Thinking Out Loud

October 3, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Well they don’t build megachurches like this anymore… This is the First Church of Christ, Scientist (i.e. Christian Science) in Boston in a 1907 photo at Shorpy.com.

To begin this link list, you need a blank piece of paper.

  • Let’s start out with something completely different. Without clicking through… One of the best selling Christian books of the past 20 years has been The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Name the five languages without peeking.
  • How about another top five list? Again, without clicking, what’s your guess as to the top five churches in the United States by attendance. It’s about 3/4 of the way down the page.
  • Finally, before you click that link, what do you think are the top five Bible verses searched for at BibleGateway.com? Oh, and the one you think is number one, actually isn’t.  [More on that subject with our People’s Bible page sample.]

The regular links

  • If you lead a small group, here’s a YouTube channel you should know about while it lasts, because when it comes to small group discussion-starter videos, Zondervan is giving away the store.
  • Is the window on religious freedom in Russia about to close? Some people feel Christians could be adversely affected by a new law.
  • Borrowing material from the “public domain” Bible simply makes good economic sense for Hollywood.
  • He was an Independent Fundamentalist Pastor and now he’s an atheist and humanist.The blog Galatians Four looks at what can happen when your church is filled with abuses.
  • Russell D. Moore knows that the 2012 election has got more people talking to and about Mormonism. So he offers a few suggestions on confronting LDS theology.
  • Stephen Colbert gets serious at a Catholic university to profess his love for his Roman Catholic faith.
  • Being the worship leader in a church isn’t easy. That’s what Jonathan Sigmon’s pastor said one recent Sunday. But there are also some blessings that come with the job.
  • Not everyone will agree with one of the points on corporal punishment, but the rest of these seven tips for Christian parents should meet with approval.
  • For those of you who like to go deep, here’s an article about Augustine and the literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
  • You know it’s a slow news day at Christianity Today when the Facebook page, Awkward Couples of Liberty gets its own article. (My wife points out that in this instance, the university is not aptly named…)
  • Listen online to three sample songs from Matt Maher’s new album, The Love In Between.
  • This will cause a few people to say ‘I told you so.’  Brian McLaren led a same-sex commitment service in Maryland; one of the grooms being his son Trevor. The story has attracted over 120 comments so far at the CT Live blog.
  • Here are a dozen things that, thankfully, your pastor probably won’t hear in heaven.
  • The Big Picture pics of North Korea are obviously propaganda, but it’s the unanimous response of reader comments that seal the deal. 
  • Happy Birthday to the Compact Disc, which turns 30 this week.
  • Meanwhile, over at the daily comic strip Retail by Norm Feuti, the “Christmas” versus “holiday” semantics debate has already begun:

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May 19, 2012

Weekend Link List

Weekend List Lynx – Do Not Feed

Because the internet never takes a day off…

  • Some of you still haven’t seen the book or movie, The Vow.  Here’s a chance to catch up with the astounding story of  Kim and Krickett Carpenter.  (Seriously, click this; it’s an amazing story to at least know a little about.)
  • Christian rapper LeCrae has a new album and it’s available online for free! (Doubt Christian bookstores are thrilled with this, though.) And here’s a link to CT’s article about LeCrae’s Man Up Campaign dealing with “father absence” in the inner city. (Be sure to read all three pages.)
  • Yes, you saw the disturbing picture below already, didn’t you.  Those are Jesus Popsicles.  I guess you need to read the story.  (This could only come from either Los Angeles or New York, click to find out which.)
  • Brian McLaren has released three little fiction ebooks for only $2.99 each.  Probably atypical text sample: For God so loved the church that he gave to himself his only Son, as a penal substitutionary sacrifice, so that those elect few who believe in this atoning doctrine would not suffer eternal, conscious torment in hell as a result of original sin, but would live forever in heaven after death.  For God did not send his Son into the world to save the world, but to condemn it, and save only the church.  (Not John 3:16-17)  (Obviously, not for everyone!)
  • And now for the question everyone in the northern hemisphere is asking now that spring/summer is here: Would the Apostle Paul permit women to wear bikinis? (I guess a lot of people were wondering.) 
  • Sometimes the voice on the other end of a smart phone seems so real that it’s not surprising that Christian kids are concerned about his/her eternal destiny. (Apologies for where the younger kid screams about halfway through; not responsible for speaker damage.)
  • A book industry guy decides it’s time to finally try reading an eBook, though he ends up less than impressed.  (Nobody even edited the code for special symbols, you might as well be reading in HTML.)
  • Speaking of the book industry, Thomas Nelson is managing to get an entire book out of Bonhoeffer author Eric Metaxas’ speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. (I enjoyed watching the original, though; it is available online.)

May 4, 2011

Wednesday Link List

You’re expected to follow the advice of the experts.  While this blog has been doing link lists for several years, next Wednesday marks 52 weeks of using the same title each week.  Sigh!

  • Tony Miano confronts Planned Parenthood.   Take five minutes to read what could be the best thing you read today.
  • Suffering from terminology confusion?  Here’s the 411 on the difference between “fundamentalist” and “evangelical” including two helpful terms outlining the difference between “theological fundamentalists” and “sociological fundamentalists.”  One of several related posts at The Wartburg Watch.
  • WAY-FM’s Brant Hansen took some heat for that article on tithing I linked to last week, so here’s the spot where he responds to the questions.
  • “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.”  Pete Wilson reminds us of the truth of Proverbs 24:17 in the wake of the death of Osama Bin Laden.
  • Meanwhile Carlos Whitaker throws the topic open, with over 250 reader responses to date.
  • “Perhaps the death of Osama Bin Laden has made this world more safe. I do not believe, however, that his death has made this world more beautiful.” — comment e-mailed to Brian McLaren.
  • With all the fuss over that book lately, Rachel Held Evans launches the Rally to Restore Unity, which is a kind of synchroblog thing you can still get in on.   (My contribution is below…)
  • A few days late for Easter perhaps, but this video from Lutheran Satire suggests that the disciples have to face their own instincts for profit motives from the resurrection.  HT: The Least Read Blog on the Net.
  • Our local Salvation Army captain has kicked off a new blog in style: Lots of good topics and an immediate following of faithful readers.  Check out il capitano inquisitore.  Especially the post which deals with Appointment Day, the day in which the entire organization finds out if anyone needs to start collecting cardboard boxes for a July move.
  • Here’s an idea if you’re a blogger with a tight schedule: My somewhat rushed quote collection on discipleship at Christianity 201.   You may also like yesterday’s post, Spiritual Cataracts, where I also tossed in some French worship music.
  • It’s spelled Roque.  It’s pronounced “rock-key.”  Our new artist of the week invites you to check out her story, and her song, Thank You.
  • I would definitely join a church that devotes a month to doing a series on the Theology of Food.
  • Monday was Election Day here in Canada and Google Canada celebrated with the usual graphic, except, as Bene Diction noted, they showed voting booths which are not used in Canada. (See above.) Oops!  We go behind privacy screens and mark paper ballots.  Pay no attention to the voter behind that curtain! (BTW, we elected a Conservative majority parliament, and for the first time a New Democratic Party official opposition.)

December 29, 2010

Wednesday Link List

A shorter group this time…

  • The big news that finally reached our corner of the world this week is Canada’s most popular Christian male vocalist, Steve Bell,  has recorded a new album with the title song, Kindness, written by Brian McLaren.   Yes, that Brian McLaren.   Details at Christian Week.
  • But in a slightly different musical genre, Steve has company on the link list, as the song Avalanche by Manafest (aka Toronto’s Chris Greenwood) is getting lots of airplay.    Start your investigation of Manafest at this MySpace page.   Or watch the video from Tooth ‘N Nail Records.
  • While most of the attention is focused on New York City, there are residents in Murfreesboro, Tennessee who don’t want a mosque in their backyard, either; and it’s taxpayers who are footing the bill for the legal batter, as reported at USA Today.
  • It’s unfortunate when you have to frame a definition in opposition to other circulating ideas, but Dan Phillips suggests the entry for Mary in a Bible dictionary might read, “The mother of Jesus. A pivotal yet minor figure in the New Testament, mentioned by name in only four books.”
  • Regent College professor, Pentecostal scholar, and author of How To Read the Bible for All It’s Worth Gordon Fee has a 30-minute video YouTube clip on how the book came to be as well as some of its major themes.
  • It must have a slow year for Christian news stories, because Christianity Today’s top ten stories of 2010 seems to missing anything of urgency.   And eight of its ten stories are U.S.-centric.
  • Always provocative — to some — Christian music artist Derek Webb is back in the online pages of Huffington Post.
  • Christianity 201 devotes two consecutive days to the writings of Rick James, author of A Million Ways to Die (David C. Cook)
  • We always end the link list with a cartoon and many of these have come from Baptist Press cartoonists such as Joe McKeever below.   Sadly, it looks like this is the last one, as the cheerful people at BP are attempting to invoke copyright that will permit e-blasts but not blogs.   Too bad; I thought when God gives gifts they’re for sharing.  Oh well.  We’re slowly running out of cartoons we can actually run, although I’m not sure what legal action they would take against a Canadian.    But never underestimate Baptists.   (Or cats.)  This one was quite funny, and it seems a good one to end 2010 with. To Joe, Doug, Dennis, Dennis, Frank and David:  We’ll miss you!


April 7, 2010

Wednesday Link List

The Christian blogosphere today will contain many reflections and tributes to Michael Spencer, aka Internet Monk.   We posted a few of these here yesterday.    For the Christian Church, the Internet is the most powerful tool we’ve been handed since the invention of the printing press.   Here’s how some people used it this week.

  • Blogger Tom at R.IP. Jesus thinks a local church Easter promotion got a little off the rails last weekend.   Well, more than a little
  • Here’s one that might make you think a little.  Seminary student Joel at the blog, Café of the Book, thinks that expressing theology in prayer may solve some of the gender problem.
  • Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Rob Bell has a new, post-NOOMA channel on Vimeo called The Work of Rob Bell, in which he unveils this 4-minute video, Resurrection.
  • Brian McLaren acknowledges some controversy and faces the musical question, “Why Do Evangelicals Dislike Me So Much?” in this article in The Huffington Post.
  • The blog, Red Letter Believers remembers Johnny Hart, the cartoonist of the BC comic strip in this tribute.
  • If you like tracking down blogs you haven’t seen before, consider Macho Lara.   (Warning: His life is currently a ministry roller coaster!)  Here’s a post I could totally relate to about going through a season of Music-less worship.
  • Andrew Jones aka Tall Skinny Kiwi backtracks on his earlier response to John Piper’s comments on the demise of the Emergent Church.
  • In a culture currently obsessed with vampires, Russell D. Moore observes correctly that Christianity is becoming increasingly “blood-less.”
  • Darryl Dash at the blog DashHouse invited his readers to enjoy a free download from pastor Tim Kerr, a prayer manual titled Take Words With You. You might just want to become one of those readers!
  • Youth Pastor and (apparently) part-time EMS guy Don Knoup shares a work-related story with a ministry-related analogy at A Broken Link.
  • Stuff Christians Like blogger/author Jon Acuff notes this week that many Christians really don’t care for Christian movies.
  • Here’s a sneak peek for all you early adopters at a little project I’ve started on the side.
  • You can never read this message enough times:  This one is from the National Review Online, and it’s about Getting Serious About Pornography.   “Imagine a drug so powerful it can destroy a family simply by distorting a man’s perception of his wife…”  Read this two-page article here.

It seemed appropriate to this week’s links that the comic selection for this week should be something by Johnny Hart:

Here’s one in living color from the book I Did it His Way: A Collection of Classic BC Religious Comic Strips (Thomas Nelson, 2009):

February 24, 2010

Link List Anniversary Edition

The celebration of our second birthday, which is actually today, got bumped to yesterday so we could observe Link Day.   Priorities.

I gotta admit, last week’s link list was amazing.   If you missed out on that one, here’s a link.   But there are some really good things here as well.  Who says blogging’s dead?

  • Well this is no surprise:  Music legend and now part-time theologian Elton John announces that Jesus was gay.   You can pass on this one but if you insist, go here and here.  (Don’t bail yet, the links get better after this…)  Actually you might want read this response at Captain’s Blog.
  • But seriously, sexual attraction is something you need to talk about with your kids, beyond the usual ‘birds and bees’ talk.   The subject is dealt with by Jay Younts  here at Shepherd Press’ blog in one part of a six-part article on conversations parents need to have with children.
  • Here’s a link with great potential value to anyone involved with any kind of sexual addiction or blatant sexual sin.   Pete Wilson describes this as a sermon he was reluctant to do, but some amazing things took place when he confronted this topic, and I believe will continue to happen as people view it online.   If you or someone you know is dealing with this issue and is willing to invest a half hour to hear some straightforward talk on the subject, then click here.
  • This week I learned a new word while reading about reproductive technology:  snowflake children.  The term came up in a Q & A on Russell Moore’s that asked about the ethics of  embryo adoption.
  • I’ve been so busy e-mailing this link to people, I can’t remember if I’ve included it here yet.   Behold the Lamb by UK worship leader Stuart Townend is an awesome communion song.
  • Floodgate Productions is one of many companies producing video clips for church use, but this one in particular is recommended for church websites, though I think you could show it Sundays as well.   Watch the two-minute clip, Around Here.
  • Unless you’ve been living in a blog vacuum, you know the topic of the week has been Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity. Rather than specify a specific link, why not type his name into Google Blog Search.
  • This might be a repeat, but if you haven’t yet, take some time to read some backstory behind Shaun King, blogger at Shaun in the City.   The accident report is called I Experienced a Miracle and I’m Not a Loon.
  • Our new blog for the week is a sort of Best of YouTube meets Stuff Fundies Like.   Wild and wacky and all somehow Christianity-related video clips abound on Crazy Christian Clips.   (One of my favorites, still, is this one.)
  • Most of us can’t remember when the Roman Catholic mass was conducted entirely in Latin, but now Muslims are dealing with how much English to include inside mosques without violating Islamic law and betraying their culture.    Read it at USAToday Religion.  (I wonder if there’s a The Message-style version of the Qu’ran in their future?  No, not really.)
  • New Kind of Church  idea #68,251 from Christian Week:  Church in a bowling alley.
  • Prayer Request:  Church Report is reporting the arrest of the leading evangelical pastor in Iran.
  • I think Kevin Leman’s books on marriage and parenting meet a definite need.   But when he’s on Christian radio — which he does a lot of — he can be exceedingly blunt when he talks about sex.   I wouldn’t suggest playing this video clip if you’ve got kids or teens nearby.
  • Considering a blog, Twitter of Facebook sabbatical? How about, more accurately, a sabbath-ical? First check out what Scott Couchenour has to say here (it’s short) and then especially here.  (I’ve been doing this for several years.)
  • Our upper cartoon is from ASBO Jesus, by UK blogger Jon Birch.  Our lower cartoon is Preacher’s Kids by David Ayers which you can catch weekly at Baptist Press.   If this still wasn’t enough, check out the sidebar, “Oh, Oh, The Places We’ll Go” and especially the ones that begin with the word Links.

February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Link List

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.

Some weeks the link list is rather lame, but this week, any one of these links could have been expanded into a full post.

Checking out a few of these takes time, but this week I urge you to make the time for topics here that interest you.

  • A movie originally scheduled for release in 2007 providing scientific verifcation of Bible continues to grow in scope, sometimes crossing into new political sensitivities.   Read the ongoing story from WorldNetDaily about the film, The Exodus Conspiracy.
  • Brian McLaren calls him “the Emergent Buddhist.”  The  YouTube  vid title is “Zen Monk Hip-Hop Rap & The Monk Bar.”  Gee…I wonder where they’re borrowing these concepts from?   Do they have megatemples?  See it here.
  • If you’re in children’s ministry, you need to read this.   We already know Gen-X and Generation-Y.   Now read about Generation-Z.
  • Here’s a freedom of religion story that has attracted nearly 700 comments at USAToday:  Muslims have announced that airport body scanners violate Islamic law.   The story is no surprise, really, but keep reading,  it’s the comments that reflect the American mood, running about 20:1 along the lines of, “If you don’t like it, you can walk.”   There’s definitely a lot of anger out there.
  • Matt Appling at The Church of No People blog and Pastor of Levi’s House inteviews athiest Bruce Sheiman, author of An Athiest Defends Religion (Alpha Books, 2009).   Sample quote: “…It is questionable whether there has actually been a rise in militant atheism. More likely, there has been an increase in the vociferousness of existing militant atheism.”
  • Fellowship Church’s Ed Young becomes the latest pastor to come under news media scrutiny, though he seems to defend himself admirably in a 25 minute briefing to his church.   Here’s what channel 8 had to say (8 minutes long) and Ed’s response.   But not everybody was impressed.
  • A Christian version of Second Life?   Apparently.   Read Virtual World News to find out about the upcoming Universe of Faith.   Seriously.
  • New Blog of the Week:   Orthodoxie.   A sometimes humorous look at life from an Orthodox Church perspective from Fr. Joseph Honeycutt the author of  We Came, We Saw, We Converted. Start with this piece of Poetic Lenten Humor.
  • An often seen blog on these link lists is Jeff McQuilkin, who steps into a gigantic minefield with this article on experiencing reverse prejudice.
  • Church conflict.   The very words can raise blood pressure.  David Fitch at Reclaiming The Mission searches for balance between the autocratic approach to church government and the democratic approach; and finds it in The Incarnational Approach to Leadership.
  • All you diehard, hardcore Rob Bell fans will want to check out this five-page article at Leadership Journal where he unpacks his preaching process and suggests that the results aren’t yet in as to a possible dark side of video preaching.
  • I love the name of this Kentucky town:  Falls of Rough.   Poetic, huh?   Anyway the blog for the Yeaman Church of Christ there has a short post titled, Why Do I Need The Church.
  • Greg Atkinson thinks the song Meteor Shower by Owl City represents the future of worship music.   Check out his thoughts, and then — ONLY if you live in the U.S. — check out the song at lala.com.
  • Another Christian book, CD and DVD website, Title Trakk claims to have all the answers, reviews, interviews, etc., with, not surprisingly, the appropriate links to iTunes and A-zon, and other commission-paying sites.
  • Tim Archer takes a somewhat op-ed view of everybody’s efforts in Haiti, and expresses three concerns about the relief frenzy.
  • Mark Driscoll’s book for men, Porn Again Christian is still available for free online reading at Re:Lit.   Mark doesn’t pull any punches or waste words on this topic.
  • This week’s comics are from Joe McKeever at Baptist Press (upper) and Australian John Cook at A Time to Laugh


November 27, 2009

Zondervan Fighting Fires on Several Fronts

If there’s a copy of the NIV in your house, or even a copy of Purpose Driven Life, you know  Zondervan, the Grand Rapids company founded in 1931 by Pat and Bernie Zondervan, now owned by HarperCollins.

But even if you don’t, you would have a hard time escaping mention of the company online during the last 90 days, as it’s been a wild ride for company executives, and especially company president Maurine (Moe) Girkins, pictured at right, who seems to be making a public statement on one front or another every week.    Imagine dealing with all this:

  • The fall announcement that the TNIV translation would be discontinued in favor of a revised NIV.    This re-sparked old debates over the TNIV’s use of gender-neutral language, with some discussion shifting from the anthropos=mankind argument, to the plural vs. singular argument and the translation vs. commentary challenge of Bible translation.   In the process, very few people considered that the much better-loved NIV — as it currently exists –was also being scrubbed in the process.
  • The hiring of Flickering Pixels author Shane Hipps by Mars Hill Bible Church in Zondervan’s hometown, brought Hipps under fire from the discernment ministries who already had their guns aimed at Rob Bell.   It also showcases Zondervan’s willingness to promote next generation authors and give a platform to younger voices — bloggers Jon Acuff and Anne Jackson come to mind — and Emergent church, social justice and missional voices like Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne or Dan Kimball.   But the downside of this is going to be inexperience at minimum, or more severe controversy as in the next item; and even the hint of heresy from some extreme sides could diminish the value of the Zondervan brand in the eyes of conservative Christians.    The company is caught in the race against other publishers to sign “the next big thing in Christian writing” on the dotted line.   With that comes risk.   While there are more and more authors in the marketplace, Donald Millers don’t grow on trees.
  • The decision to pull Deadly Viper Character Assasins by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite was probably not easily made.    Taking a title of out distribution is costly and suggests the company wasn’t carefully considering the full ramifications of the book’s content before the presses started rolling.  Most people agree.   Others would say the company got caught in the tide of political correctness and that the book’s Kung-Fu imagery was a valid literary device to express the authors intent.
  • The sale of Youth Specialties to Youthworks was the buzz of the recent National Youth Workers Convention, and it follows the release of Youth Specialties head Mark Oestreicher.   Zondervan will continue to hold the print rights to current and future books and resources.
  • The downward spiral in the marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.   Zondervan is the publisher of Multiple Blessings: Surviving and Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets. The story of a young couple who trusted in the ever present hand of a faithful God to provide the strength and courage they needed to face seemingly impossible challenges one day at a time” no doubt pales in the light of their recent separation and Jon’s excesses.    Such is the world of celebrity.   Just ask Thomas Nelson, whose biography of Lynn Spears was put on hold a few years back when Britney’s younger sister became pregnant at a young age.
  • The lawsuit filed last week against Zondervan by Thomas Nelson, alleging copyright infringement in its I-Can-Read series book, The Princess Twins which they say is ripping off the Gigi: God’s Little Princess book and series by Sheila Walsh.  The similarity in the visual appearance of the characters is complicated by — but also somewhat explained by — the fact that both books used the same illustrator.  It also raises the issue of lawsuits among Christians.
  • The September decision to jettison the company’s Pradis Bible software and instead work with other software developers such as Logos, with the result that pastors and seminarians don’t have to have a separate Bible program to utilize Zondervan content.
  • The shunning of the Christian bookstore market in favor of developing an entire series of specialty Bibles for retail giant Wal-Mart may have been the last straw for those stores.   The backlash could continue for several years as customers bring those copies to the Christian stores looking to buy “another one like this one” which store staff will have never seen before.   To further complicate things, the Wal-Mart series piggybacks on several existing Zondervan NIV brands.
  • Uncertainties as to how many copies of the new Glo Bible software will be returned after Christmas.   With four computers in the house — two of them recent — there’s a little concern in our home as to whether or not we can install the program which requires a dual core processor and 18GB of free hard disc space.  My youngest son, who is into gaming, offered me space on his, but it’s hard to find time when he’s not using it.
  • While it’s not a Zondervan title, the company’s sales reps are promoting parent HarperCollins’ release Going Rogue by Sarah Palin in the Christian bookstore market, because of Palin’s unabashed faith commitment.   But Palin is a wild card, and the company can’t afford any backlash from the independent Christian bookstores that still remain.
  • Stuff Christians Like blogger Jon Acuff’s book of the same name is due out from the company in the new year.   The blog is somewhat tame at times — he refused to print two comments by this writer, and I’m not known for being edgy — but takes risks in others.    One of the edgier sections is called “Booty – God – Booty” which frankly discusses the North American penchant for compartmentalizing our lives into the sacred and the profane.    But readers may have to read the section twice to get the illustration, and speaking of illustrations, at least one blogger is upset over this one.

And that’s just a few major items.   I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Zondervan conference room.  It’s hard to imagine one Christian publisher dealing with so many varied issues at the same time.

I can’t wait to see what surprises the company has in mind for 2010.

Now,  more in the spirit of blogging:  How significant is the name on the spine of a book to you?  Do you note who the publishers are?   Do publisher imprints matter?   Do you have a favorite publisher?

Pictured below, some graphics from the now off-market Deadly Viper Character Assassins:



November 10, 2009

Term Paper Topics for Discernment Ministries

term paperWow!  The first semester of college is ending sooner than it began, so it’s time to hand out the topics for your term paper assignments.   You’ve proved yourself more than adept at finding fault with Rob Bell, The Shack, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, “New Monasticism,” Rick Warren, “Emergent Church,” anything Willow Creek-related, “spiritual formation,” Donald Miller, and hundreds of others.   (But never Joyce Meyer… that’s odd… )

You guys at CRI did really good term work so you’re exempt from the final essay.   For the rest of you…

You say you’re a discernment ministry so let’s see some discerning; only let’s give all your existing targets a rest.  Choose your topic:

  1. Twenty years ago your equivalents would be railing against Christian rock music.   So let’s take a run at it, 2009-style.   Check out the latest stuff and the complete back catalog from Switchfoot, Skillet, Hawk Nelson, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North and Kutless and apply the same critical faculties to some in-depth analysis of the lyrics Christian youth are listening to.   To avoid distraction, use headphones and turn the volume really, really loud so you don’t miss any backward masking.   Bonus marks for dissecting the worship songs of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Hillsong United.
  2. You’re concerned about a whole new generation of authors and speakers who are speaking into the lives of Christians, but completely ignoring a huge genre.   Pour yourself a chai and curl up on the divan with the complete works of Karen Kingsbury, Beverly Lewis, Randy Singer, Randy Alcorn (fiction only), Melody Carlson, Lynn Austin and of course, Ted Dekker.   Don’t skip a single page.  Bonus marks for a study of the Max Lucado Wemmicks series and all the Steeple Hill/Love Inspired pocket books released since 2006.     Let us know what you find.
  3. Every Evangelical will tell you that the deuterocanonical books don’t belong in the Bible, but how we do know this for sure?   Without resorting to the historical decisions that led to their inclusion or exclusion from the Bibles of different faith groups, and relying entirely on the text and related commentaries, explore the Apocryphal books verse by verse highlighting such things as the inherent dangers in Methodists reading Bel and the Dragon.   Be sure to spend at least a month on this, doing no other writing nor taking any phone calls during this period of intense study.
  4. What are we really teaching our children?   Not one of the discernment ministries with any profile has noted any examination of what’s really being conveyed through the curriculum of Gospel Light, Scripture Press, David C. Cook, Standard Publishing, Regular Baptist Press,  and Augsburg Fortress.   Part one of this involves study of the publishers listed above; part two involves a more intense study of Group’s Hands-On Active Bible Curriculum by actually teaching a Sunday School class of elementary grade children for the next six weeks.   After all, who better to teach kids than the head of a ministry that encourages kids to study God’s Word.   (Note:  With the kids, you must stick to the curriculum itself; your paper will be disqualified if you get into a rant with the Grade 3 class about Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen.)  Bonus marks for all the theological errors you can uncover in the Veggie Tales series.
  5. The “study abroad” question:   You’ll purchase airplane tickets to connect you with about fifty different venues between now and Christmas to study what’s really going on with Christian comedy.   The comedians themselves are quite accustomed to having hecklers in the audience, so they won’t mind a few discernment ministry folk sitting in the front row shouting out, “I think that last joke was built on a flawed doctrinal premise.”   A few of our Christian brothers do their comedy shtick in clubs with liquor licenses, so to not miss the ambiance of the whole show, be sure to order a drink or two before the first set.   If you’re Baptist and haven’t touched alcohol before in your life, just give the bartender that information with the coded signal, “Make it a double.”   Compare and contrast male and female comedians, and those working within the youth ministry paradigm.   Just think Mr. Discernment Minister, you might be a redneck!

Your finished paper should be 650,000 words or more.  That should keep you off the streets, and more importantly, off the airwaves and off the internet for at least 30 days.  This is the kind of hard-hitting analysis you were born for.

July 24, 2009

Link Letter

lynxIt’s been awhile since I ran some lynx links here, so lets take a run at it:

  • Back on July 12th, Michael Spencer aka Internet Monk did an assessment of the spirituality to be found in the blogosphere.    First observation: “The Christian blogosphere is overwhelmingly male. It is not only male; it thrives on “maleness” in perspective and voice. For various reasons, some confessional, some not, many of us have a seriously limited exposure to the feminine mind, voice and experience of the Christian journey. In fact, our “maleness” is affirmed in the blogosphere in ways that are useful, and neutral and harmful.” Read the rest of this one, plus nine other key observations, here.
  • It’s not just Christians who are listening to Christian radio.   According to a Sojourners Magazine article,  Jewish and Muslim listeners are tuning in also:  “Last spring, Asra Nomani, a Muslim writer living in the Washington, D.C. area, programmed “number three” on her car radio to 91.9, her spirits as a stressed single mother lifted by the lyrics she heard. ‘No matter how daunting your problems seem, this music gives you hope,’ she said.” Read the story here after creating a free login.
  • On July 21st, Justin Wise at the blog BeDeviant (yes, that’s the name) asks the musical question, “Is ‘No Sex Before Marriage’ a Realistic Expectation?”  He writes:  “I would rather marry a couple who is living together and provide some sort of Christ-centered influence than let them go off and find a non-Christian alternative.” So far, over 100 comments.   Join the conversation, here.
  • Some of you are huge fans of the humor/satire blog Stuff Christians Like, but unless you’ve caught a live webcast or been to one of the live events, you’ve never seen Jon Acuff live.   Recently, Jon was asked by Pete Wilson to speak at CrossPoint church in Nashville, and the message is posted at CrossPoint (click on “Adam and the Three Questions”) as well at SCL, where you can catch it here.
  • Author and seminary professor Randal Rauser writes “A Note to Atheists Before They Attempt to Refute Christianity.”    He begins with this: “But what is frustrating for an atheist is doubly frustrating for a Christian. Countless times I have seen atheists assume what I as a Christian must believe. And often this assumption reflects what is no doubt a very restricted experience with Christianity… As a result, atheists who assume what a Christian must believe because they read a few Christian books or attended a church for several years are like self-described travel experts who offer authoritative advice on California vacations because they once stayed at the Super 8 in Pasadena.” Check out his piece, here.   (BTW, in an offline note, I linked Randal to the piece I did here, “You Think You Know Us,” which he appreciated.)
  • Bridging the Gap DVDI’m not sure if this item is available for shipping outside of Canada, but New Direction has put together a 4-week DVD curriculum titled, Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending Our Gay Neighbours. The kit includes 3-hours of video content and a 40-page leader guide with reproducable worksheets.   I haven’t seen this yet, but I know that material on this subject is badly needed.  Guests include Brian McLaren, Bruxy Cavey, Tony Campolo and eight more.   You can read more about it, here.
  • How about a vacation in Chernobyl?   Or a museum of genitals?  This one has no Christian connection that I can think of, but just for fun, I wanted to tell you about Atlas Obscura, which describes itself as “A Compendium of the World’s Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica.”
  • With a backlog of new subjects to consider, I haven’t done many remixes of older blog posts.   I might repost this one sometime, but for those of you who joined us recently, here’s one from February entitled, “Why II Kings is in the Bible.”    Okay, I doubt it’s the only reason.   Link to that one, here.
  • Canada’s leading Christian male vocalist and recording artist Steve Bell has a new website with occasional free song downloads.   Check that one out, here.
  • The item that was originally my tenth and final link here had to be removed at the request of its author.   So in exchange — to keep it an even ten — Anne Jackson offers an excellent piece on how Christian activity and “busyness” have a drug-like effect that keeps us from Jesus Himself.   Read that piece, here.

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