In Case You Missed It

If you follow Dr. Russell Moore on social media, you may have heard that his Grandmother recently went home to be with the Lord. Earlier this week, Dr. Moore shared this post on what his Grandmother taught him about the church. Dr. Moore writes:

On the way to my grandmother’s funeral, I found myself noticing, in a gas station checkout line, a pack of Dentyne gum. I don’t think I had thought about the little red bits of cinnamon in years, but the package stood out to me. My grandmother, Agnes Moore, would give me half a piece of that gum every time we would sit down in church. It was always a half piece, because she couldn’t stand the sight of someone visibly smacking gum. All sorts of memories filed forward. I suppose that’s because I can only think of that gum in the context of church, and, in a very real sense, I can only think of the church in the context of her.

My family was always at Sunday school and Sunday morning worship, but my grandmother, who lived next door to us, expected more from me. She was widowed early in my life, losing my grandfather who had been pastor of my home church, Woolmarket Baptist in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was lonely, and I knew it, so I would spend many evenings in her house, snapping beans or shelling peas in front of the fire. And on Sunday evenings I would go with her to Training Union (kind of a Baptist Sunday school at night) followed by Sunday evening services. On Wednesday night, she would take me to Royal Ambassadors (kind of a Southern Baptist Boy Scouts, where we would learn about international missions) and Wednesday night prayer meeting. She would take me to all the fifth Sunday dinners on the grounds and every revival meeting.

There was only one event in the church calendar we would always miss: business meeting.

Jason Duesing recently shared this post on making the history of the future.

In a recent foreword to a book on Baptist church doctrine, James Leo Garrett Jr. offers a somber word. He says, “The twentieth century was not the finest epoch in Southern Baptist history with respect to ecclesiological practice.” Referencing decades of emphasis on efficiency and unchecked church growth, Garrett laments a century that largely “found that ecclesiology was a weakness.”

While I do not agree fully with Garrett’s bleak assessment, I do think that Baptists in the twenty-first century have an opportunity to recover how believers should understand what the Bible says about churches—and that is a hopeful task. In short, regardless of the past, what matters most for the future is what we do with the time that is given to us.

Bruce Ashford recently posted an article at the Intersect Project website on what we should do when scientists and theologians disagree. Dr. Ashford writes:

In a recent post, we discussed that science and theology should be partners, not enemies. Nevertheless, some scientists and theologians disagree on key issues. How, then, do we find a resolution when certain scientists present evidence that appears to conflict with Christian teaching?

As Christians we believe that there cannot be any real or final conflict between theology and science, because God is the author of both the “book of Scripture” and the “book of nature.” If there is a conflict between certain theologians and certain scientists, it exists because of human error in interpreting Scripture or interpreting nature.

In other words, there will sometimes be disagreement between theologians and scientists, but there will never be disagreement between God’s two books (Scripture and nature).

In light of these convictions, I offer three principles to resolve the disagreements that sometimes exist between theologians and scientists. These three principles are modified from an article written by the Christian philosopher Norman Geisler.

In a recent blog post at the Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that it is both easier and harder than ever to be a missionary.

Today is an interesting time for global missions.

In many ways, it is easier than ever for us to get to the nations. Consider that early missionaries would travel on a dirty ship for two months through storms to get to their field, and then complain to me about the 2 hour delay on your layover. Travel is a lot easier and cheaper than it was.

And we cannot forget about the ease of communication. Today, with the internet, we can reach most anywhere in the world, at any time, instantaneously, and usually for free. Of course, that is not true everywhere. I served in one of those few places where the internet barely reaches, but those locations are shrinking by the day. So, in some ways, it is easier to be a missionary than ever.

But at the same time, it is getting harder to be a missionary in many places… a lot harder.

Dan Darling recently shared this helpful post on how to be a prolific writer. Dan writes:

One of the questions I often get from emerging writers is this one: How do you create a lot of good content at a regular pace. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to write for a variety of outlets on topics I enjoy. I write regularly for ERLC and am a regular contributor to several other publications.

Every writer has their own rhythms, but perhaps there are some things you can learn from what has helped me. Here are six things I do in my life to be a productive and consistent writer.

In Case You Missed It

Aaron Earls posted earlier this week at his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, discussing the trend of shocking headlines on social media. Aaron writes:

Look across Facebook and you can spot it—the virus that infects computer after computer. It’s passed from one person to the next through sharing a link or even liking a post.

The virus you may have caught and passed on through social media is fear. You see it in headlines across Facebook.

  • 7 Surprising Foods That Will Give You Cancer … And Make You Fat
  • Why This Politician Hates Puppies And Will Take Away All of Your Freedoms
  • 10 Steps to Protect Your Child From Their Inevitable Kidnapping
  • How You Will Lose All Your Money By Not Clicking This Link. No, Seriously, Click This Link!

A study of 100 top blogs found that headlines with violent words like “kill,” “dark,” “bleeding,” and yes, “fear,” get more social media shares. Headlines that focus on negative superlatives—like never or worst—are more effective than either headlines without superlatives or ones with positive words. We share negative stories cast in terms of what we should fear, but why is that?

At Canon and Culture, Bruce Ashford discussed the religious problem with Socialism. Dr. Ashford writes:

Socialism is a polarizing notion globally, and especially so in the United States. So it was, to say the least, surprising when Bernie Sanders decided to run for President openly as a “Democratic socialist.” It is even more surprising to find him—even in the early days of the primary season—in a relatively close race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After all, many Americans view socialism as an evil that will ruin the economy and perhaps lead to an authoritarian government.

There are a number of reasons that some Americans are willing to give Sanders a shot. Perhaps the foremost reason is that he actually views himself as a “socialist capitalist,” a notion which most socialists would consider a contradiction in terms. But there are, in fact, a number of varieties of socialism. Each variety emphasizes material equality and communal property ownership, but each does so in its own way.

Nathan Finn published an article at Crossway discussing what Star Wars can teach us about history:

A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .
Ever since the original Star Wars movie opened in theaters in 1977, the words mentioned above have been a part of American popular culture. Each of the live-action movies in the Star Wars franchise that have been released thus far begin with these words set against a black screen. Cue the famous theme song by composer John Williams. Once the music begins, a short summary of the backstory leading up to the film scrolls upward across the screen. Once the prologue is completed, the movie begins. I get chill bumps every time I sit in a theater and the opening words appear on the screen; even my disappointment in the moribund second trilogy of movies could not take away this feeling of anticipation.

In a helpful article on historical thinking, Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke suggest that the opening sequence in the Star Wars films reminds us of the importance of historical context. I believe it also offers another important reminder to historians. The past, while often open to scholarly study, took place a long time ago in a faraway place (if not another galaxy). Many historians emphasize this point by citing the famous opening line to L. P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” This is true even of the recent past. For this reason, historians must take into account matters of historical context when studying the past.

Keelan Cook shared a post at the People’s Next Door website titled: What exactly is urban? Keelan writes:

Cites are a hot topic nowadays. The world is officially more urban than rural, and it does not appear that is changing anytime soon. People are talking about cities. People are moving into cities. Cities are claiming an ever-growing chunk of society. And on this march into the concrete jungle, the word urban is getting tossed around like a frisbee.

City planners are talking about urbanization. Sociologists speak of urbanism. Not only is urban becoming an ism and an ation, as a adjective it is used to describe everything from a neighborhood to a pair of boots (I’m looking at you Urban Outfitters). But, despite all of this word-slinging, what does urban actually mean?

Chuck Lawless recently shared ten things he has learned about corporate worship. Dr. Lawless writes:

Almost 35 years ago, I began pastoring my first church. I remember planning worship services, typing the order of worship, and praying the worship would go well. Since then, I’ve realized how little I knew about corporate worship at the time. Here are 10 things I’ve learned about worship since then.

In Case You Missed It

Over at the Action Institute, Joe Carter published a series of articles on the Economics of Bedford Falls. Joe writes:

Upon it’s initial release in 1946, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life was something of a financial flop, failing to reach the break-even point of $6.3 million. Although it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it wasn’t until subsequent decades that it became recognized as one of the greatest Christmas film ever made.*

The film is long overdue for another reappraisal, for it’s also one of the best films ever created about economics and financial services.

In a series of three posts (to be posted today, Wednesday, and Thursday), I’ll highlight some of the financial aspects of the film (the first two posts) and a few of the broad economic lessons from one of my all-time favorite films.

At his blog, Faith and History, Dr. Robert Tracy McKenzie writes about what “It’s a Wonderful Life” can teach us about thinking historically.

Do Americans still watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas time? I used to think that everyone was familiar with it, at least, but now I’m not so sure. I met a woman in church the other day who is “old enough to know better”—that is how my dad used to categorize anyone his age or older—and she stunned me by confessing that she has never seen this holiday classic. In case you haven’t seen it, I heartily recommend it. It’s a heartwarming, even inspiring story, but its realvalue is in how it teaches us to think historically. As effectively as any movie I’ve seen, it drives home the importance of historical context.

Historical context is critical to historical understanding for one basic reason: none of us lives in a vacuum. Humanly speaking, our lives are influenced (not determined, but profoundly influenced) by what has gone before us. Indeed, if there is a single truth that inspires the serious study of history, it is the conviction that we gain great insight into the human condition by situating the lives of men and women in the larger flow of human experience over time.

Andrew Barber writes about how movies can make us feel like kids again, but also how we shouldn’t need entertainment to save us from our colorless adulthood.

The commercial opens with a young man sitting in a high-rise office, alone and working overtime. Desperately bored, his eyes stumble across an old R2-D2 toy displayed on his desk. The familiar score softly echoes as the man sees his childhood flash before him: sleepovers with lightsaber-flashlight duels, Star Wars-themed birthday parties, bicycle rides as Tie-Fighters.

Suddenly, back in the office, the walls begin to shake. Our depressed businessman looks up to see an honest-to-goodness X-Wing, hovering outside his window. His childhood friend, piloting the craft, waves and beckons. A second X-Wing then rises up, cockpit empty. Without hesitation, our hero grabs a chair, throws it through the window, and leaps into his X-Wing, off to face the Empire. The final shots are of the young man, now fully enlivened, engaged in an epic battle.

The commercial is for a new Star Wars: Battlefront videogame; and, for better or for worse, I can think of no better statement as to the function of high-end blockbusters like Star Wars. Even in the most prosperous country on earth, in which most have never experienced hunger or homelessness, we are desperately trying to smash through the windows of our adult world and fly back to our childhood.

At the Ligonier Ministries blog, Peter Jones writes an interesting post: “Star Wars and the Ancient Religion“.

The appearance of a new episode of the Star Wars film series is an important moment for Christian witness. To be sure, we can shrug our shoulders, since Star Wars is old news. Or we can enthusiastically introduce our grandchildren to what we might think is a beloved, harmless yarn. Or we can—and should—discover in the series an occasion to sharpen our presentation of the gospel message and help our children and grandchildren, and anyone else who might be interested, to understand the culture in which they live.

In this famous and creative saga, which we must respect for its artistic value, we find many positive ideals—bravery, friendship, love, and spirituality, and others—which help explain the success of the series. However, in examining Star Wars’account of the mystery and nobility of human life, the Bible’s answer, in comparison, emerges with incomparably more convincing power.

Finally, as Christmas is one of the big seasons for new movies to be released, be sure to check out these three posts from Dr. Bruce Ashford from back in 2010, Taking God to the Movies. You can find them here (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).