

“The University of Toronto recently released a report saying preaching the ‘prosperity gospel’ — which centers around the belief that material wealth is part of God’s will — can lead to unrealistic optimism and risky financial behavior. The report used Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church as an example of a televangelist who touts this belief.”

9. The 25 Healthiest Foods You Can Buy for $5 or Less

“… cooking your own meals and having snacks on-hand will drastically cut the amount of money you spend on food throughout the week.”

10. The Steward of Middle-earth

“Now, after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision [J.R.R. Tolkien]. It is the concluding public act of … the last member of a club that became a pivotal part of 20th-century literature: the Inklings. It is the end of an era.”

links to 4+ helpful articles

1. When you’re grateful, your brain becomes more charitable [required reading]

“Practicing gratitude shifted the value of giving in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. It changed the exchange rate in the brain. Giving to charity became more valuable than receiving money yourself. After the brain calculates the exchange rate, you get paid in the neural currency of reward, the delivery of neurotransmitters that signal pleasure and goal attainment. So in terms of the brain’s reward response, it really can be true that giving is better than receiving.”

2. Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet

“A demographic portrait of today’s 6- to 21-year-olds.”

3. Giving Thanks for Difficult People

“Give thanks for the difficult people in your life. Then, identify what’s in the way of being fully present. Take the time to resolve it, so that you can bring your full humanity, and your full spiritual powers, to bear.”

4. Your Child and Facebook are Not a Good Match

“What is happening with those photos once they’re uploaded?”

5. A Fact-Checker’s Guide to Thanksgiving Politics

“With the holiday on the heels of the midterm elections, sitting out a political food fight may be unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be inaccurate. Arm yourself with the facts.”

links to 4 helpful articles

1. The skills kids need to avoid getting fooled by fake news [essential reading]

“The effect of misinformation on children is hard to measure … equipping them to deal with it as a moral imperative.”

2. The Neuroscience of Hate Speech

“We know that repeated exposure to hate speech can increase prejudice … It can also desensitize individuals to verbal aggression, in part because it normalizes what is usually socially condemned behavior. … you don’t have to be this unhinged to be moved to violence by incendiary rhetoric. … when one group feels threatened, it makes it much easier to think about people in another group as less than human and to have little empathy for them — two psychological conditions that are conducive to violence.”

3. We Worship What We Think We Need

“We worship what we think we need. Idolatry always looks for something created to replace the Creator.”

4. Announcing a BioLogos Podcast

“BioLogos is starting a podcast that will convey the harmony between Christian faith and current scientific discoveries to a new audience.”