Thinking Out Loud

February 24, 2011

Thinking Out Loud – Anniversary Edition

I remember years ago participating in a discussion about the “emerging” internet where the main concern ran something like this, “How are they ever going to get enough content to keep those websites supplied with fresh material?”

How indeed?

In 2011, a better question might be, “How does one find enough hours in the day to read all the sites they are subscribed to or have bookmarked?” I figure a typical week lands me on about 1,000 different types of internet sites, and I don’t consider myself a heavy online user. Every single person reading this actually has a completely unique internet experience weekly.

Today, this blog enters year four.

I have mixed feelings about that. I’m happy that this blog has become a voice albeit in a crowded room of voices all talking at once. I’m continually amazed — and somewhat humbled — that hundreds of you show up here every day, many just to see what’s been posted recently.

But these things were never set up as one-way communication. You hear people speak of “blog community” and I think there certainly is one, but increasingly the comments I moderate have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the blog post; they’re actually written in the hope that readers will link back to their own blog.

And then of course, there is the fact I am denied full participation in this very same blog community.

Some time back, someone masquerading as me posted something or did something that got me completely blocked from commenting at many of my favorite blogs. Even people I considered online “friends” like Pete Wilson, or people I’ve been reading for years before starting my own blog, such as Trevin Wax; the comments I leave (which are indeed appropriate and rather insightful) simply never appear.

Furthermore, if I log off WordPress, and attempt to leave a comment at my own blog, it is blocked.

It’s ironic because one of the things I found early on when I started this was a great deal of acceptance, so I’m highly sensitive to the present rejection. But online this can take many forms. For example, I’ve also been blocked from the chat room at my online church, North Point Community. Though I continue to faithfully watch NorthPoint Online every Sunday at 6:00 PM, and encourage others to also, my IP address apparently is blocked from participating in the after-sermon discussion. That’s like being told, “You can continue to attend our worship services, but you can’t be part of a small group.”

Not sure why.

There was a woman — I think it was a woman, but people use aliases in their comments — who was going through a hurting time and the discussion moderator was nowhere to be seen, so I recommended a book to her; a perfectly acceptable book, but one not written by Andy Stanley. Maybe that got me banned. Who knows.The clergy establishment sometimes gets really possessive when lay people start acting pastoral.

So look out, everyone. I’m a rebel. I’m a radical. I’m dangerous. Keep your daughters locked up.  I’m James Dean. (But in a George Costanza sort of way.)

Actually maybe I am sure why. Maybe like Hosea, God is allowing me to identify with all the other people out there who have felt rejection; including those who have been rejected by the church.

Back to the birthday party.


This is post number 1,454.

There is much to be thankful for today. I actually oversee seven blogs now, of which the latest, Christianity 201, has arrived on the scene since we celebrated this time last year. It keeps me humbled. Very humbled. While some endeavors in the Christian life remind you how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished, C201 reminds me of how far I’ve got to go.  Jesus set the bar rather high. A handful of you also read my book industry blog, Christian Book Shop Talk. It will celebrate a third birthday in August. Yesterday’s post had someone suggesting bookstores are going the way of record shops and video rental stores. Sigh. In that setting, I get to be a voice in an increasingly empty room.

Then there are the off-the-blog discussions.

Some of the best things that happen as a result of all this online activity are never seen online. And to the guy who drove an hour to the bookstore where I work only to find out I wasn’t there that day: Next time, get the staff person to write down your name. Better yet, let’s book it a day ahead, okay?

Anyway, I want to thank all of you who read, who write comments and who allow me to do the same on your blogs. To the latter group, you’ve really stimulated me to increase the time I spend reading Christian books, for which I am grateful.

As iron sharpens iron, so one blogger is sharpened by another. Even when they block his comments. (Couldn’t resist.) Many of you have also caused me to rethink some things that really matter. I’ve also enjoyed the benefits of being kept accountable.

Finally to the caricature artists who charcoaled me into a corner with the Joyce and Beth thing: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and ignorance is bliss. (And if you love something, set it free…) I’m sorry that I what I call information you call judgment, but that is, if you’ll pardon the turnaround, your judgment. Keep enjoying their books by all means, and keep loving people who prefer to be taught by others.

Closing thanks Mrs. W., the world’s best proofreader and editor (though usually a day after I’ve already posted something) and to all my sources, especially BDBO (you know who you are, but nobody else does) and the religion news pages at CNN and USAToday along with Canada’s Christian Week and Darryl Dash. And thanks to readers who send Wednesday Link List suggestions. And to Trevin and Pete and even Jon Acuff: Let’s prove to the world that it’s all about grace, okay?

*”Charcoaled me into a corner” — I couldn’t say “painted” because caricature artists work in chalk or charcoal, so that would be mixing metaphors, and “chalked” lost the coin toss.

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June 2, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Our link list artist this week is David Hayward, better known as Naked Pastor.   He actually gave away the original water color of this  last week, so with blog giveaways like that, you might just want to become a regular reader.

Off to the links we go…

  • Rick Apperson reviews basketball fundraiser Austin Gutwein’s Take Your Best Shot, at the blog Just a Thought, while the whole genre — including some video clips of Austin — is examined at Christian Book Shop Talk.   Like Zach Hunter, Austin, pictured at right, got into the whole international relief thing at a very, very young age.  If I were still in youth ministry, I think I would build a whole evening around the videos describing what Zach and Austin are doing.
  • The whole Charismatic thing got started in the 1970s, right?   Not exactly.   If you’ve got some time to invest, Brazillian-born Leo Di Siqueira links to a lengthy article that blows apart the “cessationist” view that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit died off with the first apostles.  Writer Nigel Scotland documents examples of the “miracle” gifts occurring in the first five centures of the church.   The link is approximately a 15-page .pdf file.
  • Garrison Keillor explains the book publishing industry for all the children in the audience who are too young to remember what a book is on the pages of The New York Times.    (Here’s a related piece I wrote at my book industry blog.)
  • John Freeman at Ligoner Ministries suggests a balanced approach to dealing with the issue of homosexuality specifically and sexual sins in general; meanwhile…
  • …”When Ray Boltz and Azariah Southworth perform in concert at Covenant of the Cross in Nashville on June 17, 2010, they will kick off a national tour as well as an affirmation of their status as openly gay Christian music artists.”   Continue reading that story in Out and About a gay community blog.    But wait, there’s more…
  • …At the blog Monday Morning Insight, Todd Rhoades posts a piece about Boltz’ new album and some sample song lyrics which invite the broader Christian community to embrace greater tolerance.
  • For the time being, Raymond Hosier can wear his rosary beads to school, as reports the Washington Post.  Now the school in question faces a lawsuit.
  • Once-disgraced Colorado Pastor Ted Haggard announced today he is starting a new church and “will be happy if only a few people join.”  Read about St. James Church at NBC’s Denver affiliate.
  • They sold their house and named their RV after the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  This is actually an October, 2009 YouTube clip from Good Morning America, but someone sent it to me, and it is inspiring.
  • By their CD collection you shall know them:  Brett McCracken thinks true “hipsters” would be nostalgic for these contemporary Christian music classics.
  • Many a college or university began life with solid Christian roots which they would sooner forget in the secularized 21st Century; but sometimes, as Mark Roberts points out, the architecture of their older buildings betrays this history.  (My own alma matter, once proudly part of the now liberal United Church of Canada, is emblazoned with, “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”)
  • Trevin Wax had two great links last week:  First, when the Westboro gang decide to picket your church, if you’re in the deep south you serve them food!  Second, a link to Head Heart Hand, which suggests that bloggers are usually either Creators or Curators.
  • Relatively new blog:  Faith and the Law chronicles those times where Christians run afoul of the law in both the U.S. and around the world.
  • Our cartoon this week are from Doug Michael (upper) and Dennis Daniel (lower) at Baptist Press (we’re going to have to put these guys on the payroll…)  What’s with all the first-name last-names at BP?



May 26, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Another Wednesday rolls around… where did you go this week online?

  • Ruth Tucker at Christianity Today marks  the passing of Moishe Rosen, the sometimes controversial founder of Jews for Jesus, as does an article in the New York Times.
  • Readers of The Internet Monk blog can catch a free download of the first chapter of the late Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity.
  • A candid Leadership Magazine interview with Francis Chan — is he ever not candid? — about how things work at Cornerstone Church.
  • While I usually laugh at the blog, Stuff Fundies Like, here’s a piece that makes a very, very solid point about Outcome Based Justification.  If just one person clicks on this…
  • Yikes!  A 13-year-old student in New York State can’t wear a rosary to school because of a statute prohibiting “gang related dress.”  Who ya gonna call?  Jay Sekulow.   But wait a minute, could the school board be justified?  The police think so.
  • Blogger Jeff Leake has reason to be proud of his talented 16-year old son, Josh Leake who has released a new album.   Right now they’re selling actual CDs, but they might want to also consider downloads.   Check out his MySpace page.
  • Trevin Wax thinks that, “Traditional evangelistic strategies are not necessarily deficient in what they say, but in what they assume.”  Read more at Kingdom People.
  • I know a number of bloggers have already mentioned this, but if you’re a parent, you need to watch this Vimeo clip from Randy Alcorn about Pornography from 12 days ago, and also this more recent one — despite the audio problems — from 7 days ago for parents who have daughters.
  • What is God’s relationship to time.   Not an easy question.   Start your thinking process at this article at Prodigal Magazine.
  • Unequally yoked?  Russell D. Moore got a letter in April about a conservative, dispensational Calvinist marrying a tongues-speaking Pentecostal.  Two weeks later, he’s still getting mail.
  • Blog discovery of the week (but it’s been around since 2007) — E-Royal by Royal Farris.   Lots of good video embeds recently.  Which is where I first saw
  • “The Gospel According To Krispy Kreme” a ten-minute YouTube video of Louie Giglio from 2009.
  • Whatever happened to scripture memory.   Here’s a top ten list of some Bible passages everyone should know by heart.
  • It would be great if God spoke to us by sending little written notes to us throughout the day.   That’s the theme of this 2-minute free sermon video download at Floodgate Productions.
  • Currently reading:  I actually don’t limit my reading to Christian books; I’m currently enjoying The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee.  (Love that middle initial!)  The book is a fascinating history of Chinese food.   I discovered Jennifer at TED Talks.
  • Currently fundraising: Chris, our oldest is going to be working in the kitchen at a Christian camp for ten weeks this summer.   Based on a 48-hour (i.e. six day) week, they’re giving him $3.00 per hour; he has to come up with sponsors for the rest.   Contact us if you want to help.
  • Currently listening to:  A Ton of Worship.  A  collection of church worship from the UK, but check out the stats:  5-CDs.  20 songs per CD.   That’s 100 songs for only $12.99 US/$15.99 CDN.  Also a kids version for $9.99 US/$12.99 CDN.   From Kingsway Music.
  • Message to certain bloggers:  Your Twitter updates are really slowing down your page loads.   Is it worth it?
  • Question to video uploaders:  Why Vimeo and not YouTube?   I have a fairly high speed connection, but the Vimeo server — especially when embedded in blogs — doesn’t even come close to the speed of the YouTube servers.
  • Our cartoon panel this week is from Calvinist Cartoons by Eddie Eddings (c/o John Scaddington).

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