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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