Thinking Out Loud

April 19, 2018

Thursday Link List

Welcome to the what is only the 9th one of these in the history of Thinking Out Loud. I saw so many things on Wednesday night that I wished could have seen a day earlier.

  • At Relevant magazine, this headline: “Wheaton Is Going to Offer a Scholarship Named for Larycia Hawkins, the Professor Who Said Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God.” Wait, what? The professor they dismissed? Who supposedly said that “said Christians and Muslims worship the same God”? There’s more: “Wheaton officials said they made an ‘error in judgment’ in the way the original incident was treated and a task force said it “could not decisively say whether or not Hawkins’ theological views aligned with the school’s doctrinal statement of faith,” according to Christian Post.'” The Wheaton Record reports that “the scholarship of up to $1,000 will allow one or more student(s) to pursue a summer internship or project related to ‘the themes of the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) Certificate.'” That article notes that “Hawkins currently researches the intersection of race, politics and religion as a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.”
  • What is a church? Another interesting headline, at Right Wing Watch: “Here’s How Focus On The Family Convinced The IRS To Call It A Church.” Background: “Focus on the Family, the influential Religious Right organization founded by James Dobson, is now classified as a church by the IRS, meaning that it does not have to file publicly available tax documents like most nonprofits do. In response to our request, the IRS sent us copies of its correspondence with Focus about the change in its status.” A mockery of U.S. tax laws? This is the amazing part:

    In the letter, the attorneys claimed that Focus’ 600 employees are both its “ministers” and the members of its “congregation” and that the organization’s “chapelteria”—a cafeteria that also hosts regular staff worship services—is its “place of worship.” The organization’s board of directors are its “elders.” It’s president, Jim Daly, is its “head deacon and elder.” Listeners to the organization’s radio programs are “an extension of its congregation.”

  • I realize the timing on this, given other events currently in making religious news headlines, but was compelled to share this tribute John Mark Comer posted to his mentor, John Ortberg which shows the value of younger pastors being tutored (or if you prefer, apprenticing) in the faith with veteran pastors.

    For the last year or so, Dave Lomas and I have been spending time with John Ortberg, a pastor and writer near where I grew up in the Bay Area. I can’t remember the last time I was this moved by a person’s life. Starstruck isn’t the word; it’s not celebrityism. He’s just genuinely one of the most intelligent, wise, humble, present, down to earth, grounded, peaceful and joyful people I’ve ever met. Mentored by Dallas Willard for twenty years, he regularly repeats “the most important thing that God gets out of your life (and you get out of your life) is the person you become.” To see the “fruit,” in Jesus’ language, of decades devoted to formation into the image of Jesus is beyond inspiring. As we left our morning together, the first thing I said to Dave was, “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up.” I ache for that level of transformation. I believe we all do, even if that desire is buried under the rubble of our distracted souls. Grateful to have an older and FAR wiser pastor to speak into my life and give me a bar of Christlikeness to aim for. Also: if you haven’t read John’s book “Soul Keeping,” go order it now.

  • You know him as The Church Curmudgeon but church musician David Regier is a serious composer/arranger. This was the second time in 24 hours that the term “metrical Psalms” came up in our house, so I did some investigating on YouTube after reading this:

    I spent a great deal of my life as a worship leader/songwriter mining the Psalms for: A. words of spiritual encouragement B. words of praise to God Because there are lots of verses that stand out in that regard, and lots of songs use them to turn our hearts to praise. As I have begun versifying and writing music from whole Psalms, the breadth and depth of their content has significantly changed what I considered possible in congregational worship. I’ve noticed that many of the things that we’re all setting our hair on fire about on Twitter these days are addressed in the Psalms. If we all were in the practice of singing Psalms as part of our corporate worship, we’d have some more common language with which to settle some of our differences. That’s why I’ve been versifying them. We’ve been singing one in church every week, and some people are starting to see how much is there. Not everybody. Some people probably think I’m being weird and have a hang up. They’re probably right. But I will say that we’re singing about aspects of the Christian life we’ve never sung about before. And that’s a good thing.

  • Finally, author and radio host Brant Hansen is selling his Tardis. It’s actually a sound proof booth, the image of which reminded me of the recording booth built in the business incubator featured in the new ABC comedy Alex, Inc.

Clarification: A story linked yesterday implied that employees at Disney Orlando would never be able to afford admission for their families. A reader told us that “Disney cast members do get a certain number of complimentary passes each year.”

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September 3, 2014

Wednesday Link List

The cartoon is from ASBO Jesus, which sadly isn’t being updated. The lower one appeared here about five years ago, and was from Pundit Kitchen.

They call it Labor Day because on Tuesday we all had to work twice as hard to catch up. Take a few minutes to pause and do some clicking:

Link sleuth Paul Wilkinson is also available for private investigations if there’s a link in your life that’s gone missing.  Or, for free, you can read his blog, Thinking Out Loud.

church and state from pundit kitchen

July 6, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday link kangaroo

A kangaroo walks into a bar.

“Wow!” the bartender says; “We don’t get many kangaroos in here.”

“Yeah,” says the Kangaroo, “And at these prices, you’re not going to get many more.”

…I know it’s pathetic, but that’s always been one of my favorite jokes, and the link list seemed the best place for it.

Click the image above to see 226 more pictures from North Carolina's Wild Goose Festival in June by photographer Courtney Perry

  • If you missed the Wild Goose Festival, photographer Courtney Perry has 227 pictures; you can even purchase copies.
  • John Starke nails it on How to Write a Great Book Review (Or How Not to Write a Bad One).
  • Speaking of which, Benji Zimmerman does a great review of Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle’s Erasing Hell the response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. (Easier to read with a Javascript Black/White swap app.)
  • And Chan himself sits down with Mark Galli at CT for what appears to be an interview but is really more of a dialog.
  • Stephen Brewster was one of many syncrobloggers who joined together in June to talk about blocks to creativity.  He links to some of the other writers, too.
  • Frank Turk digs into the can of worms being opened by New York’s new marriage law.
  • Craig Groeshel, the guy with the .tv web domains, is now suggesting individuals and families take a few nights off each week to unplug.
  • A few days late for the 4th, but for our American friends, Louis Giglio reflects on the Declaration of Independence with Chris Tomlin on camera and some cheap shots at England’s Matt Redman.  (HT: Worship Blog)
  • Matt Rawlings brings his twice yearly top five books list, and his top 62 “geek” books list.
  • Also on books, Jon, our academic book-watcher on the left coast wants you to know about Christians at the Border: Immigration, The Church and the Bible.  Basically this is a Guatemalan professor of Old Testament studies discussing social policy.  Here’s the publisher’s 411, and a 9-pg .pdf preview.
  • Adam Young, aka Owl City, has a new video, packed with footage from the Back to the Future movies.  Check out Deer in the Headlights.
  • But we can take the animal video linking thing further with this Charlie the Hamster audio file. (HT: Stuff Fundies Like.)
  • Anne Jackson, transparent as ever, has reactivated her blog which has been dormant since March.  You can read her posts from June 17th and June 24th.
  • No link here, but my son Chris put this on his Facebook page:
    .
    The Parable of the Dry Stick
    .
    I was out for a hike a while ago and there was a stick on the path.  I gave it a kick, and all the bark broke off and scattered, leaving only the bare, white wood.
    .
    God then said:  “The world is full of people who will completely change, who are just waiting to be prompted, quietly hoping someone will disrupt their daily ennui.”

    .
     If you know one of those people, give them a proverbial kick.  Tell them their life can amount to something.  Invite them to join the adventure of discovering God.

Separated at Birth (and by a few generations) — Lyn Cryderman, author of Glory Land, republished as No Swimming on Sunday and Colton Burpo of Heaven is for Real fame.  The Cryderman book is a bit of a hard-to-find collector’s item but an excellent document capturing growing up in America in the Free Methodist denomination.  “I gotta home in Glory land that outshines the sun…Way beyond the blue”

May 12, 2011

Focus on the Family Canada Opens $9.4M Facility

According to a report in Christian Week, they paid $1.4M (CDN) for the land and $8M in constructing their own home, after paying rent for 27 years.  The Canadian branch of Focus on the Family, the organization founded by James Dobson, now has its own physical operations base in Langley, B.C.

But not everyone is excited.  The anonymous author of the popular Canadian Christian news and opinion site, Bene Diction Blogs On writes,

I really wish this organization would leave the country. But no, they’ve just completed an 8 million dollar building project, debt-free. Anything this group does should be wide open to public scrutiny and I wish Christians in Canada would wake up. FotF is no more committed to ‘the family’ than founder James Dobson is. The US extremist toxic religious right group has 65 Canadian employees. While the Canadian arm says it is independent of the US group, US leaders are on the Canadian board and start up costs of 1.6 million were given to the Canadian operation from the US. The Canadian group is fundamentalist, authoritarian, theocratic and lobbies against the same things the US group does, using language friendly to unsuspecting believers.

Here at T.O.L., thoughts are somewhat mixed.  On the one hand, it’s hard not to appreciate the work Focus did recently in developing The Truth Project, a comprehensive crash course in developing a Christian worldview on subjects like Philosophy, History, Science, Politics, Education, and the video series’ key question, ‘What is truth?’  Or its earlier contribution to parents on long road trips with its Adventures In Odyssey audio/video series.

But on the other hand, Canadians get skittish when Christian organizations wander too deeply into everything from politics to parenting.  Any elevation of Focus’ profile under a majority Conservative government is more conservatism than some people are comfortable with.

And it’s easy for Christians to second-guess any kind of capital spending project at a time when so much of the Church’s energies are being focused on the needs of the poor.  Adding an elevator to your church to give the handicapped greater access?  Be prepared for a firestorm over the costs.  Putting up a nearly $10M building for what some see as an outmoded media outreach, using something as quaint as radio?  Get ready to meet the critics.

Perhaps the facility is a bargain at $9.4M.  One would have to attend the June 18th Grand Opening to make that call.  And Focus, like so many other radio ministries, is probably active in online delivery.  So what is it about Focus that makes some of us a little nervous?

February 18, 2010

Christian Radio in Crisis

The names and faces are familiar as are the names of the various radio programs:

  • Insight for Living – Chuck Swindoll
  • Turning Point – David Jeremiah
  • Thru The Bible – J. Vernon McGee
  • Back to the Bible – Woodrow Kroll
  • In Touch – Charles Stanley
  • Grace to You – John MacArthur
  • Love Worth Finding – Adrian Rogers
  • Haven Today – Charles Morris
  • Let My People Think – Ravi Zacharias
  • Bible Answer Man – Hank Hanegraaff

Notice anything?   No, I mean besides the fact they’re all male.   (And all American.)  This is in every sense of the word, an “old boys network.”   Chip Ingram may still look young in his publicity shots, and James MacDonald may open with a cool David Crowder theme song, but exceptions aside, Christian radio is playing host to an older generation of radio preachers, which isn’t the generation they need to attract if the medium is to survive.

You may wish to suggest that maybe it’s just time for the medium to die off.   After all, look what YouTube has done to the hours people formerly spent watching broadcast, cable and satellite television.   The 42″ screen has unexpectedly lost ground to the 17″ monitor.    The plasma screen may be high definition, but the next generation would rather program their own visual channels, even if the images are jumpy, grainy or pixelating.

But is there an opportunity being lost?   Last time I checked, cars still come with FM radios.   It’s still the medium of choice if you’re caught in a traffic tie-up looking for an alternative route.   It’s still what you’ve got if the iPod battery fails or one of the earbuds isn’t working.   And it’s weather forecasts are still reasonably up-to-date and free-of-charge.

No, the problem isn’t with radio itself.  The problem is that a new generation of pastors doesn’t want to fuss with purchasing airtime and building that kind of media ministry.   Keeping the multi-site satellite link working weekly is enough technical challenge for one week.   The demographic they see on Sunday morning grew up with time shifting anyway.   They can PVR their favorite program and view it anytime; so they don’t need some guy on radio telling them, “Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow at 6:00 PM…”

I’ve never understood why an audio cassette version of the VCR never happened, but then I’ve never understood why for years, push-buttons allowed people to find AM and FM stations with pinpoint accuracy in their cars, while at home they had to slide a “dial” back and forth.   Even today, some digital tuners still offer frustrations unknown to driving with preset stations.

Furthermore, today’s younger pastors don’t want to start a branch of their ministry that might start bleeding red ink, which might lead to the type of on-air begging that has tainted the Christian radio medium.

No, radio just isn’t at the forefront for a new generation of Christians.   They know more about Francis Chan than Francis Shaeffer; they prefer Andy Stanley to Charles Stanley.    They download Rob Bell, discuss Greg Boyd’s take on the Gospel of Luke,  and work out to the latest Craig Groeschel sermon from Lifechurch.   They discuss the latest interview available at Drew Marshall’s website, debate the latest pronouncement from Mark Driscoll, and tell their friends about Pete Wilson’s sermon download page.

None of this is lost on Christian radio ministries.   Weekly podcasts from Focus on the Family, Greg Laurie and even John Piper rank among the top ten each week.   They’ve taken their content and propelled it forward into the new media.

Which brings us to the point of all this.   The proprietors of the new media need to make their content backward compatible.   All of this great, next-generation communication of the Good News, and so very little of it being heard over traditional broadcast frequencies.

Some visionary person needs to create a radio outlet for the vast number of sermon podcasts being created each week by younger leaders in a new era of multi-site, emerging, missional, or just plain newly-planted churches.   It’s time the computer-less, broadband-less, or those simply out-of-the-loop got to hear what some of us are already enjoying.    And personally, I think an older generation of Christ-followers would appreciate having some fresh new voices at the table.

The content is already recorded.    The radio stations already exist.   Let’s introduce the two to each other.   Before it’s too late for Christian radio.

Related post on this blog — A fictional story about Pastor Boone, who gets offered some free radio time and instead of just putting his church service on the radio…

Related post on this blog — My proposal to make Worship Network’s Sunday Setlists into a weekly Christian radio show.

Related post on this blog — This  links to a USAToday Religion story on how Christian radio is dealing with the new economic realities, attracting younger listeners, and keeping donations coming.

Related post at The Church Report — James Dobson and son Ryan Dobson are teaming up to launch a new radio ministry.

Appendix — Arbitron Podcast demographics worth knowing — and these go back to 2006! —





February 10, 2010

Wednesday Links

But February made with shiver
with every link that I’d deliver…

Time for another look at some things that caught my eye this week.   Recommendations can be sent anytime during the week to the e-mail address on my “about” page.

  • I like a book trailer that really makes me want to read the book, and that’s what I found in the promo vid for the comic novel, The God Cookie by Geoffrey Wood.
  • Not so sure about this one, though.  A somewhat backdoor approach to outreach by Lifechurch.tv under the website Satan Hates Life.  Tell me what you think.
  • Got King James Version Only friends?  Here’s some material to help you make a rational response to their issues — if rationality will help at all — from the blog Gazing at Glory.
  • Blogger Rich Dixon thinks we’re only considering two-thirds of a popular quotation from Augustine.   Check out his thoughts at Bouncing Back.
  • Pornography.   It’s not just a guy thing anymore.   Here’s an article from Rachel Zoller at Focus on the Family, Girls Snared by Porn and Cybersex.
  • Speaking of which, writing Monday’s Jewish-flavored post uncovered this page of recommended internet filtering software.   (The referrer liked the K9 (free) program.
  • New Blog of the Week:  Downhill Both Ways.  Let’s just say the author, who most of you know, uses more than 22 words to tell a story.
  • Here’s a flashback to October, a Tullian Tchividjian post about How to Identify A Reliable Preacher.   “…if we are going to grow we need to be sitting at the feet of reliable carriers of God’s truth.”
  • Afraid?  Anxious?  Worried?  Fearful?   Check out this short post at Justin Taylor’s blog at The Gospel Coalition.
  • You shouldn’t be a manipulator.  But neither should you be manipulated.   Sometimes manipulation comes disguised as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.   Check out the discussion at Resolved To Worship.
  • A sad story out of Florida last week where two young street preachers were murdered, as reported in the Palm Beach Post.
  • Jim Daly.  Get to know that name.   He replaces another J.D., James Dobson, as the voice — he’s been president since ’05 — of Focus.   Here’s the 411 on him from The Wall Street Journal.
  • Okay, so here’s the deal, I like to end each Wednesday Link List with a cartoon, and this week is no exception, with one from The Back Pew by Jeff Larson.   But does anyone know why there’s two versions circulating out there for this week’s cartoon? ????

January 4, 2010

And Now You Know The Rest of the Story

Regular readers on this blog know you can count on me for the latest breaking Christian news.  If it happens, you’ll find it here — unless of course I’m doing something else at the time. But what happens after the story is already posted?

  • On New Year’s Eve, I mentioned that Rick Warren needed $900,000 to meet his church’s year end budget.   He got $2.4 million US (the green ones) dollars.  And still counting.  Original story here.    Follow up story at USAToday.
  • She jumped out of her seat and violently knocked the Pope to the ground at a Christmas Eve service.    Afterwards, she got a hospital (phychiatric ward) visit from one of the Pope’s aides.   Original story here.   Follow up at (again) USAToday.
  • Philip Wise

  • The Salvation Army officer in Little Rock, AK who was shot and killed on Christmas Eve in front of his young, recently-adopted children was laid to rest on Saturday.   The children had been with him and his wife just 18 months.    Original story here (same link as above item).    Funeral service details here.    So very sad.  Philip Wise was 40 years old.
  • The man whose Ponzi scheme defrauded investors out of $14.1 million and nearly brought down the whole Crossroads Christian Television (100 Huntley Street) empire in the process has agreed to “turn over his ‘ ill-gotten gains’ and pay a penalty” according to a December 14th story in the Hamilton Spectator.     But the deal with the Security Exchange Commision (SEC) in the U.S. does not grant immunity from criminal charges.   Original story here.
  • The report I hastily put up here before year-end about James Dobson getting back on radio again after leaving Focus on the Family wasn’t surprising, as Dobson has seemed to be distancing himself from Focus over a period of many months.   Steve Rabey at the blog Get Religion noticed this also and provides some background, noting the potential ‘competition’ that now exists between Focus and the new venture, called James Dobson On The Family.   Continue reading here.

Comments posted containing personal attacks on individuals, including Rick Warren or the Pope, will be quickly deleted.

December 31, 2009

2009 — That’s a Wrap

Last Breaking Final News Story of 2009:
James Dobson Back From Retirement
Just ’cause this is on a post with cartoons, doesn’t mean we’re making it up.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson announced that he will host a new daily radio show with his son Ryan in 2010.”   More commentary on this in the new year; in the meantime read the story on The Church Report.

February 27, 2009

Dobson Resigns His Focus on the Family Board Chair

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:24 pm

jamesdobson1Conservative evangelical leader James Dobson has resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family but will continue to play a prominent role at the organization he founded more than three decades ago.

Dobson notified the board of his decision Wednesday, and the 950 employees of the Colorado Springs-based ministry were informed Friday morning at a monthly worship service, said Jim Daly, the group’s president and chief executive officer.

Dobson, 72, will continue to host Focus on the Family’s flagship radio program, write a monthly newsletter and speak out on moral issues, Daly said.

Dobson’s resignation as board chairman “lessens his administrative burden” and is the latest step in a succession plan, the group said. Dobson began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.

So reads a report posted mid-afternoon on the Religion page of USAToday.   Continue reading here…

Bonus article for today:

I Find it Difficult to be Led
“…To be effectively led I must be ultimately yielded in two ways. First I must be willing to have the image of who I am chiseled in such a way that it slowly becomes a picture of the attributes of Christ. This is the work of a master craftsman, done with fine instruments over time. For God to do this to me, I daily must choose to remain pliable in His hand. And secondly, I must be yielded in my willingness to be led to where God needs to stamp my gifts and talents for His glory. To be effectively led I must be ultimately yielded in two ways. First I must be willing to have the image of who I am chiseled in such a way that it slowly becomes a picture of the attributes of Christ. This is the work of a master craftsman, done with fine instruments over time. For God to do this to me, I daily must choose to remain pliable in His hand. And secondly, I must be yielded in my willingness to be led to where God needs to stamp my gifts and talents for His glory.”
~Cynthia Clarke writing Feb 7th on the blog Girl In A Glass House.

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