Thinking Out Loud

September 1, 2014

Resting From Our Labors

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:41 am

Here’s what’s going on here as we take a day off…

  • Tomorrow, a review of You and Me Forever co-authored by Francis Chan and Lisa Chan. This book is rich in scripture as it looks at the spiritual nurture of couples as being the most important thing. If your local Christian bookstore doesn’t carry it, tell them it’s only available wholesale through Send the Light Distribution.
  • Slow ChurchI’m currently reading Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus  by Christopher Smith and John Pattison. I don’t usually get InterVarsity Press books to review, so this is a rare delight, especially since I worked for IVP on two occasions (and two locations) in Canada. The book is an analogy to the “slow food” movement, popular in some parts of North America and beyond.  The publisher annotation reads, ” In today’s fast-food world, Christianity can seem outdated or archaic. The temptation becomes to pick up the pace and play the game. But Chris Smith and John Pattison invites us to leave franchise faith behind and enter the kingdom of God, where people know each other well and love one another as Christ loves the church.
  • Because of the holiday, the link list for Wednesday is already done. I appreciate those of you who send suggestions, and for PARSE, Leadership Journal, and Christianity Today for allowing it to reach a wider audience. The only problem is having to make you wait until Wednesday to read it.
  • wordpress_iconsSome of you know that I work in a Christian bookstore. We don’t have a lot of money, and it’s a fairly small town, so our website essentially bounces people to a WordPress blog, that serves the purpose. Last week a woman phoned to say she wanted to order the wall hanging we had advertised. I assured her we don’t do online commerce on our site, but as she described it, I realized that Christian Book Distributors (CBD) was paying WordPress for an advertisement to appear on our store blog. As if they don’t own enough of the market already. And as if this doesn’t raise some ethical questions. Say what you will about Amazon (and we do say things) CBD has been the cause of the demise of local Christian bookstores for more than two decades now; their damage really predates widespread use of the internet. We’re thinking of advertising that we’re now accepting orders from their site to fulfill here. They just have to copy and paste the shopping cart and email it to us, and then delete the cart. We figure what we lose on the deeper discount stuff we’ll make up where their discount isn’t really that great. (Their shipping charges to the frozen north are a flat 25%; which really adds to the price.)
  • Our youngest is back to school today. The Christian university he attends in Ancaster, Ontario supposedly reported a decrease in enrollment for this academic semester, but in three of his course selections, the classes were full. Not enough seats? Probably just profs that don’t want to mark more than a certain number of tests and essays. Really frustrating for us, because I want to help him with book costs but can’t, not knowing if he’s in certain courses or not. #overgrownhighschool  Parents: Really check out the schools your children are considering carefully. Schools: The parents of existing students can be your best advertising, or your worst nightmare.
  • c201bFinally, I just saw the August stats for our companion blog, Christianity 201. It’s truly growing quickly. Devotions and Bible studies are posted daily, including weekends, usually between 5:00 and 6:00 PM EST. (It’s the afternoon blog, this is the morning blog.) Devotional writing that is based in scripture is actually really hard to find, so we’re always looking for people who already have a writing history online who would be willing to submit articles. We also have a regular, weekly contributor now, Canadian pastor Clarke Dixon, whose writing style seemed a good fit for what we’re doing.

 

May 21, 2014

Wednesday Link List

John Wesley quotation

Out of several hundred potential links, these were some things that got my attention this week. Clicking anything below will take you to PARSE, the list’s owner, a blog of Leadership Journal in the Christianity Today family. From there, click the stories you want to see.

When not hunting down links for you, Paul Wilkinson blogs at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201, and Christian Book Shop Talk.

September 3, 2013

The Money Spent on College Recruitment is Mis-Spent

A measurable percentage of what your son and daughter pay in tuition fees to their private college or university will be spent on getting other peoples’ sons and daughters to attend the same school in successive years. It’s a truism that is similar to the one that a notable number of pennies out of every dollar given to relief and development agencies is spent trying to get other people to give dollars to the same relief and development agency.

Choosing a Christian CollegeBut the choice of a school is often based on superficials.  It’s not, “This one has the course I want;” or “The faculty of this one include some renowned authors;” or “Graduates from _________ are often recruited by the best employers.”  Rather, the kids go where their friends are going. Or they take a two hour of the academic facilities only to choose a winner based on the promised dorm life.

The problem is, sometimes the dorm in question fails to deliver; and the schools are often structured so that the administration of residences isn’t a high priority, or it is contracted out completely. A negative residence experience casts a shadow over the school year, over the school itself, and over academic performance. A student who is coping with the interpersonal dynamics of mismatched roommates and dorm-mates is going to be seriously distracted from higher grades. A school with loose noise and curfew guidelines is left with a free-for-all that is merely a playground for spoiled rich kids. A school that only matches student personalities in their first year dorm choice is undermining the experience of upper-year students.

Once the school has cast their spell on the student, they then step back and allow dorm life to take whatever course it follows; while the academics preoccupy their thoughts with loftier things. Besides, they’ve blown a wad of cash on recruitment, and nothing is left to pay people to deal with problems when they arise.

And everybody suffers.

Any guesses why I’m writing this today?

January 23, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Christmas production at  First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Blog.

Christmas production at First Baptist Church in Curitiba, Brazil as seen at Church Stage Design Ideas Blog. That’s one huge choir.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

It all begins with a design template that looks like this.

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama Crashes the Party Exactly One Year After His First Visit Here

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama crashes the party exactly one year after his first visit here

For the last couple of weeks there has been a weekend link list here. Some of the most interesting articles this month have been listed in those two editions.  So be sure to check them out.

  • I never know for sure when I check out new blogs if the writer is on our side or not, especially when the first post I see looks like this one at Loon Watchman.
  • Deans at other schools are fighting the possibility of accreditation for what would be Canada’s first Christian law school at Trinity Western. 
  • Why swear an oath on one Bible when you can swear an oath on two?  A writer at Think Christian notes: “What I like about these [Bible] selections is the way they point to public and private figures who influence or inspire President Obama, and whose faith probably all shape the way he approaches his faith and his work.”
  • You’ve heard of the dog who shows up for daily for a church service its late owner regularly attended. If not Fr. Z blogs the story, but notes that the dog’s appearance at the altar risks affecting the church’s ‘sacral character.’ 
  • Sometimes it’s hard to become a Christian knowing that, if you do, someone is going to starve to death. Here’s a dilemma for missiologists.
  • Don’t miss this one: J. R. Briggs gets an inspiring lesson on grace when he has to ask his 6-year-old son for forgiveness.
  • Tyler Braun notes that summing up the gospel as “Jesus Loves Me” is too me-centered, unless we include spreading that love as part of the gospel mandate. 
  • Zac Hicks has an interesting article about the role of Worship Pastor as Emotional Shepherd and the dangers of manipulating the congregation.
  • A central Pennsylvania Wesleyan church officially opens a $4M expansion including a fitness center, jungle gym, café restaurant and Christian bookstore.
  • So what exactly does it mean when you find a dead bird on the steps leading to your workplace?  Especially when you’re looking for more than, ““A dead bird on the step means either a cat loves you and has brought you an offering of food, or it means a bird flew into the window/door and killed itself…” 
  • By now you’ve probably had occasion to look up a favorite TV show, movie or actor at IBDb, but did you now there’s now a Christian Film Data Base (CFDb)? The site also has a blog that’s updated daily with reviews and interviews.
  • I’m writing this listening to an at least five year old song by Starfield – Reign In Us. Just clicked replay for the fourth time. 
  • And news last week that Jason Dunn from Hawk Nelson has a solo album releasing in May.
  • Meanwhile at American Idol auditions in Chicago Curtis Finch, Jr. impresses the judges with a brief gospel performance.
  • For church leaders and pastors, Dave Kraft’s website, Leadership from the Heart is must reading. Here’s a piece outlining three temptations that can undo you and your leadership
  • And here’s more good leadership advice from 9Marks on counseling people who haven’t crossed the line of faith.
  • Looking for a career in ministry? Check out ChurchJobs.tv
  • I suspect that Christian bands like Sidewalk Prophets love it when bloggers take one of their songs and use it as springboard for a devotional piece; like the writer at Journey of a God-Follower does with their song, He Loves Us Anyway.
  • Not So 31 is the name of a blog based on a reference to “the Proverbs 31 woman.” She does a lot of book reviews and book excerpts in particular, including some recent ones by Steven Furtick and Chris and Kerry Shook.
  • We linked to this picture — one of my favorite images of 2012 — late last year but never included it. Until today.  It was taken by Andreas Solaro for the Getty wire service and is captioned: Pope Benedict XVI caresses a lion cub as thousands of participants in the “Pilgrimage to Rome” festival – circus professionals, carnival people, street artists, pavement artists, bands and folk groups – gather at the Vatican on Dec. 1, 2012.  We think the Pope should have a few kittycats running around the Vatican the way the Queen has her Corgis at Buckingham.

Pope Benedict XVI - With Very Large Cat

January 4, 2013

How a Community Goes About Helping

Think of this as a Part Two to yesterday’s post. It’s easy to curse the darkness, but requires slightly more skill to light a candle. How would a community go about helping one of the students mentioned here?

We live in a very small town.  I grew up in Toronto where resources are more abundant. Actually, we are two adjacent towns with a population of approx. 16,000 each, separated by about four miles (eight kilometres).  In the one town there are three evangelical churches and in the other there are five. I envision these eight churches being able to come together for a project of this nature, though as stated yesterday, the initial reaction I got to this proposal doesn’t bear out that possibility so far.

Twice this year, at one of the churches we took up a cash offering after the service to meet two very specific needs. Some churches call these “retiring offerings.” You don’t get a receipt for tax purposes in this type of giving. Some would call it a “loose change offering” even though you’re tossing in bills as well as coins; it’s money you won’t miss.

One offering was for a guy who needed help paying his rent that month. He isn’t a member of that church, and a very infrequent adherent. But he asked. He had a need. We helped him collect the $200 he  needed and had $100 left over.

The second was for a family that hit a somewhat sudden financial crisis that left their next mortgage payment in doubt, and this is a family that’s never been flush with money to begin with. They are not members of this church either, nor do I believe they have ever attended.

In both cases, I was the only one who knew both recipients and was responsible for delivering the cash to each. I’m not sure that even the pastor knew who the second family was. They trusted my judgement on this.

I thought it would be nice to do a third project like this before the year was over, but then I reconsidered. I don’t want people to think I’m running some kind of scheme here. (We decided it would be a bad time to buy a car!) Actually it would be nice if someone else came up with a third project.

Anyway, this church has an average Sunday morning attendance of around 90 people, and each time we raised around $300.  With some adjusting for the demographic makeup of the congregations, I’ve estimated a typical attendance for each of the three (given letters) in the one town and five (given numbers) in the other, with a suggested offering total.

Benevolent Cash Offering From Eight Churches

Yes, that’s right; we live in a really, really, really small town; we have really, really, really small churches. The combined attendance from all eight churches (1,230) wouldn’t even fill one section in some mega-churches you’re familiar with.

And yet, possibly without even knowing who they are giving to, we’ve raised $4,000; a significant chunk of what R., N., and T., in yesterday’s example would need to kick-start a semester payment. Plus, I’m thoroughly convinced that knowing more details, people would give more generously. (The people in the two stories I mentioned were giving “blind” so to speak; even the nature of the need had to be somewhat veiled to protect the identity of the people concerned.)  I’m also convinced that people currently on the fringes — not presently attending a church — could hear about this via a newsletter — the very newsletter that gave birth to this blog five years ago — and add another $1,000.

And think about what a group of churches in your much larger community could do with a similar project and what a HUGE difference it could make to a student.

Spontaneous, New Testament-styled giving. Approval needed, yes; but no budget committee needs to meet on it, because it’s off-budget.

And yes, ultimately the money goes to some very large institution. I’m not content with that. (See yesterday’s comments.) But it’s the only way to a future these kids can foresee. And what a wonderful statement it makes about Christian community. And what a wonderful thing if those givers covenant to pray for that student throughout the semester. And what a wonderful thing if five years later, graduates are willing to give back something to help kick-start other students on their way to a decent education.

And why not do this not once, but two or three times in a year? And a couple extra times for a family with unexpected medical costs? Or a family where both wage earners are out of work? Or…

Well… why not?

January 3, 2013

Helping Youth Attain College Education

University LibraryThis fall our youngest son began attending a Christian university. In the process, we are quickly learning that higher education really means higher priced education. Dang, this is costly.

When were helping him transfer some funds in September, I really though he was paying for a full year, only to realize later that we had only covered the first semester.  Double dang.

But as hard as this probably was for some of our local acquaintances to believe, I didn’t have Kid Two in mind when I drafted a letter to some of our local clergy suggesting that university and college education is priced out of reach of many kids leaving high school, and where these students are a part of our local churches, if we are really family, we should rally together and offer to help.

By rally together, I’m forming a mental image of some ethnic groups where, when one family wants to buy a house, everybody contributes to help maximize the down payment. That sort of thing.

The actual students I had in mind are difficult to pin down here, since I have a handful of local readers  at a blog that is written with a worldwide audience in mind. So I’ll use initials:

  • R. wanted to attend an out-of-town two-year business program this fall. But in the process of getting housing he was, for lack of a better word, swindled out of much of the money he had set aside and is now working a lackluster job to try to gain enough from scratch to revisit the process next fall. R. has so much potential; I feel like he was simply born into the wrong family, and wish I could just hand him the life he wants.
  • N. has actually completed almost half of a four-year degree program at a Christian college. Her major is her passion and her giftedness in this area is renown among students her age. She would love to go back to this Christian college, but as the days tick by, it seems less and less likely.
  • T.’s story is the one I am least familiar with. Essentially, he was among the brightest and the best in his high school, but university remains just a dream, though I keep thinking that whatever he winds up doing, he’s going to excel; but right now probably feels a little lost with most of his cohort off to school while he works a low-paying job.

So on September 5th, I asked our local clergy if we couldn’t borrow a page from the ethnic house-buyers and have money pooled together to kick-start education (or return to school) for at least one student per year.

…This is a community that stands behind people in crisis.  Is there something we can do for kids in our local churches who need a ‘leg-up’ in the area of higher education?

Currently, a couple of churches offer a small scholarship for kids pursuing Christian education, but this is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed in the three stories I described above.

I now know this first-hand. [However,] the program that I am envisioning would not be something [our two kids] would subscribe to; rather, I’ve tried to approach this with some objectivity and with a vision for students like the ones I described, two of which find it impossible to get started

Furthermore, I want to recognize that there are young men and women out there who desire to serve God with all their hearts, but have an education vision that does not necessarily involve [various Christian universities].  I also believe that if something were established long-term, there are recipients of this type of help who would be willing to give something back after they graduate.

Is there something more we can do as the body of Christ … to come together to support students in a significant way?

I hope you’ll pray about this; and I would hope that pastors receiving this would be willing to discuss this at the next … ministerial meeting.  While we are often ‘tapped out’ in our giving, and while it would be easy to say we don’t need one more ’cause,’ I believe that this is the kind of project that is worthy of our consideration and viable, but only if we work together.

So that’s what I wrote. And that’s what I believe. And I would love to be able to report that our community established a scholarship fund and this fall one or two students will be able to create a proposal and receive some significant help. And that we now have a structure in place that is going to be of benefit to students for the next decade and beyond.

But it never happened. The response was under-whelming. As in nil. Another email from Paul that got quickly deleted.

There is a saying that “if a man thinks he is casting a vision that nobody is actually catching, he is merely throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall.” 

Well, it should be a saying.

I’ve been tossing visions in our little corner of the world for years, but few have been caught. But maybe, just maybe, someone in some other part of the world is reading this and will adopt something similar that will brighten the corner where you are.

It may not help R. or N. or T., but it may change a student’s life, and that student may change the world.

May 1, 2012

Bob Jones University Expells Student Weeks Before Graduation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:05 am

He was due to graduate in mere weeks.  He was nowhere near the number of demerit points necessary for expulsion. 

But suddenly that all changed for Christopher Peterman.

Darrell at SFL fills in the details:

…It begins when a man named Ernie Willis raped a young girl named Tina Anderson. The pastor of Tina’s church at the time was Chuck Phelps, a man who by his own testimony not only failed to vigorously pursue justice for Tina but also required her to give a confession of her alleged sin before the church and then aided in removing her from the state and apparently out of the reach of local authorities. Yet with the fact of his actions revealed both on national television and in a court of law, Chuck Phelps remained a person in good standing with several fundamentalist organizations such as The Wilds and Bob Jones University. Bob Jones not only continued to call him a friend of the college but after the conviction of Ernie Willis then went on to proactively show their support for him by placing him back on one of their own boards…

Peterman was part of organizing “Do Right BJU” asking for Phelps to be removed the BJU Board of Directors.  This put the media spotlight on the university wherein it assured the public no students would be expelled for their participation.

But suddenly all that changed.

Dianna Anderson explains:

…[T]hings didn’t end there for Peterman. Even though BJU couldn’t really expel him for protesting – after all, that’s a first amendment right, and they’d had their hands tied by their own words to the media – they put him on watch.

You see, at BJU, students function on a system of demerits. You get a certain number of demerits based on infractions of the rules – 150 demerits, and you get expelled. These rules are detailed in the student handbook (PDF). The handbook itself is a piece of work, and well worth a gander – there are several sections reinforcing the idea that BJU students must submit to “God-given human authorities” (read: the BJU administration). You’re also expected to attend church twice a week in addition to Monday-Thursday chapel services (if you’re interested, you can check twitter for the hashtag #BJUHandbook, where I tweeted many of the rules).

BJU used this system of demerits to exact a punishment on Chris for protesting against Phelps. They monitored his FB and twitter feeds carefully, they placed an extra RA in his dorm to keep an eye on him. People started following him both on and off campus to look for him breaking the rules…

SFL continues the story:

…For those of us who have attended similar institutions this is hardly a new tale and hardly unexpected. The campus purges of “undesirables” who are considered unworthy to graduate are a commonly accepted fact. At my own alma mater we referred to this rash of sudden dismissals that would occur right after the spring deadline to withdraw as “spring cleaning.” First they take your money. Then they show you the door and tell you that you are no longer welcome here.

No doubt the headlines (such as they are) will be more concerned in the fact that a college student was punished for watching the television show Glee or not having a proper haircut. I find the focus on those details unfortunate, because beyond these imaginary infractions the real story here goes much deeper to a kind of institutional corruption that is so blatant and yet ignored by those who call themselves friends of the University. One wonders how many more rapes, how many more cover-ups, how many more countless wrongs must be inflicted by Bob Jones University before even the darkened souls of their fundamentalist supporters are too sickened to continue to be complicit in their commission…  [link added] 

While not playing to the Glee distraction, you have to ask yourself why that is an issue. The blogger at Galatians 4 puts this well:

Why on earth are these colleges run like insane English 19th century orphanages where they hand out demerits?

…Is it odd for me to think that punishing a TWENTY THREE YEAR old for watching a TV show is overkill? He watched the show off campus. I do not watch Glee, I would not suggest anyone else watch it, since it promotes many worldly things, but this is a GROWN MAN even if he is very young. Twenty-three year olds have been fathers and have died in wars…  

Some of the final demerits also concerned posting the lyrics for a Christian music song.  The song’s video is posted here at Chuckles Travel, a blog dedicated to continuing follow up in the Tina Anderson case.

FitsNews sums it up well:

As far as we’re concerned, this is yet another example of the rank hypocrisy that’s all too common among South Carolina’s social conservatives. Bob Jones should have never allowed someone like Phelps on its board – and the fact that it is strong-arming a young man who had the courage to call them out on it is despicable.

BeneDiction looks at options for Peterman:

I doubt the attention will help Peterman get his earned degree; other students who participated in Do Right BJU will probably be targeted and I doubt the US Department of Education and Peterman’s congressman can do anything. Perhaps another conservative religious university will step up and give Peterman an opportunity for a degree, perhaps BJU alumni can help him with any student debt. Perhaps the cast and crew of Glee will come up with a creative way to help out. The more attention Bob Jones University gets, the more they will cry persecution.  [emphasis added] 

In collecting all the various pieces of this story, my only addition to what’s already been said is a personal concern about what this says about the people who do graduate from BJU. Would a church necessarily want to hire someone from a cookie-cutter university? From an ultra, ultra-conservative school? From a school whose board has obviously been touched by allegations of corruption? 

I’m sure there are parts of the United States where that’s exactly the kind of graduates they want to hire.  But not where I live. 

And also, with the BJU brand so tainted, if I were the parent of a young child, I would think twice about using the home-school resources that bear their name.

March 7, 2012

Wednesday Link List

As Harpo Marx once said, “

  • A mother of four is yanked out of a Georgia church for breastfeeding. Meanwhile, Caryn at ThinkChristian wonders how Jesus handled this situation (if there was one) say, while giving the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Also at ThinkChristian, Karen says we shouldn’t sweat the new TV show, GCB, because it doesn’t have the right mix of ingredients to last.
  • I though we’d send some traffic to Reylo, the latest blog at Alltop Christian, and to get you there, he’s got the official trailer for the Blue Like Jazz movie.
  • “Ring by Spring or Your Money Back” — If you’re at a Christian college and not yet engaged, you just have a few weeks left.  Brittany Johnson guests at SCL.
  • 50 people, representing 10% of the head office staff, have been laid off at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as the organization focuses more on online initiatives.
  • “I can do all things through Christ…” says the opening part of Phil. 4:13. But Bill Mounce points out that for Paul, it wasn’t true. “There are many things Paul could not do. He couldn’t fly. He couldn’t remove the thorn in his flesh. He couldn’t get released from his second Roman imprisonment…”  So in a departure from every other translation, check out what the NIV 2011 does with this text.
  • Kirk Cameron does his best to defend his beliefs as Piers Morgan relentlessly goes after Cameron’s views on gay marriage and homosexuality. Here’s a response to the show’s repsonse from Denny Burk: “Are we really at a place where a Christian who is pressed for his views on a matter can no longer state those views without being tarred and feathered?”
  • Worship Leaders: Carlos Whittaker offers you ten-plus-one ways to improve your worship leading. Of course, his title was a little more blunt.
  • Digging deeper into worship, Internet Monk has an article expressing the limitations modern worship has expressing lament.
  • At the above article, a reader offers this song as an example of worship in the wilderness. (click the mp3 link to play)
  • Catch the irony: A pastor loses his temper while preaching about God’s love. Or did he? The scene is one every church-goer would like to see happen at least once. The blog is A Brick in the Valley.
  • William Hamilton, the Oregon theologian who declared in the 1960s that God is dead, is dead. Another individual for whom, “The image of God as all knowing and all powerful couldn’t be reconciled with human suffering, especially after the Holocaust.”  Story at Oregon Live
  • An new Amish ‘fish out of water’ story, though not sure who is the fish and who is the water. An Amish woman decides to raise money by teaching quilting to a mix of people from the broader community. The new book by Wanda Brunstetter really should be made into a film.
  • In other publishing news, Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette releases her own story Nowhere But Up, in September with Revell Books and a foreword by Justin…
  • …Meanwhile, basketball sensation Jeremy Lin has the book Linspired coming in May from Zondervan in both an adult edition and kids edition; though the latter is not even on the corporate website.
  • “You can’t get to heaven in a mini-skirt.” A good devotional post, but with a lead line like that, I just wanna see how many clicks it gets. The blog is called Moment of Selah.
  • Another edition of David Platt’s Secret Church happens on April 6th and you can simulcast the six-hour event where you live. Check the website or read more at Desiring God. In the book Radical, David admits that there’s nothing like seeing thousands of people quietly taking notes in church at 12:30 in the morning!
  • In Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, you can’t shop on holidays, which include New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The City of Toronto, the most populous municipality in Ontario is surveying residents to see if they want that to change.
  • The cartoons today are classic Rob Portlock, from Way Off the Church Wall (IVP, 1989)

February 26, 2012

Real Estate: A Fully Renovated College Campus – $0.00

They bought it for: $100,000.

Spent on renovations: $5,000,000 (US).

Acreage: 217

Buildings on site: 43

School auditorium seating: 2,400

Your cost: $0.00

Jerry Patengale, who was hired by the Green family to help find a new owner of a college campus in Northfield, Mass., points out the stone chapel that has once slated for demolition. Religion News Service photo by G. Jeffrey MacDonald.

The family who own the U.S. retail chain Hobby Lobby are behind this generous gift to the right organization.  It’s not the first time they’ve contributed significantly to the cause of Christian higher education with significant contributions to Oral Roberts University, Liberty University and Zion Bible College. Ironically, they aren’t college graduates themselves.

This Massachusetts campus was built in 1879.  Fifteen organizations were selected for initial consideration, but after that the Oklahoma-based Green  family will consider possibly hundreds of other offers. Their particular concern is seeing a Christian college or university established in the more secularized northeast United States. 

Obviously, an organization has to be able to respond swiftly to take advantage of an offer of this nature, while also being able to prove financial stability over the long term. But look again at the initial cost price; this is a good news story that rarely comes around. I can’t wait to see how this develops; and as a parent with a teen about to embark on a private Christian college education in the fall, I hope the organization in question offers tuition that is priced commensurate with the price they paid to acquire the property!

Read the story at Religion News Service.

November 30, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Paragraph containing witty introduction and possible lynx/links pun reference to Lynx canadensis or Lynx pardinus if picture is included.

  • Let’s kick off with a very short video on the influence the King James Bible had on the English language.  This is actually an excerpt from a very interesting eleven minute video on the language as a whole.
  • From there we go to a much longer video; a sermon video where N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham, preaches in, of all places, Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.  This was recorded just a few weeks ago on November 6th.
  • With church attendance slipping, Christian colleges and universities in the U.S. are cutting tuition costs, some by as much as 50%. “…One of the most pressing issues is that there are fewer prospective students for these schools to recruit. Religious membership has been on the decline, especially among young people.” Read the full story at CNN Money.
  • A new title in the Lego Bible series has been pulled from Sam’s Club outlets for being too violent.  One Facebook comment notes, ““I hear you are banning The Brick Testament for its offensive content but not the Bible which contains all the same content…”  The Brick Bible: A New Spin on The Old Testament is the 4th book in the series by illustrator Brendan Powell Smith.  [Update: Chaplain Mike covers this topic actual pictures!  Well, not violent ones, but one that's not suitable for young children.]
  • A good friend of ours has recorded a tribute cover for Larry Norman’s song UFO.  Enjoy a limited time free preview from Martin Barret Music.
  • My other blog, Christianity 201 marks 600 posts with some thoughts from James chapter 1 about seeing ourselves as we really are.
  • Eddy Arthur at Wycliffe Bible Translators UK posts a curiosity-inducing review of a new book, Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool by T. J. Macleslie, published by Bottomline Media. If you’re tired of the “then I became a Christian and now everything’s great” genre, this may be the story for you.  Here’s the review for the book pictured at right.
  • Annie Goebel, president and co-founder of the women’s prison ministry Daughters of Destiny, met the son she gave birth to as a teen in 1973 earlier this month.  Read the story at The Christian Post.
  • Laura Ortberg Turner and Owen Strachan discuss whether Scripture dictates that women work inside the home.  First, here’s Laura’s response to Owen’s critique of Tide’s “Dad-Mom” commercial.  Second, here is Owen’s response to Laura.  That this occurs at her•menuetics makes the comments all that much more interesting.
  • Rachel Held Evans hosts guest blogger Kathy Escobar (see blogroll at right) on the topic of spiritual insecurity.  Discussion starter: “The basic premise of Christianity is that there is nothing good in us.  That original sin has ruined us and we are miserable sinners, unworthy of anything good without the blood of Jesus…”
  • Family Feud Department: My one son has been getting into a popular card game, Magic: The Gathering; while my other son — who sees the game played at his college — is not entirely convinced it’s a good idea. He wrote up his thoughts which I’ve posted as a “page” here so you could read them.
  • Concert-goers in Canada already know them, but there’s a lot of buzz everywhere lately for brothers Nathan Finochio and Gabe Finochio aka The Royal Royal. You need to have an iTunes account to get their music.
  • Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity thinks this Coke Lite commercial is actually dramatizing A Catholic Girl’s Worst Nightmare.
  • Something lacking during announcement time at your church?  Adam Stadtmiller takes up the cause of what is often an epic fail.
  • And for all you worship team leaders and aspiring worship team members, here’s how one Canadian church auditions and integrates new musicians.
  • Tony Woodlief guests at World Magazine Online on why he was predisposed to agree the people who were boycotting Black Friday.
  • And this 3-minute video provides all the reason you need to skip the big sale.  Or any big sale.  Some scenes may be disturbing.

That’s it for WLL this week at TOL; try to submit your suggestions by 9:00 PM Mondays.

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