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August 01, 2015

Justin Taylor

What Happens Month-by-Month within the Womb?

Francis Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, and Co-Director of the Program in Philosophical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion, at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is the author of Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007), the most sophisticated and compelling book on the subject.

In an article he once summarized what happens in the womb throughout a pregnancy:

First Month

Beckwith begins at the beginning:

Pregnancy begins at conception, the time at which the male sperm and the female ovum unite.

What results is called a zygote, a one-celled biological entity, a stage in human development through which each of us has passed (just as we have passed through infancy, childhood, and adolescence).

It is a misnomer to refer to this entity as a “fertilized ovum.” For both ovum and sperm, which are genetically each a part of its owner (mother and father, respectively), cease to exist at the moment of conception.

There is no doubt, he says, that the zygote is biologically alive:

It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life:

  1. metabolism
  2. growth
  3. reaction to stimuli
  4. reproduction.

Beckwith gives two reasons we know that this life is fully human:

First, the human conceptus — that which results from conception and begins as a zygote — is the sexual product of human parents. Hence, insofar as having human causes, the conceptus is human.

Second, not only is the conceptus human insofar as being caused by humans, it is a unique human individual, just as each of us is.

Resulting from the union of the female ovum (which contains 23 chromosomes) and the male sperm (which contains 23 chromosomes), the conceptus is a new — although tiny — individual. It has its own unique genetic code (with forty-six chromosomes), which is neither the mother’s nor the father’s. From this point until death, no new genetic information is needed to make the unborn entity a unique individual human. Her (or his) genetic make-up is established at conception, determining her unique individual physical characteristics — gender, eye color, bone structure, hair color, skin color, susceptibility to certain diseases, etc. That is to say, at conception, the “genotype” — the inherited characteristics of a unique human being — is established and will remain in force for the entire life of this individual.

Although sharing the same nature with all human beings, the unborn individual, like each one of us, is unlike any that has been conceived before and unlike any that will ever be conceived again. The only thing necessary for the growth and development of this human organism (as with the rest of us) is oxygen, food, and water, since this organism — like the newborn, the infant, and the adolescent — needs only to develop in accordance with her already-designed nature that is present at conception.

This is why French geneticist Jermoe L. LeJeune, while testifying before a Senate Subcommittee, asserted: “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence.”

Beckwith applies this to each of us:

There is hence no doubt that the development of a unique individual human life begins at conception. It is vital that you — the reader — understand that

  • you did not come from a zygote, you once were a zygote;
  • you did not come from an embryo, you once were an embryo;
  • you did not come from a fetus, you once were a fetus;
  • you did not come from an adolescent, you once were an adolescent.

Consequently, each one of us has experienced these various developmental stages of life. None of these stages, however, imparted to us our humanity.

Beckwith describes the process from implantation through the first 30 days in the womb:

Within one week after conception, implantation occurs — the time at which the conceptus “nests” or implants in her mother’s uterus.

During this time, and possibly up to fourteen days after conception, a splitting of the conceptus may occur resulting in the creation of identical twins. In some instances the two concepti may recombine and become one conceptus. . . .

At about three weeks, a primitive heart muscle begins to pulsate.

Other organs begin to develop during the first month, such as a liver, primitive kidneys, a digestive tract, and a simple umbilical cord.

This developing body has a head and a developing face with primitive ears, mouth, and eyes, despite the fact that it is no larger than half the size of a pea. Toward the end of the first month (between 26 and 28 days) the arms and legs begin to appear as tiny buds.

A whole embryo is formed by the end of the first month.

From the eighteenth day after conception, substantial development of the brain and nervous system occurs. This is necessary because the nervous system integrates the action of all the other systems.

By the end of the twentieth day the foundation of the child’s brain, spinal cord, and entire nervous system will have been established.

By the sixth week, this system will have developed so well that it is controlling movements of the baby’s muscles, even though the woman may not be aware she is pregnant.

At thirty days the primary brain is seen.

By the thirty-third day the cerebral cortex, the part of the central nervous system which governs motor activity as well as intellect, may be seen.

Second Month

Despite its small size, the unborn child by the beginning of the second month looks distinctly “human” (although — as this article maintains — it is human from conception). At this point it is highly likely that the mother does not even know she is pregnant.

Brain waves can be detected in the unborn at about forty to forty-three days after conception.

During the second month, the eyes, ears, nose, toes, and fingers make their appearance; the skeleton develops; the heart beats; and the blood — with its own type — flows.

The unborn at this time has reflexes and her lips become sensitive to touch.

By the eighth week her own unique fingerprints start to form, along with the lines in her hands.

A vast majority of abortions are performed during this time, despite the scientific facts which clearly show that an individual human life is developing, as it would after birth, from infant to child to adolescent to adult.

Can the fetus feel pain at this stage? Beckwith answers:

In an important article, Professor John T. Noonan argues that it is reasonable to infer that toward the end of the second month of pregnancy the unborn has the ability to feel pain. It is crucial to remember that the end of the second month (7 to 8 1/2 weeks) is in the first trimester, a time at which a great majority of abortions are performed and at which the Supreme Court said a state may not prohibit abortions performed by a licensed practitioner. From the facts of brain and nerve development, the pained expressions on the faces of aborted fetuses, the known ability to experience other sensations at this time, and the current methods by which abortions are performed, Noonan concludes from his research that as soon as a pain mechanism is present in the fetus — possibly as early as day 56 — the methods used will cause pain. The pain is more substantial and lasts longer the later the abortion is. It is most severe and lasts the longest when the method is saline poisoning.

“Whatever the method used, the unborn are experiencing the greatest of bodily evils, the ending of their lives. They are undergoing the death agony. However inarticulate, however slight their cognitive powers, however rudimentary their sensations, they are sentient creatures undergoing the disintegration of their being and the termination of their vital capabilities. That experience is painful in itself.”

Third Month

Movement is what characterizes the third month of pregnancy.

Although she weighs only one ounce and is comparable in size to a goose egg, the unborn begins to swallow, squint, and swim, grasp with her hands, and move her tongue.

She also sucks her thumb.

Her organs undergo further development. The salivary glands, taste buds, and stomach digestive glands develop — as evidenced by her swallowing and utilization of the amniotic fluid.

She also begins to urinate.

Depending on the unborn’s sex, primitive sperm or eggs form.

Parental resemblance may already be seen in the unborn’s facial expressions.

Fourth Month

Growth is characteristic of the fourth month.

The weight of the unborn increases six times — to about one-half her birth weight.

Her height is between eight and ten inches long and she can hear her mother’s voice.

Fifth Month

In the fifth month of pregnancy the unborn becomes viable. That is, she now has the ability, under our current technological knowledge, to live outside her mother’s womb. Some babies have survived as early as twenty weeks.

The fifth month is also the time at which the mother begins to feel the unborn’s movements, although mothers have been known to feel stirrings earlier. This first movement was traditionally called quickening, the time at which some ancient, medieval, and common-law scholars thought the soul entered the body. Not having access to the biological facts we currently possess, they reasoned that prior to quickening it could not be proven that the unborn was “alive.” Current biology, by conclusively demonstrating that a biologically living human individual is present from conception, has decisively refuted this notion of “quickening,” just as current astronomy has refuted the geocentric solar system.

During the fifth month, the unborn’s hair, skin, and nails develop.

She can dream (rapid eye movement [REM] sleep) and cry (if air is present).

It is, however, perfectly legal under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton to kill this unborn human being by abortion for any reason her mother so chooses.

Sixth through Ninth Months

In the remaining four months of pregnancy the unborn continues to develop.

The child’s chances of survival outside the womb increase as she draws closer to her expected birthday.

During this time she responds to sounds, her mother’s voice, pain, and the taste of substances placed in the amniotic fluid.

Some studies have shown that the child can actually learn before it is born.

The child is born approximately 40 weeks after conception.

Summary

Beckwith summarizes:

In summary, the pro-life advocate believes that full humanness begins at conception for at least four reasons, which were evident in the above presentation of fetal development:

  1. At the moment of conception a separate unique human individual, with its own genetic code, comes into existence — needing only food, water, shelter, and oxygen in order to grow and develop.

  2. Like the infant, the child, and the adolescent, the conceptus is a being who is in the process of becoming. She is not a becoming who is striving toward being. She is not a potential human life but a human life with great potential.

  3. The conceptus is the sexual product of human parents, and whatever is the sexual product of members of a particular mammalian species, is itself a unique individual member of that species.

  4. And the same being that begins as a zygote continues to birth and adulthood. There is no decisive break in the continuous development of the human entity from conception until death that would make this entity a different individual before birth. This is why it makes perfect sense for any one of us to say, “When I was conceived…”

You can read the whole piece, “Answering Arguments for Abortion Rights,” in four parts:

by Justin Taylor at August 01, 2015 04:25 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Origin of IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY

This month I have not had a day-job, and so for the first time have had enough free time to work like a full time writer.

This is the novel I have been waiting eleven and a half years to write. I wrote the manuscript in five weeks, and spent a week polishing and revising.

I sent it off to Castalia House this Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for me. (I have also begun a new project for Castalia House called MOTHS AND COBWEBS, a juvenile, which I will describe in a later post.)

iron chamber

The novel is called IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY.

The story idea came to me during the month of December in 2003, just a few days after my rather dramatic conversion from total Christ-hating atheism to total fidelity. I was recovering from major surgery, and still had one foot, so to speak, in the spirit world.

This story idea came to me in one moment, complete, perfect, in immense detail. I dragged myself out of bed to spend one afternoon writing the outline down in one go from start to finish.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, and nothing since.

I often speak of writing as if I am taking dictation from the muse. Usually I am exaggerating a little, or being a little modest. Here I am not. It is as if some other spirit than mine contrived this story, and all I have done is write it down.

The thing was eerie. There are certain ideas and themes in it which are quite a bit like other things I have written. An amnesiac hero trying to discover who he really is, for example, appears in nearly everything I write.

I can also see where the basic ideas come from: that there is a room in a house where whenever the protagonist enters, he remembers he is in love with a woman who also loves him, but only inside that chamber, and nowhere else. The conceit is taken from the deservedly obscure novel A HAUNTED WOMAN by David Lindsay. I say it is deserved obscure because Mr Lindsay did not exercise his full range of his powerful imagination here, and did not explore the several odd but logical ramifications of the idea.

But there are other themes here utterly unlike my usual fare, and other ideas I know not whence they came.

The only element I added was the setting. Originally, I meant it to be set in Oxford, England, at Magdalen College, but I since discovered a small channel island called Sercq or Sark, called a Dark Sky island, and, until 2008, the last still-functioning feudal  fief in Europe.

The small and beautiful manor house of the Lord of the island, Le Seigneurie, I had to make into something huge and haunted as Gormenghast, and I add a frankly impossible old growth forest which could not fit on the tiny real island; but aside from these indignities of poetic license, the strangest details in the story are the ones taken from life, and these are the least likely to be believed. I did not make up that Sark is a Dark Sky island, once invaded by a Nuclear Scientist, nor that the language spoken there has never been written down.

The overall vision encompassed in the story is strange, and I am not sure if it counts as science fiction or magical realism or mainstream or what it is. Not only is the narrator unreliable, reality is unreliable.

Part of it is a love story, part of it is a story of treason and revenge, part of it is hallucinatory, and part, the best part, is a metaphysical thriller after the fashion of Charles Williams, where the mystery is not who murdered whom, but what is ultimate reality.

Let me favor you, dear reader, with the opening scene:

Le Seigneurie, the Dark Sky island of Sark

Le Seigneurie, the Dark Sky island of Sark

 

PROLOGUE: THE WHITE BONEYARD

Standing and frowning in the New York snow, Hal Landfall realized he did not recall the name of the person pushing his mother’s wheelchair toward his father’s grave.

He had been overseas for the last four years, studying. It seemed long ago now that he had last been home. He remembered how his sister Elaine had insisted he go, take the rare opportunity. In less than a year, their father’s health declined like a rapid childhood in reverse: there was a day when his last tooth fell out, a day when he took his last upright step, a day when he spoke his last word.

When he had offered to abandon his studies and come home, Elaine had vowed she could shoulder all duties their father, for all his life, had so carefully performed, and watch and tend their mother. Hal Landfall could not recall, even among his simplest, earliest memories, a day when his mother was entirely well.

Elaine, it is true, said she recalled the brighter days of older years, when their mother could play with her children, sit on the nursery floor and roll a ball, or clap and sing rhymes, or hold the children and repeat their simple, goodnight prayers.

He recalled little other than the dark bedroom door, frowning at him. He had to reach over his head to touch the knob. Shouts and screams of different voices—but it was always his mother’s voice—would come from the door. Young Hal was forbidden to touch the door, even when nightmares woke him at midnight, and he needed a gentle voice or loving hand. Books had been all there was to take the place of human voices he never heard, brutal athletics of human contact. Dad told him to be nice to the woman with the wild and empty eyes, and not upset her. He never told what upset her or why. Hal tried not to complain when she bit him.

Elaine said she recalled custard they once had shared, something actually made by their mother in the kitchen, not bought from a store, not take out. Father never cooked.

As his eyes got bad and his hands shook, Father still prepared the needle for Mom’s injections. He carried her upstairs and downstairs. There was a wheelchair on every floor. He spoon fed her. He carried her to the bathroom. He said she had no weight.

Hal had been in England when it happened. It happened suddenly. He talked to them both. Elaine had passed the telephone to their mother, but Mrs. Landfall did not remember who Hal was.

Instead she kept talking about a black dog. “I hate the black dog,” she said, in the voice one might use confiding secret to a chance-met stranger. “Sometimes I see him stand upright on the road, under the streetlight outside the window. The black dog howled when Henry went. I think he was laughing at me. I’ll get up in a moment, as soon as I’ve rested. I have to remember how to walk. I don’t remember what it feels like. ”

Elaine was not at the funeral. His sister was snowed in, trapped in some Midwestern airport until further notice, and, with Hal returning to the British Isles that same day, it had seemed impossible to cancel or delay.

Mounts of white snow were on all the gravestones. The angels wore caps and cloaks of white, as did the spears of the fence. Beyond the fence, Hal could see the East River, and the traffic moving slowly through the gray weather. It seemed unfair that so many people would have so many places to go, families and friends unmarred by tragedy. Hal felt a bitterness in his heart: it was as if the world could tolerate to continue only because it forget the tortures of the world.

After the priest was done saying the words, Hal tucked the hawk-headed walking stick he always carried under one arm, stooped, and reached down and picked up his mother’s ungloved hand. There was neither cap on her head nor scarf at her neck, and the sweater was one he remembered from his youth, a favorite thing of hers to wear in all weather, now torn with holes and no one to patch them.

“Who are you?” she said.

“I am your son. I am Hal,” he said. He gave his mother a warm smile, but his eyes were icy, as he glared at the nurse lolling behind the wheelchair with a bored look on her face. The lady was dumpy and potato-shaped. “You don’t seem dressed warmly enough!”

“Henry will take care of me,” said Mom. “He always takes care of me. Did you hear Father O’Brien just now? I don’t know why they made me come out here on a day like today. I might miss my programs!” Mom looked cross. “What is going on? Who died? Was it someone I know? I want to ask Henry about it. He said he would see me.”

Hal did not realize at first what she meant. When her words sank into his soul, they left burn marks. Hal patted her hand, unable to speak. She gave him the look one might give a kindly stranger.

She was shivering violently now, wearing only her old, threadbare sweater and no hat. Snowflakes were landing on her head, and she did not even raise a hand to brush them away.

“If I could remember where I put the door key, I would let years flow in. Rose and silverwhite and iron! And gold beyond that! Old years, green years, and the good ones would wear all white. Oh! How I adore the crowns and the trumpets! So pretty! Henry knows where I put it. He always takes care of me. Where is he? I was talking to him just now.”

Hal straightened up, looked around. There had been other mourners, two veterans from Mr. Landfall’s old unit, his partner and one loyal customer from his days running a bookstore, a student he had tutored, and a neighbor. All had said their farewells earlier, and were drifting away, silent, down the paths out of the little churchyard and back into crowded streets where tall building loomed, indifferent. Hal’s found his eyes continuing to dart left and right, looking to find his sister, despite that she was not coming, could not come.

He glared again at the nurse. He had been told her name by Elaine, and give the other details, but it had escaped him. “Where is this place you keep her? Who are you?”

The nurse gave her name and the name of the sanitarium. Saint something or other. Hal asked her to get his mother back into someplace warm, someplace decent.

The fat nurse shrugged, wearing the same serene expression as a cow chewing a cud, and said, “We all want some place more decent, honey. Don’t mind me. I just do what I’m told. They say take her out, I take her out. You say take her back in, I’ll take her back in. No problem, no bother, no worries.”

Hal’s hand tightened on his walking stick, as if, without knowing it, part of him were toying with the idea of bludgeoning the indifferent nurse with it. Was no one talking care of his mother?

Mrs. Landfall must have been following part of the conversation, for her trembling voice broke in, querulous: “When can I go home? Henry will take me home.”

The casket had been closed the whole time. Hal had insisted on that point when Elaine had been making arrangements. Seeing him lying motionless would have been too terrible for his old and senile mother, a punishment worse than any crime deserved.

The priest, a bent-backed, bald, short man with an odd, sad smile and eyebrows of astounding size and brightness like two albino caterpillars on his forehead, came over. He spoke in a soft, kind voice to Mrs. Landfall. Hal did not hear was the priest said, but the mother’s voice was sharp and clear in the cold air: “I’ll have Henry leave it for you in the black iron moly chamber in the church, so you’ll remember.”

The old priest turned to Hal, put out his hand, “So this is Little Henry?” The priest had to crane his head to look up at Hal, who was quite tall. “Father O’Brien. Your mother has spoken often of you. We hope for great things, heroic things, in the struggles ahead. Keep your sword always by you, and your prayers ready at hand, eh, what? These sorrows, these present sorrows, will melt when this world melts, eh! The last enemy to be conquered is death, but there are others before that. You are deployed to England, I take it?”

Hal spoke in a puzzled voice, “Did Mother tell you I was a soldier or something?”

The little priest’s face fell. “Well, she said, ah…”

Hal said, “I am in England working on my master’s degree. In Saint Magdalene College. Elaine arranged the funeral, so I could come during Christmas holiday. Did she think I was in the army? My mother, I mean.”

The little priest looked bewildered. “We serve in the hosts of the light, and you are born of a great warrior. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.”

Hal doubted his hearing. The words were strange, unearthly. He vaguely thought he had heard something like this before, but the memory eluded him. He shook his head sharply, and said, “My father served in the Navy for five years before I was born. She does not remember me. That is what she is thinking of. She does not know me. My own mother.”

“She speaks of you often.”

“We are both named Henry. I am Henry, Junior. I go by Hal.”

“But if you are not kept away by your official duties, why weren’t you here, earlier? When your mother needed help?”

Later, Hal did not recall what he answered, or even if he answered. They were interrupted by a commotion. In the distance, through the snow, beyond the belt of trees and the low fence of wrought iron surrounding the churchyard, was a city street filled with gray snow and honking cars. Some stray dog, a big, black mutt, was motionless in the intersection, barking at a truck, and the cars had stopped.

At that point, mother became hysterical, and the nurse took her back into the church. The little priest took out a small stoppered bottle of liquid and his prayer beads, and walked toward the fence, toward the noise of the barking. Hal was alone. Only the two gravediggers were left, stony-faced foreign-looking young men, who were cranking the geared wheels to lower the casket into the ground.

Hal stood in the snow. He wanted to follow his mother and comfort her, but he did not move. He shifted his soaked feet in the snow uneasily, his best shoes wetted, a fierce look on his square and simple face, as if he wanted to strike someone or break something.

He wanted some explanation from his sister about this sanitarium where his mother had been abandoned. Why was she not staying at Elaine’s apartment, as they had so often discussed? What kind of place could it be, run by what kind of venal fools that negligently or cruelly sent old ladies out to funerals in the snow without a coat?

He wanted to yell at his sister, but her absence cheated him of that release.

More than that, he wanted some explanation from the priest about this world where his mother had been abandoned. Had heaven forgotten mankind? What kind of world was it that negligently or cruelly allowed a senile woman’s husband to decline so swiftly, and die so suddenly, when he was so loved, and so needed?

But Hal had a taxi to catch, holiday crowds to wrestle, and an airplane to wait in endless lines to board, and a sea to cross. He stalked away with none of his questions answered.

 

by John C Wright at August 01, 2015 01:19 AM

Unleash the Correia!

Your humble servant is mentioned in the Guardian newspaper in the same breath as Vox Day as being so extremely badthink as to be beyond the pale, on the grounds that Jimes Hines once slandered me because I did not like my favorite children’s cartoon aimed as children being used as a vehicle to promote the normalization of a sexual abnormality to children.

And I am one of the dread and dreaded subspecies called Christians, one of those horrors spoken of in whispers who thinks suicide a sin, abortion a Carthaginian horror, sodomy an abomination, and lying is wrong. You know, one of those people that, since the Fifth Century or so, have been running Western Civilization, and who is solely responsible for all of its advances.

Larry Correia fisked the damned column (I use the word with exquisite theological precision) so you don’t have to.

The underlying article is so boring, so predicable, so foolishly smug and wrongheaded that it would be otherwise intolerable to read. Liek viewing Cthulhu when Rlyeh arises, you would loose your sanity points.

Dear heavens, how I admire and love Mr Correia! He deserves the title Monster-Fib Hunter International. I suspect that the Bene Gesserit Witches together with Mentor of Arisia have been cross-breeding human beings for a hundred generations to bring out the awesomeness gene, and finally succeeded with him. He is a second-stage lensman and the Kwizach Haderack. There is no other explanation.

http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/07/31/fisking-the-guardians-latest-sad-puppy-of-the-week-article

by John C Wright at August 01, 2015 12:12 AM

Market Urbanism

White House Issues Report On Occupational Licensing Barriers

1. My two Forbes articles this week covered Chicago, including how the Illinois courts are hindering the city from pension reform; and how a new Taco Bell in Wicker Park will cater to young urban barhoppers.

2. This week, the White House Council of Economic Advisors published a report about the rise of occupational licensing in the U.S. It was a refreshing look by those in power at a lightly-covered issue that harms millions of people. The 77-page paper takes a cursory state-by-state view at the measures required to enter various professions. It found that nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce now requires a license to do their jobs, a five-fold increase since 1950, and “about two-thirds of this change stems from an increase in the number of professions that require a license.” Meanwhile, the requirements for obtaining licenses have increased in time and costs, with many states requiring years of experience to enter rudimentary professions like landscaping and hair-styling.

This is thought to ensure quality and safety. But the report found that it is often excessive, harming both entrepreneurs and consumers. Occupational licenses harm entrepreneurs by creating large upfront costs to start even modest businesses, which discourages many from doing so (or pushes their operations under the table, a phenomenon I documented last year for the Wall Street Journal). Along with disproportionately impacting the poor, licensing requirements in some states exclude those who have been convicted of any crime, or those who have defaulted on student loans. Occupational licensing also harms immigrants, who are generally more entrepreneurial than natives.

Immigrants must often complete duplicative and costly requirements in order to acquire a U.S. license in their chosen career. In many cases, the training or experience that these immigrants acquired overseas does not count toward fulfilling the relevant licensing requirements. For example, in Illinois, if an engineer earns a degree from most universities abroad, she must submit proof that she worked under a U.S. engineer for four years; other work experience abroad will not suffice.

And this hurts consumers by decreasing competition and raising prices.

The report was part of President Obama’s initiative to review and weed-out counterproductive federal regulations. But because occupational licensing is a state and local thing, the feds can only address it through education efforts, and by offering grant money to reform-minded states. On Monday, when Obama unveils his budget, one anticipated item will be $15 million to study occupational licensing in the 50 states.

I first heard about the CEA report via Matt Yglesias, who called occupational licensing one of the nation’s “most underrated economic problems.” But the real credit for bringing attention to the issue goes to the Institute for Justice, a libertarian think tank that for years has covered occupational licensing’s growth. Here is their 2012 study that is even more comprehensive than the CEA’s (and that probably didn’t cost $15 million to produce), and a summarizing WSJ editorial by the authors.

by Scott Beyer at August 01, 2015 12:10 AM

July 31, 2015

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

A (Not Quite) Complete List Of Things Supposedly Caused By Global Warming

Some of these link may be bad, but enough should be good to show the general trend. We are not dealing with a scientific theory, but a cult belief.

A (Not Quite) Complete List Of Things Supposedly
Caused By Global Warming

Acne , agricultural land increase , Afghan poppies destroyed , Africa devastated,  Africa in conflict, , African aid threatenedAfrican summer frost , aggressive weeds , More Toxic Poison Ivy , air pressure changes , airport malaria , Agulhas current , Alaska reshaped , moves , allergy season longer , alligators in the Thames , Alps melting , Amazon a desert , American dream end , amphibians breeding earlier (or not) , anaphylactic reactions to bee stings , ancient forests dramatically changed , animals head for the hills , animals shrink , Antarctic grass flourishes , Antarctic ice grows , Antarctic ice shrinks , Antarctic sea life at risk , anxiety treatment , algal blooms , archaeological sites threatened , Arab Spring , Arctic bogs melt , Arctic in bloom , Arctic ice free , Arctic ice melt faster , Arctic lakes disappear , Arctic tundra to burn , Arctic warming (not), Atlantic less salty , Atlantic more salty , atmospheric circulation modified , attack of the killer jellyfish , avalanches reduced , avalanches increased , Baghdad snow , Bahrain under water , bananas grow , barbarisation , beer shortage , beetle infestation , bet for $10,000 , better beer , big melt faster , billion dollar research projects , billion homeless , billions face risk , billions of deaths , bird distributions change , bird loss accelerating , birds shrinking , bird strikes , bird visitors drop , birds confused , birds decline (Wales) , birds driven north , birds return early , bittern boom ends , blackbirds stop singing , blackbirds threatened , Black Hawk down , blood contaminated , blue mussels return , bluetongue , brain eating amoebae , brains shrink , bridge collapse (Minneapolis) , Britain one big city , Smaller loaves of Bread , Britain Siberian , brothels struggle , brown Ireland , bubonic plague , budget increases , Buddhist temple threatened , building collapse , building season extension , bushfires , business opportunities , business risks , butterflies move northcamel deaths , cancer deaths in England , cannibalism , cannibalism again , caterpillar biomass shift , cave paintings threatened , childhood insomnia, Cholera , circumcision in decline , cirrus disappearance , civil unrest , cloud increase , coast beauty spots lost , cockroach migration, , coffee threatened , cold climate creatures survive , cold spells (Australia) , cold wave (India) , computer models , conferences , conflict , conflict with Russia , consumers foot the bill , coral bleaching , coral fish suffer , coral reefs dying , coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , coral reefs twilightCabbage Shortage , cost of trillions , cougar attackscrabgrass menace cradle of civilisation threatened , creatures move uphill, crime increase , crocodile sex, crops devastated , crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems , curriculum change , cyclones (Australia),   danger to kid’s health , Darfur , Dartford Warbler plague , death rate increase (US) , deaths to reach 6 million, Dengue hemorrhagic fever , depression , desert advance , desert retreat , destruction of the environment , disappearance of coastal citiesdisasters , diseases move from animals to humans , diseases move north , dog disease , Dolomites collapse , dozen deadly diseases , drought,   ducks and geese decline , dust bowl in the corn belt , early marriages , early spring , earlier pollen season , Earth biodiversity crisis , Earth dying , Earth even hotter , Earth light dimming , Earth lopsided, Earth melting , Earth morbid fever , Earth on fast track , Earth past point of no return , Earth slowing down , Earth spins faster, Earth to explode , Earth’s poles shift , earth upside down , earthquakes , Specifically the 2015 Nepal earthquake , earthquakes redux , earthquakes redux 2 , Egypt revolt , El Niño intensification , end of the world as we know it , erosion , emerging infections, encephalitis, English villages lost , equality threatened , Europe simultaneously baking and freezing,  eutrophication , evolution accelerating , expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human , civilisation,  logic , Inuit , smallest butterfly , cod, ladybirds , pikas , polar bears,   possums , walrus,   toads , plants , salmon , trout , wild flowers , woodlice , a million species , half of all animal and plant speciesmountain species , not polar bears , barrier reef , leaches , salamanders , tropical insects)

experts muzzled , extreme changes to California , fading fall foliage , fainting , famine ,  farmers benefit , farmers go under , farm output boost , fashion disaster , fever , figurehead sacked , fir cone bonanza , fish bigger , fish catches drop , fish downsize,  fish catches rise , fish deaf, fish get lost , fish head north , fish stocks at risk , fish stocks decline , five million illnesses , flames stoked , flesh eating disease , flood patterns change , floods,  floods of beaches and cities , flood of migrants, flood preparation for crisis , Florida economic decline , flowers in peril , fog (more) in San Francisco , fog (less) in San Francisco , food poisoningfood prices rise , food prices soar , food security threat (SA)football team migration , footpath erosion, forest decline , forest expansion , frog with extra heads , frostbite , frost damage increased , frosts , fungi fruitful , fungi invasion , games change , Garden of Eden wilts , geese decline in Hampshire , genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed , giant oysters invade,  giant pythons invade , giant squid migrate , gingerbread houses collapse , glacial earthquakes , glacial retreat,  glacial growth , glacier grows (California) , glacier wrapped , global cooling , global dimming, glowing clouds , golf course to drown , golf Masters wrecked , grandstanding , grasslands wetter , Great Barrier Reef 95% dead , Great Lakes drop , great tits cope , greening of the North , Grey whales lose weight , Gulf Stream failure , habitat loss , haggis threatened , Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome,  harmful algae , harvest increase , harvest shrinkage , hay fever epidemic , health affected , health of children harmed, health risks, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation affected,   hibernation ends too soon , hibernation ends too late , high court debates , HIV epidemic , homeless 50 million , hornets , horses shrink , human development faces unprecedented reversal , human fertility reduced, human health risk , human race oblivion , hurricanes , hurricane reduction , hurricanes fewer , hurricanes not , hydropower problems , hyperthermia deaths , ice age , ice sheet growth , ice sheet shrinkage ,  icebergs , illegal immigration , illness and death , inclement weather , India drowning , infrastructure failure (Canada) , industry threatened , infectious diseases,  inflation in China , insect explosion, insurance premium rises , Inuit displacement , Inuit poisoned , Inuit suing , invasion of cats , invasion of crabgrass , invasion of herons , invasion of jellyfish , invasion of king crabs , invasion of midges island disappears , islands sinking , Creation of ISIS , itchier poison ivy , jellyfish explosion , jets fall from sky , jet stream drifts north , Kew Gardens taxed , kidney stones , kidney stones again , killer cornflakes , killing us , kitten boom , koalas under threat , krill decline , lake and stream productivity decline , lake empties , lake shrinking and growing , landslides , landslides of ice at 140 mph , lawsuits increaselawsuit successful,  lawyers’ income increased (surprise surprise!) , lawyers want more , legionnaires’ surge , lives saved , lizards change sex , Loch Ness monster dead , Locust plagues suppressed , Longer wprk breaks , Lopsided Earth , lush growth in rain forests,   Malaria,   mammoth dung melt , mango harvest fails , Maple production advanced , Maple syrup shortage , marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, Meaching (end of the world) , Mediterranean rises , megacryometeors , Melanoma , Melanoma decline , meteors from space , methane emissions from plants , methane burps , methane runaway , melting permafrost , Middle Kingdom convulses , migration , migration difficult (birds) , migratory birds huge losses , microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly , minorities hit, monkeys on the move , Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, moose dying, more bad air days,   more research neededmortality increased, mountain (Everest) shrinking,  mountaineers fears,  mountains break up , mountains green and flowering,   mountains taller , mortality lower , murder higher ,  Myanmar cyclone , narwhals at risk , National security implications , native wildlife overwhelmed , natural disasters  quadruple , new islands , next ice age , NFL threatened, Nile delta damaged , noctilucent clouds , no effect in IndiaNorthwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloomoaks dying , oaks move northocean acidification , ocean acidification faster , ocean dead zones unleashed , ocean deserts expand , ocean waves speed up , oceans noisier , opera house to be destroyed , outdoor hockey threatened,   ozone repair slowed, ozone rise , Pacific dead zone , penguin chicks frozen, personal carbon rationingpest outbreaks , pests increasephenology shifts , plankton blooms , plankton destabilised , plants lose protein , plants march northplants move uphill polar bears aggressive , polar bears cannibalisticpolar bears deaf,   polar bears drowning,   polar bears eating themselves,   polar tours scrapped , popcorn rise , porpoise astray , profits collapseprostitutionprostitution (again)psychiatric illness,   puffin decline radars taken out , railroad tracks deformed , rainfall increase , rape wave , refugees , reindeer endangered , release of ancient frozen viruses , resorts disappear , rice threatened, rice yields crash,  rift on Capitol Hill , rioting and nuclear war, Rise and Fall of Rome,    river flow impacted , rivers raised , roads wear out , robins rampant,   rocky peaks crack apart , roof of the world a desert, rooftop bars , Ross river disease , ruins ruined,  Russia under pressure , salinity reduction , salinity increase , Salmonella,  Salmon Decline,  satellites accelerate , school closures , sea level rise , sea level rise faster , seals mating more , sewer bills rise , severe thunderstorms , sex change , sexual promiscuity , shark attacks , sharks booming , sharks moving north , sheep shrink , shop closures , short-nosed dogs endangered , shrinking ponds , shrinking shrine , ski resorts threatened , skin cancer , slow death , smaller brains , smog , snowfall increase , snowfall heavy,   soaring food prices, societal collapse , soil change , songbirds change eating habits , sour grapes , space problem , spectacular orchids , spiders invade Scotland , squid aggressive giants , squid population explosion , squid tamed , squirrels reproduce earlier , stingray invasion , storms wetter , stormwater drains stressed , street crime to increasesubsidence , suicide , swordfish in the Baltic , Tabasco tragedy , taxes , tectonic plate movement , teenage drinking , terrorism , terrorism again , threat to peace , ticks move northward (Sweden) , tides rise , tigers eat people , tomatoes rot , tornado outbreak , tourism increase , trade barriers, trade winds weakened , traffic jams , transportation threatened , tree foliage increase (UK),   tree growth slowed , trees in trouble , trees less colourful , trees more colourful , trees lush , tropics expansion , tropopause raised , truffle shortagetruffles down , turtles crash , Turbulence in air travel , turtle feminised , turtles lay earlier , UFO sightings , UK coastal impact , UK Katrina , uprooted – 6 million , Vampire bats , Vampire moths , Venice flooded , violin decline , volcanic eruptions , volcanic eruptions redux , Iceland volcano eruption,   walrus pups orphaned , walrus stampede , war , war between US and Canada , wars over water , wars sparked , wars threaten billions , wasps , water bills double , water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress , weather out of its mind , weather patterns awry , Western aid cancelled outWest Nile fever , whales lose weight , whales move north , whales wiped out , wheat yields crushed in Australia , wildfireswind shift , wind reduced,  wine – harm to Australian industry , wine industry damage (California),   wine industry disaster (France) wine – more English   wine industry disaster (US) wine – more English , wine –  England too hot , wine -German boon , wine – no more French wine passé (Napa) , wine stronger , winters in Britain colder , winter in Britain dead , witchcraft executions , wolves eat more moose , wolves eat less, workers laid off , World at war , World War 4 , World bankruptcy , World in crisis , World in flames , Yellow fever.

and all on 0.006 deg C per year! 

by John C Wright at July 31, 2015 11:28 PM

Workout: Aug. 1, 2015

Floor presses 6-6-6-6 3 sets: max strict ring dips/push-ups 3 sets: max strict pull-ups/ring rows

by Mike at July 31, 2015 10:46 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Pleasure and utility

A friend mentioned that the Venn diagram in “Your Life in Weeks” resonated with him. The diagram focused on the intersection of what you enjoy and what builds your future: try to spend your time on activities that do both; one or the other is okay, but if something doesn’t address either of those, you should probably stop doing it.

While reflecting on the diagram, I realized that I prefer an X-Y chart instead. It reminds me that there’s a mix of pleasure and subjective utility in everything I do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t choose to do it. Pleasure and utility vary by activity, and even for a particular activity, they may vary based on factors such as time or energy. There are no hard cut-offs or fixed measurements. I can adjust things up or down with attention, too.

2015-07-25a Pleasure and utility -- index card #choice #utility #pleasure #time

2015-07-25a Pleasure and utility – index card #choice #utility #pleasure #time

For example:

  • I can increase my actual utility by double-checking subjective utility against what actually happened (decision reviews, etc.).
  • I can increase my subjective utility by thinking about what I could get out of an activity. For example, co-op gaming turns out to be a fun way to spend time with W- and practise managing small stresses.
  • I can break an activity down into the things I enjoy or find useful about it, and find similar activities that might be more enjoyable or more useful.
  • I can increase the pleasure I get from a useful activity by focusing on different factors
  • I can decrease the pleasure I get from an activity by focusing on the opportunity cost or thinking about what I enjoy about other activities.

Here’s where a few of my current activities are on this chart:

2015-07-25b Utility and pleasure - activities -- index card #utility #pleasure #time

2015-07-25b Utility and pleasure – activities – index card #utility #pleasure #time

This reminds me a little of my reflection on leisure activities (noble, advantageous, or pleasant, following Aristotle’s distinctions). It might be useful to analyze utility (noble/advantageous) and pleasure with the extra dimension of energy/effort.

While the sweet spot of high utility and high pleasure (for me: prototyping and learning) is fun to be in, I also like spending time outside that intersection. It’s not all about “Hell, yeah! or No”. Experimenting with things that make me feel awkward or mediocre might lead to discovering an activity that I enjoy or find really useful.

Lately, I’ve been giving myself permission to focus on things I enjoy, even if they aren’t particularly useful – like playing video games in the middle of the day. At the same time, I’ve also let go of the desire to enjoy everything. Some activities are not pleasant, but they’re necessary. Even as I get through them, though, I’m happy about my growing ability to get through them. I might be annoyed for a few minutes, but I’m happy about the decisions of my past self and the results that I anticipate for my future self. I’m learning to enjoy adapting to my circumstances, even as I know those circumstances will change.

2015-07-27b Pleasure and satisfaction -- index card #pleasure #philosophy

2015-07-27b Pleasure and satisfaction – index card #pleasure #philosophy

I like being able to step back and think about what I do, why I do it, and how I feel about that. Because I can influence how I feel about something, I can change why I do it, and even what I do. Through little nudges here and there, I want to make things that are good for me both easy and fun. If I can’t, I want to make them extra-useful and satisfying.

The post Pleasure and utility appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 31, 2015 05:57 PM

Englewood Christian Church: We Blog! » ERB

ERB Weekly Digest – Anne Lamott, Harper Lee, Christina Crook, Tim Otto – July 31, 2015

 
 

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Today is the last day for Amazon’s July Kindle ebook sale.
Check out Thrifty Christian Reader’s list of essential titles from this sale!

 

Anne Lamott’s OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS is only $2.99 right now for Kindle!
[Get your copy ]

 


 

Reviews, etc. posted this week on The Englewood Review of Books website:

 

  • Christina Crook – The Joy of Missing Out [Feature Review]

    Disengaging in order to Flourish   A Feature Review of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World Christina Crook Paperback: New Society Publishers, 2015. Buy now: [ ]  [ ]   Reviewed by Ryan Johnson.   The gentle sounds emanating from my smartphone alert me to the fact that it is […]
     

  • 5 Essential Ebook Deals (via Thrifty Christian Reader) 31 July 2015

    Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out: (Pope Francis, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, MORE) Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader… To keep up with all the latest ebook deals, be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook… Jeffery Krames *** $3.71 ***     NEXT […]
     

  • Tim Otto – Oriented to Faith [Interview]

    Becoming a Reconciled Community An Interview with Tim Otto By Joe Krall   Tim Otto’s book was one of our Best Books of 2014. ERB intern Joe Krall recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tim and talk about the significance of his book in the wake of the recent Supreme Court case upholding […]
     

  • How to Appreciate Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman

    I’m Proud of You, Scout How to Appreciate Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman By Rachel Joy Watson   Editor’s note: Go Set A Watchman is one of our Books of the Month for August. Join us in our forums for conversation on the book, starting Sat. Aug 1…   Article, tweet and review after […]
     

  • St. Ignatius of Loyola – 3 Methods of Prayer.

    Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola… Ignatius of Loyola (c. October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556) was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and, on 19 April 1541, became its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as […]
     

  • Tim Bascom – Running to the Fire [Review]

    Meeting a Missionary for the First Time   A Review of Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Ethiopia Tim Bascom Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2015 Buy now: [ ]  [ ]   Reviewed by Sarah Lyons   I have grown up in an evangelical church. When I tell you […]
     

  • Beatrix Potter – 10 Free Classics to Read / Download!

    Today is the birthday of renowned children’s author Beatrix Potter… Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which celebrated the British landscape and country life. […]
     

  • New Book Releases – Week of 27 July 2015

    Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out: (Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…) By Kent and Amber Brantly Read a review from TIME magazine… NEXT BOOK >>>>>
     

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by csmith at July 31, 2015 04:43 PM

Reformedish

Straining Gnats and Siding with Pharaoh Over the Midwives

midwives-1024x563I’d like to quickly conduct a little experiment in our responses as moral readers. Bear with me as I set the stage, though, as this is going somewhere.

Exodus opens with the story of the oppression of God’s people in Egypt. Years after Joseph lead Jacob’s sons into the land to escape the famine, they grew prosperous and multiplied–so much so that the Egyptians began to fear them. So one of the later Pharaohs actually enslaved the populace in order to subjugate and suppress them. In the end, though, the oppression only caused them to expand further. So Pharaoh took it into his head to handle the population crisis in another fashion:

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. (Exodus 1:15-21 ESV)

So there you have it. Pharaoh’s plan was a limited genocide, but it was initially thwarted by the efforts of two Hebrew midwives, Shiprah and Puah–named slaves against a nameless king.

Here’s my question: who’s the hero of the story? Or, rather, who’s the villain? What’s your instinctive answer? In your gut, who provokes your anger? Who do you judge to be of dubious character? Who is being wronged here? Well, obviously, everyone would agree that the Hebrews, in general, were.

But what about the Pharaoh? Are you kind of tempted to see him as a victim? I mean, didn’t the midwives lie to him? Didn’t they deceive him? Weren’t they unethical in the way they misled him about their intention to follow his commands? They actively spread falsehoods about the heartiness of Hebrew women in the birthing process. That’s not just a little fib, now is it? And on top of that, you have to consider that for Pharaoh, slave labor was great for infrastructure. And it’s not like it was the only thing he did, or he was enslaving them just to enslave people.  No, I mean, it probably allowed him to provide grain and other services to the general populace and advance Egyptian society as a whole, right? Beyond that, he was entirely within his legal rights as the Pharaoh. His word was the law of the land.

But none of that really changes the way you read the story, does it? The lying Ziphrah and Puah are clearly the heroes–so much so that God blesses them for their actions. Their mild deception was in the service of life, in the service of justice, of protecting the defenseless and so the God of Israel honors them.

I bring all this up in light of the recent videos surrounding Planned Parenthood’s (PP) alleged sale of “fetal tissue”–the hearts, eyes, livers, and lungs of the unborn and aborted–to medical research facilities. These undercover videos show PP officials discussing these sales with representatives of a dummy corporation set up by the investigative organization looking to expose the practice. The videos range from simple conversations of “less crunchy” techniques of procuring tissue (over lunch), to hearing practitioners admitting that at times infants make it out of the womb intact and are still used to harvest tissue, to hearing one doctor in the middle of a procedure exclaim, “it’s another boy!” It’s truly horrifying stuff that even has presidential candidate Hilary Clinton saying the videos are disturbing.

Of course, the reactions are mixed. Die-hard Planned Parenthood advocates look to defend it as misrepresentation of an entirely legal practice*, pro-lifers are incensed calling to defund the organization**, but in the middle of all of these predictable reactions, though, there is this third group that puzzles me most: the Christian/Evangelical purist. I’ve seen it a number of times now, but you get this middling response where someone will say, “Guys, I don’t like abortion either, but we really shouldn’t have to lie about stuff like these fanatics. We’re Christians, guys. I mean, lying to Planned Parenthood representatives is kind of low.”

And here’s where I just want to say, if your first instinct when you want or read about these videos is to think, “Geez, are you telling me they lied to get the footage of these people sorting through these fetal parts, or discussing prices non-chalantly over lunch? Woof. That’s a bridge too far”, then you’re reading the story wrong.

I don’t know what’s motivating it in various cases. Maybe it’s a desire for some progressives to not be identified with those pro-lifers. If that’s the case, then maybe your identity as a not-your-parents-kind-of-Evangelical is just a little too important to you. Or, maybe it is a genuine discomfort with the act of lying. If that’s the case, then I’d urge you to consider the fact that Scripture does give different moral weight to issues in the Law.

When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees’ hardness of heart, he denounced them as blind guides:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matthew 23:23-24)

He launches into them for being so particular about smaller matters–which are fine to care about–but in their case it was at the coast of missing the broader issues of the justice of the Law. Let me put it this way: watching these videos and being more uncomfortable with the investigators and quick to denounce them than PP is like watching a police video of a man being beaten mercilessly by an out-of-line officer and asking, “Well, did he jay-walk or not?”

Be careful that you’re not swallowing moral camels in your attempt to strain the gnats.

And finally, for those of you nodding you head vigorously to all this on the more conservative side–watch your own heart on other issues where gnat-straining becomes a temptation. None of us–and I definitely include myself in this–is above this danger. Pray for humility toward your brothers and sisters. But most of all, in this time, pray for justice and clarity for the American people so that we may come one day closer to the day when the phrase “it’s another boy” is only uttered in the delivery room, not the Planned Parenthood office.

Soli Deo Gloria

*Accepting money for the tissues to cover cost does appear to be an entirely legal practice. That said, killing fetus/babies who are born intact, as the fourth video seems to admit, or possibly performing partial birth abortions, and so forth, is not. That, at least, merits investigation. Beyond that, there is serious evidence pointing to possible profit on the part of many PP affiliates that, again, at least merits investigation.

**I know that the organization does other services that can be helpful for certain communities, so I do think there needs to be conversations about replacing its infrastructures, or simply repurposing the organization. Christians need to be–and I think many are–prepared to not only expose evil but be part of the loving solution to the systemic and social structures that make it seem tragically necessary to so many poor souls.


by Derek Rishmawy at July 31, 2015 02:23 PM

Crossway Blog

Praying the Bible vs. Interpreting the Bible

This post was adapted from Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney. Sign up for a free five-day email course on praying the Bible at crossway.org/PraytheBible.


A Crucial Distinction

One hurdle many people face when trying to pray the Bible is confusing prayer time with Bible study, interpretation, and application. In light of this, we need to make a crucial distinction.

First, correctly handling the Word of God does not permit making the text say what we want. To understand the Bible accurately, we must discover (or “exegete”) the single, God-inspired meaning of every verse before us. The text of the Bible means what God inspired it to mean, not “what it means to me.”

When praying the Bible, our primary activity is prayer, not Bible intake. Bible reading is secondary in this process. Our focus is on God through prayer; our glance is at the Bible. And we turn Godward and pray about every matter that occurs to us as we read. Do you see the distinction?

When we come to the Bible on all other occasions I can think of, our primary purpose is to understand and apply it. So let’s say we are doing Bible study. Primarily we are putting in the mental effort to understand what the text before us says and means. Secondarily we are praying. “Lord,” we might ask from time to time, “what does this mean?” or occasionally pray, “How do I apply this?”

But that’s not what we’re doing when we pray the Bible.

What We’re Doing When We Pray the Bible

Let me use a ridiculous illustration to make the point. Suppose you are praying through Psalm 130, and you come to verse 3: “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” And when you see that verb “mark,” your friend Mark comes to mind. What should you do? Pray for Mark! You know that verse is not about Mark, but it’s certainly not wrong to pray for Mark just because he popped into your head as you were reading Psalm 130:3.

Here’s a more realistic illustration. Let’s turn to Psalm 23:3. “He restores my soul.” One of the things this verse might prompt you to pray for is the salvation of a person with whom you are trying to share the gospel, to pray that God would restore that person’s soul from darkness to light, from death to life. If I were to preach on Psalm 23 and say, “This verse is about evangelism; about God restoring the souls of those in spiritual darkness,” I would be sinning. That verse is not about evangelism, and I know it. It’s about a believer’s soul being restored to the joy of God’s salvation. Were I to declare to others that God’s Word here means one thing when I know it means another would be, at best, to misuse the text. We never have the right to claim that the Bible says something it does not.

But if, while you are praying through Psalm 23:3, your non-Christian friend comes to mind, and you use the language of this verse—“Lord restore my friend’s soul; restore him from darkness to light, from death to life”—that’s fine. This isn’t reading something into the text; it’s merely using the language of the text to speak to God about what has come into your mind.

So, again, simply turn every thought Godward as you read the passage. At some points you will pray exactly what the text is about, as when you pray, “Lord, restore my soul to the joy of your salvation.” At other times you will use biblical language to pray thoughts unrelated to the text that come to you while reading the text, as in, “Lord restore my non-Christian friend’s soul from death to life.”

Scripture-Shaped Prayer

I have confidence in the Word and the Spirit of God to believe that if people will pray in this way, in the long run their prayers will be far more biblical than if they just make up their own prayers. That’s what people usually do: make up their own prayers. What’s the result? We tend to say the same old things about the same old things. And without the Scripture to shape our prayers, we are far more likely to pray in unbiblical ways than if we pray the thoughts that occur to us as we read the Scripture.

So while it’s true that people may use this method and pray about things that are not found in the text, I contend that will happen much less if people will pray while reading the text. By this means, the Spirit of God will use the Word of God to help the people of God pray increasingly according to the will of God.

Moreover, is there any better way for people to learn the true meaning of the text—if they are alone with the Holy Spirit and the Bible—than to pray over the text? The godly nineteenth-century Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne affirmed this when he said, “Turn the Bible into prayer. . . . This is the best way of knowing the meaning of the Bible, and of learning to pray.”


Donald S. Whitney is professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has written several books related to Christian spirituality, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible. Don blogs regularly at BiblicalSpirituality.org.

by Matt Tully at July 31, 2015 12:46 PM

Front Porch Republic

From The Multiversity: The New Paradigm

IT_University_Ex05

Saginaw, MI This post is part of a series that will explore what prominent thinkers can teach us about today’s public multiversity, the modern university with its many colleges, departments, and other administrative units that play multiple functions and roles

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The post From The Multiversity: The New Paradigm appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Lee Trepanier at July 31, 2015 11:42 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Kobold Missile Hazard

News

I play a semi-regular game of 3.5 with some of my coworkers in the US Navy. I also have two kids, one of which, my oldest daughter who is nine years old, enjoys playing in our campaigns as much as she can.

One day our DM, my good friend the Russian Spy, helped her roll up a character to "Cameo"…

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July 31, 2015 07:06 AM

Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »

Remembering Bob Kauffman

bob-kauffmanWhen the Los Angeles Clippers open their first game at home this season, I want them to pause and celebrate their original franchise player: Bob Kauffman, the team’s all-star center for its first three seasons, when they were the Buffalo Braves.

In fact, I think the team should retire Bob’s jersey, #44. For the ceremony should also bring out his four daughters, all of whom were also basketball stars: Lara and Joannah at Georgia Tech, Carey at Duke and Kate at Clayton State. Bob died on July 27 at age 69.

Bob was an amazing player to watch, a privilege I enjoyed often as fellow student at Guilford College. Guilford was nowhere before Bob arrived and a powerhouse by the time he left. Same went for the Braves.

At 6-8 and 240, Bob was a big guy, but he played bigger. Here’s what Guilford wrote about him a couple days ago:

Kauffman scored 2,570 points on 64 percent field-goal shooting and collected 1,801 rebounds in his 113-game career, all current school standards. He also holds Guilford marks for career scoring average (22.7 ppg.), single-game rebounds (32), single-season rebounds (698, 1967-68), career rebounding average (15.9), career field goals (943), single-season field goal percentage (.712, 1967-68), single-season free throws (273, 1966-67), career free throws (684) and single-season free-throw attempts (344, 1966-67).

Great stats, but none suggest how tough and intimidating Bob was as a player. I remember watching one Braves game against the Celtics on TV, pleased when the announcer said Bob was the only center in the league who knew how to play Boston’s Dave Cowens, straight up.Amazingly, I just found an account of what followed, in 30 Things About Dave Cowens:

…he slugged Guilford’s Bob Kauffman, appropriately nicknamed “Horse,” at the foul line, then patiently waited for Kauffman to swing back. Kauffman hit Cowens so hard Cowens finished the game wearing an eye patch.

Bob’s pro career started as what today we’d call a lottery pick: he was taken third in the 1968 draft by the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) behind future Hall-of-Famers Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. But the Sonics didn’t know what to do with Bob. Nor did the Chicago Bulls, where he played the next year.

Then Bob got lucky. Thanks to various trades and player shuffling, he landed with the Buffalo Braves, an expansion team, for their inaugural season. The fit was perfect. Here’s Jerry Sullivan in The Buffalo News:

In the Braves’ first season of 1970-71, Kauffman averaged 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He averaged 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in ’71-72 and 17.5 points and 11.1 rebounds in ’72-73. He made the Eastern all-stars in all three seasons for Buffalo teams that lost 60 games.

As his daughter Lara put it to Jerry, Bob left his heart in Buffalo:

“The Buffalo fans from all over, people who moved to Atlanta or wherever I go, they all remember my dad,” Lara Kauffman said. “What people remembered about my dad was he played very blue-collar. I think he was sort of a reflection of a lot of people in the Buffalo community the way he played. He wouldn’t back down from anybody. He played against Lew Alcindor at the time. He matched up against Wilt Chamberlain. My dad would go head-to-head with those guys.

“He was undersized. He was 6-8 and played a face-up game. But because he was so physical, oftentimes he would match up against the toughest player. He would go toe-to-toe with them. I think his style of play reflected Buffalo a lot. He was a hard-working player. Every timeout, he ran off the court. He was the first to the bench.

“He tried to set a good example of hard work and play,” his daughter added. “If my dad had a late night the night before with the guys, he was up at 5 a.m. running six miles. He never stopped. He was just a committed athlete. He was also a gentleman. He would sign autographs. He had all the patience in the world with the fans. They were important to him. He never treated people as second-class. He always had time for them.”

And that’s how I remember him as well. Back at Guilford, there wasn’t a bigger man on campus than Bob, yet he was sweet and friendly with everybody.

Bob’s career as a player was sadly short. Hip problems forced him to retire at 28, from the Atlanta Hawks. After that he coached the Detroit Pistons for a year and then returned to the Hawks’ front office before leaving the game for other work. (If memory serves, Bob was the GM for Detroit when they hired Dick Vitale as coach.)

My favorite testimony to Bob’s value as a player was uttered by his coach at Guilford, Jerry Steele. After Guilford’s play-by-play announcer told Jerry that Catawba College guard Dwight Durante (“the best 3-point shooter you never saw“) appeared that week in a Sports Illustrated piece, Jerry replied, in his usual slow drawl, “Well, Dwight Durante may have his picture in Sports Illustrated, but I’ve got Bob Kauffman’s picture in my bedroom.”

The announcer should have done the same, for he was none other than was Carl Scheer, known today as a legendary NBA executive, former GM of the Carolina Cougars, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers and Charlotte Hornets — and the inventor of the Slam Dunk Contest, among other distinctions. If it weren’t for Bob, Carl might still be a lawyer in Greensboro. Suzanne Dietzel in Greater Charlotte Business:

After a respectable run in undergraduate college basketball and baseball, Scheer graduated from Marquette Law School and began a career in a small law firm in Greensboro. After realizing that his desire to litigate cases would likely be unrealized due to the size of the firm, he visited Guilford College and asked to be slated to broadcast basketball and football games – a passion he had indulged in graduate school.

Scheer had made fast friends with many in the sports community when opportunity knocked. According to Scheer, “Guilford was embarking upon an aggressive, small college basketball campaign, largely driven by star player, Bob Kauffman. I had announced his college career, and once he found himself in demand by two competing leagues, he asked me to represent him for his contract negotiations.”

Scheer elaborates, “In 1968, agents were unheard of. Knowing I was a lawyer, Bob asked me to represent him.” He jokes, “I am sure I left the poor guy quite a bit of money on the table! But, really, the experience introduced me into the world of sports and business; I was hooked.”

Not surprisingly, his work ethic and comfortable personality helped to foster a good rapport with team owners, and he was asked to interview for the position of assistant to the commissioner of the NBA.

Recalls Scheer, “The NBA commissioner at the time, Walter Kennedy, told me after my third interview that he liked me and thought I was a great candidate, but the job was going to ‘the other guy.’ At the time I was content with that. I had had that 15 minutes of glory and was happy to go back to my small North Carolina law firm. But months later he called back and told me the other candidate declined the position, and asked if I would like to be reconsidered. It was a dream come true. I moved to New York and began my indoctrination into the game. There, my sports career started.”

The best lives have the best consequences. I’d like one of Bob’s to be a celebration of his place as the Clippers founding all-star — who also happens to be a four-star dad.

Links:

 

by Doc Searls at July 31, 2015 06:33 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

4 Videos That Show How Planned Parenthood Harms Women

In response to four recent videos showing representatives of Planned Parenthood (PP)and their associates engaging in activities related to the sale of fetal body parts, a group of liberal clergy members have rushed to the company’s defense.

The Planned Parenthood Clergy Advocacy Board released a statement on Wednesday denouncing the videos and claiming that, “People who work for Planned Parenthood give care and respect to those in need, doing God's work. For this we are grateful.”

That some clergy from denominations such as the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and American Baptist Churches would turn a blind eye to the sale of body parts from children slaughtered in the womb is not surprising. Almost all mainline denominations officially support unrestricted access to abortion.

But these ministerial shills have the audacity to frame their support for America’s largest abortion provider as a defense of women. Their kneejerk support for Planned Parenthood reveals a willful ignorance of one of the most anti-woman organizations in America.

Because the ministers of the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advocacy Board don’t care about defending the most vulnerable humans—those in the womb—it’s not surprising they shrug at the horrors revealed in the four videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress. But how do they dismiss the following four videos which provide a sample of Planned Parenthood's established pattern of harming women?

Cover-up of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Over the past ten years, there has been extensive documentation of Planned Parenthood covering up statutory rape. In this undercover video, Lila Rose poses as a 14-year-old girl who is pregnant by a 31-year-old man. The staffer counsels Rose to lie to a judge about her boyfriend’s age in order to bypass parental notification laws. The PP rep admits that she should report the abuse, but chooses to violate the law by saying “I’m not gonna tell anybody, okay.” 

Altogether, Rose found eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five different states that were willing to cover-up sexual abuse and disregard mandatory suspected statutory rape reporting laws. Several clinics also provided instructions on how to circumvent parental consent laws.

Other investigations have uncovered similar results. In 2002, the Traditional Values Coalition recorded over a hundred phone calls to Planned Parenthood clinics in California in which the organization offerred to cover-up statutory rape. 

Lying to Women About Healthcare and Abortions

When people work for a company that kills children you shouldn’t expect them to be exemplars of honesty and integrity. The executives at Planned Parenthood, along with their defenders, constantly misrepresent the actions of their business in order to deceive politicians, the media, and the American public. A prime example is when the president of PP claimed that defunding of the company would cause millions of women to lose access to mammograms. This falsehood was even repeated by President Obama until it was pointed out that PP does not do mammograms.

Similarly, workers at PP clinics have repeatedly shown a willingness to lie to they women they claim to serve. In this video a PP counselor provides deceptive and medically inaccurate abortion counseling to a pregnant woman. 

Complicity in Sex Trafficking

In 2011 members of the pro-life group Live Action posed as a pimp and underage prostitute and revealed to workers at Planned Parenthood that in their sex work operation, they “managed” several very young girls – 13 to 15 years old – from foreign countries. The following video, in which the PP worker tells the pimp to pose at the underage sex slave’s “guardian”, is an example of the reaction they received. 

Live Action’s investigation revealed seven facilities in four different states willing to aid and abet the trafficking of minor girls by supplying confidential birth control, STD testing, and secret abortions to underage girls and their traffickers.

Targeting of Baby Girls Through Sex-Selective Abortions

There are few policies more anti-woman than targeting the next generation of females for destruction. Yet Planned Parenthood not only willingly engages in sex-selective abortions that kill female babies in the womb, they coach women about how to go about it more effectively. In this video a PP worker tells a girl that she should get on Medicaid in order to pay for an ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby. She also encourages her to continue with the pregnancy until near the five month mark so that the sex of the baby can be clearly established before an abortion is performed.

These types of anti-woman actions by Planned Parenthood have been going for more than 80 years. And for decades your tax dollars have been going to fund this operation that kills children and harms women.

As long as Christians continue to support pro-abortion politicians, preventing Planned Parenthood from getting taxpayer funding will be nearly impossible. But we can still let our elected representatives know how we feel about our money going to fund this operation and urge them to take legislative action. See Justin Taylor’s article for instructions on how to contact your legislators and a sample letter urging them to please support S.1881: Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood. 

by Joe Carter at July 31, 2015 05:05 AM

Women’s Ministry and the Day of the Lord

Editors’ note: This excerpt is taken from Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church (Crossway and TGC), edited by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson, which officially releases today. Starting in September, TGC’s Women’s Initiatives will begin a blog series addressing your specific questions related to ministry among women through the local church. We have a team of women eager to respond to a select number of questions. Please send all questions on the subject of women’s ministry to our new coordinator for women’s initiatives, Mallie Taylor (mallie.taylor [@] thegospelcoalition.org).


Doesn’t it sometimes seem like we spend a lot of the days in our lives focused on some day in the future? When we were little, perhaps we counted down the days to our next birthday. When we were in school, we looked forward to that last day of school. Some have had a wedding date or a baby due date set out in the future, and we have counted down the days.

But I suppose there are also days set out before us that we dread—the day the divorce is final, the day scheduled for the operation, the day we have to say goodbye.

That Day 

There is a day spoken of throughout Scripture—a day of divine intervention in human history called “the day of the Lord,” or sometimes simply “the day” or “that day.” It is described by the prophets as a day of dancing, enjoyment, gladness, satisfaction, reward, healing, cleansing, and belonging. It sounds like a day to long for. And it is. But this is not all the Bible tells us about that day.

It also tells us that the day of the Lord will be a day of humiliation, destruction, retribution, distress, anguish, and ruin. When we read these descriptions, it doesn’t exactly seem like a day to gladly anticipate but, rather, a day to dread.

So which is it? Will the day of the Lord—the day that Christ returns—be a day of mourning or a day of joy? Will it be a day of destruction or a day of restoration? Will it be a day of incredible loss or a day of indescribable gain?

The reality is that it will be both. For those who have feared the Lord by believing his gospel and are joined to Christ by faith, the day when he will intervene in human history, it is worth waking up every day wondering if this will be the day. But for those who have rejected God’s offer of mercy and ignored God’s gracious invitation into the safety of his fold, it is a day worth waking up every morning thinking about with a sense of sickening fear.

Ministry for That Day 

It is because this day is surely coming that ministry among women today really matters. In fact, ministry among women will matter forever because women are facing forever.

Perhaps we lose sight of that at times. It is easy for ministry among women to be mostly about the here and now—the realities that we can see with our eyes, the things we see as our most significant needs and challenges. We can tend to come to the Bible and take women to the Bible seeking to discover the answers to what we see as our most urgent questions but often looking primarily for comfort in temporal troubles. We can spend so much time focused on coping strategies and improvement plans for this life that we simply squeeze out both hopeful and sober consideration of the life to come—the forever that will begin on that day the Bible points us toward again and again—the day that will mark the beginning of forever joy and rest in the presence of God or forever misery away from his presence.

Clearly the ultimate goal of God’s work in the world, the ultimate end of the history of God’s redemptive purposes in the world, is what will have only begun on the day we read about as the culmination of human history—the day of the Lord—that day when finally the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). The greatest tragedy of life would be to face that day unprepared.

Perhaps this sets before us the highest aim of ministry among women: to prepare women for that great and terrible day. Surely if we prepare women to do good work in the world and to have good relationships and to be good wives and moms but don’t prepare them for that day, then we have ultimately failed. Will not all of our sound theology and creative communications and interesting events and well-attended gatherings be in vain if our ministry among women does not result in being surrounded by the women God has placed in our lives now, when we stand before him on that day?

Readiness for That Day

Sadly, many ministries that spend any time teaching about the day of the Lord tend to spend most of that time focused on trying to connect biblical prophecies to modern-day events and nations and people, as if what is most important about that day is knowing whether it will come about in our lifetime. Evidently this focus is nothing new. In Matthew 24 we read that in the week before Jesus was crucified, the disciples came to him privately, asking, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

Jesus’s primary response was that no one except his Father knows when this day will be. Rather than focus on the timing of that day, Jesus seemed much more interested in the disciples’ readiness for it. Through several illustrations and parables, Jesus helped his disciples understand what readiness for that day looks like and the end result of that readiness, as well as what is ahead for those who live as if that day is not coming and instead live only for today.

I imagine that if a group of women from our time gathered around Jesus and asked him when he is going to return, he would say the same thing to them that he said to his disciples.

That Day Is Drawing Near

My friends, the day is drawing near. That’s why ministry among women today will matter forever, because women are facing forever. Each one of us will be 

  • forever swept away or forever secure in his presence; 
  • forever consigned to untold agony or forever blessed with fruitful work;
  • forever shut out from the Bridegroom’s presence or forever shar
ing his feast;
  • forever cast into the outer darkness or forever enveloped in the Master’s joy; 
  • forever cursed in eternal fire or forever blessed with eternal life.

The work of ministry among women will matter forever because “in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Paul’s prayer for the Philippians connects our labors of this day to the certain hope of the day of Christ’s coming:

It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:9–11)


Related:

by Nancy Guthrie at July 31, 2015 05:02 AM

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

Philip and Carol Zaleski drew me into a 700-page book in less than six pages. This husband and wife team—Philip is an author of several books and Carol is professor of world religions at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts—examine two of the most famous Inklings and two of their most eager partners in The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. Their description of Oxford, with its “cloisters of learning” rising up from “traffic-clogged streets,” establishes one so firmly in the world of the Inklings that any attempt to dislodge oneself would require mental gymnastics.

Then, as a now, one was tempted to fantasize one’s surroundings as a Camelot of intellectual knight-errantry or an Eden of serene contemplation. Then, as now, there was bound to be disappointment. (6)

Their perspective on the famous English city—sympathetic, respectful, but not reverential—offers a very decent approximation of their approach to the Inklings themselves. The Fellowship is not a hagiography. Its subjects—J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, with the less celebrated but still remarkable Owen Barfield and Charles Williams—were great men, not gods. Approach them like gods and, as with Oxford, you will be disappointed.

J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are, of course, well known. They need no introduction from me. But who was this Barfield fellow? And what about Williams? Arthur Owen Barfield (1898–1997) was a philologist, novelist, poet, gymnast, and philosopher, best known for Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning and History in English Words. The latter, published in 1926, is not so much a history of the English language as it is an attempt to understand how words capture history—how, as Barfield himself put it, “words may be made to disgorge the past that is bottled up inside them.” He was one of Lewis’s earliest friends, and the latter’s favorite sparring partner. 

Charles Williams (1886–1945), on the other hand, is something of an enigma. Remembered today for his “supernatural shockers”—most notably Descent Into Hell and All Hallow’s Eve—he lacked the sturdy, beef-and-potatoes quality of his fellows. A devout Anglican who dabbled in magic, a (technically) faithful husband with a “platonic harem” of admiring women,  Williams was an unsettling mass of eccentricities and contradictions who alternately dazzled and stumped those who knew him. “I think he was a man of unusual genius,” wrote T. S. Eliot, “and I regard his work as important. But it has an importance of a kind not easy to describe.” 

Seeing Mount Fuji and Christian Faith

It remains difficult to overstate the impact these extraordinary storytellers had on the world around them and on subsequent generations. This is especially true of Lewis; and to a greater extent, at least in the realm of fantasy, Tolkien. Sir Terry Pratchett sums it up memorably in A Slip of the Keyboard:

Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt. Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt. Fuji. (112)

The Zaleskis strike a nice balance in their treatment of the Inklings’ Christianity—neither downplaying nor overemphasizing it.

It would be a mistake to label them, as did one early biographer, “the Oxford Christians” and to presume that this sufficed. This would be tantamount, as Warnie Lewis complained the moment the term arose, to saying that the Inklings were no more than “an organized group for the propagation of Christianity.” Nonetheless, the Inklings were unmistakably Christians in Oxford, and this plays no small part in their cultural significance. (7) 

Two Enduring Lessons

Two simple, important, often overlooked lessons stand out from this book. First, no one writes in a vacuum. The Inklings were men like us, influenced in varying degrees and ways by family, faith, time, and place. The shapers themselves were shaped—a fact the Zaleskis understand, and spend no inconsiderable amount of time grappling with. Comprehending World War I’s influence on the development of The Lord of the Rings, for example, lends the story even greater emotional heft, for one sees “in its account of hobbits battling ultimate evil in a landscape of fantastic redoubts and talking trees, the achievements of ordinary Tommies and Doughboys among the barbed wire, rats, mud, and machine gun fusillades of rural France” (124).

Second, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a warm, compelling portrait of male friendship. The camaraderie between these men was not of ancillary consequence: it was central. It sharpened them. It made them who they were. Lewis would not be Lewis without Barfield or Tolkien. Barfield would not be Barfield without Williams. Any attempt to understand them (or the books they wrote) apart from the love they bore for one another is bound to come up short.

The Inklings were, to a man—and they were all men—comrades who had been touched by war, who viewed life through the lens of war, yet who looked for hope and found it, in fellowship, where so many other modern writers and intellectuals saw only broken narratives, disfigurement, and despair. (9)

Truly, The Fellowship is the story of four famous authors and their literary lives. But it is more than that. It’s the story of their friendship.


Philip and Carol Zaleski. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2015. 656 pp. $35.00. 

by Corey Poff at July 31, 2015 05:02 AM

Conservative Progressives: How to Pass the Baton from Generation to Generation

In the coming decade, the restless and Reformed movement will face a number of challenges. Elsewhere I’ve spoken and written about the danger of rivalry as God multiplies our movement. Success breeds envy like nothing else, and the Devil loves nothing more than to sow seeds of jealousy among faithful bands of brothers and sisters.

But sidelong glances won’t be the only challenge. Leadership transitions within churches and institutions are also full of pitfalls for those moving on out and those moving on up. Passing the baton from one generation to another has never been easy. But it’s also never been optional. The Christian faith, after all, is something that’s handed down (2 Tim. 2:2). It’s entrusted from one generation to another.

Which means we must learn to make the generational handoff without dropping the baton.

Two Dangers

When an older generation passes leadership to a younger one, there are generally two dangers to avoid. The first, often associated with the older generation (though young bucks are capable of it too), is the conservative tendency. Often coupled with fear, anxiety, and undue strictness, it’s the tendency to relinquish leadership reluctantly, to hand the baton but not let go, to view any changes made by the new leader with a skeptical and jaundiced eye. It’s the tendency to think we’ve arrived, to think no more progress is possible, or even desirable. Any movement away from where we are now is necessarily a false step, a downgrade, a fall. We know we’ve succumbed to this temptation when we turn churches into museums (or perhaps mausoleums), where we can look at the faith of our fathers behind a velvet rope and plate glass. 

The other danger is the progressive tendency, and younger generations are prone to fall into it. This is the danger of ingratitude and bitterness. This is the attempt to move forward like revolutionaries, burning the villages of our fathers and starting again from scratch. We roll our eyes when our forebears offer words of caution as they hand us the baton. We look at our fathers in the faith and only (or mainly) see their warts and failures. We stand on the shoulder of giants and then look down our noses because we’re taller than they are (which is sort of like like berating Thomas Edison for his inexcusable failure to invent the iPad). We know we've succumbed to this danger when we chafe under all authority and despise what has come before us.

The great tragedy of these two dangers is they’re often complementary. They mutually reinforce one another. The more the young and restless chafe and despise, the more the elders fear and build hedges. The more the elders build their museums, the more the young head for the hills. What’s more, we’re all prone to be preoccupied with the temptations and tendencies of others. We’re concerned that they not fall into their sin, and so we lean hard against temptations that don’t pose a grave danger to us, all the while neglecting the ones that do.

The good news is that the opposite is also true. The more we resist our own temptations in these areas, the more space we create for growth and maturity in others. And in Philippians 3, Paul shows us the way.

Paul’s Way Forward

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Phil. 3:12–16)

Notice Paul weds conservative and progressive elements together. He allows them to pull in both directions. First the progressive elements:

  1. Paul acknowledges his imperfection, his incompleteness, his immaturity. (v. 12)
  2. Paul forgets the past and strains forward. (v. 13)
  3. Paul presses on toward the goal. (v. 14)

Now notice the conservative elements:

  1. Paul believes something real and significant has happened: Christ has owned him decisively. (v. 12)
  2. Paul refers to himself as mature/perfect (v. 15), a word related to “perfect” in v. 12.
  3. Paul exhorts everyone involved to live up to what they’ve attained. (v. 16).

So there you have it: a progressive conservative, or conservative progressive. Paul wants to move forward without leaving everything behind. He wants to retain what God has done in the past without treating a stop on the way as the destination. He wants to press on toward what lies ahead without burning down what came before. He wants to keep what’s been attained while forgetting what lies behind. And so should we.

Making the Handoff 

Wise elders should encourage forward progress. They should encourage forgetfulness of the wrong things along with retention of the right things. They should recognize that no eye has seen what God has in store. They should remember that until he rips back the veil, we’re always works in progress, and that the only way forward is in fact forward. 

Wise youth should remember their roots. Gratitude for the investment and blessing of previous generations should far outweigh criticism of their failures and weaknesses. Love covers a multitude of sins and recognizes genuine works of grace. What’s more, a healthy self-awareness reminds us that someday we’ll be handing off the baton to a new generation, and we should want to be a good model for them now.

This type of faith-filled obedience on the part of each generation is only possible by the grace of God. The Son of God is building his church from generation to generation. The Spirit of God binds all of us together, especially across generations.

Older generations must look to the future in faith that the triune God owns and guides it. Younger generations must look to the past and believe the triune God knew what he was doing. This allows both of them to live in the present together while they make the leadership handoff in harmony, in unity, in Christ—who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

by Joe Rigney at July 31, 2015 05:00 AM

Jon Udell

“It is always quiet enough to talk”

Our favorite local spot in Santa Rosa so far is The Toad in the Hole. It’s an English-style pub on the west end of downtown, an easy walk from our house. We like their brews, we like their Cornish pasty, and most of all we like their atmosphere. Sports bars aren’t really our thing, nor is soccer, but while soccer games are often playing on TV, they’re not intrusive and not usually a focus of attention.

Toad in the Hole wants to be a place where people come together to talk. The flip side of the menu reprints a 1946 George Orwell essay, The Moon Under Water, a fictionalized amalgam of the best features of all the pubs he knew and loved. At the center of the essay is this pivotal sentence:

“In the Moon Under Water it is always quiet enough to talk.”

I’m not any kind of audiophile but I’ve long been bothered by the awful acoustics in so many establishments. It’s hard to have a conversation in a room full of music and voices bouncing off hard surfaces. And while it’s easy to mitigate those sounds with baffles, that’s rarely done. One reason Toad in the Hole lives up to Orwell’s ideal is that it gets that right. It eluded me on our first few visits, but the other night I looked up and saw this:

You can see two acoustic baffles hangling from the ceiling. There are more like that all around the perimeter. It’s a subtle thing that most patrons may not notice. But it makes a huge difference!

It’s also a nice lesson in product design. Vanish into the woodwork, solve problems that people may not even recognize in a way they may not even notice, and let them just get on with what they care about.


by Jon Udell at July 31, 2015 03:56 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Muscle Up Day

Friday’s Workout:

Skill Work:
Advanced: EMOTM – Straight Legged NO KIPPING Toes 2 Bar
**3 Reps OTM for 8 Minutes

Intermediate: Muscle Up Drills

Beginner: Pull Up / Dip Program
*scale to a number you can achieve on the minute consistently

 

WOD:
2:00 Max Effort Unbroken Muscle Ups or Pull Ups
then:
7:00 As Many Rounds As Possible
10 American Kettlebell Swing (32/24kg)
5 Goblet Squats
then:
2:00 Max Effort Unbroken Muscle Ups or Pull Ups

 

 

 

Stringing Mups Together

 

This is a VERY old video from the olden days at CFNT when I was a lot worse at Muscle Ups and was working on putting reps together. The video offers some good tips for those working on that same thing as well as a few progressions to think about for trying to get your first muscle up. The big thing to think about if you want a muscle up is do I have strict pull ups and dips? If the answer to that question is no, then spend time working on the pull up / dip program first to build the strength for a muscle up. Once you have mastered pull ups and dips, you will be in a much better place to start working towards a muscle up.

Enjoy the video with the sound on for a nice, dramatic experience.

 

by Anna at July 31, 2015 12:37 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Reviewer Praise for TRANSHUMAN AND SUBHUMAN

A rather nice review:

http://carlos-carrasco.livejournal.com/1348.html

If you have never understood the attraction that science fiction has for so many of us, Mr. Wright’s essays might just explain it to you. If you are already a fan, you will love his analysis of the genre, its voices and various visions for various tomorrows. While it was pretty heady in places, the writing was never dense and certainly never dull.

Quite the contrary, it was laugh-out-loud funny in many places. My favorite case in point would be the essay, “The Desolation of Tolkien.” It is Mr. Wright’s eviscerating critique of the second Hobbit movie and in reading it I finally found the peace which that cinematic act of vandalism robbed from me. I laughed so hard reading his review of the film that every shadow that movie had darkened my soul with was exorcised from me forever.

[…]

Mr. Wright gives us an Eagles of Manwe-eye view of the battlefield and the forces arrayed on it, his descriptions delivered through the delightfully adroit juggling of Snow White and Aristotle, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gender Theory, transhumanism, the Gnosticism of Arthur C Clarke, the hedonism and patriotism of Robert Heinlein, the historicism of Isaac Asimov, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, this-ism and that-ism and the glorious Catholicism which answers them all.
Mr. Wright’s love of the genre is evident on every page of the book and you might just find it to be contagious.

by John C Wright at July 31, 2015 12:14 AM

The Urbanophile

A Manifesto Against Completing Sagrada Família Church

I’ve written before about Sagrada Família Church in Barcelona, an architectural masterwork by Antoni Gaudí. In particular you may remember my essay “Will Sagrada Família Be Mankind’s Last Ever Great Artistic Statement for God?.”

I wrote that piece after reading an article by Oscar Tusquets Blanca in Domus magazine in 2011. In it he talked about being an instigator as a student of the publication of a manifesto (his term) against completion of the church. And how he now believes he and his fellow signatories were very mistaken.

While researching a forthcoming lecture, I wanted to read that manifesto, but I could not find it online anywhere in either Spanish or English. Architect Duncan Stroik helped locate a copy for me via Pablo Álvarez Funes in London, who also kindly translated it into English. I’m reproducing that translation in English below, followed by the Spanish original. If you wish, you can view the original newspaper version as a PDF.

As this was an open letter published in a newspaper, I presume the authors have no objection to sharing this important document. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no other easily accessible English language translation. Thanks to Pablo and Duncan for making this possible.

This letter was originally published on Saturday, January 9, 1965 in La Vanguardia, Barcelona’s leading newspaper.

Letters to “LA VANGUARDIA”

Construction Works at the Church of Sagrada Familia

Mr. Director of LA VANGUARDIA

Dear Sir:

We request to please give place to the following letter within the pages of this newspaper that you worthily direct, for which we express our gratitude in advance.

The Church of Sagrada Familia was commenced in March 19, 1882, and it has remained unfinished for many years, with works developing slowly and practically interrupted. We are periodically reminded on the duty to contribute to its completion and an important part of the public considers Sagrada Familia as a task in we are all committed and whose renounce is a collective shame. A special day has been dedicated to remind it to us and raise funds for the continuation of construction works. This day is close and as many people will take part on the collection being convinced on collaborating on a religious, civic and artistic work; and as we are convinced that this work is not only non-positive, but also counterproductive, we think it is our duty to expose our points of view.

1.- The cathedral had as one of its purposes to gather all the city residents during the great religious celebrations; in the cities of today such a big monumental temple has no sense.

It is not a matter of building a great temple for the whole city, which should allow space for almost two million people, but building multiple parishes. In all fields, urban planning tends to these decentralized neighbourhoods, and the Church who strives to support itself in real urban entities precisely, tends to vitalize parishes as centres of evangelization.

A temple such as Sagrada Familia wouldn’t be either useful or large religious gatherings, as the Eucharistic Congress was. An opened space or a vast covered space with different characteristic from the temple designed by Gaudi should be required. We therefore believe that the continuation of a temple following this line is a social and urban mistake.

2.- Sagrada Familia has to be considered from the point of view of a expiatory monument. In this case, the temple would come to focus and symbolize the expiatory fervour of the whole society. But we don’t believe on such popular sentiment, nor anyone feeling really connected to this collective expiatory task. Today’s generation doesn’t understand that the need of expiation has to be precisely materialized in the construction of a temple that will cost millions.

3.- Even if there was no social, urban or pastoral justification to complete the temple, the could be another reason. Sagrada Familia is a work of Gaudí and has an artistic value. Let’s forget for a moment that the artistic value of a building cannot be separated from its social justification. It is a work of Gaudí, it is a work of art, and some people want to see it finished. But, is it possible to finish a building? Nobody would ever finish a painting or a sculpture, but can a building be completed without the architect who designed it? I might be possible if there were very accurate plans, if all building issues were solved on paper. But Gaudí had such a living concept of architecture that created his work daily following messy impulses, with preliminary drawings which could only be used as a guide. There is an essential pictorial and sculptural side of Gaudi which could only have been done by him. Without it, the work keeps distorted and diminished. But we neither have any model or drawings from Gaudí. This reason is conclusive and makes all previous seem unnecessary. Sagrada Familia cannot be continued because there are no drawings; anything done on this side is improvisation. Nobody really respecting Gaudi’s work can cooperate on this mess.

These are our reasons. The temple is inoperative from an urban and social point of view; the city does not need big temples but parishes to allow pastoral action; a great expiatory temple for the whole society is an idea out of time – today popular fervor is expressed in other ways, otherwise the temple would have been already concluding; finishing a building without the architect who designed it is very difficult; but if it desired to be finished following his designs and those drawings are missing, it is just a fully ambiguous attempt.

What to do, then, with what we have built? This lends itself to a long discussion. There are plenty and varied solutions which should be studied and choose the best. Our only certainty is that what is being done now is wrong, and only urgency is to finish with this error as soon as possible. There will be time to study solutions at a later day; from converting the current esplanade in an outdoor temple, leaving the facade and apse as a monumental altarpiece; to continue building adapting Gaudí principles to modern techniques and needs.

Yours Sincerely:

Antoni de Moragas, Chairman of the Colegio de Arquitectos (Institute of Architects).

Alfons Serrahima, President of FAD (Fomento de las Artes y el Diseño – Promotion of Arts and Design).

Roberto Terradas, Dean of the School of Architecture.

Students of the School of Architecture.

Nikolaus Pevsner, director of “Architectural Review”

Gio Ponti, director oh “Domus”.

Bruno Zevi, director of “L’architettura”,

Ernesto N. Rogers, director oh “Casabella”.

Vittorio Gregotti, director of “Edilizia Moderna”.

M. Capelladas, O. P., director of “Art Sacré”.

Carlos de Miguel, director of “Arquitectura”.

Asís Viladevall, director of “Cuadernos de Arquitectura”.

Le Corbusier, Ludovica Quaroni, Paolo Portoghesi, Ludovico Belgiolso, J. A. Coderch, Manuel Valls, N. Rubio Tudurí, Antoni Bonet, Oriol Bohigas, J. M. Martorell, David Mackay, Federico Correa, Alfonso Milá, Joaquim Gili, Francesc Bassó, Vicens Bonet, Ricardo Bofill, Enric Tous, J. M. Fargas, Xavier Subías, J. M. Sostres, Josep Pratmarsó, A. Fernández Alba, R. V. Molewin, J. A. Corrales, Jesús Bosch, Javier Feduchi, J. L. Pico, C. Ortíz Echagüe, Ignacio Araujo, architects.

Pere M. Busquets, O.SB.; Miguel Estradé, O. S. B.; Evangelista Vilanova, O.S.B.: A. Borras, Ricard Pedrals, presbyter; Frederic Bassó, presbyter; Joan E. Jarque, presbyter; J. Alemany, presbyter; Joan Ferrando, presbyter; Casimir Martí, presbyter; Josep Bigordá, presbyter; M. Prats, presbyter; Jordi Bertrán, presbyter; Josep Hortet, presbyter; Pere Tena, presbyter.

Joan Miró, Antoni Tapies, J. Llorens Artigas, A. Rafols Casamada, Todó, Marcel Martí, Hernández Pijuan, Subirachs, Antoni Cumella, Cesc, Oriol Maspons, Julio Ubiña, Leopold Pomés, Xavier Miserachs, André Ricard, Rafael Marquina, Jordi Fornas, Miguel Milá, Joan Gaspar, Miquel Gaspar, Manuel Dicenta, Román Gubern, Joan Prats, Oriol Martorell, J. M. Mestres Quadreny.

Roberto Pane, Gillo Dorfles, Giullo Carlo Argan, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Alexandre Cirici, Camilo J. Cela, R. Santos Torroella, J. M. Valverde, A. Badia Margarit, Joan Teixidor, Joan Oliver, Joan Perucho, Salvador Espriu, Caries Soldevila, Carlos Barral, J. Gil de Biedma, J. M. Espinas, Joan Brossa, María Martinell, Lluisa Calvet, Pere Vegué, J. Gich.

Remember that the section “Letters to LA VANGUARDIA” is a platform opened to our reader’s opinions, which might not coincide with that of the newspaper, which has its specific sections for that purpose.

CARTAS A “LA VANGUARDIA”

La obra del templo de la Sagrada Familia

Sr. Director de LA VANGUARDIA

Muy señor nuestro:

Le rogamos que dé cabida en las páginas del periódico de su digna dirección la siguiente carta, por lo cual le expresamos nuestra gratitud anticipada.

El templo de la Sagrada Familia fue iniciado 19 de marzo de 1882, y desde hace muchos años permanece inacabado, con una obra a un ritmo lentísimo, prácticamente interrumpido. Periódicamente alguien nos recuerda el deber que tenemos de colaborar a su terminación y un sector importante de público considera la Sagrada Familia como una empresa en la que estamos comprometidos todos y cuyo abandono es una vergüenza colectiva. Se ha dedicado un día especial a recordárnoslo y a recaudar fondos para la continuación de las obras. Este día está próximo y como muchas personas participarán en la colecta convencidos de colaborar en una obra religiosa, ciudadana y artística, y como nosotros estamos, convencidos de que esta labor no sólo no es positiva, sino que es contraproducente, creemos un deber exponer nuestros puntos de vista.

1.- La catedral tenía como uno de sus fines agrupar a todos los habitantes da la ciudad en las grandes celebraciones religiosas; en las ciudades de hoy un enorme templo monumental no tiene sentido.

No m trata ya de construir un gran templo para toda la ciudad, que debería tener cabida para casi dos millones de habitantes, sino de construir múltiples parroquias. El urbanismo tiende en todos los campos a esta descentralización en barrios y la Iglesia que, por razones pastorales, se esfuerza en apoyarse precisamente en las entidades urbanas reales, tiende a vitalizar las parroquias como núcleos de evangelización.

Tampoco para las grandes concentraciones religiosas —como lo fue el Congreso Eucarístico— tendría utilidad un templo como la Sagrada Familia; se requeriría un espacio abierto o un vastísimo espacio cubierto de características muy distintas a las del templo ideado por Gaudí. Creemos, por tanto, que la continuación de un templo dentro de esta línea es un error social y urbanístico.

2.- Puede considerarse a la Sagrada Familia, desde el punto de vista de un monumento expiatorio. En este caso el templo vendría a centrar y a simbolizar el fervor expiatorio de todo un pueblo. Pero no creemos que exista este sentimiento popular, ni que nadie se sienta vinculado de veras a esta empresa colectiva de expiación. La generación de hoy no comprende que una necesidad de expiación tenga que concretarse precisamente en la construcción de un templo que costaría millones.

3.- Aunque no hubiera justificaciones sociales ni urbanísticas ni pastorales para terminar el templo, podría haber otra razón. La Sagrada Familia es obra de Gaudí y tiene un valor artístico. Olvidemos por un momento que el valor artístico de un edificio no puede desvincularse de su justificación social. Es una obra de Gaudí, es una obra de arte, y hay quien quiere verla terminada. Ahora bien, ¿es posible terminar un edificio? A nadie se le ocurriría terminar un cuadro o una escultura, pero un edificio ¿se puede terminar sin el arquitecto que lo concibió? Quizá sería posible si existieran planos detalladísimos, si el edificio estuviese resuelto sobre el papel en todos sus puntos. Pero Gaudí tenía de la arquitectura un concepto tan vivo que creaba su obra diariamente a impulsos desordenados, con unos planos previos que servían apenas de pauta. En Gaudí hay un aspecto pictórico y escultórico que es esencial y este aspecto sólo él lo podía realizar. Sin él, la obra queda falseada y disminuida. Pero, además, no disponemos de ningún proyecto, de ningún plano auténtico de Gaudí. Esta razón es concluyente y todas las anteriores parecen innecesarias. No se puede continuar la Sagrada Familia de Gaudí porque no existen planos; todo lo que se haga son improvisaciones. Nadie que respete de veras la obra gaudiniana puede colaborar a esta mixtificación.

Estas son nuestras razones. Urbanística y socialmente el gran templo es inoperante; para la acción pastoral en la ciudad se necesitan parroquias y no grandes templos; un gran templo expiatorio de todo un pueblo es una idea fuera de época —hoy el fervor de un pueblo se expresa en otras formas, y de no ser así, el templo estaría ya terminado—; terminar un edificio sin el arquitecto que lo ideó es muy difícil; pero sí se quiere terminar según su mismo proyecto y de este proyecto no quedan planos, es ya un intento lleno de vaguedades.

¿Qué hay que hacer, pues, con lo que tenemos construido? Esto se presta a una larga discusión. Las soluciones son muchas y muy diversas. Habría que estudiarlas y elegir la mejor. Lo único seguro es que lo que ahora se está haciendo es un error, y lo único urgente es terminar cuanto antes con este error. Tiempo habrá luego para estudiar soluciones, desde convertir la actual explanada en un templo al aire libre, dejando la fachada y el ábside como un monumental retablo, hasta continuar la construcción adaptando los principios gaudinistas a las técnicas y necesidades modernas.

Reciba un atento saludo de

Antoni de Moragas, decano del Colegio de Arquitectos.

Alfons Serrahima, presidente del FAD.

Roberto Terradas, director de la Escuela de Arquitectura.

Estudiantes de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura.

Nikolaus Pevsner, director de “Architectural Review”

Gio Ponti, director de “Domus”.

Bruno Zevi, director de “L’architettura”,

Ernesto N. Rogers, director de “Casabella”.

Vittorio Gregotti, director de “Edilizia Moderna”.

Capelladas, O. P., director de “Art Sacré”.

Carlos de Miguel, director de “Arquitectura”.

Asís Viladevall, director de “Cuadernos de Arquitectura”.

Le Corbusier, Ludovica Quaroni, Paolo Portoghesi, Ludovico Belgiolso, J. A. Coderch, Manuel Valls, N. Rubio Tudurí, Antoni Bonet, Oriol Bohigas, J. M. Martorell, David Mackay, Federico Correa, Alfonso Milá, Joaquim Gili, Francesc Bassó, Vicens Bonet, Ricardo Bofill, Enric Tous, J. M. Fargas, Xavier Subías, J. M. Sostres, Josep Pratmarsó, A. Fernández Alba, R. V. Molewin, J. A. Corrales, Jesús Bosch, Javier Feduchi, J. L. Pico, C. Ortíz Echagüe, Ignacio Araujo, arquitectos.

Pere M. Busquets, O.SB.; Miguel Estradé, O. S. B.; Evangelista Vilanova, O.S.B.: A. Borras, Ricard Pedrals, presbítero; Frederic Bassó, presbítero; Joan E. Jarque, presbítero; J. Alemany, presbítero; Joan Ferrando, presbítero; Casimir Martí, presbítero; Josep Bigordá, presbítero; M. Prats, presbítero; Jordi Bertrán, presbítero; Josep Hortet, presbítero; Pere Tena, presbítero.

Joan Miró, Antoni Tapies, J. Llorens Artigas, A. Rafols Casamada, Todó, Marcel Martí, Hernández Pijuan, Subirachs, Antoni Cumella, Cesc, Oriol Maspons, Julio Ubiña, Leopold Pomés, Xavier Miserachs, André Ricard, Rafael Marquina, Jordi Fornas, Miguel Milá, Joan Gaspar, Miquel Gaspar, Manuel Dicenta, Román Gubern, Joan Prats, Oriol Martorell, J. M. Mestres Quadreny.

Roberto Pane, Gillo Dorfles, Giullo Carlo Argan, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Alexandre Cirici, Camilo J. Cela, R. Santos Torroella, J. M. Valverde, A. Badia Margarit, Joan Teixidor, Joan Oliver, Joan Perucho, Salvador Espriu, Caries Soldevila, Carlos Barral, J. Gil de Biedma, J. M. Espinas, Joan Brossa, María Martinell, Lluisa Calvet, Pere Vegué, J. Gich.

Recordamos que la sección de “Cartas a LA VANGUARDIA” es una tribuna abierta a la opinión de nuestros lectores, la cual puede no coincidir con la del periódico, que tiene ras secciones específicas de manifestación.

by Aaron M. Renn at July 31, 2015 12:12 AM

July 30, 2015

exercising for points

2015 CrossFit Games Review – The Top 5 Complaints of Typing Exercisers Everywhere

5) HQ/CASTRO ARE SO UNPROFESSIONAL!  THEY CUSS!  THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Hi, you must be new here, but I feel like I already know you.  You’re the member that asks me to turn off Rick Ross during my personal workout time because you can’t handle the word ‘pussy’.  Meanwhile, you HAVE to listen to “Shake it Off” during your wod but can’t STAND to listen to Pharrell and you’re the type of person that says ‘heavy metal’.

Listen, I’m not here to be your personal club DJ and Dave Castro is not here to cater to your delicate sensibilities.  HQ is HQ, and if you think they are NOT going to do HQ things, you haven’t been around long enough.  It’s like complaining about the weather – just stop and accept it.

6qa28v5

One of the most important lessons a kid can learn is sporting events are for drunk loudmouths to vent their anger using profanity and violence.  My first hockey game I witnessed two dudes go at it in the stands during warmups.  Something about Al Iafrate and a pink cadillac.  I was five.  Nobody died.

Anyway, where was I?  Right.  Castro cursing a bit on the mike is not a big deal.

4) THE COMMENTATORS WERE TERRIBLE!

I’m not going to argue here.  If I hear somebody say “Yown Coe-ski” again I’m going to have a seizure.  They’ve got a bit to learn.  But I’ll be damned if hearing Tanya Wagner try and talk while trying to avoid somebody shoving a boiling hot mozzarella stick in her mouth wasn’t the most entertaining thing I’ve heard in a long time.  At least that’s what it sounded like to me.

nj4wypt

What, you think Bob Costas wants to narrate people doing pullups?

3a) THE WORKOUTS WERE TOO HARD!

The only thing you need to worry about being ‘too hard’ this year was your man’s member watching the women’s paddleboard event. The Games are hard every year, and every single workout will have finishers and not-finishers. Are we trying to turn this into soccer, where everybody participates for 90 minutes but nothing ever happens?  (unless you’re Brazil playing at home on the international stage BOOM)

The Games are meant to FIND THE FITTEST, not be an all-inclusive, feel-good throwdown with your buddies where you high-five your deadlift PRs to a couple of gluten-free Sorghum brews.  This is a process of weeding out, and painful as it is, many will struggle and fail.

55fl129

Murph was put first for a reason – to test the unspoken 11th element of CFHQ Fitness. RECOVERY.  At regionals and the games, the only fresh workout you get is the first one.  Castro ain’t interested in your best Fran time after a visit to your chiro, a sweet de-load week and a half-day of work.  He wants to know who can do the most work while beat to shit. Wednesday was a warmup and Murph was meant to pre-fatigue every goddamn muscle in the body and test from that baseline.  What, somebody at the professional level got mild rhabdo?  Truly sucks, but guess what, they’re not ‘the fittest’.   And that’s what this is about.

3b) THE PEGBOARD

Yea, not the most entertaining event, especially followed by a bike and a rower, but it COULD have been, as evidenced by the final men’s heat.  Again, this was meant to weed out people at the final ascent.  Put it earlier in the weekend?  Why?  So more people finish and you bitch about how stupid it is anyway?  An entire weekend of entertainment is not negated but one meh workout.  The way people were complaining you’d have though HQ broke out the softballs again.

3c) THE TEAMS WERE BORING!  THE TEAMS WERE FIXED!

First of all, shut the fuck up.  Froning and Hobart could have taken Sparkle Motion to the top ten without breaking a sweat.  Second, they do all the workouts for a reason – have better athletes, get better prizes.  Maybe if HQ would get their shit together and just let five athletes finish the weekend NorCal would have given Mayhem a scare, but was there any ever doubt that Rich was going to take it?  Please.

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Also, the teams are always boring.  Unless you’re on them.  Or people you know are on them.  Then they are exciting.  It’s a part of the games, it should remain a part of the games, but it’s not ever going to be the centerpiece and you’re not ever going to buy a ticket to see six dudes try and out-burpee six girls in some sort of twisted fitness circlejerk.  There’s an entire company working to make team workouts exciting…it’s called GRID.  You should check it out.  No really, please buy a ticket.  That Eleiko rig’s not gonna pay for itself.

2) Murph was DANGEROUS

Are you fucking serious right now?  If I hear another goddamn word about it being ‘too hot’ to workout at midday in SoCal I’m gonna host my own games in the crater of an active volcano and see how many of you watch the pros crush some wicked Karen times with $275k on the line.

First off, if the individuals worked out in the morning, you people would still be bitching about it only focusing on the teams being overheated. Secondly, WHERE WERE THE FUCKING COACHES?  In the words of the almighty Jon Taffer, “I don’t embrace problems, I embrace solutions.”

When the Games started with a half-marathon row, know what you saw?  Fueling and hydration strategies. Athletes with CamelBaks, water bottles, sandwiches and sweet potatoes. Working for 90 minutes is obviously different than ‘Heavy Helen’, so people with half a brain did the smart thing – planned ahead. 

kftx6ch

If I’m a coach, first thing I do when I hear Murph is get my athlete a goddamn water bottle. But wait!  Weight vest?  California heat?  How is this a fucking mystery?  Get a small cooler, fill with ice water and washcloths, have available for use on/near the field to put on your neck, head, cash & prizes, you name it. Fuck it, have them drag a full-size Coleman around and shove a 5lb. bag of ice down your shirt while you do squats. WEAR A FUCKING SHIRT MAYBE.  Ever heard of a ball cap?  There are a myriad of ways to not cook yourself to death but I guess Rogue and MWod haven’t released the “Hot Weather Warrior” package yet so nobody knows what to do.

Have you ever heard of the Badwater Ultra?  Tour de France?  Kona Ironman?  Of course you have, you own a pair of Hylete shorts and have your own jump rope.  Miraculously these events happen every year and nobody starts a petition on change.org or writes ‘open letters’ like they are the Mother Theresa of fringe athletics.

Know who didn’t seem to mind the heat?  Ben Smith, cause he trained in his garage in Virginia for years, where it’s hot as FUCK. 95 degrees and 100% humidity is a chilly winter day in Newport News, and five thrusters in you’d be drier if you jumped in a pool. 

1) THE DREADED N-WORD

No, I’m not talking about the Nano or a decades-old Chris Rock bit.  This is about the company that I’m not even going to name because I don’t want it to get any more press.   If I ignore your pissing and moaning long enough…you’ll just keep at it, so let’s get this over with.

The cries of distraught weekend warriors that arose from the ‘banning’ of a shoe reached epic levels of retardation this year.

WHY CAN’T MY FAVES WEAR WHAT THEY WANT!  YOU’RE JUST HATERS!  THE GAMES WERE FIXED FOR REEBOKS!  IF YOU TRAIN IN A SHOE ALL YEAR THIS IS NOT FAIR!

NEWS FLASH – THIS WASN’T ABOUT A COMPANY RIVALRY

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Here’s a list of shoe companies that were ‘banned’ (eye roll) from this year –

1) All of them

I don’t care if you wanted to see somebody rock Toms, Skechers Tone-Ups, Birkenstocks or taped banana peels on their feet. If that Chiquita sticker didn’t say Reebok you left it in your bag.   For just this once, I may even recruit the support of that weird dude who works out barefoot at your gym.  The shoes DO. NOT. MATTER.  Nobody won or lost on a shoe this year, or any year. Did you not read about Ben Smith winning regionals in his lawn-mowing shoes?

It is difficult for me to counter a point of view that is so mind-blowingly stupid but if I make even one person feel a little dumb, it’s worth my time. The uniform for the games has been strictly dictated for years. Remember when people HAD to wear their games jerseys and not their favorite workout shirt?  Brutal.  How about being made to turn inside-out their Rehbands because the logo couldn’t be seen?  This is nothing new. But because N***  decides to put a couple million into a marketing campaign, suddenly it’s a human rights issue and the cries of 10:00 Franners are heard worldwide.  Nobody is bitching because they can’t run in Dockers. Get over it.

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In fact, I’m gonna tell you a personal story about N*** because this is my page and I do what the fuck I want.

When I was winding down my middle-school basketball career I pleaded for my parents to hook it up with the best shoes on the market at that time, the N*** AirMax 2’s. Lord knows they were too expensive but because I’m awesome they picked them up anyway. And what happened?  First practice someone stepped on them and the shoelace hook broke. Weird, must be a defect, let me exchange them for a new pair. Next practice, someone steps on them and bam, air cushion deflates. The fuck?  I took that shit back, traded for Reeboks (true story) and kicked ass for another year until people told me screaming down the court trying to cherry pick while my team rebounds wasn’t a championship strategy.  Bonus that they didn’t look like I was wearing Tempur-pedic foot pillows.

$129 in 1996.  Today that's ten pairs of Nanos.

$129 in 1996. Today that’s ten pairs of Nanos.

A few years later I got a pair of ‘cross-trainers’ for lacrosse season and on my first shuttle sprint, ripped half the sole off from changing direction so fast. N***s can eat it. (Romaleos notwithstanding)

hitnf6p

I’m tired and need bourbon.
Edit – It has been brought to my attention another person shares similar views. Good. We should star our own Games. With blackjack. And hookers. 


by T1Allstar at July 30, 2015 09:03 PM

Workout: July 31, 2015

Monster Mash 9-6-3 reps of: Front squats (225/155 lb.) Bar muscle-ups Rest 5 minutes 21-15-9 reps of: Power snatches (95/65) Double-unders (4x the snatch reps: 84-60-36) Rest 5 minutes In 10 minutes: 1 mile run Max clean and jerks (155/105) Time cap: 40 minutes Skills Session 3 sets max strict toes-to-bars 3 sets max V-ups […]

by Mike at July 30, 2015 08:20 PM

Light Blue Touchpaper

Double bill: Password Hashing Competition + KeyboardPrivacy

Two interesting items from Per Thorsheim, founder of the PasswordsCon conference that we’re hosting here in Cambridge this December (you still have one month to submit papers, BTW).

First, the Password Hashing Competition “have selected Argon2 as a basis for the final PHC winner”, which will be “finalized by end of Q3 2015″. This is about selecting a new password hashing scheme to improve on the state of the art and make brute force password cracking harder. Hopefully we’ll have some good presentations about this topic at the conference.

Second, and unrelated: Per Thorsheim and Paul Moore have launched a privacy-protecting Chrome plugin called Keyboard Privacy to guard your anonymity against websites that look at keystroke dynamics to identify users. So, you might go through Tor, but the site recognizes you by your typing pattern and builds a typing profile that “can be used to identify you at other sites you’re using, were identifiable information is available about you”. Their plugin intercepts your keystrokes, batches them up and delivers them to the website at a constant pace, interfering with the site’s ability to build a profile that identifies you.

by Frank Stajano at July 30, 2015 04:53 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Conspiracy or Code of Conduct?

One of the arguments against the Anthropogenic Global Falsehood Theory is that so many scientists cannot be cooperating in maintaining a falsehood because such a conspiracy could not be maintained secretly.

I propose a simple rebuttal: the thing is not a conspiracy. It is a code of conduct that springs out of the worldview called Political Correctness.

When a large group of people take it as a maxim of their code of conduct that believing what is politically useful rather than what is true, it is not a secret that they do not believe nor say the truth. This is not a conspiracy except in the sense that Taoism or Monarchism is a conspiracy.

It is a shared worldview. Political Correctness differs from other shared worldviews in that it is, at its core, at its root, utterly dishonest. Political Correctness is the attempt to think whatever is approved thought, and not to think the truth. Whether it counts as lying when you yourself pretend you believe the lie with all your might is an interesting question for a psychopathologist. From a practical point of view, it is a lie.

So if everyone in the worldview lies, and lies in the same way about the same topics, this is not a conspiracy. It is not secret. Everyone outside the cult (who cares to look) knows political correctness is a lie.

It is a lie about … everything.

 

The part of the lie that extends to economics, ecology, politics, and so on, is this scaremongering hysteria about the environment, pretending that the world, which is cleaners and safer and less polluted than ever, is merely inches away from some ever-changing disaster. The disaster of this week is global warming, global climate change, and global whatever. Last week it was global cooling. And the week before that it was Alar, DDT, acid rain, mercury in fish, cellphones causing cancer, ozone holes, overpopulation, or some other boogieman.

When a member of the cult enters the legal profession, he lies. When he enters the sciences, he lies. When he enters the journalistic professions, he lies. If he becomes a teacher, he lies. He lies and lies and lies.

This is because his worldview, his philosophy of life on a primary, fundamental, and emotional level rejects the truth as unfair and rejects the idea of loyalty to truth as racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted. The only way to escape from bigotry is to pretend as hard as you can to believe whatever the current politically correct lies happen to be. Facts are kryptonite to leftists. Their philosophy of life on a primary, fundamental, and emotional level requires them to shade facts, alter data, slant, spin, lie, and cover up.

The East Anglia professor was UTTERLY SERIOUS and not suffering a brain spasm when he refused to show his raw data to a skeptic on the grounds that peer review of data might show the truth of the situation. Showing the truth is the one and central thing Political Correctness abhors. The reason why the philosophy of Political Correctness was invented was to smother the truth. That is how these people live. It is what they are.

We live in an Empire of Lies. It is hardly a conspiracy.

by John C Wright at July 30, 2015 04:30 PM

Justin Taylor

10 Updates on Planned Parenthood; A New Video; and How to Contact Congress

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Mollie Hemingway, writing at The Federalist, provides ten updates on Planned Parenthood:

  1. Injunction On Release Of Potential Upcoming Video
  2. Crisis Communications Firm Helping Planned Parenthood
  3. Planned Parenthood Claims Web Site Attacked, But Was It?
  4. Media Very Interested In Cecil The Lion, But Not Cecile The President Of Planned Parenthood
  5. Hillary Clinton Says Videos Are ‘Disturbing’
  6. Planned Parenthood Poll Mocked
  7. Planned Parenthood Fails To Show Up To Texas Hearing
  8. Trouble for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood
  9. #UnplannedParenthood
  10. Planned Parenthood Mammogram Falsehood Resurrected

You can read the whole thing here.


Here is the latest video released today (Thursday, July 30, 2015):

DENVER, July 30–New undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ Vice President and Medical Director, Dr. Savita Ginde, negotiating a fetal body parts deal, agreeing multiple times to illicit pricing per body part harvested, and suggesting ways to avoid legal consequences.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) is a wealthy, multi-state Planned Parenthood affiliate that does over 10,000 abortions per year. PPRM has a contract to supply aborted fetal tissue to Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Ginde at the abortion-clinic headquarters of PPRM in Denver to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs. When the actors request intact fetal specimens, Ginde reveals that in PPRM’s abortion practice, “Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact.”

Since PPRM does not use digoxin or other feticide in its 2nd trimester procedures, any intact deliveries before an abortion are potentially born-alive infants under federal law (1 USC 8).

“We’d have to do a little bit of training with the providers or something to make sure that they don’t crush” fetal organs during 2nd trimester abortions, says Ginde, brainstorming ways to ensure the abortion doctors at PPRM provide usable fetal organs.

When the buyers ask Ginde if “compensation could be specific to the specimen?” Ginde agrees, “Okay.” Later on in the abortion clinic’s pathological laboratory, standing over an aborted fetus, Ginde responds to the buyer’s suggestion of paying per body part harvested, rather than a standard flat fee for the entire case: “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). Federal law also requires that no alteration in the timing or method of abortion be done for the purposes of fetal tissue collection (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

Ginde also suggests ways for Planned Parenthood to cover-up its criminal and public relations liability for the sale of aborted body parts. “Putting it under ‘research’ gives us a little bit of an overhang over the whole thing,” Ginde remarks. “If you have someone in a really anti state who’s going to be doing this for you, they’re probably going to get caught.”

Ginde implies that PPRM’s lawyer, Kevin Paul, is helping the affiliate skirt the fetal tissue law: “He’s got it figured out that he knows that even if, because we talked to him in the beginning, you know, we were like, ‘We don’t want to get called on,’ you know, ‘selling fetal parts across states.'” The buyers ask, “And you feel confident that they’re building those layers?” to which Ginde replies, “I’m confident that our Legal will make sure we’re not put in that situation.”

As the buyers and Planned Parenthood workers identify body parts from last fetus in the path lab, a Planned Parenthood medical assistant announces: “Another boy!”

The video is the latest by The Center for Medical Progress documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal parts. Project Lead David Daleiden notes: “Elected officials need to listen to the public outcry for an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while the 10 state investigations and 3 Congressional committees determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts.” Daleiden continues, “Planned Parenthood’s recent call for the NIH to convene an expert panel to ‘study’ fetal experimentation is absurd after suggestions from Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Ginde that ‘research’ can be used as a catch-all to cover-up baby parts sales. The biggest problem is bad actors like Planned Parenthood who hold themselves above the law in order to harvest and make money off of aborted fetal brains, hearts, and livers.”


Are you looking for a way to contact your representatives to let them know how you feel about this and to urge legislative action?

Susan B. Anthony List provides a way to Tell your Senators to Co-Sponsor the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (which would ban abortions after 20 weeks when babies have been scientifically proven to feel pain).

The March for Life Education and Defense Fund provides some guidelines on contacting elected officials.

Writing a Letter

  • Clearly identify what your letter is concerning, and address only one subject or piece of legislation per letter.
  • Clearly state what you want the Member of Congress to do (sponsor, oppose, vote for, investigate, etc.)
  • Be brief, but give good reasons for your letter or request. Keep your letter to no more than one page.
  • Send a thank you letter if appropriate.

Follow these guidelines when addressing your letter:

To a Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator LAST NAME:

To a Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative LAST NAME:

Sending an E-mail

  • The same guidelines apply to e-mails as letters.
  • E-mails will reach the recipient more quickly. When writing on time sensitive matters, e-mail may be the best option. Webmail forms can be found on Members of Congress’s individual websites.

Social Media

Find your Senator on Twitter HERE. [Also, House reps on Twitter.]

Call on the Phone

  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s office.
  • Ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue about which you are calling.
  • Identify yourself, and leave a brief message clearly stating what you would like the legislator to do.
  • Be brief, but give some reasons to back up your position on the issue.

To find contact information for Senators, visit:

http://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_contact_senators.htm

For House members, visit:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

As Matthew Hawkins of the ERLC points out, local/district offices (like this) can be more sensitive and responsive than the DC offices, particularly during or near the Congressional recess.
Johnathon Bowers provides a sample email you can adapt and send:
Dear Senator ____,By now, you may have watched the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood’s profiting off of the sale of aborted fetal tissue. The content of the videos is disturbing and highlights the destructive nature of the abortion industry. I would urge you to please support S.1881: Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood. I am grieved that our federal tax dollars are being funneled to support an organization that, according to its 2013-2014 annual report, performed 327,653 abortions in one year.

I realize that Planned Parenthood does not only perform abortions. They offer STD testing and contraception resources, for example. However, other organizations offer these kinds of resources, too, without involving themselves in the destruction of life in the womb. As the Bill S.1881 calls for, let’s direct federal funds to these organizations, not to Planned Parenthood.

Thank you for your service to our state and country and for taking the time to consider this very important issue.

Sincerely,

by Justin Taylor at July 30, 2015 02:28 PM

Front Porch Republic

Just Another Naked King

emperor

What hath Athens to do with Main Street?  Why should an economic crisis in a small European nation shake up the world?  And can this possibly add up to freedom? If despite all you know about globalization such questions…

Read Full Article...

The post Just Another Naked King appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Eric Miller at July 30, 2015 02:26 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

The Key to Greek Language Retention – An Excerpt from Advances in the Study of Greek

9780310515951With the significant investment of time and effort needed to learn Greek, developing a strategy for language retention is critical. How might a student develop good habits for retention early on? What pedagogy should a professor adopt to build retention exercises into course work? Constantine Campbell offers valuable insight in this excerpt from his newest resource Advances in the Study of Greek and describes what has been key in his retention of the language.

***

This chapter differs from previous chapters in that it does not address issues about Greek per se, but rather the teaching and learning of the language. It is all very well to apprehend the significant (and some very significant) changes in our understanding of the Greek language, but what will be the point if no one wants to study the language in the first place?

It is commonplace to hear the concerns of Greek professors about decreasing numbers of students interested in studying Greek, seminaries and universities that are decreasing their commitment to biblical languages in a competitive race to the bottom, and all too many celebrity preachers who don’t know a word of Greek — which occasionally becomes evident to those who do know Greek, by their exegesis of the New Testament. If we fail to teach Greek well, in a way that engages the student and makes the acquisition of the language as pain-free as possible, it is little wonder that potential students weigh up if it is all worth it. Bad teaching simply cannot be tolerated in a climate in which the margins for error are already thin.

Add to those concerns the real issue of language retention and the alarming number of Greek students who fail to keep their Greek over the long haul, and we see that Greek pedagogy is an incredibly important topic. You might be the best Greek teacher in the world, but if most of your students forget most of what you taught them, how useful is that? I always cringe when a pastor either embarrassingly admits, or (perversely) proudly declares to me, that he or she has lost the knowledge of Greek; it always causes me to wonder whether I am completely wasting my time.

Greek instructors who do not want to waste their time and the time of their students must pay attention to pedagogy, and their pedagogy must include a strategy for retention. This chapter will explore some innovations within the traditional mode of Greek pedagogy, offer a discussion of immersion learning, and briefly address the subject of Greek retention.

Fresh Ideas for Traditional Methods

The traditional grammatical-translation method of teaching and learning Greek needs no introduction, since virtually everyone reading this book will have learned Greek according to its pattern. Typically, it involves a grammar book, the learning of grammatical rules, noun and verb paradigms, basic translation, and lists of vocabulary. There is an emphasis on rote memorization, the fundamentals of grammar and some basic syntax, and gloss translation. The only really significant alternative to this approach currently is the immersion method, which will be explored in 10.3. But there have been some innovations within the older method that are also worth pondering.

Reading Greek

Probably the most significant variable within the traditional method is how soon beginning students are encouraged to read Greek. Older versions of the traditional method tended to leave translation until most of the grammar had already been learned. The reasons for this are understandable. How can a student be expected to read a real text when all they’ve learned so far are, say, nouns and twenty-five Greek words? A well-known example is J. W. Wenham’s The Elements of New Testament Greek. While Wenham’s streamlined approach has certain strengths, the student is never encouraged to read even a paragraph of the Greek New Testament. The grammar includes several exercises, including translation exercises, but these are all fragmentary clauses or isolated sentences. That is decidedly not the same thing as reading Greek text, in which each clause and sentence is understood in light of its context, and through which the student may gain an appreciation of how clauses relate one to another and how wider units of text shape our overall understanding of Greek.

Rodney Decker’s new grammar, Reading Koine Greek, however, includes the reading of paragraphs of the Greek New Testament from as early as the second chapter (John 1:1 – 8). Each subsequent chapter includes at least a paragraph (often three or four) of text from the Greek New Testament, the Septuagint, or the Apostolic Fathers. These set readings come with notes and other helps based on where the student is up to in the grammar, so that knowledge not yet acquired does not prevent the reading experience.

There are great strengths to Decker’s model. While his grammar still belongs to the traditional grammatical-translation pedagogy, this one characteristic alone makes a significant break with many other Koine grammars. Right from the beginning, the student is experiencing the text of the Greek New Testament, which progressively becomes a more fulfilling experience as the student is able to understand more and more of each text. This enhances one’s ability to digest the “vibe” of the language in a way that other expressions of the grammatical-translation pedagogy are not able to convey, because there is no substitute for reading Greek text.

My own experience, first as a student, then as a teacher of Greek, has been under the model set by my former colleague at Moore College, Richard Gibson. Similar to Decker’s approach, students begin reading and translating Greek text almost from the beginning of their instruction. Working through the first few chapters of Mark’s gospel, students spend between a third and a half of class hours in small translation groups, engaging the text together, while the instructor would “hover,” answering questions and providing assistance as needs be. I remember my own enjoyment of learning Greek under this model and the sense of satisfaction of being able to read the Greek New Testament very early in the process. I also knew satisfaction as a teacher seeing my students come under the same experience of enjoyment and wonder at encountering the Greek New Testament from an early stage in their learning. (Pgs 209-212)

***

Advances in the Study of Greek offers an introduction to issues of interest in the current world of Greek scholarship. Those within Greek scholarship will welcome this book as a tool that puts students, pastors, professors, and commentators firmly in touch with what is going on in Greek studies. Those outside Greek scholarship will warmly receive Advances in the Study of Greek as a resource to get themselves up to speed in Greek studies. Free of technical linguistic jargon, the scholarship contained within is highly accessible to outsiders. Order your copy today.

by ZA Blog at July 30, 2015 01:24 PM

Reformedish

Best Dating Advice Roundtable w/ Wilkin and Grear (TGC Video)

At this last year’s The Gospel Coalition conference, I was asked to sit down with J.D. Grear and Jen Wilkin to talk best dating tips for singles. I basically sat there and gave the one piece of advice I have (which I’ve written up here) and tried not to look foolish next to Wilkin and Grear who had some very helpful advice.

Here’s the video.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at July 30, 2015 01:18 PM

Crossway Blog

Benefits of a Verse-by-Verse Bible

Reasons to Consider a Verse-by-Verse Bible

There is a historical tradition of the Bible text being laid out in a versified format, but in recent years the introduction of the paragraph format (in both double-column and single-column layouts) has resulted in the traditional verse-by-verse format declining in popularity. In other words, you really have to go searching for a verse-by-verse Bible.

Proponents of a versified Bible text appreciate how easy it is to quickly find a specific verse, especially when scanning the biblical text while preaching or teaching. In fact, one of the primary reasons that Crossway offers a verse-by-verse edition is to serve anyone who ministers through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. The importance of being able to quickly find your place in the text cannot be minimized.

Another benefit of a verse-by-verse edition is that it forces the reader to slow down when reading the biblical text. If someone wants to spend an extended amount of time reading through a lengthy passage of Scripture, a verse-by-verse layout may not be the best option. However, when studying the Bible in a systematic and in-depth way, a verse-by-verse edition may be helpful, especially when using supplemental tools like commentaries and interlinears.

Crossway's ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible will not be the ideal Bible edition for everyone, but it will serve many who choose to use it in a specific context. Think of a verse-by-verse layout as just one tool out of many designed to help you dig into God’s Word. There are times when it’s extremely helpful, but there are also times when a paragraph format is even better. Used in the correct context, a versified Bible can greatly benefit our understanding and interaction with the Bible.

The ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible

If you're interested in a verse-by-verse Bible, Crossway offers the ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible in two formats:

Double-Column Layout (New)
Features:

Single-Column Layout
Features:

by Lizzy Jeffers at July 30, 2015 01:12 PM

Table Titans

Tales: That Lucky 20

News

Our group had rotating DMs, each of whom contributed to the lore of our particular world. NPCs that showed up in one DM's campaign might crop up again in another's, and we'd constantly try to oneup one another in terms of scale and difficulty as far as our campaigns went.

One night, our DM had…

Read more

July 30, 2015 07:05 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

For Such a Time as This

On a flight from London to New York, Mark Campisano sat next to a senior partner of his firm. When dinner arrived, knowing that many of his colleagues held unfavorable opinions of Christians and their faith, Mark didn’t want to trigger any negative stereotypes or give thanks “so as to be seen by others” (Matt. 6:5). So he tried to bow his head as inconspicuously as possible.

But Mark wasn’t subtle enough. Immediately, the senior partner said in a booming voice, “What are you doing?! Praying?! You’re not a Christian, are you?!”

Mark felt a bit trapped, but the words of Jesus came to mind: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father” (Matt. 10:32). He gulped, then replied, “As a matter of fact, I am.” There was silence. The senior partner smiled, winked, and said, “Good! Me too. Can you thank God for both our meals?”

Identification as a Christian 

Identifying as a Christian can be tricky, especially when living and working in a culture with an anti-Christian bias. On the one hand, it’s wise to be shrewd and patient in our witness. (See “When to Go Public with Faith at Work.”) On the other hand, the gospel is a public truth, and Christians are called to a public faith.

Plus, when we don’t identify as God’s people, we risk building relationships on false foundations, and it’s only a matter of time before our true identity is revealed. Just ask Esther.

Identity Is Complicated

The book of Esther is a complicated story about identity. In its first few chapters, Esther offends almost everyone. Feminist liberals note her compliance and failure to identify as a strong woman. Religious traditionalists lament her hidden faith, which leads her to break religious laws and sleep with a Gentile who isn’t her husband.

Yet the text doesn’t allow for these interpretations. First, although Esther’s rise to power is remarkable, the author’s main issue isn’t female empowerment, but the death threat faced by God’s people. In other words, the main distinction in the book isn’t between men and women, but between Jew and Gentile.

Second, although we’re told that Esther hides her background, we’re not told why (Esth. 2:20). We don’t know her motives, only know her situation—she’s a young Jewish girl who has been conscripted unwillingly in a pagan king’s harem. The moral ambiguity of her story raises the question, “What real choice does someone in her situation have?”

Make a Choice

There comes a time, though, when Esther is forced to make a choice about her identity. Upon discovering that powerful forces are plotting to kill the Jews, Esther’s cousin Mordecai urges her to use her political connections and risk her place in the palace in order to save her people:

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esth. 4:13–14)

But Esther is afraid. Approaching the king unbidden is a capital offense forgiven only by the king and, although she’s the queen, there’s no guarantee she’ll receive his mercy. After all, he didn’t forgive the last queen, and he hasn’t slept with Esther in a month—and he hasn’t been sleeping alone. 

Esther has no prophetic vision or biblical promise to claim for her safety. Without knowing the end of the story, she must decide whether or not to identify with God’s people. 

If I Perish, I Perish

Yet Mordecai’s point is clear—her life may potentially be lost if she goes to the king, but it will certainly be lost if she doesn’t. Perhaps with mixed motives of self-preservation and missional calling, she replies:

Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf. . . . Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (Esth. 4:16).

In this moment, Esther goes from being a young woman making compromises to a mature queen giving orders. Her response, Tim Keller notes, is the language of identification, mission, and obedience. Mordecai’s call to action causes her to realize that she’s not in the palace for herself, but for others. 

It’s Never Too Late

Some of us are in positions of influence in our culture—whether as public school teachers or public company executives—and we have to navigate questions of identity in complicated situations that might cost us. Does it matter whether anyone at work knows I’m a Christian when my faith isn’t directly related to my work? If I’m seeking a job in an industry that has an anti-Christian bias, like journalism or higher education, should I refrain from putting church volunteer activities on my résumé? Isn’t being present at a company—even if that means engaging in morally questionable activities—better than abandoning it altogether?

To answer these questions, seeing Esther as an example will crush us, but seeing Jesus as a Redeemer will save us. He’s the ultimate mediator who risks the palace and its riches to save us (Phil. 2:6–11). Going before the King, he doesn’t say “If I perish, I perish,” but “When I perish, I perish.” When he’s our security, value, and worth, we can risk the palace—positions, connections, careers, and riches—because, in him, we’re truly free. As the gospel becomes increasingly precious to us, we begin to see that these questions aren’t just about us, but about others, too. When we’re in positions of influence and open about our identification as God’s people, we can be a part of his redemption of his people. 

But some of us wonder whether God can use our ambiguous moral pasts or our questionable mixed motives. As Karen Jobes writes:

Perhaps, like Esther, you have been brought to this moment in your life by circumstances over which you had no control, combined with flawed decisions you made along the way. Perhaps instead of living for God, you have so concealed your Christian faith that no one would even identify you as a Christian. Then suddenly you find yourself facing calamity. . . . Regardless of the straights you find yourself in, turn to the Lord. . . . his purposes are greater than yours. 

Wherever you are right now, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10). You have certain gifts, abilities, talents, weaknesses, sufferings, and experiences that enable you to help certain people—though it may cost you. No matter how you came to power in your company, church, or organization, it’s never too late to hear and obey God’s call. If you understand that you’re his child, then your mission isn’t for yourself, but for others. And who knows? Perhaps you have come to your position for such a time as this.


Editors’ note: This is the second installment in a four-part series on Esther and how to live in a post-Christian culture. Recommended resources:

by Bethany Jenkins at July 30, 2015 05:02 AM

Best Advice for Dating Couples

As a recent newlywed, I can attest to fact that dating can be an awkward and immensely rewarding stage of life—full of joys, challenges, temptations, and blessings. Recently J. D. Greear, Jen Wilkin, and Derek Rishmawy discussed what pieces of advice they’d give to couples in the dating stage.

Rishmawy, who previously served as director of college and young adult ministries at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Orange County, California, offers “one general piece” of advice for couples desiring a God-honoring relationship: be committed to the local church. This, he says, is a key marker of a healthy Christian relationship: “The biggest job is encouraging the other person to be in the church, plugged in, butt in the pew, listening to preaching, [and] in godly relationships with other people.” Failure in this doesn’t bode well, Greear adds. According to Rishmawy the greatest danger isn’t sexual immorality but turning the other person or the relationship into an idol since other sins flow from this source.

Wilkin offers a warning for those who who gladly affirm biblical gender roles. Wilkin, who writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible, enourages women to be sure that a man celebrates her strengths and doesn’t feel threatened by them. “Your strengths matter for your marriage,” she says. “A potential husband should celebrate your strengths and want you to flourish in things you’re good at and to gently help you in your weaknesses.” She adds: “You should never have to dumb yourself down to be appealing to a spouse. That seems like a bad recipe for dating.”

Greear underscores that physical attraction can be intoxicating and misleading. He quotes Proverbs 11:22: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Again, the church is important here, since others around the couple see beyond the beauty (or the lack thereof) and can see character. The pastor of The Summit Church in North Carolina wraps up by encouraging couples to “delay and diminish the physical component of their relationship.”

For more, watch the 7-minute video above as Rishmawy, Greear, and Wilkin consider other practical advice they would give, including Greear’s advice to men: “dress like Derek.”

by Ivan Mesa at July 30, 2015 05:02 AM

Goodbye Good Girl

I've always been a “good girl.” Straight A student. Rarely in trouble. Picked the right college, the right fella, the right outfit. You get the idea. 

Turning my life over to Jesus ripped my story into two halves: life before him and life after him. Still, there isn’t a lot of drama in the “before” part. No skeletons in the closet. No criminal record. No massive public failures.

Skewed Picture 

I know this is why the gospel has always gone down smooth for me. Yes, God forgave me of my sins. Yes, that is good news. But honestly, there wasn’t that much to forgive. I’m a good girl, remember? But I’ve been walking with the Lord for almost two decades now. And the strangest thing has happened. The longer I know him, and the more familiar I become with his Word, the uglier my heart looks. It’s like one of those optical illusion pictures that just looks like a bunch of squiggles at first. But the longer you stare, the more the edges of a hidden image start to emerge.

Unfortunately, the image of my heart is not a pretty picture.

Sure, my behavior screams “good girl.” But my deceitful heart whispers “jealousy, pride, envy, hate, anger, bitterness, greed.” It’s not a pretty picture. And a wrestling match has begun in me. Suddenly I’m painfully aware of my desperate need for grace. 

Here's the truth: there are no good girls. The Bible tells us no one is good except God alone (Rom. 3:10). The achievements, accomplishments, and attitudes we polish up squeaky clean are destined to looking like filthy rags next to his blinding holiness (Isa. 64:6).

Goodbye Good Girl

My sin nature still seems superglued to me. Being a good girl doesn’t dissolve its adhesive effect. Following the rules doesn’t make me righteous. Acting like Pollyanna isn’t the same as having a pure heart. So week after week, as the communion cup is passed, I wrestle, and I weep. It has taken my entire life, but my good girl facade has cracked. Praise God. Even on my very best days I’m still a wretched sinner. But while the bad news has been pinning me to the mat lately, the good news keeps picking me up and dusting me off:

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

I am thankful the dam of my goodness has broken, because God’s torrential grace has come pouring through. Grace doesn’t always feel good. Facing up to the reality of our sin hurts. But when I wrestle with the gospel, the gospel always wins. 

No, being a good girl is not enough. But the grace of a good God is. And not-so-good girls like me find that to be very good news.

by Erin Davis at July 30, 2015 05:01 AM

That Hand Was Made to Hold

As I clicked out of Tuesday’s video detailing Planned Parenthood’s tissue harvesting enterprise, the image burned in my mind was the tiny, well-formed hand clearly visible in the clinic’s dissecting dish. You don’t have to be a medical professional to know what you are seeing is a hand. There’s five tell-tale fingers, a slender wrist, and a forearm. It’s already so developed at eleven weeks that you can tell it is a right hand.

If that baby had been allowed to live for a few more months, it would have come out of the womb with a grasping reflex. Even premature babies can have such a strong grasp that they can support the weight of their whole bodies with their tiny hands. That hand was made to curl tightly around its mother’s index finger.

Later, the baby would have used that hand to hold onto bigger hands to steady herself as she took faltering steps. Once she could walk confidently, she would still need to hold onto her mother’s hand when crossing the street or when approached by a big dog.

Her hand would need holding on the first day of school, in fact, she might only have let go with tears. After that, her hand wouldn’t need to be held as often. There might be times when it was jerked away. As the little girl became independent, maybe even a bit ungrateful sometimes, her mother would think wistfully on the days when that hand grasped hers.

But others would hold her hand. Friends would hold it on the playground, and then boys on the school bus. Perhaps one would have grasped it so tightly that she would have been able to feel the throb of his pulse.

Her hand would have held paintbrushes and cell phones and TV remotes. It may have been good at throwing a softball, playing the piano, or decorating cakes. Or perhaps its only claim to fame would have been that it gave terrific back rubs.

That hand might have become a nurse’s hand. It would have been welcome at a hospital bedside. It could have comforted one whose mind was gone, whose own hands could no longer hold a comb or a knife and fork, but whose aging body still needed to be held and stroked.

The human hand is amazingly versatile. It can injure or soothe, assault or defend. It can take lives or save them.

The hand we see in the video will never do any of these things. It will never reach out to hold another hand comfortingly in a time of pain or fear. And no one’s hand will ever reach for it, just as no hand was there to hold it as the baby died.

by Betsy Childs Howard at July 30, 2015 05:00 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending July 24, 2015

Dusted off an old Rails codebase I hadn’t really touched in years, since my former client and my former teammate needed a little help. Fixed a couple of bugs. It was great to have those automated tests.

I wrote some Emacs Lisp code to help me find and fill in missing entries in my daily sketch journal. Given a starting date, it checks the days since then, looking at the filenames in several directories to see if I’ve drawn a daily entry. Then it displays a list of the missing dates as buttons. When I select a date, it sets up the index card template and displays the matching time entries from my Quantified Awesome logs. It’s been pretty handy, since my journaling has been rather sporadic lately.

My sister and my mom have been writing cooking-related posts on Facebook. I realized that I like chatting about cooking, so that might be good common ground. Since I’m still sorting out issues with energy, I’m leaning more towards asynchronous communication (messages versus Skype). I like the undirected general conversation of streams, too.

Oh, and I spent a day running a few errands downtown. It was nice to be out in the sun.

2015-07-29c Week ending 2015-07-24 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (17.1h – 10%)
    • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Earn (8.2h – 47% of Business)
    • Build (3.5h – 20% of Business)
      • Drawing (3.5h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (5.4h – 31% of Business)
  • Relationships (5.4h – 3%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.6h – 1%)
    • Emacs (0.6h – 0% of all)
    • Announce Emacs Hangout 2015-07-15
    • Verify Jen’s public key by calling
    • Writing (1.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (41.8h – 24%)
  • Personal routines (21.4h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (17.5h – 10%)
  • Sleep (62.2h – 37% – average of 8.9 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending July 24, 2015 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 30, 2015 02:44 AM

Radio ad scripts for the Apple IIc

A friend of mine recently gave me a stack of old Apple documents, and included were scripts for three Apple-approved radio ads pushing the Apple IIc for the holiday season of 1984.

20 Gifts.png
Christmas Card.png
Perfect Present.png

The three ads — titled 20 Gifts, Christmas Card and Perfect Present — extol the virtues of the machine, including its compatibility with programs written for the IIe. Dealers also promised easy credit and help with the purchase of accessories such as a modem or mouse.

You can dowload all three ads as a PDF here.

by Stephen Hackett at July 30, 2015 01:40 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

My Experience with Global Warming

I received this letter from a reader. It contains the clearest reasons for skepticism about the Global Warming Hoax as anyone could wish. He asked me not to print his name.

Please note that his request for anonymity is perfectly reasonable, given the climate of the time in which we live. I add this as one more evidence that my skepticism is reasonable. When one has the truth on one’s side, mob tactics are not needed.

Mr. Wright,

Years ago in college I would say I was not a leftist, but I did buy into the global warming nonsense because of an appeal to authority. I took a class in Oceanography and the professor was adamant about it. I knew I was ignorant and unstudied in the subject so I gave him the benefit of my trust.

Months later I got in an argument with a roommate, drinking beer and doing homework, where I took the positive and he the negative; he accused the UN climate panel and the entire mainstream scientific establishment of being corrupt. Politicians using it to gain power, and unscrupulous scientists using it to get a paycheck. My mind rejected it as being such an absurd collaboration worthy of the title conspiracy, and I rebutted with the maxim about the only way to keep a secret between two people.

That very month the University of East Anglia emails broke. I was utterly wrong, he right.

The BBC did a pretty good expose of it I watched as it came out. I had since gone to great efforts to find copies of it posted online but they were all removed due to “copyright” reasons and the BBC scrubbed all references, even the title and author of the documentary from their site. I don’t have access to research databases but it wouldn’t have surprised me if they scrubbed it from there too. Down the memory hole.

I have a close friend who is a historian, and he has hard copies of pro-communist issues of major American newspapers which when you go to them in a digital format those dates (from the 1940s to 1960s) are mysteriously missing.

The book Nineteen Eighty Four was influential for me and it amazed me later I wasn’t able to find aforementioned documentary. As I get older more of Nineteen Eighty Four is coming true. The city is installing cameras at every intersection and you can’t get away from telescreens even at gas stations now. The world wide web has turned into an all seeing eye. Even this email will be read and archived for government purposes.

In any case here is just another bit of data compiled this month I saw on a forum I lurk showing explicitly where NOAA “adjusted” their data to show the hottest month on record. http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=400800

Thanks for your website. I find it very good. Your post brought up this memory and I would like to thank you and share my experience.

Sincerely, [Name withheld by request]

P.S. I later found out it was common knowledge at the university that specific professor had a habit of plagiarizing and stealing research from other professors and many would not work with him, and much of his research was funded by NOAA who had been implicated in fabricating data for political ends.

by John C Wright at July 30, 2015 01:38 AM

July 29, 2015

pastorbrett.com

Seven Scriptures You’ll Never Hear in a Prosperity Gospel Church

One of the ways you know you are in an unbalanced, unbiblical church is by asking yourself are there any Scriptures you would never hear preached, taught, or quoted there?

Prosperity Gospel churches have an extreme emphasis on being wealthy and being healthy. In a Prosperity Gospel church the chances of you hearing one of the Scriptures below is infinitesimal:

Proverbs 30.7-9

7 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

1 Timothy 6.6-10

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Luke 9:58

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Galatians 4.13-14

13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

James 1.9-11

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Matthew 6.19-21

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Corinthians 11.24-30

24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.


by Brett at July 29, 2015 11:00 PM

Justin Taylor

What the Original Really Means: An Exegetical Parody

A classic illustration from New Testament scholar Moisés Silva:


It is approximately the year 2790. The most powerful nation on earth occupies a large territory in Central Africa, and its citizens speak Swahili. The United States and other English-speaking countries have long ceased to exist, and much of the literature prior to 2012 (the year of the Great Conflagration) is not extant. Some archaeologists digging in the western regions of North America discover a short but well-preserved text that can confidently be dated to the last quarter of the twentieth century. It reads thus:

Marilyn, tired of her glamorous image, embarked on a new project. She would now cultivate her mind, sharpen her verbal skills, pay attention to standards of etiquette. Most important of all, she would devote herself to charitable causes. Accordingly, she offered her services at the local hospital, which needed volunteers to cheer up terminal patients, many of whom had been in considerable pain for a long time. The weeks flew by. One day she was sitting at the cafeteria when her supervisor approached her and said, “I didn’t see you yesterday. What were you doing?” “I painted my apartment; it was my day off,” she responded.

The archaeologists know just enough English to realize that this fragment is a major literary find that deserves closer inspection, so they rush the piece to one of the finest philologists in their home country. This scholar dedicates his next sabbatical to a thorough study of the text and decides to publish an exegetical commentary on it, as follows:

We are unable to determine whether this text is an excerpt from a novel or from a historical biography. Almost surely, however, it was produced in a religious context, as is evident from the use of such words as devoted, offered, charitable. In any case, this passage illustrates the literary power of twentieth-century English, a language full of metaphors. The verb embarked calls to mind an ocean liner leaving for an adventuresome cruise, while cultivate possibly alerts the reader to Marilyn’s botanical interests. In those days North Americans compared time to a bird—probably the eagle—that flies.

The author of this piece, moreover, makes clever use of word associations. For example, the term glamorous is etymologically related to grammar, a concept no doubt reflected in the comment about Marilyn’s “verbal skills.” Consider also the subtleties implied by the statement that “her supervisor approached her.” The verb approach has a rich usage. It my indicate similar appearance or condition (this painting approaches the quality of a Picasso); it may have a sexual innuendo (the rapist approached his victim); it may reflect subservience (he approached his boss for a raise). The cognate noun can be used in contexts of engineering (e.g. access to a bridge), sports (of a golf stroke following the drive from the tee), and even war (a trench that protects troops besieging a fortress).

Society in the twentieth century is greatly illuminated by this text. The word patient (from patience, meaning “endurance”) indicates that sick people then underwent a great deal of suffering: they endured not only the affliction of their physical illness, but also the mediocre skills of their medical doctors, and even (to judge from other contemporary documents) the burden of increasing financial costs.

A few syntactical notes may be of interest to language students. The preposition of had different uses: casual (tired of), superlative (most important of all), and partitive (many of whom). The simple past tense had several aoristic functions: embarked clearly implies determination, while offered suggests Marilyn’s once-for-all, definitive intention. Quite noticeable is the tense variation at the end of the text. The supervisor in his question uses the imperfect tense, “were doing,” perhaps suggesting monotony, slowness, or even laziness. Offended, Marilyn retorts with a punctiliar and emphatic aorist, “I painted.”

Readers of Bible commentaries, as well as listeners of sermons, will recognize that my caricature is only mildly outrageous. . . .


Silva goes on to point out the obvious: not only does is the exegesis “overinterpretation,” but “it contributes virtually nothing to the reader’s understanding of what the passage actually says!”

He continues:

Preachers who make appeals to “the original” may in some cases help their readers obtain a better insight into Scripture. More often than not, however such appeals serve one of two functions: (1) they merely furnish illustrations to heighten interest to that hearers think they have a better understanding of the passage (cf. the comment on embark above); (2) they provide the occasion to make a point that has little do to with the passage (cf. the comment on patient).

The parody is found in Silva’s excellent book, God, Language, and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the Light of General Linguistics, reprinted in the volume Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation (Zondervan, 1990), pp. 199-201.

This book is profitably read in conjunction with D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies (2d ed., Baker Academic, 1996).

by Justin Taylor at July 29, 2015 07:46 PM

Holiday Workout: 11 a.m., Aug. 3

Please note there will be a group workout at 11 a.m. on Aug. 3. All other classes will be cancelled for the holiday. This is a great chance to sweat with a big, happy group of friends and meet people you haven’t trained with before. Come on out! The workout is scheduled for 2 hours, […]

by Mike at July 29, 2015 06:41 PM

The Urbanophile

Think Globally, Disrupt Locally

My latest piece is online in the Los Angeles Times. It’s about how environmental activists are trying to stop fracking and Alberta oil developments by obstructing the ability to export fossil fuels using local control over ports as a lever.

I am generally a strong proponent of local control, but disruption of global commerce, particularly when clearly motivated by non-local concerns, is not something localities should be doing. Interstate commerce, like immigration policy, is a clearly federal policy domain. Policy and regulation for it needs to be set at the federal level. People who don’t want oil drilling in Alaska should take that up with President Obama, who approved it, not the Port of Seattle.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Shell battle highlights a new tactic among environmental activists: Unhappy with policies made in Washington, they’re trying to use local regulations to set national policy. Pressuring cities and other local entities that control many of the nation’s ports, the greens hope to prevent fossil-fuel industries from obtaining permits and thus keep such energy from coming to market. And they’re having some success.

Under tremendous pressure from environmentalists, Portland, Ore., shot down a proposed propane-export terminal. Activist Daphne Wysham boasted that “residents of the Pacific Northwest have begun to mobilize in bold and successful resistance to these fossil fuel exports.”

Oregon greens are elsewhere trying to prevent the export of liquefied natural gas. As Stacey McLaughlin noted approvingly in an Oregonian op-ed, “If they cannot export natural gas, then they will need to cut back on fracking.” Similar battles are raging north of the border, in British Columbia, and on the East Coast. South Portland, Maine, for instance, banned the export of crude oil arriving there via pipeline.

Click through to read the whole thing.

by Aaron M. Renn at July 29, 2015 03:40 PM

Workout: July 30, 2015

Overhead squat 2-2-2-2 Bulgarian split squat 6-6-6-6

by Mike at July 29, 2015 03:10 PM

An Hour of NeXT History

I've written a lot about NeXT over the years, but this video with Michael Johnson really is full of good stuff. I was hoping to make it to this event at WWDC, but it didn't pan out. Now I'm really sad I wasn't there in person.

via The Loop

by Stephen Hackett at July 29, 2015 02:59 PM

Connected 50: The Edition Episode →

We hit the big 5-0 this week on Connected:

On the golden anniversary of Connected, the crew sits down to talk about Apple Pay in the UK, Apple News and RSS before sharing a little about how they write articles and prepare for podcasts.

I was surprised to learn how alike Federico and I are alike in the way we approach our writing. This episode was a fun break for us, and I think you'll enjoy it.

Thanks to these sponsors:

  • Todoist: The task management app that's with you everywhere.
  • Fracture: Photos printed in vivid color directly on glass. Use code 'CONNECTED' to get 15% off
  • Igloo: An intranet you'll actually like, free for up to 10 people.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 29, 2015 02:48 PM

Reformedish

The Peace of the Triune God

peaceI’ve written about this before, or rather I’ve quoted others writing about it, but time and again we must be reminded that all of God’s good gifts, especially those we receive in redemption, have a trinitarian shape to them. They come to us from the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. Whether it be justification, adoption, or sanctification, the whole Trinity is displayed to be at work in the New Testament witness. Thomas Watson makes this point again with respect to the believer’s gift of peace, by asking,”Whence comes this Peace?”

His answer?:

It has the whole Trinity for its author. God the Father is ‘the God of peace.’ (I Thess 5:53.) God the Son is the ‘Prince of peace.’ (Isa 9:9.) Peace is said to be the ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ (Gal 5:52.)

(1.) God the Father is the God of peace. As he is the God of order, so he is the God of peace. (I Cor 14:43), and (Phil 4:4.) This was the form of the priest’s blessing upon the people. ‘The Lord give thee peace.’ (Numb 6:66.)

(2.) God the Son is the purchaser of peace. He made peace by his blood. ‘Having made peace by the blood of his cross.’ (Col 1:10.) The atonement Aaron made for the people, when he entered into the holy of holies, with blood, was a type of Christ our high priest, who by his sacrifice pacified his angry Father, and made atonement for us. Christ purchased our peace upon hard terms; for his soul was in an agony, while he was travailing to bring forth peace to the world.

(3.) Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. He seals up peace to the conscience. The Spirit clears up the work of grace in the heart, from whence arises peace. There was a well of water near Hagar, but she did not see it, therefore she wept. A Christian has grace, but does not see it, therefore he weeps. Now the Spirit discovers this well of water, it enables conscience to witness to a man that has the real work of grace, and so peace flows into the soul. Thus you see whence this peace comes – the Father decrees it, the Son purchases it, the Holy Ghost applies it.

I don’t care how many times I see that same basic structure, it still thrills me to see the workings of our Triune God traced out in the revelation of Scripture. It is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who is the source, sum, and goal of our peace.

To understand how God can be ou peace, though, we must push further and recognize that God himself is peace. I’ve shared this Webster quote before, but I can’t pass up sharing it again:

The peace of God — the peace which God himself is— passes all understanding; ‘neither we nor the angels can understand as God, the peace which God himself enjoys’ (Augustine, City of God, XXII.29). This peace of God’s own self may be considered under the aspects of harmony and repose. First, with respect to harmony; the outer acts of the Holy Trinity are indivisible, the work of the undivided divine essence in its threefold personal modification. By appropriation, specific works may be particularly or eminently assigned to one divine person (as redemption to the Son or sanctification to the Spirit). But each person participates in all, for each shares in the undivided dvine essence, and each work is to be attributed absolutely to that one divine essence. The outer works of the Trinity are, then, harmonious — not mere conjoint or cooperative or composite action, but action which is inseparable and coinherent, and so, in a deep sense, peaceful. This harmony in the missions of the three-in-one is grounded in and gives expression to to the infinite peace which God is. There is no disorder, disruption or contradiction in the works of the Father, Son, and Spirit in the making and perfecting of the world. And so, there is in God’s inner life nothing of divergence or discord, but infinite unity and therefore peace beyond measure.

Second, to this harmony is to be added the element of repose. The outer works of God are effortlessly accomplished, without strain or agitation, without interval between willing and effecting. God rests in his work. This rest corresponds to the inner repose of God in filiation and spiriation, there is no malign diversity, no coming together out of a condition of separation, no overcoming of division or conflict, but always an already-achieved perfection of peaceful life. God’s inner peace is the peace of his triune simplicity.

This inner divine peace is the principle of creaturely peace, that upon which all other peace is founded and by which it is preserved. This is so, however, only because divine peace is in itself complete and fully satisfied. In the repleteness of his life as Father, Son, and Spirit, God is beyond need or desire. His peace is neither enhanced by created peace nor diminished by its absence…it is the harmony and repose which, because it needs nothing, is capable of pure charity, giving life and righteous order in the works of creation and providence.

The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason, pp. 133-135

Well, that’s enough to praise him for today. May God’s peace be with you.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at July 29, 2015 02:06 PM

Crossway Blog

Who Is John Feinberg?

This post is adapted from the introduction to Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology: Essays in Honor of John S. Feinberg edited by Gregg R. Allison and Stephen J. Wellum.


Early Life

John Samuel Feinberg was born April 2, 1946, in Dallas, Texas, the third child and second son of Charles Lee and Anne Priscilla (Fraiman) Feinberg. When Charles became the founding dean of Talbot Theological Seminary in 1948, the family moved to Los Angeles, California. John did his undergraduate studies at UCLA, graduating in 1968 with a BA in English. In 1969–1970, as an instructor in doctrine at the Los Angeles Bible Training School, he began what would eventually become nearly a half-century teaching career.

John remained in California to pursue the MDiv, graduating from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1971. The following year he completed the ThM in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. On August 19, 1972, John and Patricia Buecher were married. He began his PhD studies in historical theology and philosophy in the School of Religion at the University of Iowa, but his program was interrupted in 1973; subsequently, he concentrated on metaphysics and epistemology for his MA at the University of Chicago in 1974. He stayed there for his final studies in philosophy and his dissertation (Theologies and Evil), earning the PhD from the University of Chicago in 1978. At this time, John and Pat celebrated the birth of their first son, Josiah (1976); two other boys—Jonathan (1979) and Jeremy (1982)—were later added to the Feinberg family.

From the Church to the Academy

While pursuing his theological, pastoral, and philosophical training, John was involved in local ministry in a variety of capacities. As a staff member of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, he engaged in mission work in Los Angeles in 1970–1971 and in the U.S. Midwestern region from 1971 to 1974. He was ordained to the ministry in 1971 and served as the pastor of Elmwood Park Bible Church in Illinois from 1974 to 1976.

In God’s providence, however, it was to a teaching career that God graciously called John to use his gifts and abilities to serve the larger evangelical church. John served as assistant professor of systematic theology at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary from 1976 to 1981. He then became professor of systematic theology and philosophy, as well as chairman of the Department of Theological Studies, at Liberty Baptist Seminary and College from 1981 to 1983. John’s alma mater sought him out, so he became, first, associate professor (1983–1990), then professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the faculty position that he has held from 1991 to the present. He has twice served as the chairman of the Division of Biblical and Systematic Theology (1985–1992, 1999–2012).

In addition to these institutions, John has taught around the world. He has served as visiting professor or guest lecturer at numerous other venues, including Bethel Theological Seminary (St. Paul, Minnesota), Freie Theologische Akademie (Giessen, West Germany), Tyndale Theological Seminary (Badhoevedorp, Netherlands), Italian Bible Institute (Finocchio, Italy), Seminario Teologico Centro Americano (Guatemala City, Guatemala), Multnomah Biblical Seminary (Portland, Oregon), Emmaus Bible College (Sydney, Australia), Campus Crusade staff training (Split, Croatia), Greek Bible Institute (Pikermi, Greece), Odessa Theological Seminary (Odessa, Ukraine), University of Zimbabwe (Harare, Zimbabwe), Northern Province Bible Institute (Pietersburg, South Africa), Evangelical Reformed Baptist Seminary (Heidelberg, South Africa), Torch Trinity Institute of Lay Education (Norwood, New Jersey), Trinity Bible College and Equipping Center (Kursk, Russia), Talbot School of Theology: Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies (New York, New York), and The Master’s Seminary (Sun Valley, California).

A Godly Mentor

Having spent the majority of his teaching career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, John is a fixture at TEDS and has mentored hundreds of students who are now working as pastors, teachers, professors, staff in churches and parachurch movements, missionaries, philosophers, ethicists, apologists, evangelists, denominational leaders, and much more. Because of his research and writing on, and experience with, evil and suffering, John has also encouraged these students to rely on God’s inscrutable providence and loving care as they encounter the trials of life. Trinity has also been the community of faith that has walked alongside John and Pat as Huntington’s Chorea has slowly whittled away her life. As an outstanding example of grace and solidarity, Trinity has never questioned the advisability of John’s ongoing teaching there in light of the demands that Pat’s suffering has placed on him and his career.

Throughout his teaching career, John has established himself as a brilliant thinker, a prodigious scholar and author, an impassioned apologist for the faith, a demanding and fair instructor, a champion of clear and rational thinking, a giving friend, and a supportive mentor. John is well known in the classroom for his preparation and attention to detail, his careful analysis and critique of theological and philosophical positions and ideas, and his desire to see his students grow in the knowledge of Scripture and theological thinking. The same may also be found in all of his writing projects—detailed analysis, precision, and incisive biblical and theological exposition and critique. Besides teaching and writing, John has cultivated other interests and is always ready to discuss sports, show slides from his many travels, share the beautiful music of Andrea Bocelli, and wax eloquent about his wonderful wife and her suffering proven faith.

A Prodigious Scholar

John is well known for his many books, including Ethics for a Brave New World, coauthored with his brother Paul (Crossway, 1993; 2nd ed., rev. and expanded, 2010); The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil (Zondervan, 1994; rev. and expanded, Crossway, 2004); Deceived by God?: A Journey through Suffering (Crossway, 1997); his monumental No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God, part of the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series (Crossway, 2001); Where Is God?: A Personal Story of Finding God in Grief and Suffering (B&H, 2004); and Can You Believe It’s True?: Christian Apologetics in a Modern and Postmodern Era (Crossway, 2013).


Gregg R. Allison (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society, a book review editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, and the author of numerous books, including Historical Theology, Sojourners and Strangers, and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice.

Stephen J. Wellum (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He is also the coauthor (with Peter Gentry) of Kingdom through Covenant.

by Matt Tully at July 29, 2015 01:15 PM

Justin Taylor

6 Predictions about Evangelicalism over the Next 5 Years

Greg Forster—author of the excellent book Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (foreword by Tim Keller)—offers his predictions about evangelicalism over the next five years:

  1. Evangelicals will lose little ground as a percentage of the American population.
  2. Evangelicals will hold steady on core beliefs, but will often sound like we aren’t.
  3. Evangelical cultural influence will decline in the short term as we are persecuted and excluded.
  4. A new Religious Right and a Benedict Option movement will both rise and flame out quickly.
  5. Evangelicals will cultivate local, holistic responses to economic and sexual destruction.
  6. Evangelicals will embrace a “hopeful realism” about America, and end up in a position of strength.

You can read his explanation of each point here.

by Justin Taylor at July 29, 2015 12:23 PM

Front Porch Republic

A Sweet Gift from Heaven

Honey Harvest

“The heavenly gift of honey…” Virgil, The Georgics

Thus Virgil opens his final book of The Georgics. Perhaps these words rolled off his pen with hardly a thought; or maybe they were very deliberate. Either way they express a sentiment, an insight that can hardly be missed by an earnest observer of what nature offers… especially this time of year, via the bees.

Honey is a gift; and it is from heaven.

How can we not stop and smile? The beneficent order of the natural world is already so manifest in the diligence and efficacy with which this complex society brings about the pollination and thus the fruition and reproduction of countless plants and trees.

But then there is more. The bees’ work –which still today defies human comprehension—also yields the most regal of foods. Honey!

It comes in a panoply of colors and flavors, by which an experienced honey-taster might distinguish—like a wine-taster—the plants of origin. Spread thinly on a breakfast biscuit, muffin or toast, it starts our day with the sweet savor of honest work crowned by a gratuitous completion.

While the bees themselves likely think on nary more than their own work, we are left to ponder the gift itself, and its origin. And all that it implies.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy he appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

The post A Sweet Gift from Heaven appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Cuddeback at July 29, 2015 10:44 AM

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

The Case for Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

If you spend enough time listening to Silicon Valley folks, you’d be forgiven for assuming that all tech companies, particularly startups, originated in Lake Wobegon: they are all strong, good looking, and above average. And, to be sure, there are a lot of benefits that come from the instinctual optimism that inhabits the place: the fact that seemingly outlandish ideas that (according to conventional wisdom) will never work can receive funding and the full-on commitment of thousands of exceptionally talented people is a big part of why the region churns out company after company that does in fact change the world.

Twitter is a classic example: a description of the product in 2006 would have had most people shaking their heads at the very premise of a service based on broadcasting 140 character micro-posts (the word “tweet” wouldn’t come till later), but here we sit 9 years later discussing a product and eponymous company that has, in a very real way, changed the world broadly and the world of its users dramatically.

The trouble with optimism, though, is that it can blind you to real areas of concern, and again Twitter is the perfect example. While early skepticism centered on Twitter’s ability to monetize, by the time the company filed for its IPO in 2013 it was obvious the company had fantastic revenue potential but a real problem retaining new users (I wrote about this at the time). Unfortunately, as best I can tell, Twitter’s product strategy basically consisted of optimism that the company would magically improve its ability to retain new users while the attention of the executive team focused on monetization, culminating in Q4 2014 earnings that showed barely any user growth but impressive revenue numbers — and a 16 percent stock jump.

On the associated February phone call with analysts, then-CEO Dick Costolo led with the great results and declared that Twitter’s user problem was headed in the right direction as well:

Financially we had another great quarter with strong revenue growth and very strong profit…Importantly, I want to highlight that the user numbers we saw in January of this year indicate that our MAU trend has already turned around and our Q1 trend is likely to be back in the range of absolute net adds that we saw during the first three quarters of 2014.

Everything was going to be fine.


Of course, everything was not fine; the following quarter Twitter showed even slower user growth and this time revenue missed as well, and the stock gave back January’s gains and more, plummeting 25% in just two days. That’s when I wrote that Twitter Needed New Leadership, and the motivation wasn’t so much the then just-released earnings as it was all the earnings and public pronouncements that came before: if an executive team continually says that everything is great when it clearly is not, then in my mind they lose credibility. It just happened to take an earnings miss for Wall Street to share my assessment.

This, then, is why yesterday’s Twitter earnings call was so important — and so impressive. Just as in January Twitter beat financial expectations handily, and the stock quickly jumped in after-hours trading. It would have been plausible, and even understandable, if interim CEO Jack Dorsey and CFO Anthony Noto had taken the opportunity to reiterate that Twitter’s plan was working and that the stock did indeed deserve to be worth more.

In fact, though, Dorsey and Noto did the exact opposite: instead of focusing on revenue they focused on users, and were brutally honest that Twitter had fallen short. Dorsey stated right at the top:

We’ve been very successful at monetization, with a strong Q2, delivering over $500 million in revenue and more than $120 million in EBITDA. However, product initiatives we’ve mentioned in previous earnings calls like instant timelines and logged out experiences have not yet had meaningful impact on growing our audience or participation. This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it.

The stock tanked, but that’s because it was too high to begin with: it’s not that Dorsey and Noto presented poorly, it’s that they presented honestly, and while that hurts now, it’s the only way to rebuild the credibility that Twitter has lost through too many quarters of insisting things were strong, good-looking, and always, always, above-average.1


Just before the earnings call Kara Swisher reported that Dorsey and Adam Bain, President of Global Revenue and Partnerships at Twitter, were finalists to replace Costolo, who stepped down in June. It was great timing, because said call laid out why, in my opinion, Dorsey should be the choice — and why it’s not at all an obvious one.

The fact of the matter is that Bain has done a phenomenal job at Twitter: the company had only $28 million in revenue in 2010, the year he started, yet just this quarter delivered over $500 million; that’s a 70x increase on an annualized basis. Were the CEO job based simply on past performance, no one would be more deserving. However, to make the decision in such a way — to effectively prioritize revenue generation — would be to make the exact same mistake Twitter made over the past several years: putting advertisers and money ahead of users and product. In the long run the former depend on the latter — and in a disclosure that clearly spooked the market, Noto noted that Twitter could soon be in danger of not having sufficient inventory — because of a lack of engaged users — for all of the ads it was selling.2

The question, then, is who can best rebuild the product, and it’s difficult to come up with anyone better than Dorsey:

  • Product development requires vision. When you keep in mind the “vision” Twitter presented at last fall’s analyst day — Reach the largest daily audience in the world by connecting everyone to their world via our information sharing and distribution platform products and be one of the top revenue generating Internet companies in the world. — Dorsey’s clarity on yesterday’s call was profound:

    You should expect Twitter to be as easy as looking out your window to see what’s happening. You should expect Twitter to show you what’s most meaningful in the world to live it first before anyone else and straight from the source. And you should expect Twitter to keep you informed and updated throughout your day.

    But Twitter can’t just be the best window to the world; Twitter also has to be the most powerful microphone in the world. You should expect Twitter to increase your reach and you should expect Twitter to encourage live and direct conversation and participation around whatever you share.

    If we meet these expectations, and we will, Twitter will become the first thing everyone in the world checks to start their day and the first thing people turn to when they want to share ideas, commentary, or simply what’s happening.

    More importantly, if Twitter meets those expectations, revenue and advertisers will follow; the relationship is a one-way street, and for too long Twitter has been trying to back into what must come first.

  • Product development requires authority. Twitter has long been captive to its best users who rail against any change on the margins, much less even a rumor of changes to the core product; I suspect this hesitancy has been in large part driven by the fact that everyone in Twitter’s leadership was ultimately a hired gun. Dorsey, though, is a founder, and however controversial his first stint at the company may have been, there is no denying the authority this fact gives him when it comes to making changes.

    Dorsey is already indicating that there will be no sacred cows, stating in his opening remarks:

    You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline and all of the work it takes to build one by finding and following accounts through experiences like ‘While You Were Away’ and Project Lightning which launches this fall. Our goal is to show more meaningful tweets and conversations faster, whether that’s logged in or out of Twitter.

    Dorsey noted later on that the traditional reverse chronological timeline would still be available, but he again made clear the strictly chronological timeline wasn’t gospel; it’s doubtful anyone else could say so so brazenly.

  • Product development requires buy-in. Perhaps the most severe issue facing Twitter is employee retention, particularly in light of the increasingly depressed stock. Two more executives left yesterday, on top of the 450+ employees that The Financial Times reported have left in the past year. Stemming that flow will require both vision as well as a reason to believe that vision is attainable, and here again Dorsey is the obvious choice.

    First off — and as evidence clichés exist for a reason — it should be noted again that Dorsey is a founder, granting him not only authority but also legitimacy. Twitter head of product Kevin Weil told The Verge:

    Jack brings the vision of the founder of the product back, so he has a very strong sense of Twitter’s place in the world. He’s bringing his perspective to how we develop products, and honestly it’s been a great experience so far.

    Secondly, whether by circumstance or not Dorsey’s time at Twitter (2006-2008) is very highly correlated with the times the product evolved the most; Dorsey was also a proponent of Twitter’s original API-centric model and isn’t tainted by the developer drama of 2012. Bain may be as likable as Swisher asserted, but likability does not translate into buy-in, particularly in an arena (product) where Bain doesn’t claim to have any particular expertise.

    Perhaps most important, though, was yesterday’s call: Dorsey reportedly told Twitter employees he would be blunt, and he was. He was, as I noted, honest, and honesty is the foundation of trust, something the next Twitter CEO will desperately need.

To be sure, there are plenty of arguments against Dorsey. For one, he has another job as CEO of Square, which late last week was reported to have filed for an IPO. Then again, there are whispers Dorsey is less involved with Square than you might think, especially as the company has pivoted away from a consumer focus (Dorsey’s passion) towards small business financial services, and if he were ever going to leave pre-IPO would probably be better than post (although both options aren’t great).

For another, while Dorsey supervised much of Twitter’s early innovation, it was innovation that was all too often barely accessible due to Twitter’s operational problems. Moreover, by all accounts the fail whale symbolized more than the fact that the servers couldn’t stay up: the entire company seems to have had very little structure or discipline. That said, people grow and mature: Dorsey would now be a CEO with proven CEO experience, not simply an engineer with a good idea and little else to go on.

And, of course, there is the famous Twitter dysfunction: according to Swisher Twitter’s other iconic co-founder, Ev Williams, is against a Dorsey return, small surprise given the fact both managed to help fire the other during their respective go-arounds as CEO. Indeed, that there is yet another reason why Twitter has such a significant hill to climb: not only do they need a new CEO, they probably need a new board as well. Having a mixture of former CEOs and folks who don’t use Twitter doesn’t exactly suggest that the CEO decision will be based on what is best for the product. And that makes me pretty pessimistic.

  1. To be fair, Dorsey and Noto were simply seizing the opportunity presented to all new CEOs: that is they implicitly threw the old leadership under the bus and dramatically lowered expectations for themselves. Still, in my mind the opportunism doesn’t make their honesty any less impressive (particularly when you remember it cost both of them millions of dollars personally)
  2. This is a point I got slightly wrong in my piece calling for new leadership: I focused on the possibility that advertisers would desert Twitter for being too small, while Noto warned about Twitter not having sufficient inventory to satisfy demand; both, though, are driven by the fact that Twitter needs more active users (and I believe my concern remains warranted in the long run)

The post The Case for Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO appeared first on Stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at July 29, 2015 09:30 AM

Light Blue Touchpaper

FCA view on unauthorised transactions

Yesterday the Financial Conduct Authority (the UK bank regulator) issued a report on Fair treatment for consumers who suffer unauthorised transactions. This is an issue in which we have an interest, as fraud victims regularly come to us after being turned away by their bank and by the financial ombudsman service. Yet the FCA have found that everything is hunky dory, and conclude “we do not believe that further thematic work is required at this stage”.

One of the things the FCA asked their consultants is whether there’s any evidence that claims are rejected on the sole basis that a pin was used. The consultants didn’t want to reply on existing work but instead surveyed a nationally representative sample of 948 people and found that 16% had a transaction dispute in the last year. These were 37% MOTO, 22% cancelled future dated payment, 15% ATM cash, 13% shop, 13% lump sum from bank account. Of customers who complained, 43% were offered their money back spontaneously; a further 41% asked; in the end a total of 68% got refunds after varying periods of time. In total 7% (15 victims) had claim declined, most because the bank said the transaction was “authorised” or following a”contract with merchant” and 2 for chip and pin (one of them an ATM transaction; the other admitted sharing their PIN). 12 of these 15 considered the result
unfair. These figures are entirely consistent with what we learn from the British Crime Survey and elsewhere; two million UK victims a year, and while most get their money back, many don’t; and a hard core of perhaps a few tens of thousands who end up feeling that their bank has screwed them.

The case studies profiled in the consultants’ paper were of glowing happy people who got their money back; the 12 sad losers were not profiled, and the consultants concluded that “Customers might be being denied refunds on the sole basis that Chip and PIN were used … we found little evidence of this” (p 49) and went on to remark helpfully that some customers admitted sharing their PINs and felt OK lying about this. The FCA happily paraphrases this as “We also did not find any evidence of firms holding customers liable for unauthorised transactions solely on the basis that the PIN was used to make the transaction” (main report, p 13, 3.25).

According to recent news reports, the former head of the FCA, Martin Wheatley, was sacked by George Osborne for being too harsh on the banks.

by Ross Anderson at July 29, 2015 08:39 AM

Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »

What am I doing here?

dsbabyI was born sixty-eight years ago today, in Jersey City‘s Christ Hospital, at around eleven in the morning. I would have been born earlier, but the hospital staff tied Mom’s legs together so I wouldn’t come out before the doctor showed up. You know Poe’s story, The Premature Burial? Mine was like that, only going the other way: a Postmature Birth. It wasn’t fun.

When they finally took the straps off Mom, I was already there, face-first, with my head bent back so far that, when the doctor yanked me out with a forceps, the back of my C5 vertebra was flattened. The bruise that rose on the back of my neck was nearly the size of my head.

Mom wasn’t happy either, but you didn’t complain in those days. Whatever the shitty new status quo was, it beat the hell out of the Depression and the War. And, to be fair, the postwar Baby Boom was also at high ebb, stripping the gears of all kinds of systems: medicine, government, transport, education, whatever.

So we built a new postwar industrial system, and watched it all happen on TV.

All my life I’ve watched that system closely and looked for ways to have fun with it, to break it, and to fix it. I didn’t realize at first that fixing it was what I was here for, but eventually it dawned on me.

Specifically, it happened at Esther Dyson’s PC Forum, in March 1994. John Gage showed off the World Wide Web, projecting Mosaic (the Ur graphical browser) from a flaky Macintosh Duo. I already knew about the Web, but seeing it at work, all over the world, blew my mind and changed my life.

What I saw in the future were near-infinite computing and communications powers on our laps and in our pockets, projecting our very lives into a second digital world that would coexist with our physical one. In this second world we would all be a functional distance apart of zero, at a cost that leaned toward the same. The digital genie had been loosed from the physical bottle, and both would rule our species henceforth.

The question What am I doing here? — which had haunted me all my life, now had an answer. I had to help the world make the most of its new situation. “Your choice is always to help or to hurt,” Mom used to say. I wanted to help.

That’s why I started writing for Linux Journal in 1996, involving myself in the free software and open source movements. It’s why I co-wrote The Cluetrain Manifesto in 1999. And it’s why I started ProjectVRM in 2006.

The simple idea with VRM (vendor relationship management) is to fix business from the customer side, by providing tools that make each of us both independent of businesses yet better able to engage with them. The mass market industrial model is to give businesses “scale”: the ability deliver the same products and services to countless customers. In the VRM model, the customer gets scale too, across all the businesses she deals with. (Imagine, for example, being able to change your address for every business you deal with, in one move, using a tool of your own. Or to set your own privacy boundaries, or terms of engagement.)

It’s a long-term ambition, and success may take longer than it does for me to complete my tour of the planet. But there are now lots of developers on the case, around the world.

I have absolute faith that fully empowered customers will prove good for business. Or, in other words, that free customers prove more valuable — to themselves and to business — than captive ones.

Making that happen is what I’m doing here. Sure, I do lots of other stuff too. But that’s the main thing.

Bonus link: The Final Demographic.

by Doc Searls at July 29, 2015 07:42 AM

Table Titans

Tales: What’s in a Name?

News

Sometimes a nifty title can say a lot about your character. Grimbore the Flatulent, you can imagine, is not a fun person to be stuck in tight quarters with, while Averos the Brave is a guy that has no desire to back down from anything.

Titles are great, but the wrong one is like writing a check…

Read more

July 29, 2015 07:04 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

A Question about the Global Warming Hoax

Read it and weep:

https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/mind-blowing-temperature-fraud-at-noaa/

The measured US temperature data from USHCN shows that the US is on a long-term cooling trend. But the reported temperatures from NOAA show a strong warming trend.

They accomplish this through a spectacular hockey stick of data tampering, which corrupts the US temperature trend by almost two degrees.

The biggest component of this fraud is making up data. Almost half of all reported US temperature data is now fake. They fill in missing rural data with urban data to create the appearance of non-existent US warming.

Voila: Global Warming is make-believe science based on make-believe data.

The hoax was clear from the beginning for those with eyes to see when the same parties, in one case the same man, called for curtailing fossil fuels and modern industrial technology, bigger government and global government, in order to stop Global Cooling in the 1970s. “Opposite problem, same solution” is not the slogan of sanity.

The hoax was clear from the beginning for those with eyes to see because no one spoke in public about technical solutions to the problem. To raise the albedo of the Earth, for example, and ensure more solar radiation was reflected into space hence lowering Earth’s average temperature, cutting down the Amazon jungle would be the optimal solution. Anyone actually interested in lower the global heat would be actually discussion how actually to do it. They were not.

The hoax was clear from the beginning for those with eyes to see because of the hysteria surrounding it. It was a scare, a panic, and there was no more evidence for it than for the DDT scare, the ALAR scare, the radon scare, the mercury in the fish scare, the acid rain scare, the hole in the ozone layer scare, the power cables causing cancer scare, mobile phone towers causing cancer scare, the chloroflourocarbons scare, the overpopulation scare, the salmonella scare, the Mad Cow disease scare, and so on. Have you ever heard even one retraction or apology for any of these false alarms, even long after the fraud was exposed? Is DDT available even thought Rachel Carson’s mass-murdering fraud is well known to have been scientifically absurd?

The hoax was exposed (even to those without eyes to see) when Phil Jones, of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, refused to reveal the raw data the CRU had used for its forecast models with these words: “Why should I share this data with you, when your goal is to find something wrong with it?”

And he destroyed the data when it was subpoenaed, rather than turn it over.

That is not the way scientists talk. That is not the way scientists act. That is the way propagandists talk and act. Activists. Advocates. Ad-men. Hoaxsters. Scam Artists. Liars.

The hoax was exposed when the ‘hide the decline’ emails from East Anglia University went public in 2009.

How is it possible any sane man is still taking global warming seriously in 2015, years later?

My theory is that Leftists never wake up not because they are stupid nor because they are evil but merely because the question of whether a “narrative” is true or false bores them and fills them with ennui.

Political Correctness means judging stories on how efficient they are as propaganda.

Truth never enters their mental system at any point.

Truth is merely irrelevant to them.

We keep arguing to them about whether global warming truly exists or truly does not exist, and they merely blink at us with owlish, stupid, dull looks on their brutal faces, uncomprehending, because to them it is like asking if saying please and thank you is ‘true’.

Saying please and thank you is not true or untrue. It is merely polite, an accepted formality.

Likewise, here, to them, expressing loyalty to the Global Warming faith is merely polite, a matter of accepted formality.

Asking a Leftist to react to a fact, and to recant a false theory once it is proved false is like asking a eunuch to get an erection. He cannot do it. He lacks the equipment to perform the act and lacks the mental and physical ability to desire to perform the act.

When, if ever, has anyone on the Left ever for any reason condemned or denounced or recanted a false theory once it was proved false?

Even issues over fifty years old — the Ukraine famine, the Hiss/Chambers case, the Rosenbergs atomic spying case — has any Leftist ever admitted wrong?

Has any Leftist ever admitted that Senator McCarthy was entirely correct in his accusations? That the people he and his committee investigated actually were, in fact, paid agents of the Soviet Union?

by John C Wright at July 29, 2015 05:24 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

To Defend, Promote, and Apply the Gospel in Australia

Editors’ note: The following is an excerpt from Gary Millar’s speech at the launch of The Gospel Coalition Australia (TGCA) on July 23 in Brisbane Town Hall.  


We have reached a critical moment for the cause of the gospel in Australia. It is easy to overstate the significance of any given point in the history of the church. But right now we are facing specific opportunities and challenges in Australia—and we have a responsibility to meet them.

Here in Australia, as in much of the English-speaking world, we are in the middle of a massive realignment of thinking and practice. Four major aspects of this shift include:

  • An increasingly strident rejection of biblical morality, particularly in the area of sexuality.
  • A sharp decline in church attendance across the board.
  • A loosening of traditional denominational allegiances—people are far more denominationally mobile.
  • Fragmentation in the “Reformed evangelical cause”—a key generation of leaders has retired, and it isn’t entirely clear who will pick up the baton.

These are significant challenges. We believe that they are challenges TGCA may be able to help the church of Jesus Christ to address. In our judgment, now is the time for us to gather together around the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, clearly defined and preached, as we seek to commend and promote and proclaim the Lord Jesus in our society. Now is the time to gather together around a clearly defined center—the historic gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—as we seek to express real gospel unity, and when needed, to speak with one voice, to express our partnership in the gospel in ways that count.

This sense has only been strengthened by the recognition of the significant opportunities our God seems to be presenting us with right now. In Australia:

  • There is a growing recognition that we need to work harder at getting along well with those who share our basic convictions for the sake of the gospel—there are simply not enough of us to do otherwise.
  • There is evidence that a growing number of people are being drawn to gospel-centered thinking and to Reformed theology from groups that, in the past, have not been open to such thinking. There is a hunger for biblical theology and systematic expository preaching which has not been seen before.
  • We have an unprecedented opportunity to reach people from all nations without leaving our shores, as they come to our country, in many cases looking for friendship and, initially at least, being open to the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

Why TGCA?

We think there is a need to gather the church around the center of the gospel and to equip and resource the church for biblical ministry. But why set up an Australian version of an American organization—why The Gospel Coalition Australia, and not Reformed Australians Together—apart from the fact that RAT probably isn’t the best acronym to use? There were several compelling reasons that led us to set up TGCA rather than anything else.

Theological reasons. We identify theologically with our brothers and sisters in TGC. Men like Don Carson, Mark Dever, John Piper, and Tim Keller are our friends and co-workers.

Strategic reasons. Given the huge number of Australians linked to TGC through the website already, and in particular, the large number of people outside traditional Reformed evangelical circles who have been drawn to biblical preaching and gospel-centered thinking, we are convinced TGCA has potential to make a real contribution to the evangelical scene here in Australia.

Practical reasons. We did not want to spend years reinventing the wheel. We don’t want to be a talkshop. The Foundation Documents are, of course, not perfect. They were framed in a different context from ours. However, practically speaking, we did not want to spend three years repeating work that had already been done, and decided to run with the TGC Foundation Documents, and then to work hard to develop and articulate our own distinctively Australian strategy.

Missional reasons. We think it is a distinct advantage, particularly here at the ends of the earth in Australia, to identify with what is becoming a global movement, as TGC groups spring up across the world. We hope to ensure that TGCA never becomes parochial, but sees what we are doing here as part of the work of the gospel throughout our world.

Theological DNA 

TGC Australia is a completely separate entity from TGC in America, although one that happily shares the same theological DNA as expressed in the Foundation Documents. The need for an authentically Australian TGC was recognized from the beginning on both sides of the Pacific. As Don Carson has explained, when it comes to TGC's international vision, “We've been clear from the beginning that we don't want [overseas groups] to be American-controlled.”

Tim Keller adds that it's vital for such TGC-inspired partnerships to be and remain indigenous. Both Don and Tim have been hugely helpful as we have sought to establish TGC Australia, and Ben Peays, executive director of TGC, and the website editorial staff, have been unsparingly generous with their time and energy. We thank God for the support and fellowship of our brothers on the U.S. Council. However, TGC Australia is and will remain an entirely Australian entity.

Chief End 

TGCA exists to encourage God’s people to defend, promote, and apply the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ together here in Australia and beyond and to do it with both humility and confidence. Whatever brings honor to Jesus Christ, whatever leads to the gospel being proclaimed more effectively, whatever leads to more people becoming disciples of the Lord Jesus who live for his glory—then let’s do it together! This is what TGCA is all about.

May God in his grace use us by his Spirit as he wills for his glory.

by Gary Millar at July 29, 2015 05:02 AM

Knowledge and Christian Belief

One of the most common objections to belief in Christianity—and to belief in God in general—is that such a belief is irrational because little (or no) evidence supports it. This is often called the “evidentialist objection,” and it’s probably the most common and influential argument against God since the Enlightenment.

A decade and a half ago, however, Alvin Plantinga’s magnum opus Warranted Christian Belief performed a top-to-bottom dismantling of the objection. It’s an absolutely wonderful work—perhaps the most important ever written on religious epistemology.

It’s also the most important book on religious epistemology no one will ever read. 

At 500 densely-packed pages and with two font sizes—the smaller identifying the really dense material—it’s downright intimidating. 

Fortunately, Plantinga—emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame—has now made the main ideas of Warranted Christian Belief more accessible in his latest book. And even though Knowledge and Christian Belief is user-friendly and much shorter, it is anything but fluff—and its impact-to-size ratio promises to surpass its heftier predecessor.

Faith Is Knowledge

Plantinga’s central idea in Knowledge and Christian Belief is that the main tenets of Christianity—including, obviously enough, belief in God—don’t require evidence or supporting arguments in order to be rational, despite what evidentialists suggest. Indeed, belief in the “great things of the gospel” (as Jonathan Edwards calls them) can amount to full-blown knowledge—that is, we can know these wonderful truths. 

Plantinga’s overall strategy for arguing this crucial point is refreshing, innovative, and sometimes a bit surprising, even though its same tenor is found in both Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.

Let’s keep in mind the big picture of Knowledge and Christian Belief. The evidentialist objection says Christian belief is irrational because it lacks sufficient evidence. But, Plantinga asks, why think that? After all, couldn’t God have created humans with a natural tendency to believe he exists, à la Romans 1—what Calvin called the sensus divinitatis or sense of divinity? And if so, might not this built-in belief-forming mechanism simply trigger belief in God without inference or argument on our part? It seems perfectly reasonable to think God could do this.

And what if we go even further, asks Plantinga, and assume that the main tenets of Christianity are true? Why then not think the Holy Spirit could—again without any argument or inference—produce in us genuine knowledge of the “great things of the gospel”? Isn’t it possible, upon our hearing that God is reconciling us to himself through Christ, that the Spirit “quickens our hearts” and causes us to believe and accept—indeed know—the truth of such grand news?

Though we typically refer to knowledge of the gospel as “faith,” there’s no inconsistency in saying that faith is rational and even a matter of knowledge. Again, this is in line with Calvin, who defined faith as a “firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded on the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed on our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (48). 

The Big “If”

Therefore, there’s no reason to think God couldn’t work this way if he wanted. If Christianity and something like the foregoing Christian epistemic story are true, then Christian belief is rational and can even amount to knowledge without relying on argument or inference.

Of course, that’s if it’s true. And this is one of Plantinga’s main points: the rationality of Christian belief hangs almost entirely on whether it’s in fact true. If it is, then it’s probably rational; if it’s false, then it’s probably not. 

But this conclusion might seem a bit disappointing. After all, isn’t the real question whether Christianity is true? If it’s true, then it could obviously be rational. Who could argue with that?

Actually, lots of people, replies Plantinga. Here’s the kind of rejection he’s responding to: 

Well, I don’t know whether Christian belief is true or false—who could know a thing like that?—but I do know that Christian belief is irrational, or unjustified, or not sensible, or not worthy of a thinking person. (ix)

Notice the issue here. According to the objection, it’s the rationality of Christian belief, not whether it’s true or false. This is the kind of claim Plantinga says is associated with evidentialist-style arguments against Christianity.

It’s here we come to one of Plantinga’s chief insights in Knowledge and Christian Belief: most complaints about the irrationality of Christian belief assume from the start that Christianity is false. For example, Plantinga contends Sigmund Freud’s well-known claim that Christian belief is mere “wish fulfillment” only has force if Freud takes for granted that Christianity is in fact false.

Putting Philosophy in Its Place

We can agree with Freud that if there’s no God, then Christian belief just might be mere wish fulfillment and perhaps irrational. That is, to say it again, it’s plausible to think Christianity is only rational if it’s true. 

“But,” Plantinga asks, “is it true” (126)?

Plantinga doesn’t venture to address this, though. This is because he doesn’t think philosophy is up to the task of answering whether Christianity—or even merely belief in God—is true:

And here we pass beyond the competence of philosophy. In my opinion no argument with premises accepted by everyone or nearly everyone is strong enough to support full-blown Christian belief, even if such belief is, as I think it is, more probable than not with respect to premises of that kind. Speaking for myself and not in the name of philosophy, I can say only that it does, indeed, seem to me to be true, and to be the maximally important truth. (126)

Plantinga’s stance on what philosophy can do—and what it can’t—is one of the most important overall insights of his career. Philosophy can’t produce faith. It can’t teach us that God exists or that the main tenets of Christianity are true. 

This doesn’t mean philosophy can’t be helpful and even important. We can use it to clear away some of the very real obstacles surrounding Christian belief and to lend support to God-given faith. In fact, philosophy has helped me in just these ways. But I’m also aware that philosophical arguments aren’t enough to generate the kind of faith God has vouchsafed in me. 

What We Finally Need

So, even at its best, philosophy can only do so much, and usually much less than we realize or care to admit. But when we recognize its limits, we’re in a better position to reliably employ its strengths.

And this is what Plantinga has so ably done over his career, and it’s one of the things he does extremely well in Knowledge and Christian Belief. Moreover, he shows us we don’t need arguments to know the “great things of the gospel.” What we finally need is faith—genuine and saving knowledge in God’s glorious plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. And faith is a gift, that no one may boast. 


Alvin Plantinga. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015. 141 pp. $16.00. 

by Mitch Stokes at July 29, 2015 05:02 AM

20 Quotes from Russell Moore’s New Book on Christian Cultural Engagement

The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Russell Moore’s excellent new book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel (B&H) [review]. Thanks to Tony Reinke for inspiring the 20 quotes idea.


“Jesus came to wreck our lives, so that he could join us to his. We cannot build Christian churches on a sub-Christian gospel. People who don’t want Christianity don’t want almost-Christianity.” (5)

“The problem was that . . . Christian values were always more popular in American culture than the Christian gospel. That’s why one could speak of “God and country” with great reception in almost any era of the nation’s history but would create cultural distance as soon as one mentioned ‘Christ and him crucified.’ God was always welcome in American culture. He was, after all, the Deity whose job it was to bless America. The God who must be approached through the mediation of the blood of Christ, however, was much more difficult to set to patriotic music or to ‘Amen’ in a prayer at the Rotary Club.” (6)

“The shaking of American culture is no sign that God has given up on American Christianity. In fact, it may be a sign that God is rescuing American Christianity from itself.” (7)

“If adapting to the culture were the key to ecclesial success, then where are the PCUSA church-planting movements, the Unitarian megachurches?” (21) 

“We receive celebrities simply because they are ‘conservative,’ without asking what they are conserving. If you are angry with the same people we are, you must be one of us. But it would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ.” (30–31)

“Our story is that of a little flock and of an army, awesome with banners. Our legacy is a Christianity of persecution and proliferation, of catacombs and cathedrals. If we see ourselves as only a minority, we will be tempted to isolation. If we see ourselves only as a kingdom, we will be tempted toward triumphalism. We are, instead, a church. We are a minority with a message and a mission.” (35) 

“Our life planning ought to be about the next trillion years, and beyond. If we assume that what’s waiting for us beyond the grave is a postlude rather than a mission and an adventure, we will cling tenaciously to the status quo, or at least the parts of it we like. . . . Our lives now are shaping us and preparing us for a future rule. Our lives now are an internship for the eschaton.” (52, 53)

“Our vote for President is less important than our vote to receive new members for baptism into our churches. . . . The reception of members into the church marks out the future kings and queens of the universe. Our church membership rolls say to the people on them, and to the outside world, ‘These are those we believe will inherit the universe, as joint-heirs with Christ.’” (63)

“The kingdom of God turns the Darwinist narrative of the survival of the fittest upside down (Acts 17:6–7). When the church honors and cares for the vulnerable among us, we are not showing charity. We are simply recognizing the way the world really works, at least in the long run. The child with Down syndrome on the fifth row from the back in your church, he’s not a ‘ministry project.’ He’s a future king of the universe. The immigrant woman who scrubs toilets every day on hands and knees, and can barely speak enough English to sing along with your praise choruses, she’s not a problem to be solved. She’s a future queen of the cosmos, a joint-heir with Christ. . . . The first step to cultural influence is not to contextualize to the present, but to contextualize to the future, and the future is awfully strange, even to us.” (82) 

“What if our churches weren’t divided up by the same economic and racial and political and generational categories that would bind us together even if Jesus were not alive? What would it mean, in your church, if a minimum-wage janitor were mentoring the multimillionaire executive of the restaurant where he cleans toilets, because the janitor/mentor has the spiritual wisdom his boss/protégé needs? It would look awfully strange, but it would look no stranger than a crucified Nazarene governing the universe.” (84–85)

“A church that loses its distinctiveness is a church that has nothing distinctive with which to engage the culture. . . . A worldly church is of no good to the world.” (88)

“Let’s model what happens to a culture when the kingdom interrupts us on our way to where we would go, if we were mapping this out on our own. Let’s not merely advocate for causes; let’s embody a kingdom. Let’s not aspire to be a moral majority but a gospel community, one that doesn’t exist for itself but for the larger mission of reaching the whole world with the whole gospel. That sort of kingdom-first cultural engagement drives us not inward, but onward.” (91) 

“We assume often without thinking that the church is white, American Protestants doing missionary work for the benefit of everyone else. But the church isn’t white or American; the church is headed by a Middle Eastern Jewish man who never spoke a word of English.” (126) 

“When we pray for those in prison for their faith, we remember that the gospel came to us in letters written from jail. When we plead for those whose churches are burned in Egypt, we remember that our hope isn’t in building religious empires but in a New Jerusalem we’ve never seen. When we weep for those who are (sometimes literally) crucified in the Middle East, we are reminded that our Lord isn’t a life coach or a guru but a crucified Messiah. That can remind us of the gospel we signed up for in the first place, and free us from our fat, affluent, almost-gospels, which could never save in the first place. And we can be reminded that the persecuted Christians for whom we pray and advocate very well may be those who will send missionaries to carry the gospel to a future post-Christian Europe or North America.” (152)

“Despite the utopian rhetoric of the language of “progress” as it relates to sexuality and gender and family, can we really pretend that the culture around us is an increasingly safe place for women or for their children? Despite the promise of women’s empowerment, the Sexual Revolution has given us the reverse. Is it really an advance for women that the average adolescent male has seen a kaleidoscope of images of women sexually exploited and humiliated in pornography? Is it really empowerment to have more and more women economically at the mercy of men who leave them and their children, with no legal recourse? The adolescent girl facing the pressure to perform sex acts on her boyfriend, or else lose him, what is this but the brutal patriarchy of a Bronze Age warlord? All of these things empower men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male in search of nothing but power, prestige, and the next orgasm. That’s not exactly a revolution.” (171–72)

“To rail against the culture is to say to God that we are entitled to a better mission field than the one he has given us. At the same time, if we simply dissolve into the culture around us, or refuse to leave untroubled the questions the culture deems too sensitive to ask, we are not on mission at all.” (181)

“Convictional kindness [will mean] a doubling of one’s potential criticizers. Those who don’t like the gospel call to repentance will resent the conviction, and those who don’t like the gospel drive to mission will resent the kindness.” (196)

“We must see even our most passionate critic not as an argument to be vaporized but as a neighbor to be evangelized.” (197)

“The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might be a misogynistic, profanity-spewing hip-hop artist right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be managing an abortion clinic right now. The next Mother Teresa might be a heroin-addicted porn star right now. The next Augustine of Hippo might be a sexually promiscuous cult member right now, just like, come to think of it, the first Augustine of Hippo was.” (215)

“It may be that America is not ‘post-Christian’ at all. It may be that America is instead pre-Christian, a land that though often Christ-haunted has never known the power of the gospel, yet.” (218)

by Matt Smethurst at July 29, 2015 05:02 AM

We Staff the Church

Holly Tate is the director of business development at Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations find their key staff. Their motto is: “We staff the church.” She is a graduate of The King’s College in New York City and now lives with her husband in Houston, Texas, where she attends Ecclesia Church.


What do you do every day?

I lead Vanderbloemen Search Group’s Business Development Team, which includes marketing, client relations, social media, and content development including our resource-packed blog. We’ve cultivated a corporate culture of thought leadership, so everyone from our CEO to our Operations Team contributes to content creation. Our team’s goal is to provide church leaders with content on best practices for staffing so that they can build great teams and see the kingdom expanded in their communities.

As an organization, what’s your biggest obstacle?

It has never been easier for job seekers to look good on paper and harder for hiring managers to discern who is the best fit. Our process helps our clients with their search and hiring process, from our initial consultation to their onboarding of a new team member. We meet potential candidates face to face and interview them about their call to ministry, family, leadership style, and theological alignment. We want to make sure there’s a DNA fit between the candidate and the client, which you cannot tell simply from a résumé or LinkedIn profile.

How long does it usually take to fill a position?

Our average search takes about 90 days. The timeline typically depends on the seniority of the vacant position and the church’s governance. The average timeline for a church that searches on her own for a senior pastor, though, is 18 to 24 months. Our timeline working with a church on a senior pastor search is about four to six months.

Do you work with small churches or just big ones?

We absolutely work with—and love working with—small churches. We recently helped a small church in North Carolina of about 70 members. They found themselves in the middle of a difficult senior pastor search with limited resources and denominational changes. They were asking significant questions about their mission and wrestling with whether God was calling them to close their doors or find someone who could lead them into the next chapter. This search was crucial for their future. They ended up calling a wonderful man, and we were humbled to help them find him.

What are markers of success for you?

As our president William Vanderbloemen says, our work is as serious as an organ transplant; we make sure that our clients and our candidates are DNA matches for the long-term health of local churches. Beyond our corporate mission, though, we want to see the kingdom advance. Although some recent statistics suggest churches are declining, we’re seeing the opposite. Yes, they might look different, but we’re seeing growing churches—not just in numbers, but in faithfulness too.


Editors’ note: The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are condensed.

by Bethany Jenkins at July 29, 2015 05:01 AM

3 Things to Look for in a Youth Minister

I have been in or around youth ministry for 25 years, including more weekend youth conferences than I can possibly count. I have now served in full-time ordained capacities for nine years, and in the churches I’ve served during that time I’ve always supervised or worked closely with the youth staff.

Needless to say, in all this time spent around the church, I’ve seen a heaping ton of youth ministers. Some have had wonderful, fruitful ministries, while others have crumbled faster than an overcooked oatmeal cookie. If I were hiring a youth leader today, I’d want to avoid the oatmeal cookie.

Three Irreducible Traits

I would be looking for three things:

One who loves God and his Word. This seems so basic one might wonder why it’s not just a given. Trust me, it’s not. I have seen many youth ministers whose relationship with the Lord was exposed as flimsy (at best) under the pressures of ministry. Typically these individuals have found their youth group to be a place of affirmation and acceptance, but not of theological substance. They’ve found a fun job as a youth minister in hopes of continuing to gain affirmation and acceptance.

If I’m hiring a youth worker, I want someone who has made the saving jump from experiencing acceptance in the church community to resting personally and substantively in the gracious acceptance given by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Qualified candidates must be prepared to be blown off and unappreciated by careless kids and under-discipled parents. The youth minister will need to possess the spiritual maturity to believe fully that:

  • All the acceptance and affirmation they will ever need they already have in Jesus Christ.
  • The Bible is a fountain of life, full of God’s true and living riches, attesting to his infinite grace, and authoritative for faith and life.
  • God and his Word are what students need more than anything else.
  • The youth minister’s personal time spent with God and his Word is the fuel for his ministry.

One who loves God’s people. Again basic, right? Not so fast. Ministry requires humility, and if you don’t already have it, youth ministry will either develop it in you or drive you away. Both can be painful. Because the fruitful youth minister is personally rooted in God’s love and saturated with his Word, he is already humbled before the Lord. Therefore, his main concern isn’t being liked, but that students hear the gospel of God’s grace over and over again. 

“Young adult” is not a requirement, nor is “wildly entertaining.” I’m not looking for someone who has a huge bag of tricks, unless they are particularly skilled in using those tricks to teach students about God’s grace. While the effective youth minister will have people skills broad enough to speak intelligibly to both youth and adults, I want someone who desires to make themselves available to students and their families, who can listen, who can teach the Bible in a compelling way, and who can teach others to do the same. I don’t want someone who just likes going to high school football games, but one who goes to high school football games intent on building relationships with students to the end that these relationships might lead students to know King Jesus. 

In short, I don’t want a youth minister who expects a fun job and a prolonged adolescence; I want someone who comes to the position with a robust theology of Christian ministry. 

One who is professionally aware. I once worked with a youth minister who, despite having a lot of talent, was perpetually frustrated at the lack of respect he got from parents and fellow church staff. “How much of your own money would you be willing to pay towards gaining the respect you desire?” I asked him. “I don’t know, $1,000?” he answered. “Then take that $1,000 and buy yourself some professional clothing.” He never did. He continued to wear flip-flops and torn-up shorts to staff meetings and parent gatherings, and, despite having a wife and child, he was never viewed as an adult. 

It may be entirely appropriate to act, dress, and talk like the lead student around students, but the qualified youth ministry candidate understands that adults need to see and feel the children are being led by a responsible adult. Part of being a responsible adult means dressing professionally in a professional setting. The expectation will of course vary by congregation, but in ministry situations the youth minister shouldn’t dress much differently than the pastor or the parents. Here are a few other things that will go a long way toward winning the trust and loyalty of parents and staff:

  • Be on time. Punctuality is important. Call ahead if it looks like you’ll be late. Though everyone will get caught in traffic occasionally, make sure you don’t create a reputation for tardiness. As one coach used to tell his players, “If you can’t be on time, be early.”
  • Return phone calls and e-mails promptly. If you receive a contentious e-mail, for example, then pray, make sure you’re calm, and return it with a phone call. 
  • Do what you say you’re going to do, and don’t make promises you likely won’t keep. Your calendar and to-do list aren’t just important for you; as one of whom much action and communication is required, how you keep track of where you’re supposed to be and what needs to be done is vital for the credibility of your ministry. If you’re not particularly organized or gifted at planning details, make sure you have someone around you who is.

Focus on the Essentials

Oatmeal cookies may be sweet, but they tend to get eaten up pretty quickly. The next time I’m looking for a youth minister, then, I’d be asking detailed questions about how strongly they love the Lord, how deeply they trust his Word, how compassionately they love his people, and how appropriately they will navigate their context.

by Joe Gibbes at July 29, 2015 05:00 AM

Front Porch Republic

The Noble Doubt and the Cardinal’s Certain Flight

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The cardinal's steely resolve is touchingly quixotic.

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The post The Noble Doubt and the Cardinal’s Certain Flight appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jason Peters at July 29, 2015 04:59 AM

Workout: July 29, 2015

4 rounds – 1 minute at each station: 1. Dumbbell or kettle bell snatches, alternating arms 2. Box jump-overs 3. Wall-balls 4. Hang squat cleans Rest 1 minute

by Mike at July 29, 2015 03:17 AM

July 28, 2015

CrossFit Naptown

The Day of Reckoning 2.0

Wednesday’s Workout:

Olympic Total:
Establish 1 Rep Max Snatch
Establish 1 Rep Max Clean and Jerk

*you will go through a general warm up then move right into barbells to begin working towards your max snatch followed by your max clean and jerk, spending about 20:00 on each movement. Beginners will work technique with a coach.

Rule of the day: all PR attempts must be announced to the class and dances will be required when a PR is set. 

 

Here is the throw back to the original Day of Reckoning post in January of 2013. There are 35 comments on the blog that day. I am challenging each and every one of you to help us get more than that for today’s blog. 3,2,1…GO! Everyone will get a high five or hug from Jared Byczko himself (you decide what you want) if we make it happen.

 

 No Such Thing as a Full Snatch

 

I often get questions about the difference between a power snatch and snatch or a power clean and clean so here we have two videos to show the difference with a nice visual aid!

 

 

 

 

Both of these movements are part of Olympic Lifting and are acceptable for the Olympic standards. The CrossFit standards are a little less strict for these two movements. A bend in the elbows at the receive of the snatch or jerk is allowed in CrossFit but ruled a missed lift in the Olympic games. #funfact. 

My advice for all of you today is to trust in your training! Allow yourself to focus on maybe one cue that really stuck with you during our work with these movements over the past few weeks and let your mind rest aside from that. It is easy to get caught up in your own head and feel like you are thinking too much. Our bodies know how to move for the most part as long as we can keep our brains from totally screwing up the process. Don’t over analyze, just lift the bar. Visualize yourself ripping that barbell off the floor and hitting a successful lift. If you go into it with a fear and feeling of failure, you are far more likely to fail. When you hit your lift, don’t forget to celebrate! It is a beautiful thing to get stronger and move closer to mastery of these movements. Be grateful for the wonders your body can achieve, shake your groove thing to show it!

by Anna at July 28, 2015 10:40 PM

The Windows cycle →

Tom Warren, opening his Windows 10 review on The Verge:

Windows has a cycle. Windows XP saved us from Windows ME, Windows 7 saved us from the Windows Vista mess, now Windows 10 is here to save save us from Windows 8.

It’s nice to be on the good part of the cycle.

I've been playing with the pre-release versions of Windows 10 on and off for a while now, and I like what I've seen. Microsoft has reigned in some of the insanity of Windows 8, and the whole thing feels faster and more modern than its predecessor ever did.

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by Stephen Hackett at July 28, 2015 08:14 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Test of Fitness

Tuesday’s Workout:

WOD:
5 Rounds
5:00 of rowing
5:00 of rest
*score = combined total meters of highest and lowest interval

(Mainsite WOD: http://www.crossfit.com/mt-archive2/009644.html)

 

 

Should I go heavier?

 

After a weekend watching the CrossFit Games, I have been pondering the test of fitness and some of the more controversial events. The final event of the CrossFit Games featured the peg board that that only 3 of the 37 fittest women in the world were able to complete the 3 reps required of them in the time cap. Only 12 women were able to complete one at all. The rest were blanked by the movement. By the way, the men struggled too. 12 men (out of 36) failed a single ascent of the peg board and another 7 could not complete enough to move on to the next element.

 

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I am still debating with myself if this was a good test to be part of the CrossFit Games or if it should have been left out for something more easily accomplished. The spectator in me thinks it was boring and heartbreaking to watch athletes fall attempt after attempt from that board landing them in a 25-way tie for 13th place. YAWN.

Now the coach and athlete in me thinks that it was a great test, both mental and physical. Clearly it was a physical challenge, the best overall CrossFitters in the world (arguably) struggled mightily with the task. Even more than that, it was a mental challenge for the men and women to learn a new movement and task on the fly in an incredibly high pressure situation. The athletes had no choice but to keep trying the movement and, though many failed, a few emerged victorious, able to scramble (perhaps crawl is a better word…) their way up and down the board for successful reps.

Often times in classes, I see people change their scale in the middle of the workout, opting to grab a band when unassisted pull ups become a challenge or dropping weight on a barbell in the 3rd round because the weight was starting to get heavy. I will always support this decision when safety is being jeopardized, but I also see times where I wish my athletes would slow down, take a breath, and get after it again. Just because it is challenging does not mean it has to be scaled. There are circumstances under which I would like to see an athlete work through slow and steady singles on snatches instead of busting out a set of 10 with a lighter weight. There are times I would like to see almost a minute of rest between strict pull ups instead of blowing the time cap away with a bouncing band.

I always want you to be successful but I want you to remember and learn that success comes in many forms, not just having the best score on the whiteboard. Sometimes a victory means finishing last, getting time capped, but sticking with the challenge for the entire workout. There is a time and a place to scale a workout to be able to finish fast and move quickly throughout. There is also a time and a place to challenge your abilities, to test what you are truly capable of, even if it means a few failures and long rests along the way. If you never test and approach that red line, you will never be able to push it further out.

by Anna at July 28, 2015 06:26 PM

Table Titans

Tales: Orcish Delicacy

News

I learned the importance of languages during one session with some novice players and a couple of old hands at the game.

With the session underway, our intrepid party of 2nd level characters came across a barricade, manned by about three dozen Orcs. The party was outclassed. As the Orcs came…

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July 28, 2015 04:51 PM

Kbase Article of the Week: The 5 Rs of Troubleshooting an iPod →

Got an iPod that's acting up? These five verbs are your friends:

  • Reset
  • Retry
  • Restart
  • Reinstall
  • Restore

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by Stephen Hackett at July 28, 2015 03:14 PM

QuirksBlog

Stop pushing the web forward

Fair warning. You’re going to hate this one. I want to stop pushing the web forward for a while. I want a moratorium on new browser features for about a year or so.

Recently I’ve been having serious doubts about the whole push the web forward thing. Why should we push the web forward? And forward to what, exactly? Do we want the web to be at whatever we push it forward to? You never hear those questions.

Pushing the web forward currently means cramming in more copies of native functionality at breakneck speed — interesting stuff, mind you, but there’s just too much of it.

Quick, name all the new features browsers shipped in 2015! You see? You can’t. That’s the problem.

We get ever more features that become ever more complex and need ever more polyfills and other tools to function — tools that are part of the problem, and not of the solution.

I don’t think this is a particularly good place to push the web forward to. Native apps will always be much better at native than a browser. Instead, we should focus on the web’s strengths: simplicity, URLs and reach.

The innovation machine is running at full speed in the wrong direction. We need a break. We need an opportunity to learn to the features we already have responsibly — without tools! Also, we need the time for a fundamental conversation about where we want to push the web forward to. A year-long moratorium on new features would buy us that time.

Current situation

Because you’re awesome, here is an artist’s impression of the modern browser:

Artist's impression of the modern browser and its features

Browser vendors and web developers focus on features and forget about the experience.

Example: Navigation Transitions

To me, Navigation Transitions exemplifies what’s wrong with new browser features today. Its purpose is to allow for a smooth transition from one web page to another, to the point of synchronising the animations on the source and destination pages.

This sounds cool, but why would we want to do that? We’ve done without for years. More importantly, end users have done without for years, and are quite used to a slight delay when they load another page.

Recently, web developers felt a pressing need for these transitions, and therefore adding them to browsers makes sense. But why do web developers want navigation transitions? In order to emulate native apps, of course. To me, that’s not good enough.

In addition, Navigation Transitions would likely need yet another polyfill, increasing our tool footprint yet again.

Interestingly, Microsoft added a similar feature to IE4, and deprecated it as of IE9. The idea didn’t catch on because back then nobody wanted to emulate native apps (which didn’t exist), and therefore nobody particularly cared if the users had to briefly wait for the next page.

Feature focus stage

Jared Spool created a three-stage model for software market maturity that is useful for browsers as well. (See also his 1997 article.)

  1. Technology focus stage: Users will put up with any number of UX glitches or missing features because your product performs a task that no other software performs.
  2. Feature focus stage: Users decide which of several competing products to use based on features. Your product will be a winner if you can determine which features users really need and why.
  3. Experience focus stage: Users can use pretty much any competing product, since they all have the same features. It’s here that the user experience becomes paramount: if your product makes it easier for your chosen audience to do their job, they’ll buy it. You can even leave out features now, as long as the functioning of your product matches what users think it should be doing and how.

Think browser for product. Think web developers (and not end users!) for users. What do web developers expect of a browser?

First we were in the technology focus stage, where it was a miracle that HTML, JavaScript, and, later, CSS, worked at all. We happily worked around the most terrible incompatibilities because we were so excited by the technology itself.

Once we got used to the fact that browsers actually worked we shifted our focus to features. At the time that was an excellent idea, since different browsers supported different features, and they had to be kept on the straight and narrow. Besides, we got better and better at defining which features we needed, and putting pressure on browser makers to implement those features.

The feature focus phase was very useful, don’t get me wrong. But I think it has gone on for too long. I think it’s time to shift our focus to the experience.

Experience focus stage

Jake Archibald puts it best:

I think most people value features over experience. Hence why perf / offline / progressive enhancement is a hard sell, but push messaging = insta-hit.

I’m not talking about the experience of the website, but of the website creation process. I’m not sure if Jake is, but his remark is apt either way.

Web Components (or any other exiciting new proposal, for that matter) is a feature, and everbody loves it. Progressive enhancement is an experience, and it’s considered “unrealistic” because nobody turns off JavaScript anyway. (Lots of wrongness there, but that’s for another time.)

Currently I’m thinking that the progressive enhancement experience will never amount to much if we continue to get distracted by shiny new browser features. Drop the features, bring in the experience. (Fair’s fair, when I tweeted this thought I got a lot of pushback. So don’t believe it just because I say it; think about it.)

Moratorium

We’re pushing the web forward to emulate native more and more, but we can’t out-native native. We are weighed down by the millstone of an ever-expanding set of tools that polyfill everything we don’t understand — and that’s most of a browser’s features nowadays. This is not the future that I want to push the web forward to.

Therefore I call for a moratorium on new browser features of about a year. Let’s postpone all completely new features that as of right now don’t yet work in any browser.

Browsers are encouraged to add features that are already supported by other browsers, and to write bug fixes. In fact, finding time for these unglorious but necessary jobs would be an important advantage of the moratorium. As an added bonus it would decrease the amount of tools web developers need.

The moratorium would hit Chrome much harder than it would the other browsers, since it’s Google that is proposing most of the new features nowadays. That may not be entirely fair, but it’s an unavoidable consequence of Chrome’s current position as the top browser — not only in market share, but also in supported features. Also, the fact that Google’s documentation ranges from lousy to non-existent doesn’t help its case.

Stifling innovation

The main counterargument is that the moratorium would stifle web innovation. Since web innovation is currently defined as “emulating native even more,” I think a bit of stifling would actually be a good idea. Once web innovation is redefined as something that’s actually about the web we can proceed as usual.

Another counterargument is “But we need feature X!” Everybody will have a favourite upcoming feature that would be hit by the moratorium — mine is offline capabilities. But an extra round of defending the need for feature X without any reference to native apps sounds like a good idea to me.

The final counterargument is IE6. Web development was seriously hampered in the five years that Microsoft refused to upgrade its browser. New features were pushed into the other browsers, but not into IE.

Still, did this lack of new features also mean lack of innovation? Not really. As James Edwards puts it:

Limitation spurs creativity, I remember that period quite fondly.

Being forced to work around IE6’s issues required quite a bit of creativity, and although not every solution stood the test of time (most libraries and frameworks from that era, for instance), it still made the creative juices flow.

Besides, the IE6 era forced us to think about what we web developers really wanted. We had to define and defend every single feature we requested (see for instance this old post about IE7 and JavaScript) and set priorities.

It would be good to return to that creative mindset for a while. Not for five years — that’s clearly too long — but a break of about a year or so sounds great.

Stop pushing the web forward

So let’s stop pushing the web forward for a year. It’ll free us from the churn of ever more features and ever more tools.

Once we’ve spent a blessed year without any new features we’ll have a much better idea how to use the current features, and where we want the web to be pushed forward to. We might even grow out of our native obsession.

by ppk (ppk@xs4all.nl) at July 28, 2015 03:07 PM

Crossway Blog

Why Study the Books of Colossians and Philemon?

This is a guest post by Chris Beetham, author of Colossians and Philemon: A 12-Week Study, which is part of the Knowing the Bible series.


Why Paul’s letters to the Colossians and Philemon? Let me provide three reasons. First, Colossians is unrivalled in its portrayal of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the most exalted language concerning him is found in this short jewel of a letter we know today as the book of Colossians. Second, the gospel is robustly stated and demonstrated in these two letters. And third, Colossians taps into and develops the epic story of Scripture in profound ways.

Christ Preeminent

In Colossians, the preeminence of the eternal Son over all things is revealed. Christ is the exalted Lord over both creation and the inaugurated new creation by virtue of his unique role in God’s project of cosmic reconciliation (1:15-20). The preexistent Son entered history and became human. He reconciled his people to God by his death, that he might present them “holy and blameless and above reproach” before God on the last day (1:22). Christ is the very image of God, whose perfections serve as the pattern for their renewal as image-bearers. This transformative work is preparing them to inherit the new creational kingdom of God (1:12-14, 15; 3:9-10). Indeed, the gospel can be summarized as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27).

Gospel Glimpses

The gospel of grace is on full display in Colossians. God has effected a cosmic reconciliation at the cross through the blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1:20). The message of this salvation is producing spiritual fruit all over the world as it spreads across the earth in expanding waves (1:6). When people embrace the gospel, God delivers them from the dominion of darkness and transfers them into the inheritance of light, the kingdom of the beloved Son (1:12-14). He redeems them, forgiving all their sins (1:14).

In Philemon, we see the essence of the gospel reflected in Paul’s life as he imitates his Lord in offering himself as a righteous substitution for Onesimus before the wronged Philemon (vv. 17-19).

Colossians and the Epic Story of Scripture

The apostle Paul wrote Colossians and Philemon with the conviction that Jesus had brought the Old Testament epic story to its climactic fulfillment. This biblical epic of the kingdom mission of God runs from creation to new creation. God has launched the promised kingdom and new creation in Christ’s death and resurrection.

In Colossians, Christ is the ultimate Son of David, the Messiah, and the world’s true Lord. He is the fulfillment of all the messianic promises (1:13-14; 2:2; 3:1; “Christ” = Messiah). He is the Wisdom of God and holds preeminence over everything in creation as well as in the inaugurated new creation (1:15-20; 2:3; see Prov. 8:22-31). The Son is the ultimate locus of the divine presence and fulfills all the Old Testament hopes for God dwelling among his people (1:19). In him the ultimate circumcision takes place, demarcating those who belong to the new covenant people of God and enabling them to live faithful lives (2:11, 13). Christ exists as the reality to which all the “shadows” of the Old Testament festivals and dietary regulations pointed (2:16-17). He is the perfect “image” and last Adam, whose own perfections serve as the pattern for his people’s renewal as image-bearers (1:15; 3:9-10). This renewal prepares them for their vocation as citizens and rulers of the new creational kingdom to be consummated on the last day of history (see Rev. 21–22).

The preeminent Christ, a robust gospel, and profound biblical theology, all packed into these two short letters of the apostle Paul. That’s why we should study the books of Colossians and Philemon.


Christopher A. Beetham (PhD, Wheaton College) is assistant professor of biblical studies at the Evangelical Theological College and assistant professor of New Testament at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, both in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is the author of Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians and Colossians and Philemon: A 12-Week Study.

by Matt Tully at July 28, 2015 01:55 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

The Conservative Heart

Click here to read my piece in this coming Sunday's NY Times Book Review.

by Greg Mankiw (noreply@blogger.com) at July 28, 2015 01:53 PM

The Finance Buff

The Largest 529 Plan And The Power Of Distribution

While looking at 529 plan information, I came across an interesting tidbit. It also tells us something about investing in general.

Every state has a 529 plan. Some states have more than one plan. Which state has the largest 529 plans in terms of total assets?

Is it California, the state with the largest population? No. Many California residents go elsewhere because there isn’t any state tax benefit for using an in-state plan. California’s plan has less money in it than Alaska’s.

Is it New York, the next largest state in population, where taxes are high and residents are offered a state income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions? No. New York residents are doing their fair share but New York isn’t pulling in big money from other states.

Is it Utah, whose plan is often ranked as the best in the country? No. Utah’s plan is doing quite well relative to Utah’s small population, but it only takes the #6 spot in the country.

The #1 state in the country with the largest assets in its 529 plans is Virginia, hands down by a mile.

Source: 529 College-Savings Plan Landscape, 27 May 2015, Morningstar

According to Morningstar, Virginia has nearly 1/4 of all 529 plan assets in the country. New York, the #2 state, comes in at less than half of the share taken by Virginia.

Why Virginia? One word: brokers.

Virginia’s market share is driven by its CollegeAmerica 529 plan, which features American Funds, sold by brokers (“advisors”). American Funds pay brokers for selling the plan. Brokers convince parents and grandparents nationwide to open accounts with the Virginia plan. It’s that simple.

Granted there are other funds and plans that also pay brokers, and American Funds and the Virginia plan must compete with those, I’m confident to say that without brokers the Virginia plan would be nowhere close to be #1 in the country.

That’s the power of distribution. Altogether, half of the 529 money in all plans are in broker-sold plans.

To all who think Vanguard Personal Advisor Services just unnecessarily charge 0.3% of assets for putting people in a handful of funds that look like a target-date fund, or that Schwab cheats by requiring a cash allocation in its Schwab Intelligent Portfolio product, or that Wealthfront is evil because their fees in dollars go up as your assets grow, let’s not forget that so many people still invest through brokers and they are paying a lot more.

If robo-advisors win over people from brokers, it’s a big win for the investing public. Just the other day a friend mentioned he had his account managed by someone at a broker branch. I asked him if he was paying a fee. He said he didn’t know. Then he said it was probably 0.1%. I think if he’s lucky it would be more like 1.5% after all is said and done. I won’t be surprised at all if it’s 2.5% or more.

That’s the investing reality. Whoever can reach people and sign them up charge an arm and a leg. That’s how they can afford the time and effort to reach people to begin with. We need all the marketing, PR, slick websites and mobile apps funded by venture capital dollars to change this.

See All Your Accounts In One Place

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The Largest 529 Plan And The Power Of Distribution is copyrighted material from The Finance Buff. All rights reserved. ( b87e8215d24496480249d6aaf20c77ea )

by Harry Sit at July 28, 2015 01:51 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Hero WOD “PK”

Saturday’s Workout:

Hero WOD:
“PK”
5 Rounds
10 Back Squats (225/155)
10 Deadlifts (275/185)
400 Meter Sprint
Rest 2:00

 

Andrew-PK_th.jpg

U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel, of South Miami, Florida, died March 11, 2013. The 28-year-old was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Pedersen-Keel was fatally injured in Jalrez District, Afghanistan, from small-arms fire from an Afghan security-forces member. He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Helen Pedersen Keiser and Bob Keiser; father, Henry Keel; sister, Mary Elizabeth Keel; and fiancèe, Celeste Pizza.

by Anna at July 28, 2015 12:48 PM

Get Your Indian’s Tickets Reserved!

Thursday’s Workout:

Reverse Tabata:
:10 work/:20 rest for 8 Rounds
Jumping Air Squats
Rest 2:00
L-Sit

Workout:
3:00 Max Reps Toes-to-Bar
3:00 Max Burpees-over-Bar
3:00 Max weight Thruster

 

Email Eric for Tickets

It is here! The 2015 edition of the CFNT Indianapolis Indians game outing!!

Who: anyone and everyone at CFNT plus any family, friends, siggy others that you want to bring along!

What: a community outing to a baseball game at Victory Field for the Indianapolis Indians. there will also be a cookout before the game that all attending or not attending the game can join in on, some food and beverages will be provided for this along with some potluck style! *there will be a community day also this day to bring in friends or family in the morning for CrossFit classes, bring along anyone you know who may be hesitant to try out CFNT*

Where: Pre Game is at CFNT followed by the game at Victory Field on the corner of West Street and Maryland Street in downtown Indy (right by the big ole’ JW Marriot)

When: August 15th, pre game 5:00pm followed by the game at 7:00pm

Why: because we want to bring people in the community together outside of classes. Be prepared to meet people that you don’t know in the community and see your friends in real people clothes when they are not gross and sweaty.

How: email eric@crossfitnaptown.com to reserve a ticket (or reserve a bunch of tickets for the WHO people above) and say how you would like to pay (charge your account or bring in cash or a check) tickets are $16 each

Pre-Game Cook Out

At 4:00pm before the game, any and all are welcome to swing by CFNT (whether you are going to the game or not) for food, friends, and a good time. There will be corn hole, meats, and awesome company. Comment below to get a big list going of side dishes and desserts to bring to the event, the more the merrier! No need for it to be paleo unless that’s your thing. Feel free to bring your own beverages, corn hole sets, or other fun games for more merriment.

 

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by Anna at July 28, 2015 12:43 PM

Justin Taylor

The Planned Parenthood Exposé Takes You into a Lab that Procures Baby Parts

The third video from The Center for Medical Progress released this morning, shot in more of a documentary style with interviews to go alongside the secret recordings:

Human Capital – Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts

Proverbs 24:11-12:

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”

Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it?
And will he not repay man according to his work?

Image from http://adam4d.com/silence/

Image from http://adam4d.com/silence/

by Justin Taylor at July 28, 2015 12:33 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Significant Linguistic Theories for Aiding Greek Studies

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.58.45 PMLuther was right: “Insofar as we love the gospel, to that same extent let us study the ancient tongues.”

So also contends in Constantine Campbell in his new book Advances in the Study of Greek. Yet studying the “ancient tongues” can be a daunting task, particularly keeping abreast of cutting-edge shifts that impact how we think about and teach the text. Campbell’s book ameliorates such a task.

Blending academic acumen with practical resourcement, Campbell’s book offers an introduction to modern advances in the study of New Testament Greek with intelligible accessibility.

In particular, his work sheds significant light on linguistics and its bearing on modern Greek studies, a vital vein of study for any exegete.

From Philology to Linguistics

Campbell argues we must understand the trajectory of Greek studies to grasp current Greek scholarship, especially how linguistics has influenced it.

We begin with the great philological advancements of the nineteenth century: “the analysis of Greek through comparative philology and breakthroughs in understanding the Greek verbal system.” (30) Comparative philology was an especially important movement forward. As was Blass’ Grammatik, which “remains the most potent injection of nineteenth-century Greek scholarship into modern times.” (32)

Twentieth-century advancements were marked by two legacies: papyrological evidence, and Moulton’s and Robertson’s Greek grammars. Deissmann and Thumb seized on papyri discoveries to set new groundwork for a new era in Greek grammar studies. Drawing on papyri and comparative philology, Robertson “produced the greatest of all New Testament grammars.” (34)

While the nineteenth century was dominated by philology, a new era favored “synchronic linguistics… ‘the analysis of languages as communicative systems as they exist at a given point of time…’” (35) Several modern linguists forever changed Greek studies:

  • Ferdinand de Saussure distinguished between “language as it exists at a certain point in time” (synchronic linguistics) from “the evolution of language over time” (diachronic linguistics). (37)
  • The so-called “Prague School” was characterized by Saussure’s concern for synchronic linguistics, viewing language in terms of function. Such a concern “went beyond description to explanation, ‘saying not just what languages were like but why they were the way they were.’” (38)
  • Noam Chomsky, the “Einstein of linguistics,” revealed “linguistic universals in syntax,” pointing to universal biological factors in language.
  • Other contributions include: Barr, who exposed the problem of constructing theology through word studies; Systematic Functional Linguistics, which approached language as “a tool for communication within the variety of contexts of human interaction;” (42) and Louw’s and Nida’s ground-breaking lexicon.
  • Modern advancements, fostered by such voices as Stanley Porter and Moisés Silva, include: discourse analysis, lexicography, voice, corpus linguistics, imperative mood, the article, and prepositions.

Campbell emphasizes, “It is important to recognize the ways in which modern linguistics has influenced the study of the Greek of the New Testament.” (49)

Systemic Functional Linguistics and NT Exegesis

The history of Greek studies is helpful insofar as it gives context to current debates. Campbell believes advances in linguistics is a boon for the modern exegete, especially the school within functional linguistics: Systemic Functional Linguistics.

“A functional approach is ultimately most suited to the study of Biblical Greek,” says Campbell. He quotes Halliday and Matthiessen to explain:

We use language to make sense of our experience, and to carry out our interactions with other people. This means that the grammar has to interface with what goes on outside language: with the happenings and conditions of the world, and with the social processes we engage in. But at the same time it has to organize the construal of experience, and the enactment of social processes, so that they can be transformed into wording. (62)

Language, therefore, is functional in nature, rather than merely formal.

It’s also systemic: “Meaning is created through meaningful choices within a system of options. When a language user chooses a certain word, she is also ‘unchoosing’ other options that might have been chosen.” (63)

A number of other dynamics are in play, but perhaps an example will help. Campbell offers the debate surrounding the Greek verbal system, and whether temporal reference is encoded in the indicative verb form. Porter and others insist it isn’t, believing “temporal expression must be a pragmatic category—it is a function of the verb in context, rather than a constant, permanent feature of the verb.” (70) Whereas Fanning believes temporal reference is a semantic feature of the form of indicative verbs.

Campbell concludes, “the debate about ‘tense’ in the Greek indicative system depends on methodological, presuppositional distinctions. These are linguistic distinctions.” (70)

***

Better understanding Greek linguistics can lead to new textual insights, deeper understanding, and more precise conclusions. It can also correct long-held errors regarding method and wrong textual readings.

Campbell’s invaluable Greek resource will equip you with the cutting-edge insights you need to correctly handle God’s Word. It will also rekindle your love for the study of the ancient tongues, for the sake of the gospel.

by Jeremy Bouma at July 28, 2015 12:00 PM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

She’s Having a Fetus

The recent scrutiny of Planned Parenthood’s fetal organ harvesting operations has brought new attention to the organization’s use of euphemism. For example, rather than admit the organs were taken from an aborted human, they refer to hearts, livers, and limbs as coming from “products of conception.”

This is nothing new, of course, for Planned Parenthood has long displayed their skill in the art of circumlocution. Take, for example, this passage from their “Pregnancy Q&A.”

I’m pregnant. At what point in my pregnancy is it called a baby?

Women have different feelings about when to call it a baby. For some women, it is a baby from the first moment the pregnancy is confirmed or even suspected. For other women, the pregnancy doesn’t become a baby until much later. What’s most important is how the woman feels about it.

Most medical authorities, including Planned Parenthood, agree that it becomes a baby after birth when it takes its first breath. But we value women’s differing feelings about when to use the words embryo, fetus, or baby. 

Do pregnant women really talk about carrying a “fetus” rather than a “baby”? I was skeptical until I overheard the following conversation at a local shopping mall:

Jan: “Marsha! How are you girl? I haven’t seen you in ages.”

Marsha: “Hey Jan, you’re looking great. How’ve you been?”

Jan: “Just peachy. Hey, guess what? I’m going to have a fetus! 

Marsha (excited): “I heard! That’s wonderful! Oh, I’m so happy for you. Isn’t it a blessing having parasites growing in us ?”

Jan: “Yes, but I have to confess—I’m jealous. I wanted to have twins too.”

Marsha: “Oh, I only have one fetus inside me now. Greg didn’t get his promotion so we decided to selectively reduce one of them.”

Jan: “Aww . . . well, that’s a valid choice. I was hoping to have two fetuses because this one is going to be used to harvest donor tissue for Alice. It took us forever to find an IVF facility that would help us with a designer fetus 

Marsha: “I’m glad everything worked out. So when is it due?”

Jan: “My doctor says I’ll be delivering sometime in October.”

Marsha: “No, I mean when’s it due to become a human.”

Jan: “Oh, well, Bobby and I draw the line sometime within the first few weeks after birth.”

Marsha: “Hmm, Greg and I think it occurs in the third trimester but I can respect that. It’s a valid choice.”

Jan: “Hey, what happened to Cindy? I heard she was having complications with her pregnancy. Did she ever deliver her fetus?”

Marsha: “She did. Back in September. But the baby was born retarded so, you know, she did the right thing and took a trip to Holland.”

Jan: “Uh, Marsha, it’s offensive to use the term ‘retarded.’ You should say ‘mentally challenged.’”

Marsha: “Oh my goodness, you’re right. I didn’t even realize I said that.”

Jan: “Don’t worry about it. But you are right about Cindy. That is so like her. She has always been so compassionate.”

Marsha: “Oh, I know. She was really thinking about the child. I mean, what kind of quality of life would it have?”

Jan: “Exactly. It’s just a shame that she has to go all the way to Europe to have the procedure.”

Marsha: “Tell me about it.  At least Cindy has the money to travel. Just think about the poor women that have to resort to back-alley euthanasia.”

Jan: (checking her watch) “Oh, no, I completely lost track of the time. I gotta get going.”

Marsha: “Where’re you headed off too?”

Jan: “My local chapter of PETA is holding a protest to stop the clubbing of baby seals.

Marsha (shocked): “Oh my goodness, I didn’t even know that horrible practice was still going on, that’s just . . . wait, we’re in California, where are they clubbing baby seals? And where is the protest located?”

Jan: “Online. In World of Warcraft some of the characters bash baby seals with clubs. Activists from across the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor are banding together to put a stop to the atrocious seal slaughter.”

Marsha: “Oh. Okay. I see.”

Jan: “All life is sacred, Marsha. Even virtual life. If we don’t stop it there who knows where the culture of death will lead.”

Marsha: “So true. Well, kisses. Give Bobby my love.”

Jan: “Bye dear, and don’t forget. September 14th. Margaret Sanger Day. Margaritas at my house—virgin margaritas, of course.” (pats belly) “Wouldn’t want our fetusus to get fetal alcohol syndrome and be born retart . . .  er, mentally challenged.” 

by Joe Carter at July 28, 2015 05:05 AM

3 False Stories that Hinder Discipleship

Western culture is writing a new narrative with what seems like every page turn. Whether it’s the false narrative of the American dream telling us that personal success is the purpose of life, or an Enlightenment mindset telling us to shed the superstitions of the past and embrace the advancements of the future, or the sexual revolution telling us the key to flourishing is sexual self-expression, these narratives run counter to the story of redemption we find in God’s Word. Moreover, they seep their way into our own consciousness as Christians, subtly influencing our thinking and living. 

Why should Christians care about these competing narratives? How should we speak as we encounter them with our neighbors and coworkers? What does the storyline of Scripture have to do with the storyline of our culture? How can church leaders help their congregations engage these false narratives thoughtfully and biblically? In this seven-minute video, TGC’s Mark Mellinger sits down with Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, to consider these questions and more. 

Wax shows us how steeping ourselves in the biblical storyline helps us distinguish the real thing from false things—and how to speak truthfully into the stories others are telling themselves. God has called Christians to have a “missionary encounter” with the world. He has not placed us in this context on accident. We must confront the false narratives confronting us and driving our culture with the story of Scripture and the truth of the gospel. This conversation teaches us how. 

by Ryan Troglin at July 28, 2015 05:02 AM

How the Gospel Creates Ethics

You love the gospel. Great! But a question beckons, one that must be answered: what, exactly, does the gospel now do in your life?

The message of Christ crucified for us is no minimalistic phenomenon. You cannot box it up. You cannot rein it in. If you believe it, it will conquer and consume you. Plant it in fertile soil, and you will reap a harvest of spiritual transformation and ethical conviction. You are saved for intimate fellowship with Christ; you are saved to boldly—publicly—testify to his glory.

But how does this work? How can ordinary Christians be public witnesses for Jesus?

I want to offer an answer by tracing how one Christian leader, a born-again ex-con named Chuck Colson, arrived at his own response to this vexing question.

Colson and Wilberforce: Convictional Activists

Charles Wendell “Chuck” Colson (1931–2012) was a kid from hardscrabble Boston made good. He won entrance to Harvard but turned it down to go to Brown. In a meteoric rise, he won political campaigns for patrician senators, built a booming law practice, and eventually wound up working for the most powerful man in the world, President Richard Nixon, from 1969 to 1973.

But it all came crashing down when Colson was implicated in the corruption of the Nixon administration in 1973. Facing a staggering personal crisis, Colson heard about the redeeming blood of Christ from a friend and, minutes later, came to faith. He went to prison in 1974, was released in 1975, and found himself with a desire to minister grace to prisoners, many of whom were in desperate straits—as he now knew firsthand. He didn’t know exactly what to do, or whom to be, however.

As Colson mused on his plans, his research assistant Michael Cromartie presented him with materials on William Wilberforce (1759–1833). In Wilberforce, Colson found the ethical activist he longed to become. Wilberforce was a longtime member of British Parliament (1780–1825). The cosmopolitan evangelical took on the single most noxious element of British society, the slave trade, and during the course of his five-decade career vanquished it. Wilberforce was an activist driven by principle. This appealed at an existential level to Colson; this was who Colson was.

Wilberforce Against the World

Because of his conviction that slavery was wrong—a conviction grounded in Christian theology—Wilberforce agitated and spoke and voted to outlaw the slave trade. He knew how to roll up his sleeves and make things happen. “Almighty God has set before me two great objectives,” he wrote in 1787, “the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” To accomplish these objectives, Wilberforce tapped his network, called the Clapham Sect, and went to work with fellow elites like William Pitt (1759–1806) and Granville Sharp (1735–1813) to form, advocate for, and pass the legislation that would erode the slave trade, bill by bill. This was an early Downton Abbey—but with an abolitionist Parliamentarian stalking the hallowed country estate.

Wilberforce championed his cause while moving in the circles of influence that made Britain go. All his glad-handing was driven by a conscience that burned with a hatred of evil and injustice. John Wesley (1703–1791), alongside John Newton (1725–1807) and John Venn (1834–1923), helped fan this conscience into flame. In later years, Colson frequently quoted Wesley’s parting charge to Wilberforce:

Unless the Divine Power has raised you up to be as Athanasius, contra mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils, but if God be for you, who can be against you? . . . Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery, the vilest that ever saw the sun, shall vanish away before it.

Behind Wesley’s plea to Wilberforce was unshakeable confidence in the Almighty. When Colson read Wesley’s charge in the mid-1970s, he resonated at a core level with these striking words. He felt called to stand contra mundum, “against the world,” as one who was “for the world” (an addition suggested by Richard John Neuhaus). Colson lived out this creed through his ministry, Prison Fellowship, and his public-square witness, work that my new book The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World substantiates.

The Gospel Changes Everything

In the story of Colson discovering Wilberforce, we find the thread that connects Christ and our witness. We can put it this plainly: the gospel creates ethics. When Jesus saves you, you love the unborn (Ps. 139). You are given a great love for the natural family, which owes to God’s intelligent design (Gen. 2:14–25). You seek to advocate for religious freedom because you recognize that without it, people will wither and suffer (Matt. 22:21).

The message of Christ creates in the redeemed a thirst for racial unity and a hatred for racism (Eph. 2:15). It overcomes tension between the sexes (Gal. 3:27–28). It removes barriers between social classes (Philem. 1:16). It gives us a hunger to work in a thousand God-glorifying vocations (Col. 3:23). It makes us weep for every image-bearer who suffers under the curse and causes us to want to do good to everyone (Gal. 6:10). It awakens us to the duties of citizenship and the need to pray for political righteousness (Rom. 13; 1 Tim. 2:2). In sum, the gospel causes us to want to be salt and light in a darkened world in every possible way (Matt. 5:13–16).

Faith in Christ bestows on us a convictional inheritance. We don’t fashion our own understanding of righteousness, justice, fairness, and mercy as believers. Though some issues loom larger than others, we recognize that our ethics and convictions are God’s. This witness will influence others. Our belief in human dignity, our pursuit of our neighbor’s good, and our desire to live a holy life will speak a powerful word to our non-Christian friends. As they see us living virtuously, exhibiting genuine care for the weak and the suffering, they will witness apologetics made flesh.

Our Call 

The Scripture shows us that there is no hostility between private Christianity and public Christianity. Ethics and moral convictions do not get in the way of gospel preaching. As Colson found, our ethics, moral convictions, and righteous actions are nothing other than holiness in practice, Christianity made unstoppably public. You can no more tame the gospel than you can extinguish the blazing sun.

In the end, the same gospel that saves us is the message that calls us, as Wesley said to Wilberforce, to “Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might.” Until evils vanish and the glory of God covers the face of the earth, this is our call.


Editors’ note: To learn more about Colson, pick up Strachan’s new book The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World (Thomas Nelson), which releases this week.

by Owen Strachan at July 28, 2015 05:02 AM

4 Things It’s Okay to Say When You’re Hurt

Vulnerability is never a black-and-white issue. Never. In every relationship, we are negotiating our space with each person. Should they be close? Should they be kept at a distance? Does the gospel dictate a certain distance—a certain pace of growth or healing—in response to hurtful patterns? After a conflict, have you ever said (or had someone say to you):

  • “In the name of Christ, we must be reconciled.”
  • “Don’t be divisive—let’s put this behind us.”
  • “Does the unity of Christ mean anything to you?”
  • “Don’t be dramatic. Jesus seems very clear: ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother’ (Matt. 18:15).”

Do you feel the tension on both sides of these statements? The black and white is clashing with the grey. Clear-cut versus murky. If you don’t feel the tension, maybe these circumstances will highlight it a bit more. Do all of the below situations demand reconciliation, or do they demand permanent separation? Assume that each person is a Christian:

  • An adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and their abuser.
  • A wife and her violent husband.
  • A girl with a ruined reputation, and her friends who spread stories about her.
  • A ruined businessman, and his partner who swindled him out of money.
  • A defeated friend, and his buddy who starts yelling whenever he doesn’t get the advice he wants.

Each of us likely has different knee-jerk reactions to each of these situations, which proves the complexity involved in reconciliation. We would each appeal to different wisdom principles—different values, different virtues—to dictate what should and shouldn’t be done in each situation. We are each drawn to one situation more than the other. We are each left with certain questions, rooted in our own personal story of hurt—either of being unforgiven and exiled, or granting forgiveness and being hurt again.

Here are four things it’s okay to say about reconciliation when you’ve been hurt. In saying them, you may find clarity.

1. “I’m not ready.”

Will restoring the relationship be self-defeating? Are you ready? Will you experience so many internal negative effects from attempted reconciliation that you will end up regretting it and resenting the person? To put it another way, is the reconciliation set up for failure, at this point in time?

Sometimes, people who have been hurt badly in the past resort to patterns of forgiving everyone, or forgiving no one—both in a desperate attempt to find safe intimacy. Even if you haven’t been hurt badly, it’s okay (actually, it’s wise) to take time to detox from the hurt of the relationship. Is the offender at all pushy in reconciliation? “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2). If the person who caused hurt is at all pushy, chances are they don’t understand what they did wrong: “A person’s wisdom yields patience” (Prov. 19:11). Take the time you need to ensure reconciliation is possible and sustainable, on your end alone.

2. “You’re not ready.”

Does reconciliation refortify harmful patterns in the offender? Would the decision to reconcile simply reinsert you into a feedback loop of hurt and betrayal? In the 2011 movie Warrior, MMA fighter Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is confronted by his estranged father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte). Growing up, Paddy was a negligent drunk, and Joel is now a loving husband and dad. Paddy, wanting to be part of his Brendan’s family and now sober, pleads, “You are my son, Brendan. . . . I’m just asking if you can find a little bit of space in your heart to forgive me a little bit.” Brendan quips, “Yeah? All right, I forgive you . . . but I do not trust you,” silently issuing a moratorium on their relationship. Paddy is of course crushed.

What Brendan does is neither exemplary nor cruel. It’s just what it is—a legitimate option. “Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance” (Prov. 14:9). Fools mock the guilt offering because they don’t ever think they’ve done anything wrong. This puts their friends in a dangerous situation: “Leave the presence of a fool. . . . The folly of fools is deceiving” (Prov. 14:7–8). Have they established a pattern that demonstrates they are no longer a harm to you? “Do not walk in the way of them; hold back your foot from their paths” (Prov. 1:15). “I’m sorry” may be sufficient for forgiveness, but it can’t command trust, and it certainly cannot command intimacy. Nor should it.

3. “I need advice.”

What do communities—both involved and uninvolved—have to say? “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22). Why is that true? Because you have blind spots—and you are especially blinded by your emotions when you’ve been hurt. Your community that knows you and the person involved can speak wisdom, because they know the issues involved—each of your tendencies, stories, desires, and patterns.

But it’s important to get more than one kind of community advice. If you only ask people who have a certain bent or bias, you might as well have asked no one. You’ve only refortified your blind spots—like Solomon’s son Rehoboam, who “abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him” (1 Kings 12:8). Get advice that is diverse—informed and uninformed, involved and objective, young and old, trained and untrained. Ask “Is it wise?” And if people say, “It’s your decision,” respond, “I know it’s my decision. That’s why I’m asking for advice. If it wasn’t my decision, I wouldn’t need advice—some other person would.” And when the advice is taken into account, let it affect your decision, even if it cuts against the weave of your desires.

4. “I need help.”

What exactly are you able to do, and what are you able not to do? Remember how we began: vulnerability is never black and white. Neither are the circumstances of reconciliation. Moreover, neither are the terms of reconciliation. Just because you’re reconciling doesn’t mean you have to return to the original intimacy of your relationship. It will likely take some time to relearn trust, pick up old (good) habits, and rebuild the intimacy lost in the conflict.

Maybe you need to reconcile. Maybe not. Maybe you need to do what’s necessary to “have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). Maybe you need to work at maintaining the boundaries of your relational lawn—lest you become “a brother to him who destroys” (Prov. 18:9). Either way, when the chips are down, conscript what supportive community you have in order to implement the decision you’ve made. It’s okay not to be able to reconcile on your own. You may need help, reassurance, a safe place to process, and prayer about how to initiate reconciliation. You may also need step-by-step counsel as your ease back into a relationship that may feel threatening or offensive. Sometimes isolation is more dangerous than vulnerability. Community can be a beautiful place to process these things.

Even the apostle Paul gave counsel like this: “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm. . . . Beware of him yourself” (2 Tim. 4:14–15). After an entire letter on the glory of the gospel “not because of our works” (2 Tim. 1:9), Paul says, in effect: “By the way, don’t trust this guy.” The ideal Christian community is one with the skill to listen, and the skill to give advice that both protects and heals. Rarely can we do either on our own.

You’re Not Him

Reconciliation is difficult because people dole out advice like lollipops at the bank—our pride is on the line, our safety is on the line. It’s also difficult because the gospel which teaches us we’re forgiven and reconciled to God sometimes feels empowering, and at other times like a looming and difficult example. But it’s important to remember as you reconcile, that while the gospel does empower you to perform some amazing relational feats, you are not God. These are all very human things to say—not sinful; just finite.

Whatever advice people give you, be sure to remember it’s well within the bounds of gospel wisdom to say about reconciliation with someone, “I’m not ready,” “You’re not ready,” “I need advice,” and “I need help.”

by Paul Maxwell at July 28, 2015 05:00 AM

Random ASCII

Programming is Puzzles

When I’m describing what I do for a living to non-programmers I sometimes say that I solve puzzles. I solve fascinating puzzles that are different every day, and there’s no answer key, and very often nobody else knows the solution. Whether it’s figuring out why code is slow, or why it is crashing, or how to make code simpler and better, it’s all puzzles, and I love it.

This past weekend I worked on a puzzle which I thought was interesting, especially in the ways that it was different from ‘normal’ puzzles such as jigsaw or crossword puzzles.

Finding the puzzle

When most people solve puzzles it is because they are asked to on Facebook, or because they bought a book of puzzles, or they are in a math class pondering a train from Chicago…They are given a puzzle to do. In this case my first challenge was realizing that there was a puzzle to solve. I knew, from talking to the Visual Studio team at Microsoft and from reading their blog, that VC++ 2015 had a new /DEBUG:FASTLINK switch that could make PDB generation run faster. The puzzle was to enable this for Chromium in order to get faster builds. I decided that this was a worthwhile task that probably nobody else was working on. Challenge accepted!

Debug_FastLink

Figuring out when you’ve won

Most puzzles have clearly defined winning conditions – fill in the Sudoku or finish the jigsaw puzzle. It’s pretty obvious when you’re done. However with FASTLINK this wasn’t as obvious. I could try timing the builds as I adjusted the build settings but build timings are notoriously fickle – affected by the disk cache, power settings, and more. However I knew that FASTLINK worked by not copying debug information from object files, so the PDB should be smaller when FASTLINK was working and that would be a much more stable metric than build time.

Figuring out the rules

The rules of most games are clearly stated, but in many programming puzzles they are not. In this case I adjusted the Chromium build settings to add FASTLINK, confirmed that it was being passed to the linker, and observed that the PDB size was unchanged.

I then tried a separate project – a ‘normal’ Visual Studio project (UIforETW, as it turns out) and verified that converting that to VC++ 2015 and setting FASTLINK worked as expected – the PDB got smaller.

Given one case that worked and another case that didn’t the next step is to understand what the difference is. I captured the .rsp file used by Chromium’s ninja build system and then called the linker directly. That let me modify the .rsp file in order to quickly iterate.

I tried rearranging command-line options and then I tried deleting command-line options. A bit of binary search and a bit of intuition led to the solution.

Winning!

It turns out that FASTLINK is incompatible with /PROFILE. The /PROFILE switch is passed to the linker by default in Chromium builds which means that, by default, FASTLINK doesn’t work in Chromium. With that detail understood it was relatively easy to create a patch that, once it lands, will allow easy access to the VC++ 2015 FASTLINK feature.

We don’t need no stinkin’ documentation!

It would be nice if the /DEBUG:FASTLINK documentation mentioned this restriction, but at the time that I am writing this blog post there is no such documentation. There are a couple of blog posts that mention the FASTLINK feature, but the official VC++ documentation on VC++ 2015’s /DEBUG switch does not mention FASTLINK, and certainly doesn’t mention its restrictions. Such is the joy of working on the bleeding edge, being among the first to use a new feature.

To the victor, the spoils

My limited tests suggest that FASTLINK reduces elapsed link time by 33-55%, and reduces peak working set of the linker by 65-90%. PDB sizes are reduced by 65-72%. These are all worthwhile gains that will make switching Chromium to VC++ 2015 more worthwhile.

The PDB files created by FASTLINK are inherently machine local. That’s a reasonable tradeoff, but sometimes it is useful to be able to convert machine-local PDBs to portable PDBs. I’ve filed a bug requesting a tool to do this.

Caveats


by brucedawson at July 28, 2015 03:44 AM

Cal Newport » Blog

Tim Ferriss in a Toga: The Ancient Greeks on Labor and the Good Life

technics-600px

The Wondrous Water Wheel

Writing in the first century B.C., Anitpater of Thessalonica made one of the first known references to the water wheel:

“Cease from grinding, ye women who toil at the mill; sleep late even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn. For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands, and they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle….we taste again the joys of the primitive life, learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labor.”

I recently encountered this quote in Lewis Mumford’s seminal 1934 book, Technics & Civilization As Mumford points out (drawing some on Marx), the striking thing about Anitpater’s reference to the water wheel is how its beneficiaries responded: This tool reduced their labor, so they reinvested that time in non-labor activities (“sleep late even if the crowing cocks announce dawn”).

This is a point that Mumford makes elsewhere in the book: in many times and cultures (and especially in ancient Greece), there was a notion of the right amount of work to support your profession. Once you reached that level, you were expected to turn your remaining attention to other matters like food, play, politics, and the intellectual life.

If new tools helped you reach that level sooner, then you had that much more time to yourself.

Labor and Culture

This idea caught my attention for two reasons.

First, I liked the connections between this ancient norm and the contemporary lifestyle design movement. Antipater’s Greeks are like Tim Ferriss in a toga.

Second, it contrasts strongly with modern Western culture where “labor saving” innovations, especially in the digital domain, tend to create new labor, and ratchet busyness to higher levels.

Imagine, for example, if we had confronted e-mail (my obsession of the moment) like Anitpater’s Greeks; perhaps designing e-mail servers to deliver messages only three times a day, as was the case with memos and letters, but saving people the trouble of stamps or visits to the mail room. In other words, imagine if the technology had strictly reduced labor instead of increasing it vastly.

The above example is problematic (e-mail certainly eliminated other massive inefficiencies), but the broader point is interesting. We approach technology though a cultural lens. The more we recognize this, the more options we encounter for shaping our working lives toward what matters to us.

by Study Hacks at July 28, 2015 01:08 AM

Laurence Tratt: Technical Articles

July 27, 2015

Apple posts OS X El Capitan Developer Beta 5 →

An off-cycle release pushed at the end of the day? My guess is Beta 4 had something nasty going on somewhere. I wonder if the Public Beta will get revved tomorrow, or if this was an issue just with the development branch.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 27, 2015 11:55 PM

Nicholas Nethercote

A work-around for Tree Style Tab breakage on Firefox Nightly caused by mozRequestAnimationFrame removal

This post is aimed at Firefox Nightly users who also use the Tree Style Tab extension. Bug 909154 landed last week. It removed support for the prefixed mozRequestionAnimationFrame function, and broke Tree Style Tab. The GitHub repository that hosts Tree Style Tab’s code has been updated, but that has not yet made it into the latest Tree Style Tab build, which has version number 0.15.2015061300a003855.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to modify your installed version of Tree Style Tab to fix this problem. (“Fairly easy”, at least, for the technically-minded users who run Firefox Nightly.)

  • Find the Tree Style Tabs .xpi file. On my Linux machine, it’s at ~/.mozilla/firefox/ndbcibpq.default-1416274259667/extensions/treestyletab@piro.sakura.ne.jp.xpi. Your profile name will not be exactly the same. (In general, you can find your profile with these instructions.)
  • That file is a zip file. Edit the modules/lib/animationManager.js file within that file, and change the two occurrences of mozRequestAnimationFrame to requestAnimationFrame. Save the change.

I did the editing in vim, which was easy because vim has the ability to edit zip files in place. If your editor does not support that, it might work if you unzip the code, edit the file directly, and then rezip, but I haven’t tried that myself. Good luck.

by Nicholas Nethercote at July 27, 2015 10:52 PM

Caelum Et Terra

Mr. Money Mustache

Rent vs. Buy: If You Have to Ask, You Should Probably Rent

toFour years into writing this blog, I thought I had seen almost everything when it comes to the most common financial suicides committed by the middle class. But today I was hit in the head by a shocking realization:

When choosing between buying versus renting a house or apartment, people are making much, much worse choices than I would have thought possible.

The implications are so striking that logically, some of the world’s busiest stretches of road should not even exist. We could save millions of lives and trillions of dollars by just helping certain people operate a basic hand calculator at a beginner level. It sounds improbable, until you review the following stories from this Canadian vacation I am currently wrapping up:

Case Study One: North America’s Fourth Largest Miscalculation

The City of Toronto is famous as one of the world’s most happening and expensive places to live. With over six million people in the highly car-oriented metro area, it sprawls on forever and people commute in from an insane zoo of connected cities comprising 31,000 square kilometres, or roughly a quarter of the entire land area of England.

There’s only one real highway across this thing, the 401, which has the dubious distinction as  busiest and most traffic-jammed highway in the world. Rush hour extends roughly from 3:30AM to 11PM, so I don’t even attempt a crossing except in the 4-hour window outside of that range*.

So what has created this incentive to commute? There are great jobs in Toronto – some of the highest paying in the country. Unemployment is low. The city is clean and quite beautiful along the lakeshore and the many ravines and rivers. But unfortunately, as the saying goes, nobody could ever afford a house there. Average price for a detached residence is up to $1.05 million, and even a car-commuter special runs you $730k. If you don’t have that kind of money, you just follow standard Realtor advice and “Drive ’til you Qualify”.

Mr. Money Mustache Moves to Toronto

For years, I have accepted these prices as a given and told people to either get creative with roommates unless you have secured at least a $400,000 salary, or get the hell out of the whole area as I did.  Until I conducted a little experiment in Mustachianism: asking myself “what would I do if I had to move to Toronto myself?”

Let’s assume a worst-case scenario, because if you can prove that it also covers every other situation. Somebody offers me a job in the most expensive and hardest-to reach region right downtown. It’s an a amazing job that I can’t resist and it pays well.

And wanting to maintain my current luxurious lifestyle, I insist on only the best: living in a huge apartment in a brand-new, modern building near the shore with beautiful views, within walking distance of work, the stadium, the train station, and everything else downtown has to offer. No buses or subways for me, and let’s assume I’m not even willing to ride my bike, because hey, it can occasionally get snowy in Toronto and nobody can possibly ride a bike in winter.

So I pull open the useful apartment-hunting site called padmapper.com and set my criteria to unlimited price, insisting on 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, so I can comfortably bring my family along for the ride. I select one of the nicest looking listings at random, because it overlooks a park with floor-to-ceiling windows, has a sweet balcony, granite and stainless kitchen, and heck, there’s even a gym and a rooftop patio on this 40-story building:

pad

This place looks appropriately fancy. A high-end pad in an expensive city’s most desirable district. I brace myself for an astronomical price, because after all, let’s look at the math:

People are commuting 40 minutes from $700,000 houses in the “closer” suburbs. A $700k house costs a minumum of $5,000 per month to operate in this area counting only mortgage interest at today’s amazingly-cheap-but-temporary 2.5%, a 7% opportunity cost of capital in the downpayment, plus property taxes, insurance, heating/cooling and maintenance at 1% annually. Let’s assume you’ve been wise enough to avoid areas with an HOA. 80 daily minutes in a car translates to roughly 900 miles ($450) and 22.5 hours of your time (say, $900) a month, for a grand minimum total of $5350.

All that, just to live near nothing but strip malls and TV-watching suburban commuters. So I’m assuming an apartment like this would list for upwards of ten grand a month. I look at the price.

$2300 per month

 Oh, and that includes free heat and an underground parking space
(parking for mere mortal visitors in this area costs about $30/day)

Is this a joke? Are apartments really that cheap? Looking through a few dozen other listings in the prime areas, I realize that yes, they are. And if you’re willing to be really badass and step onto a subway for your morning commute and move down to a less luxurious apartment building, you can find central-Toronto 2/2 apartments for $1200.

Share one of those with a roommate, and you can work a minimum wage job ($11.00/hr) in this city, pay for rent and food, and still save almost 50% of your income, retiring from your job working at Starbucks by age 37.

I repeated the same experiment in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. Brand new 900 square foot luxury apartment with 9 foot ceilings and two walls of glass overlooking the city’s hottest “Byward Market” district: $1950 per month. And this is in a city where people defy death by driving an hour through a blizzard before paying for parking and heading in to the office. It’s also a city where some people spend $900 per month on their winter heating bills alone (this apartment also includes free heat).

The implication of this is that an amazing majority of the traffic jams, car dealerships and SUV pileups and harried lifestyles and stress-related diseases and obesity that come with a car commuting lifestyle are completely stupid, optional, irrelevant byproducts of our choices. Almost every expensive suburb should not even exist. Every major urban highway should be shut down and converted to gardens and bike paths, with a few solar awnings thrown in – just enough to power the entire city.

So I ran these numbers by a fellow Canadian, expecting full astonished agreement. Instead I got the start of a bizarre set of justifications:

“But people want a back yard. For their kids, or their dogs.”

Are you JOKING?? When you live in a high-end district, ignoring the fact that luxury apartment buildings typically have amazing landscaped common areas, you have literally a multi-billion dollar back yard. The Toronto lakeshore is an endless expanse of beaches, bike paths, fountains, gardens, play structures, volleyball courts, patio restaurants, and of course one of the largest expanses of sparkling blue freshwater in the world. In Ottawa you have a stunning riverfront, forests and parks and bike paths that lead everywhere, and rapid transit that would eliminate any need to ever own a car.

Would you really waste an extra $3,000 per month just so your kids could play on your personal fenced-in postage stamp overlooked by vinyl-clad suburban houses in every direction while you are out stuck in traffic? No.

But what about the dogs?

$3,000 per month, plus the $400 it costs to feed and treat and house and transport and occasionally kennel the a dog, compounds to roughly $588,200 every decade if you invest the money instead. That’s every decade, and they live longer than that. Are you really rich enough to spend a million dollars, and clean up warm squishing chunks of excrement daily with only your bare hand and a plastic bag, just so you can have this extra bit of companionship during your sparse time outside of work? No.

And we haven’t even mentioned one of the biggest joys of renting: unlimited mobility. On a whim you can jump to a new place anywhere in the world. Never be subject to the pain of fighting with buyers in a hot real estate market, or begging for sellers in an icy-cold one.

The lesson? If you live in an area where houses cost more than $300,000, take a close look at the rent prices around the areas you currently drive. Budget your driving costs at at least a dollar per mile (80 cents/km in Canada to account for higher costs) because you absolutely must put a high value on your spare time to get ahead in life. Doing the math on life decisions like this was by far the biggest factor in my own early financial independence.

Buying a house is a great thing to do when you’re settling down in a beautiful, affordable spot right near everything you need to do for the next ten years. And if your schedule and temperament allow some time for a good several hours a week of maintenance work. But for the rest of us, it’s worth having another look at Rent vs. Buy.

Further Reading: The New York Times has a pretty great Rent vs Buy Calculator that covers many bases and includes some nice conservative default assumptions (except I’d personally assume higher than 4% investment returns and less than 3% property price appreciation in expensive markets where the price-to-rent ratio is out of whack, such as those in this article). Also, many areas have property taxes higher than the default.

The biggest difference between NYT and MMM is just the focus on location. Rentals often dominate the market in the most expensive and walkable areas, so if you want to work and live in such a place, it might make sense to go straight to the apartment buildings.

*Luckily we have now switched to taking the VIA – here’s a video I took out the window of the train traveling at 150 km/hr past a line of car commuters stuck in the usual jam leaving Toronto. This train is both faster and (usually) cheaper than driving a car the 450km from Toronto to Ottawa, which reveals a few hundred million more dollars of savings available, since thousands of people make this drive in any given week.

by Mr. Money Mustache at July 27, 2015 05:22 PM

Daniel Lemire's blog

What ten years teaching a technical topic in college taught me…

Over ten years ago, XML was all the rage in information technology. XML was what the cool kids used to store, exchange and process data. By 2005, all the major computer science conferences featured papers on XML technology. Today, XML might safely be considered a legacy technology…

In any case, back in 2005, I decided to offer a course on XML that I still offer today. I got criticized a lot for this choice of topic by other professors. Some felt that the subject was too technical. Other felt that it was too easy.

Though the course is technical at times, I think it is fair to say that very few students felt that it is an “easy” course. And here I come to my first realization:

1. Technical depth is hard.

Give me any technical topic… how to build a compiler, how to process XML, how to design an application in JavaScript… and I can make a very hard course out of it. In fact, that is a common comment from my students: “I thought the course would be easy… I was wrong.”

And it is not just hard for the students… it is hard for the teacher too. Every year, some student comes up with an example that challenges my understanding. It is a bit like playing Chess… you can play for many years, and still learn new tricks.

A pleasant realization is that despite how hard the course ended up being, most students rate it very favourably. That is my second realization…

2. Many students enjoy technical topics.

You would not think that this true given how few technical courses you find on campus. And I must say that I am slightly biased against technical courses myself… they sound boring… But I think that the reason the students end up finding them interesting is that they get to solve problems that they feel are relevant. I found that the ability to work hard on a problem depends very much on how relevant it seems to the student.

I also find practical topics more satisfying as a teacher because I have an easier time coming up with fun and useful examples. I do not struggle to make the course feel relevant to the students.

I was heavily criticized by academics when I first launched the course for mostly sticking with the core XML technologies (XSLT 1.0, XPath 1.0, DOM, DTD). This turned out to be a wise choice. In fact, in the sense that my course has evolved over ten years, it goes deeper into the core topics rather than covering more ground. Many of the topics that academics felt were important ten years ago have never picked up steam.

3. Academics view the future as ever more complex whereas practice often prunes unnecessary complexities.

Most technical subjects follow a Pareto law: 80% of the applications require the use of only 20% of the specifications. Thus, when teaching a technical topic, you can safely focus on the 20% that makes up the core of the subject. And that is a good thing because it allows you to dig deeply.

If you go around and check resumes, you will find plenty of people who list XML as a skill. Typically, this means that they are familiar with most of the basics. However, unless they have taken time to specialize in the topic, their understanding is probably quite shallow as any interview may reveal.

My favorite example is CSS. CSS is used on most web sites to format the HTML. However, 99% of the users of CSS treat it as a voodoo technology: use trial and error until the CSS does what you want. With complicated applications, this becomes problematic. Taking the time to really understand how CSS works can make a big difference.

Another example is performance… again, many people try to improve processing speed through trial and error… this works well in simple cases, but once the problem becomes large, it fails to scale up. That is why companies pay the big bucks to engineers with a deep understanding of the technology.

In fact, I suspect that professional status depends a lot more on how deep your understanding is than how broad it is. Anyhow can pick up ten books and skim them… but really understanding what is going on is much more difficult. For one thing, it is often not quite spelled out in books… real understanding often requires real practice. So challenging students to go deep is probably the best way to help them.

So I think that the best thing you can do for students is to encourage them to go deep in the topic.

4. With technical topics, depth is better than breadth.

One objection to this strategy is that companies like Google openly favour “generalists” (1, 2), but I do not think it contradicts my view: I hope to encourage my students to learn the basics really well rather than to get bogged down with many specific technologies. But even if my view does contradict Google’s recruiting standards, there is still a practical aspect: you can collect lots of expertise in many things, but chances that most of this expertise will be obsolete in a few years.

In my case, I was lucky: XML remains an important piece of technology in 2015. But that is not entirely a matter of luck: by the time I decided to make a course out of it, XML was already deeply integrated in databases, web applications and so on. Moreover, it was supported by its similarity with HTML. So I felt confident it would still be around in ten years. Now, in 2015, I can confidently say that XML is there for the long haul: all your ebooks are in XML, all your Office documents are in XML…

However, how we view XML has changed a lot. Back in 2005, XML was a standard data interchange format. There was also a huge industry around it. Much of it has collapsed. In many ways, support for XML is stagnating. We still have pesky configuration files in XML, but that is no longer considered automatically to be a good thing. We prefer to exchange data using JSON, a much simpler format.

When I started out, some students blamed me for not covering specific XML technologies… like particular libraries offered by XML. Professors wanted me to cover exoteric web services. Most of what I was asked to cover years ago has become obsolete.

More critically, I was forced to revisit many times the material offered to the students. But that keeps the course fun for me: I like learning about new technologies… so when JSON came about, I enjoyed having to learn about it. I probably went deeper in the topic than most.

5. If you are a technology enthusiast, keeping a technical course up-to-date can be fun.

Another piece of contention with technical courses is that they are not “the real thing”. College is supposed to teach you the grand ideas… and everything else is just straight applications. So if you know about data structures and Turing machines, learning to write a spreadsheet in XSLT is just monkey work.

But I have found the students quite easily cope with more theory once they have practical experience. For example, it is quite easy to discuss Turing-completeness once you have covered XSLT, XPath, CSS… and then you can have fun pointing out that most of these do end up being Turing-complete (albeit, in a contrive way sometimes).

6. Going from a deep technical knowledge to theory is relatively easy for many students.

Though I am probably biased, I find that it is a lot harder to take students from a theoretical understanding to a practical one… than to take someone with practical skills and teach him the theory. My instinct is that most people can more easily acquire an in-depth practical knowledge through practice (since the content is relevant) and they then can build on this knowledge to acquire the theory.

To put it another way, it is probably easier to first teach someone how to build an engine and then teach thermodynamics, than to do it in reverse. It helps that it is the natural order: we first built engines and then we came up with thermodynamics.

To put it differently, a good example, well understood, is worth a hundred theorems. And that is really the core lesson I have learned. Teaching a technical topic is mostly about presenting elaborate and relevant examples from which students can infer more general ideas.

So my next course is going to be a deeply technical course about advanced programming techniques. I am not going to shy away from getting students to study technical programming techniques. Yes, the course will pay lip service to the big ideas computer science is supposed to be teaching… but the meat of the course will be technical examples and practice.

by Daniel Lemire at July 27, 2015 03:12 PM

Reformedish

The Big Questions of the Gospel in a Five-Verse Nutshell


questions
I’m a big fan of serious study of the Bible. That often involves learning languages, delving into the historical background of the text, and studying what church teachers in history have said about the subject. But it usually starts with reading slowly and asking a series of basic questions. Nothing has reinforced this for me as much as my small group study this year at church.

At our very last study a couple of weeks ago, we were wrapping up our study in the letter of Paul to Titus when we came to this stunning little passage:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

(Titus 3:3-7)

This is one of the best nutshells of the gospel I’ve ever seen. It answers briefly and powerfully all the key questions you might want to ask about the message of salvation.

1. What are we being saved from? Well, Paul says that we were wandering in foolish disobedience. We were slaves to passions and pleasures, unable to give ourselves to anything but our own lesser wants and desires. We were lost, having drifted from true North as we turned from worshipping God to the things God made. Not only that, we were caught up in malice and envy, as idolatry usually sets you at odds with other idolaters. Lack of peace with God leads to war with others.

2. Who saves us? In a phrase, “God our Savior.” Make note of that–God is the author of our salvation, no one else. Salvation is an absolutely theocentric reality, and, looking at the sweep of the text, a trinitarian one. God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are all at work in the one sending, appearing, and renewing work of the one God.

3. When did he save us? When his goodness and loving kindness appeared. But what does that mean? I’d gloss that phrase indicating the reality of the incarnation of the Son–the appearing of the kindness of God. It is in the Christ-event–the life, death, and resurrection of the Godman–that God became our Savior. (Indeed, it’s important to note the way that Paul gives both God and Christ the title “our Savior.”)

4. Why did he save us? Here we come to the question of “why”, not in the sense of goal, but in the sense of basis or grounds. Well, Paul is very clear that it wasn’t because of our own works done by us out of our goodness. We didn’t have any of those. There’s no thought of meriting or earning God’s kindness allowed here. No, the sole grounds of our salvation is not found in the creature, but in God himself, because of his own mercy. Salvation is God’s idea, not ours. It’s an act of “grace”–a gift to those who can’t procure it for themselves by their own efforts.

5. How did he save us? Okay, so this raise the question of “how”? How did the Triune One save us? Well, that answer requires the whole NT witness to expound, but here Paul tells us that it’s by the regenerating (rebirthing) work of God in us through the Holy Spirit who cleanses us. The Holy Spirit remakes us, cleanses our sin, our consciences, and creates in us a new heart in communion with God. It’s important to note, though, that we have this Spirit because he was poured out in our lives through Jesus Christ. And I’d argue that the rest of Paul’s theology tells us that’s because of Jesus legal work in his death for sin and his authority to pour out the Spirit he was give in the resurrection and ascension. We are “justified by his grace.”

6. What did he save us for? Finally, we come to the question of purpose. What’s the point? What’s the goal? Where is all this amazing work headed? Paul is very clear: God saved us so that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. We were saved so that we might become “heirs”, sons and daughters in God’s household who can expect the riches of his kingdom now and forever. What’s more, as heirs, he created us for holiness and glory. Heirs not only receive gifts, but the call (and in this case the guarantee) to carry on the family name–the bear the name of God well. This happens as we receive the Spirit who conforms us to the Image of the Son who brings glory to the Father in all that he does. It is his image that we will finally bear upon that last day.

And this, in a nutshell, is Paul’s answer to the key questions of salvation. All in about five verses. It is passages like this that make me marvel, not only at the great salvation of our God, but the marvelous saving revelation of God we have in the Scriptures.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at July 27, 2015 02:41 PM

Justin Taylor

The Single Most Practical Advice for Christians? Never Read a Bible Verse

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.39.28 AMGreg Koukl shares his advice: ”Never Read a Bible Verse.”

If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be? What is the single most important practical skill I’ve ever learned as a Christian?

Here it is: Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.

Koukl explains that on his radio program, when people call in with Bible question, this is the technique he uses to answer questions, even when he’s totally unfamiliar with the verse:

I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what’s going on.

This works because of a basic rule of all communication: Meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units, not the other way around. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.

You can read the whole thing, where he goes into more detail and gives a number of examples. Here’s his summary conclusion:

Never read a Bible verse. Instead, read a paragraph, at least. Always check the context. Observe the flow of thought. Then focus on the verse.

Remember, meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units. A reflection on a Bible passage from a sermon or a devotional may be edifying, encouraging, and uplifting. If it is not the message of the text, though, it lacks biblical authority even when the quote comes right out of the Word of God.

If you will do this one thing if you will read carefully in the context applying the paraphrase principle you will begin to understand the Bible as God intended. Without the bigger picture you’ll be lost.

Only when you are properly informed by God’s Word the way it is written in its context can you be transformed by it. Every piece becomes powerful when it’s working together with the whole.

It’s the most important practical lesson I’ve ever learned . . . and thing single most important thing I could ever teach you.

by Justin Taylor at July 27, 2015 01:47 PM

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by Stephen Hackett at July 27, 2015 01:39 PM

Crossway Blog

What George Mueller Can Teach Us about Prayer

This post was adapted from Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney. Sign up for a free five-day email course on praying the Bible at crossway.org/PraytheBible.


A Man of Prayer

George Mueller (1805–1898) is widely considered one the greatest men of prayer and faith since the days of the New Testament. He lived nearly the entire nineteenth century, two-thirds of it in Bristol, England. He led four far-reaching, influential ministries, but we know him best today for his orphanages.

During a time in England when most orphans lived in miserable workhouses or on the streets, like Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Mueller took them in, fed them, clothed them, and educated them. Through his orphanage in Bristol, Mueller cared for as many as two thousand orphans at a time—more than ten thousand in his lifetime. Yet he never made the needs of his ministries known to anyone except to God in prayer. Only through his annual reports did people learn after the fact what the needs had been during the previous year and how God had provided.

Mueller had over fifty thousand specific recorded answers to prayers in his journals, thirty thousand of which he said were answered the same day or the same hour that he prayed them. Think of it: that’s five hundred definite answers to prayer each year—more than one per day—every single day for sixty years! God funneled over half a billion dollars (in today’s dollars) through his hands in answer to prayer.

Mueller’s Great Discovery

How did George Mueller pray? He said that for the first ten years of what he called his “life of faith”—referring not to when he was unknown but to ten years of trust in God and remarkable answers to prayer—he often struggled to get into the spirit of prayer, in other words, to really feel like praying. Until, that is, he made one slight alteration in his method. Here’s how he described the change:

The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer. . . . But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.

I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental [today we would say “experiential”] fellowship with God, I speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.

So Mueller would sometimes flounder for half an hour to an hour trying to pray, fighting to focus his thoughts and to kindle feelings for prayer in his heart. Only after that long, determined struggle would he finally enter into a sense of communion with God.

But once he began the practice of conversing with God about what he found in the Word of God, he “scarcely ever” suffered with those problems in prayer again. Praying through a passage of Scripture as he went “walking about in the fields” was the uncomplicated method that transformed the daily experience of one of the most famous men of prayer in history.

And it can transform your prayer life just as easily.


Donald S. Whitney is professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has written several books related to Christian spirituality, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible. Don blogs regularly at BiblicalSpirituality.org.

by Matt Tully at July 27, 2015 01:16 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Fittest on Earth Crowned

Monday’s Workout:

Olympic Technique:
Snatch Balance 10:00
1 Rep on the minute
*depth will vary based on mobility and skill level

WOD
12:00 As Many Reps As Possible
3…6…9…12…15…etc..
Steps Up and Overs (24/20)
Decline Pushups off Box

 

Congratulations Fittest on Earth!

 

the fittest on Earth have been crowned for 2015. Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed over the weekend. It takes a tremendous amount of work to reach the CrossFit Games and those who stand upon the podium are truly deserving of the title Fittest on Earth.

 

Rotator-SundayNightArticle

Fittest Women on Earth:

1st: Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir

2nd: Tia-Clair Toomey

3rd: Sara Sigmundsdottir

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Fittest Men on Earth:

1st: Ben Smith

2nd: Matt Fraser

3rd: Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson

 

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Fittest Team on Earth:

1st: CrossFit Mayhem Freedom

2nd: CrossFit Milford

3rd: Ute CrossFit

 

Click here to watch the awards ceremony honoring the best of the best.

 

 

 

by Anna at July 27, 2015 12:50 PM

Beeminder Blog

Weasel Heart-To-Heart

Old painting of Russian Czar Mikhail Fyodorevitch Romanov

Chelsea Miller is Beeminder’s Support Czar, meaning she’s in charge of making sure the rest of us at the beehive stay on top of all the email you send to support@beeminder.com. And in fact she answers a huge amount of it personally. Pretty much everything she writes to users puts a huge smile on my face. This blog post is no exception.

I recently-ish had my one-year anniversabee! I first stumbled upon Beeminder around March 2014, but I went back and forth with myself about whether I should sign up. Was I really the type of person who needed to pledge money to strangers to get things done? Isn’t that just sad? Couldn’t I develop some willpower instead? (Yes, sometimes; no, I don’t think so; and no, I could not.) Anyway, as you can tell, I signed up, and then I achieved all my goals immediately and lived happily ever after…

Just kidding. I’ve derailed plenty. In fact, I have paid Beeminder more than $300 for the privilege of its motivation (and $82 for the privilege of pledgeless goals, but more on that later). I’ve paid more in derailments on my Fitbit goal than my Fitbit originally cost. Some of my goals have been easy to keep up with, but others have cost me quite a lot. There have even been cases where I eventually got sick of throwing away money and archived the most expensive failures. The magical motivation point that Beeminder relies on was nowhere to be found…

****WEASELS ONLY FROM HERE ON****

Is it just us now? If you’ve never been a weasel get out, seriously, you’re not welcome to this party. Okay, so, shameful admission time — I have totally been a weasel to Beeminder before, on all those goals that didn’t work.

“WHAT!?” you say. “YOU ANSWER ALL OUR SUPPORT EMAILS AND REPRESENT AND ADVOCATE BEEMINDER AND YOU ARE IMPURE?!” Yes. It’s true. I have ventured into that dark side, and I have also escaped it and reentered the light. And that experience has helped me get even more value out of Beeminder than I did before. (Also, it gives me a pretty good idea if you’re weaseling when you ask me to undo your derailments. You’re not fooling anyone, weasels! But I’m still nice to you, because customer service.)

Into The Dark Side

It probably started really innocently, right? You had a goal to do 100 pushups a week, and you were doing pretty good for awhile. But one day you were really busy, you didn’t remember Beeminder, and then you got a zeno polling email while watching Game of Thrones. Well, you’ll definitely do the 15 pushups later tonight. You’ll just enter the data now while you’re thinking about it, but you’ll definitely do them before bed. Not just yet though — you’re in the middle of Game of Thrones. Except you forget, and you don’t do it before bed. And the next day is another eep day, and you already owe 15… might as well owe 30. You’ll do them. Really. You’ll catch up. [1]

Except you never catch up. And then you’re entering the bare min every day just to avoid paying Beeminder the $5 (or $10, or $30…) but never doing anything. After a while, the numbers and graphs are meaningless. Beeminder is now a chore (a threat, even) that provides no value. Eventually you figure out how to archive or perma-flatline your goal, and you walk away. [2]

“Set it up with an autodata integration this time, so you don’t have to enter data — you just have to do your goal.”

Lying to Beeminder is a horrible, slippery slope. If you ever do it on one goal, you’ll always have it as an option in the back of your mind. Beeminder loses all its power over you, regardless of the pledge level, because you’ll think “well, I can just fudge it.” BAD. Beeminder can be incredibly helpful (though it’s not the right tool for everybody). Even if you’ve been weaselly, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use Beeminder. One reason for weaselliness is that you just didn’t care about that goal as much as you thought you did. That’s a great thing to learn! Archive it, banish those nagging “should” feelings from your mind, and go about your life without regret.

Reentering the Light

So let’s talk unweaseling. We need to get your faith in Beeminder back! Here are a few things I’ve done to drag myself back into the good and pure…

1) Hide your past shame

I think the graphs are even more motivating to me than the pledges. A pledge gets me to do the bare min every day, but the graph gets me to do more. I feel good when all my graphs are green and I’m jumping up by huge amounts every day. I do not feel good when I have 10 red days at once. Use the x-min setting to hide your previous weaseled numbers. The lies will still be in the past data, but your graph image will be fresh and clean, ready to fill with real data. Keep it that way!
(The hardcore version of this is to archive away all your dirty goals and start brand new ones.)

2) Acknowledge reality

Now that you have a nice clean graph, let’s get real about your goal rate. Was it truly a one-off bad day that started you on this treacherous path, or was your initial rate maybe a liiiiittle too optimistic? (This totally happens to EVERYBODY. Even the founders.) Often our initial rates are harder to stick with than we’d thought — after all, we had to beemind this goal just to get started doing it! So use the road dial to take it down a notch to an amount you can and will realistically do. Even if that realistic rate is 1 per week, if you were originally doing 0 per week, you’re coming out ahead.

Again, don’t be afraid to admit the alternate, but very common, reality: you don’t actually want the goal. For years I’ve told myself I should try to finish C25K. Only recently have I accepted the facts: I despise running, and I do not care about completing C25K. [3] If the goal doesn’t matter to you, archive it! You can always restart it later if you have a change of heart.

3) Earn it

Just because you weaseled in the past and you’re trying to start over doesn’t mean you deserve to get off scot-free! If you really want to do the thing — let’s do it. How many pushups did you lie to us about? Create a goal to make up for them, and repent for your weaselly sins. [4] And see, we got you to do the pushups you wanted to do originally! Aren’t you proud of yourself? It’s like the weaseling never happened. (But for heaven’s sake, don’t weasel on the unweaseling goal.)

Ideally, set it up with an autodata integration this time and get the responsibility for telling Beeminder your numbers out of your weaselly paws. Check out the current integrations and see if there’s one that might work for you. Or ask in the Beeminder forum! Odds are at least one of our users has an idea to get your goal as automatic as possible.

4) Make it irrelevant

After 7 months of beeminding, venturing into Weasel World, and coming out alive the other side, I decided to invest in a Plan Bee subscription. The key benefit for me is the fully pledgeless goal. This means you can start every goal at $0, step any goal down to $0, and cap any goal at $0 — potentially making every derailment penalty-free. Of course, this also makes every goal potentially motivation-free, so be careful! I still let the pledge schedule climb on the goals that matter most to me, to ensure that I keep making progress. [5] But if you’re more motivated by the graphs than the pledges, Plan Bee might be worth checking out.

Doing things your short-term self doesn’t want to do is hard. Beeminder really helps, and I’m so glad that I found it. But it’s probably not a silver bullet for every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do or change about yourself. (I mean, I’m eating Doritos as I write this. I’ve still got some problems I’d like to solve.) It’s taken me a while to figure out how I can best use Beeminder — and what’s best for me is probably not the same as what’s best for you. Try out as many goals as you feel you can handle, but always bee thoughtful about it. The more you can avoid even considering weaseling and burnout, the more useful Beeminder will be for you. And email me at support@beeminder.com any time if you need or want some help figuring out how to make Beeminder work best for you!

 

Footnotes

[1] At this point Danny was still having trouble understanding why you would ever expect to forget to enter pushups later but not forget to do them later. It’s like when your mom says “go clean the table” and you’re all “give me a minute i’m DOING something gosh” and then you forget immediately, so she yells at you again 30 minutes later. You’re getting nagging Bee-mom-der off your back by entering data before doing the thing. (Danny still thinks this is too obvious of a slippery slope to fall for but it sounds like Danny shouldn’t be reading this far anyway.)

[2] We lose (your money, and your ideas to improve our site) and you lose (you still wanted to achieve those goals, right?). You also lose the reminders, the graphs, and the community.

[3] …right now. Future Beeminder goals or lack thereof subject to change.

[4] Incidentally, this is how Mark Forster advises to work through pretty much any backlog. Draw a line under it, and mind the backlog separately from new commitments.

[5] But remember, it doesn’t have to climb forever. Pledge caps aren’t exclusive to premium users! It’s another way to limit Beeminder’s threat potential, if you know that the higher pledge levels aren’t right for you or some of your goals.

 

by Chelsea Miller at July 27, 2015 12:19 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Mounce Archive 16 – When Experiences Make Translating Difficult

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

This post explores translating the term “ἔργον ἀγαθόν”. Mounce explains how our own perceptions can make us prefer one translation over another.

You can find the original post here.

One of the more interesting expressions in the Pastorals is ἔργον ἀγαθόν, “good deed.” It occurs 6 times.

  • Women are to be clothed in good deeds (1 Tim 2:10).
  • A widow shows herself to be godly by devoting herself to good deeds (1 Tim 5:10).
  • If you cleanse yourself from what is impure, you are prepared for any good deed (2 Tim 2:21).
  • Scripture equips Timothy for every good deed (2 Tim 3:17).
  • The false teachers deny their claim to know God by their deeds (ἔργοις), and are therefore unfit for any good deed (Titus 1:16).
  • Christians are to ready to do every good deed (Titus 3:1).

Is “deed” the right word? It sounds a bit like the Wizard of Oz or a boy scout to me. So what about the obvious, “good work”? But now the problem is more theological. If you take the phrase out of context, it moves in the direction of works salvation.

(Continue reading the entire post here.)

***

William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

Learn more about Bill’s Greek resources at Teknia.com and visit his blog on spiritual growth at BiblicalTraining.org/blog/life-journey.

by Bill Mounce at July 27, 2015 12:00 PM

Table Titans

Proclamations: GEN CON 2015

News

Toonhound Studios is going to GenCon!

GenCon Map

We’ll be set up in booth 2337 (listed as Table Titans in the program). You’ll find myself and the whole Table Titans crew there (Steve, Cory, and Brian). YAY! We’ll have some new stuff for sale at the show. Val vinyls and Farty Troll plushes as well as…

Read more

July 27, 2015 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Danny Akin

On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers. I spoke with Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, biographies that have shaped him, and more.  


What's on your nightstand right now? 

Well the first thing to say is there are more books on it than I’m getting to! They include: Preaching by Tim Keller [20 quotes | interview | review]; God’s Love Compels Us by D. A. Carson; Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole [review]; The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield [review]; The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and George Whitefield by Thomas Kidd [review].

What are you learning about life and following Jesus? 

Life is a precious gift that is all too fleeting. It is, as James 4:14 says, a mist, a vapor. We must not waste it.

Jesus is more wonderful than I ever imagined when I trusted him as a 10 year old. His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, wisdom, kindness, power, and faithfulness grows sweeter and more precious with each passing year. He’s a great and awesome Savior, Lord, and King. What a joy and honor it is to know him and serve him.

What are some books you regularly re-read and why? 

The list is not long, which is probably an indictment on me. Having said that, I regularly revisit Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders; The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper; How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer; Expect Great Things: Mission Quotes that Inform and Inspire by Marvin Newell; and Radical by David Platt.

What books have most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel?

Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders, Good to Great by Jim Collins, and Spurgeon on Leadership by Larry Michael have all greatly influenced me. I’ve also been significantly affected by the wisdom of Proverbs, the example and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and the instruction of Paul in the Pastoral Epistles.  

What books have most helped you teach others about Jesus? 

The Gospels. That answer isn’t intended to be trite or cute. It’s simply the truth in my life.

What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why? 

All of these books concern the lives of missionaries and have profoundly shaped the way I look at life and ministry. They have also shaped how I seek to lead Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in being a Great Commission seminary.


Also in the On My Shelf series: Tom Schreiner, Trillia NewbellJen WilkinGloria FurmanJoe CarterTimothy GeorgeTim KellerBryan ChapellLauren ChandlerMike CosperRussell MooreJared WilsonKathy KellerTullian TchividjianJ. D. GreearKevin DeYoungKathleen NielsonThabiti AnyabwileElyse FitzpatrickCollin HansenFred SandersRosaria ButterfieldNancy Guthrie, and Matt Chandler.

by Matt Smethurst at July 27, 2015 05:02 AM

Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel

They just don’t write books on cultural engagement the way they used to. Many works over the last decade searched for “gospel bridges” from the church to culture or scorched the culture for abandoning the values of the church. But with the specter of same-sex marriage hanging over the church the last few years, the message has changed. Yes, Western culture continues to move away from the church. The bigger problem, however, concerns how much the culture has already infiltrated the church.

Russell Moore’s new book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, wants to “keep Christianity strange.” You might consider 1 Corinthians 1:27 to be its theme verse: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” He doesn’t put much if any stock in evangelicals reaching the culture with the gospel through supposedly respectable means or fashionable political causes. In fact, he doesn’t seem to offer any overarching strategy at all, only the hope that Jesus is coming again and until then promises to build his church. Moore is neither concerned with propping up the Bible Belt nor invested in advancing a partisan political agenda that will save America.

“The shaking of American culture is no sign that God has given up on American Christianity,” writes Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “In fact, it may be a sign that God is rescuing American Christianity from itself.”

Awfully Strange

Moore’s job positions him between three groups that do not often get along: older Southern Baptists who fund ERLC and anchored the old Religious Right; younger Southern Baptists and other evangelicals who fight over the balance between grace and truth; and journalists who regularly host him on their TV programs and quote him in their newspapers.

Age locates Moore in the second group; he does not fit the Religious Right. He must somehow offer compelling arguments for skeptical media while fighting off progressive challengers within the church and assuring talk radio hosts that he hasn’t gone liberal. Rather than try to appease each group, which would be impossible, Moore assumes the prophet’s posture. No one is safe.

  • For “red-letter Christians,” he attributes many of their concerns to “daddy issues”: “These evangelicals are usually an Episcopalian’s idea of what an evangelical should be, but they rarely achieve long-term influence among the churches themselves.”
  • For older evangelicals worried about younger generations, he says divorce isn’t a culture war issue today only because so many churches have already surrendered: “New generations of the church will live in a world in which all sorts of other sexual practices and family redefinitions will seem just as ‘normal.’ Will they be more counterculture than we?”
  • For pastors concerned to keep the church focused on personal sin and evangelism rather than “social issues,” he rejects the dichotomy between “public” and “private” problems: “In our attempts to keep the gospel from being too big, we must not end up with a gospel too small to do what Jesus commanded us to do.”

Especially as self-appointed watchbloggers continue to expose themselves as deceitful, many readers will resonate with Moore’s warning: “The problem with carnal anger and outrage is that it’s one of the easiest sins to commit while convincing oneself that one is being faithful.” But Moore doesn’t just aim for the easy targets. While he refrains from naming names, readers can’t help but contrast his emphasis on the strangeness and weakness of God’s kingdom with pastors and sociologists who commend contextualization to reach the elite culture-shapers of the major cities.

“The church is not built on the rock foundation of geniuses and influencers but of apostles and prophets,” Moore writes. “Perhaps the best way to gain influence is to lose it.”

What does he mean? Imagine that a janitor in your church offers spiritual counsel and direction to his boss, a less mature Christian. “It would look awfully strange,” Moore says, “but it would look no stranger than a crucified Nazarene governing the universe.” 

Upside-Down Kingdom

The best sections of Onward illustrate how the kingdom of God upends the world’s values, which have shaped the church’s practices and priorities.

“The most important cultural task we have is to crucify our incipient Darwinism,” Moore argues, “in which the leaders on the inside of the kingdom colony are the same as they would be on the outside, even if there were no God in the universe.”

Only with the return of Christ in mind can we see the world from God’s perspective. We don’t need any more ministry to the poor, immigrants, or racial minorities, Moore says. We need them to lead us. We don’t need to put on our Sunday best to impress the world. We need the elderly suffering from dementia to read Scripture in our worship services.

Because we know Jesus is coming back, we love the “little people” the way he did.

“The child with Down syndrome on the fifth row from the back in your church, he’s not a ‘ministry project,’” Moore says. “He’s a future king of the universe.”

City of God

The hardest part about writing a book on cultural engagement isn’t the fear of offending. It’s trying to cover everything that could fall under “engaging the culture.” You can’t avoid the “ought” problem, when the number of “you must” commands pile up like pet policy proposals in a State of the Union address. Seeing our sin laid bare in all our various failures to love God and love our neighbors can be overwhelming. The author of such a book, then, faces a basic question: How do you convince readers to buy something that identifies themselves as the problem? After all, many—maybe even most—readers pick out books to feel better about themselves or feel worse about someone else. 

Moore’s long-term optimism due to the imminent return of Christ helps him mostly avoid this challenge inherent to this genre. When Christians have been known for their dour denunciations, Moore offers the ultimate hope of the gospel in Jesus Christ. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see representing my faith on TV. Even when this book stung me personally, I could see him pointing back to the Scriptures to remind me what headlines really matter. To make the book even more hopeful and helpful, I think he could have commended prayer for revival, though I acknowledge his rightful reservations about misuse of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Whether or not they know it or want it, evangelicals need this book for such a time. We cannot turn back to Egypt, where we’ll find “God and country” civil religion that suited the country more than God. Nor can we cry, “Peace, peace” where there is no peace with ideology that denies God’s authority over creation, including men and women made in his image. Because we believe in a God who raises the dead, we can be skeptical about the world we see while hopeful about the world we will see. The city of God will one day triumph over the city of man.

“The next Augustine of Hippo might be a sexually promiscuous cult member right now,” Moore writes, “just like, come to think of it, the first Augustine of Hippo was.”


Russell Moore. Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2015. 240 pp. $24.99.

by Collin Hansen at July 27, 2015 05:02 AM

5 Ways You Can Use TGC’s New Church Directory

The Gospel Coalition is excited to launch an updated version of our online church directory, which includes more than 4,500 churches, representing 67 countries. We have some new features that we hope will help you as you search for a church, add your church to the directory, or edit an existing church listing.

Here are five things you can do on the updated church directory:

1. Add your church. We invite you to add your church to our online church directory so that individuals in your area can find your church. The one requirement is that your church agrees in full with TGC's Foundation Documents. If you affirm these documents, please feel free to add your church.

2. Search for a church. Visit the church directory to find a church in your geographical area. Whether you've moved to a new area or are just looking for a new church, we hope this will serve you well in your search for a gospel-believing church body. You can search by church name, city, state, or country.

3.Maintain your existing church listing. Is your church currently listed on the church directory, but in need of an updated address, pastor's name, or social media link? If you are a representative of the church, you can claim your church's listing to edit and maintain the details.

4. Report a church that doesn't align with TGC's Foundation Documents. If you find a church that doesn't seem to be in alignment with TGC, we ask that you'd let us know. You can do so by clicking the “Report” link next to each listing. We value your input since TGC is not able to personally review each church in the directory.

5. Pray for the church. Please join us in praying that this church directory would be a catalyst for many people to find and join a local gospel-believing church.

by Andrea Froehlich at July 27, 2015 05:01 AM

The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Common But Mistaken Claims

I’ve been hearing a lot in the public square about trajectories. In these conversations God’s Word is used to argue that the church needs to change its view on same-sex marriage, even though Scripture seems uniformly against it. This comes not only from newspaper columnists, such as Steve Blow in the Dallas Morning News, but also from evangelical commentators who claim the direction of the Bible takes them there. I understand this desire to love well, taken from the great commandment (Matt. 22:39), and I also see that one can ask such questions not out of a desire to rebel, clear a new path, or conform to culture, but out of sincerity.

Sincere questions deserve sincere responses. This article is designed to engage those who say the real thrust of the Bible is to joyously enter our brave new world with open arms and hearts. I’ll discuss various claims arguing that Scripture either doesn’t clearly address our specific contemporary situation or that Scripture is open and inconsistent enough to allow room for a category previously rejected.

Claim 1: Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex marriage, so he’s at least neutral if not open to it. What Jesus doesn’t condemn, we shouldn’t condemn. 

This is an argument from silence, but the silence doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Jesus addresses and defines marriage in Matthew 19:4–6 and Mark 10:6–9 using both Genesis 1:26–27 and Genesis 2:24 to parse it out. Here Jesus defines and affirms marriage as between a man and a woman, a reflection of the fact that God made us male and female to care for creation together. With this definition, same-sex marriage is excluded. Had Jesus wished to extend the right of marriage beyond this definition, here was his opportunity. But he didn’t take it. 

Jesus never discussed same-sex marriage because the way he defined marriage already excluded it. He was not as silent on the topic as some claim.

Claim 2: The Old Testament (OT) allows all sorts of “prohibited” marriage, including polygamy and what would today qualify as incest. If those were permitted, surely monogamous same-sex relationships should be allowed.

Here’s where a look at trajectory helps us. If we observe what Scripture actually teaches, we see that (1) such past marriages are consistently portrayed as resulting in social chaos and aren’t so much prescribed as described; and that (2) Scripture’s expansion into the New Testament (NT) narrows down the scope of options to the standard of one monogamous union between a man and woman in which the marriage bed is to be honored but porneia—sexual infidelity in all its manifestations—is to be avoided (Heb. 13:4). Additionally, elders are to show the community what it looks like to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12).

So opening up marriage to a new category actually works against Scripture’s trajectory on marriage.

Claim 3: The move to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage is like the church’s past blindness on slavery, women’s rights, and a geocentric universe—where what was “clearly” taught in Scripture is now seen as wrong.

It’s fair to point out that some views that used to be considered clear in Scripture have actually turned out to not be so clear—and even wrong. Hermeneutical humility for all is not a bad thing. But it cuts both ways. Whereas with creation/slavery/women one can point to passages where counter-tensions existed with what was clear (such as the way Paul asks Philemon to treat Onesimus, or how Mary sat as Jesus’s disciple, or how the Spirit is said to indwell all women), no OT or NT text is even neutral on same-sex issues. Every single text that mentions the topic does so negatively.

So here also trajectory helps us, since with same-sex passages there is no trajectory. The reading is consistent. That should count for something.

Claim 4: We don’t follow all sorts of OT laws today (try laws on having sex while a woman is menstruating, or eating certain types of food), so why should we accept what the OT says about same-sex relationships?

We already set the trajectory for this answer when we noted that all the biblical texts on homosexuality, both in the OT and NT, are negative. Yet one other observation needs to be made. Some OT laws deal with the issue of uncleanness tied to the temple and worship, which aren’t categories of sin but of appropriateness tied to worship. These aren’t moral laws, but restrictions that distinguished Israel from the surrounding polytheistic nations who were morally loose and sacrificed certain types of animals (and in some cases, children) as part of their worship. This claim shows no sensitivity to these biblical distinctions. In some cases, it ends up comparing apples to oranges since issues of uncleanness were set aside in the NT when Gentiles came into the fold (Acts 10:9–29; Eph. 2:11–22; Col. 2:13–15).

We don’t read the Bible as a flat text. It progresses, even along certain trajectories, so that with the arrival of the promise certain parts of the law are set aside (Gal. 3; Heb. 8–10).

Claim 5: Same-sex marriage doesn’t harm anyone, so it’s morally acceptable and people should have the right to choose what to do.

This is one argument that’s not so much biblical as it is logical. Often the church’s response has been that human design reveals the wrongness of homosexuality because of childbearing. A same-sex couple cannot produce a child. But what does that say about singles or couples who do not or cannot bear children? That rebuttal is fair. Marriage isn’t just about providing children, nor is sex merely for procreation. The Song of Songs lifts up love in marriage as having its own merit, as do many psalms and proverbs.

But here’s another place where surfacing gender in its distinction matters. In Genesis 1 and 2, God’s creation of male and female as a complementary pair—a pairing of another person like me but not the same gender, both made in God’s image—is seen as part of God’s design. That image involves both male and female. Marriage depicts their mutual cooperation in a designed diversity to steward God’s creation. This is seen as creation’s pinnacle since it is the context in which God calls us to manage the world well. Part of that creation design is about the nurturing of future people, where respect for each gender is entailed and appreciated.

I ask a hard question now sincerely: how is respect and appreciation for both genders enhanced, affirmed, and modeled in same-sex marriage? It doesn’t even have the potential for showing it. In a somewhat ironic sense given our desire to be politically correct, same-sex marriage is discriminatory, for only one gender counts in the relationship.

Nevertheless, people do have the right to choose whom they live with and are morally responsible before God for their choices. In the end he will judge us—heterosexual or homosexual—for how we’ve lived in these areas, regardless of our national laws. The church’s plea has been motivated not by hate or fear, but out of a genuine belief that how we choose to live in this most basic of relationships affects our society for good or ill. So we should choose wisely, both individually and as a people. For those who trust Scripture, this means walking in line with the design and standards God says are best for love and flourishing.

Claim 6: The ancient world didn’t understand genuine same-sex love, so this is a new category to consider.

Apparently neither Jesus nor Paul nor even God the Father—who inspired Scripture—recognized this potential category. But this claim ignores how widespread same-sex relationships were in the ancient world. Not all of them were abusive or exercises of raw social power. This is a classic example of “chronological snobbery,” which C. S. Lewis described as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited” (Surprised by Joy, 206), and which his friend Owen Barfield explained as the belief that, intellectually, humanity “languished for countless generations in the most childish errors on all sorts of crucial subjects until it was redeemed by some simple scientific dictum of the last century” (History in English Words, 154).

Such a claim drastically underestimates the options ancient life presented, and it ignores the fact that ancient culture fairly uniformly rejected the idea of same-sex marriage. This point is important for understanding Paul’s inclusion of such relationships in the category of porneia (Rom. 1:26–27; see also Jesus–Matt. 15:19). The infidelity in view isn’t just to another person, but to the complementary divine design of man and woman in God’s image.

Something Sacred and Profound 

Paying serious attention the trajectory of Scripture—even if it aims to be monogamous and loving—doesn’t open the door to affirming same-sex marriage. In fact, it does the opposite. 

Divine revelation gives us every indication there is something sacred about God’s image being male and female, and something profound about marriage between a man and a woman (Eph. 5:32)—something that makes marriage unique among all human relationships.

by Darrell Bock at July 27, 2015 05:00 AM

July 26, 2015

Roads from Emmaus

From “Membership” to Ministry: Feeding the Five Thousand

Feast of St. Paraskeva / Eighth Sunday of Matthew, July 26, 2015 Galatians 3:23-4:5; Matthew 14:14-22 Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. We are all familiar with this account from the Gospels of ... READ MORE ›

The post From “Membership” to Ministry: Feeding the Five Thousand appeared first on Roads from Emmaus.

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at July 26, 2015 11:36 PM

Talking space →

Earlier this afternoon, Jason Snell and I sat down to talk about New Horizon's Pluto discoveries, a newly-discovered Earth-like planet and why space is back in the news.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 26, 2015 10:45 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Ministry and Mission [Awakening Faith]

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)

Our Lord Jesus Christ appointed his apostles to be guides and teachers of the world and stewards of his divine mysteries. He asked them to shine out like lamps to cast their light not only on the Jews, but on every country under the sun and on people settled in distant lands. These holy men became the pillars of truth, and Jesus said that he was “sending them just as the Father had sent him” (John 17:18).

These words make clear the dignity of the apostolate and the glory of the power given to them, but they also give them a hint about the methods they are to adopt in their apostolic mission. For if Christ sent out his intimate disciples this way, just as the Father had sent him, then it was necessary for their own mission that they understood exactly why the Father had sent the Son. So Christ interpreted his mission for them, one time saying, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

From what he said they could see that it was their vocation to call sinners to repentance, to heal those who were sick whether in body or spirit, to seek in all things to do not their own will but the will of him who sent them, and as far as possible to save the world by their teaching. And we find his holy disciples striving for these ends. We need only to look at the Acts of the Apostles or Paul’s epistles to see them on this mission.

Cyril of Alexandria

 

Awakening Faith Devotional

Awakening Faith: Daily Devotionals from the Early Church

by James Stuart Bell and Patrick J. Kelly

Buy it Today:

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by ZA Blog at July 26, 2015 09:00 AM

July 25, 2015

CrossFit Naptown

In Case You Missed – CFNT on the Monon

Sunday’s Workout:

Open Gym 11:00am-12:00pm and 12:00pm-1:00pm

 

 

 

The Big Reveal!

 

The announcement has arrived! We are getting ready to expand the NapTown Fitness brand with the addition of CrossFit NapTown – Monon Trail. The location is right on the Monon Trail in Broadripple (the south side of the B Rip i.e. SoBro) and we are excited to be adding this location to the family.

“Wow this is great…but wait, what does this mean for me?”  

Yes we know you are asking yourself this.

The answer is:

  • An even bigger, even more wonderful community for you to embrace
  • Another beautiful space for you to visit & utilize with your CFNT Unlimited Membership
  • And all of the things you have grown to know and love about CFNT will stay the same!

 

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We do not have all of the answers just yet but stay tuned for more information to come and feel free to ask any questions you may have, info@crossfitnaptown.com will field them all and we will answer as best we can!

 

Community Intro from CCS&C on Vimeo.

by Anna at July 25, 2015 08:55 PM

Market Urbanism

Who Are America’s Progressive Developers?

Miami, FL

1. I delved into finance this week for Forbes, writing articles about how Chicago’s junk-bond rating is already causing higher borrowing costs; and about how Dodd-Frank, 5 years after passage, is killing community banks.

2. Starting in a few weeks, and continuing for as long as I’m on the road, I will occasionally add to a new Market Urbanism series called “America’s Progressive Developers.” This will profile different developers who have either built, or are planning to build, interesting projects that enliven their city. The articles will include interviews, renderings, photos and perhaps video tours of each project, so that MU readers can get an inside look at the urban construction process.

One purpose of this series is to help change the negative perception towards developers. As readers know, anti-development sentiment within U.S. cities has for decades created numerous problems, including high housing prices, poor job growth, and environmental harm. These are problems that even liberal urban activists, who have driven the sentiment, are starting to recognize. For example, Gabriel Metcalf—president of the San Francisco-based planning think tank SPUR—wrote a CityLab essay yesterday about how NIMBYism has pushed out the city’s poor. But this does not mean that attitudes towards developers themselves have changed. Many are still seen as greedy and imposing, and their buildings as monuments to crass consumerism, by the very residents who benefit from proximity to such buildings.

It was not always this way; many large-scale developers were once seen as visionary city builders. For example, Coral Gables, the Miami suburb where I’ve stayed, is a master-planned community that was built in the 1920s by real estate mogul George Merrick. Its downtown became a tasteful mixed-use neighborhood that turned him into a local celebrity, and now one outside area has been named after him. Other developers during this period in America were lauded for building advanced skyscrapers, mansions, shopping centers and civic spaces. Many developers still build such things, but are nonetheless vilified because of the altered public sentiment, which is often rooted in class and racial conflict. This is something that I would like to change, by documenting how America’s developers have helped cities.

So what do I mean by developers who are “progressive”? This is a word that has become loaded, but I will use it to describe those who are forward-thinking, innovative, and whose work demonstrates an appreciation for cities. In this respect, almost anyone who develops in a city is somewhat progressive, by creating jobs and improving lots. But my column aims to profile those who are taking the extra step. This could include developers whose structures are architecturally interesting, integrate well with public space, emphasize historic preservation, present a new consumer option, or have advanced environmental technology. I could also cover projects that have had an outsized impact in revitalizing neighborhoods, even including large corporate ones. And I am not above profiling suburban developers, if they are doing something interesting. All of these development types can play important roles in any metro area.

Along with hopefully changing the perception about developers, I am also doing this series simply because I like meeting city builders. There have been countless times when, like other urbanists, I have walked through a city, seen an interesting project, and wondered—“how did this get here?” I aim to answer this by having the developers behind such projects explain how they did market research, attained financing, overcame political hurdles, and ultimately got something built.

This series will be interconnected with my cross-country trip, so I’ll seek out these progressive developers in every place I visit. If you are following my travels, and know of someone I should meet, drop me a line!

by Scott Beyer at July 25, 2015 12:57 AM

July 24, 2015

Breathing new life into an iPod classic →

I've thought about doing this with mine, and Jason may have just talked me into it.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 24, 2015 09:15 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Email Eric for Tickets!

Saturday’s Workout:

Team Strong Man:

You will be put on teams of 3 or 4 to tackle odd implements like strong people do. Come on in and play with these cool pieces of equipment like sleds, tires, and more!

 

 

Get Your Tickets for the Indian’s Game!

It is here! The 2015 edition of the CFNT Indianapolis Indians game outing!!

Who: anyone and everyone at CFNT plus any family, friends, siggy others that you want to bring along!

What: a community outing to a baseball game at Victory Field for the Indianapolis Indians. there will also be a cookout before the game that all attending or not attending the game can join in on, some food and beverages will be provided for this along with some potluck style! *there will be a community day also this day to bring in friends or family in the morning for CrossFit classes, bring along anyone you know who may be hesitant to try out CFNT*

Where: Pre Game is at CFNT followed by the game at Victory Field on the corner of West Street and Maryland Street in downtown Indy (right by the big ole’ JW Marriot)

When: August 15th, pre game 5:00pm followed by the game at 7:00pm

Why: because we want to bring people in the community together outside of classes. Be prepared to meet people that you don’t know in the community and see your friends in real people clothes when they are not gross and sweaty.

How: email eric@crossfitnaptown.com to reserve a ticket (or reserve a bunch of tickets for the WHO people above) and say how you would like to pay (charge your account or bring in cash or a check) tickets are $16 each

 

by Anna at July 24, 2015 08:26 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

What Happened at WDS 2015? Unfiltered Attendee Reviews, Round I

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Every year after WDS we receive hundreds of blog posts, reviews, and writeups from attendees. Here’s the first round of unfiltered opinions on a variety of topics related to the whole event. Check them out and decide for yourself what WDS is all about!

***

This is just the first round of attendee writeups. If you haven’t sent yours in to us yet, email it to concierge@wds.fm. Thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far!

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by Chris Guillebeau at July 24, 2015 07:44 PM

Practically Efficient

We ship with pretty decent video software

Dr. Brian May explains how we're able to see depth in images of Pluto, despite the fact that New Horizons only has one camera lens.

It's based on a simple photoshop hack that our brains perfected long ago—in real-time no less. Our brain can natively import two HD video streams, stitch them into one, then export them as a single live feed of the world around us. Continuously, without any buffering.

I guess we've managed to do more with our star dust than Pluto.

by Eddie Smith at July 24, 2015 05:14 PM

The Ontological Geek

Heroes of the Storm and designing for team play

HotS is designed to facilitate positive team play, but still falls short in providing a non-toxic environment for most of its players.

by Oscar Strik at July 24, 2015 05:06 PM

Reformedish

No Prophecy, Just Prescription: Solid Theology (Patheos Future of Evangelicalism)

future of evangelicalismI got asked to participate in a panel of sorts over at Patheos on the Future of Religion in America in the next 5 years. There’s actually a great line-up you should go check out (esp, Trueman, Moore, Meador, Dyck, and Wedgeworth’s pieces). Anyway, here’s the beginning of my two cents. 

When I was asked to weigh in on what I judged to be the future of Evangelicalism, my first thought was, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet, I’m just a shepherd of college students.” Who am I to make such weighty prognostications? By nature I’m averse to engaging in any hard futurology — sounds a bit close to astrology. Beyond that, given the increasingly volatile nature of American discourse around religion and the rapidly changing theo-political scene (Obergefell and its rainbow penumbra), we’re dealing with shifting variables whose slopes are slipperier by the day, making mapping a trajectory with any certainty a perilous proposition.

All the same, I’ll hazard a few words about the future of Evangelicalism, not as predictions, but as prescriptions for facing the changes we see all around us and their fallout. From where I stand, I’d say there’s one main priority Evangelicalism needs to set itself, if it’s going to survive the next few years let alone be salt and light for the gospel: prioritizing solid theology.

You can read the rest of my specific article here.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at July 24, 2015 04:34 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Sometimes It Doesn’t Work, But You Still Have to Try Anyway

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You always hear about the people who took a chance that paid off. You always hear the try, try again stories—those case studies of overcoming what seems to be an insurmountable challenge.

You know how the story goes: so-and-so encountered failure a dozen times, but on the thirteenth attempt, they made it!

Then so-and-so says, “Thanks, everyone. I’m so glad I kept going. Victory was never guaranteed, but look at me now.”

Sometimes, though, you head into a situation knowing that there’s a high likelihood of failure. I’m not talking about the possibility of failure, I’m talking about odds that would make a free-wheeling Las Vegas roulette player back away from the table and head straight for the buffet.

And the costs of failure aren’t insignificant, either. You know that if you fail in this attempt, you won’t just be able to “move on.” It will be very, very hard.

Tough odds, real costs. Yet you go anyway.

All along the way, you feel a sense of foreboding. You sense the anxiety and nothing can stop it. But you also sense a mission of sorts, and that feels good.

What did the kamikaze pilots think about as they piloted to certain death? They were willing to die for a flag and a cause, the commitment that any soldier makes when he signs up. But they were so young—could they really understand the true cost?

Perhaps your odds aren’t quite as bad, nor are your costs as high, as those guys. Having some historical perspective helps.

Whatever the situation, it’s good to have a secondary reason for attempting a insurmountable challenge. The first reason is obvious, but since failure is so likely, it helps to dig deeper and find something else.

And what do you find? You find that you want to do everything you can. You want to be able to look back and say, “Well, that was very, very hard, but I saw it through and didn’t hide from the challenge.”

You want to prove to yourself that you’re not a failure even if you’ve failed.

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Image: Thomas

by Chris Guillebeau at July 24, 2015 04:27 PM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

TGC Australia Celebrates National Launch

More than 1,000 people gathered in the Brisbane City Town Hall last night to formally launch The Gospel Coalition Australia (TGCA). Our website has been live since April with more than 100,000 visitors.

“It was a privilege to be there,” said Marcus Reeves, senior pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Canberra. “I felt energized by the expression of a positive vision for our country. I feel the timing is right for something like this. There’s a great need for gospel clarity, but also gospel action.”

Gary Millar, the chairman of the Council, introduced TGCA, explaining that Australians are beginning to see the need for Reformed evangelicals to work together. This is just the beginning, he noted. “We’re working out how to serve the church best,” Millar remarked. “We can see multiple ways in which we potentially might serve the church, but we don’t want to duplicate things. We’re aware that the needs of each state and territory are very different.”

Millar urged those gathered to visit the website and to use the growing body of resources there. Members of the Council led in prayer for the nation, asking God for revitalization and renewal across our land, for peace, for growth of gospel ministries, and for many to know the saving work of Jesus.

Attendees joined together to sing praises to God with rousing renditions of “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “Man of Sorrows.”

Don Carson, president of TGC in the United States, preached on Galatians 5:16–26. He explained that the Christian life costs nothing and everything—it costs nothing to receive salvation, but it costs everything to follow Jesus.

This week Christian leaders from all over Australia have gathered in Brisbane for TGCA’s National Leaders Consultation to discuss the direction of TGCA and how it might serve Australian Christians.

Don West, principal of Trinity Theological College in Perth, Western Australia, said: “Brisbane rose to the occasion with great enthusiasm. I spoke to someone who expressed that this was a significant occasion for the gospel in Brisbane. Perhaps there are some Christians in Brisbane are now thinking, ‘I didn’t know there were that many people who believed the gospel like I believe the gospel.’”

TGCA is not a subsidiary of TGC in the United States, but has its own governing council. TGCA’s Council consists of Christian leaders from around Australia, including: C. S. Tang (senior pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Sydney); Alistair Bain (senior minister of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Hobart); Peter Adam (former principal of Ridley College and vicar of St. Jude’s in Melbourne); Paul Harrington (rector of Holy Trinity Adelaide); Rory Shiner (senior pastor of Providence Church in Western Australia); Gary Millar (principal of Queensland Theological College); Bill Salier (principal of Youthworks College, Sydney); David Starling (lecturer at Morling College, Sydney); Andrew Reid (lead pastor of Holy Trinity Doncaster, Melbourne); Dave McDonald (church planter and pastor, Canberra); Rick Lewers (bishop in the Armidale Diocese); Neil Chambers (senior pastor of Bundoora Presbyterian Church, Melbourne); and Ray Galea (pastor of the Multicultural Bible Ministry in Sydney).

by Tess Holgate at July 24, 2015 11:46 AM

Table Titans

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I have a friend who favors playing Bards, not so much for their combat abilities, but for the benefits having a Bard in the party entails.

For instance, my character was a Half-Orc who had incredible Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence, but only 8 Charisma. Because of this, my character…

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July 24, 2015 07:01 AM

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Can We Kill Human Beings If They Are Not Persons?

For the past two weeks a pair of undercover videos have revealed executives from Planned Parenthood admitting that the abortion provider sells intact fetal body parts. That revelation shocked many people, but what was not surprising was that pro-abortion advocates would rush to defend both Planned Parenthood and the killing of the unborn.

A prime example comes from The New Republic, where Dr. Jen Gunter takes issue with the fetal parts being referred to as “baby parts”:

These are not “baby parts.” Whether a woman has a miscarriage or an abortion, the tissue specimen is called “products of conception.” In utero, i.e. during pregnancy, we use the term “embryo” from fertilization to 10 weeks gestation and “fetus” from 10 weeks to birth. The term baby is medically incorrect as it doesn’t apply until birth. Calling the tissue “baby parts” is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize an embryo or fetus.

Gunter is a doctor, not an English major, so I blame the editors at The New Republic for not catching the obvious error. We can assume that Dr. Gunter does not know that anthropomorphize means “to ascribe human form or attributes to (an animal, plant, material object, etc.).” Obviously, being an OB/GYN, Dr. Gunter knows that whether we use the term embryo, fetus, or “product of conception”, what the human woman is carrying in her human body is human. You can’t anthropomorphize a human by ascribing human attributes to a human.

We can assume she is simply misusing the term because otherwise it would mean that Dr. Gunter thinks that the offspring of a human (the term fetus means “offspring”) is something other than human. No one could make it through medical school and be that ignorant of basic biology, so that can’t be what she meant. Also, she surely didn’t think Planned Parenthood was selling researchers “non-human tissue.”

I suspect what Dr. Gunter was intending to convey was that the use of the term “baby parts” implies that the fetuses are not only humans (which no sane person can disagree with) but also persons. By using the term “baby parts” we pro-lifers are, I believe Gunter meant, personalizing the fetus by ascribing the attributes of personhood to a human being in this early stage of development.

That’s a view that many pro-abortion advocates hold. Which raises an interesting question: Not every person is a human being, but is every human being a person? 

Rights and Non-Human Persons

Examples abound of non-human persons: Christians believe that the Godhead consists of “three Persons of one substance”; U.S. Supreme Court justices have ruled that corporations are “artificial persons”; fans of Star Trek argue that androids like Data and aliens like Spock are all (fictional) persons; and the Spanish Parliament even ruled that great apes are “legal persons.” 

Clearly, being a member of the human race is not necessary to be considered a person. But should all human beings be considered persons? Historically, the answer has been a resounding “no.” Slaves, women, infants, Jews, and “foreigners” all share a common history of being denied legal or moral standing as persons, despite being recognized as humans. The judgment of recent generations, however, has without exception concluded that denying personhood to these members of the human family is a great moral evil. I have no doubt that future generations will judge our denial of personhood to humans in the womb just as harshly. 

Yet while recognition of personhood is the foundation of certain positive rights, it should not be required for a basic negative right: the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law. In other words, people cannot claim a right to kill you simply because they will not recognize you as a person. 

Rights—whether positive (imposing an obligation on others) or negative (obliging others to refrain from certain acts)—should be assigned based on a subject’s ability to respond as a moral being. For example, a Belgian Sheepdog has no moral accountability and thus no moral obligations to me as a person. If he eats my hamster, I can’t fault him for not respecting my right to private property. But since I am morally accountable, I have an obligation not to cruelly torture and kill the dog for depriving me of my pet rodent. 

Non-Personal Human Beings?

Likewise, human beings at the earliest stages of development have not developed the moral accountability to be assigned positive rights. For this reason some thinkers, like philosopher Daniel Dennett, believe that a class of human beings exists that are not yet persons. Let’s call this class of homo sapiens “non-personal human beings.” 

For the sake of argument, let us concede that certain humans are not persons, just as certain persons are not humans. To be sure, human persons are no less human beings than any manner of non-human person. By definition, being a human being is essential to being a human person. 

It is one thing to kill non-personal human beings (such as human embryos), and another to kill human persons. But we cannot kill a human person without killing the human being as well. In fact, you cannot kill any type of person unless it is embodied as a living, biological being. The Spanish may be able to kill great apes, but lawyers cannot kill a corporation. What is being killed is not the person but the being 

This distinction is important because those who argue that it is acceptable to kill non-personal humans base their rationale on the claim that what matters is not the being (the living biological organism) but the personhood (a set of functional criteria such as consciousness or rationality). This view has become a common perspective in secular bioethics. 

Should We Be Able to Kill Bioethicists in Their Sleep?

Most reasonable people—a category that doesn’t always include bioethicists—would be horrified if we followed these views to their logical outcomes. Ethicist Joseph Fletcher, for example, believed that humans with an IQ below forty might not be persons, and those with an IQ below twenty are definitely not persons. Princeton philosopher Peter Singer believes that since patients with Alzheimer’s and infants up to the age of twenty-four months are not persons, it is not wrong to kill them. Not surprisingly, when you allow intellectuals to define personhood, they will attempt to establish a criterion based on intellect, reason, and consciousness. 

Although they intend to include themselves within the lines of demarcation, they are not wholly successful. For instance, if these philosophers were to fall into a deep sleep they would cease to meet the very criteria that they have established for personhood. Using their own arguments, it should be ethically sound to kill them before they wake up. 

They may protest that they were, in fact, persons before they fell asleep. But so are the “hopelessly comatose.” Yes, but the difference, they’ll counter, is that they’ll meet the criteria again once they wake up. This is certainly true, but if they are killed in their sleep they won’t ever wake up, so that point becomes irrelevant. What does it matter that a human being was once a person or will once again be a person? If it is morally acceptable to kill non-human persons at all, what matters is their status right now

(Francis Beckwith and other scholars have used similar examples to demolish the ‘functionalism’ argument, which defends the killing of “non-personal” humans.) 

The reason it is wrong to kill philosophy professors in their sleep is the same reason it is wrong to destroy embryos and fetuses: Moral people do not kill innocent human beings. Not all persons are human beings, of course, and it may possibly be the case that not all human beings are persons. But all human beings—whether persons or non-persons—are equally human; this is not a mere tautology, but a scientifically verifiable fact. 

Semantic Games to Justify the Killing

Dr. Gunter claims that pro-lifers are using medically incorrect language to distort the facts about abortion. But Gunter and other advocates for embryo and fetal destruction are the one’s playing semantic games. They should simply admit they believe it is acceptable to kill some human beings because human beings do not have, per se, intrinsic worth or an inherent right not to be killed. 

They should also stop making the ridiculous claim that their opinions on personhood are based on science (when did metaphysics become an empirical science?) and should instead employ historical arguments to defend their position. History, after all, is filled with examples of people justifying the “termination” of other human beings. If abortion advocates want to justify the killing of certain groups of human beings, they can find a sufficient rationalization somewhere in the history of humanity—there’s no need to make the argument personal. 

by Joe Carter at July 24, 2015 05:49 AM

Refugees or Missionaries? Responding to Cultural Hostility and Persecution

One of the fundamental reasons we read Scripture is to train our minds to run in biblical ruts. As Christians, we want our imaginations to be shaped and molded by the narratives of the Bible, both the big story of God’s mission to rescue the world from sin and death through Jesus, and the smaller narratives within the big story that shed light on our circumstances. Preaching through the book of Acts recently at our church, our pastors have been struck by how relevant it is for our present circumstances. Of course, not everything in the book is prescriptive. But God even gives us Acts’ descriptive passages to establish patterns for our encouragement and to clue us in on the stories he likes to tell so that we know how to live faithfully in our own day.

Imagining the Aftershocks

The first verses of Acts 8 provide a great example of the kind of pattern I have in mind. In the aftershock of Stephen’s martyrdom by mob, a general persecution against the church in Jerusalem breaks out. The result of this persecution is a scattering, a diaspora of Jewish Christians throughout Judea and Samaria (8:1). The young Saul, execution witness and execution approver, is moving from house to house and dragging men and women to prison. He’s a church-ravaging rage monster (8:3; cf. Acts 26:11, “in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”) People lose their homes. People lose their jobs. Families are split up, as one spouse is hauled away to jail. A truly awful situation, one that is familiar to many of our brothers and sisters around the world. These Jewish Christians are refugees, exiles.

Now, I’ve never been in that kind of circumstance. But as I prepared to preach this passage earlier this year, I spent some time trying to imagine what kind of temptations I might be experiencing if I were them.

For example, if I were in their shoes, I’d be tempted to blame Stephen: 

“Why’d he have to mouth off that way (‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit!’)? Why couldn’t he have tried dialogue and discussion, instead of insults and pointed words? Did he really have to resort to name-calling? I mean, his actions didn’t just affect him; look at what they did to my family.”

Or I’d be tempted to grumble and complain about the injustice of it all: 

“We were just trying to help people. We were seeking their good. We were seeking their eternal good by calling them to turn from the suicide of sin and embrace the joy of forgiveness (Acts 2:38; 3:26). We were the messengers of everlasting joy. We were calling them to eternal pleasures at God’s right hand (Ps. 16:11), the deepest satisfaction of their souls. And even if they couldn’t recognize that, we also sought their temporal good through healings and generosity (Acts 2:46; 5:12–16). We were good neighbors, good friends, good co-workers. This isn’t fair. If we do good works, people should see them and glorify God, not drag us to prison and ruin our lives.”

Finally, I’d be tempted to despair:

“It’s hopeless. There’s no way it’s ever going to get better. It looked hopeful for a while, when those 3,000 people came aboard (Acts 2:41). And even after the terrifying ordeal with Ananias and Sapphira, believers were added to the Lord (Acts 5:14). Sure, it got a little intense sometimes with the Sanhedrin, but wiser heads always prevailed, and we were growing in number because the Word of God was increasing. But now, this is a whole different level. This church-ravaging rage monster named Saul—he’s never gonna stop. He’s just going to keep going from house to house to house and carry our friends and family away. This is hopeless.”

Acting Like Missionaries, Not Refugees

Those would be my temptations if I were scattered because of persecution: blaming the loud-mouthed preacher who got me there, complaining about the injustice of it all, despairing about the future. That’s what it means to be an exile, a refugee, right?

What’s amazing in Acts 8 is that these ordinary Christians (verse 1 tells us the apostles weren’t scattered) don’t travel from place to place doing any of those things. Those who are scattered go about “preaching the word” (8:4), the same word that caused them to be kicked out of their homes. As one commentator puts it, they don’t act like refugees; they act like missionaries. They don’t act like they got kicked out; they act like they got sent out.

How Will We Act if Acts 8 Happens to Us? 

This short passage is a challenge to me in these present days. Of course, things in America aren’t nearly as bad as Acts 7–8 . . . yet. There’s no official persecution targeting Christians. But hostility to the Christian faith is increasing, and so Acts 8 confronts me with what I will do if and when that hostility and opposition comes to rest on me.

For example, in the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, many of us who work for churches and Christian non-profits are concerned about the fate of our organizations, given the possible threats to our tax-exemption. When the Solicitor General of the United States says “It’s going to be an issue,” and dissenting Justices wave a warning flag about religious liberty, we have no choice but to take them seriously. So what will I do if Bethlehem College and Seminary, where I teach, loses its tax-exempt status and is forced to close?

But we don’t even need to focus on religious organizations. Many Christians in the workplace already walk on eggshells at their place of employment, lest anyone discover they believe what the Bible says about men and women and marriage and sexuality. They know that they could easily be fired if an activist co-worker or the outraged mob sets their sights on them. So we all have to ask ourselves: If that should happen—if I should lose my job because I refuse to bow the knee to the cultural idols of our day—what will be my demeanor? Will it throw me into despair or blame or bitterness at the injustice? Or, like the Christians in Acts 8, will I see it as an opportunity for even greater fruitfulness?

Jesus Is Real 

My fellow pastor, Jonathan Parnell, is always eager to remind our people that “Jesus is real.” He’s more real than anyone or anything else in reality. You don’t view your forced exile as a new set of marching orders unless you really believe Jesus is real. And not just that he’s real but that, by his design, hostility, opposition, and persecution is simply another pathway to gospel fruitfulness.

O great God, make me to remember Jesus is real.

by Joe Rigney at July 24, 2015 05:02 AM

Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square

Is there any lonelier occupation than that of the Christian intellectual? This species sits between two different bodies, both of which struggle to trust one another: (1) the church, anchored in the Word, and (2) the academy, anchored in credentialed expertise.   

The existential loneliness of the Christian intellectual shouldn’t obscure the fact that this strange species does yet endure, even thrive. In the postwar era, numerous figures attained eminence for their public work. One of the best of this brave band was Richard John Neuhaus, the famed editor of the journal First Things, long the gold standard of religious engagement with the American polis

Incisive New Biography 

Neuhaus (1936–2009) is the subject of a readable and incisive new biography by Randy Boyagoda titled Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square. Boyagoda, who serves as professor of American studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, traces Neuhaus's life chronologically, ranging over his childhood as a conservative Lutheran pastor's son, his iconoclastic seminary experience as a social justice proponent, his early career as a New York City pastor to a humble congregation, and his eventual ascendance as one of the leading public intellectuals in America.

Neuhaus had a knack for ending up in the center of things, whether that be a Martin Luther King, Jr. march, a colloquy with Cardinal Ratzinger, or the presidential administration of George W. Bush. Bush famously said Neuhaus helped him “articulate these things,” meaning religious truths bearing on political life (357–58). Neuhaus surely emboldened Bush's pro-life convictions: “Every child welcomed to life and protected by law” was the elegant language Neuhaus helped craft for the president. Their interaction led to many salutary effects, though in other areas the president's folksy ways persisted.

Boyagoda's rich and well-researched study left me with three main reflections.

1. Neuhaus’s career reminds us that institutions are people.

In other words, institutions are only as vibrant and consequential as the people who lead them. Everywhere Neuhaus served, he enlivened the place and expanded its reach. This was as true at St. John the Evangelist in Brooklyn as it was at First Things. Neuhaus had that quality unique to a certain few that allowed him to see unprioritized needs and then magnetically draw others to the cause. This ability was not unrelated to the power of the pen, a gift Neuhaus possessed to the full (398–99).

In our time, if we are to build lasting institutions that serve and perhaps renew aspects of the body politic, we must have leaders who can animate those institutions. It's easy to snipe at the Religious Right, but it's harder to put skin in the game and actually lead something. Neuhaus was part of a generation who knew this truth at a perhaps subconscious level and acted on it with alacrity. His was the era, after all, of born-again Chuck Colson, swashbuckling William Buckley, and evangelist-statesman Billy Graham.

2. Neuhaus’s program calls us not to hide our light.

There’s a discomfiting pattern that sometimes plays out with Christian leaders: they start solidly, then become famous, then disown much of their earlier platform. The endpoint seems to suggest the doctrine was nothing more than an escalator to fame.

Neuhaus enjoyed his celebrity, to be sure. He could be unctuous in his dealings with White House officials, for example (350). Neuhaus loved the light, but he also loved the spotlight. He did not, however, shrink back from broadcasting stubbornly countercultural convictions. His statements on the pro-life cause never wavered in their intensity. He doggedly defended religious freedom. In The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (1984) he presented a brilliant case for religion as a public good, a case we still need today (see 231–47).

Of course, Neuhaus's intellectual framework had splinters. It was sturdy, impressive in construction, but it invited regular controversy. Boyagoda gives little attention to Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), Neuhaus's joint venture with Colson, but it drew criticism from all sides. Neuhaus, raised a Lutheran but a late convert to Catholicism, persisted in his belief that the two traditions could collaborate. In 2015, the great theological questions remain, but evangelicals and Catholics have found a lot of common cause in recent days in the public square. Neuhaus's legacy with ECT may not be full communion, but neither is it any less than friendly cobelligerence.      

3. Neuhaus shows us that serious intellectual investment can pay off handsomely.

We need Neuhaus, just as we need Carl F. H. Henry, and just as we need the Inklings. The church too easily loses sight of the power of the intellect. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps because Scripture is true and good and because the gospel is simple in formulation, we can be tricked into embracing an intellectually malnourished Christianity. Honey, I shrunk the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Even readers who don’t hold Neuhaus’s full doctrinal convictions will come away from this biography freshly impressed by the man’s example. Christians hungry for models of the the activist-thinker discover one in its pages. We need to remember how influential First Things became, for example; it helped fund the policies of the nucleus of global power, the American presidency (360–62). Though we know from the history of ideas such intellectual investment can pay off immensely, we sometimes forget how high the stakes are. Neuhaus calls us back to the fray, back to intellectual engagement, back to confessional activism.

Measuring the Man

The man was not perfect, of course, and neither is this biography. The chapter titles run a bit effusive (e.g., “A Jackrabbit-Shooting Cisco Kid Turns Arbiter Elegentarium”), and Boyagoda shows little love lost for the doctrinally conservative Lutherans Neuhaus fought at Concordia (74–76). Sometimes one wishes for more discussion of major matters like the molestation scandals, or the Neuhaus-Buckley interaction.

These are mostly quibbles, though. Boyagoda takes the measure of a man whose career defies easy characterization. He succeeds in his task. In doing so, he helps the different elements of his readership—including gospel-centered evangelicals—find in Neuhaus the workings of a model of the thinking life. Neuhaus’s program shows us the value of deep thinking and persuasive communication. In a cut-flower civilization, he saw that one first had to revive the lily. Only then could one gild it.

Unflinchingly Courageous 

Richard John Neuhaus presents us with a quirky, sometimes difficult, but unflinchingly courageous man. We need this example, and others. Many Christians of varying vocations—pastoral, political, and philosophical among them—may feel isolated when they stand in the public square on behalf of the permanent things. If this is the case, they can know that in terms of historical precedent, but far more in terms of Christic union, they may be momentarily lonely, but are never alone.  


Randy Boyagoda. Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square. Colorado Springs, CO: Image Books, 2015. 480 pp. $30.00. 

by Owen Strachan at July 24, 2015 05:02 AM

Fighting Fear When Violence Strikes Close to Home

I was going to a play date for the first time at my Muslim friend’s house. I’ve never felt afraid before, but today was different. What if I was wrong about her intentions?

It had been nearly one week after the horrible shooting in Chattanooga. Many here are asking the typical questions. Why did this happen? How could this happen? But those aren’t exactly the right questions when we remember our world is deeply fallen, captive to sin and death. This is a temporary place. Sin abounds and it’s only the grace of God that holds it back in each of us.

Who is capable of being a murderer? Any of us. We are all born with a sin nature. We all need a Savior to rescue us from that. We all need hope. We all need the gospel.

Fear Now Abounds 

I am saddened because a Muslim extremist, who lived in my city, grew up in my small suburb of Hixson, a person I likely shopped alongside, committed a terrible act of violence. No one saw it coming, not even his family. But as the investigation reveals more and more of the mind of this young man, we learn he was on the slippery slope of drugs and alcohol. He was shamed by a DUI arrest. He was seemingly desperate enough to google the word “martyrdom.” He was looking for a way to absolve his sin, and he found an extremist on the web ready to tell him how.

Did anyone ever take the time to share the good news of the gospel with him? To tell him that Christ took all our sin? That Christ loves us and died for any who will believe? That there is no shame or condemnation or weight of sin for those who believe because Jesus took them all away? If those were the answers he found, things may have turned out differently.

Fear now abounds. Muslims in our community are afraid. People here are choosing to believe words arising from fear and hate. Instead of seeking to understand, a well-known public voice said we should not allow Muslims to enter our country. What happened to loving others to Christ by sharing the hope we have in him? How will they hear if we don’t love? This is an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.

I work with Muslim people, helping them learn English and adjust to society in America. I love them. They are my friends. They have hopes, dreams, and desires just like me. Yet, because of all I am hearing, when it was time for me to go to my Muslim friend’s house this week, I felt afraid. If I’m feeling it, I know others are as well. The best way to handle fear is to confront it, so I had an open dialogue with my friend.

My friend attends the same mosque as the killer and his family. She is friends with the mother and family. She is saddened for them. She is saddened for the families of the people who were killed. She is also afraid to go outside. People are paying more attention to her. A police officer approached her in Walmart. He seemed friendly, but she couldn’t understand all he was saying because her English is not yet strong. Some would say these people need to leave our country, but why is she here in America? Because she was a refugee. She had to leave everything after her husband risked his life to help the U.S. military in her country. Does anyone take the time to learn this about her?

Fighting Fear 

We had a good dialogue, bringing our fears out in the open. She told me this young man was not a Muslim because real Muslims don’t use drugs. I’ve said the same about so-called Christian groups like Westboro Baptist Church. They don’t truly represent Christ.

The fact remains: all people need a Savior. All are looking for hope in different places—whether it’s my Muslim friend trying to let her good outweigh the bad in her life or my atheist friend who just tries to live a good life for the sake of humanity. What I learned about fear was this: we never need to be afraid of loving those who are different from us. “There is no fear in love,” the apostle John writes. “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Fear has to do with punishment. Because Jesus Christ absorbed all the punishment of God for us, we need never fear. Could my friend really be part of a sleeper cell ready to attack at any moment? Perhaps, but that’s unlikely. Love has never been convenient. There are risks when you love anyone, but Jesus would have us move toward others, even those who are different. His perfect love will cast out the fear inside us and in turn we will be willing to love others, especially those who need a Savior.

Risky Love  

Loving those who are different is not easy. It’s a sacrifice, but Jesus did it for us. When he came to rescue us, we were all lost in sin. We were “risky” for him, even to the point of crucifixion. Yet he entered into a world filled with filth, and willingly laid down his life in love. This is how we share Christ with those desperate for saving grace.

Remember this as you seek to love both your neighbors and your enemies: Christ died for you while you were still his enemy. We must follow in his steps and trust him as our help, our rock, our shield. He will enable us to go to hard places, to move toward hurting people. He didn’t discriminate, and neither should we.

by Angela Price at July 24, 2015 05:01 AM

Crushed

My dear sister in Christ:

I’ve been thinking a lot about you this week as the world—the Christian world in particular—explodes with outrage over the cavalier conversation of Planned Parenthood medical staffers regarding the crushing of baby bodies in the womb. I’m thinking about you because of the abortion you had before you truly took hold of Christ in a saving way, or perhaps even after. And I’m imagining every video that you see played on the news and posted on Facebook forces you to do battle, once again, with shame and regret.

I’m imagining there must be a day on the calendar that comes around every year to remind you of that day you walked into that clinic and then walked out, leaving a piece of yourself behind. It must be a day when you want to hide from the world and be sad, a day when the smells and sounds and sights come back to haunt you, a day when the enemy of your soul tempts you to believe the blood of Christ is insufficient to cover this sin. And I want you to know that I’m sad with you over the loss of all that the enemy stole from you on that day, the false promise of freedom he made to you that day, and for the accusations he has continued to hurl at you since that day, even though you have confessed and mourned over your sin. He wants to convince you that you have committed some separate class of sin when the truth is all of us have sinned in hell-worthy ways. He wants to keep you from fully accepting and operating in the forgiveness held out to you by Christ, the one who purchased it for you. He wants to keep dragging you back down into believing your record could never be wiped clean of this great wrong.

As I think of you, I also think of the apostle Paul, someone who knew what it feels like to have been complicit in crushing one who was innocent. Is this partly why he called himself the “chief of sinners”? What was it like for him to remember the day when he took care of the coats while a mob of men searched for the biggest stones they could find to hurl at Stephen, stones big enough to crush his skull? Did the crunch of Stephen’s bones breaking ring in Paul’s ears years later? Did the smell of death linger in his nostrils? Did the sight of Stephen’s bloodied and broken body return in vivid color to Paul’s mind? And did the recollection ever threaten to crush him under a load of shame?

Back in those days, when he was called Saul, though he was an expert in the law of God, his eyes had not yet been opened to see the radiance of the glory of God in the person of Christ. His ears had not been opened to hear Christ calling him to abandon his old way of life. His heart had not been made tender by the mercy of God shown to him in Christ. He describes himself and what happened this way: “Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13–14).

And perhaps this describes you too. On that day when you went for the abortion, you acted ignorantly in unbelief. You didn’t believe, on that day, that his grace would be enough to enable you to carry that child. And so you acted in that unbelief. But now, having cried out for it, you have received mercy. The grace of Jesus has overflowed so that you are awash in it. This grace is producing faith where there was once unbelief and love where there was once a selfish determination to live life on your own terms. Like Paul’s life, yours has become a display case for God’s grace toward repentant sinners. And it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

So my sister, as you watch these videos and listen in on these conversations and process the outrage and arguments, and as the weight of shame and regret becomes so heavy that you feel like you’re the one being crushed, I’m praying you will strengthen your grip on the good news of the gospel. There was one who offered himself willingly to be crushed. He was pierced. His body was broken. Why? “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). My sister, Jesus has taken the punishment you deserve on himself so you can live in peace. Because he was wounded in your place, you don’t have to go through life as a wounded woman. As you abide in Christ, you are being healed.

When your soul is in anguish over your sin, consider the anguish of another and God’s purpose in it. “It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isa. 53:5). God the Father determined that his own son would be crushed. Why? So you wouldn’t have to be. “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11). You, my repentant friend, are one of the “many.” He has taken on himself the debt you owed for sin and transferred to your account his own righteousness. And evidently, as he looks at what the crushing of his body and the anguish of his soul has accomplished in your life, and the lives of all who belong to him, he is satisfied.

Finally, my friend, as you continue to do battle with the accuser, who day and night seeks to heap condemnation on you for what you’ve done, I want to assure you that his day is coming. The day is coming when the one who lied to you and led you down that dark path will himself be crushed. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). This will not be a careful crushing, but rather a complete and final crushing. This will be the crushing that will bring all the evil of this world to its appointed end.

On that day you’ll discover that what you are taking hold of by faith now is really true—there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I’m praying you won’t have to wait until that day to experience the joy and freedom of this reality. I’m praying you will walk today as one who is fully forgiven. Because you are.

by Nancy Guthrie at July 24, 2015 05:00 AM

glandium.org

Firefox nightlies for Linux are now using Gtk+3

As of last nightly (2015-07-23), Firefox for Linux is using Gtk+3 instead of Gtk+2.

Thanks to the recent efforts of Andrew Comminos, all remaining test failures are gone and mozilla-central now defaults to Gtk+3 builds. Some jobs on treeherder are still not converted, but this will come soon (bug 1186748).

If you’ve been using elm builds for dogfooding, you should be automatically switched to standard nightlies today or tomorrow. The elm branch will be recycled to do Gtk+2 builds so that they keep working. Those builds won’t be auto-updating, so don’t use them.

by glandium at July 24, 2015 12:25 AM

July 23, 2015

The Amiga turns 30 →

Ars Technica has an eight-part series on the platform.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 23, 2015 08:51 PM

CrossFit Naptown

CrossFit Games Weekend – the CF Super Bowl

Friday’s Workout:

Strength:
15:00 to Establish Max Load
3 Front Squats + 1 Split Jerk

WOD
10 Rounds
1 Wall Climb
2 Plyo Pushups
3 Jackalopes
4 Strict Pull Ups

 

How to Watch the CrossFit Games

The remainder of the 2015 edition of the CrossFit Games kicks off today! The competition began on Wednesday with events 1 and 2 at the beach and in the Tennis Stadium. Both events were a ton of fun to watch and the weekend looks to bring the same excitement. It is the culmination of excellence in our sport, where the best of the best compete in a rigorous 4-day competition to crown the fittest man, woman, and team on Earth. There is nothing quite like watching people sweat, grunt, sprint, lift, push, pull, and fight in the same way that we do day in and day out at the gym. The weights may be heavier and the movements sometimes more technical, but at the heart of it all, they do what we do. This is an aspect that is fairly unique to our sport, the athletes and spectators do the same things, we know their pain and they know ours. We know the work and the challenge. We have made the same sweat angels, torn the same calluses, and felt the same rush at the sound of 3,2,1…Go.

I encourage you all to take a little bit of time next weekend to check out the action from the 2015 CrossFit Games. Coverage is similar to the Regional level with streaming available all weekend online. In addition to that, the Games will be available live on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on ESPN. That means the CF Games are starting to hit the big time. Here are the ESPN hours:

Friday, July 24.
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. PT, ESPN (live)

Saturday, July 25.
7 a.m. – 9 a.m. PT, ESPN2 (re-air)
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PT, ESPN (re-air)
12 p.m. – 3 p.m. PT, ESPN (live)

Sunday, July 26.
7 a.m. – 9 a.m. PT, ESPN2 (re-air)
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. PT, ESPN2 (live)
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. PT, ESPN2 (live)

Click here for the full article on how to watch the CrossFit games!

The CrossFit NapTown team at last year's CrossFit Games

by Anna at July 23, 2015 08:24 PM

NASA’s Kepler mission discovers Earth-like planet →

Huge news from the Kepler mission:

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone -- the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet -- of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

Kepler-452b is older and bigger than Earth and is 1,400 light-years away. What a crazy universe we live in.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 23, 2015 04:28 PM

Natural Running Center

Live Life With More “Vigah”!

Take The JFK/Freedom’s Run Challenge And Help Recharge […]

by NickP at July 23, 2015 03:32 PM

Crossway Blog

6 ESV Bibles You Can Take Anywhere

Portable, Durable, and Affordable

These three words are often used by someone searching for the ideal Bible that will be able to handle the wear and tear of everyday life. The ESV Bible editions highlighted below embody these four characteristics:

  1. Affordable prices starting at only $4.99
  2. Conveniently sized to carry anywhere–church, school, work, vacation, etc.
  3. Durable material options
  4. High-quality craftsmanship
    • Smyth-sewn binding–many pocket or compact editions use a glued binding to save on cost, but a sewn binding is much more durable and is featured in all of the the editions below

Keep reading to find the ESV that's right for you!


Vest Pocket New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs
Smaller than the average smartphone, this edition is convenient to carry and remarkably easy to read because it utilizes line-matching–a typesetting technique that minimizes show-through from the opposite page.

Features:

  • Size: 2.6875" x 4.33"
  • Includes the complete New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs

Available editions:


Pocket New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs
This New Testament utilizes line-matching and a single-column typesetting.

Features:

  • Size: 3.625" x 5.25"
  • Includes the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs

Available editions:


Value Compact Bible
Retaining many of the components of the original ESV Compact Bible (see below), this edition is made more affordable by not including gilded paper edges or a ribbon marker.

Features:

  • Size: 3.9375" x 6"
  • Includes the full ESV Bible text

Available editions:


Compact Bible
The variety of unique cover designs for this edition ensure that anyone can find a Bible that is right for them.

Features:

  • Size: 3.9375" x 6"
  • Includes the full ESV Bible text

Available editions:


Large Print Compact Bible
This edition combines the benefits of the ESV Compact Bible format with a larger font size.

Features:

  • Size: 4.5" x 6.5"
  • Includes the full ESV Bible text

Available editions:


UltraThin Bible
At nearly ½ inch thin, the UltraThin Bible is a durable and versatile edition for everyday use.

Features:

  • Size: 5.375" x 8.375"
  • Includes the full ESV Bible text

Available editions:

by Lizzy Jeffers at July 23, 2015 01:11 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

A Taxonomy of the Term – An Excerpt from The Pastor Theologian

In chapter 6 of their recent release The Pastor Theologian, Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson take the opportunity to explain the three categories they refer to as “Pastor Theologian.”

***

The Pastor Theologian: A Taxonomy

In the previous two chapters, we detailed the negative effects on the church that have come about through the bifurcation of the theologian and the pastor. In sum, this divorce has led to the theological anemia of the church and the ecclesial anemia of theology. What, then, might be the solution to these twin dilemmas?

Our answer, of course, is a recovery of the pastor theologian. The return of theologians to the pastorate addresses the theological anemia that has plagued pastoral ministry since the Enlightenment. This, in turn, provides a vital and now-missing resource for deepening the theological integrity of the people of God and, most importantly, anchoring mature Christian ethics. And likewise, the return of pastors to the theological task helps to inject an ecclesial voice into theological conversations, thus pulling Christian theology back into its native orbit of the church.

But what is a pastor theologian anyway? Of course, every pastor is the primary theologian of his congregation. And so in one sense, every pastor is a pastor theologian. But true as this may be, such broad definitions ultimately render the identity of the pastor theologian meaningless. (If every day is a holiday, no day is a holiday.) While we certainly agree that every pastor must (indeed, inevitably does!) provide theological leadership to his local congregation, the aim of our book is not to insist that every pastor must be a pastor theologian. As stated previously, the pastoral office requires a variety of gifts and skills. In the same way that all pastors are called to preach the gospel, irrespective of whether they are uniquely gifted in evangelism, so too all pastors are called to provide theological leadership to their local congregations, irrespective of whether they are uniquely gifted in theology.

Our vision then, of the pastor theologian, is directed toward a certain subset of the pastoral community. And, indeed, this is generally in keeping with contemporary notions of the pastor theologian. In the common vernacular, the term pastor theologian is primarily used to refer to those within the pastoral community who have unique theological interests and gifting. For many, the term refers to a pastor whose study is filled with reference books. For others, the term refers to a pastor who writes a theological blog or publishes sermons. For others, it refers to a pastor who has a PhD or who has a certain kind of preaching ministry (namely, a theological one). And for many, it simply refers to a really smart pastor.

These current conceptions of the pastor theologian — however legitimate — are insufficient for the sort of ecclesial and theological recovery we have in mind. A fresh vision is needed. Toward this end, we propose here a return to an ancient vision of the pastor theologian — the sort of pastor theologian who not only engages with theology as an end-user, but who also constructs and disseminates theology for the broader church.

To clarify our vision of the pastor theologian, we propose in this chapter a threefold taxonomy of the pastor theologian: the pastor theologian as local theologian, the pastor theologian as popular theologian, and the pastor theologian as ecclesial theologian.
The local theologian is a pastor theologian who constructs theology for the laity of his local congregation.
The popular theologian is a pastor theologian who provides theological leadership to Christian laity beyond his own congregation.
And the ecclesial theologian is a pastor theologian who constructs theology for other Christian theologians and pastors.

As will become apparent, the local theologian and popular theologian are already active in contemporary evangelicalism. The ecclesial theologian, however, is a lost paradigm. Resurrecting this model is the aim of this book and the focus of this chapter. Yet in our effort to resurrect the pastor theologian as ecclesial theologian, we simultaneously wish to affirm the vital necessity of the local- and popular-theologian paradigms; each is a legitimate and important identity of the pastor theologian.

In recounting the local theologian and popular theologian then, we wish to both affirm the vital role they play and set a context for identifying and resurrecting the ecclesial theologian. Understanding the interrelatedness of these three types of pastor theologians will enable the academy, the church, and the emerging generation of pastors and theologians to envision new possibilities for what the pastor theologian can be, as well as enable future pastors and theologians to identify themselves with the paradigm that best fits their gifts and calling. (chp 6)

***

To continue to interact with the idea of pastor as theologian, order your copy of The Pastor Theologian today.

by ZA Blog at July 23, 2015 12:00 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Theist v Atheist

I have been exploring some argument for and against theism and atheism in my biweekly columns at EveryJoe. Unfortunately, the constraints of time and patience do not allow me to state each argument at length, and so, as a gift to my readers, I here publish some of the discussion that did not see print. Make of it what you will.

The strongest argument in favor of one model over another is how much it explained, how clearly, without recourse to special pleading, lapses in logic, or ad hoc. I propose that while the Christian religion contains mysteries certain to daze even the most patient of theologians, it is nonetheless the more robust, on the grounds that it requires fewer assumptions and leaves far less unexplained. For the atheist, nearly everything his worldview seeks to explain is left unexplained, marked off with a mere somehow.

While it is possible (in that it is not a logical self contradiction) that we live in a universe where irrational and non-deliberate chemical and evolutionary processes gave rise to creatures like ourselves capable of reason and deliberation, and that our reason somehow is able to deduce and predict correctly some of the processes of that material universe as well as the imponderable truths of logic, aesthetics, law and ethics, which just so happen somehow to apply to and work inside the material universe as well, it requires a leap of faith to believe that this is the case here in the real universe in which we actually live.

Where is the proof that the real universe behaves in this way?

Where is even a single example?

We have never seen any irrational process lead to a rational result, nor any non deliberate process give rise to a deliberate conclusion, and so our assumption that this somehow happened in the past rests on no evidence, and involves a seeming paradox of something arising from nothing, the paradox of beauty coming from randomness, of ethics springing from remorseless Darwinian struggles to survive, of logic and science arising from unintentional by products of brain chemistry.

And somehow, nearly every human being who has ever lived has had a joy for music and a fear of ghosts, two things which Darwinian selection could not possibly select into existence.

What natural process made it so that natural processes derive order out of chaos without any intention of creating order is also an unanswered somehow.

You see, even if it were true that Darwinian evolution creates order out of disorder (it is not), the question of how Darwinian evolution came to have this property, who or what makes evolution be something that creates order out of disorder, is not answered by the atheist worldview. The atheist must either dismiss the question as unanswerable because it is beyond human knowledge, or must dismiss the question as unanswerable because it is incoherent conceptually, that is, not a real question (like asking how far up is ‘up’?). That dismissal is yet another somehow, a thing the model does not explain.

It would not be an act of faith for any atheist who had seen an irrational primate evolve into a man to believe that order can arise from disorder. Indeed, even seeing a designed system like a computer be engineered into having self awareness and a moral sense would affirm that the hypothesis of order from chaos were reasonable because he would have some reason to believe it were possible. None have ever seen such a thing. As it is, the atheist walks by faith, not by sight.

The assumption that human reason comes from a rational creature, a rational divine creature with a mind, who designed us deliberately to be rational like himself is a less paradoxical assumption, and does not contain the dubious somehows mentioned above. God himself is dubious, the king of somehow, but the explanation of how and why these other things arose becomes coherent granting this doubtful assumption.

And, indeed, the incomprehensible axiom in the theist model concerns a being alleged to be incomprehensible, which is an assumption less vulnerable to skeptical question than the atheist model.

The atheist model requires the assumption that fundamental things we know about human and animal nature, such as that we have free will where animals do not, are merely gross illusions, bewilderingly universe. It is the greater coherency of the theorem which makes it the more reasonable of the two.

Let us turn to specific arguments to show this greater coherency.

Below I make seven arguments. The first argument is divided into four lemmas.

Let us define the word Natural to refer to any events taking place inside the continuum of time and space due to cause-and-effect, that is, necessary efficient causes. Supernatural is anything that cannot be defined solely in terms of events taking place inside the continuum of time and space due to cause-and-effect, that is, necessary efficient causes.

The first argument is ontological, that is, it seeks to show that the nature of being itself is such that it cannot be explained absent a  creator who is supernatural, uncaused, and necessary.

The first lemma is about the nature of time and space:

  1. Time exists and has a definite nature and property.
  2. Time either came into existence by a natural process, or did not.
  3. Time cannot have come into existence by a natural process that took time to complete, by definition.
  4. Therefore time either has always existed, or it came into existence by a supernatural act.
  5. If time always existed, then there is no event which defined its nature, which is absurd. Therefore time did not always exist.
  6. Therefore time came into existence by a supernatural act.

A simpler way to state the same argument, assuming the standard model of physics is true: So, while the Big Bang is itself a natural event, it cannot be said to have arisen from natural causes, that is, causes inside the ambit of time and space, simply because time and space arose from and during the Big Bang. Since the Big Bang created time, whatever brought the Big Bang into being could not be inside time, and could not be a natural cause. Another type of causation is needed, and the only alternative is supernatural causation.

One we conclude that a supernatural act rather than a natural one created time, the definition of supernatural requires us to conclude that this creation was not necessitated by cause-and-effect, as there can be no cause-and-effect outside time. This does not mean there are no events, it merely means no events necessitated by cause and effect. The only thing in human experience akin to this is an act of free will. Hence the event of creation was an act of free will, or something akin to it.

One cannot have a will without a willer, that is, a rational entity, who made specific decisions about the nature of the continuum thus created. Since this entity or entities has the power to create the universe and define their contents, including its laws of nature, laws of matter, and laws of morality, it is reasonable to call him God, since that is what all men know that word to mean.

The second lemma is about the nature of nature:

  1. The sum total of natural processes we call ‘nature’ that is, the whole material universe in motion from atoms to stars, exists and has a definite nature. Nature taken as a whole acts in one way and not in another.
  2. Nature taken as a whole cannot have caused itself, since nothing causes itself.
  3. Nor can nature taken as a whole have a natural cause inside nature, since the part cannot be the cause of the whole.
  4. Therefore the cause of the whole of nature is supernatural. And this all men know to be God, for the reasons given above.

The third lemma is about infinite regress:

  1. In nature, all events have causes.
  2. It is impossible that any natural chains of events have no first cause, or else there is no defined chain of cause and effect.
  3. Therefore for every chain of causes and effect, there must be an first cause, which is itself uncaused.
  4. Since this uncaused first cause must exist, and cannot be natural, therefore it is supernatural. And this all men know to be God, for the reasons given above.

The fourth lemma is about necessity and contingency:

Definition: A contingent fact is something that can conceivably be the other way: I can imagine the sun rising in the West without any logical contradictions. But no one can conceive a situation where the axioms and common notions of Euclid are true, and the Pythagorean Theorem is false. These are necessarily the case, if the axioms are true.

Common notion: all contingencies are dependent on a logically prior necessity. Example: the sun cannot rise in the east if there is no such thing as motion. The contingent fact of the sun rising in the east logically depends on the truth of the concept of motion. But the concept of motion depends in turn on the concept of time, which is a prior and more fundamental notion. Hence motion is contingent on time, whereas sunrise is contingent on (among other things) motion. Time is contingent on the concept of self identity, since if the statement A is A were false, the concept of time could not be true. The concept of self-identity is dependent on the concept of identity, that is, being qua being. Such is an example of the chain of contingency.

  1. In nature, all contingencies are dependent on a logically prior necessity, which in turn is dependent on a higher logically prior necessity, forming a chain of contingency.
  2. There can be no infinite chain of contingencies, for it there is no first being, nothing in the chain is defined.
  3. Ergo, there must be one necessary being on which all contingent beings depend, itself dependant on no prior necessity.
  4. Since this necessary being must exist, and cannot be natural, it is supernatural. And this all men know to be God, for the reasons given above.

Such is my first argument, divided here into four heads.

I here give additional arguments showing the weakness of the atheist worldview.

Second, the argument from law.

  1. There are manmade laws we all know to be unjust.
  2. If there is no supernatural order, there can be no supernatural lawgiver.
  3. Absent a supernatural lawgiver, there is no law with universal authority to overrule manmade law. Likewise, absent a supernatural lawgiver, the conscience has no authority to overrule manmade law.
  4. If there is no law with authority to overrule manmade law, manmade law cannot be justly overruled, and hence cannot be unjust.
  5. Which is contradicts the first assumption, hence is absurd. Therefore, QED.

Third, the argument from logic.

  1. If there is no supernatural order deliberately to design human reason to follow the reason of the universe, the forms of logic which exist in the human mind are either manmade (that is, a construction of his own devising) or natural (an inherited property of his brain structure).
  2. If logic is manmade, men could change or abolish the rules of logic at will, in which case all reasoning is in vain.
  3. If logic is an inherited property of the brain structure, there is no reason to suppose that logic is objective, or reflects anything in reality, in which case all reasoning is in vain.
  4. If all reasoning is in vain, then so is the reasoning in this argument, which is a self-contradiction, hence absurd. Therefore, QED.

This has a corollary in an argument from free will

  1. If there is no supernatural order, then there is nothing outside nature.
  2. If nothing outside nature, then nothing exists aside from natural processes, matter in motion.
  3. Ergo thinking is merely one more natural process like any other, whose outcome is determined by the previous vectors of matter in motion.
  4. If so, then no decision (not even the decision to foreswear belief in free will) is decided or even influenced by you.
  5. Which is a self-contradiction, hence absurd. Therefore, QED.

Fourth, the argument from beauty:

  1. Absent a supernatural order, there are no standards of beauty possible aside from natural standards, which includes only either individual tastes, or culturally determined tastes, or tastes based on instinctive reaction programmed by evolution into our brain chemistry.
  2. The common experience of mankind shows that certain things, including those dangerous or indifferent to any possible Darwinian survival trait, such as beholding stars or storms at sea, desert canyons, snowy mountains, horses in full career, images of the rings of Saturn, and on and on, are universally seen as sublime.
  3. If such natural beauty is dangerous or indifferent to any possible Darwinian survival trait, then this taste cannot be based on instinctive reaction programmed by evolution into our brain chemistry.
  4. Again, if universal, then this taste cannot be personal taste nor culturally determined tastes.
  5. Therefore, QED

As a coda, one might mention that neither do musical melodies exist in nature at all, hence could not have influenced Darwinian evolution in any way. But there is no human culture, no, not one, which lacks the love of musical melody.

Fifth, the argument from philanthropy:

  1. Law is based on awarding each man his due dignity and right, his by mere fact of being human, neither granted by the fiat of a sovereign nor earned by a test of intelligence or strength.
  2. But no one grants another such dignity except to his brother, who needs no grant nor earning to be one’s brother.
  3. Hence, universal law is possible when and only when all men are brothers. Civilization, including such delightful pastimes as speculations of philosophy and theology, is not possible unless universal law orders the manmade law, hence civilization is not possible unless all men are brothers.
  4. Either all men are brothers, in which case they are due the dignity one offers a brother, or not.
  5. Absent a supernatural order, all man cannot literally be brothers. They are instead members of different races and tribes in a Darwinian competition with each other for scarce resources. While temporary accommodations and truces are possible, brotherly love is inappropriate, because, in fact, all men are not brothers.
  6. Hence, since all men are not brothers, it is illogical and inappropriate to award all men equal dignity and equal rights, whereupon civilization is without justification, including the civilized courtesy which alone allows this conversation to take place.
  7. Therefore anyone who rebut this argument, or even grants it the civilized courtesy of a hearing, tacitly repudiates the preconditions of all argument, which is absurd, therefore QED.

Sixth, the argument from physics:

  1. Unlike Alchemy, physics cannot be an untrue nor meaningless discipline, for if it were, airplanes would not fly, electricity would not flow, and bridges would not stand. The common experience of mankind is that the discipline of physics is not in vain.
  2. Cause and effect is a precondition without which the discipline of physics is meaningless. Likewise, the regularity of phenomenon is a precondition without which the discipline of physics is meaningless.
  3. No discipline can prove its own preconditions. Hence, causality and regularity are not deductions of physics, nor of any empirical study. These axioms must come before physics, hence are rightly called metaphysical.
  4. These metaphysical ideas of causality and regularity are nonmaterial, imponderable, occupy neither time nor space, and, in a word, are purely mental abstractions. They do not exist inside the natural order of the material universe.
  5. If there is no supernatural order, then metaphysical ideas of causality and regularity do not exist at all, whereupon all metaphysics hence all physics is in vain.
  6. Which contradicts the first assumption, hence is absurd, hence QED.

The Seventh argument is an appeal to historical reality.

  1. Most men for most of time have believed in a supernatural order. This belief is not only peculiar, for most of them, it was central to their lives and their cultures, even to the point where they were willing to kill and die for it.
  2. The belief is either wholly false (as the atheist would have it) or is not wholly false (the Catholic Church teaches that the pagan religions were dim but honest attempts to reach a supernatural reality, hence that they were incomplete, misguided, or inchoate, partly false, but not wholly so).
  3. If it is wholly false, then all religious men whatsoever are either lunatics, who believe in something more preposterous and easier to disprove than a belief in invisible giant flying spaghetti monsters, or abominable cowards, playing along with the preposterous Pastaferians despite the self evident absurdity and wickedness of these beliefs.
  4. Likewise, if wholly false, then all atheist men are the sole men free of this nearly universal and dangerous lunacy. Freed from the bonds of priest-craft and superstition, we would expect to find atheists outnumbering theists in the areas noted for intellectual honesty and brightness of wit.
  5. But if not wholly false, we would expect to find all men to be sinners, and indeed to find sinners up to and including Judas or the Antichrist highly placed in the Church; and to find not all pagans lacking in virtue; nor for that matter all atheists.
  6. Even a passing glance at the history of mankind shows that those who believed in the supernatural order were not only not all lunatics, but include the greatest genius and heroes of all time, and the most generous of saints and more fearless of martyrs.
  7. Even a passing glance at the history of intellectuals from Rousseau to Nietzsche to Marx to Ayn Rand show them to have violated the common decency and moral code of mankind, sometimes egregiously so, and possessed of less intellectual honesty than the norm.
  8. Ergo some extraordinary explanation is needed to explain how famous theists can be afflicted by a lunacy as stupid as pasta-worship, but still be equal or superior to the enlightened atheists in moral and intellectual and all other forms of accomplishment.
  9. If no such extraordinary explanation is found, the atheist worldview does not explain the facts on the ground as well as the theist, and hence is not to be preferred.

Again, as previously stated, the argument here is not that theism is the only possible rational conclusion to reach. The argument is that belief in a supernatural order is the more parsimonious assumption, hence more reasonable than disbelief.

by John C Wright at July 23, 2015 08:17 AM

Table Titans

Tales: What to Expect From Evil PCs

News

Our group has been playing for a few years. What surprised the DM at the time was the number of Chaotic Evil party members; a Fighter, a Wizard, and me, a Demigod Cult Priest.

When we began we weren't that outspoken, and the good (and neutral) party members kept us in check. There was a…

Read more

July 23, 2015 07:01 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

‘My Worth Is Not in What I Own’

One of the greatest struggles we each face is the search for significance. Our 21st-century sense of identity is grounded in individualism, self-entitlement, and narcissism. From whom we marry to what career choice we make to what church we attend to what we think of church music, every choice is geared around what these things do for us.

This attitude of consumerism is one of the most prevalent idols in Western culture and has become an epidemic even in the church. 

Two Glorious Truths 

My Worth Is Not in What I Own” [lyrics] is a song that speaks to the subject of worth by reminding us that true significance is found in our identity in Christ. Kristyn and I recently wrote it with our good friend, Graham Kendrick, in an attempt to reclaim two glorious truths. The first is that we, as men and women created in the image and likeness of the Creator, are created with intrinsic worth.

But there’s another truth we want to convey: given our pervasive rebellion—what R. C. Sproul calls “cosmic treason”—against the king, we are all unworthy of the value with which he crowns us. Yet God sent his Son so our worth might be found in something far grander than ourselves. In Christ, no longer do we look to our own accomplishments and achievements to find significance. We look instead to his perfect work on our behalf, and there our souls find the true sense of identity we so crave. The chorus of our song draws from the rich imagery of 1 Peter, which depicts Jesus as an inheritance and treasure far greater than anything this world has to offer. 

Simple Song, Marvelous Worth 

We were delighted when Graham approached us with the idea for this song, birthed from a simple phrase he’d carried for many years: “my worth is not in what I own.” While he had developed this idea in many of his own songs, we were excited to come alongside him to craft one with this specific title. He also provided two quotes of inspiration that helped inform our perspective:

Our self is a complex entity of good and evil, glory and shame, of creation and fall. . . . We are created, fallen and redeemed, then re-created in God’s image. . . . Standing before the cross we see simultaneously our worth and unworthiness, since we perceive both the greatness of his love in dying, and the greatness of our sin in causing him to die. (John Stott)

My worth is what I am worth to God, and that is a marvelous great deal, for Christ died for me. (William Temple)

The melody is crafted with a simple and singable Irish-American folk melody, reminiscent of early American hymnody. These melodies tend to be shorter with an easy chorus so that they can be easily sung in a group. Because of the simplicity of the melody, “My Worth Is Not in What I Own” works well with either just an acoustic guitar or a piano and full band.

Because this hymn covers a diversity of themes—stewardship, accomplishment, youth and beauty, idolatry, worth, and the atoning work of Christ on our behalf—it can be used for almost any corporate worship setting. We find it particularly appropriate for the Lord’s Supper or a time of response, though it also helps to prepare worshipers for the hearing of God’s Word since it aims to strip us any notion of clinging to an identity of self-preservation. Indeed, it reaffirms that as redeemed men and women our identity is wrapped up in Christ, the sinless Son of God. 


Editors’ note: You can find the lyrics to “My Worth Is Not in What I Own” here as well as free sheet music and mp3 of the song here. Also, you can purchase the Gettys’ album recorded live at TGC’s National Conference here.

by Keith Getty at July 23, 2015 05:02 AM

Help Me Teach the Bible: Michael Lawrence on Acts

In this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible, I talk with Michael Lawrence, senior pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, or “the ends of the earth” as Lawrence calls it in context of the book of Acts. In this episode you'll not only hear the sounds of a church office building under construction, you'll also hear about how God is going about building his church as recorded in the book of Acts. Topics include:

  • epic moments in redemptive history in Acts
  • Acts as part two of Luke's Gospel
  • the main character of the book of Acts
  • the structure of the book of Acts
  • the cinematic sweep of Acts
  • the Spirit falls on unexpected people
  • questions about tongues
  • sermons in the book of Acts
  • implications and applications of the crucifixion and resurrection
  • whether the early church is a model for the church today
  • resources for teaching Acts.

Here are some additional audio resources that you may find helpful in preparing to teach Acts:

For further study, here are some books you may find helpful, including titles from Crossway, the sponsor of Help Me Teach the Bible:

Subscribe to TGC's podcast in iTunes or for other devices to get this and subsequent interviews in Help Me Teach the Bible with Nancy Guthrie. You can also download the interview here or stream it above. 

by Nancy Guthrie at July 23, 2015 05:02 AM

3 Occupational Hazards for Pastors

Every occupation has its hazards. As John Calvin noted, “The nobility is full of vanity, of excessive pomp, of pride, of licentiousness and insolence. . . . Justice is full of favors, of avarice, of tricks. . . . Merchandising is full of lies, of crooked deals, of perjury, of deceptions. . . . In brief, there is no vocation in which a great deal of abuse is not committed” (Treatises Against the Anabaptists, 278).

We still hold stereotypes about the sins most common to each vocation. We believe financiers are prone to greed, traveling salesman to philandering, chefs to gluttony, construction workers to lasciviousness, bureaucrats to sloth, entertainers to addiction, and baggage handlers to wrath (just kidding, maybe).

Ring of Truth

Stereotypes tend to elicit both agreement and disputation. To some they ring true, but to others they sound prejudicial. But Scripture seems to support the notion that certain temptations and occupations line up. Consider James 3:1–2, which warns: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. . . . If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

Distressingly, after James describes the sins of the tongue, he adds, “No human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8). At a minimum, therefore, teachers should guard the tongue since we talk so much. Beyond that, the Bible warns leaders to watch themselves. As Paul commands leaders in Galatia as they correct sin in the church, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1; cf. 1 Tim. 4:16).

Temptations Facing Ministers

Do certain sins especially tempt pastors? James seemed to think sins of the tongue come first. In his commentary on James, Luke Timothy Johnson, a brilliant and self-aware lecturer, observes that public speech before a frequently captive audience “provides temptations to virtually every form of evil speech: arrogance and domination over students; anger and pettiness at contradiction or inattention; slander and meanness toward absent opponents; flattery of students for the sake of vainglory” (263).

Johnson’s series of temptations begins and ends with pride: his first word is “arrogance” and his last is “vainglory.” Pride does indeed assault spiritual leaders. As Paul puts it, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). The apostle confessed even he was prone to conceit; God sent him a thorn in the flesh to keep him from it (2 Cor. 12:7). Scripture shows kings are prone to pride and the trailing vice of cruelty. We remember Saul, Rehoboam, Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod Agrippa, to name a few. Jesus also charged the scribes and Pharisees with pride: “They love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others” (Matt. 23:7–8; see 23:1–12). Their envy of Jesus—so unlettered, yet so popular—was a fruit of that pride.

Christian leaders face additional temptations, too. If we serve a large, prosperous church, we may become greedy. If our church has low expectations, we may become lazy. If our peers outdo us, we may become envious. And pastors are prone to lust. Shortly before I was ordained, a pastor in his 60s with an impressive voice and appearance pulled me aside for a blunt warning: “There is a kind of woman who likes to tempt a pastor and seduce him if she can. Stay away from her.” The warning startled me. It also seemed a bit vain or sexist, since men try to seduce women too. But he spoke with such conviction that it stuck. His warning aligns with Proverbs 5 and needs to be heard today.

Three Common Snares

Still, pride seems to be our greatest danger. My work causes me to travel widely, and my years as a senior pastor and seminary professor make me an unofficial consultant after I speak. The stories I hear suggest that three temptations—all related to pride—commonly beset Christian leaders, especially if they have growing, prominent ministries: (1) adulation invites narcissism, (2) opposition provokes tyranny or cruelty, and (3) long toil induces exhaustion or depression.

1. Adulation invites narcissism.

Christians adore strong, gifted leaders. You’re so bold, so authoritative, they think. You read the Bible, you read the times, you read my soul! When people tell a leader, “That was great,” they often mean, “You are great.” And the proof that the praise is right, one pastor confessed to me, is the success of the ministry. So it’s tempting to believe the accolades.

2. Opposition provokes tyranny.

A growing ministry creates a stunning volume of work. It starts with the time required to fashion compelling messages. When the message hits home, that leads to counseling. And overall success leads to the need for new staff, more space, and capital to fund it. Then opposition comes (it always comes) because the bigger the leader, the bigger the target. Whether he intends to initiate it or not, change occurs when a ministry grows. As Machiavelli observed, perhaps too pessimistically, there’s nothing more difficult to lead than the creation of a new order. Everyone who’s done well under the old system is an enemy and those who may do well in the new are lukewarm friends. Whatever the reasons, leaders always face opposition and resistance.

Pride, then, can cause leaders to push too hard and too confidently to achieve their vision. The workload and the press of time create impatience. Eventually the leader pushes aside opponents and puts the indecisive in their place, perhaps even by bullying or threatening them.

3. Long toil induces exhaustion or depression. 

The work is never done. In pride, Christian leaders can act as if the Sabbath principle applies to everyone but them. But this creates exhaustion. We tell ourselves we’re indispensable (pride again), but there’s never enough time and it is impossible to satisfy everyone, and that leads to depression.

Humbling Gospel

“Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall,” Paul wrote (1 Cor. 10:12). But let us not be pessimists. Every Christian leader is a sinner, but for every leader who falls more shine like lights in the world (Phil. 2:15). More to the point, if the problem is pride we have biblical and theological resources for gospel humility. We know the Lord doesn’t take pleasure in human strength, wisdom, might, or riches; he takes pleasure in those who know and fear him (Jer. 9:23–24; Ps. 147:10–11). As Jesus said, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11;18:14).

The gospel radically humbles true believers. It shouts that our plight was so desperate that God’s radical intervention was essential for our redemption. Our powers are pitiful, our weaknesses terminal. Pastors know this. When we remember it, we both restore our equilibrium in ministry and receive what’s been promised: “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble” (James 4:7).

by Dan Doriani at July 23, 2015 05:02 AM

Hope for Mourning Parents

“He’s gone.” Parents could never forget those words after they have been spoken about their son. Even now, nearly six years removed from the awful day we heard them, I still picture the doctor’s grim face as he shared the news. I can smell the sanitized odor of that ICU hospital room, hear the soft sobs of the gathered family members, and feel my chest heaving under the pressure of shock and disbelief giving way to the reality of my son’s unexpected death. A few minutes earlier the doctor had removed breathing tubes keeping Micah’s body artificially alive, and within a few short minutes, his nine-month-old chest stopped, and he was gone. 

For most of my life, I have believed what the Bible says about God, that he is both sovereign and loving. Admittedly, until tragedy struck, intellectual objections to the goodness and sovereignty of God seemed esoteric. Significant suffering was something that happened to other people. My life seemed to be going along quite well, and, as a result, it was easy for me to espouse the traditional Christian views about God and his purposes in suffering. From the day we heard those terrible words, though, an easy espousal of doctrine would not suffice. A wrestling match with God had begun.

Tragic Fall

On Thursday afternoon, July 23, 2009, Micah had fallen out of his high chair reaching for his toes. While he sustained a black eye from his fall, no one felt his condition was serious, much less life-threatening. On each of the next two days, various pediatric doctors saw Micah because he developed a low-grade fever and an unusual cough. Doctors diagnosed Micah with pneumonia, probably as a result of inhaling something down his lung when he fell. However, the doctors were not concerned, believing the foreign object would probably dissolve in a matter of days; he would soon be back to normal. 

On Sunday morning, July 26, Micah suddenly stopped breathing. Within two minutes of our emergency call, EMTs arrived followed by the ambulance. But no one could revive Micah. I held my wife, Heather, on our kitchen floor as we screamed and cried together, praying as earnestly as we could that God would cause our little son to take a breath and come back to us. But God didn’t answer our prayer. We never heard him cry again.

Micah was eventually taken to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where doctors revived his breathing. But after nearly one hour without oxygen, there was no hope for any brain activity. Over the next 24 hours, we prayed that our sovereign and good God would miraculously heal our little boy. But by 10:00 the next morning, we were told Micah had so little brain activity there was no hope for recovery. Heather, deciding she could not be in the room when Micah’s ventilator was removed, said her final goodbye, encouraging him to “run to Jesus, sweetie, run to Jesus.”  A few minutes later, I held my son as the doctors removed the ventilator that was giving him breath. In the single deepest moment of anguish I ever have or ever will experience, my son’s little heart stopped beating. 

Following Micah’s death, doctors determined Micah had aspirated a pea when he had fallen from his highchair. On Sunday, Micah had tried to cough up the pea, but it became lodged in his windpipe. The pea stuck in such a manner as to block all airflow. According to pediatricians, chances of this occurring are infinitely small.

Sovereign Over a Pea   

Six years later, we still wrestle over questions of God’s sovereign power over that little pea, about the place of human responsibility, including that of the pediatricians, and what purposes God is accomplishing in this tragedy. Why did we have to endure this struggle? Why did we have to learn these lessons through Micah’s death and not through a means that would have spared our son? While we do not possess answers to these questions, we know who does hold the answers, and who will ultimately make all things new. The apostle Paul writes:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Cor. 1:3–5)

Soon after Micah’s death, Heather and I were blessed by some grief “mentors” who have shepherded us through this life-altering event. These mentors, who also had experienced the death of a child, helped us with the spiritual, emotional, and marital issues associated with this tragedy. No doubt there are at least a thousand reasons why God ordained that little pea to lodge in my son’s throat. But God’s sovereign plan certainly included drawing us into relationship with other grieving parents so we might be able to use our experience to encourage others. 

Hope for the Mourning 

In late 2009, we created a nonprofit organization aimed to assist fellow grieving parents. Through Hope for the Mourning, our goal is to provide biblical resources and encouragement to families grieving the death of a young child or infant. Mainly through our website, the organization receives requests for assistance from grieving parents across the United States and from other parts of the world. For the time being, we are able to send out care packages to these bereaved parents. Care packages include biblically based grief support books and restaurant gift cards.  

We are seeking specific individuals who will partner with Hope for the Mourning as we seek to minister to grieving parents. These “Hope Partners” would espouse a sovereign view of God and his divine purposes in suffering, and also have a heart for ministry to grieving parents. 

When grieving parents who live near a Hope Partner contact us, we call on that Hope Partner to follow up, in person, with that family. While we cannot follow up with a home-cooked meal and sit across the kitchen table from the grieving parents, we are seeking partners who can. For more information about being a Hope Partner, please email us at hopeforthemourning [at] gmail.com and provide your name, phone number, e-mail address, and city and state of residence.  

by Cory Wessman at July 23, 2015 05:00 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Murder Incorporated Denies Wrongdoing

On the radio, one of the top-of-the-hour news blurbs was that Planned Parenthood dismissed all allegations from an unnamed video as being fraudulent, an attempt to scare women and hinder their reproductive rights.

Nothing more was said. That was given as straight news, as if it were a newsworthy item. There was no context, no explanation, and the other side of the story was simply “pretended”out of existence.

The unnamed video, of course was the one where a top officer for Planned Parenthood (as Murder Incorporated is called on the cubicular bizzaro world, where all things are backward) was dickering for money over how much for each organ harvested from late term abortions. She described how the forceps would grasp the dismembered baby body in the proper spot, so as to not damage the expensive kidneys, lungs, or other juicy bits that bring a fine price on the medical meat market.

It is on tape, the person is speaking, you can watch it for yourself. That is what the news reported Planned Parenthood airily dismissed and denied, without bothering even to say what was being denied.

I used to work in the newspaper business. This was not how news is reported. Newsmen do not simply read the press releases of their advertisers. Even the slimiest Madison Avenue ad-man does not try to deceive the viewer into thinking he is not seeing an ad. Even the slimiest would not package their propaganda as news.

I was more revolted than I can put into words, especially when I think of the effort honesty newsmen expend finding the real story and printing the truth, or at least telling both sides. This is antinews, the thing that destroys news.

Exasperated by the sheer juvenile dishonesty of this, as a public service, I here reprint a list of the 41 companies that have directly funded Planned Parenthood.

  1. Adobe
  2. American Cancer Society
  3. American Express
  4. AT&T
  5. Avon
  6. Bank of America
  7. Bath & Body Works
  8. Ben & Jerry’s
  9. Clorox
  10. Coca-Cola
  11. Converse
  12. Deutsche Bank
  13. Dockers
  14. Energizer
  15. Expedia
  16. ExxonMobil
  17. Fannie Mae
  18. Ford
  19. Groupon
  20. Intuit
  21. Johnson & Johnson
  22. La Senza
  23. Levi Strauss
  24. Liberty Mutual
  25. Macy’s
  26. March of Dimes
  27. Microsoft
  28. Morgan Stanley
  29. Nike
  30. Oracle
  31. PepsiCo
  32. Pfizer
  33. Progressive
  34. Starbucks
  35. Susan G. Komen
  36. Tostitos
  37. Unilever
  38. United Way
  39. Verizon
  40. Wells Fargo
  41. Xerox

My editor, Vox Day, the most hated man in science fiction, proffers this advice:

Start sending emails, complete with quotes from the Planned Parenthood people about selling organs from aborted infants, to the PR/Marketing departments of these corporations and asking them if they support those practices. Put all the relevant names and emails on a central site, complete with various draft emails, and then start sending emails. Recruit others to do so. Talk about your activities under the #PPGate hashtag.

Don’t threaten, don’t talk about boycotts, don’t quote Bible verses, just try to get a statement from them concerning whether they support Planned Parenthood’s sale of harvested human organs. Don’t whine, suck it up and recall that thousands of gamers did this for weeks before getting any results.

Another reader (or minion) at the Vos Day website suggests: When you look at the Planned Parenthood supporter list and find a company in which you own stock, you might try to hit them through the investor relations channel as well.

And yet another diligent Voxishman from Voxland compiled this list of companies and their contact details: http://pastebin.com/TcSf5KRi

Eliminating the taxpayer funding of the baby butchery and organlegging will be more difficult, because you, the taxpayer, can be and will be loftily ignored by our elite masters.

by John C Wright at July 23, 2015 04:37 AM

Nicholas Nethercote

“Thank you” is a wonderful phrase

Last year I contributed a number of patches to pdf.js. Most of my patches were reviewed and merged to the codebase by Yury Delendik. Every single time he merged one of my patches, Yury wrote “Thank you for the patch”. It was never “thanks” or “thank you!” or “thank you :)”. Nor was it “awesome” or “great work” or “+1″ or “\o/” or “\m/”. Just “Thank you for the patch”.

Oddly enough, this unadorned use of one of the most simple and important phrases in the English language struck me as quaint, slightly formal, and perhaps a little old-fashioned. Not a bad thing by any means, but… notable. And then, as Yury merged more of my patches, I started getting used to it. Tthen I started enjoying it. Each time he wrote it — I’m pretty sure he wrote it every time — it made me smile. I felt a small warm glow inside. All because of a single, simple, specific phrase.

So I started using it myself. (“Thank you for the patch.”) I tried to use it more often, in situations I previously wouldn’t have. (“Thank you for the fast review”.) I mostly kept to this simple form and eschewed variations. (“Thank you for the additional information.”) I even started using it each time somebody answered one of my questions on IRC. (“glandium: thank you”)

I’m still doing this. I don’t always use this exact form, and I don’t always remember to thank people who have helped me. But I do think it has made my gratitude to those around me more obvious, more consistent, and more sincere. It feels good.

by Nicholas Nethercote at July 23, 2015 04:29 AM

Justin Taylor

Just How Sovereign Is God?

Charles Spurgeon:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—

that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—

that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.

The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—

the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

Does Scripture really teach this? I believe the answer is yes. Here is just a tiny sampling:

God Is Sovereign Over . . .

Seemingly random things:

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:33)

The heart of the most powerful person in the land:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
he turns it wherever he will.
(Proverbs 21:1)

Our daily lives and plans:

A man’s steps are from the LORD;
how then can man understand his way?
(Proverbs 20:24)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. . . .  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
(James 4:13-15)

Salvation:

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
(Romans 9:15-16)

As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:48)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:29-30)

Life and death:

See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
(Deuteronomy 32:39)

The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
(1 Samuel 12:6)

Disabilities:

Then the LORD said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”
(Exodus 4:11)

The death of God’s Son:

Jesus, [who was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
(Acts 2:23)

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
(Acts 4:27-28)

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief. . . .
(Isaiah 53:10)

Evil things:

Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?
(Amos 3:6)

I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
(Isaiah 45:7)

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. . . . “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
(Job 1:21-22; 2:10)

[God] sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. . . . As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
(Psalm 105:17; Genesis 50:21)

All things:

[God] works all things according to the counsel of his will.
(Ephesians 1:11)

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
(Psalm 115:3)

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
(Job 42:2)

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
(Daniel 4:35)

And since compatiblism is true, none of this contradicts the equally biblical teaching that Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and that human choices are genuine and significant.

by Justin Taylor at July 23, 2015 03:53 AM

July 22, 2015

Who-T

A short overview of touchpad devices

Below is an outline of the various types of touchpads that can be found in the wild. Touchpads aren't simply categorised into a single type, instead they have a set of properties, a combination of number of physical buttons, touch support and physical properties.

Number of buttons

Physically separate buttons

For years this was the default type of touchpads: a touchpad with a separate set of physical buttons below the touch surface. Such touchpads are still around, but most newer models are Clickpads now.

Touchpads with physical buttons usually provide two buttons, left and right. A few touchpads with three buttons exist, and Apple used to have touchpads with a single physical buttons back in the PPC days. Touchpads with only two buttons require the software stack to emulate a middle button. libinput does this when both buttons are pressed simultaneously.


A two-button touchpad, with a two-button pointing stick above.

Note that many Lenovo laptops provide a pointing stick above the touchpad. This pointing stick has a set of physical buttons just above the touchpad. While many users use those as substitute touchpad buttons, they logically belong to the pointing stick. The *40 and *50 series are an exception here, the former had no physical buttons on the touchpad and required the top section of the pad to emulate pointing stick buttons, the *50 series has physical buttons but they are wired to the touchpads. The kernel re-routes those buttons through the trackstick device.

Clickpads

Clickpads are the most common type of touchpads these days. A Clickpad has no separate physical buttons, instead the touchpad itself is clickable as a whole, i.e. a user presses down on the touch area and triggers a physical click. Clickpads thus only provide a single button, everything else needs to be software-emulated.


A clickpad on a Lenovo x220t. Just above the touchpad are the three buttons associated with the pointing stick. Faint markings on the bottom of the touchpad hint at where the software buttons should be.

Right and middle clicks are generated either via software buttons or "clickfinger" behaviour. Software buttons define an area on the touchpad that is a virtual right button. If a finger is in that area when the click happens, the left button event is changed to a right button event. A middle click is either a separate area or emulated when both the left and right virtual buttons are pressed simultaneously.

When the software stack uses the clickfinger method, the number of fingers decide the type of click: a one-finger is a left button, a two-finger click is a right button, a three-finger click is a middle button. The location of the fingers doesn't matter, though there are usually some limits in how the fingers can be distributed (e.g. some implementations try to detect a thumb at the bottom of the touchpad to avoid accidental two-finger clicks when the user intends a thumb click).

The libinput documentation has a section on Clickpad software button behaviour with more detailed illustrations


The touchpad on a T440s has no physical buttons for the pointing stick. The marks on the top of the touchpad hint at the software button position for the pointing stick. Note that there are no markings at the bottom of the touchpad anymore.

Clickpads are labelled by the kernel with the INPUT_PROP_BUTTONPAD input property.

Forcepads

One step further down the touchpad evolution, Forcepads are Clickpads without a physical button. They provide pressure and (at least in Apple's case) have a vibration element that is software-controlled. Instead of the satisfying click of a physical button, you instead get a buzz of happiness. Which apparently feels the same as a click, judging by the reviews I've read so far. A software-controlled click feel has some advantages, it can be disabled for some gestures, modified for others, etc. I suspect that over time Forcepads will become the main touchpad category, but that's a few years away.

Not much to say on the implementation here. The kernel has some ForcePad support but everything else is spotty.


Note how Apple's Clickpads have no markings whatsoever, Apple uses the clickfinger method by default.

Touch capabilities

Single-touch touchpads

In the beginning, there was the single-finger touchpad. This touchpad would simply provide x/y coordinates for a single finger and get mightily confused when more than one finger was present. These touchpads are now fighting with dodos for exhibition space in museums, few of those are still out in the wild.

Pure multi-touch touchpads

Pure multi-touch touchpads are those that can track, i.e. identify the location of all fingers on the touchpad. Apple's touchpads support 16 touches (iirc), others support 5 touches like the Synaptics touchpads when using SMBus.

Pure multi-touch touchpads are the easiest to support, we can rely on the finger locations and use them for scrolling, gestures, etc. These touchpads usually also provide extra information. In the case of the Apple touchpads we get an ellipsis and the orientation of the ellipsis for each touch point. Other touchpads provide a pressure value for each touch point. Though pressure is a bit of a misnomer, pressure is usually directly related to contact area. Since our puny human fingers flatten out as the pressure on the pad increases, the contact area increases and the firmware then calculates that back into a (mostly rather arbitrary) pressure reading.

Because pressure is really contact area size, we can use it to detect accidental palm contact or thumbs though it's fairly unreliable. A light palm touch or a touch at the very edge of a touchpad will have a low pressure reading simply because the palm is mostly next to the touchpad and thus the contact area itself remains small.

Partial multi-touch touchpads

The vast majority of touchpads fall into this category. It's the half-way point between single-touch and pure multi-touch. These devices can track N fingers, but detect more than N. The current Synaptics touchpads fall into that category when they're using the serial protocol. Most touchpads that fall into this category can track two fingers and detect up to four or five. So a typical three-finger interaction would give you the location of two fingers and a separate value telling you that a third finger is down.

The lack of finger location doesn't matter for some interactions (tapping, three-finger click) but it can cause issues in some cases. For example, a user may have a thumb resting on a touchpad while scrolling with two fingers. Which touch locations you get depends on the order of the fingers being set down, i.e. this may look like thumb + finger + third touch somewhere (lucky!) or two fingers scrolling + third touch somewhere (unlucky, this looks like a three-finger swipe). So far we've mostly avoided having anything complex enough that requires the exact location of more than two fingers, these pads are so prevalent that any complex feature would exclude the majority of users.

Semi-mt touchpads

A sub-class of partial multi-touch touchpads. These touchpads can technically detect two fingers but the location of both is limited to the bounding box, i.e. the first touch is always the top-left one and the second touch is the bottom-right one. Coordinates jump around as fingers move past each other. Most semi-mt touchpads also have a lower resolution for two touches than for one, so even things like two-finger scrolling can be very jumpy.

Semi-mt are labelled by the kernel with the INPUT_PROP_SEMI_MT input property.

Physical properties

External touchpads

USB or Bluetooth touchpads not in a laptop chassis. Think the Apple Magic Trackpad, the Logitech T650, etc. These are usually clickpads, the biggest difference is that they can be removed or added at runtime. One interaction method that is only possible on external touchpads is a thumb resting on the very edge/immediately next to the touchpad. On the far edge, touchpads don't always detect the finger location so clicking with a thumb barely touching the edge makes it hard or impossible to figure out which software button area the finger is on.

These touchpads also don't need palm detection - since they're not located underneath the keyboard, accidental palm touches are a non-issue.


A Logitech T650 external touchpad. Note the thumb position, it is possible to click the touchpad without triggering a touch.

Circular touchpads

Yes, used to be a thing. Touchpad shaped in an ellipsis or circle. Luckily for us they have gone full dodo. The X.Org synaptics driver had to be aware of these touchpads to calculate the right distance for edge scrolling - unsurprisingly an edge scroll motion on a circular touchpad isn't very straight.

Graphics tablets

Touch-capable graphics tablets are effectively external touchpads, with two differentiators: they are huge compared to normal touchpads and they have no touchpad buttons whatsoever. This means they can either work like a Forcepad, or rely on interaction methods that don't require buttons (like tap-to-click). Since the physical device is shared with the pen input, some touch arbitration is required to avoid touch input interfering when the pen is in use.

Dedicated edge scroll area

Mostly on older touchpads before two-finger scrolling became the default method. These touchpads have a marking on the touch area that designates the edge to be used for scrolling. A finger movement in that edge zone should trigger vertical motions. Some touchpads have markers for a horizontal scroll area too at the bottom of the touchpad.


A touchpad with a marked edge scroll area on the right.

by Peter Hutterer (noreply@blogger.com) at July 22, 2015 09:12 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Magic, Art, Science, and Fun

Thursday’s Workout:

20 Minutes of FUN:
Agility Ladder
Plyo Fun

WOD:
4 Rounds
1 Every 4:00
20 Double Unders
20 Toes-2-Bar
20 Lunges

 

 

“The magic is in the movement, the art is in the programming, the science is in the explanation, and the fun is in the community.”

Greg Glassman – 2005

 

This sentence means a lot to me. Although it’s not the definition of CrossFit, it’s a fantastic description of what it is. Let me break it down for you.

 

“The magic is in the movement…” 

Okay, so there isn’t anything necessarily “magical” about the movements (until you watch the best of the best perform them flawlessly, seeming to defy physics) other than the fact that they simply work! What we do is functional movement. These movements are:

  • Essential for daily life. A deadlift will always be picking something up off the ground.
  • Natural movements that follow a universal motor recruitment pattern – core to extremity,
  • Move large loads, long distances, quickly.

 These movements give you the most bang for your buck.

 

That is a pretty magical movement.

 

“The art is in the programming…”

CrossFit is a GPP – General Physical Preparedness program: broad, general, and inclusive. We specialize in fitness as it pertains to the CrossFit’s 10 general physical fitness skills:

  • Cardio Respiratory Endurance
  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Accuracy
  • Balance

In order to cover each of these skills we vary the:

 

  • Movements
  • Objects
  • Reps / times / distances
  • Load
  • Environmental factors

 

The definition of CrossFit begins with constantly varied. We take the former general physical fitness skills into consideration and vary the latter pieces to make our program. We have made tremendous strides since the early days of CrossFit with the hopper model, where movements and reps and time domains were drawn out of a spinning hopper (this is not a myth people, it happened). Our program is not random but it is constantly varied.

 

Dave Castro and Coach Glassman drawing from the hopper during the old school CrossFit Games

Dave Castro and Coach Glassman drawing from the hopper during the old school CrossFit Games

 

“The science is in the explanation…”

Before adding any sort of intensity in a workout, the athlete must be able to consistently perform proper mechanics. To learn and improve those mechanics, we need the teaching and watchful eye of a good coach. Think about all the cues that go into the basic squat:

  • Keep a neutral spine
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Send the hips back
  • Keep weight in the heels
  • Send the knees out
  • Keep the chest up
  • Hip crease should go below the top of the knee
  • Drive heels into the ground
  • Push knees out
  • (Again) Keep the chest up

These are certainly not all gong to be mastered the first time you walk in the gym, but the goal is progress over time. Once these cues are all present and near perfect, we can start to add more load. Exercise patience, check your ego, and trust in the process.

 

“The fun is in the community.”

If you know me, you know THIS is big for me.

The jam.

The vibe.

The camaraderie.

The support.

Could I get a great workout on my own? Sure.

Would I push myself as hard? Maybe.

Would I have as much fun? Definitely not. Why? Because in my humble opinion, life is always more fun with others who support you and want you to succeed. I encourage others. Others encourage me. We push each other. We push ourselves. What happens next? We improve as a group and individually. We grow strong bonds with each other and we get better at life. Sounds corny, but I believe it’s true.

 

Tall Karl

by Anna at July 22, 2015 07:30 PM

The push and pull of iPad

There's no way around it: iPad sales continue to slow. That's not to say the numbers aren't incredible and that many companies would kill for a product that performed at the level of Apple's tablet, but the graph doesn't lie.

iPad sales by quarter

Here's what Tim Cook said about the device on yesterday's earning call.

I am still bullish on iPad, with iOS 9 there’s some incredible productivity enhancements coming in with Split View and Slide Over and Picture in Picture, these things are incredible features. The enterprise business is picking up and more and more companies are either contracting for or writing apps themselves.

And I believe that the iPad consumer upgrade cycle will eventually occur, because as we look at the usage statistics on iPad, it remains unbelievably great. I mean, the next closest usage of the next competitor, we’re six times greater. And so these are extraordinary numbers. It’s not like people have forgotten iPad or anything, it’s a fantastic product.

(High five to Jason Snell for the transcript.)

Tim Cook doesn't say anything he doesn't mean to say on earnings calls, and I believe him when he says he believes in the platform.

iOS 9's laundry list of iPad-only features are exciting. My iPad is far from my main device, but things like Split View and Picture in Picture are going to make it a lot more useful for the way that I tend to work.

Of course, features don't exist for themselves, and they aren't created in a vacuum. As great as these features are, clearly, Apple's trying to put their foot down on the gas when it comes to iPad sales. There's nothing wrong with that being a motive; I think it's smart of Apple to look at what's happening in the market and make changes to their products accordingly.

The big question — Will this work? — will take some time to answer, but I'm optimistic. While I don't think iOS 9 will return the iPad to early days, I bet the long-term upgrade cycle may begin to speed up. I know Apple's counting on it.

by Stephen Hackett at July 22, 2015 06:56 PM

Karen De Coster

Reflection on 1984

I love the Students For Orwell website for its deft headline, and I’ll ignore that it hasn’t been updated in two years:

Students for an Orwellian Society

Because 2013 is 29 years too late.

 

by Karen De Coster at July 22, 2015 04:46 PM

E.W. Scripps buys Midroll podcast ad network →

Natalie Jarvey:

Midroll Media, which operates an advertising network for podcasts including WTF with Marc Maron and Nerdist, has been acquired for an undisclosed price by E.W. Scripps Co.

Old media making a grab in the new world.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 22, 2015 04:41 PM

The Urbanophile

New York’s Paleolithic Subway Signalling

Second Avenue Sagas pointed me at this new video about the signal replacement project on the New York subway system. The first couple minutes show the fossilized remains the original signaling system that is, amazingly, still for the most part used to control the subways. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.

The MTA has a program underway to replace these, but it’s proceeding at snail’s pace. Only the Canarsie Line/L-train is complete, and the Flushing Line/7-train will be finished in 2017, supposedly. It will take five and a half years just to upgrade the western segment of the Queens Blvd Line. At this rate I’ll be long dead before they finish upgrading the whole system. And by that time, the new “state of the art” CBTC signalling system will itself long be past end of life.

It’s very difficult to upgrade NYC’s subways because they are a 24 x 7 x 365 system. The MTA employees do a fantastic job of keeping it going in difficult circumstances. But given the MTAs dubious record on major capital projects in terms of cost and timeline, it’s hard to believe this is the best that can be done.

This also shows why fully funding the MTA capital plan is so important. It’s about dealing with critical upgrades to the existing system to keep things going. If anything, the amount of capital funds devoted to the CBTC signal program should be significantly increased to start upgrading multiple lines in parallel.

by Aaron M. Renn at July 22, 2015 03:14 PM

Kbase Article of the Week: Xserve RAID - Technical Specifications →

In hindsight, this is one of the weirder hardware projects Apple's done in the modern era, but it sure was a pretty rig.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at July 22, 2015 02:30 PM

Crossway Blog

3 Things the Pro-Life Movement Needs to Do to Stop Abortion

This post is adapted from The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf.


How to Make an Impact

During a ministry symposium in 1984, I heard a Christian historian say he thought the Berlin Wall would come down in ten years.

I nearly laughed out loud. As it turns out, he was wrong. It came down in five years.

Despite the bleak picture we see all around us, I’m convinced that the pro-life cause is not nearly so bleak when our message is clearly communicated. Though I don’t think we’re in for a quick fix, it’s apparent that pro-lifers are making an impact right now.

I do not pretend to have a sufficient strategy for winning the abortion battle. Strategies come and go, and most are discarded before the ink is dry. But I do believe there are some necessary steps we must take if we are going to win. Here are three that we can begin implementing right now.

1. Recruit More Full-Time Pro-Life Apologists

Gregg Cunningham once said, “There are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are working full-time to save them. That’s because killing babies is very profitable while saving them is very costly. So costly, that large numbers of Americans who say they oppose abortion are not lifting a finger to stop it. And those that do lift a finger to stop it do just enough to salve the conscience but not enough to stop the killing.” [1]

That’s a stunning indictment of our movement, and it’s easy to think, “That’s not me.” But like it or not, I can’t dispute Gregg’s point. We simply don’t have enough full-time pro-life workers, and unless we get serious about finding them, our movement will remain a part-time volunteer movement incapable of taking on the heavily funded professionals from Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, large parts of the Democratic Party (and some Republicans too), and other groups who are paid handsomely to defend killing babies. Churches have no problem recruiting missionaries for overseas adventures, and that’s a good thing. Why not also recruit young people from our churches to study law and seek political office while others are encouraged to seek careers in pro-life apologetics. (Biola University and Trinity International University provide graduate-level training in Christian apologetics and bioethics.)

2. Systematically Train Youth

Two summers ago, I paid my two oldest sons—ages sixteen and fifteen at the time—to study apologetics with me instead of getting summer jobs. I had them read books on Christian doctrine (lay-level), apologetics, and pro-life advocacy. Some people thought I was nuts, but it made perfect sense to me. Parents have no problem shelling out up to twenty-five thousand dollars per year to send their kids to universities where Christianity is openly attacked, so why trouble myself over a fraction of that so my kids can have their beliefs affirmed?

I speak in Protestant and Catholic high schools all over the United States. Over and over again, students tell me they’ve never heard a pro-life talk like mine. At each place, students see pictures depicting abortion and hear a compelling case for the pro-life view. Gatekeepers such as teachers and administrators worry that the kids can’t handle abortion-related content, but the gatekeepers are wrong. I’m often told by students, “I finally know how to defend what I believe. Thank you!”

Too many people in Christian leadership fear man more than they fear God. I once asked a school principal who wanted me to speak without pictures, “Are any of the reasons you are giving me for not showing this film worth the price of children’s lives that could have been saved if we’d graciously shown it?” He acknowledged that the question was a good one but gave the standard reply: “Our students just aren’t ready for this.”

So what are we to conclude, that a student seeing an abortion is worse than a student actually having one?

Admittedly, some pro-life advocates misuse graphic visual aids and thus demonstrate a general lack of sensitivity. However, the solution isn’t to categorically reject the pictures; the solution is to use them wisely and compassionately.

If we want to equip our kids to withstand challenges from a secular abortion-loving culture, we’ll have to start taking some reasonable risks, one of which is letting them see the truth.

3. Go Visual

Any student who is old enough by law to get an abortion without parental consent is certainly old enough to view the consequences of that choice. [2] Educators universally acknowledge the value of graphic visuals when used properly.

High school students, for example, are routinely shown grisly pictures of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Images of mutilated bodies stacked like cordwood communicate the horror of the death camps in a way no lecture can. In fact, the producers of Schindler’s List donated a copy of the film to every high school in America, in spite of its graphic content. Faculty members acknowledged the disturbing images but argued that students would not understand the Holocaust unless they saw it. [3] As noted television critic Howard Rosenberg wrote in the Los Angeles Times, ‘Although almost too horrid to watch, these segments are absolutely essential.’” [4]

Teaching the abortion holocaust with any less academic rigor is intellectually dishonest. If students are mature enough for Schindler’s List, they can certainly view a two-minute film like This Is Abortion, produced by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. [5]

Some pro-lifers worry that showing graphic abortion pictures lays a guilt trip on post-abortion women. True, we should always be gentle, but people wounded by abortion desperately need to be brought out of denial and into confession so they can repent and find healing and forgiveness. The fact that repentance is painful does not relieve us of our duty to teach it. At the same time, we patronize women when we assume they are too inherently weak to look at abortion objectively.

Nevertheless, the images must be used properly, meaning we should not spring them on unsuspecting audiences. When I use the two-minute film This Is Abortion, I tell people exactly what is in the clip and invite them to avert their gaze if they so desire. Nearly everyone watches, and no one complains. I have found this to be true in diverse settings such as debates, banquets, schools, churches, etc. With Christian audiences, I introduce my remarks by stating that Christ is eager to forgive the sin of abortion and that my purpose is not to condemn but to clarify and equip.

People who are not heartbroken over abortion will almost never make the lifestyle concessions necessary to support crisis pregnancy centers or other pro-life efforts at a sacrificial level. Pictures change the way people feel about abortion, while facts change they way they think. Both are vital in changing behavior.

True, many people dislike abortion pictures and find them offensive. That’s to be expected, given the discomfort of admitting one’s own moral culpability in the face of injustice. The more pressing question is whether the number of people put off by the graphic images exceeds those compelled into modifying their beliefs. If the debate over partial-birth abortion is any indication, we should bet on the pictures.

Concluding Challenge: Open the Casket on AbortIon

Gregg Cunningham often says in public presentations that abortion represents an evil so inexplicable, there are no words to describe it. Although the pictures are difficult to look at, they convey truth in a way that words never can.

Consider this historical parallel example. In 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black youth, traveled from Chicago to visit his cousin in the town of Money, Mississippi. [6] Upon arrival, he bragged about his white girlfriends back in Chicago. This was surprising to his cousin and the cousin’s friends because blacks in Mississippi during the fifties didn’t make eye contact with whites, let alone date them! Both actions were considered disrespectful. Later that day, Emmett, his cousin, and a small group of black males entered Bryant’s Grocery Store where, egged on by the other males, fourteen-year old Emmett flirted with a twenty-one-year-old white, married woman behind the counter. After purchasing candy, he either whistled at her or said something mildly flirtatious. (Reports vary.) The cousin and the others warned him he was in for trouble. A few days later, at 2:00 a.m., Emmett was taken at gunpoint from his uncle’s home by the clerk’s husband and another man. After savagely beating him, they killed him with a single bullet to the head.

Emmett’s bloated corpse was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River. A cotton gin fan had been shoved over his head and tied with barbed- wire. His face was partially crushed and beaten almost beyond recognition. The local sheriff placed Emmett’s body in a sealed coffin and shipped it to his mother back in Chicago. When Mamie Till got the body, she made a stunning announcement—there would be an open-casket funeral for her son Emmett. People protested and reminded her how much this would upset everyone. Mamie agreed but countered, “I want the whole world to see what they did to my boy.” The photo of Emmett’s mangled body in that open casket was published in Jet magazine, and that helped launch the Civil Rights Movement in America. Three months later in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus when ordered to do so. She said the image of Emmett Till gave her the courage to stand her ground. [14]

It’s time for pro-life Christians to open the casket on abortion.

We should do it lovingly but truthfully. We should do it in our churches during the primary worship services, comforting those who grieve with the gospel of forgiveness. We should do it in our Christian high schools and colleges, combining visuals with a persuasive defense of the pro-life view that’s translatable to non-Christians.

But open the casket we must.

Until we do, Americans will continue tolerating an injustice they never have to look at.

Notes:
[1] Cunningham has stated this often since 1990 in public presentations.
[2] True, some states have parental consent or parental notification laws, but there’s a catch. If the underage girl does not want to tell her parents about a pending abortion, she can appear before a judge who will often grant permission for the procedure. We call this judicial bypass, and it operates in states with consent laws. [3] John Davies, “Moving Pictures,” Times Educational Supplement, September 16, 1994. See also Social Education (October 1995), 365–366. [4] The letter (dated March 3, 1997) was sent to NBC officials after the film aired on television. [5] Order at www.abortionno.org. [6] This story is reported in the PBS series Eyes on the Prize, a history of the Civil Rights Movement. For a detailed account of the Emmett Till story as a catalyst for that movement, see Clenora Hudson-Weems, “Resurrecting Emmett Till: The Catalyst of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2, November 1998. Weems argues that the bloody picture of Emmett Till, even more than the actions of Rosa Parks, provoked whites to support civil rights legislation. [14] The details of the Emmett Till story are taken from the following sources: Clenora Hudson-Weems, “Resurrecting Emmett Till: The Catalyst of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” 179–188; George F. Will, “Emmett Till and a Legacy of Grace,” Washington Post, June 19, 2005; Mark Gado, “Mississippi Madness: The Story of Emmett Till,” The Crime Library, http://www.crimelibrary.com/notoriousmurders/famous/ emmetttill; Leonard Pitts, “Open Casket Opened Eyes,” Miami Herald, January 10, 2003.


Scott Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute, where he trains pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views. A passionate and engaging platform speaker, Scott's pro-life presentations have been featured by Focus on the Family, Truths That Transform, and American Family Radio. Scott is a graduate of UCLA and the author of The Case for Life and Pro-Life 101.

by Matt Tully at July 22, 2015 01:31 PM

Video: 6 Reasons to Pray the Bible

6 Reasons to Pray the Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Why Pray the Bible?

Here are six reasons:

  1. Your prayers will be more biblical.
  2. Your prayers will be less repetitive.
  3. Your prayers will be more refreshing.
  4. Your prayers will be more focused.
  5. Your prayers will be more God-centered.
  6. Your prayers will feel more like real conversations with a real person.

Sign up for a free, 5-day email course designed to teach you how to pray the Bible at crossway.org/PraytheBible.


About the Book

When you pray, does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things about the same old things?

Offering us the encouragement and the practical advice we’re all looking for, Donald S. Whitney—bestselling author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life—outlines a easy-to-grasp method that has the power to transform our prayer life: praying the words of Scripture.

Simple, yet profound, Praying the Bible will prove invaluable as you seek to commune with your heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.

Learn more about the book and download a free excerpt today.

by Matt Tully at July 22, 2015 01:25 PM

CrossFit Naptown

CrossFit NapTown – Monon Trail

Wednesday’s Workout:

Pause Snatch
Advanced: 1 Rep on the minute 10:00
Intermediate: 1 Power Snatch on the minute 10:00
Beginner: Technique

Partner WOD
9:00 As Many Rounds As Possible
15 Calorie Row
15 Handstand Push Up

 

 

The Big Reveal!

 

The announcement has arrived! We are getting ready to expand the NapTown Fitness brand with the addition of CrossFit NapTown – Monon Trail. The location is right on the Monon Trail in Broadripple (the south side of the B Rip i.e. SoBro) and we are excited to be adding this location to the family.

“Wow this is great…but wait, what does this mean for me?”  

Yes we know you are asking yourself this.

The answer is:

  • An even bigger, even more wonderful community for you to embrace
  • Another beautiful space for you to visit & utilize with your CFNT Unlimited Membership
  • And all of the things you have grown to know and love about CFNT will stay the same!

 

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We do not have all of the answers just yet but stay tuned for more information to come and feel free to ask any questions you may have, info@crossfitnaptown.com will field them all and we will answer as best we can!

 

Community Intro from CCS&C on Vimeo.

by Anna at July 22, 2015 12:22 PM

The ryg blog

The Modulith

Much has been written about all the myriad ways to go wrong when writing software. Poor management; scope creep; too little structure, not modular enough, and it’s a “big ball of mud”. Too much (or too rigid) and it’s a “software crystal”, impossible to alter. And so on.

Suppose you get all that right, and actually ship a useful system to users, it solves their problems well enough, and the code is reasonably clean, has a sound design and a modular structure with interface that, while not perfect, work okay. That’s about as good as it gets! Well done.

Alas, you’re not out of the woods. Success has its own failure modes, and I want to talk about one in particular that affects modular designs.

The arguments for modularity are well known: separating concerns breaks large systems down into smaller constituent parts that can be understood individually, with clearly-defined interfaces between them. Ideally, modules are designed so they can be developed and tested in isolation, and if an individual module is found wanting (say it’s unreliable, faulty or there are simply better solutions available), it can be replaced with another module provided it has the same interface.

And there really are systems like that, where the interfaces are rigid and well-specified, components come only in a handful of “shapes”, and everything cleanly fits together, like Lego bricks. But more commonly, shipping systems look like this (prepare for an extended metaphor):

"Dry stone wall, Island of Mull". Photo by Jan Smith, CC-BY 2.0

“Dry stone wall, Island of Mull”. Photo by Jan Smith, CC-BY 2.0

The modules have irregular shapes and irregular sizes. Some are big, some are quite small. Some closely align with their neighbors; others have big gaps between them. They add up to a coherent whole, but it’s clear that for most of the development time, none of these components really had to have any particular shape. Occasionally you need a small piece with a specific shape to fill a gap, but for the most part, you just work with the materials you have.

The result is still “modular”; it’s built out of smaller pieces, each with their own clearly defined boundaries. But it’s not very regular, and outright weird in some places. That chipped corner on one of the bottom pieces was just an early mistake, but it made for a good place to stick that one flat rock on and somehow that ended up being one of the primary supports for the whole thing. And while building that wall, “I need a rock, about this big” was the only constraint you really had, and you just sort of piled it on. But when repairing it after one of the pieces has been damaged, working out the right shape, finding a replacement that meets that description and getting it in place is really tricky, fiddly work. (End of extended metaphor.)

Know any systems like that? I certainly do. And the end result is what I hereby dub a “modulith” (I am sure this has been observed and named before, but I haven’t seen it elsewhere yet). Made out of small, distinct, cleanly separable pieces, but still, everything but the topmost layer is actually kind of hard to disentangle from the rest, due to a myriad of small interactions with everything surrounding it. Because once you use a module as a building block for something else, there’s a disturbing tendency for all of its remaining quirks and bugs to effectively become part of the spec, as other modules (implicitly or explicitly) start to rely on them.

This is related to, but distinct from, other concepts such as software entropy and technical debt, which primarily deal with effects within a single codebase over time. Here we are dealing with something slightly different: as a particular component is successfully used or re-used (in unmodified form!), the users of said code tend to end up relying (often inadvertently) on various unspecified or underspecified behaviors, implicitly assuming a stronger contract than the component is actually supposed to provide. At that point, your choices are to either make those assumed behaviors actually contractual (not breaking existing code at the cost of severely constraining future evolution of said component), or to fix all users that make stronger assumptions than what is guaranteed (easier said than done if the component in question is popular; often causes ripple effects that break yet more code).

Either way, I don’t have any good solutions, but I’m feeling whimsical and haven’t seen this exact problem described before, so I’m naming it. In the extremely likely case that this has already been described and named by someone else, I’d appreciate a reference!


by fgiesen at July 22, 2015 10:03 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

It is Done! Hugo Voted!

I sat down and cast my Hugo ballots tonight, just an hour ago, online. Naturally, I voted for myself wherever possible.

Sorry, Col Kratman, but I thought you were not interested in the award anyway.

And I voted for my editor Vox Day, who as far as I am concerned, is the best editor I have ever worked with. Although my several other editors, including George RR Martin (who has forgotten he and I worked together to our mutual satisfaction) were kind enough, and professional and thorough, and I am grateful to them, none of the others made specific suggestions that specifically improved my work, or discussed my works with me, other than the very minimum.

With Larry Correia off the list, I voted for Jim Butcher’s SKIN GAME in the number one spot for best novel.

The one and only story I tucked beneath a NO AWARD was ‘Day the Earth Turned Upside Down’ which was poorly written on every level, jejune, mildly grotesque, and involved a conceit that seems directly opposite the whole point of speculative fiction, which is to think through the realistic ramifications of unreal conceits.

Of course, since my own beloved story, ‘Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus’ which I had to open a vein to write in the blood of the innermost heart, the most difficult work I ever wrote, was knocked from the list (in an overly strict interpretation of a rule that he been bent for John Scalzi in earlier years) in order to make room for this lacktalent tripe, I cannot pretend to have in this case achieved my normal superhuman perfection of emotionless Vulcan objectivity.

As if Paris of Troy were to see the tinsel crown awarded to Medusa after Helen were removed for a technicality from a beauty contest. But, even if Paris put aside his personal feelings, any eye could see that a face that turns screaming men to stone is less fair that that which launched a thousand ships.

Of course, on the other hand, since ‘Yes, Virginia’ was not a science fiction story either, I have no cause for complaint. But it was a well written nonsciencefiction story, not a poorly written one.

On the griping hand, I have exchanged a few kind words with Mr. Thomas Olde Heuvelt, and should he win, I will applaud him with honest enthusiasm. I think him a fine fellow who should win an award for being a fine fellow. I do not this this story of his, however, should win an award for science fiction literature. 

But we are not voting for the authors, but for their works. I assume I am not the only person alive who understands and obeys that principle.

So, in all fairness, I did vote as objectively as possible according to my honest judgment of the merit of the works offered.  As should you.

(The fact that each snarling Morlock will grab his ears from rage and rip himself in two from crown to groin like Rumpelstiltskin should I win anything is merely a pleasing side-effect, what economists call a positive externality, and should form no part of your motives, dear readers, in voting for any works of mine you may find worthy of the honor.)

 

by John C Wright at July 22, 2015 09:35 AM

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July 22, 2015 08:00 AM

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I had been playing D&D for almost twenty years and decided to introduce a group of my friends to the game so we could play it together.

Being the one with the most experience, I started as the DM. The first adventures were pretty straightforward dungeon crawls that went pretty much 'on rails'.…

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July 22, 2015 07:01 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

3 Reasons Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Defund Planned Parenthood

Watching Planned Parenthood executives sip wine and eat salad while discussing the dismemberment of babies and the selling of their body parts has awakened the ire of the American public. This callous disregard for human life, exposed in two recent undercover videos, has also renewed calls to cut off federal funding of the country’s largest abortion provider.

Even though federal funding of abortion is prohibited by law, Planned Parenthood still garners over $500 million a year in revenue from government grants and reimbursements. This week two GOP presidential candidates, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have vowed to use pending legislation, most likely an amendment on a highway bill, to eliminate federal taxpayer dollars from going into the abortion providers coffers.

Image via LifeSiteNewsThis effort to defund America’s biggest abortion provider is a noble and necessary cause that should be supported by all pro-life Christians. But it is unlikely—at least before the 2016 election—to be successful. Here’s why: 

The Democrats won’t allow it — The primary reason that denying taxpayer funds to an organization that performs abortions is politically untenable is because one of the two major political parties in America fully supports taxpayer funding of abortions. The use of taxpayer monies to pay for any abortion in all nine months of pregnancy for any women who wants one is literally a plank in the Democratic Party platform:

 The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.

Notice the claim to “oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right” includes the “right” to taxpayer-funded abortions. When an entire political party clarifies that they will oppose any efforts to reduce taxpayer funding that goes to pay for abortions, we shouldn’t be surprised when members of that political party oppose an effort to eliminate taxpayer funding of the group that performs the most abortions in America.

This has certainly been the pattern in the past. When this issue came up in 2011 the vote was 241-185 to defund Planned Parenthood. Only seven Republicans voted against the measure and only 10 Democrats voted for it. The Senate defeated the same measure 47 to 53. It needed 60 votes to pass. Not a single Democrat in the Senate voted to cut off the funding.

If the issue comes up again for a vote, not a single Democrat in the Senate will support the defunding measure—and Republicans will not have the votes to override them if the President vetoes it (see below for more on that).

The courts won’t allow it — Even efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the state level have been rebuffed.

In 2011, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) signed a law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding from the state of Indiana. Soon after, lawmakers in Arizona, North Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas also attempted to exclude funding of the abortion provider from their states’ pools of public insurance providers.

In response, the federal courts have blocked all of those efforts, ruling that states cannot deny women access to providers who meet the federal requirements to qualify for Medicaid. Planned Parenthood is classified as a “qualified medical provider” and is thus eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.

In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry found a workaround: refuse to accept federal funding for the state’s women’s health programs. By choosing to fully fund the program at the state level, Texas is technically allowed to exclude Planned Parenthood. So far, no other states have adopted the Texas model.

The President won’t allow it — President Obama is an ardent and unapologetic supporter of Planned Parenthood. As a candidate in 2008, Obama promised in a speech at a Planned Parenthood event that if elected, “the first thing I'd do is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

That bill, which its supporters claimed would “codify Roe v. Wade”, would have nullified every abortion restriction in America. The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) not only allows unrestricted access to abortion but also:
 

Prohibits a federal, state, or local governmental entity from: (1) denying or interfering with a woman's right to exercise such choices; or (2) discriminating against the exercise of those rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. Provides that such prohibition shall apply retroactively.

Authorizes an individual aggrieved by a violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief, including relief against a governmental entity, in a civil action.

FOCA never made it out of the House committee, but President Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood and abortion-on-demand remained unchanged. For his unwavering support for the Planned Parenthood, the president has won accolades—and a rare political endorsement—from the organization. “President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in 2013.

The president has certainly proven his commitment. In 2011, funding disagreements between Republican legislators and the White House threatened to lead to a government shutdown. President Obama reportedly told Speaker of the House John Boehner that his openness to discussion on one particular point, de-funding Planned Parenthood (something the House of Representatives had already voted in favor of), amounted to “Nope. Zero.”

Twice in 2011, President Obama threatened to veto bills aimed at de-funding Planned Parenthood. This year, when the House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the president reaffirmed that he would veto the legislation.

Even if the bill is able to make it through the Congress, President Obama will immediately stamp it with his veto.

In the fact of our impending failure, pro-lifers shouldn’t grow discouraged. But we should be realistic. Currently, there isn’t much we can do to stop the flow of federal money to abortion providers. Until there are more pro-life members in the Senate and the White House, Planned Parenthood will continue to collect more than $60,000 an hour, every hour of every day of every year, from the American taxpayer.

by Joe Carter at July 22, 2015 05:52 AM

Don Carson on the Need for Word-Filled Women’s Ministry

Of the various components that make up the ministry of The Gospel Coalition, one of the most vibrant is the National Women’s Conference. This has served, among other things, to bring together a remarkable group of women who have studied Scripture and shared their experiences and then branched out into a growing list of shared projects. Not a few of these have been tied to writing and publishing.

In Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church [download excerpt], 10 of these women attractively encourage a broad range of ministries—ministries that are grounded in Scripture but that never forget there are real people out there. The title and subtitle hold up their twin foci: Word-filled ministry and the centrality of the local church.

But what is most attractive about these essays is that they are wonderfully outward-looking. They are thoughtful, but there is no trace of the kind of introspection that is essentially self-consuming. Out of both biblical conviction and years of experience, these women think seriously about discipleship, evangelism, inter-generational mentoring, and compassion. Their strength is evident; their commitment to Scripture robust; their joy in the gospel intoxicating; their anticipation of the consummation providing a lodestar to their lives and service.

Although this is a book by women to foster Word-filled women’s ministry, much of it will be read with equal profit by men. I hope that some of those men will be pastors who, in consequence, reflect on what they can do to encourage such ministry in their own churches. 


Endorsements

“Women’s ministry is ultimately not about women. Nor is it about programs. It’s about the glory of God and the health of his church. Word-Filled Women’s Ministry is a much-needed resource for both men and women to consider the necessity of ministry among women as well as the centrality of the Word for cultivating a church in which women flourish.” 
Melissa Kruger, Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Uptown Church; author, The Envy of Eve

“There is no question that the women in your churches will be discipled. The only question is whether they will be discipled by the world or the Word. That’s why I’m so excited about Word-Filled Women’s Ministry. It’s more than a book. These contributors represent a movement of teachers guiding women to find hope and freedom and salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in his Word. I couldn’t more highly esteem these writers, and I pray that you will take up their charge to take up the Word.”
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots

“Here is a book that focuses on the possibilities and not just the problems of ministry among women. It is written by women from a wide range of ministry contexts, but all with hearts that beat with a common gospel rhythm. Every chapter is grounded in Scripture and wonderfully practical. Women and men of the Word, read it and be encouraged by all the gospel possibilities.”
Jenny Salt, Dean of Students, Sydney Missionary and Bible College

“This is a significant subject that I have long been interested in, and the voices of my sisters in this book are as edifying as they are encouraging. Pastors, teachers, elders, and women’s ministry leaders alike will benefit from this Bible-based, gospel-centered, local church–focused work. I so resonate with their central thesis—“Profitable ministry among women is grounded in God’s Word, grows in the context of God’s people, and aims for the glory of Christ”—that I anticipate with joy the flourishing of this vision in the churches.”
J. Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“Word-Filled Women’s Ministry is written for the bustling daughters of Christ, who need God’s Word to train and sustain them in their various labors. It acknowledges the vast diversity of women’s ministries in different churches while calling them to a unified commitment to God’s Word. Women grow best as they learn from Scripture, first as it is preached to the gathered church and then as it is explored and explained in the company of other godly women. This book is an incentive to the latter, casting a vision for what can and ought to happen when the Bible takes its rightful place at the center of women’s ministry.” 
Megan Hill, pastor’s wife; author, Praying Together; blogger, Sunday Women

“A marvelous resource for thoughtful Christians, male and female, who long to see the power of the gospel unleashed in their own lives, in the church, and throughout world.” 
Colin S. Smith, Senior Pastor, The Orchard, Arlington Heights, Illinois

“Full of careful biblical teaching and many helpful applications, this book is an invaluable aid for all Christian women to think through their own ministry possibilities. But it is also a highly useful tool for pastors and elders to understand and then activate much-needed biblical opportunities for every ministry in the local church. I hope it will be on the must-read list of every church leader.”
David Jackman, Former President, Proclamation Trust, London, England

“Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson, along with a host of other talented writers, help us explore a vision-guided practice of our theology. Too often in church ministry, gender is received as a problem to be solved rather than as a beautiful gift from God to be explored. This book is a marvelous map to enjoy God, lead in God’s church, and explore God’s world, whether a woman is stepping into ministry for the first time or is a seasoned veteran.”
Daniel Montgomery, Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Founder, Sojourn Network; author, Faithmapping and Proof


Table of Contents

Part 1: The Heart of Women’s Ministry

1. The Word at the Center: Hearing God Speak
    Kathleen Nielson
2. The Word on Women: Enjoying Distinction
    Claire Smith
3. The Word Passed On: Training New Leaders
    Carrie Sandom

Part 2: Contexts for Women’s Ministry

4. The Local Church: Finding Where We Fit
    Cindy Cochrum
5. The World around Us: Practicing Evangelism
    Gloria Furman
6. The Ends of the Earth: Thinking Global
    Keri Folmar

Part 3: Issues in Women’s Ministry

7. Older and Younger: Taking Titus Seriously
    Susan Hunt and Kristie Anyabwile
8. Sexual Wholeness: Affirming Truth with Compassion
    Ellen Dykas
9. Gifts and Giftedness: Finding the Place to Serve
    Kathleen Nielson and Gloria Furman

Part 4: The End of Women’s Ministry

10. Ultimate Goals: Heading for That Day
     Nancy Guthrie


Editors’ note: Pastors and women’s ministry leaders, for information about exploring Word-Filled Women’s Ministry Training in your context, please contact Mallie Taylor, coordinator for women’s initiatives: mallie.taylor [at] thegospelcoalition.org.

by Don Carson at July 22, 2015 05:02 AM