On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.
Articles I Found Interesting
This has been a depressing week. Shootings by police, shootings of police, the ISIS bombing in Baghdad, religious‐liberty infringements, disgraceful political behavior and more. If you’re feeling down, the first few links will be especially helpful to you.
- How To Pray In Our Time Of National Crisis (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “Many of us are anxious and hurting. All of us are confused. When faced with this type of national crisis we may find it difficult to turn to our Comforter in prayer. We are used to going to God with our requests, but this time seems different. We are mired in sorrow and pain…”
- Lamentations: A Bottle For The Tears Of the World (Christopher Wright, Christianity Today): “So much of our worship is cover‐up: pretending to have emotions we don’t really feel, or smothering the emotions we do. That is not praise. It simply leaves us to pick up our suffering again on the way out—without bringing it into God’s presence or hurling it at him in questioning (but trusting) protest. Spending time in Lamentations helps us learn how to plumb the depths of lament as well as scale the heights of rejoicing.”
- What Shootings And Racial Justice Mean For The Body of Christ (Russell Moore, personal blog): “If we believe that every person will stand before a Judgment Seat, we cannot then stand silently when we see injustice. But many—including evangelicals of all ethnicities—wonder what we can really do? Some are reluctant to speak because they do not wish to reduce these issues to a hash‐tag and they don’t know what to do.”
- End Needless Interaction With Cops During Traffic Stops (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): a shrewd, easy‐to‐implement suggestion.
- My Four Months As A Private Prison Guard (Shane Bauer, Mother Jones): a very long but very engaging essay. “I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive.” See also Wounds From Incarceration That Never Heal (Tony Brown & Evelyn Patterson, The New Republic)
- Two stories on the religious‐liberty front:
- Iowa Churches Can’t Discriminate In Services “Open To The Public” (Sarah Zylstra, Christianity Today): This would have the practical effect of censoring sermons. Lest you think this is overstated, the official state document is available for your viewing pleasure. Since this was the action of a commission and not the legislature or the judiciary it will likely be retracted quickly. Nonetheless alarming.
- ChristianMingle Lawsuit Forces Site to Add Options for Gay Daters (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today). I’m not a fan of ChristianMingle, but this is patently absurd. Are they now also required to match Muslims? If not, why not? What about Mormons? They say they’re Christian. Is ChristianMingle allowed to have an opinion about that?
- A group of our summer Chi Alphans had a conversation about how the books of the Bible got selected. If you’re curious, here are two resources by Michael Kruger, a scholar in the field, that should prove helpful: Ten Basic Facts About the NT Canon That Every Christian Should Memorize and 10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon
A Quote To Ponder
Think before you act; think twice before you speak; think thrice before you post to social media.
Why Do You Send This Email?
In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.
Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).
Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.
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