Thinking Out Loud

February 26, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Chocolate Pope - NBC News Photo

The link list knows no borders, so you won’t find any gloating about Canada’s Olympic hockey wins here. Click anything below and you’ll be redirected to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, a ministry of Christianity Today; then click each link there.

If you’re not busy this week snapping up Son of God movie tickets, you can check out Paul Wilkinson’s other writing at Thinking Out Loud.

"Jonah Leaving the Whale" by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

“Jonah Leaving the Whale” by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

February 12, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Snake Handling Church Disclaimer

Here’s this week’s collection, with the hope that you’ll be my Valinktine.  Click anything below and you’ll find yourself at PARSE, the link list’s exclusive official owners and operators! (Or just click now, it’s easier to read there.)

After winning the silver medal in linking at the 2008 Bloglympics, Paul Wilkinson settled into a quiet life of writing at Thinking Out Loud.

Burning Church

If you watch all four parts of the documentary about Burning Man linked above, you discover that all photographs taken at the event become part of a commons that photographers agree to share. It’s part of an overall philosophy that guides the event and why there’s no photo credit here.

January 31, 2014

Thomas Nelson Accused of Spiritual Deception

WND Faith

A conservative writer at WND (World Net Daily) held nothing back yesterday in an full-blown attack levied at Thomas Nelson, an imprint now part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In an article titled Beware the Bookseller Pretending To Be Christian — more about that headline later — Jim Fletcher writes:

Back in the day, with its marketing angle that touted the company’s roots (the company began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798), one got the feeling that its books were trustworthy.

Guess not.

He continues,

Thomas Nelson has seemingly not cared about being too rigidly biblical in its offerings for some time, and the current list of authors/books is disturbing to anyone who would identify as a conservative Christian…

He then systematically works his way through attacks — some detailed and others off-the-cuff — at Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, Brad Lomenick, Richard Stearns, Ron Sider, Donald Miller, Judah Smith, Leonard Sweet, and Bob Roberts, Jr. It’s hard to imagine that there was anyone left on the author roster that Fletcher hadn’t lined up in his sights.

As the article builds to a crescendo he concludes:

…They remind me of those thoroughbred running backs in college and the NFL, the ones who feint this way and that, stopping defensive backs in their tracks.

But feinting can also mean one who intentionally deceives.

Deception.

Read the full article here.

It should be noted that whether you agree or disagree with the doctrinal state of Christian publishers in general, or Thomas Nelson in particular, WND editors committed a major blunder in creating the article’s headline. (Generally, writers do not choose their header.) The article is about the actions of a publisher, but the headline implies that booksellers — brick and mortar, or online — are complicit in spiritual deception, when perhaps they have simply trusted the Nelson brand over the years. Yes, local retailers try to practice discernment, but even in these scaled-back publishing times, they can’t be expected to read every book by every author.  

So what does an article like this accomplish, exactly? It’s certainly meant to be insightful and helpful, but it comes off like a rant. I don’t agree with every word that Rachel Held Evans or Donald Miller writes, but I do find sections of their books redemptive. To a younger generation, they represent a trend where key voices in the Christian blogosphere have graduated to print. And just as there are at least three major streams in the creation/origins debate, the fact remains that Christians hold different views on Israel/Palestine.

Instead, the rant reminds me so much of, “We’ll get Mikey to try it, he hates everything.” 

Or in this case, Jim.

The article’s tag line describes Fletcher as a book industry insider. With more than thirty years in the same business, I’d like to suggest that booksellers do indeed practice discernment. If you don’t like Thomas Nelson’s offerings, shop elsewhere, perhaps focusing on classic authors from past centuries. But I’ll bet the rent that there were books back then that were considered sketchy, a few of which are still around, but also bet that there are books today that just possibly could endure as long, and I think we’d all be surprised to see what’s still being read 50 or 100 years from now.

January 17, 2013

Review: Tyler Blanski – When Donkeys Talk

Donkeys Say the Darndest Things

When Donkeys Talk - Tyler BlanskiNormally I choose the books publishers send here, so when an advance copy of Tyler Blanski’s When Donkeys Talk arrived from Zondervan in the mail unsolicited, even though I was aware of his blog and have linked to a couple of  his articles, I set it aside. However curiosity got the better of me and I started reading, and then I did something I have never done: When I got to the last page, I turned back to chapter one and started reading it all over again.

There is something infectious about this  book. I want to say that Tyler Blanski is the new Donald Miller, but that would raise questions about the whereabouts of the old Donald Miller. Suffice it to say there are many similarities. Technically, this is not Blanski’s first book; he has a previous title which I’ve seen and recall is mostly poetry, and one other title beyond that. But this title with a major Christian publisher establishes him as a breakout author to watch.

How do I summarize this book? It’s about exploring the world of Biblical imagery and narrative where donkeys can talk* in a world dominated by science and logic and reason that donkeys cannot speak. Blanski may claim to be a humble 29-year-old house painter from Minneapolis, but there’s no hiding his academic labors in medieval studies, and so he looks at Christianity through the lens of how people in ancient times understood science and how they understood and practiced faith.

But he does this in the context of stories of interactions with his friends and acquaintances, many of whom are on a different plane when it comes to belief and God.  As a result, each chapter of the book has a different spiritual temperature, and each varies in its allusion to Biblical chapters and verses.

The characters in Blanski’s personal stories  constitute the Miller-esque element; I feel I know these people. And how can a book which seems so casual — almost random — in its approach to faith also be such a valuable snapshot of church history? Somehow he pulls it off.

The book also contains several references to Christmas, which left me wondering why Zondervan held this back for a January 22nd release. There are some thoughts here that I hope to remember to use as a resource when December rolls around.

The full title is, When Donkeys Talk: A Quest to Rediscover the Mystery and Wonder of Christianity. I would argue that the use of ‘rediscover’ here might precludes what I could consider this book’s best application: As an introduction to Christians and Christianity for seekers, skeptics and scientists, especially those in the under-40 demographic.

*See the story of Balaam in Numbers 22.

>>>Win a copy of When Donkeys Talk! Leave an inspired comment (!) about an experience you’ve had where a donkey spoke to you, or something similar (like “Why I’d really like to win this book”) followed by (US) or (Can), and our friends at Zondervan will send out a copy to one Canadian and one American winner from comments we select on Monday!  

UPDATE 1/22/13 — Picking a Canadian winner was easy, so Kristy, we’ll be contacting you for your address!  Katrina, you’re our U.S. winner, and no, it wasn’t a “names that start with K” thing.  Both of you should receive an email from me to get your mailing address, so look for it as it filled with words evocative of spam. Like really, if I got an email that said “Congratulations you’re a winner!” I’d probably trash it.

June 6, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Links

Welcome back to WLL. You’re not playing the game unless you click through. Place your mouse on the underlined section of each story and click.  (“Oh, you mean that’s how it works?”)  Above image: Sacred Sandwich archives.

  • Like his father before him — and at almost the same age and circumstances —  a Pentecostal minister from a snake-handling sect dies from a rattlesnake bite.
  • A former marine gets assigned to preach the section of the Sermon on the Mount dealing with non-violence. Reactions were strong, but not from military people.
  •  “For an insecure 16/17-year-old kid whose life, identity, main social activity, and faith were wrapped up in the church she’d been a part of her entire life, it was devastating.”   Check out 11 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When My Church Split.
  • Saturday, May 26, 2012 was supposed to be M.’s wedding day. But in between, after reading the book, When Sinners Say I Do by David Harvey, things changed.
  • Thanks to whoever sent me info about Cardiphonia. Original worship songs on three different themes on a pay-what-you-can basis. The newest is Hymns for the Ascension.  Or just listen.
  • Just when you thought you had solved the dilemma of whether to be buried or have your ashes scattered to the four winds, now there is the option of diamond burial.
  • On a similar theme, here’s a major discussion at Parchment and Pen on the subject some of you have considered, How Can Heaven Be Heaven When People You Love Are In Hell?
  • Got 9 minutes? On video, an orthodox priest teaches the difference between the Protestant view of salvation and the Orthodox view of salvation, under the title, Love Wins – An Orthodox View.
  • Got 53 minutes? That’s a greater commitment. But you’d get to hear the very first ever Phil Vischer podcast with Skye Jethani. (This is for you adults, not the kids.)
  • Got all day?  Check out the video-on-demand apologetics programs featuring Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis.
  • Joel Osteen is set to sit in the producer’s chair for a new movie about the life of Mary which he hopes will be “the biblical prequel to the story of The Passion of The Christ.”
  • Remember that story about the 43-building college campus that was going to be given away free of charge?  Well, it’s down to two finalists.
  • Here’s an article by yours truly at C201 designed for those of you who want to rethink how you draft your prayer lists. (I actually do some serious writing once in awhile.)
  • And a message to those graduating from the hallowed halls: The academy doesn’t need more academics, but the local church does.  Advice for theological seminary grads.
  • Mystery link: Does anyone know the story behind this Elevation Church music video? The YouTube location has no information and the blogger who posted this was equally silent.
  • Matt Hafer’s advice to pastors actually has application to anyone who proposes to stand before a group of people and lead them into God’s Word.
  • It’s “the only billion dollar house in the world.  Ironically, it’s found in one of the poorest countries; India.” America’s Next Top Mommy looks at over-indulgence.
  • You have to read the comments on this one: Advice for students heading off this fall to a Christian college or university.
  • Todd Rhoades thinks it’s only a matter of time before a pastor legally changes his name to something ending in dot com.
  • If the Blue Like Jazz movie missed your town, you can arrange for a showing.

Classic auto emblem from The Holy Observer

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

February 29, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to Wednesday Link List Leap Day Edition, or as we prefer to call it, WLLLDE.

Here’s my social media observation for the day: Pinterest is to Facebook what Tumblr is to WordPress.  (Five years from now they’ll be quoting that in business textbooks.)

CT Stories

  • There may be some changes afoot at Christianity Today as to who can access articles online, so we’ll do these while we can.  First, in one we missed in January, T. D. Jakes revealed he’s now regarded as heretic by both mainstream Evangelicals and one-ness Pentecostals.
  • A brief rare interview Rob Bell did with CT earlier in the month. Doesn’t let the cat out of the bag as to what he’s currently working on, though. (But if you’re really into Bellmania, flash back to this piece Tony Jones did exactly one year ago, which remains in his all time top five.)
  • “A century ago, a novel called In His Steps convinced generations of Christians that Jesus would, among other things, oppose the sport of prizefighting. That novel became the ninth best-selling book of all time, and the book’s thesis found new life in the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ movement.” So begins a look at the ethics of cage fighting with three viewpoints.
  • “Here’s what you can do in a New York City public school after hours: You may gather people together once a week (or more often). You can start off with praise choruses and Bible reading. Someone can stand up and teach that Jesus is Lord, that he rose from the dead to save us from sin, and that he is coming again. Then you can break bread and pray together.  Here’s what you can’t do in a New York City public school after hours: Hold a ‘religious worship service.'” Another look at the strange situation in NYC.

Les autres links

  • With just weeks to go before release, Donald Miller and Steve Taylor sit down to discuss how Blue Like Jazz, the collection of short stories, ended up as Blue Like Jazz: The Movie, with a more cohesive storyline. 
  • Signs of the Times: There is now actually a blog with the name Church and Synagogue Security News. Tagline: Covering security and safety at places of worship and religious institutions worldwide.
  • Sarah Bolme reviews Peace Child by Don Richardson; an absolute classic missions story that many of you have never heard of. “In the book, there is a quote from a missionary talking to Don before Don embarks on the mission field. This gentleman says, “You must be prepared in the strength of the Lord, to do battle with the prince of darkness, who, having held these hundreds of tribes captive these many thousand years, is not about to give them up without a fight.” Sarah says Christian authors today face similar obstacles.
  • Zac Hicks looks deeply into the sometimes thorny issue of church membership. He offers five compelling arguments for moving from adherent to member. Which type of weekend service attender are you?
  • Who to date.
    Where to go to college.
    Who to marry.
    Where to move.
    What job to take.  — Steven Furtick thinks that knowing God’s will for your life isn’t the main point.
  • Mark Buchanan is blogging sample chapters of his forthcoming book, Your Church is Too Safe. Check out chapter five and chapter thirteen, a most interesting consideration of the types of spirits that showed up when Jesus ministered, some of which show up in our churches today.
  • In other Zondervan book news, one of my favorites from last year is being released in a teen/youth edition; look for the bright red cover for Not a Fan Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman (no link).
  • How do you get KJV-only teens revved up for the next youth conference? How about a Marine Corps themed promo video with the bold proclamation “In 1611 God forged a sword.”  Apparently before 1611 God was a little deficient in terms of a means to save the world.
  • Donation request: Tony Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi) needs about $5,000 US to ship his truck from Turkey to New Zealand, where it will serve as an operations base. Funds are needed rather soon.
  • If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried at least once to learn Biblical Greek. Tyler Blanski thinks the key is learning to love parts of speech that aren’t so important in English.
  • People Department: I always look forward to Brad Lomenick’s monthly Young Influencers List; here’s the one for February.
  • I’m always interested when slightly more insider church references make it into the comics pages.  Wikipedia notes that Pluggers “…runs in 60 newspapers, mostly in the Southern, Mid-West, Plains, and Rocky Mountain states… In the context of this strip, ‘pluggers’ are defined as blue-collar workers who live a typical working-class American lifestyle, accompanied by a mentality characteristic of the veteran and Baby Boomer generations. In the comic, pluggers are portrayed in the form of anthropomorphic animals, most often a plump bear, dog, chicken, or rhinoceros…”

February 15, 2012

Wednesday Link List

First, two strongly related links:

  • Author Mike Breen guests at Verge Network with Obituary for the American Church.  He notes three factors responsible for killing the church, celebrity, consumerism and competition.
  • Rachel Held Evans guests at Relevant Magazine with a particular focus on the celebrity mindset in the church, check out When Jesus Meets TMZ.

Other links this week:

November 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Something seriously messed up in our lynx picture file this week

Introductory paragraph so the links don’t just start cold…

  • Apparently some Christian bookstores are hesitant to stock a title like, When Will My Life Not Suck. Even the intro by Gary Chapman can’t convince them.  
  • Harold Camping is officially out of the end-of-the-world prediction business and will now focus on baseball predictions and NBA final four (assuming they get back to playing).
  • Sunday (Nov 13) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Here are some verses from the Common English Bible that would fit your Sunday worship planning.
  • Ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a Bible translation committee?  Here’s a 4-minute video.  Wait a minute… they film these things?
  • Christian Week talks to street pastor and Close Enough To Hear God Breathe author Greg Paul.
  • Belated birthday wishes to Billy Graham who turned 93 on Monday and recently reflected at Huffington Post on Nearing Home which is both the title of his new book and the stage in life he considers himself to be in.
  • New research by the Barna Group finds young Christians leave churches they view as judgmental, overprotective, exclusive and unfriendly toward doubters.
  • Have you ever cheated death?  Check out an excellent essay by Tony Woodlief in which he has a meaningful talk with one of his kids.
  • There are Christian groups at secular colleges and universities, so it was just a matter of time before Atheist groups turned up at Christian colleges. But then why would you go there?
  • Last week, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney made kind of a gutsy move from the podium.  He quoted a verse from the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves.”   If that really was a Bible verse, Matt at The Church of No People speculates on the exegesis.
  • KSZ posts the strangest piece of neo-classical music, or should that be meow-classical?  And how did the kids keep a straight face?
  • And then there’s Kevin Olusola, the guy who’s had 1,000,000 YouTube hits for his beat-box, hip-hop, cello playing video.  According to Brad, he’s also currently touring with Gungor.
  • Kids out at a downtown Halloween party in Loganville, GA received plastic dolls of a 12-week old fetus.
  • Blue Like Jazz – The Movie opens in theaters on April 13th.  I know that for sure because Matt and Ellen told me.
  • Vic the Vicar posts a warning for those who don’t follow e-mail instructions; I link to it partly because I accidentally trashed Vic’s Versatile Blogger nomination.  Sorry, Vic.
  • If you’re anywhere near Toronto, Canada on December 3rd, you won’t want to miss Steve Bell in concert with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
  • Sacred Sandwich: The Early Years –

June 9, 2011

Blue Like Jazz: The Movie: The Teaser

Filed under: books, media — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:23 am

And you thought the book was wild and crazy…

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