Thinking Out Loud

December 26, 2018

Wednesday Connect

The difference between a colon and a hyphen is critical here; but I know there are those who read it the other way around. [Source: The Christian Institute]

This week’s list follows up on at least one continuing story, and provides a conclusion to a year in which the Wednesday Link List became Wednesday Connect. Your suggestions for stories and opinion pieces to include here are always appreciated.

♦ Carey Niewhof’s end-of-year prognostications about the future of church attention contain some points worthy of deeper consideration beyond simply reading the article. Sample #4 “Does online participation feed consumption or drive engagement?” or #9 “What happens to kids whose parents only attend online?

♦ After #MeToo became #ChurchToo, for some writers, like Michael Frost, it was a very Hybels type of year.

♦ Why are some pastors afraid to denounce pastors who have done horrible thing. We took Sheila Wray Gregoire’s post and made a blog article out of it, but if you missed that, here’s the thread in its original form with comments.

♦ Comparing the situation a few years back at Mars Hill Church (MHC) to present day Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) Warren Throckmorton writes: “I can’t see it getting any better as long as HBC maintains the defamation suit. Putting aside biblical arguments for or against the action, I think it is a terrible precedent to set as a matter of public perception of how Christians do things. The tension and animosity will only escalate with each new revelation. In MHC’s case, the church was always the PR loser when differences emerged into the light of day.”  Also…

♦ Mary’s song and social justice: “It’s an all-too-common reaction to scripture. When the message gets difficult (as it frequently does), the Church often “spiritualizes” the text, which really means divorcing the otherwise obvious challenge from any practical reality. That way, we can say we believe it, love it, quote it, sing it – but not let it affect our personal comfort or challenge the status quo of church or society.”

♦ Comparative Religion: When representatives from 200 different religions showed up at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto in early November, it probably left some wondering what are these 200 different faiths, when most of us could only name a dozen or so.

♦ Pursuant to its desire to simply be known as “The Church” what you know currently as the “Mormons” or “Latter Day Saints” will have its bookstore chain, Deseret Books phase out titles using the old nomenclature

♦ Unexpected (CNN): “The Iraqi Cabinet approved a law to mark Christmas Day, December 25, as an official holiday across the country ‘on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ,’ according to a statement released by the Iraqi government. The Cabinet voted on an amendment to the national holidays law in the country that Christmas Day is a holiday for all Iraqis, and not only for the Christian community, as it had been for decades.”

♦ Actress Patricia Heaton feels that Christian actor Gary Sinise’s humanitarian philanthropic work shouldn’t go unnoticed. If she had her way, he’d be TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year.  

Robert Alter has finished his translation of the Bible. (I’m at my limit for New York Times articles, so I didn’t get to actually read this.) (Which is a shame because they do a lot of religion articles.)

♦ Provocative devotional article title: “Does Your Giving Say “Leftovers” or “Lord”?

We never seem to have the conversation that goes like this: “We can do what Jesus is leading us to do in his kingdom, but if we do, everything else is going to have to change.” Instead, we ask, “How much can we afford to give after all these other commitments are fulfilled?” After we get the kind of house we want to live in. After we go on the vacations we think our family would enjoy. After we drive the kind of cars and wear the kinds of clothes we want.

♦ While parishioners are singing a hymn, a car crashes into a church on the west side of Columbus, Ohio.

♫ If for some reason you didn’t get enough seasonal music, check out the blog of Pastor Brad Russell. This will take some work on your part, but there are 25 separate blog posts here, each titled “Christmas Playlist” and then in some, there are up to seven different versions of the same song. On others, there are some obscure songs you might hear for the first time. (I listened to about 15 of the 25 and thoroughly enjoyed each.)

♦ In poly-amorous relationships, whose family do you get together with at Thanksgiving or Christmas?

♦ In the first seven minutes of this sermon, John Mark Comer deals with one of the great moral dilemmas of the 1990s: Burning CDs for friends or from friends.

♦ In an end-of-year soft news story, Religion News Service asks Phil Vischer about his relationship with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber after 25 years.

♦ Prosperity teaching at Hillsong: “…In other words, give money to Hillsong and God will unlock ‘financial revival’ in your life. Note that after God, generosity towards the ‘church’ has priority over family and those who need it most.”

♦ Meet “The Gucci Priest.” Vyacheslav Baskakov is a Russian Orthodox priest with a thing for bling. “Baskakov denied actually purchasing any of the luxury goods he posted, saying he took photos in shops. He said he sometimes sewed expensive-looking buckles and accessories on his shoes to make them look nicer.” 

♦ And then there’s this priest: In a Spanish village for nearly two decades he performed marriages, baptized babies and heard confessions. But his ordination documents were forged; he had never been ordained.

♦ You think your pastor runs long? This service has been going on for over 1,400 hours.

♦ Finally, we end this link every week with rather bizarre Christian news stories, so it’s only fitting that our final one for 2018, should be as bizarre as they get: “A French teenager has injected himself with a DNA sequence he claims contained text from the Bible and Koran, prompting fierce criticism from those involved in the specialized science. Adrien Locatell, from Grenoble in France, translated the passages into DNA code in order to generate proteins that he could inject into his body.” With that, we wrap up the year.


Joseph and Mary in a modern world. The picture was posted without annotation to the Christianity page of Reddit with the title José y Maria. Take a second look. Read the 200+ comments.

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1 Comment »

  1. Happy Boxing Day

    Comment by Clark Bunch — December 26, 2018 @ 9:05 am


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