Thinking Out Loud

July 9, 2014

Wednesday Link List

???????????????????????????????

I was looking around for pictures of the 2014 Wild Goose Festival, and found this one from 2013.  Anyone know the backstory on this?

Now that the eye burn-in from weekend fireworks has faded, it’s time to see what people have been reading over the past few days:

Not sure of the origin of the picture below. It was captioned, “What Happened to the Dinosaurs” and the picture file was labeled “Shoo!”

What Happened to the Dinosaurs

February 24, 2014

Six Years of Thinking Out Loud: A Blogversary

TOL Banner Teal

Today Thinking Out Loud begins its seventh year.

Whoda thunk it? What does one say on such an auspicious occasion?

I guess today I’m struck by the contrast between this blog and most of the others I personally read, which are written by pastors and Christian authors. Is the difference here what brings in so many readers each month? I don’t really think so, but I think it’s important that other people have a voice at the online table. I also know that six years (plus a few reading others and writing an e-newsletter that predates this) of delving into the various issues that occupy space in the Christian blogosphere have been like a graduate school education in both theology itself, ecclesiology and the tension between Christianity and culture.

TOL blogversaryI have allowed myself to be shaped by the writers I read, but by also trained myself to unlearn some things some of them have said when, with the passage of time, their perspectives have become questioned. To paraphrase something my wife’s brother said on Twitter, ‘I’m not here because of what I have to say, rather because it gives me a reason to eavesdrop on so many interesting people.’

I’m also thankful that this summer, Thinking Out Loud gained a greater platform itself by becoming a weekly part of life at Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. I still believe it’s a greater thing to make the news (in a good way, not the weird stories) than it is to simply write the news. But I don’t mind playing scribe if it means I get to choose some things I think are worth noting as part of each week’s passing scene.

So with all the writing that happens here, do I wish I was a published author? I think everyone has a book or two in them.  But not six. The Christian publishing establishment loves to take someone who has a hit title and make a brand out of it. But often the spinoffs are never as vital or passionate as the original. Still, I tried it once, the material is now dated, and I enjoy simply giving away content here each day as long as people come by even though this, combined with my equally non-remunerative vocation was recently calculated to represent a loss of income over the past 20 years in the neighborhood of $1,000,000.00

The phrase “Do Not Attempt” should be at the bottom of each page.

Do I wish I was a local church pastor? Not a senior pastor, though I often wonder about the church plant I did before starting this blog. What if it had been allowed a longer run than its 18-months existence; if a few more months might have made it into something more sustainable, or if a co-leader would have appeared on the horizon to boost the project and give me an occasional break?

As it stands, my local church participation is limited, as in non-existent. Am I a prophet without honor in my own community? That sounds noble. Maybe the supply of able-bodied people willing to serve outstrips the demand — at least for my gift set — so the opportunities go to the younger and better looking. (Think about it, when have you actually seen my picture here?) Heck, they don’t even hand me a plate and ask me to help take up the offering. I think the pastors here have banded together to create a no-fly zone where I’m not allowed to come within 20-feet of a live microphone; a sort of restraining order only I wasn’t served with my copy.  This would explain why all the pulpit supply requests I get are from out of town.

But again, to return to where I began, I think that living in that tension is what gives Thinking Out Loud its unique perspective. Most people who come here have never written a book or preached a sermon, or even served on a church board.

Pastors and Christian authors are great. I’m a fan of many of them, and of the process that gets them their platform. I do truly believe the cream rises to the top. But interacting with your Christian friends and your small group also provides an “iron sharpens iron” experience that can be equally enriching.

In that sense, I think the group of bloggers called “Mommy bloggers” have it right. These women — some, but not all of whom are also home-schoolers — share a ‘Christian life in the trenches’ experience each day that might be dismissed by the academics and Biblical scholars and religious ‘professionals,’ but feeds them daily with spiritual nutrition enriched by everyday life and the lessons that our children and extended families teach us.

So with that in mind, for year seven, I thought I’d devote this space exclusively to recipes and laundry tips. What do you think?

Paul Wilkinson Blogversary


Okay, so that was more personal this year, if you want to know my blog values, there’s this post from last year’s birthday, where you’ll also find I had the energy to write a double post that day.

Graphic: The banners that never were; these are actually from other blogs with the not-so-original name!  (We could have added this one, but you don’t steal images from photographers, at least not consciously.)

If you’ve never done so, be sure to visit this blog’s companion page, Christianity 201. Both are published 365-days a year!

January 29, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Bible is like a software license
A lot of people are critical of short-term missions, but right now, a plane ticket to somewhere warm would look really appealing. In the meantime, here are some links to keep you warm, clicking anything that follows will take you to PARSE at Christianity Today and then you can click through from there.

We leave you today with “the thrill that’ll gitcha when ya get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone.”  In this case, Pope Francis in the current issue; click the image to read the story.

Pope Francis Rolling Stone Cover

Paul Wilkinson is based in Canada — “You liked the first Polar Vortex so much we’re sending you another one” — and blogs at Thinking Out Loud and Christian Book Shop Talk

August 21, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Foxtrot Nov 11 2003Foxtrot circa 2003

Been away all summer? In July the Wednesday Link List was the victim of a corporate takeover…. to see the version of this containing the links, you have to click over to Out of Ur, a blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today.

  • Why should the devil have all the good parties? An expert in block parties suggests that Christians should host the best street events.
  • It’s hard to find a place where fracking isn’t a hot environmental issue. What if your church could register claim to the mineral rights underneath the church building?
  • Duck Dynasty star Jase Robertson is kicked out of the Trump hotel when it’s assumed he is a homeless man, in another case of “facial profiling.”
  • Dara Maclean’s video for “Wanted” is powerful both musically and lyrically, but the critics think the glamor/fashion element is overplayed.
  • We’re not sure if it’s a King James Bible or just a generic Bible, but by 2015 you’ll be seeing .bible as an internet domain name.
  • Last year over 13,100 churches participated in a growing national movement and on average saw a 38% increase in their attendance on Back to Church Sunday.
  • Much of the week’s news focus was on Egypt, where the Defense Minister vows to rebuild damaged churches.
  • What if we saw the Bible less as a prison sentence and more like a permission slip? Check out a 2-minute sermon highlights video where Steven Furtick takes a fresh approach to financial giving.
  • When it comes to role of women in the early church, one author believes that part of the story has been “airbrushed from history.”
  • What’s a former Saddleback worship leader doing in a Canadian jail? It could have something to do with things allegedly found in his luggage.
  • Alise Wright drives nearly an hour to attend a church where, by her own admission, she doesn’t fit in.
  • With great regret, in the wake of the loss of his wife and publishing ministry partner on May 8th, Keith Brenton announces the shuttering of Wineskins Magazine.
  • Rick Warren is raising awareness, but one Canadian blogger thinks the church is generally skittish when it comes to mental health issues.
  • A popular devotional blog provides some background to the forthcoming book Dying Out Loud by Shawn Smucker, the story of missionaries Stan and Ann Steward.
  • When viewers phone in to respond to a Billy Graham television program, they don’t know where the calls are being answered. A call center might actually be a transformed Savannah, Georgia chiropractic clinic.
  • The former Crystal Cathedral, now Christ Cathedral — home of the world’s 4th largest church organ — begins $53 million in renovations to bring it up to Catholic standards, I’m guessing.
  • You may call them board members, or even, as one church in my area does “The Directorate.” But there’s still good application in this article about the ordination of elders.
  • On the other side of the pond, it’s not just Presbyterians, but Anglicans who have trouble with that verse in In Christ Alone. [Note: BCP = Book of Common Prayer]
  • The more the merrier: By the time you read this it’s already eight days old, but Phil Vischer Podcast #64 with Sara Groves and Todd Groves ranks as one my favorites.
  • Worship Department: First, we followed the CCLI Top 25 song charts by country; but now there’s also the Praise Charts chart. (Not a typo!)
  • A Chattanooga, Tennessee pastor offers five reasons why discipleship should take place in small groups.
  • Not sure how long this will be there, but the full 70-minutes of Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limbs video is currently available to watch online.
  • Church History Department: Yes it was his real name. Pentecostal pioneer Smith Wigglesworth passed away in 1947, but like many classic authors his books still sell and he is still tweeting.   (C. S. Lewis tweets several times a day!)
  • Ask the Doctor: A flashback to last year, where Dr. Russell Moore answered, Should a Christian wedding photographer shoot a same-sex marriage ceremony?
  • Who needs videos of cute cats when you can join 600,000 people online and watch an Oklahoma pastor’s sermon where he takes a strip off some of his congregants by name.

Well, we could just keep on going, but we might lose some of you around link #50. The action stays here at Thinking Out Loud the rest of the week, or you can always join my rather anemic group of followers on Twitter.  And again, in case you missed it, the links are active at Out of Ur.  A final graphic — one of last week’s links — from Sacred Sandwich:

faith_mounties

August 14, 2013

Wednesday Link List

I thought we’d kick off with something timely for back-to-school from Zazzle.com:

Classroom rules poster from Zazzle dot com.gif

Here are this week’s links, and one or two I accidentally left off last week’s list.  As usual you need to scoot over to Out of Ur for the actual linking.

  • Yeah, I know. Three links to Dictionary of Christianese in six weeks.  But how I could pass when the word was narthex? Meet you in the narthex when you’re done reading the rest of the list.
  • A trailer is out for a movie celebrating 40 years of England’s Greenbelt Music & Arts Festival.
  • Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love is an all-time Christian fiction bestseller. Now, word that after many years, Bridge to Haven, a new title, will release in spring 2014.
  • Essay of the Week: A Facebook fast isn’t fasting. Actress and writer Hannah Rivard guest posts at The Rebelution, the blog of Alex and Brett Harris.
  • A Tennessee judge rules you can’t call a child Messiah.
  • The above item reminds us of a story we did a few months ago: In New Zealand you can name a kid Faith, Hope or Charity, but not Justice.  (They turned down two Messiah’s there also.)
  • Because your kids’ picture Bible storybooks tend to be family friendly, odds are that these five stories didn’t make the final edit.
  • Related: A serious management feasibility study on how Noah got all the animals to fit inside.
  • At Stuff Christians Like, a few lines of dialog that even your adult Bible is missing.
  • The best articles on Bible translation are always written by people who actually do Bible translation.
  • Despite being on record as not wanting to speak to certain topics, it turns out that C. S. Lewis actually did address homosexuality.
  • You’ve heard him on radio, now meet the face behind the voice: Christian financial planning expert Dave Ramsey takes to video.
  • If we believe in the priesthood of all believers, does that by definition diminish the need for structured leadership?
  • Another outdoor concert stage collapse, this time involving Christian bands MercyMe and The Afters at the Cleveland County fairgrounds.
  • The names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty: A tale of two pastoral transitions.
  • We may be on a journey to eternal life, but a Pew Research survey claims that only one in three of us want this life to last eternally.
  • David Hayward aka The Naked Pastor is the latest Christian blogger to try the podcast thing.
  • Confession isn’t just good for the soul, it’s necessary for taking steps toward a holy God.
  • In the Assemblies of God denomination, growth is taking place, but their trademark distinctive, speaking in tongues, is on the decline.
  • Is it blasphemous or just plain vulgar? A UK vicar claims the former Archbishop of Canterbury rode in her car and wasn’t disturbed by her edgy and controversial bumper sticker.  [Content advisory]
  • Related: Describing her book as “a messy profanity- and prayer-laden theological memoir,” the Sarcastic Lutheran aka Nadia Bolz-Weber introduces Pastrix. No wonder reviewers like myself aren’t being given advance copies. Here’s a video trailer. [Much stronger content advisory: NSFCO (Not safe for church offices)]
  • In your local church, do you have the gift of diapers or the gift of chairs?
  • Hoping to flee what they consider U.S. government interference in religion; a family ends up lost at sea.
  • I never know how to end the list each week, but the Canadian in me is drawn to this.

The graphic below was located at The Master’s Table, where similar things can be found each Monday. (You’ll have to look up the verses.)

reading-from-john

One thing I really miss with the new arrangement is the feedback from readers on particular links. So feel free to comment either here or at Out of Ur.

August 7, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Darwin - Cats

Is it Wednesday already? Time for another list of links of interest to people like you from blogs and websites great and small. But wait! None of the links below actually work; you need to click through to the Wednesday Link List’s new home at Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Journal.

  • How about a 19-second video to kick things off? (Apologies to those who clicked!)
  • Frank Viola offers a completely different take on the spiritual life of John Lennon.
  • What did the Pope really say in that in-flight news conference? One writer thinks it’s not exactly what was reported.
  • You thought there were fewer this year and you were right. Stats on why not as many churches are doing VBS.
  • Got the standard 2.3 kids? John Wesley would not approve. I suppose you could call this an article about being procreative.
  • A UK church organist, 68, was walking to a midnight Christmas Eve service as he had done for 40 years when two men, both 22, beat him to death in a motiveless attack. Now, his widow offers a message of forgiveness.
  • Essay of the Month for June (but you may not like it): The atheist daughter of a noted Christian apologist shares her story so far.
  • Related: An Atheism, Theism, Agnosticism, Gnosticism infographic.
  • Essay of the Week: Ten things church worship leaders want the rest of us to understand.
  • Related: What if we looked at our church’s corporate worship time as a spiritual discipline?
  • The year isn’t even over and already we have a winner for the worst reporting of a religious story in 2013.
  • I’ll let Michael Frost Tweet this intro: “The conservative journal Christianity Today makes the case for welcoming same-sex couples to church.”
  • A blog to know about: Jesus I Will Follow You is a tumblr that answers questions from young readers on tough subjects.
  • From my own blog this week: A blog summary on the Presbyterian Church USA’s “In Christ Alone” hymnbook controversy and a look at same sex marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada.
  • It’s easy to deal with what’s appropriate beachwear for women when you’re on a Christian radio show. It’s harder when it’s your own 13-year old daughter.
  • Rob Bell is offering two more of his 2-day conferences in September and October that are already renowned for their lunch break to go surfing.
  • Music to brighten your day: Shine Bright Baby’s song from their new album Dreamers; enjoy Beautiful Love.
  • A link that takes you to more links: An Arizona pastors offers a 6-part blog series on the sins pastors commit including letting their wives manage everything on the homefront.
  • Here’s a March post which is a link to ten articles at the blog “Canon Fodder” by the author of The Question of Canon on — wait for it — ten things you should know about the New Testament canon.
  • In searching through blogs I had bookmarked months earlier, I landed on this very succinct post which I offer for your prayer consideration.
  • Before you hit the FWD button next time, here’s four reasons that Christians need to stop forwarding hoax emails.
  • A historic Roman Catholic Church that is already a shrine to a saint whose legacy is devotion to animals plans to set aside a memorial space for Fido and Fluffy.
  • Your assignment: Write a modern worship chorus utilizing the titles of television soap operas. [Warning: Consumes 4.5 valuable minutes]
  • Finally, a reminder for the end of the week, end of the month, end of the summer, or anytime you need a reminder.

I have no idea where the first graphic — the premise of which I’m not sure I agree with — originated; but the comic books below are purported to be real.  For additional wit and wisdom, follow me (please!) on Twitter. And one last time, here’s the link to today’s Wednesday Link List without the Linkectomy.

the-pat-robertson-and-friends-coloring-book-9781891053955Christian Conservative Coloring Book

June 26, 2013

Wednesday Link List

So, is Pope Francis a revivalist?

Saved - Pope Francis

Now, on to the links…

Some very, very high profile Christian sites and at least one radio show get their news stories here. We know who you are…

The Wednesday List Lynx might be getting a new home as early as next week.

The Wednesday List Lynx might be getting a new home as early as next week.

Stop the presses! Is this the last link list?

We’re cooking up a partnership that could mean more people than ever would get to share in what we’ve been doing here for five years. Just think of the larger number of people who would get saved just clicking on these same stories. They might not even have to click; conviction might come just by reading the teasers. 

Really, why are we considering this? It’s about power and the ability to take bribes to promote various blogs and websites.

So stay tuned. Same bat time. Same bat channel. But maybe not actually same bat channel.

June 13, 2013

Media Determines Message

Filed under: blogging, media — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:29 am

When I started on Twitter a few months ago, my goal was to mirror the subject areas I write about here, since there are the types of things I’m truly interested in. But the 140-character maximum is truly limiting. Yes, I can simply link people back here, and I’ve done that; but in terms of having original content on the blue bird website, my thoughts go in a different direction, and some of these could never be fleshed out into full blog pieces. 

TwitterHere’s how the first few months have looked from oldest to newest, and not including some great re-tweets by others or quotes:

  • First Tweet: So here we are, another voice spitting into the wind. God bless this Twitter feed and all who sail in her. Or something.
  • I’m now receiving much classier email spam. The Russian girls who wanted to meet me have been replaced by people with stock market tips.
  • Watching the show His Place on Cornerstone Television — it’s still on — and wishing I’d stayed in TV production. http://hisplace.tv
  • Arriving late to the party, but finally discovering and really appreciating The Voice version of the Bible. http://hearthevoice.com
  • If you want to make an impact with your charitable giving you should give to people doing ministry without the prospect of a weekly paycheck
  • Everybody loves the bookstore, but nobody buys any books. http://edgecitycomics.com/comics/march-17-2013/ …
  • I think all the people I’m following are male. In a ‘recommended for you’ list today, only three of 30 were female. This is different than blogging.
  • Need encouragement? If you blog, read all the stuff in your spam filter. Those guys love you.
  • “At or during which time water vapor condenses and precipitates downward from the upper atmosphere,such precipitation flows intensely and unabated.”  (figured it out?)
  • I’m organizing a travel tour thing beginning in a Wesleyan college in western New York & ending in Jerusalem. I call it the Israel Houghton Tour.
  • When shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, always double-check which side of the shirt the buttons are on. They mis-filed one!
  • I think there should be a rule that for every book an author writes for the Christian market, they have to do one aimed at non-Christians.
  • Keep waking up at 4 AM. Is mentally reciting the books of the Bible (alphabetically) helping me clear my head, or making my brain even more awake? Not sure.
  • The next generation won’t be so concerned with mastering ‘knowledge,’ they will merely have to master ‘search.’
  • My sister-in-law thinks that Facebook exists for the sole  purpose of posting pictures of food; specifically every lunch and dinner, both home and out
  • Three conversations recently with people who assured me they’re attending church regularly, but when asked couldn’t remember the church’s name.
  • In theory anyway, birthdays not ending in a ‘0’ or a ‘5’ are less traumatic.
  • Worship leaders naturally find their spirits lifted by new songs; church congregations are naturally averse to learning new songs.
  • Is always having music playing in the background all about our love of music, or does it say more about our fear of silence?

Some of this reminds me of the SNL segment, “Deep Thoughts With Jack Handy.” You can’t do a lot of depth in 140 keystrokes, so by definition things sound pithy or even trite.

Still, I finding this particular social media animal to be a good fit. I get to interact with the thoughts of people I truly respect, as I noted in this quotation which is actually my brother-in-law’s profile:

  • I’m not on Twitter because of what I have to say, but because it allows me to eavesdrop on so many interesting people.

May 31, 2013

Friday Link List

Yesterday we celebrated my birthday, though thankfully not one of those of ‘0’ or ‘5’ birthdays that make you feel old, today I simply feel older. Summer is much shorter here in the frozen north, but I was able to take a brief swim in two different lakes, though it would be tough to call those short dips swimming. I also spent about six hours of my birthday in the car, though thankfully I didn’t have to drive a single mile of it.  Helps having three licensed drivers in the family, even if two of them are only semi-licensed.

So nothing original today, you’ll have to settle for a few links:

That will have to satisfy for today, and I hope you don’t mind some repeat cartoons.  Incidentally, you may note that some of the blogspot links here are blogspot.ca not blogspot.com; if your blog is one of them, yes you have a different address in Canada, though we’re not sure why; nobody else does this. But then, can anyone fathom anything Google does?  Let me know if ever any of those links don’t work. Also don’t forget, there’s always more happening on my Twitter page.

February 23, 2013

And Then We Were Five

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:07 am

Have I really been doing this for five years?  Apparently.

What do I want as a birthday present?  More comments.

Why am I using this awkward question and answer format?  I have no idea.

Blog AnniversarySo here we are at the five year mark. Marks for consistency, right? Like the student whose marks are influenced by the fact they had perfect attendance. But an exercise in consistency and personal discipline isn’t a bad thing, right?

Generally, although it is a lot of work some weeks, I am really happy that I launched Thinking Out Loud all those years ago. I have met some of the greatest people, been encouraged to read some of the most interesting books, have been kept abreast of some of the most bizarre religious news stories, and mostly, I have been forced to think about things that I might have never considered.

And then there’s Christianity 201, which is very much a part of the Thinking Out Loud story. If you have trouble maintaining a steady Bible study and devotional habit, then start a Bible study and devotional blog. Seriously. Even if nobody shows up to read, it is its own reward; which I realized last week when an hour’s worth of research and quote-pasting disappeared completely. It was frustrating, but I knew that time was primarily for me, and that perhaps the full text I had prepared was never meant to be seen by the blog readership.

So while we don’t have cake and ice cream, I hope you’ll take some time today to pick a few blogs and websites from the list that appears on the right sidebar here every day, and pay a visit to some of my online friends and acquaintances.  (Just keep coming back, as they don’t open in new windows.)

5th Anniversary Reader Testimonial*

I was suffering from a case of general malaise and, punctuation issues and was several weeks between jobs and just not very happy. Then I started reading Thinking Out Loud. I noticed an unquantifiable change began to take place as I was reading. Within the next five days I was able to get a job and even though my new employer may not be operating legally, my malaise disappeared and was replaced by a blissful feeling of indifference, which I believe is better.  So I wrote to you and you told me to write this testimonial and to embellish the facts a little.~ B. R.

*an actual reader response from an actual reader which we made up ourselves.

So there you have it.

And I believe that reader speaks for all of you.


Archives: Jeff Larson’s The Back Pew has appeared many times at this blog, but this was not only the first cartoon, but the first graphic.  Apparently it took me a month to add pictures, it appeared on March 22nd, 2008 and it’s been here so long the page is starting to yellow:

Jeff Larson - The Back Pew

Special Shoutouts:   Clark, Cynthia, Martin & Nancy, Cloudwatcher, Regent Jon; and everyone else who comments and sends link suggestions — Thanks! You know who you are!  To Ruth (aka Mrs. W.) thanks for the typo spotting and transcribing.

Finally: For those feeling disappointed that there’s no actual content here today, or certainly nothing new, we want to introduce you to Derek The Cleric.   (I had a hard time choosing which panel to include!) Be sure to check out his website and Facebook page.

Derek The Cleric - Pope Envy

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