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August 28, 2015

Table Titans

Proclamations: PAX Prime & Acquisitions Inc Merch!

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HUZZAH! HUZZAH!

Table Titans and Penny Arcade are joining forces to bring you, for the first time ever, official Acquisitions Incorporated merchandise.

After fierce negotiations with CEO Omin Dran we are able to begin offering you real AI merchandise, and your first opportunity to pick some…

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August 28, 2015 08:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

When Did the Decline of Marriage Begin in America?

[Note: This is the second article in an occasional series on the marriage revolution. Because facts and evidence are essential for making gospel-centered arguments about the cluster of controversial topics related to marriage, the first few posts attempt to clarify some of the important numbers related to marriage.]

The “marriage revolution” is an admittedly vague term for the cluster of modern phenomena related to the institution of marriage. At its core, the marriage revolution is an outgrowth and outworking of the sexual revolution, the liberalization of established social and moral attitudes toward sex, particularly that occurring in western countries during the 1960s. Because of this connection, the beginning of the marriage revolution can also be dated to the era of the 1960s. But when did the decline of marriage begin? And how long has the rate of marriage been falling?

To answer those questions and to determine when the marriage revolution changes occurred, we need a baseline for comparison. For example, if we say that marriage rates are in decline, we need to know what marriage rates looked like in the past and how current rates compare to previous eras.

Fortunately, Randy Olson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has gone to the trouble of compiling the data on marriage in the U.S. over a period of 144 years. For decades, the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics has published reports on vital statistics that include rates of marriage and divorce. Olson collected the data and put it into a spreadsheet which you can download here.

To provide a visual overview of the data set, Olson charted the per capita marriage and divorce rates and added a few annotations to denote major historical events.

(You can also find an interactive version of the per capita chart here.)

Here are a few points worth noting about the data:

• The data shows the number of new marriages and divorces for each year from 1867 to 2010.

• In 1867, the population of the U.S. was 36.9 million; in 2011 it had grown to 312 million. By using the per capita figures, we can make apples-to-apples comparisons between years without them being becoming overly skewed by population growth.

• From 1867 to 1902, the marriage rate was essentially flat. After 1903 and until 1987, the marriage rate mostly stayed above 10 percent.  (We’ll consider the outlier period from 1950 to 1970 in a moment.)

• At the beginning of America’s entry into the two global wars—WWI in 1917 and WWII in 1941—we find spikes in the marriage rates. We see similar spikes in marriage at the conclusions of those wars in 1918 and 1945.

• As Olson notes, the only notable spike in divorce rates in the past 144 years also followed the conclusion of WWII. This is likely due, he says, to “many of the pre-WWII marriages coming to an abrupt end once the romance of wartime marriage wore off.”

• The most significant drop in marriage rates prior to the 1980s occurred during the Great Depression. The hardship of that era led to a sharp 25 percent drop in marriage rates.

• One peculiar spot in the data is during the 1950s and early 1960s—a period when almost all adults in the U.S. were married. How do we account for the discrepancy? As Olson explains, “People weren’t marrying less in the 1950s and 1960s, but the surge of newborn children during the Baby Boom artificially decreases the per capita rates. Once the Baby Boomers came of age in the 1970s, marriage rates returned to pre-WWII levels — barring a slight drop in marriages during the dramatic conclusion of the Vietnam War (1975).” In other words, the rapid increase in children after the war skewed the population numbers, which drove down the per capita rate of marriage.

• The divorce rate remained 1 percent or less from 1867 to 1915 and remained under 2 percent until 1940. The first year the divorce rate exceeded 3 percent was in 1969—the year California became the first state to adopt “no-fault” divorce. (No-fault divorce allows a married couple’s claim of “irreconcilable differences” as sufficient grounds to end a marriage.)

• From 1968 to 1987, the marriage rate stayed at or above 9.9 percent. It dropped to 9.7 in 1988 and 1989, climbed back to 9.8 percent in 1990, and dropped steadily until 2009, where it remained at 6.8 percent.

• The divorce rate peaked between 1979 and 1981 at 5.3 percent. Since then the divorce rate has steadily declined along with the rate of marriage.

Now that we’ve explored the data, what year should we use as the marker for the beginning of the decline of marriage in the U.S.? I would argue for 1985, the last year that the marriage rate topped 10 percent. In only two years since then has the rate reversed course and increased more than the previous year (from 9.7 in 1989 to 9.8 in 1990 and 8.1 in 1998 to 8.4 in 1999). But both of those year-to-year increases were immediately followed by nearly decade long declines. The year 1985 may also mark the last year that America ever sees a marriage rate of more than 10 percent.

What changed in 1985 that could have lead to the decline in marriage? There are likely numerous factors—which we’ll examine in future articles—but one stands out in particular: By 1985, all states (except for New York) had enacted no-fault divorce legislation.

In the next article in this series we’ll examine the historical changes in divorce laws and consider how they might have led to the overall decline in marriage as an institution. Other posts in this series:

• Is There Any Actual Demand for Same-Sex Marriage?

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Joe Carter at August 28, 2015 07:31 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Like Hell

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It’s been quite a while since we cracked open the books, but I can still remember the long night sessions fondly.

I fell into the role of DM, while my girlfriend (now wife of 20+ years) and our group of friends would gather around our table every Saturday for a weekly session. My campaign…

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August 28, 2015 07:02 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

There Are No Unanswered Prayers

A couple of months ago, as my husband and I spent a typical evening watching our twin toddlers play after dinner, I turned to him and said, “Can you believe we have twins?” Like many parents of multiples, I’m regularly amazed we got two kids at one time—and are able to watch them learn and grow through the same stages in different ways. But my wonder as I watched them play that night was loaded with history, our history of becoming parents.

Our journey to parenthood was a difficult one, so when we finally got a positive pregnancy test (that by all appearances wasn’t going to end in miscarriage) we were simply hopeful to see a heartbeat at our first ultrasound. Instead we saw two. And our lives have never been the same.

In the painful years of waiting for God to answer our prayers for a child this side of heaven, we never dreamed he would have given us two at once. When we stare at the faces of our twin boys, in all their boundless energy of toddlerhood, and now as we stare too at the face of our newborn son, we are regularly brought to worship the God who not only answered our prayer, but answered more abundantly than we could have imagined.

When God Is Silent

Sometimes God answers our prayers immediately. We pray for a job offer in the morning and get a phone call by dinner. We pray for clarity in a difficult circumstance and find resolution by week’s end. But sometimes he answers prayers more slowly. Sometimes he’s working behind the scenes of our trials, yet we can’t see his handiwork—leading us to feel like our prayer has fallen on deaf ears. When we are in the position of waiting for God to act—to remedy a situation, to heal an illness, to bring a wayward child home—and we don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, it can overwhelm us and cause unbelief to surface. Like most people, many prayers leave me wondering if I’ll ever hear an answer in this life.

We aren’t the first to experience such silence.

Abraham waited years and years for God to provide the promised son (Gen. 21:1–7). Joseph suffered silently and alone in Egypt until adulthood, waiting for God to reunite him with his family. On more than one occasion the Israelites faced captivity for hundreds of years as they waited on God to deliver them. They waited for the promised land in the wilderness. And they waited on the Messiah to be born.

In each of these circumstances, the waiting lasted far longer than anticipated. And at many points Israel trusted in what was seen, not in what was unseen.

When God is silent, we’re often tempted to doubt his goodness. We’re tempted to doubt his promises can really be true. We doubt he will answer our prayers.  

Beyond Imagination

But then there are moments when light breaks through and we see glimmers of hope that God is answering prayers we’ve uttered more times than we can count. We see a friendship gone cold begin to thaw after years of misunderstanding and fighting. We meet a man who seems he could be God’s provision of a husband after thinking the ship of marriage has long since sailed. We get a new job after months of unemployment and closed doors. Or we get twins after praying for an open womb.

Scripture brims with stories of God answering prayers that lead his people to marvel at the magnitude of his might and care. He gives children to barren, elderly people (Luke 1:5–25). He divides bodies of water so his people can escape from their enemies (Exod. 14). He defeats a giant with a few stones in the hand of a shepherd boy (1 Sam. 17). He tumbles walls in obscure ways, like marching around in circles (Josh. 6). He provides a redeemer for two widows (Ruth 4:13–17). He creates food out of nothing (Matt. 14:12–14). He raises the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24; John 11:38–44). God is in the business of answering prayers that seem impossible, and he often does so on a timetable different than our own.

However, the answers to prayer in our own lives pale in comparison to the greatest answer that arrived following four centuries of silence and hope (Luke 2). But did they know it would be God himself? Could they have imagined this Messiah would be not only a great man, but the God-man? Could they have dreamed that when they held that boy in all his newborn sweetness, they were holding God? Or that when they ate and walked and talked with him, they were in the presence of the Almighty?

Isn’t that how our God works, though? The architect of all creation can dream up things we never would imagine.

No Unanswered Prayers

This is our hope when our prayers go “unanswered.” The reality is there are no unanswered prayers. A “no” now doesn’t mean a “no” forever. As John Piper helpfully reminds us, God is often masterminding a thousand details behind the tapestry of our lives, and we only get to see three of them. Sometimes we see them immediately. Sometimes we don’t for years. Sometimes we don’t see them until we’re with him in eternity. And yet the truth remains: he is still in the business of answering our prayers.

My sons are a reminder to me of this reality. When I can’t see God working, he is there. When I think my prayers are going unanswered, he is not silent. When I wonder if he has forgotten me in the pain of my circumstances, he is present.

I don’t know the end of my story, but he does. As the great architect of my story, he is crafting one I’d never dream to write for myself. And it will be better than I can now imagine. All I need to do is look at my twins and remember.

Courtney Reissig is a writer, wife, and mom to twin boys. She is married to Daniel, and together they live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and serve at Midtown Baptist Church. You can read more of her writing on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

by Courtney Reissig at August 28, 2015 05:02 AM

The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World

A quick glance through Owen Strachan’s blog reveals many things that concern him about the rising generation of evangelical Christians. His latest book, The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World, primarily counters the prevailing skepticism he sees among millennial Christians. Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wants to show these millennials you can faithfully proclaim the gospel and orthodox Christianity while simultaneously loving others and effectively engaging the public square. And so he wrote a book about Charles “Chuck” Colson—a man from a previous generation who did just that. 

My first extended conversation with Chuck was in the spring of 2010. My wife and I visited his home in Naples, Florida, to discuss the prospect of my joining the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. The Colson Center was the focus of many of his later-life initiatives such as BreakPoint radio, the Centurions Program (a one-year worldview training program), and Doing the Right Thing (a joint video teaching series with Brit Hume, not Spike Lee). I was strongly considering doctoral studies but told him that, if given the opportunity, I’d consider it far better to work alongside him for a few years. “You’re right!” he said, and yet it didn’t sound arrogant at all. For Chuck, it was always about the mission of defending and declaring the Christian worldview in the public square, and not really about him. I took the opportunity and have never regretted it.

Waking a Generation 

The Colson Way identifies the Chuck Colson I knew but struggle to describe: profoundly gifted, furiously driven, courageous, intelligent, and yet remarkably teachable. His mind never stopped working, and he never stopped believing that the God who had redeemed his life would also use his life to help others. His long list of accomplishments, which Strachan details, will leave a new generation asking, “How did I not know about this guy before?” It left me wishing I’d been able to work longer with him.

Still, to be clear, The Colson Way is as much a gauntlet thrown down as it is a biography. As Strachan puts it, “I want this book to wake up a generation.” And so at the end of each chapter, after telling the next part of Chuck’s story, he offers specific applications and issues specific challenges to the readers he wishes to awaken.

Challenging the Church 

Chuck believed the lion’s share of his calling was to stir up the church. After his release from prison, he famously worked to move the church to bring the gospel to those in prison. An avid student of theology and worldview, he wanted the church to understand how a Christian vision of life and the world offered better solutions to cultural problems than did secularism, a vision he then applied—with impressive results—to criminal justice reform. Along the way he proclaimed to the church how moral breakdown was creating cultural chaos, including (but not limited to) the dramatic increase of America’s prison population. Near the end of his life, Chuck presciently warned that the cultural assault on traditional sexual morality and marriage in America would mean less and less space in the public square for true freedom of conscience.

The Colson that Strachan describes wasn’t just a man of words. He lived a life of word and deed, conviction and courage, faith and action. As Robert George told me soon after Chuck’s death, Chuck easily could’ve been an academic, and the organizations he created—Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center—could’ve been think tanks. But Chuck wouldn’t have it. He created them to be “do tanks” as much as anything.

The same is true of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), probably the most controversial of Chuck’s initiatives, which he co-founded with his close friend Father Richard John Neuhaus. In a too short description of ECT, Strachan talks of the value of co-belligerence with allies also committed “to support the permanent things.” ECT was one among many of Chuck’s initiatives to find comrades across convictional, political, creedal, and other lines. ECT supporters would argue it’s one that has perhaps borne the most cultural fruit in light of the emerging challenges to life, marriage, and religious liberty. ECT critics, on the other hand, would say the good accomplished on social issues is overshadowed by theological confusion. I wish Strachan had dealt with the issue in greater depth.

Energizing Book for a Fractured Age

Overall I found Strachan’s creative and well-written book to be accurate, inspiring, and, most of all, energizing. I pray it will move the next generation of Christians to fearlessly put their faith on the line and into action. I desire what Strachan does:

I want Colson to catalyze you to live with bold faith in a fractured age. Whether you counsel a young woman who feels abortion is the only way out of her personal nightmare, raise support to stop the sex trafficking of women in your country, or tell a classmate about the liberating gospel of Jesus, I want you to be like Colson and to be ready, as an ancient sage once said, to speak—but not only this. Like Colson, I want you to be ready to put steel in your words by acting courageously on them. (xxvi)

May it be so!

Owen Strachan. The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015. 240 pp. $22.99. 

John Stonestreet is president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Since Colson's death, he and Eric Metaxas co-have continued the daily cultural commentary Breakpoint. He and his wife Sarah have three daughters and a dog, and live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter.

by John Stonestreet at August 28, 2015 05:02 AM

Seeking Worship that Resembles the Complexion of Heaven

“Lord, cause our church to resemble the complexion of heaven.”

For the last 20 years of ministry I have been praying this prayer. And because I’ve pastored two churches humbled by nasty splits, the staff and officers have eagerly prayed the same.

The church I pastored previously was in the center of an upper-class township that was 99 percent white. So when the first black family in our 60-year history visited, they were swarmed with welcomes. After they joined, the wife asked me, “Is your church always this friendly or is it just because we are black?” I answered honestly, “Linda, this is a friendly church, but the truth is we have been praying a long time for you to come!”

Everything in downtown Augusta is different from Town and Country, Missouri. Our median income is $17,000, and 85 percent of our residents are African-American. But 10 years ago our church demographics were the same as the suburban church in St. Louis: upper-middle class, mostly white, with no members living in the church’s neighborhood.

How It All Began

It all starts with gospel renewal. As God has brought revival to us here at First Presbyterian Church (FPC), the gospel has compelled us to reach out to our “Jerusalem” known as Olde Town. With Jehoshaphat we have prayed, “Lord, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

A book title at the time, Love Walked Among Us, gave us an idea for how to start. As a congregation we began going on prayer walks through the urban core. As we observed needs, we either addressed them on the spot or organized and ministered to them later. Eventually members began moving downtown, renovating old houses and “re-neighboring” our community. Out of this incarnational awareness of need, numerous ministries have emerged: Heritage Academy, Christ Community Health Services, New Town youth ministry, Reaching Higher Tutoring, College for Kids, Arrow Institute of Art, City Hope Alliance Community Development Corporation, Urban Leadership Initiative, Vision Pathways leadership development, Fireside vocational ministries, Hope Ballet, and Hope for Augusta children’s ministries. Interracial friendships have emerged from these efforts. Another blessing has been that black brothers and sisters are attending and joining our church.

As friendships have developed among a diversity of races, ages, and socioeconomic levels, we’ve been able to get honest answers to questions like, “How could this, your new church, become an even better home for you and the friends you want to invite?” While our pastors and elders have asked such questions to individuals and small focus groups, we recently hosted a “Diversity in Worship Summit” with the largest and most diverse group gathered thus far. The insights of these diverse leaders in our ministry were so helpful that I thought they should be shared with others pursuing the same gospel priorities. 

What Our Surveying Has Shown

The most common reason for choosing to stay at FPC was that each one felt “welcomed” by members of the congregation. Several said that FPC members seemed “genuinely interested in who I am.” As newcomers to a predominantly white church, the welcome was so warm that they lost their “fear of being judged” if they didn’t do something the “right way.” The most commonly mentioned venue in which that welcome occurred was the Passing of the Peace, a time in the middle of the worship service when we respond to the assurance of pardoning grace by greeting one another with, “The peace of Christ be with you.”

When asked what they appreciated most about a typical morning worship service, the answers were:

  • “moments of silence”
  • “kneeling for personal confession of sin”
  • “confession of sin”
  • “the consistent preaching of gospel vs. law”
  • “passing the peace”
  • “singing confession of sin”
  • “confession of faith (ecumenical creeds)”
  • “benediction”
  • “occasionally singing songs in my language or cultural style” (e.g., stanzas in Spanish or Swahili or folk drums)
  • “referencing Scripture in sermon rather than personal opinion”

Most were hesitant to say anything should be changed. They were fairly protective of FPC’s integrity. “Content should be the first priority over personal preference,” several said. Another remarked, “I like FPC. That’s why I’m here!”

Beyond warmth of welcome, though, there were several insights, into what efforts have continued to communicate that non-majority culture members are highly valued:

  • “people leading up front who look like me”
  • “enthusiasm/genuine emotion in whomever is leading or singing or playing”
  • “efforts, however stumbling, to appreciate my background” (e.g., singing in different language, drums, B3 organ, spirituals, rhythm and blues)
  • “mentioning in prayer that we want to have at least 400 people of color attending by 2020”

When asked what might repel non-majority attenders someone said:

  • “the demand to think throughout the service vs. one long emotional experience”
  • “quiet vs. whooping or Amening”
  • “unintentional racial stereotyping”
  • “predisposition to feeling stereotyped”

When asked what could enhance the musical experience of non-majority members, the most common suggestions were:

  • “drums”
  • “more instrumentation” (trumpets, trombones) 
  • “wider variety of tune styles for hymns” (like Ascend the Hill provides)
  • “more a capella singing to hear each other’s voices”

All agreed that hymns were the most unifying tool for worship. Though the text of the hymn was most important to all the leaders and familiar tunes helped recall warm memories from their childhood experience of church, all were also open to new tunes. I urged all the participants to provide suggestions for hymns, musical styles, and instrumentation.

Hymns Unite

I closed the meeting with some insights I recently gained from Scott Aniol’s article “Evangelical Worship and the Decline of Denominationalism” (2015). Weaving together research found in a number of other recent studies, Aniol notes that a survey of 14 denominational hymnals from 1978 to present found 149 common texts (from the fourth to the 20th century) and 179 common tunes. Other surveys of older hymnals dating back to 1737 identified around 30 hymns that appeared in most of those hymnals. His conclusion was that psalmody, hymnody, and liturgy unite across denominational lines without diminishing theological matters.

There is a core of hymns that are transdenominational since they emphasize the liberating power of the cross despite all opposing forces, as well as basic Christian themes like the power of Jesus, prayer, and God’s love. Contemporary praise and worship music, associated with the charismatic movement (which now characterizes the musical style of 51 percent of evangelical churches of all denominations) has tended to divide since it tends to elevate stylistic matters and cultural demographics over theology.

Psalmody, hymnody, and liturgy unite across denominational lines without diminishing theological matters.

Three Helpful Strategies

So together we concluded the following big ideas for our continuing pursuit of worship which resembles the complexion of heaven:

1. Welcome

We must be proactive in welcoming newcomers. For us this includes initiatives like placing diverse “welcome team” members at every entry point and major junction who not only greet with a warm smile but invite the opportunity to meet any need (they wear a lanyard around their necks which reads “Ask Me!”). It means continuing to reserve a portion of the precious time we have in our 75-minute worship services for “passing the peace.” And it means enlarging our “Welcome Center” significantly so that it becomes a prominent architectural feature to communicate the welcoming nature of the gospel, rather than an add-on space to an old historic building.

2. Consistency

We must maintain the gospel-centeredness of every worship service, text, creed, and sermon. And we must look for those common hymns and tunes that have historically united the church.

3. Variety

We must design each worship service uniquely so that over the course of the year we are consciously including a diversity of musical styles, instrumentation, volumes, languages, and leaders.

George Robertson is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition.

by George Robertson at August 28, 2015 05:00 AM

Workout: Aug. 28, 2015

18 thrusters (135/95 lb.) 9 muscle-ups 12 thrusters (135/95 lb.) 6 muscle-ups 6 thrusters (135/95 lb.) 3 muscle-ups 1 mile run 3 muscle-ups 6 thrusters (135/95 lb.) 6 muscle-ups 12 thrusters (135/95 lb.) 9 muscle-ups 18 thrusters (135/95 lb.) Skills Session Power snatches 1-1-1 Power cleans 1-1-1

by Mike at August 28, 2015 04:55 AM

Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »

Dig the Aurora

Here’s what the current geomagnetic storm looks like right now, data-wise:

k indexThe visuals are in the sky, in the form of brilliant auroras, visible all over Canada and as far south as Michigan. The near-full moon doesn’t help, but the show is there to see. (Alas, I’m in North Carolina, so it’s a longer shot.)

by Doc Searls at August 28, 2015 03:03 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending August 21, 2015

Hardly any writing or drawing this week (beyond my now-usual daily notes). I still feel good about the week, though. I got lots of things done despite extra bleahness. W- has been helping me work on that part. =)

More consulting this week, since my clients asked me to help train a promising intern. I think he would be a great successor. Mwahaha.

2015-08-27b Week ending 2015-08-21 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (20.3h – 12%)
    • Earn (15.5h – 76% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (2.2h – 10% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.2h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (2.6h – 12% of Business)
  • Relationships (11.5h – 6%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (9.0h – 5%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Plan tile floor
    • Writing (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (32.7h – 19%)
  • Personal routines (23.8h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (5.5h – 3%)
  • Sleep (65.3h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending August 21, 2015 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at August 28, 2015 02:12 AM

August 27, 2015

The end of One to One

MacRumors is reporting that Apple is ending its One to One program:

MacRumors recently learned that Apple's One to One training program for Mac, iPhone and iPad may be coming to an end soon, and we can now confirm that Apple Stores are holding meetings with retail employees about phasing out the membership-based service, which has been available under its current name since May 2007. One to One members should be informed about the changes in the near future.

Apple hasn't removed the One to One page from its website at this time, but here's how the company describes the program:

One to One will help you do more than you ever thought possible with your Mac. First, we’ll set up your email, transfer your photos, music, and other files, and show you how to keep everything in sync with iCloud. Then, we’ll work with you to create a curriculum tailored to your goals, learning style, and experience level.

One to One has been around a long time. It used to be that anyone could walk in and buy a year's worth of training sessions, but over time, that changed. In 2009 Apple altered the program, making it available only to customers who bought new Macs. Here's a bit from USA Today, where Apple broke the news about the changes:

Apple's One to One subscription program will see major changes. Currently, anyone with $99 can sign up for a year of unlimited training on Apple computers and products.

But beginning June 2, Apple will limit sign-ups to people who buy new Mac computers at Apple Stores or via its website. Additionally, any of the 500,000 current One to One subscribers can renew.

"We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac," [Apple's former senior vice president of retail, Ron] Johnson says. "Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac."

Still priced at $99, the annual subscription includes personal setup, transferring of files from an older computer (Windows or Mac) and help with projects.

This change made the program less accessible, but targeted it to the people who needed it most: those new to the Mac, its OS and its collection of first-party applications. While the possible field of customers shrank, One to One continued on, with Mac switchers learning about their new machines.

I am a big fan of One to One, and am sad to see it going away, if these reports are indeed true.

So is Serenity Caldwell, who worked as a One to One Trainer at an Apple Store:

One to One sessions ran the gamut when it came to topics: I'd clock in at 8:50 and have a "Welcome to Mac" tutorial session at 9 with a brand-new Mac user in their 40s; at 10 I'd be knee-deep in a Final Cut Pro project with a retired gentleman who wanted to reinvent himself as a documentary filmmaker; and by noon I'd be walking a new business owner through making a website with iWeb. (Still a thing in those days. Imagine!)

The pitch for One to One training was broad and all-encompassing: Want to learn basics? Dig deeper into the awesome things your Mac can do for you? Learn a professional program? We can help you do all these things and more.

As trainers, we studied modules and read up on our iLife and Logic apps, of course, but we were more guides and ambassadors than strict teachers. The One to One program was never designed to be a tutorial lecture: Instead, it was highly customized around the person's needs.

As a Mac Genius, I loved One to One. It was a great resource for people who needed software help that the Genius Bar just couldn't provide in our shorter appointments. Likewise, Trainers would often spot hardware or software issues on customer computers that we could deal with before they became bigger problems.

My store's One to One customers always felt connected with the staff in a way most people didn't. I watched people expand their knowledge and grow their confidence by coming in each week and sitting down with a Trainer.

Those days may be gone. I'm not surprised, really. The Apple Stores have gotten busier and busier, and my guess is the company thinks that things like workshops will help, but even the best workshop isn't as good as one-on-one time with someone.

My feeling is that this will increase the number of questions sales people have to field, and will lead to an increase in education-only Genius Bar appointments. I'm sure Apple's thought through all of this, but if One to One really is going away, it will be missed on both sides of those wooden tables.

by Stephen Hackett at August 27, 2015 09:55 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Labor Day Schedule

Friday’s Workout:

Agility Ladder

WOD:
Cindy 20:00 As Many Rounds As Possible
5 Pull Ups
10 Push Ups
15 Air Squats

 

 

Winter is Coming

 

Labor Day is coming up and the Fall and Winter months are fast approaching. That means some holiday schedule action. We will be limiting our hours on Monday September 7th with Open Gym hours.

Sunday September 6th:

Regular Hours

Monday September 7th: 

Open Gym 10:30am-1:00pm

A list of hero workouts will be on the board for you to choose from on Monday for open gym. Hero WODs tend to take a long time so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get in, warm up, set up, and hit a workout before 1:00pm when the gym will be closing up. A coach will be around to answer any and all questions, but for the most part you will be responsible for your own workout. Open gym is way more fun with a buddy so get a few friends together and set a time to come in so you can suffer in a group (shared suffering is where it’s at).

 

Men at the 2015 CrossFit Games taking on Murph

Men at the 2015 CrossFit Games taking on Murph

 

IMG_7996

by Anna at August 27, 2015 07:48 PM

Crossway Blog

The Bible Is Not an Instruction Manual

This post is adapted from The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto against the Status Quo by Jared C. Wilson.


Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Ever heard the Bible explained that way? It's a handy mnemonic device that certainly has some truth to it. But does it get at the heart of what the Bible really is? The way so many of us treat the Scriptures—as God's "how to" book—doesn't seem quite right when we carefully look at what its own pages say. And I fear that the way we use the Bible in this way actually accomplishes the opposite of what we intended.

If the Bible is not essentially an instruction manual for practical application, then, what is it? If it's not mainly about what we need to do, what is it about? If it's not about us, who is it about?

The Bible Is about Jesus

About Jesus? Well, duh," you're thinking right now. That goes without saying. And I agree. It has been going without saying. But we need to keep saying it. We don't "go" without saying this. The Bible is about Jesus. Front to back, page to page, Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, the written Word of God is primarily and essentially about the saving revelation of the divine Word of God.

Jesus himself said so. In Luke 24, we see two of Jesus's disciples walking on the road to Emmaus and discussing the report they'd gotten of Christ's resurrection. Suddenly Jesus himself sidles up next to them. He asks them what they're talking about. They don't recognize him at first, so they explain that they are discussing the matter of Jesus, expressing their confusion about his having been given up to be crucified when all along they thought he was the one sent to redeem Israel. And they also weren't sure what to make of this astounding claim about his resurrection. Then Jesus does something very interesting: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

In 2 Corinthians 1:20, Paul tells us that all the biblical promises "find their Yes in him." The book of Hebrews is a great sustained example of this truth, showing us how all that led up to Christ was preaching Christ from the shadows, as it were, even reminding us that the mighty acts of the great heroes of the Old Testament were not about themselves but about acting "by faith" in the promise of the Christ to come.

Indeed, everything the Bible teaches, whether theological or practical, and everywhere it teaches, whether historical or poetical or applicational or prophetic, is meant to draw us closer to Christ, seeing him with more clarity and loving him with more of our affections. The Bible is about Jesus.

The Primary Message of the Bible Is That the Work Is Already Done

One night on the way home from small group, I listened to the guy on the local Christian radio station give a ten-minute presentation of what he had learned in church the previous day. It all boiled down to an appeal to make Jesus, in his words, our "role model." It was all very nice and inspirational.

There is indeed no better role model than Jesus. You won't find me arguing against that. But the problem with this fellow's recollection of his pastor's sermon was that it showed no indication of actual gospel content. It could have been delivered by the Dalai Lama. The buddhist actor Richard Gere thinks Jesus is an awesome role model. So do many atheists. The majority of the thinking world acknowledges that Jesus is a good role model, and in fact, most of them wish Christians would act more like Jesus (or at least, more like their perception of Jesus).

This ought to hint at the inherent deficiency in the "Jesus as role model" message: "Be like Jesus," by itself, is not good news. The gospel is not good advice, it is good news. The emphasis in our churches must be on God's finished work through Christ. To be clear: We should be exhorting our congregations to live in more Christlike ways. But if the emphasis of our preaching is on being more like Jesus and not on the good news of grace despite our not being able to be like Jesus, we end up actually achieving the opposite of our intent. We inadvertently become legalists, actually, because we are more concerned with works and behavior than with Christ's work on our hearts. The primary message of the Bible, as it heralds us to Jesus Christ, is that the work is already done.

The Bible's News Is Much Better Than Its Instructions

The Bible is incredibly practical. We don't have to make it that way. It's already that way. There are lots of practical things in it, and we do need to teach them. But we must never teach the practical points as the main points. The practical stuff is always connected to the proclamational stuff. The "dos" can never be detached from the "done" of the finished work of Christ in the gospel, or else we run the risk of preaching the law.

In 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 Paul is recalling the giving of the tablets of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. As Moses would go up and commune with God, the glory of the Most High was so intense that it would continue to radiate off his face when he came down. The radiant glory was so intense that Moses covered his face with a veil to shield the children of israel from the intensity. But as stark and intense and awe-inspiring as that glory was, Paul says, it is eclipsed by the ministry of the Spirit, the ministry of righteousness, the ministry of the gospel of Jesus.

This helps us to see that the essential message of the Bible is the gospel, and that therefore the gospel needs to be central to all we say and do as a church, whether in the worship service or out. This means many of us need to wrestle with the reality that the gospel is not just for unbelievers. It is for the Christian too.

Perhaps we need to see how versatile and resilient the gospel is, how much deeper and more powerful than the dos and don'ts this message is. Maybe we need to see that the gospel does more than the law could ever do. It goes further than the law could ever go. If the instructions come with glory, Paul says, "will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory" (v. 8).

The good news of the gospel is so much better than the instructions! It is better because the news actually saves us. The gospel is the ministry of righteousness because it announces not just the blank slate of sins wiped out but the full credit of Christ's perfect obedience credited to us!

The Power of Salvation

As we look out at the world and into our churches, we think we know what will fix everything. We'll just tell them to get their act together. Thus all the instructions.

But what will really save the lost world? Let me tell you: none of our complaints against it.

What will transform the hearts of the people in your church? No amount of your nagging.

What will motivate people to real life change that begins with real heart change? Not all the helpful tips in the universe.

According to the Bible, only the gospel is the power for salvation (Rom. 1:16). We must stop treating the gospel as though it were power enough for a conversation experience but falls short of empowering all the practical matters of faith that come after.


Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and managing editor of the seminary's website for gospel-centered resources, For the Church. He is a popular author and conference speaker, and also blogs regularly at Gospel Driven Church hosted by the Gospel Coalition. His books include Gospel Wakefulness, Gospel Deeps, The Pastor’s Justification, The Storytelling God, The Wonder-Working God, The Prodigal Church, and The Story of Everything.

by Matt Tully at August 27, 2015 01:44 PM

The Urbanophile

America’s Shrinking Cities Are Gaining Brains

If there’s one thing that’s a nearly universal anxiety among cities, it’s brain drain, or the loss of educated residents to other places. I’ve written about this many times over the years, critiquing the way it is normally conceived.

Since brain drain seems to be a major concern in shrinking cities, I decided to take a look at the facts around brains in those places. Looking at the 28 metro areas among the 100 largest that had objective measures of shrinkage – in population and/or jobs – between 2000 and 2013, I looked what what happened to their educational attainment levels.

My results were published today in my Manhattan Institute study “Brain Gain in America’s Shrinking Cities.” As the title implies, my key findings were:

  • Every major metro area in the country that has been losing population and/or jobs is actually gaining people with college degrees at double digit rates.
  • As a whole the shrinking city group is holding its own with the country in terms of educational attainment rates, and in many cases outperforming it.
  • Even among younger adults, most shrinking cities are adding more of them with degrees, increasing their educated population share, and even catching up with the rest of the country in their college degree attainment levels.

The following chart of metro area population change vs. degree change for select cities should drive the point home.

Click through to read the whole thing.

In short, for most places, it looks like the battle against brain drain has actually been won. As people there can attest, thanks to many improvements public and private over the years, they are now viable places to live for higher end talent in a way they weren’t say 20 years ago. This means the attention and resources that have been devoted to this issue can now be put to more present day tasks such as repairing civic finances, rebuilding core public services, and creating more economic opportunity for those without degrees.

More commentary later perhaps, but for now please check out the report and share widely.

by Aaron M. Renn at August 27, 2015 01:00 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Extrabiblical Sources as Context – An Excerpt from Reading Romans in Context

reading romans in context

How best should we approach extrabiblical sources when studying Scripture? That is the question asked in today’s excerpt from Reading Romans in Context. Since taking historical context into account is valuable, we cannot ignore a historical source simply because it is not in the biblical canon. Yet we want to be certain to handle it wisely.

Read on to get a glimpse into the recent release, Reading Romans in Context.

***

Paul’s letter to the Romans is widely celebrated as the apostle’s clearest and fullest exposition of the good news concerning Jesus Christ. As William Tyndale lauded, “[It] is the principal and most excellent part of the New Testament, and the most pure Euangelion, that is to say glad tidings and that we call gospel.”

Writing from Corinth toward the end of his third missionary journey in AD 57, Paul wrote Romans in part to win support for his anticipated mission to Spain. To that end, he aimed in the letter to introduce himself to the believers in Rome, to summarize his theology, and to offer pastoral wisdom to troubled Christians and divided house churches. Over the course of sixteen chapters, Paul incorporates many of his favorite theological themes, including sin, death, law, justification, participation (“in/with Christ”), the Spirit, and ethnic reconciliation. Given its careful argumentation and nearly comprehensive coverage, it is easy to see why Romans has remained at the center of Christian discourse throughout church history and continues to be cherished by believers the world over. As Martin Luther memorably wrote, “It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well.”

Not all readings of Romans, however, are equally insightful. Romans, like the rest of the Bible, was written at a time and in a culture quite different from our own. Accordingly, reading Scripture well, as most biblical studies students will know, requires careful consideration of a passage’s historical-cultural context. The study of Romans is no different. And although it is true that some contextual awareness is better than none, it is also true that not every contextual observation has equal bearing on determining the meaning of a passage.

The History of Religions School of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, exposed an array of parallels between the religious beliefs and practices of various ancient Mediterranean societies and those of the earliest Christian communities. Yet subsequent scholarship has demonstrated the irrelevance of many of those parallels for NT studies in general and the study of Romans in particular, especially relative to the Jewish context of early Christianity…Nevertheless, influential scholars such as W. D. Davies, Ernst Käsemann, and E. P. Sanders later stood on Schweitzer’s shoulders by offering thorough readings of Paul in the light of his Jewish theological context.

The impact of Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism has been especially long-standing. While Sanders conceded that identifying parallel motifs in Paul and his Jewish contemporaries can be illuminating, he has been influential in challenging students of Paul to go beyond detecting surface-level similarities to conducting close comparative readings of Jewish and Pauline texts. “What is needed,” Sanders insisted, “is a comparison which takes account of both the numerous agreements and the disagreements — not only the disagreements as stated by Paul, but those evident from the Jewish side, the discrepancy between Paul’s depiction of Judaism and Judaism as reflected in Jewish sources.”…Not all of the details of Sanders’s readings of Jewish and Pauline texts have been accepted. Nevertheless, as a result of his work, Pauline scholars today are more aware than ever of the importance of interpreting Paul’s letters in their Second Temple Jewish context and in close relation to contemporary Jewish literature.

Even so, many Christians, especially in the evangelical tradition, remain suspicious of extracanonical literature and its value for biblical interpretation. For some, this is simply a matter of canonicity — those books lying outside of Scripture should not be allowed to influence Christian, especially post-Reformation, theology. For others, it is a matter of utility. John Piper is a case in point. In his widely publicized critique of N. T. Wright’s understanding of Pauline theology, Piper directs his initial criticism toward Wright’s biblical-theological methodology — namely, his extensive reliance on extrabiblical sources. Rather than encouraging Christians to explore the Bible’s theological claims by reading them in the light of early Jewish literature, Piper cautions that “not all biblical-theological methods and categories are illuminating,” for “first-century ideas can be used (inadvertently) to distort and silence what the New Testament writers intended to say.” According to Piper, such exegetical distortion can occur in at least three ways: “misunderstanding the sources,” “assuming agreement with a source when there is no agreement,” and “misapplying the meaning of a source.” He concludes, “It will be salutary, therefore, for scholars and pastors and laypeople who do not spend much of their time reading first-century literature to have a modest skepticism when an overarching concept or worldview from the first century is used to give ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ interpretations to biblical texts that in their own context do not naturally give rise to these interpretations.”

While we share Piper’s desire to interpret the NT accurately in the service of the church, much contemporary scholarship demonstrates that Piper’s misgivings fail to appreciate the many advantages of utilizing Second Temple Jewish literature for illuminating the meaning of the NT. Obviously, misreadings and misapplications of ancient texts remain real dangers in biblical studies; over half a century ago Samuel Sandmel warned the academy against illegitimate uses of background material, such as “parallelomania.” Accordingly, the appropriate solution to the misuse of comparative literature is not its outright dismissal, but its responsible handling by students of Scripture. As Wright asserts in response to Piper, “Of course literature like the Dead Sea Scrolls, being only recently discovered, has not been so extensively discussed, and its context remains highly controversial. But to say that we already have ‘contextual awareness’ of the Bible while screening out the literature or culture of the time can only mean that we are going to rely on the ‘contextual awareness’ of earlier days.”…

Piper seems particularly anxious about the illegitimate imposition of external meaning onto the biblical text. That is a fair concern. What he fails to realize, however, is that many comparative studies are interested just as much, if not more, in exposing the theological differences between texts as observing their similarities. To interpret his letters rightly, then, students of Paul must not ignore Second Temple Jewish literature, but must engage it with frequency, precision, and a willingness to acknowledge theological continuity and discontinuity. (pgs 17-21)

***

Reading Romans in Context is available now. Order your copy from Zondervan Academic today.

by ZA Blog at August 27, 2015 12:00 PM

trenchant.org daily

Executive Hobby

As Willis describes it, their careers hinged on the tastes of one man, Adult Swim’s senior executive vice president Mike Lazzo. “Once in my late 20s when I was working on Space Ghost it occurred to me that my career was basically working on a show that was a hobby for our boss, Mike Lazzo,” Willis explains. “He was running programming and development for Cartoon Network, and I think this was his fun thing to do. It was a value but I think this was what he really enjoyed doing. It occurred to me my whole career was this, doing this guy’s hobby. I hope he continues to enjoy his hobby and doesn’t go into like hunting, boating or fishing.”

The Life and Death of Aqua Teen Hunger Force

I cried during the season finale.

August 27, 2015 08:00 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Samurai Jackson

News

We were a party of four. There was a Cleric, two Rogues, and my Fighter. We spent time exploring the lands until we met an NPC named Jackson. He was a Samurai from a faraway land, and he had a quest for us.

Jackson needed to find a demon who was sealed inside a great petrified tree, and break…

Read more

August 27, 2015 07:02 AM

eagereyes

The Point Of A Chart

When creating charts, it’s important to pick the one that actually fits not just the data, but the task. That can require going outside your comfort zone to use something beyond the four or five most common chart types. Here is an example where the original chart does not support comparison between two different sets of numbers, but it’s easy to fix.

On Twitter this morning, Stephen Hoskins pointed me to this story about Auckland schools in the NZ Herald as a good use of pie charts. It’s an interesting case, because individually, these aren’t bad pie charts. They show the make-up of the poorest (Decile 1, lowest decile) and richest (Decile 10, highest decile) schools in Auckland.

AucklandEthnicMakeup_Aug2015

They’re okay pies because they only show a small number of slices each and they’re very different. The sorting of the values could be better, but that’s a minor issue here. Looking at each individually works if you want to see each of those schools is made up in terms of ethnicities.

The problem is that pies are really bad for comparison. This is especially problematic here where the differences are huge. It takes a while to even find the corresponding colors in both charts.

So I made a quick slope graph, with the bottom decile on the left and the top decile on the right. This fits into the same number of pixels, despite Tableau’s slightly inefficient use of space here.

Ethnicities bump chart

The point of this chart is really the comparison, and the differences are really stark. The slope graph makes them much more visible, and easier to understand, than the pair of pie charts. I also got rid of the color legend and instead labeled the lines directly (though I left out the exact numbers since they likely aren’t terribly important).

It’s not just about the difference in the chart type here (and avoiding the oft-maligned pie chart), but asking what the point of the visualization is. If it’s comparison between sets of values (or over time), use a chart that makes that easy and clear.

by Robert Kosara at August 27, 2015 05:56 AM

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

The Joe Doakes Challenge

I promised myself that after I heard two hundred people make this comment, I would publish it. Unfortunately, I lost count after twenty, because I am innumerate.

So I have no idea how many times I have heard remarks like this, from Joe Doakes over at Vox Populi:

In my youth, Hugo and Nebula on the cover meant “Good.” Since about 1990, it’s meant “Politically Correct.” But the point of reading SF/F is to escape the relentless political correctness of modern American life so I quit reading it.

He goes on to say

I’ve been digging back through the last couple of decades of Hugo and Nebual winners, trying to find something worth reading to change my mind. “Among Others” won both in 2012 and the library lends Kindle books free, so why not? The heroine is a SF/F reader herself so every page lists SF/F titles she’s read, which is fun because I’ve read most of them and found a few others to try.

But get this . . . the SF/F books listed in the story are our kind of books, written long ago and mostly by White men exploring fascinating intellectual concepts.

For crying out loud, even the Characters in modern politically correct SF/F hate modern politically correct SF/F.

Let me ask my readers to take the Joe Doakes challenge. Look at the first twenty years of the Hugos, and in your mind assess the worth of the books. Weigh whether or not they are imaginative, well crafted, and form the backbone of any well read SF reader’s library.

1953 Alfred Bester: THE DEMOLISHED MAN
1955 Mark Clifton & Frank Riley: THEY’D RATHER BE RIGHT (aka THE FOREVER MACHINE)
1956 Robert A. Heinlein: DOUBLE STAR
1958 Fritz Leiber: THE BIG TIME
1959 James Blish: A CASE OF CONSCIENCE
1960 Robert A. Heinlein: STARSHIP TROOPERS
1961 Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ
1962 Robert A. Heinlein: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
1963 Philip K. Dick: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
1964 Clifford D. Simak: HERE GATHER THE STARS (aka WAY STATION)
1965 Fritz Leiber: THE WANDERER
1966 Frank Herbert: DUNE
(tied with) Roger Zelazny: …AND CALL ME CONRAD (aka THIS IMMORTAL)
1967 Robert A. Heinlein: THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS
1968 Roger Zelazny: LORD OF LIGHT
1969 John Brunner: STAND ON ZANZIBAR
1970 Ursula K. Le Guin: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS
1971 Larry Niven: RINGWORLD
1972 Philip José Farmer: TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO
1973 Isaac Asimov: THE GODS THEMSELVES

The one right after this, one year beyond my cutoff date, is Arthur C. Clarke’s RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA for 1974, and excellent book.

For myself, I have read all these score of books save one, and have reread half of them more than once. What about you, dear reader? How many of these stories do you love?

Here is the last two decades:

1995 Lois McMaster Bujold: MIRROR DANCE
1996 Neal Stephenson: THE DIAMOND AGE
1997 Kim Stanley Robinson: BLUE MARS
1998 Joe Haldeman: FOREVER PEACE
1999 Connie Willis: TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG
2000 Vernor Vinge: A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY (Tor)
2001 J. K. Rowling: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
2002 Neil Gaiman: AMERICAN GODS
2003 Robert J. Sawyer: HOMINIDS
2004 Lois McMaster Bujold: PALADIN OF SOULS
2005 Susanna Clarke: JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL
2006 Robert Charles Wilson: SPIN (Tor)
2007 Vernor Vinge: RAINBOWS END (Tor)
2008 Michael Chabon: THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION
2009 Neil Gaiman: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK
2010 Paolo Bacigalupi: THE WINDUP GIRL
tied with China Miéville: THE CITY & THE CITY
2011 Connie Willis: BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR
2012 Jo Walton: AMONG OTHERS (Tor)
2013 John Scalzi: REDSHIRTS (Tor)
2014 Ann Leckie: ANCILLARY JUSTICE
2015 Cixin Liu: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM (Tor)

Note that GREEN MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson is one year before my cutoff date, also an excellent book.

Here the situation, in my case, is precisely reversed from the first two decades. I know or have read almost none of these books, dislike most of what little I have read. I think two of them are brilliant science fiction and one is a charming and uncynical fantasy well worthy of the award and many rereads.

Here is the Joe Doakes Challenge, for those bold enough to take it. Get out a pencil and make a not, for both lists, these three things:

(1) Which works possess the basic craftsmanship of our guild, i.e. a solid but imaginative story well told. Note also which have dull or hateful characters, little or no plot, or rely on gimmicks or nostalgia for their appeal.

(2) How many are among the softest of SF subgenres, such as alternate history or magical realism.

(3) How many are larded with a pretentious but sophomoric profundity or attempted relevance by presenting heavy-handed message fiction rather than science fiction. Is the number rising or falling?

How many of these stories do you love? Count and note the number.

Compare the two numbers. Based on this count, how often is the Hugo Award a sign of approval, or a leper’s bell warning a reader of sound sense and a craving for imagination to stay away?

by John C Wright at August 27, 2015 05:52 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Sisters, Beware the Cloning Wars

I often feel like a fish out of water among women. I’m the woman who cringes when she gets an invite to a women’s retreat, especially if it has teacups on the cover. I was never the girl who daily dreamed of marriage or motherhood. And even now as a wife and mother, I’d rather do push-ups than craft at your kitchen table. I used to feel ashamed in the church because I didn’t fit the mold of the Christian woman I often felt was modeled and taught.

But here I am, a women’s ministry leader.

At some point I realized appearing different from what I perceived as the female “norm” in the church is one reason I should be ministering to women. As it turns out, feeling like a fish out of water isn’t a rarity. While our experience and personhood is unique, much of how we feel is the same. In God’s kindness, he made each of us with specific preferences, all of them for his glory (Eph. 2:10; Ps. 100:3). I’m concerned, though, that our churches don’t reflect this diversity. I myself can be tempted to squash the body of Christ when I avoid women different than me. I can be tempted to wrongfully judge others according to my personal standard rather than celebrating our common Creator. 

Social media and church programs project pictures of “godly women,” and in return we begin cloning instead of discipling. Our cultural expectations and boundaries often fill the gaps rather than provide a right understanding of God’s Word. External changes produce false maturity and group conformity rather than personal spiritual conviction. Rather than churches that thrive by grace, they limp along by law, conforming women more into the image of each other rather than Christ.

Women Discipling Women 

I spent the beginning of my ministry feeling self-conscious that I was different from another women’s leader in our church. I perceived women admiring her as the sign of a healthy ministry, when they were actually striving to look like her. My angst over not imaging this particular leader was unhelpful. God didn’t create me to be her. He created me to be me and become like him.

Jesus valued the God-given experiences, relationships, skills, and uniquenesses of the people around him. He didn’t simply point his disciples to Scripture. He lived with them, taught truth and grace (John 1:14), and exemplified deeply personal discipleship. We must be willing to know where women are theologically, relationally, and emotionally in order to connect them with God’s Word. But if my goal is for people to love me as their savior, I will fall and crush them on my way down.

Do you want people around you to love you more than they love Jesus? Would you rather keep them from turning away from you or turning away from Jesus? Do you correlate the two?

Embracing Womanhood Is Embracing Godliness

To free our churches from cloning, we must move to embrace biblical womanhood. Not embraced as culture sees it, or as mothers see it, or as single women see it, but embraced as Scripture teaches it. I want my daughters to see the beauty of God-given roles for men and women made manifest as we express God-given individuality within the boundaries of gospel freedom. Our goal should be to live and teach the whole counsel of God, while leveraging the gifts God has given individuals (1 Cor. 12:4–7; Rom. 12:3–8) for his glory and for our good (1 Pet. 4:10). Godliness will look radically different from woman to woman. For some it will look like homeschooling your children (beautiful), for others like leading your church Bible study (beautiful), for others like developing software (beautiful), for others like being president of a non-profit (beautiful). 

Grapple with what God has given you, not what he’s given others. What does it look like to function uniquely as a woman with the gifts God’s given you in the place he’s deliberately put you?

Teach By Learning

Proverbs 18:13 says that if one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. To effectively care for and disciple another woman, you must know her. Why was Jesus so effective in his teaching? Partly because he knew his disciples well. He spent time with them.

Learning about passions, skills, and lifestyle is vital for one to know how to teach someone. Like Jesus, we must spend more time pursuing one another in love, not building walls from women who are different than us. We need to ask questions, seeking to sincerely understand one another.

Teach By Failure

Most women love to-do lists. They help us strive for perfection. We want to be the best cook, engineer, crafter, mom, Instagrammer, servant, lover, or warrior for the latest social justice cause. We often confuse glorifying God in all things with being the best at all things at all times. But when we’re striving to be like Jesus, we’re forced to recognize God’s real power is displayed in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9).

If we truly want to teach others as Titus 2 instructs, not only will our triumphs point to Jesus, but our personal failures will as well. Embracing grace starts with embracing weakness. If your disciples were asked what the main thing was they learned from you, what would the answer be? Would it be about Jesus’s strength and power, or yours? 

Teach By Scripture

If women are spending time in God’s Word, they will find Jesus. Part of discipleship must be teaching women how to study the Bible independently. They will find depth, maturity, and freedom in Christ as they study it.

While studying Scripture does take more discipline than picking up a parenting book, the dividends are far greater. If we want to be effective teachers, we must teach our students to learn from God’s Word on their own.

Remember the Goal

We must be careful not to conform women into any image but Christ’s. A failure to leverage the vast array of unique gifts and circumstances is a failure to experience the fullness of God’s creation.

By insisting on the biblical discipleship Jesus modeled, we help other women to not only be better wives, mothers, or whatever else we want them to be, but to know God. This should be our supreme goal because it is God’s. He tells us he will conform those he’s predestined into the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29).

Faithful leaders, then, must show Jesus more than themselves. Though I’ll never be able to transfer my personality or preferences to another woman, I can transfer my knowledge of God to her. The result will be relishing in our amazing Creator as we celebrate the radically different gifts he gives us to work together, bringing life to the body of Christ.

Rebekah Hannah is a writer, speaker, and biblical counselor. Rebekah and her family live in New York City, where she works for Christian Union at Columbia University. She is the editorial director and blogs regularly at Gospel Taboo. She is also writing a book to help those suffering through miscarriage.

by Rebekah Hannah at August 27, 2015 05:02 AM

How to Survive World Religions 101

Michael Kruger entered his freshman year at the University of North Carolina as a committed Christian. He thought he was ready for the intellectual challenges college would mount against his faith—that is, until he found himself sitting in a New Testament introduction class with Bart Ehrman as his professor. It left him shell-shocked. 

Many students can relate. Churches often have a hard time preparing their youth for a secular university environment. They equip them on a moral level, which is good and important, yet fail to prepare them intellectually and doctrinally. So how can churches better brace young people for the day their faith will be challenged, attacked, and deemed intellectually indefensible by professors and peers?

In this new video, Kruger, president and professor of New Testament and early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, shares some of the lessons he learned in college. He encourages students to check their expectations, prepare for opposition, dig for answers, and more. Above all, he urges them to anchor themselves in the local church.

Ryan Troglin is an editorial assistant in the Office of the President at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Stacey, are members at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

by Ryan Troglin at August 27, 2015 05:02 AM

Working for Fairness and Transparency in Agribusiness

Jason Kong is the general chemistry laboratory supervisor for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Sarah, who is also a chemistry teacher. He will be teaching middle school youth about the Scriptures and the catechisms at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church this fall.

How do you describe your work?

If you’ve ever owned an animal, fertilized a garden or farm, drunk a mug of apple cider, or showed a dairy steer at a county or state fair, then it’s likely you’ve reaped the benefits of the work we’ve done. My work lies in the business of truth-telling; our laboratory tests ensure sellers are truthful about what they’re selling and, when they aren’t, we arm the state with evidence to correct it. Our laboratory is equipped with staff and instruments to answer two questions: “What’s in it?” and “How much?”

As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?

We’re the manifestation of Romans 13:1–7—our work is “instituted by God”; we’re “God’s servant for your good”; we act as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” We deal with refrigerant leaks in food, mislabeled feed, sloppy results from other labs, questionable sellers, dead animals, and sick people. In this, we strive to be the face of justice as much as possible in this broken world while we await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Above my desk sits Psalm 82:1–8 and Jeremiah 5:27–29. I look up and am reminded that our work serves the cause of justice.

How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?

Brokenness extends not just to evildoers but to our own limitations as well. Injustice will not end on our account. We will still be testing, customers will still be calling, cheaters will still be cheating. My work never ceases, and that’s often an overwhelming thought!

Yet one day the end will come, when Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24). Paul’s referring to us. The need for earthly authority will end. No longer will we need to bear the sword. God will restore the world to glory, and my current work will end forever. It will be the most joyful unemployment I will ever experience.

Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?

Loving our neighbors as ourselves sums up the Law and the Prophets—which also state, “You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin” (Lev. 19:36; cf. Ezek. 45:10). We demand fairness and transparency in agribusiness, as that is the best way we can show kindness to the least of us lest we become what’s described in Amos 8:4–6. If our testing can be used to prevent even a single life from getting cheated or getting sick, then our work was not in vain.

My father told me he joined the county government because he wanted to help people. Following his footsteps in the state, I cannot picture a better way for me to love people through chemistry than this.

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

Abigail Murrish is an agricultural writer who is passionate about encouraging people to know their food, eat well, and show hospitality. Since her time at Purdue University, Abigail has appreciated talking with farmers (versus about them) to understand difficult agricultural issues and grow in her knowledge of the Christian call to steward creation. Abigail lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, and blogs at abigailmurrish.com.

by Abigail Murrish at August 27, 2015 05:01 AM

Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »

The greatest western I’ve ever read

10-17-Love— is John McPhee‘s Rising From the Plains.

It’s one book among five collected in Annals of the Former World, which won a Pulitzer in 1999. In all five, McPhee follows a geologist around; and all five of the geologists are interesting characters.

None, however, is more interesting than J. David Love, who grew up on a hardscrabble ranch in the center of Wyoming and became one of the most accomplished geologists in the history of the field.

And yet Love is still less interesting than both his parents — one an endlessly resourceful Scottish builder and re-builder of the family ranch (also possibly, McPhee suggests, a one-time member of Butch Cassidy’s gang), and the other one of the finest diarists ever to put pen to paper in a time and place that was still the Old West.

I’ve read and re-read Rising From the Plains so often that the pages are browned at the edges, simply because I love the writing and the characters in the stories that braid through the text (which is actually about geology, though you can ignore that).

I bring all this up because last night, on my sister’s Netflix, we watched Episode Eight (1887-1914), of The West, a Ken Burns documentary that ran on PBS so long ago that the picture is in 3×4 low-def, shaped to fit old vacuum-tube TV screens. In the episode is a section titled “I Will Never Leave You,” which is about the trials endured by the Love family at their ranch. It features photos of the Loves I had never seen, along with interview footage of David Love, then in his 80s, telling stories I had read countless times, yet loved to hear again, straight from The Man Himself.

The old ranch house was still standing when Love and McPhee visited it for a last time, sometime before the mid-80s, when Rising From the Plains was published. John Perry Barlow, who knew Love, told me a few years ago that the place is now long gone. Google Earth says the same.

But Wyoming, which the Loves loved, and which David knew more deeply than anybody, lives. And visiting that ranch site is one of the very few to-dos on my bucket list.

A few bonus links:

 

by Doc Searls at August 27, 2015 01:36 AM

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Emotional Balance Sheet

CarlRichards-EBS

Link: Emotional Balance Sheet

I often enjoy the personal finance columns by Carl Richards. In a recent one, he explains how to create an “emotional balance sheet” to quantify (or at least tally) your non-financial assets.

Carl tells the story of how he and his wife Cori made the choice for her to become a full-time mom, despite the fact that the family would lose more than $1 million in earnings over the next twenty years.

He’s quick to point out that the moral of the story isn’t “all mothers should stay home with their children”—which is good, since presumably many readers would make different choices. The lesson is a) to be clear about your intentions, and b) learn to value non-financial assets.

1. Be Clear About Your Intentions

Carl and Cori deliberately chose to spend more time with their children. They considered the factors, counted the cost, and made the choice.

2. Value Non-Financial Assets

In the example from the column, Carl and Cori “gave up” $1 million in income over twenty years, but they saw the gain of “Cory being a full-time mother” as a net benefit. Having the family together more often was an asset, not a liability.

***

Again, the example from the column is a bit traditional, perhaps even stereotypical for some of us. If your situation is different, it might be better to think about the concept as it applies to your own values and relationships.

For me, last fall was fairly rough, with a lot of highs and lows (this summer has been rough, too, but that’s a whole other story). One of the decisions I made out of the experience was to deliberately value my friendships more highly than I previously had. I set a personal goal of writing or calling one friend a day for the whole year.

I don’t know how to quantify or rank these friendships—and I don’t think that’s the point. But somehow, placing more of an emphasis on connecting with people to check on their lives and to share mine in return has value. It’s a non-financial asset that I’d put near the top of any balance sheet, even if it doesn’t have a dollar figure attached to it.

If you like this idea, consider how it applies to your life.

What’s on your emotional balance sheet?

###

by Chris Guillebeau at August 27, 2015 12:20 AM

August 26, 2015

CrossFit Naptown

Last Day for Shoes

Thursday’s Workout:

Back Extension/GHD Tutorial:
Advanced: 3×10 GHD Sit Ups & Back Extensions
Intermediate: 3×5 GHD Sit Ups & Back Extensions
Beginner: 3×15 Straight Leg Sit Ups & Supermans

WOD:
Part 1
Run 400
rest 2:00
4 Rounds

Part 2
Secret Surprise

 

 

 

Reebok Perks

As a Reebok Recognized affiliate, we get a few nice perks that we are able to pass along to you. One such perk is the ability to order shoes at discounted prices. Heck yes. Let’s get shopping folks! These shoes will be discounted 25% for all styles of shoes. Who doesn’t love a good deal? Please contact me via anna@crossfitnaptown.com if you would like to be a part of this order. This is the last day to contact me as I will be sending out an email to all who have reached out to me to get the final details and make the order happenClick here to see the shoes available via Reebok CrossFit.

ReebokLifter2.0_620x310-531x310

 

by Anna at August 26, 2015 07:04 PM

All about all-in-ones →

This month, in my Apple History column at iMore:

When I was in high school, I worked at the student newspaper, laying out pages on a 1998 Power Macintosh G3 All-in-One.

I'm of the mindset that this machine—dubbed the "Molar Mac" for its tooth-like appearance—is historically important, as it helped reintroduce the Mac community to AIOs that mattered. It's also the closest in design to Apple's perhaps most significant AIO of the 1990s: The original iMac, with its translucent plastic and swooping curves. The Molar Mac has largely been forgotten, set out to pasture with a bunch of other old Macs that no one really remembers. But it paved the way for something great.

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by Stephen Hackett at August 26, 2015 06:45 PM

Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »

Apple’s content blocking is chemo for the cancer of adtech

Intravenous equipmentThe tide of popular sentiment is turning against tracking-based advertising — and Apple knows it. That’s why they’re enabling “content blocking” in iOS 9 (the new mobile operating system that will soon go in your iPhone and iPad).

Says Apple, “Content Blocking* gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.”

This is aimed straight at tracking-based advertising, known in the trade as adtech.* And Apple isn’t alone:

[*Note: far I know, there was not a term for tracking-based advertising until adtech seemed to emerge as the front-runner. I chose it for this post because others (e.g. the first two examples above) have done the same. Tell me a better word and I’ll swap it in. And if you want to know why we need to distinguish  between advertising based on tracking people and the advertising that is not, please read my last post, Separating Advertising’s Wheat and Chaff.]

Here’s Apple’s tech-speak on the feature:

Your app extension is responsible for supplying a JSON file to Safari. The JSON consists of an array of rules (triggers and actions) for blocking specific content. Safari converts the JSON to bytecode, which it applies efficiently to all resource loads without leaking information about the user’s browsing back to the app extension.

This means the iOS platform will now support developers who want to build sophisticated apps that give users ways to block stuff they don’t like, such as adtech tracking and various forms of advertising — or all advertising — and to do it privately.

This allows much more control over unwanted content than is provided currently by ad and tracking blockers on Web browsers, and supports this control at the system level, rather than at the browser level. (Though it is executed by the browser.)

How likely is it that these apps will be built? 100%. One of those is Crystal, by Dean Murphy. His pitches:

  1. Remove advert banners, blocks, popovers, autoplay videos, App Store redirects & invisible tracking scripts that follow you around the web.
  2. Pages render more than 3.9x faster on average**.
  3. Reduces data use by 53% on average**.

[**Benchmarks calculated from a selection of random pages from 10 popular sites.]

All three of these address obvious appetites by customers in the marketplace:

  1. To avoid ads, and being tracked.
  2. To speed things up.
  3. To minimize data usage, for which mobile carriers charge money.

In iOS 9 content blocking will transform the mobile Web: I’ve tried it., Owen Williams (@ow) of TheNextWeb gives Crystal a spin, finding it delivers on its promises.

If I read Owen right, he believes Content Blocking will have two results:

  1. Publishers will lose, because they depend on advertising that will be blocked; and
  2. Apple will win, because publishers will be driven to the company’s News app, on which Apple can make money with its own advertising system, called iAd.

While these assumptions might be correct, they are part of a much larger picture, which will surely change as content blockers such as Crystal get adopted. So let’s look at that picture.

  1. The market is very unhappy with abuses to personal privacy. Studies by Pew, TRUSTe, Customer Commons and Wharton all make clear that more than 90% of the connected population doesn’t like privacy abuse on the commercial Web. Following people with tracking cookies and beacons violates their privacy. This is a big reason why ad and tracking blocking, through popular browser extensions and add-ons, is already high and continues to go up. It is therefore safe to say that iOS apps like Crystal will be very popular.
  2. There are two kinds of advertising at issue here, and it is essential to separate them (which I do, at length, in Separating Advertising’s Wheat and Chaff). One is tracking-based advertising, or adtech. That’s the kind that wants to get personal, and depends on spying on people. The other is plain old brand advertising, which isn’t based on tracking, and is targeted at populations rather than individuals. Content Blocking is aimed squarely at adtech.
  3. Apple’s iAd is for brand advertising, not adtech. At least that’s what I gather from Apple’s literature. (See here, here, here and here.) This puts them on the side of wheat, and Apple’s competitors — notably Google, Facebook and all of adtech — on the side of chaff.
  4. Apple has put a big stake in the ground on the subject of privacy. This is clearly to differentiate itself from adtech in general, and from Google and Facebooks in particular.
  5. Brand advertising is more valuable to publishers than adtech. Its provenance and value are clear and obvious and it sells for better prices. Also, while some of it may be annoying, none of it shares its business model with spam, which adtech does. And brand advertising uncorrupted by fraud, which is rampant in adtech — so rampant, in fact, that T.Rob Wyatt, a security expert, calls adtech “the new digital cancer.”

This is why content blocking is chemo for the cancer of adtech. It is also why it is essential for everybody involved in the advertising-funded online ecosystem to start separating the wheat from the chaff, and to make clear to everybody that the wheat — plain old brand advertising — is (to mix metaphors) the baby in the advertising bathwater.

However it goes down, the inevitable results will be these:

  1. Brand advertising will be seen again as the most legitimate form of advertising.
  2. Brand advertising will again be credited for doing the good work of funding publishers (also broadcasters, podcasters and the rest).
  3. Adtech, and spying in general, will be shunned, as it deserves to be.
  4. Adtech will still live on, rehabilitated and cleansed, as a trusted symbiote of users who give clear and unambiguous permission for trackers they bless to dwell in their private spaces and give them optimal personalized advertising experiences.

In other words, what I said at the close of the Advertising Bubble chapter of The Intention Economy will come true:

When the backlash is over, and the advertising bubble deflates, advertising will remain an enormous and useful business. We will still need advertising to do what only it can do. What will emerge, however, is a market for what advertising can’t do. This new market will be defined by what customers actually want, rather than guesses about it.

* As a term, “content blocking” is an unfortunate choice, since until now it meant government censorship. But the deed is done. From this point forward it means you get to block stuff you don’t want happening on your mobile device.


Later (2:36pm) — So I tweeted this post here, not long after it went up, and the response is split between yea and nay. Since I have no argument with the yeas, I’ll take on the nays…

@cpokane writes,

it is offensive to us who work in adtech by day and nurse the result of cancer by night, at home. disappointing metaphor.

Gareth Holmes (@mgrholmes) adds these:

No offence to but comparing ad tech to cancer is beyond hyperbole. FACT: ad tech has been keeping the internet free since 1993

having never met I only hope he doesn’t have to wait until he’s lying next to a dying loved one to realise he was wrong.

And Vlad Stein (@vstein) weighs in with this:

Couldn’t imagine a stupider, more offensive title. Ad tech is what makes free online content viable, like it or not.

No offence taken. Or meant to be given. Cancer is a common metaphor for many things that are not. So is chemo: a medicine that sickens a patient while killing (or at least trying to kill) his or her cancer. Tell me a better metaphor and I’ll gladly use it. (I have also experienced loved ones dying of cancer, and I’m not sure they would have disapproved of the metaphor.)

As for hyperbole, guilty as charged. I’m making a strong point here, and one almost nobody else (other than Don Marti and Bob Hoffman) is making — or has seen sunk it. The market sentiment against surveillance-based marketing — aka adtech† — is strong, growing, and almost entirely ignored by the whole adtech business.

Apple’s move with content blocking has profound B2C and B2B implications.

On the B2C side, Apple is working on behalf of its paying customers. This is huge. There isn’t a customer on Earth who wants to be tracked like an animal without clear and explicit permission, or to have pages slowed by tracking cookies, beacons and ads fed by distant servers. Especially on mobile. Apple knows that because they talk on the phone and in stores every day with those customers. They’ve also seen the abundant research (some cited above) that make clear how much people hate having their privacy violated, which Adtech does with abundant impunity. Meanwhile adtech doesn’t talk to those customers. It only follows them. Ain’t the same.

On the B2B side, Apple with iAd is siding with non-tracking-based brand advertising, and (passively, not naming names) against adtech. While I consider it icky and controlling of Apple to trap all magazines inside its News app, and to sell additional advertising within that space, Apple is doing the whole advertising business a favor by not doing tracking (i.e. adtech) in that space. What you’ll see are ads in there selling for higher prices, and both publishers and brands appreciating the lack of confusion by readers about the provenance and motives of those ads.

Next, saying adtech (or anything) has kept the Net free is like saying coupon flyers have kept geology free. The Net was born free and remains that way. Same goes for the Web. They support an infinite variety of sites, services and activities, and not just commercial ones. (More about that here, here and here.)

In fact, commercial activity was impossible on the Internet before NSFnet (the one non-commercial network within the Internet) stood down on 30 April 1995. After that ecommerce took off. (Amazon and eBay were both born in ’95.) So did advertising, but not as fast. Adtech (or ad tech) didn’t take off until well after the turn of the millennium.

This blog has been free and viable since 1998, by the way, without an ounce of advertising. So has everything Dave Winer‘s done. Without Dave we wouldn’t have blogging, syndicating (e.g. RSS) or podcasting as we know it.

Something worth thinking about: if we had jobbed out inventing and developing the Net and the Web to commercial interests, would they exist?

@Ertraeglichkeit writes,

@dsearls what did the NSFnet bring, that it started “commercial activity” on the net and say not hotwired in 1994 with ad banners?

The Internet is a collection of networks united by agreements called protocols. Those protocols said data should be passed between any one end and any other end over any path available, on a best effort basis. This means the data you send to me could go over any path on any network between us on the whole thing called the Internet. This also meant that if any one network forbid one kind of activity, it would do for the whole internetwork. Because the NSFnet (National Science Foundation Network) forbid commercial activity on itself, and the NSFnet was a member of the Internet, it forbid commercial activity for the whole thing. So, when the NSFnet went down on April 30, 1995, it opened the whole Internet to commercial activity. That’s a short version. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend Wikipedia’s article on the NSFnet

[August 27] Bonus link from Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian (and a hero of all-wheat advertising): Is Our Long Digital Nightmare Coming To An End?

by Doc Searls at August 26, 2015 04:32 PM

Connected 54: Tim is the New Cook →

This week on Connected, the band was reunited as Federico returned from vacation to discuss the iPad Pro and humans in the real world.

My thanks to these sponsors:

  • Arq: Arq automatically backs up all your Macs and PCs. Your files are stored securely, readable only by you.
  • Fracture: Photos printed in vivid color directly on glass. Use code 'CONNECTED' to get 15% off.
  • Squarespace: Build it Beautiful. Use code WORLD for 10% off

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by Stephen Hackett at August 26, 2015 04:03 PM

What I would like to see in the iPhone 6S Plus

After purchasing an iPhone 6 last year, I settled into owning a 4.7-inch phone. There were things I didn’t like, but overall, I was pretty happy with the device.

Then everything was ruined when I switched to a loaner iPhone 6 Plus for a couple of weeks. I ended up buying one, and I haven’t looked back.

There are compromises when it comes to having such a large phone. It’s bulky in some pockets, and I look like I’m holding a piece of pizza next to my face when I’m talking on it, but the improved screen, battery life and camera make it worth it for me.

If I upgrade phones this fall,[1] I will stick to the 5.5-inch form factor, assuming there’s an iPhone 6S Plus offered.

Usually when it comes to thinking about what upcoming iPhone hardware should have, I come up empty-handed, but as the 6 Plus is such a unique device, I have a pretty concrete list of things I want to see in the next revision.

More RAM

Despite its increased screen resolution over the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus ships with the same 1 GB of RAM as its little brother. Any 6 Plus owner will attest that this leads to some stuttering and sluggishness at times. I’ve experienced audio tearing and apps crashing under load. It’s not awesome. It makes the 6 Plus look half-assed, and it makes me sad.

As someone who also owns an iPad Air 2, I’ve seen what iOS can do with more breathing room. If all the iPhone 6S Plus brings is more RAM, it’d be an improvement to 2014’s model.

Flush Camera Lens

While there was a lot of eye-rolling when Apple first showed the camera lens poking out of the back of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, I think most users have gotten used to it by now. If in a case, the bump basically goes away, meaning many users won’t ever have noticed, more than likely.

However, most of the time, my iPhone is naked. I find it annoying that my iPhone can’t lay flat on its back, as it makes the vibrate motor seem way louder than it actually is.

While the vibrate motor in this phone seems harsher than past generations, the fact that phone is propped up in one corner makes the whole thing move when it goes off. When on a nightstand or table, a text message or email notification makes such a loud noise it’s annoying. The point of an iPhone in silent mode is to be discrete, and a giant BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ is anything but. I’ve gotten in the habit of sitting my iPhone glass down, especially if there’s someone sleeping in the room. I’d love to be able to leave it screen-up, but unless the back is flat again in the future, I don’t see it happening.

Louder Speaker

While the vibrate motor is too loud, the speaker in the iPhone 6 Plus is too quiet. I often listen to podcast as I work around the house or in my workshop, with my phone jammed in my pocket. I bet I’m not alone in that use case.

While I know I can’t expect MacBook Pro-levels of sound out of this thing, the iPad Air 2 and the 12-inch MacBook both ship with impressive speakers. I’d love to see some of that get miniaturized and put in future iPhones.


  1. Haha, who am I kidding?  ↩

by Stephen Hackett at August 26, 2015 03:56 PM

Kbase Article of the Week: Mac OS 8 and 9 compatibility with Macintosh computers →

Apple:

Learn which versions of Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9 will run on which Macintosh computers.

Any table on Apple's website that starts with Centris / Quadra 6xx is a fun one.

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by Stephen Hackett at August 26, 2015 03:03 PM

Crossway Blog

How to Read Like a Methodical Madman

This is a guest post by Doug Wilson, author of Writers to Read: Nine Names That Belong on Your Bookshelf.


So You Wanna Read More Books?

Some readers just like to graze, while others have places to go and people to meet. Some spend time in the literary meadow chewing the cud, while others believe that life is a highway and a library card is the gas pedal. This is just another way of saying that readers are people, and people are different.

But what about those who would love to get a lot of reading done, but are not sure about how to go about it? I remember once as a young man reading a magazine interview with an editor, and it came out in the course of the interview that he read a couple of books a week. At the time, this struck me about as feasible as hopping to the moon on one foot. But—and this is the point—it also struck me as altogether lovely. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do something like that?

Start a Book Log

I decided that I would start trying to hop in that direction when I could, alternating feet, and so when I was done with college I started keeping a record of my reading. You can actually learn a lot that way. Kids today can do it with Goodreads, but back then you had to write it down in a notebook.

If this is something you want to do, don’t set it up in a way that leaves you staring at a deadline every Friday—“which book shall I try to finish before midnight?” Reading fifty-two books in a year counts as reading a book a week, even if you finish seven of them in a rush one weekend, and you also go three weeks without finishing any.

I established my book log in 1979, and since then whenever I finish a book I write down the name, the author, a very brief evaluation, and the month I finished. This has the value of letting you know your natural pace, and that pace you can then pick up if you like.

Just Chip Away

I am a great believer in plodding. If some readers are blowing down the six-lane highway of life, the approach I am recommending is more like hiking the Appalachian Trail. Just walk. Chip away, and then chip away some more. It is amazing how small things add up to great things.

Let me illustrate how it works in different reading scenarios.

Say that you want to read some whacking great book. Your edition of Moby Dick has some 700 pages, and that is almost as daunting as the whale itself, and you are not driven like Ahab. Divide 10 into 700 and that gets you 70. 70 days is somewhat over two months, taking it at 10 pages a day. But 10 pages a day is—if you are any kind of reader at all—a trifle. If you were still in school and the instructor made you read 10 pages a day for some class, you would laugh exuberantly and snap your fingers at the syllabus. But if this makes you break out into a sweat, make it 5 months and five pages a day. Plodding works.

Read More than One Book at a Time

Another trick is that of learning how to read a number of books at once. I just counted, and I have about 30 of them going. Some are books I finish in order to start right over again (Bunyan), while in other instances I am always reading a particular kind of book in that slot (like poetry). With a book of poetry, savor it. Read just two pages a day. I am currently on page 274 of The Works of Alexander Pope, and there has been more than one moment of “oh, that’s where that comes from!” Just tonight it was “who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel,” an 18th century version of killing ants with a baseball bat.

When you are working away, bit by bit, with that number of books, there will usually be one of them that starts to invite you into the backstretch, and that gives you a welcome opportunity to finish it out on Sunday. Among these books, I don’t read any of them for more than 10 pages a day—unless I hit the backstretch and want to finish it.

I forgot another small list of books I am chipping away at. These are the books in my Kindle, which I pretty much read only on airplanes. Kindle is a fantastic way to lug around another e-satchel of books, and I chip away there also. It all adds up.

Some might think that to read this way is to be permanently distracted, but it is like anything else you do. Once you get used to it, you are kind of used to it.

A last thing. Don’t let any kind of reading, the bite-sized incremental kind I am recommending, or the binge reading that some people go in for, displace your Bible reading. However you arrange it, always set it up so that Scripture comes first.


Douglas Wilson (MA, University of Idaho) is a pastor, a popular speaker, and the author of numerous books, including Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, The Case for Classical Christian Education, and Writers to Read. He helped to found Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, and is currently a fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College.

by Matt Tully at August 26, 2015 01:24 PM

Justin Taylor

Karen De Coster

Anarcho-Sinkhole?

When the government left these Detroit residents a road sinkhole and refused to own up to fixing that sinkhole, the residents turned it into an aquarium. While the hole remained for years, and filling with water, residents cleaned the hole of algae and stocked it with fish. This mini-pond encased in asphalt had become a home for many carp, catfish, and blue gill.

No government department has wanted to own up to the hole, of course, until it became a focus of national news. Residents claim that the Detroit Water & Sewage Department tore up the road, but that government department has pointed a finger at a utility company – DTE Energy – as having created the mess. So while the various monopolists fight over who gets to claim the whole hole, the city came out to empty the hole and relocate the fish, because, as one worker said, they suspected ulterior motives in order to draw public criticism to the city and get the hole repaired. Well, it worked.

article-sinkhole-2-0824

by Karen De Coster at August 26, 2015 12:20 PM

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

For Your Reading Pleasure

Some posts about the recent Hugo self-immolation by the clique of self-congratulation:

If there are any honest columns, or even a column not choked to the brim with lies, from the viewpoint of our dishonorable and lying-ass attackers, I would surely link to it.

There are none. Even columnists who perhaps imagine themselves to be neutral or balanced blithely fall into the orchestrated falsehoods, and do not admit what this struggle has always been about:

We are attempting to pry the control of the Hugos out of the hand of a clique or Inner Ring run by Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the benefit of his abortive antichristian ideology and the fiscal benefit (which, at one time there was to be had for publishing Hugo Award winning works), and return control to the fans.

We wanted it to stop being the Tor Award for Political Correctness and to return to being the Hugo Award.

Since I am a Tor author who was benefited by this arrangement, no unseemly fiscal motive can be attributed to me: I was acting against my own financial interests, and still am. I love science fiction more than I love Tor Books, which is saying a lot. It grieves me that the greatest publisher in the field would be so desperately and forcefully committed to the corruption of the field, and riding the decline into the abyss of irrelevance.

Our motives are precisely what we said, both seriously and in jest.

Seriously, we thought and said that limiting the award to the radical-feminist Intersection-Theory Critical-Theory homonormative crap that the Inner Ring likes damages the brand and threatens to turn science fiction into one more postmodern wasteland of dreary garbage, neither edifying nor entertaining.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale or related work had even an iota of real science in it? THE MARTIAN by Weir was crammed with diamond hard science. It won nothing.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale had profound literary merit, seeped in the traditions of Western epic and romance from the classical period to now? My one THE GOLDEN AGE was both imaginative and rooted in the classics. It won nothing.

When is the last time an award winning science fiction tale was fun? Read HARD MAGIC by Larry Correia. It won nothing.

In jest, we said that the leading cause of sadness syndrome in cute furry puppies was the predominance of brain-meltingly absurd uberleftist ideological agitprop  being rocketed to the top of the most prestigious awards in the field, and we asked for the sake of the puppies to grant awards based on merit.

This is not about conservative versus liberal.

The Morlocks are not liberals, except in the sense that they use the liberal vocabulary to express their illiberal ideas. And, of the four founding members of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors who decided to stand up to the Inner Ringwraiths,  I am the only social and political conservative properly so called.

This is not about white males versus minorities.

Again, of the founding four, I am the only white male. (For those of you racists who insist we call carry an Ahnenpass, the others are Female, Hispanic, American Indian).

This is not about fun adventure fiction versus highbrow literary fiction.

I write highbrow literary fiction more filled with allusion and philosophical depth than anything the Morlocks recommend. Each time they claim to be what I am, an refined aesthete of exquisite literary accomplishment, another imp in hell laughs in the delight and the Empire of Lies grows another inch. Unlike the poseurs and pretend intellectuals, however, I can also read, admire and applaud wrecked but well meant pulp fiction and lowbrow fun. Because I am human and I like humans, whereas the Morlocks regard humans as food animals.

This is not about returning to the past of John W. Campbell versus the wondrous new future promised by Michael Moorcock and the New Wave, or whatever. This is not about rebels versus reactionaries.

Good fiction is timeless, and politically correct excremental sludge the Morlocks favor is never good fiction, it is merely propaganda in the service of a faction with no taste for science fiction and no taste for fiction and no taste.  Indeed, if anything, the New Wave mavins, still trapped in the mindset of Woodstock, are the reactionaries. They have not noticed that, ever since STAR WARS hit the silver screen, and HALO hit the computer screen, the genre has changed forever.

We said this over and over again. We all said it. Everything we did was aboveboard, and in the open, and honest. And the Morlocks vomited up so many lies in a blitzkrieg of Alinskyite shitstormtrooper tactics, that many a disinterested passerby, not even aware that there was another side to the argument, is and remains deceived.

The passersby think that we boasted about logrolling, votebuying, and ballotbox stuffing, and that our motive was the creation of the Fourth Reich: that was the narrative, and the Morlocks will die before they admit otherwise, because to admit otherwise is tantamount to admitting our charges of corruption are correct.

So, no, there is not a single column, perhaps not even a single paragraph, of honest reporting from the other side. For a time, I thought that perhaps Mike Glyer of File 770 might prove to be a man of such character as to be able to look at both sides of the issue. He is not.

For an hour, I thought perhaps George RR Martin, a man with whom I have worked on two projects, or more, might prove to be an honest broker above the fray, and able to reconcile the factions, able to have a civil discussion. He did not. He surrendered entirely to malice, and claims I and mine must be excluded from fandom, because we were never fans to begin with. The man with more Hugos than Heinlein claims the system is not corrupt.

There is some freak at the Guardian whose name I forget who is the first to earn the name Morlock from me. He is brain damaged, but not due to physical damage to his nerve cells, but due to the spiritual damage ongoing devotion darkness, madness and lies eventually creates. I mention him only to mock him, but I cannot recall his name. Walters? Walter? Something like that.

One inaccuracy in the Lew Rockwell article: I was up for six, not seven, nominations, and after one of stories ever was correctly disqualified this meant I had five nominations, not six.

At the time, I did not complain about the disqualification, despite that judges of prior cons had allowed Mr. Scalzi’s work under the exact parallel circumstances to not be disqualified.

In hindsight, however, this disqualification it allow the novelette category to escape unscathed from the madness of the crowd busily burning down the award rather than allow my fans have a voice.

This disappoints me. I would have liked all the categories I and mine had swept to be burned, lest a single unwary and inattentive onlooker be given excuse to imagine that the award was granted fairly, due to the worth of the work.

The deduction that the award was not given for the merit of the work, but for the sake of the friendship with a small Inner Circle of likeminded cronies, is now visible to all who do not deliberately close their eyes.

I would have liked it to be more visible. I have at least one leftwing friend who is a fairminded man, but an emotional one, who sincerely believed the various and endless likes about the Sad and Rabid Puppies, our motives and methods and goals, and so on.

by John C Wright at August 26, 2015 11:54 AM

Front Porch Republic

When Hospitality Vanishes

GreekHospitality

“…and there will be no affection between guest and host.” Hesiod, Works and Days

Ancient Greek literature reveals a striking practice of hospitality. We would do well to consider what is implied in this practice.

When a host welcomes someone—sometimes even a stranger, he lays bare the most intimate space of his life: his home. Home is where we can be most ourselves. Here we are safe, in our own zone, among those closest to us. Here we build, shape, and order things—both tangible and intangible—to make an environment congenial to a dignified life with those we love. Our home might not be a place of wealth and worldly success. But it is ours, and a work of our love.

Why would we open this intimate space to others—others who often cannot or will not appreciate it for what it is? How can they possibly belong? Such is the drama of hospitality. Somehow we see others not as alien, but as belonging. We perceive some deep connection with others. So we decide to treat our space as their space, because somehow they are ours and we are theirs. We act lovingly, even if we don’t feel the love.

But Hesiod warns of a time when such affection will wither. When the practice of hospitality vanishes, what can we do to rekindle the affection—and all the gracious forms, even formalities—that embody and convey it? Perhaps we simply start by opening our doors with affection. We can make our home a more homely home, for others. Ours might be the first they ever experience as their own home. Where they can see and feel that they really do belong.

Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead. It also describes various characteristics of both a troubled time period—Hesiod’s own, and those of a golden age. This is the second of several Wednesday Quotes devoted to the characteristics of the former, to be followed by several concerning the latter.

Image: Rubens rendition of the delightful story of the poor peasants Philemon and Baucis, who offered hospitality to Zeus and Mercury who were disguised as travelers. See here for the fuller story.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

The post When Hospitality Vanishes appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Cuddeback at August 26, 2015 11:31 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Making the Shot

News

While dungeon crawling in search of a burglar who'd made off with heirlooms from our wealthy (and more importantly, well-connected) client, our party made its way deeper and deeper through an abandoned mine.

My Rogue, now the party 'tank' after the demise of our Dwarf Barbarian, was having a…

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August 26, 2015 07:01 AM

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

Poetry Corner

Lines to a Don

By Hilaire Belloc

Remote and ineffectual Don
That dared attack my Chesterton,
With that poor weapon, half-impelled,
Unlearnt, unsteady, hardly held,
Unworthy for a tilt with men—
Your quavering and corroded pen;
Don poor at Bed and worse at Table,
Don pinched, Don starved, Don miserable;
Don stuttering, Don with roving eyes,
Don nervous, Don of crudities;
Don clerical, Don ordinary,
Don self-absorbed and solitary;
Don here-and-there, Don epileptic;
Don puffed and empty, Don dyspeptic;
Don middle-class, Don sycophantic,
Don dull, Don brutish, Don pedantic;
Don hypocritical, Don bad,
Don furtive, Don three-quarters mad;
Don (since a man must make an end),
Don that shall never be my friend.
*       *       *
Don different from those regal Dons!
With hearts of gold and lungs of bronze,
Who shout and bang and roar and bawl
The Absolute across the hall,
Or sail in amply billowing gown
Enormous through the Sacred Town,
Bearing from College to their homes
Deep cargoes of gigantic tomes;
Dons admirable! Dons of Might!
Uprising on my inward sight
Compact of ancient tales, and port
And sleep—and learning of a sort.
Dons English, worthy of the land;
Dons rooted; Dons that understand.
Good Dons perpetual that remain
A landmark, walling in the plain—
The horizon of my memories—
Like large and comfortable trees.
*       *       *
Don very much apart from these,
Thou scapegoat Don, thou Don devoted,
Don to thine own damnation quoted,
Perplexed to find thy trivial name
Reared in my verse to lasting shame.
Don dreadful, rasping Don and wearing,
Repulsive Don—Don past all bearing.
Don of the cold and doubtful breath,
Don despicable, Don of death;
Don nasty, skimpy, silent, level;
Don evil; Don that serves the devil.
Don ugly—that makes fifty lines.
There is a Canon which confines
A Rhymed Octosyllabic Curse
If written in Iambic Verse
To fifty lines. I never cut;
I far prefer to end it—but
Believe me I shall soon return.
My fires are banked, but still they burn
To write some more about the Don
That dared attack my Chesterton.

by John C Wright at August 26, 2015 06:19 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ

Rosaria Butterfield knits. Balls of yarn at her feet become fingerless mohair mittens for her family of six. But that’s not the only kind of knitting she does. She also wields her needles of theology and experience against the tangled mess of modern sexuality. The result is order where chaos tends to rule.

This order is timely. When it comes to same-sex anything, the church can appear awkward and clumsy. As the pressure mounts, we Christians fumble around with our Bibles, unsure of how to connect the truths in God’s Word to cultural discourse or personal struggles.

The church would be hard pressed to find someone better than Butterfield to help us make sense of our uncertainty. Once a tenured English professor, she approaches the issue of sexuality with notable scholastic rigor; her theology is profound. Once a committed lesbian, she empathizes with those in the grips of same-sex attraction; her compassion abounds. In her new book Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ [20 quotes], we benefit from both.

Christian Is Your Chief Identity 

We don’t merely tamper with our bodies when we plunge into sexual sin; we tamper with the very core of who we are. Sexual sin quickly transforms into sin of identity. So Butterfield—now a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, author, and speaker—doesn’t begin with a microscopic look at today’s questions of sexuality. Her first order of business is to beckon us back to a biblical understanding of true Christian identity.

Three questions guide her argument: (1) Who am I? (2) What am I like? (3) What do I need? With the theological thrust of a seminary class tempered by the approachability of a memoir, Butterfield establishes our union with Christ—not our experiences—as the preeminent category of identity. To be clear, she never dismisses experience. She just demands we place it in right relationship to what was won for us by the blood of Christ.

For every believer, our sexuality is subservient to our Christianity.

Sin Is Everyone’s Reality

As someone married for seven years and having never struggled with same-sex attraction, I didn’t expect to find my own sin staring back at me as I turned the pages of Openness Unhindered. But there it was. Butterfield guides us all to the highest peak in our hearts and points out the sin-marred landscape. “Sin thrives in the way that God declared in Genesis 4:7: it has agency, it knows my name, it lurks, it seeks me out and it dwells in and with me,” she observes. “And I am a believer” (65).

Butterfield doesn’t present the universality of sin so as to overlook the pet issues of the day, however. She just aims to direct convicted persons to grace through the practice of repentance. We tend to skip the repentance part, but she won’t have that. Her exposition of sin is an invitation to true confession and tenacious self-control.

Defining Sexuality

Words matter. They carry our convictions with them. So Butterfield devotes two chapters to challenging the vocabulary—and therefore the concepts—of sexual identity. She chases the development of sexual orientation through history, and then chases the words associated with it—like “gay” and “homosexual”—through their semantic range.

In her pursuit, she proves that words matter. Unfolding the intricacies of sexual identity, Butterfield answers questions like:

  • How do we approach the topic of “gay Christians”?
  • When does homosexual desire turn from temptation to sin? 
  • How does original sin affect sexuality?

With each answer she knits together both confidence in God’s design and confidence in his love for us.

I imagine Butterfield didn’t flinch when she wrote that sexual orientation is a term which “extends the definition of sexuality beyond its biblical confines” (96). Elsewhere she remarks, “The meaning and interpretation of words in context of grammar and syntax transcend our good intentions.” Such statements upset our culture’s praise of sexual identity. They also expose the weight of our words.

Butterfield’s example challenges us to throw around the right kind of weight. The Word of God must inform our choice of words. 

Gospel Words for Gospel People

Butterfield makes clear that wholesale acceptance of sexual orientation language does Christians a disservice. I think I’ve spent hours mulling over the statement: “Sexual orientation fronts a category of personhood that privileges natural desires over redeemed ones” (107). Affirming these concepts upsets the truth of Christian identity, the truth of the gospel of grace.

One of the astounding strengths of Openness Unhindered is that Butterfield doesn't stop at explaining the implications of the gospel; she applies it too. After affirming the personhood defined by God, she affirms the people loved by him: “If you are a child of God, washed in the blood of Christ, you should never again be defined by or reduced to an ‘orientation’ linked to a pattern of even persistent temptations” (108).

What’s at stake isn’t mere etymology—it’s the truth of the gospel. Blood-bought people belong to Christ, not to their sexuality, and we should treat them accordingly. Throughout Openness Unhindered, believers who fail to extend grace, shun those with homosexual desires, or refuse to see their own sin find a harsh critique. Judgment, fear, and self-righteousness are unbecoming of redeemed rebels. They breed strife where unity should be found. They aren’t the mark of gospel people. So what is, then? True community.

Butterfield’s final chapter is a short treatise on this topic. She portrays what it looks like to live in light of our true identity in Christ—to love each other fiercely and without compromise. “Christian love that is stronger than the lines that divide believers is the only response,” she contends. I hope her next book is an extended treatment of community.

More Than Answers 

In Openness Unhindered, Butterfield sets out to equip and encourage those dealing with sexual temptation, guide unbelievers to Christ’s hand, and rouse believers blind to their own sin. If you come to the book seeking answers about one of today’s most controversial topics, you will certainly find some. But you’ll leave with more than answers. You’ll leave with the hope of the gospel. 

Rosaria Butterfield. Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2015. 206 pp. $13.00. 

by Kelsey Hency <p><strong>Kelsey Hency</strong> is wife to Mat, mom to a 2-year-old daughter, Faye, and a master&#39;s degree student at Dallas Theological Seminary. She blogs inconsistently at <a href="http://atasteofsalt.com/">A Taste of Salt</a>,&nbsp;but you are sure to find pictures of her toddler and her breakfast on <a href="https://instagram.com/kelseyhency">Instagram</a>.&nbsp;</p> at August 26, 2015 05:02 AM

Cotton Mather’s Advice for Seminary Students

Scholars have had a field day with the complex character of the New England Puritan Cotton Mather (1663–1728). Psychoanalysts have construed him through his childhood speech impediment and complex relationship with his father, historians have portrayed him as a backwards Puritan witch hunter or a capitulating Enlightenment progressive, and literary critics have followed Nathaniel Hawthorne and blamed Mather for all of America’s problems. Nevertheless, Mather’s legacy continues to invite closer and more sympathetic looks today; a new book by historian Rick Kennedy even claims him as “the first American evangelical.” Whether or not this claim will convince the academy, evangelicals can still greatly benefit from Mather’s remarkable mind, spirituality, and ministry genius. 

Despite the many distorted “Mathers” that have been passed down in historical memory, we fail to give proper recognition unless we understand him first and foremost as a dedicated pastor. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow, gained prestigious membership in the Royal Society, promoted scientific and medicinal advancements (like smallpox inoculation), and wrote more than many of us will ever read. Nonetheless, his devotion to preaching the Word and caring for his church far surpassed all these avocations. The Mather who learned Spanish just to write gospel tracts and who remained faithful in ministry after losing two wives and 13 children still deserves our attention. In 1726, he published a guidebook for students of ministry titled Manuductio ad Ministerium, and many of his points still speak powerfully today. (Note: I’ve modernized some of the text’s spelling for this article.)

Live for God

Mather asserts his aim for aspiring ministers is to “make a long liver . . . and a true liver, of you” (4). He urges his readers to think carefully about what they live for and how they live: “You do not begin to live, no, you are dead while you live, until you live unto God” (3). He measures true living not by age but by time spent pursuing humanity’s chief end—to glorify and enjoy God. A minister who doesn’t strive to spend his life for God will be of no spiritual and practical benefit to others. If you “terminate in any inferior end,” Mather writes, then “nothing that is truly wise is to [be] expected from you” (7).

In order to live for God, Mather presses students to regularly contemplate their own death. “Consider yourself as a dying person,” he counsels, “that you may do nothing like living in vain.” By placing “yourself in the circumstances of a dying person,” you gain perspective on what things are truly worth living for (2). And yet, despite our utter failure to fulfill our chief end and live for God, Mather reminds us that Christ has done it in our place. This truth frees believers to live fully in his grace and love, striving to yield a “faint resemblance of that perfect obedience which my Jesus has yielded unto God for me” (10).

Natural Abilities for Righteous Ends

Mather warns us of two common problems that plague ministers: sloth and self-aggrandizement. Some pastors today demand little from themselves, spending more hours during sermon prep on YouTube than in prayer and study. Others have laudable drive, but it’s rooted in and wasted on self-promotion. Mather pushes us for something better.

The pastor tempted toward sloth must especially look to God for the motivation and strength to leverage his ministry for the glory of God and the benefit of his flock. The driven pastor tempted toward self-promotion must realize he’s robbing God of glory, himself of joy, and his people of worship. Mather tells these men that even though people “admire you and applaud you,” their praise “will terminate in you, and [will] look no further than the worm they look on” rather than to God (25). We must pray God would help us avoid these errors: “Lord, I desire to furnish myself with such things, as may render me more qualified for what service thou mayst call me” (11).

Mather tells students to take their studies seriously, striving for excellence not only in theology but also in math, science, geography, history, and languages in order to more effectively serve others. Perhaps modern students of ministry don’t need to place quite the same emphasis on intellectual pursuits as Mather enjoins, but we can strategically refine our minds and skills to better serve God’s people. He recommends ministers expand their creativity and aesthetic sense, regularly reading and even writing poetry to enhance their sermons and public prayers. “I cannot wish you a soul that shall be wholly unpoetical,” he remarks, adding a warning to not prioritize sweets over sustenance: “Let not what should be sauce rather than food for you engross your application” (39, 42). 

Strength for Spiritual Usefulness

Mather also encourages aspiring pastors to increase their future spiritual usefulness. One of the best means consists of imbibing edifying truth, especially from Scripture: “Can a man be a thorough divine without reading the sacred scriptures?” Mather asks. “No, verily, not. . . . Read them, child; I say, read them, with an uncommon assiduity” (80). He also commends theology and devotional writings by figures like John Calvin, Gisbertus Voetius, John Owen, and Petrus Van Mastricht to sharpen the mind and heart, and promotes reading spiritual biographies that inspire readers to “to go and do likewise” (67, 84–85).

The pastor must also cultivate healthy private spirituality through disciplines like prayer and singing: “Express yourself in prayer to the glorious God, and spread the cases of the people before him” (111). In addition, “accomplish yourself at regular singing, for it will be of daily use to you” (57). A pastor’s personal piety deeply affects his congregation and is reflected in his sermons. Mather mourned how ministers of his day filled sermons with moralism and rhetorical flourishes rather than Christ. A minister with a genuine love for Christ must preach differently: “Exhibit as much as you can of a glorious Christ unto them. Yea, let the motto upon your ministry be, Christ is all” (93).

Mather offers numerous shrewd ministry tips that display his concern for his sheep. For example, he suggests preachers aid their listeners’ comprehension by not reading their sermon notes: “How can you demand of them to remember much of what you bring to them, when you remember nothing of it yourself?” Rather, “Let your notes be little other than a quiver, on which you may cast your eye now and then to see what arrow is to be next fetched from thence; and then, with your eye as much as may be on them whom you speak to, let it be shot away, with a vivacity becoming one in earnest” (106). 

Mather’s life and ministry exemplified a “vivacity becoming one in earnest,” and he’s still worthy of our study and emulation today.  

Ryan Hoselton is pursuing doctoral studies at Heidelberg University in Germany. He and his wife, Jaclyn, have one daughter, Madrid. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanhoselton.

by Ryan Hoselton at August 26, 2015 05:02 AM

Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ

Rosaria Butterfield knits. Balls of yarn at her feet become fingerless mohair mittens for her family of six. But that’s not the only kind of knitting she does. She also wields her needles of theology and experience against the tangled mess of modern sexuality. The result is order where chaos tends to rule.

This order is timely. When it comes to same-sex anything, the church can appear awkward and clumsy. As the pressure mounts, we Christians fumble around with our Bibles, unsure of how to connect the truths in God’s Word to cultural discourse or personal struggles.

The church would be hard pressed to find someone better than Butterfield to help us make sense of our uncertainty. Once a tenured English professor, she approaches the issue of sexuality with notable scholastic rigor; her theology is profound. Once a committed lesbian, she empathizes with those in the grips of same-sex attraction; her compassion abounds. In her new book Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ [20 quotes], we benefit from both.

Christian Is Your Chief Identity 

We don’t merely tamper with our bodies when we plunge into sexual sin; we tamper with the core of who we are. Sexual sin quickly transforms into sin of identity. So Butterfield—now a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, author, and speaker—doesn’t begin with a microscopic look at today’s questions of sexuality. Her first order of business is to beckon us back to a biblical understanding of true Christian identity.

Three questions guide her argument: (1) Who am I? (2) What am I like? (3) What do I need? With the theological thrust of a seminary class tempered by the approachability of a memoir, Butterfield establishes our union with Christ—not our experiences—as the preeminent category of identity. To be clear, she never dismisses experience. She just demands we place it in right relationship to what was won for us by the blood of Christ.

For every believer, our sexuality is subservient to our Christianity.

Sin Is Everyone’s Reality

As someone married for seven years and having never struggled with same-sex attraction, I didn’t expect to find my own sin staring back at me as I turned the pages of Openness Unhindered. But there it was. Butterfield guides us all to the highest peak in our hearts and points out the sin-marred landscape. “Sin thrives in the way that God declared in Genesis 4:7: it has agency, it knows my name, it lurks, it seeks me out and it dwells in and with me,” she observes. “And I am a believer” (65).

Butterfield doesn’t present the universality of sin so as to overlook the pet issues of the day, however. She just aims to direct convicted persons to grace through the practice of repentance. We tend to skip the repentance part, but she won’t have that. Her exposition of sin is an invitation to true confession and tenacious self-control.

Defining Sexuality

Words matter. They carry our convictions with them. So Butterfield devotes two chapters to challenging the vocabulary—and therefore the concepts—of sexual identity. She chases the development of sexual orientation through history, and then chases the words associated with it—like “gay” and “homosexual”—through their semantic range.

In her pursuit, she proves that words matter. Unfolding the intricacies of sexual identity, Butterfield answers questions like:

  • How do we approach the topic of “gay Christians”?
  • When does homosexual desire turn from temptation to sin? 
  • How does original sin affect sexuality?

With each answer she knits together both confidence in God’s design and confidence in his love for us.

I imagine Butterfield didn’t flinch when she wrote that sexual orientation is a term that “extends the definition of sexuality beyond its biblical confines” (96). Elsewhere she remarks, “The meaning and interpretation of words in context of grammar and syntax transcend our good intentions.” Such statements upset our culture’s praise of sexual identity. They also expose the weight of our words.

Butterfield’s example challenges us to throw around the right kind of weight. The Word of God must inform our choice of words. 

Gospel Words for Gospel People

Butterfield makes clear that wholesale acceptance of sexual orientation language does Christians a disservice. I’ve spent hours mulling over the statement: “Sexual orientation fronts a category of personhood that privileges natural desires over redeemed ones” (107). Affirming these concepts upsets the truth of Christian identity, the truth of the gospel of grace.

One of the astounding strengths of Openness Unhindered is that Butterfield doesn't stop at explaining the implications of the gospel; she applies it too. After affirming the personhood defined by God, she affirms the people loved by him: “If you are a child of God, washed in the blood of Christ, you should never again be defined by or reduced to an ‘orientation’ linked to a pattern of even persistent temptations” (108).

What’s at stake isn’t mere etymology—it’s the truth of the gospel. Blood-bought people belong to Christ, not to their sexuality, and we should treat them accordingly. Throughout Openness Unhindered, believers who fail to extend grace, shun those with homosexual desires, or refuse to see their own sin find a harsh critique. Judgment, fear, and self-righteousness are unbecoming of redeemed rebels. They breed strife where unity should be found. They aren’t the mark of gospel people. So what is, then? True community.

Butterfield’s final chapter is a short treatise on this topic. She portrays what it looks like to live in light of our true identity in Christ—to love each other fiercely and without compromise. “Christian love that is stronger than the lines that divide believers is the only response,” she contends. I hope her next book is an extended treatment of community.

More Than Answers 

In Openness Unhindered, Butterfield sets out to equip and encourage those dealing with sexual temptation, guide unbelievers to Christ’s hand, and rouse believers blind to their own sin. If you come to the book seeking answers about one of today’s most controversial topics, you will certainly find some. But you’ll leave with more than answers.

You’ll leave with the hope of the gospel. 

Rosaria Butterfield. Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2015. 206 pp. $13.00. 

Kelsey Hency is wife to Mat, mom to a 2-year-old daughter, Faye, and a master's degree student at Dallas Theological Seminary. She blogs inconsistently at A Taste of Salt, but you are sure to find pictures of her toddler and her breakfast on Instagram

by Kelsey Hency at August 26, 2015 05:02 AM

Amazon: Easy to Critique, Easier to One-Click

Last week I received an e-mail from one of my clients, a CEO who hired us to launch a culture change initiative for his executive team. Linking to The New York Times scathing exposé on Amazon’s corporate culture, he simply wrote, “This is the opposite of what we want to create.”

The public response to the story was immediate and visceral. One publication said Amazon had “a sweatshop-like culture.” Another noted its work-life balance score: 2.6 out of 5. In a memo to his employees, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos went into damage control mode, saying he didn’t recognize the company portrayed in the article.

Although the exposé is being criticized as based on “generalization and anecdote” and a more complete picture is emerging, an important question for all of us arises: If a company is meeting our needs as customers, why should we concern ourselves with how they run their business?

Greatest Place I Hate to Work

Amazon has exactly the culture it intended to create. Unlike many companies, where creativity and innovation is characterized by ping pong tables, buffet lunches, and spa treatments, Amazon seems stark. It doesn’t boast the typical perks and benefits of other tech firms because it values frugality.

It also values confidence and competence. As one journalist notes, “Bezos abhors what he calls ‘social cohesion,’ the natural impulse to seek consensus . . . and he has codified this approach in one of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles [Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit].”

Bezos isn’t a hypocrite. He’s never been coy about the kind of culture he wants to create. His leadership principles include an intense focus on “constant friction” and “adversarial competition” in which employees simultaneously feel frustrated and proud. One former executive writes, “A lot of people who work there feel this tension: it’s the greatest place I hate to work.”

Purpose of Business

Bezos understands the market. Since the 1970s we’ve seen increased focus in businesses on maximizing shareholder value. By that standard, Amazon is successful. Last month, it surpassed Walmart in market capitalization, making it the most valuable retailer in the country. In August 2005, one share of Amazon was worth $43; this year, it’s worth almost $500. If profit is purpose, then Amazon’s doing quite well.

What if, though, human flourishing is the main purpose of business? In Why Business Matters to God: And What Still Needs to Be Fixed, professor Jeff Van Duzer describes a “Genesis” model for business, where business is a means to steward all that God has entrusted to the care of his image bearers:

[A]s stewards of God’s creation, business leaders should manage their businesses (1) to provide the community with goods and services that will enable it to flourish, and (2) to provide opportunities for meaningful work that will allow employees to express their God-given creativity.

Some competitors of Amazon have taken a different route to success. Hearts & Minds, an independent bookstore in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, is owned and operated by Byron and Beth Borger. Their craft goes well beyond stocking and shipping. They want to accomplish Van Duzer’s two purposes of business. The value they create isn’t primarily in their transactions but in their relationships, as they serve their customers by writing delightful reviews, curating book lists to help customers grow in their love for God and understanding of vocation, and hosting gatherings for readers and writers.

Real Culprit

We may publicly condemn large companies like Amazon and praise small businesses like Hearts & Minds. But when it comes to buying our books and placing our orders, we usually go with the company that offers the fastest and cheapest option—without regard for how it treats it employees.

Who, then, is to blame for “bruising” workplaces, where people are treated like cogs in a machine rather than humans created in God’s image? It may very well be us, the consumers.

Knowledge Creates Responsibility

As an Amazon Prime customer, I contribute to the corporate culture Bezos has created and encouraged. I’m “implicated,” as my friend Steve Garber might say, by what I know. The only question, then, is “What must I do?”

First, I might consider working for Amazon as one of its more than 115,000 employees. After all, since God became man, leaving the riches of glory to enter the messy world of human beings, I can work as salt and light in places of darkness. I can be an agent of hope in a difficult work environment.

Second, I might thoughtfully consider changing my shopping habits, choosing to frequent businesses that value and invest in human flourishing. My small changes may not make a difference to the overall economy, but they might play a part in bringing together my “inner” and “outer” person (Matt. 23:27).

Finally, I might consider building or running—or encouraging my friends to build or run—a company in ways that celebrate a culture that values people as image bearers. This is one thing I hope to do with my clients. In our last meeting with the CEO who hired us to launch a corporate culture change, he remarked:

We’re too proud of our financial success. Our investors love our return on investment (ROI), but our employees and our customers don’t feel valued. I’m not motivated by money; I never have been. I’m here for the people. I’m inviting you to join me to make this a place where people love to work and customers love to buy, where human lives and relationships are valued above all else.

I’ve asked the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation (PLF) to work with us to create a culture where safety is our priority, excellence is our standard, and character is valued above expedience. But I can’t do this alone. Will you join me?

Healthy cultures are deeply intentional and develop over time when we implement values and invest in good people, processes, and environments. They needn’t be lavish, but they must value people for who they are, not simply what they do.

Lisa Pratt Slayton is the President of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation (PFL). PLF envisions leaders working together to transform their cities into places of shalom—truth, beauty, goodness, justice, and human flourishing. Lisa finds shalom in great friends, good books, and lovely shoes. 

by Lisa Slayton at August 26, 2015 05:01 AM

Should Women Wear Head Coverings?

Many complementarians build their case for rejecting women elders/pastors on Paul’s argument from creation in 1 Timothy 2:13–14. Paul’s prohibition cannot be culturally limited, they argue, since the apostle doesn’t argue from culture but from creation. He argues from the order of creation (“For Adam was formed first, then Eve”) and from the order of accountability in creation (“Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived”). Based on Paul’s inspired reasoning, then, complementarians conclude women may not “teach or have authority over men” (v. 12) in the context of the local church.

But can’t this reasoning also be applied to 1 Corinthians 11:8–9, where Paul makes a similar argument from creation to bolster his position? In the context of 1 Corinthians 11, he demonstrates that women need to have their heads covered while praying or prophesying. To prove his point, he argues from creation, saying that the woman was created from man (“For man was not made from woman, but woman from man”) and for man (“Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man”). Isn’t it inconsistent to reject Paul’s appeal for women to wear head coverings while affirming his command for women not to teach or have authority over men, since in both contexts Paul uses virtually the same (creation-related) reasoning?

This apparent inconsistency is raised by Craig Keener when he writes, “Although many churches would use arguments [from the order of creation] to demand the subordination of women in all cultures, very few accept Paul’s arguments [in 1 Cor. 11] as valid for covering women’s heads in all cultures. . . . We take the argument as transculturally applicable in one case [1 Tim. 2], but not so in the other [1 Cor. 11]. This seems very strange indeed.”

A closer examination of the two texts, however, shows it’s consistent to reject the need for women to wear head coverings (1 Cor. 11) while affirming they are not to teach or have authority over men (1 Tim. 2). The reason for this distinction is that in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul only indirectly uses the argument from creation to affirm head coverings for women. The direct application of his reasoning is to show that creation affirms gender and role distinctions between men and women. Therefore, Paul’s argument from creation which demonstrates men and women are distinct cannot be culturally relegated. The application of this principle (i.e., head coverings), then, can and does change with culture. In contrast, the argument from creation in 1 Timothy 2 applies directly to Paul’s prohibition, and therefore is not culturally conditioned.

Argument from Creation (vv. 7–9)

In 1 Corinthians 11:7–9 Paul writes: 

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Paul is not directly making the case that head coverings are needed for women when they pray or prophesy. He doesn’t say: “A woman must have her head covered when she prays or prophesies. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” Instead, Paul uses the Genesis creation account to affirm his previous statement that “woman is the glory of man.”

Even in verse 7 when Paul explains why a man must not cover his head (“since he is the image and glory of God”), the focus isn’t so much that a head covering is wrong in itself but on the disgrace or shame it brings. It’s inaccurate to claim Paul uses an argument from creation to affirm the need for women to wear head coverings. Instead, Paul appeals to creation to demonstrate the differences between men and women that God established from the beginning—and violating these distinctions brings shame instead of glory. 

Five Surrounding Arguments

This interpretation is supported by a number of clues found in the context of the passage:

1. Argument from Headship (v. 3)

The manner in which Paul introduces his discussion strongly suggests head coverings are not his main concern. In verse 3 he states, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” It seems obvious something more important is at stake since Paul clarifies the functional relationship between man and Christ, woman and man, and Christ and God. In their relationship, the man has authority over the woman just as Christ has authority over the man and God the Father has authority over Christ. Functionally, the wife is under her husband’s loving authority and therefore must demonstrate her submissiveness by wearing a head covering.

2. Argument from Hairstyles (v. 6)

Paul’s comparison of a woman who prays or prophesies without a head covering to a woman with a man’s haircut also signifies that the main issue at stake is gender and role distinctions, not merely a piece of cloth on one’s head. In verse 6 Paul explains, “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head” (NASB). Just as it’s wrong for a woman to blur the gender distinctions by wearing a man’s hairstyle, so too it’s wrong for a woman to blur such distinctions by not covering her head while praying or prophesying. Paul presses this analogy by saying if a woman wants to disgrace both herself and her husband by having a man’s hairstyle, she might as well go all the way and shave off her hair.

3. Argument from the Nature of Head Coverings (v. 10)

It’s important to notice the passive nature of a head covering. A head covering was a sign or symbol pointing to a greater reality. It had no meaning in itself, but was a concrete expression of an intangible truth. Thus, Paul isn’t concerned with head coverings per se. Rather, he’s concerned with the meaning that wearing a head covering conveys.

4. Argument from Nature (vv. 14–15)

Verses 14 and 15 state: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” By using the term “nature” Paul isn’t referring to culture or “social conventions” but to God’s design in creation (cf. Rom 1:26–27). God created women to have longer hair than men and thus nature teaches us it’s not fitting for a man to have long hair and appear like a woman. Paul’s argument from nature, then, doesn’t directly prove women must wear head coverings but that the differences between men and women are part of God’s creational design. Because the distinctions between men and women are part of God’s plan, it’s imperative the Corinthian women wear head coverings.

5. Argument from Practice (v. 16)

In verse 16 Paul writes, “We have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” According to Paul, the wearing of head coverings wasn’t limited to the church at Corinth but was a custom in all the churches. Such a universally accepted custom suggests the presence of an underlying (transcultural) principle governing the need for such a practice. Paul’s argument, then, is women must wear head coverings when praying or prophesying because of a more important underlying issue—God created men and women differently, and we must not seek to eliminate such distinctions.

Distinction from 1 Timothy 2:12

Unlike 1 Corinthians 11, Paul’s argument in 1 Timothy 2:12 is based directly on creation. In other words, Paul’s appeal to the creation of Adam before Eve demonstrates the different roles God established based on creation. Therefore, the order of creation becomes the reason why Paul prohibits women from teaching men. The Genesis account gives the reason why a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man. Because 1 Timothy 2:12 is based on creation, it transcends cultures.

But Paul’s argument from creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 is not directly given to mandate women must wear head coverings. Rather, his argument from creation explains how man is the image and glory of God, and how the woman is the glory of man. Christian women are not required to wear head coverings today when praying, since the symbol of a woman’s head being covered is different today than it was during the time of Paul (at least in many cultures). Consequently, Paul’s argument from creation is only indirectly linked to the need for head coverings.

The transcultural truth that undergirded Paul’s admonition, however, still applies for us today. Women are different from men, and this distinction must be maintained in the church and in the family. In contrast, Paul’s argument from creation in 1 Timothy 2:13–14 directly follows the prohibition for women not to teach or have authority over men. Thus, verses 13 and 14 are best taken as the grounds for that prohibition, and they are transcultural. Therefore, the command for women not to teach or have authority over men should be upheld in the church today.

Editors’ note: A longer version of this article originally appeared in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Benjamin L. Merkle serves as professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is the author or co-author of numerous books, including Why Elders? A Biblical and Practical Guide for Church Members (Kregel, 2009) and 40 Questions about Elders and Deacons (Kregel, 2007). 

by Benjamin L. Merkle at August 26, 2015 05:00 AM

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

Voice of the People

I have been wondered whether there were any men on the Left who saw what the Left has become, and who, like Reagan, realized the that the real Left really left long ago, leaving only shrieking Eloi and troglodyte Morlocks in their wake to inherit the ruins.

I was delighted by, and here reprint in full, this comment from a reader over on VOx Day’s blogsite:

Yep, I was a committed leftist myself, back when the left was about Martin Luther King Jr. style “race blindness” anti-racism, free speech, and concern for the working class. Today, class is irrelevant to the left, they eagerly promote a private grade school Harvard Law grad named Obama over any working class O’Malley; any “affirmative action” is just political nepotism dressed up in base race grievance mongering. The idea that a working class white might not be as “privileged” as a middle-upper-class black is completely lost on them, or rather, they cynically exploit outdated race grievances to oppress the working class. My great-grandfather was a fiery union organizer who’d never dream of voting Republican. My grandfather followed him until the 1970’s, when the left decided it was more important to socially engineer society — with a focus on sexual deviancy — than to protect the economic interests of the working class. A “Reagan democrat.” I naively thought there might be something to what my liberal professors were talking about until I entered the working world, which the left assiduously isolates itself from. Pretty much all of my family has followed suit.

So, congrats, left. You’ve alienated working-class Midwestern families — literally “born and bred” Democrats — who were the strongest supporters of what you originally stood for: race-blindness, free speech, and a voice for the working class. You traded that for race wars based on extremely flimsy pretexts, undermining what Dr. King fought for, championing obvious cynical hucksters like Al Sharpton. You ceded any moral authority you might have had against the old “family values” Protestant mainline by your totalitarian support of family perversion. And you eagerly undermine the American working class by importing millions of low-skilled workers — illegally. Enjoy your little media cliques and “no awards” parties. I think you’re about to find out that there’s actually a lot of people living in “flyover country.”

I’m definitely in for a Worldcon membership this year. I was never much of a scifi fan (more Tolkien, Lewis and Lovecraft), but “A Canticle for Leibowitz” is on my reading list — although one wonders if it still qualifies as “science fiction” and not “magical realism.” I will try to read everything nominated, but given the obvious attempts at social ostracism, the nature of the Hugos has been made clear, and I will entrust my voting choices to our dark lord. You have only yourselves to blame, SJWs. You created the puppies, and we’ve tasted blood.

by John C Wright at August 26, 2015 03:46 AM

Who-T

pointer acceleration in libinput - building a DPI database for mice

click here to jump to the instructions

Mice have an optical sensor that tells them how far they moved in "mickeys". Depending on the sensor, a mickey is anywhere between 1/100 to 1/8200 of an inch or less. The current "standard" resolution is 1000 DPI, but older mice will have 800 DPI, 400 DPI etc. Resolutions above 1200 DPI are generally reserved for gaming mice with (usually) switchable resolution and it's an arms race between manufacturers in who can advertise higher numbers.

HW manufacturers are cheap bastards so of course the mice don't advertise the sensor resolution. Which means that for the purpose of pointer acceleration there is no physical reference. That delta of 10 could be a millimeter of mouse movement or a nanometer, you just can't know. And if pointer acceleration works on input without reference, it becomes useless and unpredictable. That is partially intended, HW manufacturers advertise that a lower resolution will provide more precision while sniping and a higher resolution means faster turns while running around doing rocket jumps. I personally don't think that there's much difference between 5000 and 8000 DPI anymore, the mouse is so sensitive that if you sneeze your pointer ends up next to Philae. But then again, who am I to argue with marketing types.

For us, useless and unpredictable is bad, especially in the use-case of everyday desktops. To work around that, libinput 0.7 now incorporates the physical resolution into pointer acceleration. And to do that we need a database, which will be provided by udev as of systemd 218 (unreleased at the time of writing). This database incorporates the various devices and their physical resolution, together with their sampling rate. udev sets the resolution as the MOUSE_DPI property that we can read in libinput and use as reference point in the pointer accel code. In the simplest case, the entry lists a single resolution with a single frequency (e.g. "MOUSE_DPI=1000@125"), for switchable gaming mice it lists a list of resolutions with frequencies and marks the default with an asterisk ("MOUSE_DPI=400@50 800@50 *1000@125 1200@125"). And you can and should help us populate the database so it gets useful really quickly.

How to add your device to the database

We use udev's hwdb for the database list. The upstream file is in /usr/lib/udev/hwdb.d/70-mouse.hwdb, the ruleset to trigger a match is in /usr/lib/udev/rules.d/70-mouse.rules. The easiest way to add a match is with the libevdev mouse-dpi-tool (version 1.3.2). Run it and follow the instructions. The output looks like this:


$ sudo ./tools/mouse-dpi-tool /dev/input/event8
Mouse Lenovo Optical USB Mouse on /dev/input/event8
Move the device along the x-axis.
Pause 3 seconds before movement to reset, Ctrl+C to exit.
Covered distance in device units: 264 at frequency 125.0Hz | |^C
Estimated sampling frequency: 125Hz
To calculate resolution, measure physical distance covered
and look up the matching resolution in the table below
16mm 0.66in 400dpi
11mm 0.44in 600dpi
8mm 0.33in 800dpi
6mm 0.26in 1000dpi
5mm 0.22in 1200dpi
4mm 0.19in 1400dpi
4mm 0.17in 1600dpi
3mm 0.15in 1800dpi
3mm 0.13in 2000dpi
3mm 0.12in 2200dpi
2mm 0.11in 2400dpi

Entry for hwdb match (replace XXX with the resolution in DPI):
mouse:usb:v17efp6019:name:Lenovo Optical USB Mouse:
MOUSE_DPI=XXX@125
Take those last two lines, add them to a local new file /etc/udev/hwdb.d/71-mouse.hwdb. Rebuild the hwdb, trigger it, and done:

$ sudo udevadm hwdb --update
$ sudo udevadm trigger /dev/input/event8
Leave out the device path if you're not on systemd 218 yet. Check if the property is set:

$ udevadm info /dev/input/event8 | grep MOUSE_DPI
E: MOUSE_DPI=1000@125
And that shows everything worked. Restart X/Wayland/whatever uses libinput and you're good to go. If it works, double-check the upstream instructions, then file a bug against systemd with those two lines and assign it to me.

Trackballs are a bit hard to measure like this, my suggestion is to check the manufacturer's website first for any resolution data.

Update 2014/12/06: trackball comment added, udevadm trigger comment for pre 218
Update 2015/08/26: udpated link to systemd bugzilla (now on github)

by Peter Hutterer (noreply@blogger.com) at August 26, 2015 12:08 AM

August 25, 2015

Nicholas Nethercote

What does the OS X Activity Monitor’s “Energy Impact” actually measure?

[Update: this post has been updated with significant new information. Look to the end.]

Activity Monitor is a tool in Mac OS X that shows a variety of real-time process measurements. It is well-known and its “Energy Impact” measure (which was added in Mac OS X 10.9) is often consulted by users to compare the power consumption of different programs. Apple support documentation specifically recommends it for troubleshooting battery life problems, as do countless articles on the web.

However, despite its prominence, the exact meaning of the “Energy Impact” measure is unclear. In this blog post I use a combination of code inspection, measurements, and educated guesses to hypothesize how it is computed in Mac OS X 10.9 and 10.10.

What is known about “Energy Impact”?

The following screenshot shows the Activity Monitor’s “Energy” tab.

There are no units given for “Energy Impact” or “Avg Energy Impact”.

The Activity Monitor documentation says the following.

Energy Impact: A relative measure of the current energy consumption of the app. Lower numbers are better.

Avg Energy Impact: The average energy impact for the past 8 hours or since the Mac started up, whichever is shorter.

That is vague. Other Apple documentation says the following.

The Energy tab of Activity Monitor displays the Energy Impact of each open app based on a number of factors including CPU usage, network traffic, disk activity and more. The higher the number, the more impact an app has on battery power.

More detail, but still vague. Enough so that various other  people have wondered what it means. The most precise description I have found says the following.

If my recollection of the developer presentation slide on App Nap is correct, they are an abstract unit Apple created to represent several factors related to energy usage meant to compare programs relatively.

I don’t believe you can directly relate them to one simple unit, because they are from an arbitrary formula of multiple factors.

[…] To get the units they look at CPU usage, interrupts, and wakeups… track those using counters and apply that to the energy column as a relative measure of an app.

This sounds plausible, and we will soon see that it appears to be close to the truth.

A detour: top

First, a necessary detour. top is a program that is similar to Activity Monitor, but it runs from the command-line. Like Activity Monitor, top performs periodic measurements of many different things, including several that are relevant to power consumption: CPU usage, wakeups, and a “power” measure. To see all these together, invoke it as follows.

top -stats pid,command,cpu,idlew,power -o power -d

(A non-default invocation is necessary because the wakeups and power columns aren’t shown by default unless you have an extremely wide screen.)

It will show real-time data, updated once per second, like the following.

PID            COMMAND                  %CPU         IDLEW        POWER
50300          firefox                  12.9         278          26.6
76256          plugin-container         3.4          159          11.3
151            coreaudiod               0.9          68           4.3
76505          top                      1.5          1            1.6 
76354          Activity Monitor         1.0          0            1.0

The PID, COMMAND and %CPU columns are self-explanatory.

The IDLEW column is the number of package idle exit wakeups. These occur when the processor package (containing the cores, GPU, caches, etc.) transitions from a low-power idle state to the active state. This happens when the OS schedules a process to run due to some kind of event. Common causes of wakeups include scheduled timers going off and blocked I/O system calls receiving data.

What about the POWER column? top is open source, so its meaning can be determined conclusively by reading the powerscore_insert_cell function in the source code. (The POWER measure was added to top in OS X 10.9.0 and the code has remain unchanged all the way through to OS X 10.10.2, which is the most recent version for which the code is available.)

The following is a summary of what the code does, and it’s easier to understand if the %CPU and POWER computations are shown side-by-side.

|elapsed_us| is the length of the sample period
|used_us| is the time this process was running during the sample period

  %CPU = (used_us * 100.0) / elapsed_us

  POWER = if is_a_kernel_process()
            0
          else
            ((used_us + IDLEW * 500) * 100.0) / elapsed_us
          

The %CPU computation is as expected.

The POWER computation is a function of CPU and IDLEW. It’s basically the same as %CPU but with a “tax” of 500 microseconds for each wakeup and an exception for kernel processes. The value of this function can easily exceed 100 — e.g. a program with zero CPU usage and 3,000 wakeups per second will have a POWER score of 150 — so it is not a percentage. In fact, POWER is a unitless measure because it is a semi-arbitrary combination of two measures with incompatible units.

Back to Activity Monitor and “Energy Impact”

MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.9.5

First, I did some measurements with a MacBook Pro with an i7-4960HQ processor running Mac OS X 10.9.5.

I did extensive testing with a range of programs: ones that trigger 100% CPU usage; ones that trigger controllable numbers of idle wakeups; ones that stress the memory system heavily; ones that perform frequent disk operations; and ones that perform frequent network operations.

In every case, Activity Monitor’s “Energy Impact” was the same as top‘s POWER measure. Every indication is that the two are computed identically on this machine.

For example, consider the data in the following table,  The data was gathered with a small test program that fires a timer N times per second; other than extreme cases (see below) each timer firing causes an idle platform wakeup.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hz     CPU ms/s   Intr        Pkg Idle   Pkg Power  Act.Mon. top
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
     2     0.14        2.00       1.80     2.30W     0.1    0.1
   100     4.52      100.13      95.14     3.29W       5      5
   500     9.26      499.66     483.87     3.50W      25     25
  1000    19.89     1000.15     978.77     5.23W      50     50
  5000    17.87     4993.10    4907.54    14.50W     240    240
 10000    32.63     9976.38    9194.70    17.61W     485    480
 20000    66.66    19970.95   17849.55    21.81W     910    910
 30000    99.62    28332.79   25899.13    23.89W    1300   1300
 40000   132.08    37255.47   33070.19    24.43W    1610   1650
 50000   160.79    46170.83   42665.61    27.31W    2100   2100
 60000   281.19    58871.47   32062.39    29.92W    1600   1650
 70000   276.43    67023.00   14782.03    31.86W     780    750
 80000   304.16    81624.60     258.22    35.72W      43     45
 90000   333.20    90100.26     153.13    37.93W      40     42
100000   363.94    98789.49      44.18    39.31W      38     38

The table shows a variety of measurements for this program for different values of N. Columns 2–5 are from powermetrics, and show CPU usage, interrupt frequency, and package idle wakeup frequency, respectively. Column 6 is Activity Monitor’s “Energy Impact”, and column 7 is top‘s POWER measurement. Column 6 and 7 (which are approximate measurements) are identical, modulo small variations due to the noisiness of these measurements.

MacBook Air running Mac OS X 10.10.4

I also tested a MacBook Air with an i5-4250U processor running Mac OS X 10.10.4. The results were substantially different.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hz     CPU ms/s   Intr        Pkg Idle   Pkg Power Act.Mon. top
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
     2     0.21        2.00       2.00     0.63W   0.0     0.1
   100     6.75       99.29      96.69     0.81W   2.4     5.2
   500    22.52      499.40     475.04     1.15W   10       25
  1000    44.07      998.93     960.59     1.67W   21       48
  3000   109.71     3001.05    2917.54     3.80W   60      145
  5000    65.02     4996.13    4781.43     3.79W   90      230
  7500   107.53     7483.57    7083.90     4.31W   140     350
 10000   144.00     9981.25    9381.06     4.37W   190     460

The results from top are very similar to those from the other machine. But Activity Monitor’s “Energy Impact” no longer matches top‘s POWER measure. As a result it is much harder to say with confidence what “Energy Impact” represents on this machine. I tried tweaking the previous formula so that the idle wakeup “tax” drops from 500 microseconds to 180 or 200 microseconds and that gives results that appear to be in the ballpark but don’t match exactly. I’m a bit skeptical whether Activity Monitor is doing all its measurements at the same time or not. But it’s also quite possible that other inputs have been added to the function that computes “Energy Impact”.

What about “Avg Energy Impact”?

What about the “Avg Energy Impact”? It seems reasonable to assume it is computed in the same way as “Energy Impact”, but averaged over a longer period. In fact, we already know that period from the Apple documentation that says it is the “average energy impact for the past 8 hours or since the Mac started up, whichever is shorter.”

Indeed, when the Energy tab of Activity Monitor is first opened, the “Avg Energy Impact” column is empty and the title bar says “Activity Monitor (Processing…)”. After a few seconds the “Avg Energy Impact” column is populated with values and the title bar changes to “Activity Monitor (Applications in last 8 hours)”. If you have top open during those 5–10 seconds can you see that systemstats is running and using a lot of CPU, and so presumably the measurements are obtained from it.

systemstats is a program that runs all the time and periodically measures, among other things, CPU usage and idle wakeups for each running process (visible in the “Processes” section of its output.) I’ve done further tests that indicate that the “Avg Energy Impact” is almost certainly computed using the same formula as “Energy Impact”. The difference is that the the measurements are from the past 8 hours of wake time — i.e. if a laptop is closed for several hours and then reopened, those hours are not included in the calculation — as opposed to the 1, 2 or 5 seconds of wake time used for “Energy Impact”.

battery status menu

Even more prominent than Activity Monitor is OS X’s battery status menu. When you click on the battery icon in the OS X menu bar you get a drop-down menu which includes a list of “Apps Using Significant Energy”.

Screenshot of the OS X battery status menu

How is this determined? When you open this menu for the first time in a while it says “Collecting Power Usage Information” for a few seconds, and if you have top open during that time you see that, once again, systemstats is running and using a lot of CPU. Furthermore, if you click on an application name in the menu Activity Monitor will be opened and that application’s entry will be highlighted. Based on these facts it seems reasonable to assume that “Energy Impact” is again being used to determine which applications show up in the battery status menu.

I did some more tests (on my MacBook Pro running 10.9.5) and it appears that once an energy-intensive application is started it takes about 20 or 30 seconds for it to show up in the battery status menu. And once the application stops using high amounts of energy I’ve seen it take between 4 and 10 minutes to disappear. The exception is if the application is closed, in which case it disappears immediately.

Finally, I tried to determine the significance threshold. It appears that a program with an “Energy Impact” of roughly 20 or more will eventually show up as significant, and programs that have much higher “Energy Impact” values tend to show up more quickly.

All of these battery status menu observations are difficult to make reliably and so should be treated with caution. They may also be different in OS X 10.10. It is clear, however, that the window used by the battery status menu is measured in seconds or minutes, which is much less than the 8 hour window used for “Avg Energy Impact”.

An aside: systemstats is always running on OS X. The particular invocation used for the long-running instance — the one used by both Activity Monitor and the battery status menu — takes the undocumented --xpc flag. When I tried running it with that flag I got an error message saying “This mode should only be invoked by launchd”. So it’s hard to know how often it’s making measurements. The output from vanilla command-line invocations indicate it’s about every 10 minutes.

But it’s worth noting that systemstats has a -J option which causes the CPU usage and wakeups for child processes to be attributed to their parents. It seems likely that the --xpc option triggers the same behaviour because the Activity Monitor does not show “Avg Energy Impact” for child processes (as can be seen in the screenshot above for the login, bash and vim processes that are children of the Terminal process). This hypothesis also matches up with the battery status menu, which never shows child processes. One consequence of this is that if you ssh into a Mac and run a power-intensive program from the command line it will not show up in Activity Monitor’s energy tab or the battery status menu, because it’s not attributable to a top-level process such as Terminal! Such processes will show up in top and in Activity Monitor’s CPU tab, however.

How good a measure is “Energy Impact”?

We’ve now seen that “Energy Impact” is used widely throughout OS X. How good a measure is it?

The best way to measure power consumption is to actually measure power consumption. One way to do this is to use an ammeter, but this is difficult. Another way is to measure how long it takes for the battery to drain, which is easier but slow and requires steady workloads. Alternatively, recent Intel hardware provides high-quality estimates of processor and memory power consumption that are relatively easy to obtain.

These approaches all have the virtue of measuring or estimating actual power consumption (i.e. Watts). But the big problem is that they are machine-wide measures that cannot be used on a per-process basis. This is why Activity Monitor uses several proxy measures — ones that correlate with power consumption — which can be measured on a per-process basis. “Energy Impact” is a hybrid of at least two different proxy measures: CPU usage and wakeup frequency.

The main problem with this is that “Energy Impact” is an exaggerated measure. Look at the first table above, with data from the 10.9.5 machine. The variation in the “Pkg Power” column — which shows the package power from the above-mentioned Intel hardware estimates — is vastly smaller than the variation in the “Energy Impact” measurements. For example, going from 1,000 to 10,000 wakeups per second increases the package power by 3.4x, but the “Energy Impact” increases by 9.7x, and the skew gets even worse at higher wakeup frequencies. “Energy Impact” clearly weights wakeups too heavily. (In the second table, with data from the 10.10.4 machine, the weight given to wakeups is less, but still too high.)

Also, in the first table “Energy Impact” actually decreases when the timer frequency gets high enough. Presumably this is because the timer interval is so short that the OS has trouble putting the package into a idle power state. This leads to the absurd result that firing a timer at 1,000 Hz has about the same “Energy Impact” value as firing one at 100,000 Hz, when the package power of the latter is about 7.5x higher.

Having said all that, it’s understandable why Apple uses formulations of this kind for “Energy Impact”.

  • CPU usage and wakeup frequency are probably the two most important factors affecting a process’s power consumption, and they are factors that can be measured on a per-process basis.
  • Having a single measure makes things easy for users; evaluating the relative important of multiple measures is more difficult.
  • The exception for kernel processes (which always have an “Energy Impact” of 0) avoids OS X itself being blamed for high power consumption. This makes a certain amount of sense — it’s not like users can close the kernel — while also being somewhat misleading.

If I were in charge of Apple’s Activity Monitor product, I’d do two things.

  1. I would compute a new formula for “Energy Impact”. I would measure the CPU usage, wakeup frequency (and any other inputs) and actual power consumption for a range of real-world programs, on a range of different Apple machines. From this data, hopefully a reasonably accurate model could be constructed. It wouldn’t be perfect, and it wouldn’t need to be perfect, but it should be possible to come up with something that reflects actual power consumption better than the existing formulations. Once formulated, I would then test the new version against synthetic microbenchmarks, like the ones I used above, to see how it holds up. Given the choice between accurately modelling real-world applications and accurately modelling synthetic microbenchmarks, I would definitely favour the former.
  2. I would publicly document the formula that is used so that developers can actually tell how their applications are being evaluated, and can optimize for that measure. You may think “but then developers will be optimizing for a synthetic measure rather than a real one” and you’d be right. That’s an inevitable consequence of giving a synthetic measure such prominence, and all the more reason for improving it.

Conclusion

“Energy Impact” is a flawed measure of an application’s power consumption. Nonetheless, it’s what many people use at this moment to evaluate the power consumption of OS X applications, so it’s worth understanding. And if you are an OS X application developer who wants to reduce the “Energy Impact” of your application, it’s clear that it’s best to focus first on reducing wakeup frequency, and then on reducing CPU usage.

Because Activity Monitor is closed source code I don’t know if I’ve characterized “Energy Impact” exactly correctly. The evidence given above indicates that I am close on 10.9.5, but not as close on 10.10.4. I’d love to hear if anybody has evidence that either corroborates or contradicts the conclusions I’ve made here. Thank you.

Update

A commenter named comex has done some great detective work and found on 10.10 and 10.11 Activity Monitor consults a Mac model-specific file in the /usr/share/pmenergy/ directory. (Thank you, comex.)

For example, my MacBook Air has a model number 7DF21CB3ED6977E5 and the file Mac-7DF21CB3ED6977E5.plist has the following list of key/value pairs under the heading “energy_constants”.

kcpu_time               1.0
kcpu_wakeups            2.0e-4

This matches the previously seen formula, but with the wakeups “tax” being 200 microseconds, which matches what I hypothesized above.

kqos_default            1.0e+00
kqos_background         5.2e-01
kqos_utility            1.0e+00
kqos_legacy             1.0e+00         
kqos_user_initiated     1.0e+00
kqos_user_interactive   1.0e+00

“QoS” refers to quality of service classes which allow an application to mark some of its own work as lower priority. I’m not sure exactly how this is factored in, but from the numbers above it appears that operations done in the lowest-priority “background” class is considered to have an energy impact of about half that done in all the other classes.

kdiskio_bytesread       0.0
kdiskio_byteswritten    5.3e-10

These ones are straightforward. Note that the “tax” for disk reads is zero, and for disk writes it’s a very small number. I wrote a small program that wrote endlessly to disk and saw that the “Energy Impact” was slightly higher than the CPU percentage alone, which matches expectations.

kgpu_time               3.0e+00

It makes sense that GPU usage is included in the formula. It’s not clear if this refers to the integrated GPU or the separate (higher performance, higher power) GPU. It’s also interesting that the weighting is 3x.

knetwork_recv_bytes     0.0 
knetwork_recv_packets   4.0e-6
knetwork_sent_bytes     0.0
knetwork_sent_packets   4.0e-6

These are also straightforward. In this case, the number of bytes sent is ignored, and only the number of packets matter, and the cost of reading and writing packets is considered equal.

So, in conclusion, on 10.10 and 10.11, the formula used to compute “Energy Impact” is machine model-specific, and includes the following factors: CPU usage, wakeup frequency, quality of service class usage, and disk, GPU, and network activity.

This is definitely an improvement over the formula used in 10.9, which is great to see. The parameters are also visible, if you know where to look! It would be wonderful if all these inputs, along with their relative weightings, could be seen at once in Activity Monitor. That way developers would have a much better sense of exactly how their application’s “Energy Impact” is determined.

by Nicholas Nethercote at August 25, 2015 11:30 PM

Karen De Coster

FEE Promotes FrankenAnimals as a “Revolution.”

So now FEE is promoting gene-editing and genetically-engineered animals as a free-market alternative for farming while making the case that to do so will foil the rotten FDA, essentially trying to string up this position as a libertarian, free-market position. Besides being some of the worst writing I have ever seen on FEE, this writer doesn’t have a clue about farming, and in fact, two-thirds the article is quoted from others. Why is FEE promoting this shoddy trash? To quote the writer:

Of course, nothing in this world is simple. The technology itself is safe, straightforward, and well-understood, but like all progress, there’s nothing so cool and so beneficial that the government can’t screw it up.

The government has never approved a genetically engineered animal, and for small companies, the regulations and hurdles for GMO foods are nearly insurmountable.

I have no idea what this is meant to convey, but the writer, Daniel Bier, attempts to interject some anemic libertarian dogma by producing many of the so-called key words and phrases: FDA regulations bad (yes, we know that); animal cruelty can be ended (yes, we agree); and lastly, he includes the really big phrase-of-the-day in his title: “anti-GMO activists.” I’ve got news for Mr. Bier – the crazed, libertarian case for Frankenfoods as a free-market concept went away, for the most part, years ago, because most libertarians came to realize that the Big Food-Big Agra Machine that kept this “progressive” technology afloat was rooted in massive government subsidies; rent-seeking manipulations; political cronyism; and economic oligarchy. Mr. Bier is about ten years behind the headlines. I pity him.

Historically, libertarians and libertarian organizations have been very pro-GMO and biotech, in particular. Once upon a time, all the think tanks – and Reason Magazine – wrote vehemently in favor of this sort of thing, citing it as human progress. And anyone who opposed it was anti-tech, anti-progress, anti-free market, and a fool. Many bad articles that assumed the pro-Frankenfoods position were published by libertarians and libertarian organizations.

Lew Rockwell pointed out to me, and others, about a dozen years ago, that I was the very first libertarian to bring this issue any substantial visibility, with the approach that Frankenfoods were not a “free market” gizmo, and I was able to make the case as to *why* by using sound economic principles and historical facts, as well as understanding the mechanics of the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Organization) as an antithesis to the free market. Lew said I turned his own position on this issue, which is quite the honor. Bier, because he is uneducated in these matters, keeps the CAFO (subsidized-industrialized system) subject hush-hush in his article while advocating for technology that aims to keep the current system intact with so-called “humane” genetic modifications to bypass the worst horrors of the industrial CAFO system.

Maybe Mr. Bier should go to Joel Salatin’s 550-acre farm for a half -a-day to understand polyculture, and what animals – real, humanely-treated animals – actually contribute to conservation and the eco-agricultural system in a sustainable farming system that rejects both the politicized status quo and corporate-state, politicized, genetic tomfoolery.

by Karen De Coster at August 25, 2015 11:07 PM

The Urbanophile

Diehard Detroit

I haven’t posted any city videos in a while, but here’s a tilt shift out of Detroit for you to enjoy. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here to watch on YouTube. h/t Likecool

And from the “Not everything is so humane on the Upper West Side department,” here’s a story about a guy who rented a 100 square foot apartment there. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here to watch on Vimeo.

by Aaron M. Renn at August 25, 2015 06:38 PM

Justin Taylor

John Calvin’s Beautiful Description of the Gospel-Centered Life

From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534):


 

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinner justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was

sold, to buy us back;

captive, to deliver us;

condemned, to absolve us;

he was

made a curse for our blessing,

[a] sin offering for our righteousness;

marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,

wrath appeased,

darkness turned into light,

fear reassured,

despisal despised,

debt canceled,

labor lightened,

sadness made merry,

misfortune made fortunate,

difficulty easy,

disorder ordered,

division united,

ignominy ennobled,

rebellion subjected,

intimidation intimidated,

ambush uncovered,

assaults assailed,

force forced back,

combat combated,

war warred against,

vengeance avenged,

torment tormented,

damnation damned,

the abyss sunk into the abyss,

hell transfixed,

death dead,

mortality made immortal.

In short,

mercy has swallowed up all misery, and

goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying,

O hell, where is thy victory?

O death, where is thy sting?

it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us;

and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it;

but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

comforted in tribulation,

joyful in sorrow,

glorying under vituperation,

abounding in poverty,

warmed in our nakedness,

patient amongst evils,

living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

by Justin Taylor at August 25, 2015 03:44 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Why We Benchmark

Wednesday’s Workout:

Strength:
Front Squat
1-1-1-1-1-1

WOD:
3 Rounds
10 Power Clean & Jerks (135/95)
10 Power Snatches

 

 

Measurable and Repeatable

So you may be asking yourself why CrosssFit has invented/created an entire set of workouts with names that are horrible and seem to pop up all the time (think girls or hero wods). The theme of this post is in the title: measurable and repeatable. All movements in CrossFit have a set of standards (they may change from time to time, but the traditional movements tend to stay the same). For a squat, the hip crease must go below the knee and the hips must open up at the top. A pull up begins with the arms extended at the bottom and the chin must go over the bar. I could literally go on forever.

The reason for these standards are two-fold. One, they force us to get the full range of motion of our joints to maintain function, and two, to track our progress. If I were to do Cindy today with full depth squats then repeat it in 2 months with half squats, my scores would be in no way comparable and I would have no way to know if I had improved or not. The scores on the board are good for us to compare to others (but only if we apply the same standards….), but most importantly we are trying to compare ourselves today to who we were yesterday. We need to have measurable (time, number of reps/rounds, weight) and repeatable tests. That is why we do benchmark workouts. They are workouts that we can turn back to time and again and see how we have improved upon our previous selves. They are a test of our physical as well as mental fitness capacities. We see Fran on the board and know how bad it is going to hurt. In that moment of 3,2,1…Go! we choose whether or not to show up, to give our all, and shoot for a PR.

 

Diane Times

 

Here is a graph of my Diane times over the years (21-15-9 of Deadlifts and Handstand Push Ups). From 6:30 with one abmat in January of 2012 down to 2:26 to the floor in April of 2015, over 4:00 improvement in three years that I know about thanks to careful logging. Tracking like this is a great way to keep things in perspective when the bad days (that are inevitable) crop up. I am not training to be good at Diane, I train to be good at CrossFit and to improve my general health and wellness. In the process, I have managed to get much better at Diane and I am glad I have done it so many times to really track my progress.

Benchmark workouts are another reason that I harp on people repeatedly to track their scores. If you don’t know how fast (or what scale you used) for Helen in the past, then the next time you do it, you will likely short change yourself in your abilities. Having that score looming above your head reminds you of what you were once capable of and what you are trying to improve upon.

 

 

 

by Anna at August 25, 2015 03:23 PM

Market Urbanism

Laying Reagan’s Ghost to Rest

In a recent 48 Hills post, housing activist Peter Cohen aimed a couple rounds of return fire at SPUR’s Gabriel Metcalf. The post comes in response to Mr. Metcalf’s own article critiquing progressive housing policy. Mr. Cohen bounces around a bit, but he does repeat some frequently used talking points worth addressing.

Trickle-down economics

Mr. Cohen calls the argument for market-rate construction ‘trickle down economics’.  Trickle down economics actually refers to certain macro theories popularized during the Reagan years. These models assumed a higher marginal propensity to save among wealthier individuals. And given this assumption, some economists concluded that reducing top marginal tax rates would result in higher savings. This would then mean higher levels of investment which would, in turn, have a positive effect on aggregate output. And from there we get the idea of a rising tide lifting all ships.

Note that none of that has anything to do with housing policy.

Labeling something ‘trickle down’ is a way to delegitimize certain policy proposals by associating them with Ronald Reagan. It’s somewhere between rhetorically dishonest and intellectually lazy. Though to be fair, it’s probably pretty effective in San Francisco.

The concept Mr. Cohen is trying to critique is actually called filtering.

In many instances, markets do not produce new housing at every income level. But they do produce housing across different income levels over time. Today’s luxury development is tomorrow’s middle income housing. The catch, however, is that supply has to continually expand. If not, prices for even dilapidated housing can go through the roof. For a more thorough explanation, see SFBARF’s agent based housing model.

 

San Francisco, where only Reganites want to build more housing

If you build it, they’ll just come

But even accurately defined, Mr. Cohen still objects to the concept of filtering. He cites an article by urban planning authority William Fulton to make his point. He quotes Fulton:

The folks taking the cool jobs may not be uber-rich, but they have tons more money than everybody else, and so they drive prices out of sight. Build more market-rate housing, and you’ll just accelerate the cycle – more smart kids will show up wanting to work for tech start-ups, and that means you’ll have more tech start-ups, and pretty soon demand will rise faster than supply – in large part because you increased the supply. To a local community activist, it feels like a no-win.

Mr. Cohen–via Mr. Fulton–is trying to argue that supply will create its own demand. This misunderstands the nature of the regional economy.

It’s not far fetched the think that there are plenty of people ready to move to San Francisco. And that if prices were lower and housing more available, they would. But that doesn’t explain why so many want to come here in the first place. That has to do with tech and the knowledge economy. New workers, entrepreneurs, and investors all come here because of all the workers, entrepreneurs, and investors that are already here. And thanks to the logic of industry clusters, it’s a self reinforcing cycle unlikely to change anytime soon. For tech worldwide, there’s the Bay Area and everywhere else. For tech already in the Bay, there’s the Peninsula/San Francisco and everywhere else. Even if you don’t build it, they’ll still have every reason to come. And despite some of the highest housing prices in the country, they continue to do so. 

Setting the record straight

Increasing supply will put downward pressure on prices. But it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First, increasing supply may never actually lower prices. Prices will be lower than what they’d otherwise have been. That, however, doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be lower in real terms.

Second, this process takes a long time. There’s lots of high end housing that didn’t get built over the last several decades. Consequently, the pipeline of aging high-quality housing isn’t there to provide supply at lower price points. This is a housing shortage decades in the making. Under the most supply friendly of conditions it’ll take decades more to bring prices back in line with national averages.

And third, there is no San Francisco housing shortage. San Francisco is only one part of the larger Bay Area housing market. The shortage is region wide. When increasing supply is talked about as a way to combat rising prices, that’s referring to the housing market in its–regional–entirety. Specific neighborhoods or even cities might still only get more expensive. Even in a world where massive development tempers prices across the entire Bay.

And here’s the real heart of the disagreement. Market-rate development won’t privilege incumbents. It won’t reserve specific neighborhoods for specific income levels. And it won’t guarantee that specific communities remain the majority residents in any specific areas. And for some, these are the challenges that we’re facing, not high housing prices per se. And that’s fine. But let’s stop talking past each other and taking potshots at straw men. And lets start being clear about what we think the actual problem is and what our policy goals should be.

by Jeff Fong at August 25, 2015 03:11 PM

Reformedish

Are You a Curious or a Studious Theology Student?

Domain of the wordIn the Christian tradition, curiosity has always been considered a vice. That’s surprising to most of us used to the more modern sense of the term. For many of us it tends to mean something like inquisitiveness or a thirst for knowledge. To call curiosity a vice would seem like another line of argument for seeing the Christian tradition as fundamentally anti-intellectual and hostile to questions. That would be a fundamental misunderstanding, however.

In his essay ‘Curiosity’, John Webster–the theologian’s theologian–claims that, “Christian theological intelligence is exercised in the conflict between studiousness and the vice of curiosity” (The Domain of the Word, pg. 193).

Curiosity, then, has a positive counterpart in the form of the virtue of “studiousness.” Indeed, Webster says we can only know what curiosity is as a deviation or perversion of studiousness since vices have no positive reality of their own. To condemn curiosity, then, is not to condemn reason or thought wholesale, but its perversion by sin and idolatry.

But how should we understand these twinned realities? What is it that relates the two and what separates them? As I begin my Ph.D. courses, I’ve been giving some thought to the point of my studies. Just why exactly am I doing what I’m doing and how should I be doing it? And also, how should I not be approaching them? Webster’s reflections in this essay have been stimulating and helpful to me, so I figured I’d summarize and highlight some quickish thoughts for the benefit of other theological students, whether in school or not, pastoral or lay.

Studiousness

According to Webster, studiousness and curiosity are related in that they are both movements of our intelligence to “come to know” that which we don’t know. But the motive and the means of these relationships to unknown knowledge are what distinguishes them.

So what is studiousness? Well, it “is a strenuous application of the power of the creaturely intellect” to figure something out for the first time, or understand something better than you did before. Studiousness is a virtue particular to created beings who can come to know as opposed to God who just knows because he knows. Our way of knowing requires effort, energy, and time–as do all the activities of finite, embodied beings. “God, in short, knows as the uncreated one, creatures know as creatures” (194).

Furthermore, studiousness is the way the “well-ordered creaturely intellect” comes to know things. According to Webster, that involves at least two things. First, it means “earnest, arduous application of the mind.” It is an activity in the fullest sense of the word. Studiousness recognizes that knowledge doesn’t simply happen to you. Second, “it is a reflective” activity that can be judged according to standards of excellence that are intellectual and moral. Intellectually it is an activity that must treat the object of study with respect and integrity, coming to its conclusions, its representations, without undue haste or carelessness (195).

Morally, we come to the fact that studiousness is related to the very natural desire to come to know. And this is where Webster says “an element of ambivalence” can enter in.

Curiosity

Using the language of Aristotle and Aquinas, Webster states: “Curiosity results from the corruption of intellectual appetite”(195). Indeed, he quotes Aquinas who says, “curiosity does not lie in the knowing precisely but in the appetite and hankering to find out.”

From here, Webster gives us four of the “elements” of curiosity, which I can only briefly touch on.

First, curiosity is a corruption in that it aims at improper objects of new knowledge. It strains to know what it is not appropriate for it to know. It refuses to acknowledge the creaturely limit and wants to know “as God knows”, or to focus on those things which God has given it to know. Curiosity sits in the garden devising ways always to snag the one fruit that’s off-limits (195-196).

Second, it’s a way of learning about the world, to created realities, without referring them to their Creator. It’s a sort of “lust of the flesh” (1 Jn. 2:16) applied to knowledge; it is a desire to know things without pushing on to see their relation to God and his glory (196). It is a Romans 1 reality, in that sense.

Third, curiosity “is a deformation of the manner or mode of intelligence, when the movement of coming-to-know takes place inordinately, indiscriminately, and pridefully” (196). In other words, wanting to know can become an addiction to the rush of learning new things so that you end up neglecting other goods, crossing lines, and so forth. Intellectual greed also leads you to get caught up less in the truth or goodness than the “novelty of the object of new knowledge.” Or, again, curiosity leads to self-satisfied pride in our exceptional intelligence the more we come to find out.

Fourth, related to the last, curiosity chases knowledge for wrong ends. Either to puff yourself up, to use it for your own gain or power, or other unrighteous ends. Even good study can fall under “curiosity” if aimed at your own pride.

What Does Curiosity Look Like in Theology?

Next Webster examines the ways and reasons that curiosity can enter into the spiritual work of theological study.

First, curiosity creeps into theology when we forget the “location and situation” of our work. “Theology takes place in a sphere in which God the teacher is lovingly present to reconciled creatures, summoning the intellect to attentiveness and learning” (198). Curiosity forgets this and leads us to study, not in response to God’s prior direction, but as an independent exercise of intellectual acquisition (198).

Second, curiosity in theology leads to a certain restlessness that gives pride of place to the novel, the “creative”, and cannot follow the particular course theology should take. In a word, faddishness (198).

Third, curiosity “stops short at surfaces.” There are a lot of disciplines to master in theology (text-based, historical, etc). Webster says that all of these phenomena, though, serve to point beyond themselves as signs towards God. Curiosity can get caught up in the signs for their own sake instead of pushing onwards towards the theological end, which is to know God. In other words, it’s the kind of study of the Bible that gets caught up in historical minutiae of the text, trying on novel interpretations and grammatical innovations, all the while forgetting that the point of studying Scripture is to hear the voice of God (198).

Fourth, curiosity corrupts the character of theological work by leading us into pride, or the drive towards individualistic advancement, or a separation of theological study from the “common life of the church”(199).

Fifth, curiosity forgets the chief goals of theology which are “contemplative and apostolic.” Theology aims at delight in God. As such, it is apostolic because this truth is lovingly spoken to others that they might be built up and not fall into error. Curiosity aims only at itself and so curves inwards.

How to Avoid Curiosity in Theology?

Well, Webster is very clear that avoiding curiosity requires the work of the Holy Spirit who gives the gift of temperance, restraint, only with the new birth as a person is remade in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The Holy Spirit redeems, perfects, and redirects created minds, bringing them out of their prideful, lusting alienation from the life of God by the gift of a new, regenerated nature conformed to the image of the Son (Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10; 199-200).

According to Webster:

Theological curiosity is checked and theological studiousness promoted when the intellects of saintly persons are directed to the proper object of theology and to the proper ends of contemplation and edification. (200)

Theology is the only discipline where the object study is your only, ultimate hope in doing it well. Webster notes three dimensions to this.

First, “immoderate desire” for novelty in coming to know can only be curbed if theological students come to recognize their place in the “pedagogy of divine grace.” In other words, “The grace of God has appeared…training us” (Tit. 2:11). We need to understand our study as a work taking place in the space of grace opened up by the grace of God in Christ and the work of the Spirit which sanctifies our reason. This is why:

The saints lack curiosity; but they are eagerly studious, devoted to acquiring the knowledge proffered by divine revelation. In theology, the affections, will and intellect are ‘fixed’ on the ‘ways’ of God (Ps. 119.15), ‘delighting in’ and ‘cleaving to’ the divine testimonies (Ps. 119.24), turned from ‘vanities’ (Ps. 119.37) in order to ‘meditate’ on the divine law (Ps. 119.48), eager to be taught knowledge (Ps. 119.66). Such is the studious theological intellect sanctified and schooled by divine grace. (201)

Second, curiosity fades when theologians devote themselves “to a singular matter with a definite interest.” It’s not so much that theology restricts itself to a few subjects, but that it learns to relate all subjects to the one subject it’s supposed to be directing everything towards: God and his works in the history of redemption. This maintains its focus as a “single science” instead of a disconnected study of whatever happens to interest us at the moment (201).

Third, directing theology towards its ultimate goal, the love of God, “mortifies” curiosity. Focusing on the self-communicating love of God cuts at the natural selfishness of curiosity, as it continually draws us out beyond ourselves into the love of God and our neighbor (202).

To cap it off, Webster closes with a prayer from Aquinas, “Ante Studium” (HT: David Bunce):

Ineffable Creator . . . You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom, and the primal origin raised high beyond all things. Pour forth a ray of your brightness into the darkened places of our minds; disperse from our souls the twofold darkness of sin and ignorance. You make eloquent the tongues of infants: refi ne our speech and pour forth upon our lips he goodness of your blessing. Grant to us keenness of mind, capacity to remember, skill in learning, subtlety to interpret, and eloquence in speech. May you guide the beginning of our work, direct its progress, and bring it to completion, for you are true God and true Man, who live and reign, world without end.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at August 25, 2015 02:40 PM

iSight vs. FaceTime →

Apple has recycled other names — iBook and MacBook come to mind — but this example is the most confusing, by far.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 25, 2015 01:51 PM

The Finance Buff

Card-Linked Offers: AmEx Offers and BankAmeriDeals

The Bait

Some credit cards offer limited-time special deals to their cardholders. “If you purchase $X from this place before this date, you will get a $Y credit on your statement.” These are called card-linked offers.

They are different than store-wide coupons. Coupons are taken off from the total at the time you buy. Card-linked offers are credited after the fact. Coupons usually don’t care how you pay. Card-linked offers are tied to a specific card you use to pay.

AmEx Offers

AmEx Offers is a popular card-linked offers program. If you have an American Express card issued by American Express (not Fidelity AmEx or PenFed AmEx), you see the offers when you log in to americanexpress.com. Here’s what I see as I’m writing this:

They use some targeting and experiments to give different offers to different customers. Like coupons, you have to “clip” the ones you want to your card. The clipping actions will reveal your preferences, which will help them target future offers.

The best way to get the credit is to buy a gift card for places you will shop at anyway. If the store doesn’t sell gift cards you just clip everything with a remote possibility. Then you use your card as usual. If you happen to hit one, you score.

After you add the offers to your card, as soon as you make an eligible purchase, you will get an email from American Express telling you that you hit the offer. I usually get it on my phone as I walk out of the store, before I get to my car. The credit is posted within a few days even though the official terms and conditions say it can take much longer.

According to the Savings tally, I received over $400 worth of credits from AmEx Offers since 2013. Recent credits include:

  • $25 credit for spending $50 at Smart & Final (3 times; bought Arco gift cards)
  • $20 credit for spending $20 at SamsClub.com (bought Sams Club gift card; used on walmart.com with free in-store pickup)
  • $20 credit for spending $20 at Amazon
  • $25 credit for spending $100 at Staples (bought Amazon gift card)

I don’t see any proactive notification option to tell me what new offers are made to me. I just peruse the offers section from time to time when I log in to my account to check transactions.

BankAmeriDeals

Bank of America has a similar program called BankAmeriDeals. You have to enable it in online banking under Special Offers & Deals. Then you see a list of offers and you add the ones you want.

I see these offers as I’m writing this:

  • 10% cash back at Bucca di Beppo, Chili’s, and Applebee’s
  • 10% cash back at Nordstrom Rack, H&M, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th
  • 10% cash back at Office Depot or OfficeMax
  • 10% cash back at Hampton Inn and Four Points by Sheraton

Unlike AmEx Offers, which is tied to a specific card, BankAmeriDeals is tied to you. If you have multiple Bank of America cards, the offers you add will apply no matter which Bank of America card you use. It’s good you don’t have to worry about using a specific card, but it also means you can double- or triple-dip on the same offer if you have multiple cards.

If you enable it in your online banking, you can get emails when new offers are added. Like AmEx Offers, you get an email confirmation as soon as you hit an offer. The actual credit can take 60 days before it’s posted to your account.

For some reason the offers from BankAmeriDeals don’t quite match my spending pattern. I only received $25 worth of credits in a year. I just take a shotgun approach. I add everything with a remote possibility and see which one will hit. So far I got very few hits. You may have a better match than I do.

[Photo credit: Flickr user nist6dh]

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Card-Linked Offers: AmEx Offers and BankAmeriDeals is copyrighted material from The Finance Buff. All rights reserved. ( b87e8215d24496480249d6aaf20c77ea )

by Harry Sit at August 25, 2015 01:49 PM

Crossway Blog

4 Things to Remember When Fighting for Faith

This post is adapted from Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God by Crawford W. Loritts.


Remember

How do we maintain our confidence when we are in the heat of the battle and we’re confronted with stuff we’ve never seen or experienced before?

I believe the answer to this question is found in the relationship between confidence and memory. Put another way, confidence has to do with the strength and vibrancy of our memory.

For example, one of the reasons why baseball players go to spring training or football players go to training camp is so that they can sharpen their skills and focus under repetitive, simulated game situations. When the season starts and the games count, they say to themselves, “We remember what to do.”

When it comes to the depth and vibrancy of our confidence, there are four things we need to remember.

1. God’s Leading

First, we need to remember how God has led us. The first part of Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness.” God told his people to keep a record of his guiding hand. When they didn’t know where they were going, God did, and he protected them and directed their steps. He led them by means of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud or fire moved, they were to move. When it stopped, they were to stop.

Perhaps not as dramatically, the same is true for us. When we look back over our lives, we realize that not knowing what to do next did not mean that we were without direction. Our great God was orchestrating the events and circumstances of our lives to get us where he wanted us to be. When we cried out to him for direction, he answered our prayers. When we were impatient and acted impulsively, and thus ended up getting into jams, in his mercy he came to us and put us back on track.

2. God’s Testing

Second, we need to remember how God has tested us. At first glance, this sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? What is the relationship between God’s “tests” in my life and my confidence? Isn’t my confidence lodged in his faithfulness, not mine?

Yes, and that’s the point.

Look at the second part of Deuteronomy 8:2: “that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”

Just before they were to march into the Promised Land, God reminded his people that they didn’t have a good record when it came to passing tests. But, you ask, how did that build their confidence? Look at the phrase “that he might humble you.” The message was that failure should have taught them that they were inadequate and that they didn’t have what it took to consistently obey God and do his will.

Humble people are dependent people. God’s tests in the wilderness were meant to send a message to the Israelites: “Don’t trust yourself and don’t depend on yourself.” God wanted his people to see the glaring contrast between their inadequacy and inconsistency and his supreme sufficiency and unfailing faithfulness. He allowed them to fail not so that they would give up, but so that they would turn from themselves to him. He wanted them to redirect their confidence, placing it in a God who cannot lie, cannot fail, and is never without options or resources. They needed to know that God was everything that they were not, and the tests in the wilderness were trophies to this reality.

3. God’s Provision

Third, we need to remember how God has provided for us. Before the Israelites set foot in the land that was the fulfillment of God’s promise, God called them to take a bit of a time-out to think about and savor his care and provision for them. Once again, he wanted them to remember something. God did not want them to ever question whether he loved and cared for them. He reminded them that he had taken care of them every step of the way.

God takes care of what belongs to him. He reminded his people of this so that they would not transfer their confidence in him to what this new land would provide for them. In other words, he wanted them to be aware that whether in the wilderness or in a place where there was plenty and prosperity, God was the provider. And the way to keep this reality fresh in their minds was to remember the timely supernatural provision of their loving Father during their tentative, transient existence in the wilderness.

4. God’s Discipline

Fourth, we need to remember how God has disciplined us. God’s “no” responses, deprivations, and corrections are gifts. They provide focus and direction, for they are reminders that some things are right and some things are wrong. There’s a price to be paid when we head off in the wrong direction. It’s called consequences. Those who remember the consequences and embrace the lessons are those who are growing in their faithfulness and their God confidence.

As God prepared the Israelites to step into the Promised Land, he told them to remember the consequences, some excruciatingly painful, they had had to face for their disobedient, willful behavior. God was warning them that even though their nomadic journey was over, they must not forget the lessons from his discipline. If they did, they would have no sense of mission or direction. To forget is to wander, lost and aimless.

Believe it or not, nothing destroys your confidence more than ignoring the wisdom that is available from God’s discipline in your life. To ignore the lessons and the message in the consequences is to choose our way over God’s. Welcome to self- deception, the featured course on the menu of fools and the path to confusion and purposelessness.


Crawford W. Loritts (DDiv, Biola University) is the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He has served as a national evangelist with the American Missionary Fellowship and the Urban Evangelistic Mission, and as associate director of Campus Crusade for Christ. He is a frequent speaker at professional sporting events, including three Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four Chapel, and has spoken at conferences, churches, conventions, and evangelistic outreaches throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the United States. He is the author of a number of books, including Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God.

by Crossway at August 25, 2015 01:25 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Brueggemann, Gaventa, & McKnight Share Stories of Faith and Scholarship

I became a scholar (or teacher, or pastor) because of my professor, Professor x.

9780310515166_394_600_90I imagine it wasn’t difficult to fill in the x. Now imagine spending an extended session with them, to hear how their scholarship has affected their faith.

That’s the premise of a new collection of life stories by a diverse group of prominent Bible scholars, called I (Still) Believe.

It was the hope of editors John Byron and Joel Lohr “that more than anything the contributors present real stories, with all the complexities and struggles they may hold. And they do.” (13) The result is a deeply personal, at times surprising extended conversation with eighteen leading biblical scholars of our day.

Below are three stories of faith and scholarship, from Walter Brueggemann, Beverly Gaventa, and Scot McKnight. They highlight the components, challenges, and personal influences that shape the faith and scholarship of the voices who’ve shaped us.

Components of Brueggemann’s Faith & Scholarship

Among other personal highlights, Walter Brueggemann shares six components to his own faith journey and growth as an interpreter:

  1. While he has always been active in the Old Testament studies guild, he has become increasingly committed to pastors and lay members of the church;
  2. His scholarly trajectory “leapt abruptly with the emergence of Liberation Theology in its many forms…”
  3. His introduction to the Frankfurt School of interpretation opened up for him new possibilities in thought and life;
  4. His interpretive perspective has been decisively shaped by Paul Ricoeur;
  5. Brevard Childs’s and Norman Gottwald’s works “constituted for me a huge impetus for a move beyond historical criticism of a conventional kind toward a sense of Scripture’s role and function amid the power realities of dominant society.”
  6. A growing edge of inquiry “has been attentiveness to Jewish perspectives and Jewish scholarship that were not part of my formal education.”

Brueggemann hopes to leave a legacy of scholarly courage “to move beyond critical questions to substantive issues of faith;” and for the church “interpretive courage that refuses to be boxed in by the several orthodoxies that tame the text.” (42)

Scholarly Costs of Gaventa’s Faith & Scholarship

Beverly Gaventa admits while her scholarly work hasn’t undermined her faith, she has “sometimes wondered about the cost and contribution of the scholarly enterprise.” (88) She share several challenges.

First, the cost of the scholarly lens. “It can result in a special form of myopia that renders us blind to much else going on in the world.” (88)

As a mother, she speaks to the enterprise’s familial challenges: “When I was at my desk I wanted to be with my infant son, and when I was with him, I wanted to be at my desk. But those are challenges for all who combine a strong vocation with parenthood, another strong vocation.” (88)

Questions of biblical scholarship provide a different challenge. “I grow weary with facing the same questions year in and year out, decade in and decade out.” She hasn’t doubted God as much as “the significance and contribution of biblical scholarship.” (88–89)

Finally, there are the personal costs: the ethos of self-promotion, the seasons of self-doubt, the professional demons springing to life with each writing project.

Though the costs are sometimes steep she is grateful “for this immense privilege of a life of study and teaching.” (92)

Personal Influences on McKnight’s Faith & Scholarship

Finally, Scot McKnight shares his journey from the locker room to the classroom. In reading his story of faith and scholarship, I was struck by the cast of characters that contributed to McKnight’s direction and development.

In college, he told his first Bible professor, Joe Crawford, he wanted to be like him someday because of the way Crawford helped him engage the Bible. John Stott led him to see he was an evangelical and no longer a fundamentalist. While studying at Trinity, he decided he wanted to teach Jesus and the Gospels someday just like Walt Liefeld. Harris, Osborne, and Moo led him to believe he was called to do a PhD. James Dunn at Nottingham admitted him and became both a wonderful mentor as his Doktorvater and friend.

McKnight is not unique in the way people have impacted his professional journey. Yet it seems to have led to an epiphany that has instructed his teaching career:

I learned something about teaching when I was a young teacher for which I am most grateful: that I was not teaching subjects to students, which makes me a talking head, but teaching students about a subject… (166)

Such a personal view of the professorship seems evident in those who taught McKnight, as well, giving significant shape to his faith and scholarship.

***

Byron’s and Lohrs’s book provides a faithful, authentic “cloud of witnesses” to help you do what Hebrews instructs: “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”—as scholars and people of faith.

by Jeremy Bouma at August 25, 2015 12:00 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Happiness Is a Superpower

3025340899_178b8f62b4_z

I heard something in a dialogue recently. One character was complaining about being unhappy, and the other character replied, “You have a misguided notion of what makes you happy.”

The sentence made me stop and think. Most of us, at different times, have a misguided notion of what we think will make us happy. We go around trying out different prescriptions and remedies.

Maybe the new thing will work … or maybe I should go back to the old one? Maybe there’s still something else out there, just waiting to be discovered?

That’s why the alternative to misguided notions—true clarity with the possibility of contentment—is so powerful. Knowing what will really make you happy, as opposed to what you think will make you happy, is no less a superpower than flying.

Finding happiness isn’t simple as stating the obvious: sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll—or whatever the short-term equivalent might be—won’t bring you happiness. Hopefully, most of us either know this intuitively or have figured it out without too much damage.

And it’s not as easy to find as some might say, for ultimately happiness is a combination of many things: current state of being, progress toward long-term goals, social environment, family history, and possibly other factors that are hard to identify.

But when you do find what makes you happy, when you finally gain that superpower—try to hold on to it. Try to do whatever it takes, every day, to keep happiness closer to you.

And if you’re still not sure where it is, don’t let that stop you from continuing to search.

###

Image: HKD

by Chris Guillebeau at August 25, 2015 12:00 PM

Reformedish

Mere Fidelity: Intersex and Sexual Difference w/ Megan DeFranza

Mere FidelityThis week usual crew is joined by Megan K. DeFranza, author of Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God. Matthew Lee Anderson reviewed the book recently for Christianity Today, which you can read here. Also, after you listen to the show (or whenever, really), Alastair has already posted some follow-up thoughts on the conversation that I think are well worth considering. It was a good episode, but we barely scratched the surface on so many important issues. Alastair gets after them.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at August 25, 2015 11:18 AM

Justin Taylor

The 8th Planned Parenthood Video + A Prayer at the Protest, and Counsel for Healing from an Abortion

C. S. Lewis once wrote in the preface to the Screwtape Letters,

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result.

But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

He could have been writing about Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.

Today (August 25, 2015), The Center for Medical Progress released its eighth video using undercover footage exposing the reality of what goes on behind these closed clinical doors.

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25-The eighth video in the ongoing controversy over Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal body parts shows the CEO of StemExpress, LLC, a major buyer of fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, admitting the company gets “a lot” of intact fetuses, suggesting “another 50 livers a week” would not be enough, and agreeing abortion clinics should profit from the sale:http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

StemExpress is a for-profit biotech supply company that has been partnered with Planned Parenthood clinics across the country to purchase human fetal parts since its founding in 2010. StemExpress’ Medical Director, Dr. Ronald Berman, is an abortion doctor for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

In the video, actors posing as another human biologics company meet with StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer, plus Vice President of Corporate Development and Legal Affairs Kevin Cooksy, and Procurement Manager Megan Barr. StemExpress and the actors are discussing a potential partnership to supply extra fetal body parts to each other.

“So many physicians are like, ‘Oh I can totally procure tissue,’ and they can’t,” expresses Dyer, seeming to indicate that abortion doctors must do the procedure in a special way to obtain useable fetal parts. Federal law 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).

“What about intact specimens?” asks one of the actors. “Oh yeah, I mean if you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” replies Dyer. “Case” is the clinical term for an abortion procedure. An “intact case” refers to an intact abortion with a whole fetus. “The entire case?” asks an actor. “Yeah, yeah,” says Dyer. “The procurement for us, I mean it can go really sideways, depending on the facility, and then our samples are destroyed,” she explains past botched fetal dissections, “so we started bringing them back even to manage it from a procurement expert standpoint.”

Feticidal chemicals like digoxin cannot be used to kill the fetus in a tissue procurement case, so a fetus delivered intact for organ harvesting is likely to be a born-alive infant.

“What would make your lab happy?” asks one of the actors. “Another 50 livers a week,” says Dyer. “We’re working with almost like triple digit number clinics,” Dyer explains, “and we still need more.” She later notes, “Planned Parenthood has volume, because they are a volume institution.”

Dyer also agrees that payments to abortion clinics for fetal body parts should be financially beneficial to them. “Do you feel like there are clinics out there that have been burned, that feel like they’re doing all this work for research and it hasn’t been profitable for them?” she asks. “I haven’t seen that.” StemExpress publishes a flyer for Planned Parenthood clinics that promises “Financial Profits” and “fiscal rewards” for clinics that supply aborted fetal tissue. It is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dorothy Furgerson: http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

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). The Sacramento Business Journal reported in June that StemExpress has an annual revenue of $4.5 million.

The video is the eighth released by The Center for Medical Progress in its investigative journalism study of Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts. “StemExpress is the ‘weakest link’ that unravels Planned Parenthood’s baby parts chain-they readily admit the profit-motive that Planned Parenthood and their proxies have in supplying aborted baby parts,” notes David Daleiden, Project Lead for CMP. “Congress and law enforcement should immediately seize all fetal tissue files from StemExpress and all communications and contracts with Planned Parenthood. The evidence that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted baby parts is now overwhelming, and not one more dime of taxpayer money should go to their corrupt and fraudulent criminal enterprise.”

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)
  7. Human Capital, Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product (August 19, 2015)

1. Protesting Planned Parenthood

John Piper’s recent engagement on this issue is worth noting and emulating.

First, read his piece, “Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation,” narrating why he has publicly protested against abortion in the past (including a night in jail for non-violent civil disobedience) and why the time is right to protest again. He was inviting readers to the Protest Planned Parenthood demonstrations across the country on Saturday, August 22. Over 65,000 peaceful protesters showed up this weekend at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics across the US, making it the single largest coordinated day of planned protest against abortion.

Second, listen to Piper’s  five-minute prayer at the protest (transcript here):

Finally, read his Saturday evening reflections about the protest that morning, where he offered seven short observations under the following heading:

  1. Christian and ecumenical
  2. Relatively sober
  3. Freedom on public property
  4. Legislators and pro-life leaders
  5. Counter-slogans
  6. Planned Parenthood responds
  7. First timers

I have traced and summarized the development of Piper’s preaching and activism in the essay “‘Abortion is About God: Piper’s Passionate, Prophetic Pro-Life Preaching,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 328-50. The link will take you to the essay available for free (courtesy of Crossway).

 

2. Healing from an Abortion

I’m aware that it’s possible that some are seeing the energy and momentum and passion and anger against Planned Parenthood and are not seeing much public effort right now to those in bondage to guilt over their complicity in the act of abortion.

David Powlison (executive director of CCEF) talks through how to heal from guilt and shame after an abortion:

You can read online the Personal Liturgy of Confession. Powlison begins:

When I counsel with people who struggle with deep feelings of shame, guilt, and regret, I sometimes suggest that they design a personalized liturgy. In what follows, I walk through the example of a woman who has had an abortion, and all that led up to that choice, and all that follows in someone whose conscience is alive. . . .

Designing your own liturgy of confession will help you to think through exactly what you need to bring to God, and what you need from God. It will give you serious words to express your sorrow, regret, guilt and pain over your abortion. It will lead you by the hand to God’s mercy and to his washing away of your sin and guilt. The parts of this liturgy in italics are taken and adapted from the General Confession of Sin inThe Book of Common Prayer. Even when your thoughts and feelings are chaotic, these words can serve as your guide. They are a channel for honesty. Instead of wallowing in misery and failure, these words help you to plan how you will walk in the direction of honesty, mercy, gratitude, and freedom.

I suggest that you pray out loud. It helps you to remember that you are talking with someone who is listening. You aren’t just thinking things inside your head. Use this prayer to express the gravity of what happened. Use it to remind yourself out loud that God’s mercies are deeper than what you did or failed to do. Read through this prayer and meditation first. Then go back through it, writing out your own words to personalize it. Express your honest story to God in response to hearing what he says to you.

You can print and read the whole thing here.

by Justin Taylor at August 25, 2015 09:44 AM

don't code today what you can't debug tomorrow

JavaScript Code Coverage Dashboard with Codecov.io

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single function critical to the success of the application, must be in want of a unit test. A practical way to prevent the lack of a unit test is to ensure that the overall code coverage does not regress. Fortunately, for applications written in JavaScript, there are a few code coverage services which can help with the task.

codecov-sticker

Thanks to a variety of language tooling available these days, it is not hard to measure and track code coverage of a JavaScript application. My go-to solution is involving Istanbul as the coverage tool, combined with either Karma or Venus.js as the test runner. This setup works with various popular unit test libraries out there. If you are new to this, I recommend checking out my past blog posts on this subject:

And yet, the work does not stop there. Would it be fantastic if the code coverage report becomes another feedback information for a contributor? Is it possible to track down every single pull request and check if the changes associated with that pull request would regress the coverage? The answer is yes. The key to that is utilizing a hosted code coverage service. There are many out there and in this post I will cover (pun intended) my current favorite, Codecov.io.

Thank for a set of its rich features, integrating Codecov.io to your open-source project is very easy. For a start, you do not need to create a dedicated account as you can just authenticate using Github. Furthermore, Codecov.io has a built-in support for Github (as well as other hosted Git such as Bitbucket), choosing a project to be added to your dashboard is trivial.

Keep in mind that Codecov.io displays the coverage information of your project. Your build process still need to produces that coverage information. Also, it is assumed that you have a continuous integration system that runs the build process every time there is a new check-in or when someone has a feature branch in a pull request. For many FOSS project, Travis CI is the most common solution although there are a few other hosted CI services out there.

To following a long, check out this simple repository that I have created: github.com/ariya/coverage-mocha-istanbul-karma. This repo contains a simple JavaScript project along with its equally simple test suite designed for Mocha. The tests will be executed by Karma.

To start using Codecov.io, first we need to enable the coverage information in Cobertura format. I have played with different coverage formats and I discovered that Cobertura is the most suitable (your mileage may vary and things can change from time to time). If you use Istanbul directly, you can use its report command to generate the coverage information in the right format (refer to the documentation for more details). With our setup, I modified a section in the Karma configuration file, karma.conf.js, from:

coverageReporter: {
    dir : 'coverage/',
    reporters: [
        { type: 'html', subdir: 'html' },
        { type: 'lcov', subdir: 'lcov' },
    ]
}

to:

coverageReporter: {
    dir : 'coverage/',
    reporters: [
        { type: 'html', subdir: 'html' },
        { type: 'lcovonly', subdir: 'lcov' },
        { type: 'cobertura', subdir: 'cobertura' }
    ]
}

This ensures that Karma tells Istanbul to produce another coverage information, in addition to the default lcov, in the format that we want, Cobertura. You can test this, simply execute npm test and after a while, you will spot the file coverage/cobertura/cobertura-coverage.xml that contains the coverage information. This is what we need to send to Codecov.io. There are multiple ways to do that, the easiest is to use codecov.io package. You can use this package by running:

npm install --save-dev codecov.io.

In this example, package.json is modified to look like this:

"scripts": {
    "test": "grunt karma:test",
    "ci": "npm test && codecov &lt; coverage/cobertura/cobertura-coverage.xml"
}

Thus, everytime you invoke npm run ci on your Travis CI job, the tests will be executed and the coverage information will be sent to Codecov.io.

codecovpanel

To setup the dashboard, login to Codecov.io and add the repository as a new project. Codecov.io maintains a nice mapping of project URL. For example, the coverage dashboard for this example repo github.com/ariya/coverage-mocha-istanbul-karma is codecov.io/github/ariya/coverage-mocha-istanbul-karma. The next time you kick a build on the project, the dashboard will display the coverage information as sent from the build process.

If that works flawlessly, now you want to enable its pull request integration. Go to the project page and choose Integration and Setup, Pull Request Comment. Now you can determine various ways Codecov.io will comment on every pull request. For a start, you may want to enable Header and Compare Diff.

In the example repo, I have created a pull request, github.com/ariya/coverage-mocha-istanbul-karma/pull/3, that demonstrated a coverage regression. In that pull request, there is a commit that aims to optimize the code but that optimization does not include an additional unit test. This triggers the following response from Codecov.io, a feedback that is rather obvious:

codecovpr

With the build process that produces the coverage information, combined with a service such as Codecov.io, it is easy to keep untested code away from your project!

by Ariya Hidayat at August 25, 2015 09:00 AM

trenchant.org daily

Calming Influence

In my 10 years in the tech industry I have been privileged to work with some brilliant people with decades of experience, some of who have been kind enough to try and mentor me at times.

A lot of their advice can be boiled down to “dude, chill.”

August 25, 2015 08:00 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

A Little Bit of the Manuals

Of the barrage of advice the world was prepared to give me from the vantage point of the Internet, one unique bit of advice came from a long-time collector and rescuer of older computer documentation and equipment. It’s definitely the all-around best advice, and was, in fact, truly unique: nobody else brought it up.

The advice, basically, was this: be very careful how you promote the release of these manuals and portray the extent of the collection, because your ability to get attention combined with the fragility of the remaining manual businesses means you could cause the long-running family businesses to close. In other words, there’s a non-zero chance that loose words could sink a shrinking market fast enough to devastate the remaining players. And, additionally, not all of those remaining players will be as generous and patient as Manuals Plus was.

That’s the kind of good advice I like to get.

So let me be very clear that the collection of manuals collected from Manuals Plus is not a comprehensive collection of all electronics or even testing equipment manuals that ever existed, and while effort will be made to scan much of the collection and upload it to the Internet Archive, it will be done while being mindful of groups selling paper copies of the manuals, or making duplicates of rare manuals for a fee.

I also expect to become a very reluctant expert in who has what, which companies flip their lid about their manuals being online, and what kind of life you lead when you have 3 storage units 200 miles away full of paper you wrecked your back hauling. I’ll be sure not to be shy about it.

But let’s talk about a secret thing I did, and what the immediate benefit is.

earthspike

So, a bunch of people generously sent support funds over to the jason@textfiles.com Paypal address, many of them sending money just for the idea the work was being done, and that money was critical to success, as it allowed for the rental of storage space, my hotel room for three days, and the ordering of 1,250 banker boxes, not to mention the cost of the movers and properly tipping the movers. It was as vital a component as possible.

So, when I got back, I thought about those people. They’d spent good money to help with this, just sending what they were comfortable with. And for them, they would only see the results when we got to digitizing stuff and putting it up.

I thought I could do better.

So I contacted the people who sent paypal money during the project, and told them what I’m telling you now: After we’d finished moving the 1,600 boxes (final number) out of the warehouse, and after we’d cleaned the thing up, and after I’d left some gifts for the owner and the employee of Manuals Plus to thank them for three days of generosity, and knowing that when we walked out of there, there was an extremely positive chance that most if not all of the remaining manuals would be pulped and turned into hamster cage liners or whatever.,….. I took some manuals. Actually, I took a lot of manuals.

I then contacted all the generous backers and told them if they wrote me, I’d send them a manual.

trench

I figured in a kickstarter world, even if you had the proper attitude of supporting the project for the project’s sake, it would be a nice bonus if they could be offered a real, honest, was-going-to-be-destroyed vintage manual going back as far as World War II. So I went through the shelves and took two large boxes of manuals, intending them to then be sent to backers who’d responded. And a lot have.

I’ve ordered nice rigid envelopers to use for shipping, and I’ve begun stuffing them with vintage manuals and marking which contributors get their manuals sent. But then I hit another mental problem of exquisite paranoia.

What if I had unique manuals anyway?

What if there had been a series of oversights and a couple unique manuals, not in the storage units, were in the collection I had? What if I and the people I would be sending these to didn’t really look it up? What if the manuals were then stored and lost anyway, and I’d played a part?

Anyway, and that’s how I ended up scanning in a few manuals tonight.

After I’ve scanned them, the copies of them all go out. This will slow things slightly, but I think we all agree it’s a better way to go. Additionally, all these scans will be of manuals I thought in some way beautiful, so you can judge me.

So let’s go!

If you don’t like these, well, I have 50,000 more for you not to like. And if you love these, good news is ahead….

But as we begin to see this project bearing fruit for the world, it’ll be most interesting to me to see the reaction. Will it be loved by a tiny few and ignored by the world? Will the manuals, online, be re-purposed into great works of art and commentary? Or will a simple manual with seemingly no major controversy or role cause someone to come blasting forth with an amazing story?

We’ll see. In the meantime, keep an eye out as more manuals join the fray before being mailed to their generous backers.

Please note: Again, you are welcome to send more donations via paypal to jason@textfiles.com for this and some amount of future projects, but the amount of manuals is limited and may already be out. Please don’t assume one will be mailed out at this point. Good news about reading them online, though.

by Jason Scott at August 25, 2015 07:22 AM

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

Mr Smith Goes to WorldCon

Mr. Rothman and I had lunch at WorldCon. Here is his report of the outcome, from the point of view of his children:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204934540299315

And another:

http://thefederalist.com/2015/08/24/the-hugo-awards-why-the-waronnerds-is-a-war-on-art/

It disturbs me that the lies of the Morlocks are so widespread and so pervasive that even sympathetic onlookers absorb them without even noticing they do so. (This is sort of like how a conservative starts using “he and she” without noticing that this use of the pronoun buys into the logically absurd notion that thought is controlled by imaginary connotations of power relations hidden in vocabulary.)  In this case, the writer quotes Mr George RR Martin objecting to conservative adventure fiction, without questioning the dishonest assumption that the Sad Puppies are conservative adventure fiction writers.

Meaning no disrespect to my fellow Evil Legion of Evil Author Legioneers, I am the only conservative in the group.

Here is another falsehood from Mr. Martin:

grrm

Aug. 24th, 2015 02:16 am (local)
Every word you say proves that you are not a fan.

A fan is not just someone who reads SF and fantasy. A fan is a member of a community called “fandom” whose roots go back to the 1930s.

Fans are tolerant, friendly, good humored, warm, welcoming. They love worldcon, they respect and value the Hugos, they honor fannish tradition.

You are your fellow Pups seem to have nothing but contempt for all that. Instead of joining the community, you do all you can to destroy it.

Edited at 2015-08-24 02:18 am (local)

 

I will leave to other pens than mine to describe how warm and welcoming WorldCon fandom was to me. Perhaps Irene Gallo or Mr. Moshe Feder can explain why my religion makes me a writer with whom they cannot tolerate to be associated, or automatically makes my works so wretched that their appearance on a ballot cannot possibly be the honest opinion of honest fans of SFF?

The pathetic lie here is Mr. Martin in his portrayal of me and mine as interlopers or outsiders. I was in an anthology edited by him ten years ago. My story appears just before his in another anthology, called FEDERATIONS. We have been at cons together and appeared on panels together. My first published short story was in Isaac Asimov years before that.

I have been reading in this genre since I picked up HAVE SPACE SUIT WILL TRAVEL as a child, and DREAM QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH as a younger child. The first story I ever completed writing was a childish homage to Keith Laumer’s DINOSAUR BEACH called AGENT OF NEXX. This was at age nine.

Who is the interloper, then? Whose work is in keeping with the traditions of the earlier generations of science fiction? I write so precisely in the make and mold of writers as difference as Jack Vance and A.E. van Vogt and William Hope Hodgson that my work appears as authorized sequels or in homage volumes to them, including one you yourself edited.

Indeed, if anything, a retelling of the War of the Roses set in Middle Earth with a grindingly nihilistic viewpoint is, if anything, more foreign to the mainstream of science fiction tradition than anything written by me, is it not?

You have been in the field longer than I. But Jules Verne was here before you, and I of his Church and his school of writing.

I have been in science fiction my whole life, Mr. Martin. I have never been anywhere else.

I am not going anywhere else.

If you cannot tolerate to be in the same field as a Roman Catholic because of your bigotry against me, it is you who must go elsewhere, not I.

This is my home. I am staying.

 

 

 

by John C Wright at August 25, 2015 06:36 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

9 Things You Should Know About Margaret Sanger

Due to a variety of current events, the name of Margaret Sanger has repeatedly surfaced in the news the past few weeks. The focus on Planned Parenthood because of a series of investigative videos has brought renewed attention to the organization’s notorious founder. Presidential candidate Ben Carson has encouraged people to “go and read about Margaret Sanger and go and read about the beginnings of this organization so that you know what you’re dealing with.” Several journalists have been criticized for accepting the “Maggie” awards for their pro-abortion coverage. And a group of black pastors sent a letter to the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery asking that the bust of Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger be removed from the museum’s “Struggle for Justice” exhibit. Who was Margaret Sanger? Here are nine things you should know about one of the 20th century’s most controversial figures:

1. In 1916, Sanger opened the world’s first birth control clinic in New York City. Nine days later Sanger was thrown in jail and the clinic shutdown for violating the Comstock obscenity laws, which included a prohibition against literature describing contraceptive methods.

2. At the First American Birth Control Conference in 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL). In 1942 the ABCL changed its name to 1942 Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1952 in Bombay, India at the Third International Conference on Planned Parenthood, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) was founded. Sanger served as president of the IPPF from 1952 to 1959. (She died in 1966.)

3. Sanger was leading advocate of the eugenics movement, specifically of negative eugenics, which promoted the reduction of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with undesired traits or economic conditions. Her views on eugenics were shaped at an early age by her experience in a large family. The sixth of eleven children, she noticed as a child that the wealthy families had small families while the poor had large families. In her autobiography, My Fight for Birth Control, she wrote, “I associated poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, quarreling, fighting, debts, jails with large families.”

4. Sanger believed the use of birth control was necessary, as Jyotsna Sreenivasan explains, not only for the individual woman’s well-being but also for the economy as a whole. In her 1931 pamphlet “Family Limitation” Sanger wrote, “The working woman can use direct action by refusing to supply the market with children to be exploited, by refusing to populate the earth with slaves. . . . Pass on this information to your neighbor and comrade workers.”  Sanger arranged for this pamphlet to be distributed widely though a Socialist labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World.

5. In Woman and the New Race, Sanger included a chapter to answer the question,  “When Should a Woman Avoid Having Children?” Included in her list are the admonition that “No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective” and “By all means there should be no children when either mother or father suffers from such diseases as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, cancer, epilepsy, insanity, drunkenness and mental disorders.”

6. On a radio show, Sanger is reported to have said that “morons, mental defectives, epileptics, illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, and dope fiends” ought to be surgically sterilized. If they wish, she said, such people should also be able to choose a lifelong segregated existence in labor camps.

7. Sanger’s motivations about racial genocide are frequently exaggerated, misunderstood, or misconstrued. There is no doubt that Sanger believed in the supremacy of the white race and the inferiority of other racial groups (for instance, she once wrote, “It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.”). But Sanger appears to have been driven more by her views on eugenics to reduce “undesirables” than by a motivation to eliminate specific racial groups. In other words, Sanger was obsessed with preventing the birth of people with physical and mental illnesses or who were economically disadvantaged, regardless of their race.  Despite being a white supremacist, Sanger preferred intelligent, middle class African-Americans to illiterate, low class whites. (This is not to deny, however, that Sanger’s views were implicitly—and sometimes explicitly racist—or that the effect of her ideas and organizations did not lead to the destruction of black communities. It is merely to say that it doesn’t appear racial superiority was her primary motivation for advocating sterilization and birth control.)

8. In 1939, Sanger, through the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA), helped to initiate the Negro Project. Unlike many of her associates, she wanted the doctors involved in the project to be black in order to gain the trust of the African-American community. One infamous Sanger quote—and one frequently taken out-of-context—in regards to the project is,

The ministers work is also important and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.

Some people read this as implying that Sanger is trying to employ ministers in an effort to hide her true motives—racial genocide. More likely, she feared that if the belief were to spread that the goal of the Negro Project was to “exterminate the Negro population” it would hinder her true eugenic objective: the extermination of the subset of the black population that she considered “degenerate.” In this objective she was joined in the Negro project by many African-American leaders. For example, in 1939 W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in Sanger’s Birth Control Review, “the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among Whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly. . . [the black race] must learn that among human races and groups, as among vegetables, quality and not mere quantity really counts.”

9. Sanger remained committed to her eugenics views until her death. In a 1957 interview, Mike Wallace asked Sanger if she believed in sin. The video below shows how she answered:

 

Other articles in this series:

Confederate Flag Controversy • Elisabeth Elliot • Animal Fighting • Mental Health • Prayer in the Bible • Same-sex Marriage • Genocide • Church Architecture • Auschwitz and Nazi Extermination Camps • Boko Haram • Adoption • Military Chaplains • Atheism • Intimate Partner Violence • Rabbinic Judaism • Hamas • Male Body Image Issues • Mormonism • Islam • Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence • Anglicanism • Transgenderism • Southern Baptist Convention • Surrogacy • John Calvin • The Rwandan Genocide • The Chronicles of Narnia • The Story of Noah • Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church • Pimps and Sex Traffickers • Marriage in America • Black History Month • The Holocaust • Roe v. Wade • Poverty in America • Christmas • The Hobbit • Council of Trent • C.S. Lewis • Orphans • Halloween and Reformation Day • World Hunger • Casinos and Gambling • Prison Rape • 6th Street Baptist Church Bombing • 9/11 Attack Aftermath • Chemical Weapons • March on Washington • Duck Dynasty • Child Brides • Human Trafficking • Scopes Monkey Trial • Social Media • Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases • The Bible • Human Cloning • Pornography and the Brain • Planned Parenthood • Boston Marathon Bombing • Female Body Image Issues

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Joe Carter at August 25, 2015 06:06 AM

How to Repent: 5 Steps

The importance of repentance is hard to overstate. After all, Jesus’s first public exhortation was “Repent!” (Mark 1:15)—and if it was that high on Jesus’s list, we probably should pay attention too.

But how do we repent well? Psalm 32 is a wonderful place to explore the nature and process of deep repentance. Here are five vital steps.

1. Be honest about your need for repentance.

How happy is the man the LORD does not charge with sin, and in whose spirit is no deceit! (v. 2)

Repentance requires honesty. No one comes to God with true repentance in their heart unless they’ve first acknowledged their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with him. Only those who have ceased trying to cover up their sin with self-righteousness and deceit can experience the deep and lasting change that comes only through repentance.

2. Acknowledge the danger of sin and damage of guilt.

When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. (vv. 3–4)

Let’s face it: you are seeking repentance because God’s Spirit has convicted you. We often blame others for our stress and general moodiness, but many times we simply feel bad because we’ve done bad things. David describes physical and emotional symptoms associated with a guilty conscience. We must honestly assess the consequences of our sin, which means assessing both personal consequences and the impact it has had—and will continue to have—on others.

3. Confess fully.

I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” (v. 5a)

Deep repentance demands full confession. Though it seems counterintuitive, the only way to be truly covered by Christ is to fully expose your sin. In the process of repentance, we must fight to be utterly transparent before God about the depth and breadth of our sin. Only ruthless honesty will suffice—and lead to freedom and joy.

4. Hide in God.

You took away the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to you at a time when you may be found. When the great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. (vv. 5b–7)

Adam and Eve hid behind inadequate, self-made coverings to mask their sin and shame. We too often hide behind self-made righteousness in order to make ourselves appear more acceptable than we really are. If you want to change, to really change—which, by the way, is the mark of true repentance—then you must hide in God alone.

It’s not enough just to repent of overt sins. It’s not enough to say, “I admit to my wrong behaviors.” All kinds of people repent that way, especially religious people with an image to maintain.

A Christian doesn’t just repent of their outward sins, but also of their attempts to hide behind shoddy self-made righteousness. Stop hiding in your effort. Hide in God.

5. Seize the hope.

Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the LORD will have faithful love surrounding him. (v. 11)

How can you be sure God will forgive you? His unfailing love. Recall and find assurance in the great promises he has made throughout history, and how they have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ:

  • His promise to Adam and Eve to crush the enemy
  • His promise to Abraham to claim and protect a people
  • His promise to Moses to provide a way for sinful humans to meaningfully relate to a holy God
  • His promise to David to provide a once-and-for-all eternal King for his people

All throughout history—right on up to the moment when you’re repenting—God has been saying, and continues to say, “I love you. I will not fail you. I am enough.”

Look to the promises of God, seize the hope, and “be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11).

Joel Lindsey is lead pastor of Grace Church in Racine, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Melissa, have three sons. Joel is a contributor to For the Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Joel Lindsey at August 25, 2015 05:02 AM

Don Carson on the NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Today marks official release of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (NIVZSB) edited by Don Carson. The NIVZSB centers on biblical theology—the “ways in which many important themes work their way through Scripture and come to a focus in Jesus Christ.” With this focus on God’s unfolding revelation in the storyline of Scripture, the NIVZSB unpacks his redemptive work in Christ book by book. 

In the next few weeks TGC will be featuring NIVZSB articles by Tim Keller (on the story of the Bible), Kevin DeYoung (on sin), and Sam Storms (on prophets and prophecy). In the meantime, watch the video above as Carson joins Mark Mellinger to discuss the NIVZSB, the NIV translation, the 66-person team of contributors, and more. Then take a look at this 50-page sample as well as an overview of the features and endorsements below. 

Features

(1) 28 articles by biblical experts on theological topics such as “The Covenant,” “The Glory of God,” and “Love and Grace.”

(2) Section introductions to the Bible’s literary genres as well as comprehensive book introductions including purpose, theme, outlines, and photos.

(3) Hundreds of color photos (e.g., biblical artifacts) are placed within the Scripture text.

(4) More than 90 color maps with explanatory notes placed near relevant passages.

(5) One-column NIV text for easy reading.

Endorsements

“A magnificent achievement. The illustrations are stunning and the maps are expertly done. Most important, the content in both the articles and the commentary is superb. Every Bible reader and person in ministry should turn to it often for help.”

Thomas R. Schreiner, professor of New Testament interpretation and associate dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This is a study Bible like no other! It’s not every study Bible that brings a layman-accessible seminary education with it, but this one surely does.”

Fred Zaspel, pastor, Reformed Baptist Church in Franconia, Pennsylvania, and adjunct professor, Calvary Baptist Seminary

“It has precisely the kinds of helps a Bible reader would hope to find to aid one’s understanding and appreciation for what the Bible teaches. This study Bible has all the marks of greatness about it, both in its introductory articles and the accompanying notes, pictures, and graphs.”

Walter C. Kaiser Jr., president emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“This NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a tremendous tool for informed Bible reading and study. The notes are written by the best assembly I’ve seen of faithful, international scholars. I highly recommend this publication.”

Tim Keller, senior minister, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City

“With brand-new notes and maps, pictures of the land and artifacts, and more thorough introductions to the biblical books, this interactive Bible will serve a new generation of serious Bible readers in a whole new way.”

Michael Wittmer, professor of systematic theology, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Ivan Mesa serves as an editor for The Gospel Coalition where he oversees book reviews. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Louisville, Kentucky, and are members of Clifton Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter

by Ivan Mesa at August 25, 2015 05:02 AM

Nurturing Hearts for Christ in West Africa

As two young men rode donkeys toward their parents’ farm in the small West African country of Burkina Faso, they met Pingdewinde Sam, who was traveling to the village of Goumsin to assess results of an agricultural assistance program. This could have been an everyday encounter between travelers, but this meeting was different. Sam carried French-translation copies of John Piper’s The Dangerous Duty of Delight. He stopped to chat with the two, gave each a copy, and encouraged them to pass it along to their friends after reading.

The young men received the books with excitement. “There is definitely a real hunger [in Burkina Faso] for the gospel and for Jesus Christ,” Sam observes. “And praise God, people are really open to hear and to listen.”

Sam is from Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and is a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University. In 2011 he started Teêbo, an outreach ministry that provides humanitarian aid, educational resources, and opportunities to share the good news. One of his methods of outreach is a partnership with The Gospel Coalition International Outreach (TGC-IO) to bring theologically sound resources to his country. Sam has helped distribute three IO Packing Hope projects; during the summer of 2014, he brought 112 copies of The Dangerous Duty of Delight to Burkina Faso. 

Fruitful Harvest

Located in the western curve of Africa, landlocked Burkina Faso shares borders with six countries including Mali and Ghana. According to Joshua Project, its current population of around 18 million is comprised of 79 people groups. Seventy different languages are spoken, with French as the official language.

The majority of people are Muslim; however, Sam says Islam is frequently combined with animism, especially in rural areas. The 2010 edition of Operation World reports a Christian population of slightly over 20 percent, which represents a huge increase from around 10,000 evangelicals in 1960 to 1.44 million in 2010.

“What I really love about Burkina Faso, one of the things, is that when people decide to give their lives to Jesus Christ . . . they do it with all their heart,” Sam says. “They do face struggles and difficulties, but once they make up their mind to really embrace the life of Jesus Christ, they do not give up.”

Many in Burkina Faso are affected by poverty, lack of access to education, and unstable food resources. In 2014 the country was ranked 181st out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

The fragile economy adds to difficulties for Christians as a religious minority. Through Sam’s experiences with Teêbo, he has seen new Christ followers ostracized by their families. Women and children who become believers are particularly vulnerable without family support; Sam says husbands can ask their wives to leave their households, and parents can stop paying school tuition for their children. Even when experiencing persecution, Sam notes there is a “radical commitment” to “surrender everything to Christ.”

Nurturing Hearts for Christ

The swift rise of evangelical Christianity in Burkina Faso requires solid church leadership, which is largely dependent on the availability of sound biblical materials. Such resources are not affordable in Burkina Faso, however, and people have difficulty accessing theological support.

As a minority, Christians here are further challenged by unreached people groups.

“In the city, you can take a specific district and you will see at least two to three churches,” Sam remarks. “Unfortunately, some of those churches are not really going out into rural areas or trying to reach people who haven’t heard the gospel.”

Through Teêbo’s outreach and his partnership with TGC-IO, Sam has seen God faithfully provide for some of these needs. He brought many copies of The Dangerous Duty of Delight to be distributed at Teêbo’s evangelism conference in Ouagadougou last summer. The two-day event focused on inspiring young adults to share Christ in the city and in the villages. 

“We gave them the books so that they can actually read and also share with other people, or perhaps nonbelievers, or even believers who are seeking to grow in Christ,” Sam says. 

Would It Be Possible?

He carried a few more copies of the book to Goumsin on that day he met the two young men. He also gave books to farmers in the agricultural assistance program and to church leaders in the village.

When Pingdewinde Sam returned to Burkina Faso in December 2014, many of the conference attendees had the same question: would it be possible to receive more books?

Editors’ note: Chris Davis, pastor of Whitton Avenue Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona, also contributed to this story. 

Arna Lake Wilkinson lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church. She received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa and a M.A. in publishing and writing from Emerson College. 

by Arna Lake Wilkinson at August 25, 2015 05:01 AM

5 Ways Wendell Berry Is Making Me a Better Pastor

I discovered late last year that the community in which I pastor is a real-life counterpart to Wendell Berry’s fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. Though I’ve pastored here for nearly seven years, I only discovered the affinity between Henry County, Virginia, and Berry’s Port William when I was introduced to—and subsequently binge-read my way through—his Port William novels.

Our community shares much in common with Port William. My congregants recall with affection their days planting and harvesting tobacco, flue-curing it in barns, and selling it in auction houses. They remember the transition from mule-drawn plows to tractors. Like the citizens of Port William, the people of Henry and neighboring Franklin counties recall with wry smiles the days when home-brewed corn whiskey was almost as common as peach preserves.

These similarities and others make Berry’s novels particularly fascinating and refreshing to me. Reading his accounts of Port William has enabled me to see my own community with new eyes and begin ministering more effectively within it.

Here are five ways Wendell Berry, through his Port William stories, is teaching me to be a better pastor in my own community:

1. He is teaching me to be more gentle with people.

I came to this pastorate anticipating a higher level of interest and commitment than I had a reasonable right to expect. In the past, I had been part of church families who were energetic in their labor to fulfill the church’s mission. Disappointment has too often led me to become impatient with my people. But in reading the stories of the Port William membership, I learned to view the role of pastor from the outside, from the perspective of the community people themselves. Berry’s Jayber Crow provides valuable insight:

The preachers were always young students from the seminary who . . . wouldn’t stay long enough to know where they were, for one thing. Some were wise and some were foolish, but none, so far as Port William knew, was ever old.

When pastors don’t stay long enough to build trust, is it any wonder that congregations are slow to respond to their teaching? By what right, then, am I—a relatively new outsider—impatient with my people? This realization is helping me follow Paul’s example: “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7).       

2. He is teaching me to be more appreciative of rural culture.

I attended seminary in a midsize city and grew to love the vitality and culture that characterize cities. I appreciate the idea of denominations and church planting networks focusing on cities in terms of strategic impact. But while strategy demands we energetically plant churches in the city, integrity demands we also patiently shepherd old churches in the countryside. And this is no sacrifice. Berry’s vision of Port William celebrates the beauty of rural life. Describing a farmer’s midnight vigil over the birth of a new lamb, he writes:

He sits there on a bucket, his elbows resting on his knees, his hands clasped together, conscious only of the nearness of this place: the ewe and lamb in the lighted pen, the flock sleeping and stirring in the dark behind him, the cold night air on his face and hands.

There is beauty in the countryside farms we’re too quick to forget. Berry is helping me to see and appreciate that beauty more.

3. He is teaching me to be more aware of my community’s corporate identity.

One of Berry’s central themes is that of membership along the lines of Paul’s description in Ephesians 4:25: “We are members of one another.” The Port William membership, which works itself out in the trading of labor and goods and familial watchcare over one another, rotates in many ways around the character of Burley Coulter. It is he who first articulates the concept of the membership in the story The Wild Birds:

I think of . . . Mam and Pap and Old Jack, and Aunt Dorie and Uncle Marce, and Mat and Mrs. Feltner, and Jarrat and Tom and Kate Helen, all of them dead, and you three here and the others still living. . . . The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everything. 

One implication of this corporate identity is that an effective pastor must learn to minister to the individual both as an individual and also as part of the community.

4. He is teaching me to be more generous with my time

I find it easy to allow the weight of sermon preparation to dominate my schedule. During weekday conversations it’s not uncommon for me to be distracted by the thought of how far behind I’m falling on my to-do list. But the importance of spending time with congregants can hardly be overstated. Berry’s poignant account of a pastor’s attempt to comfort a grieving family in A Place on Earth drives this home. After failing to communicate the hopeful message of Scripture, the pastor retreats from the family to the quiet sanctuary of his church building, where he reflects on the distance between himself and his parishioners:

The Word, in his speaking it, fails to be made flesh. It is a failure particularized for him in the palm of every work-stiffened hand held out to him at the church door every Sunday morning—the dark hand taking his pale unworn one in a gesture of politeness without understanding.

The pastor fails to realize that the vast divide between him and his people is due to the kind of retreat in which he is then indulging. As the vignette closes, the church’s gravedigger enters the building to stoke the fire. “Not wanting to appear unfriendly,” the pastor “comes back and sits near the old man—trusting that, by keeping a distance of four or five feet between them, he can hold the conversation to an exchange of formalities and then leave in a few minutes.”

The only way pastors will bridge the gap between themselves and the people they shepherd is by spending time with them. Berry is teaching me to be more liberal with my minutes and hours.

5. He is teaching me to be more conscious of place in my community’s identity.

For some time now the relationship between people and their land has been confinded to the realm of sociologists. But Berry, with his constant descriptions of the terrain of Port William, its proximity to and dependence on the river, the character of the farms on its river bottoms and ridges, and the connections between this land and the nature of its people, has reminded me that humans have been intricately linked to the earth from the beginning.

If I want to understand the identity of my community, I must learn to grasp the nature of the physical place my community inhabits. I have learned that the tobacco crops grown in the red Virginia clay required careful cultivation and precise harvesting. The older men in my church have clear memories of laboring in tobacco fields from dawn to dusk. And while they themselves went to work in the textile and furniture mills that sprang up in Henry County later, it was those formative seasons in the tobacco rows that shaped them into the people I know today. Understanding this allows me to communicate with them more effectively.

Fresh Eyes

In these ways Wendell Berry is teaching me about my people, helping me see them with fresh eyes. Not every pastor will find the same stunning similarities between their congregations and the people of Port William, but the lessons Berry teaches through Port William will still prove valuable for us all.

Andrew Shanks is the pastor of Fontaine Baptist Church in Martinsville, Virginia.

by Andrew Shanks at August 25, 2015 05:00 AM

Windows 95 hysteria →

I grew up in a PC household, and didn't use a Mac with any regularity until my sophomore year of high school.

The first computer I ever used was my dad's NEC laptop, running Windows 3.1. A few years later, my parents bought a Gateway PC running Windows 95, which blew my mind as a 9 year old kid.

What I remember most is being impressed was the user interface. It was much easier to use than Window 3.1, with the Start menu leading the way to a new, more organized world.

I wasn't aware of the massive marketing push behind the OS, obviously. While I've read some about it in the years since, this article really is wild.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 25, 2015 02:20 AM

August 24, 2015

CrossFit Naptown

The Secret to Being Awesome

Tuesday’s Workout:

Shoulder Mobility

Snatch Skill Complex
Advanced:
1 High Hang Snatch
2 Sots Press
3 Overhead Squat with 3 Second Pause
Intermediate:
1 High Hang Power Snatch
2 Snatch Balance
3 Overhead Squats
Beginner:
1 Hang Power Snatch
2 Behind-the-Neck Push Press
3 Back Squats
Every 2:00 for 5 Rounds

WOD:
Row 500 M 80%
Rest
Row 1000 M 100%

 

 

 Be Chill…Mobilize

 

We are focusing a great deal today on some higher skilled barbell movements that require a great deal of mobility all over the body (hips, thoracic spine, chest, lats, e’rythang). It is the coolest thing ever to work on mobility. Seriously. Kelley Starrett is the coolest cat in CrossFit and he has made a living off of mobilizing and teaching us all how to mobilize.

Today may be a very frustrating day for some people with the introduction of new movements and some people being held back to simpler movements because they are not quite ready to move on to the stupid human tricks. The best thing you can do for yourself to avoid that happening again is to mobilize like crazy. Most people who have trouble with overhead squats (or squats in general) are dealing with some kind of mobility issue. We will be focusing on the shoulders today in class during our forced mobility piece but that does not mean that you cannot come in early to get some other mobility in on your own. Check out these two videos on ankle and t-spine mobilization.

 

by Anna at August 24, 2015 07:42 PM

How to fix a stuck Time Machine backup

I hit a wall yesterday with my MacBook Pro.

(My tweeting went downhill from there.)

In short, Time Machine would start, but get stuck after just a few moments. Sometimes, it would stall on Preparing Backup... and other times, it'd get a couple of hundred megabytes done (out of several gigabytes it needed to do) then stop.

I turned tried turning Time Machine off and rebooting, but had no luck. No matter what I did, the backup wouldn't complete.

I did some Googling, and came across a trick I had forgotten about: nuking the .inProgress file from orbit.

This file lives on the Time Machine drive, and is used a temporary cache as files are copied. Sometimes, it get corrupted, halting any further backups. Here's how to get rid of it and keep the backups flowing.

  1. Turn off Time Machine in System Preferences.
  2. Navigate to the Time Machine drive in Finder. Locate the .inProgress file. Mine's pictured above.
  3. Delete the .inProgress file.
  4. Reboot the Mac.
  5. Turn Time Machine back on in System Preferences.

This won't fix all Time Machine problems, but if you're seeing your backups stall, it's worth a shot. It cleared the problem up for me and only took a few minutes to do.

by Stephen Hackett at August 24, 2015 05:48 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

RSS Sponsor: Claye — The Weirdest Album You'll Hear All Year →

Claye is an independent experimental pop album about the last thirty seconds of your life. It was created similarly to the way that many of your favorite apps were made: just one guy alone in his apartment with some computers and a copy of OmniFocus, trying to make something great.

If you've never heard Claye before—you probably haven't—I'd suggest listening to these songs to start:

  1. Butter
  2. Weird
  3. Mouse Trappe

Once you've got the hang of it, give the whole album a try from start to finish. You can listen to Claye on Apple Music, Spotify, or buy it directly from the musician himself.

Be sure to stay in touch with Dylan—he made Claye—by following him on Twitter (@dylanseeger), and by signing up for shockingly brief email alerts for new releases.

Most importantly, give Claye a try. It's weird, but I think you'll like it.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 24, 2015 02:54 PM

Karen De Coster

How to Keep Up With the Stock Market Crash

For best efficiency, put your browser on WSJ.com and hit the refresh button every 60 seconds.

by Karen De Coster at August 24, 2015 02:39 PM

Crossway Blog

Once Upon a Time

This post is adapted from The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung and illustrated by Don Clark.


Once upon a time . . .

. . . there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the planet. True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy.

Their names were Adam and Eve, and God made them. He made them in his image, little mirrors to reflect God’s glory. And like everything else God made, he made them good.

It was a wonderful time to be God’s children in God’s wonderful world.

Unfortunately, things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long.

On one very bad day, Adam ate from the only tree God had declared off-limits. Adam failed. It was a terrible day, the second-worst day in the history of the world.

A snake had tricked Adam and Eve and told them a lie about the fruit. He said they would be like God if they ate it. But actually, the opposite was true. When they are the fruit, they found themselves far away from God.

They had disobeyed God’s word and believed the lie of that devilish Snake instead of the truth. Being near to God—and having him draw near to us—would not be easy any longer.

God was not happy with Adam and Eve. He wasn’t happy with the Snake either. God put a curse on the man and the woman and the Snake and everything else.

He kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden Paradise he had made for them. It wasn’t possible for a people who were so bad to live with a God who is so good.

They had to go.

But before they left, God made a promise. He promised that the evil Serpent, the Devil, would always be at war with Eve and her children.

Now that doesn’t sound like a very nice promise—that bad guys and good guys would fight all the time. Who wants to be in a war that never ends?

But here’s where the good part of the promise comes in: God promised that one of Eve’s children would, someday, eventually, sooner or later, crush the head of that nasty Snake.

Nobody knew when or how, but she would have a child to put things right.


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books, including The Hole in Our Holiness, What Is the Mission of the Church?, Crazy Busy, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, and Taking God At His Word. He lives with his wife and their six children in Central Michigan.

by Crossway at August 24, 2015 01:26 PM

Video: Invisible Creature

Why Art Matters

In this video, Don Clark—illustrator of The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung—discusses why he creates art and how it has the potential to give us a glimpse of the way the world was intended to be.

Learn more about Don Clark and download a free excerpt from The Biggest Story today!

by Matt Tully at August 24, 2015 01:13 PM

Front Porch Republic

From the Multiversity Cave: The Universal Sciences

descarte

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

Read Full Article...

The post From the Multiversity Cave: The Universal Sciences appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Lee Trepanier at August 24, 2015 12:07 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Mounce Archive 20 – Incomplete Definitions

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.

First-year Greek students memorize the gloss for εὐθύς as “immediately.” If we use that translation, according to the book of Mark, Jesus seems to be running around like crazy. Mounce reminds us to look back at a lexicon and realize words often have a wider semantic range than we use.

Consider the excerpt below or read the original post here.

One of the strange literary characteristics of the gospel of Mark is the apparently inordinate use of εὐθύς. It is an adverb I memorized as meaning “immediately.”

It occurs 59 times in the NT, 41 being in Mark, 11 of them in chapter 1. The explanation I have always heard is that Mark was written for the Roman church, and part of the Roman psyche is an admiration for being a person of action. So Jesus does this, and then immediately rushes off to do that. It is exhausting just reading Mark 1.

(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 August 24, 2015 12:00 PM

Reformedish

Bavinck on the Christian Life by John Bolt

Bavinck on the Christian lifeCrossway’s “Theologians on the Christian Life” series has been excellent so far. And it’s about to get even better. John Bolt has just delivered the latest volume Bavinck on the Christian Life: Following Jesus in Faithful Service that’s the bees knees. I had the privilege of reading an early copy this spring and endorsing it.

Here’s what I wrote:

“Bolt’s portrait of Bavinck and his theology captures the man himself: clear, elegant, biblically saturated, theologically rich, philosophically nuanced, irenic, and aimed at the Christian life. Drawing on a diversity of sources, Bolt not only brings the riches of Bavinck’s mature theology into conversation with current theological concerns, but also applies it to the most practical elements of faith, marriage, family, work, and culture. He ably introduces readers to Bavinck’s vision of the Christian life as part of God’s movement of grace restoring nature and a cosmic redemption aimed at restoring and elevating creation to its intended goal. Most of all, it is a vision of following Jesus out into the world as the Father conforms his children into the image of the Son in the power of the Spirit for the sake of his glorious name.”

If that’s not enough, here’s what a bunch of other smarter people wrote about it:

“To use the word timely for a book about a nineteenth-century Dutch theologian may seem inappropriate. But in this case the adjective is exactly right. Many of us have wanted to spread the word that Herman Bavinck’s theological perspective can contribute much to a renewal of the church’s life and mission today. Now in this book John Bolt has made the case in a concise and convincing manner!”
Richard J. Mouw, President, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

“This obvious labor of love explores an important but insufficiently highlighted aspect of Bavinck’s thought. Leaving virtually no pertinent stone unturned throughout his life and published works, Bolt provides both a full presentation of Bavinck’s views and his own understanding of their continuing relevance for Christian discipleship today. Here is valuable instruction in Bavinck’s thought presented in a way that will also stimulate the reader’s own thinking on the issues raised.”
Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary

“Trinitarian, Christ-centered, and culturally engaged, Herman Bavinck immerses us into a vivid vision of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His rich theological imagination provides a compelling alternative to the many vapid, pragmatic approaches to faith today. John Bolt provides an accessible and illuminating guide to Bavinck’s theology of the Christian life in the most expansive sense: the Christian life of fellowship with God and others, in family, work, and politics. Bolt skillfully navigates these waters in order to open up the treasures of Bavinck for today’s church.”
J. Todd Billings, Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan

“Perhaps every generation in the church age could claim a need for Bavinck’s perspective on the Christian life. We can’t let our salt lose its saltiness and our light lose its brilliance—not now. Bavinck encourages us in this regard even as we are in the world, not of the world, and sent into the world. In one seamless volume, Bolt shows how Bavinck’s contributions help correct our nearsightedness as we become tethered to his conviction that the Word of God is ever living and ever active in every day.”
Gloria Furman, Pastor’s wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai; mother of four; author, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full  

“Not one square inch of nature, work, culture, or history escaped the reach of Herman Bavinck’s expansive Christ-centered worldview. Of the great Reformed theologians, Bavinck is the generous giant, with a heart as wide as his axiom ‘grace restores nature.’ Bavinck’s vision of a sovereign Savior at work in the world, carefully grounded in the gospel, suits him to speak authoritatively on the Christian’s place in this world. This book is a masterpiece from John Bolt, a man who knows Bavinck’s mind as well as anyone.”
Tony Reinke, Staff Writer and Researcher, desiringGod.org; author, Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

“Never before have I read such a fine and stimulating overview of Herman Bavinck’s life and theology. John Bolt shows clearly why the study of Bavinck is growing worldwide and why this theology is a great help for today’s Christians. Bavinck and Bolt are a great team!”
Herman Selderhuis, Professor of Church History, Theological University of Apeldoorn; Director, Refo500, The Netherlands

If you’ve been wanting to get into the Dutch giant, but you’ve been too intimidated by the size and scope of his Reformed Dogmatics to know where to start, this is an excellent introduction to his thought. Bolt gives pride of place to Bavinck’s own words and so you get a bunch of Bavinck himself, not only commentary on him. Though, if you have read him, it is excellent commentary that will help bring out dimensions you might have missed, especially since Bolt draws on works other works beyond the Dogmatics that have yet to be translated. Beyond that, it’s just an edifying work.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at August 24, 2015 11:40 AM

Light Blue Touchpaper

Decepticon: interdisciplinary conference on deception research

I’m at Decepticon 2015 and will be liveblogging the talks in followups to this post. Up till now, research on deception has been spread around half a dozen different events, aimed at cognitive psychologists, forensic psychologists, law enforcement, cybercrime specialists and others. My colleague Sophie van der Zee decided to organise a single annual event to bring everyone together, and Decepticon is the the result. With over 160 registrants for the first edition of the event (and late registrants turned away) it certainly seems to have hit a sweet spot.

by Ross Anderson at August 24, 2015 08:50 AM

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

Now for a word from Hitler

I am getting back to my next novel, which stars a boy expelled from school trying to be a knight in modern day rural North Carolina, and his dog that can talk. Obviously this is serious business, so I have little more to say on the whole Hugo debacle. But I have come across this gem:

by John C Wright at August 24, 2015 08:40 AM

In Memoriam

The Hugo Award voters paid me the signal honor of burning down two or perhaps three whole categories of awards merely to prevent me from being awarded the spaceship which the breakdown of the votes shows I was due.

I am humbled by the laud shown my work: it is not everyone who can point to the smoking wreckage of a great city whose fanes and temple, colonnades and palaces, baths and coliseums and alabaster towers the burghers burnt with their own hands to prevent falling into his.

Even stranger to behold the beast-yowling burghers dancing with odd jerks of the elbows and knees around the bonfires of their own homes where all their best beloved scrolls and trophies burn, as if some signal victory is won, while the putrid smoke climbs up forever.

Nevertheless, I take no joy and proffer no vaunt. I am no barbarian, but a Christian conqueror, and I pity even my foes. Therefore let us take a moment of solemn silence to doff our helms and lower our eyes for the dissolution of a once great institution.

This is what the Hugos once stood for:

  • “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell [Astounding May 1955; Sci Fiction, scifi.com 2004-09-15]
  • “The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke [Infinity Nov 1955]
  • “Or All the Seas with Oysters” by Avram Davidson [Galaxy May 1958]
  • “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes [F&SF Apr 1959]
  • “The Long Afternoon of Earth” aka “Hothouse” by Brian W. Aldiss [F&SF Feb,Apr,Jul,Sep,Dec 1961]
  • “The Dragon Masters” by Jack Vance [Galaxy Aug 1962]
  • “No Truce with Kings” by Poul Anderson [F&SF Jun 1963] tied with (2) “Savage Pellucidar” by Edgar Rice Burroughs [Amazing Nov 1963] tied with (3) “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny [F&SF Nov 1963]
  • “Soldier, Ask Not” by Gordon R. Dickson [Galaxy Oct 1964]
  • “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison [Galaxy Dec 1965]
  • “Neutron Star” by Larry Niven [If Oct 1966]
  • “Light of Other Days” by Bob Shaw [Analog Aug 1966]
  • “The Last Castle” by Jack Vance [Galaxy Apr 1966]
  • “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison [If Mar 1967] tied with (2) “The Jigsaw Man” by Larry Niven [Dangerous Visions, 1967]
  • “Nightwings” by Robert Silverberg [Galaxy Sep 1968]
  • “Dragonrider” by Anne McCaffrey [Analog Dec 1967,Jan 1968]
  • “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” by Harlan Ellison [Galaxy Jun 1968] tied with (2) “All the Myriad Ways” by Larry Niven [Galaxy Oct 1968]

That same year, the winner for Best Dramatic Presentation was 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [Paramount] Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick; Directed by Stanley Kubrick; based on the story “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke.

And, likewise, that same year, a Special Award was given to Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, and Michael Collins – for The Best Moon Landing Ever.

That Special Award, to my knowledge, has never been granted again, because we are the generation that had the moon and lost it.

So for such works the Hugos once stood. For what do they stand now?

The nihilists voted for nothing. No one is surprised.

* * *

My fans voted for the works of mine they read and judged worthy in record numbers. (In terms of raw votes, my nominated works received more votes than some of the masterworks mentioned above.)

But those who are enemies of all honest men turned out (as expected) in even more record numbers: however, listening to the backstage chatter among voters after the awards, I heard not one comment, no, not one, of someone who said they voted for ‘No Award’  on the lack of merit of the works nominated.

To be sure, some now might say in public that my work was without merit. (Indeed, there are those that claim that the use of nicknames in One Bright Star to Guide Them is proof of some flaw in the authors’ craftsmanship.) Let us note, for I was there when and after the event happened, and I had put my badge under my coat, and stood and walked, and I heard them talking, and I know what they said in private.

The comments I overheard were all the same: the No Award voters wanted to express their party loyalty to the Morlocks, a political faction that wants the Hugo Award to be awarded on the basis of political correctness, not on the basis of the merits of the case. This is like judging a beauty contest based on whether or not the young woman supports gay marriage, rather than on her beauty.

The ones I call Morlocks are the highpriesthood of a political party devoted to nihilism, Christ-bashing,  White-hating misadry and political correctness. They are liars first, last, and always, and they lie even when nothing comes of it and no point is served.

Surrounding them are a large body of largely innocent and easily distracted dupes addicted to outrage which are best called Eloi. They believe any lie, no matter how outrageous or easily refuted, provided it strokes their need for self-importance and outrage.

These are not people of sterling mental health. The Morlocks and the Eloi are true believers and true dupes who truly tempt each other in to ever darker and more degenerate practices.

These flabby and flabby-headed gray-haired hippies never outgrew the smug and unintelligent delight of High School sophomores in striking poses allegedly in rebellion against the Victorian morality and Victorian working conditions of the English middle and lower classes of roughly the time when HG Wells penned his famous work. These ideas were fifty years out of date when they were first promoted in the Summer of Love, and by now are a full century past their sell by date.

But these simplistic yet stupid ideas give the Eloi something to distract them from the tiresome business of thought, and fill their empty lives with a sense of crusading self-righteousness. It is a convenient form of martyrdom that involves no blood, a convenient form of heroism that involves no sweat, a convenient form of victimhood that involves no tears.

There is no argument about the lie, whatever it is, the Morlocks have released to the press that day, no facts given, no quotes that are not misquotes, and no answers to any rebuttals or demands for full information. Fact-checking and the orderly question and answer of challenged thought are intellectual artifacts used by rational men to investigate, debate, and think about the truth. Thought is the enemy of addiction to that brain-altering drug called outrage, and is avoided scrupulously, diligently, and completely.

So the Morlocks simply tell the most unconvincing and transparent lies in as many public fora as possible, as loudly and often as possible, and never, ever, ever answer any challenges, questions, or requests for proof.

All discussion of the lie is ruled out of bounds and beyond the pale.

And the Eloi, as intellectually castrated herd-animals must do, simply believe the lies and repeat them, and never look up from their grazing. Any sheepdogs barking to awaken the herd to their danger are called wolves, intruders, and enemies, and the Eloi ignore them, or, if roused, stone them.  Such is life in the Dark Ages of today, where thinking and reason have been decreed to be hate crimes.

The tactic is simple and endlessly repeated.

All the Morlocks have to do is tell the Eloi that today’s designated scapegoat, a stranger of whom none has previously heard, such as Vox Day, has violated a pristine principle of which none has previously heard, such as an alleged gentleman’s agreement against slate voting.

The screaming nincompoops will then disavow this outrage in thunderous yet shrill exhalations of nonsense, filth, and fact-free verbal blither for the required period.

They all act as if the stranger and the principle allegedly violated are matters of common knowledge and ancient tradition.

The fact that slate voting has happened routinely previously, and will happen again next year led by their own Morlock leadership, of course, never troubles them.

The ancient tradition of tomorrow will be something new and different, and the common knowledge vanished down the memory hole. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

So to stop the imaginary menace of Global Slate Voting (or whatever the cause of the day might be) the lying Morlocks tell simple and simple-to-refute lies to the gullible Eloi, who cavort and scream on cue, keeping up the riotous and mindless convulsions as long it needed for whatever it is the Morlocks that season want destroyed to be destroyed.

This season, it was the Hugos.

So this was not a literary contest but a political contest. One side, mine, wanted the Hugos to return to their original purpose of being awarded on merit for imaginative and well crafted science fiction. The other side wanted the awards to be given only to those who supported and spread the poisoned political talking points and pet causes activists of grievance-mongering identity politics support.

I am not surprised, but I do think it unfortunate for friend and foe alike, that we lacked the numbers this year to overcome the opposition.

No matter. We knew the war would be long and ongoing. We no doubt must wait for those of the older generations, ossified beyond redemption and semi-senile in their sins, to die off and clear the way.

My only emotional reaction, if I can be said to have one, is this: I have pity for the voters who did not give Toni Weisskopf (the editor at Baen Books) an award, or the wildly popular and talented Jim Butcher (author of the Dresden Files urban fantasy).

The slate voters voting No Award preferred to burn down their own house rather than allow these two figures, (and me) to take our rightful places at the head of the feast table.

Pity, I say, not anger, because the fans who cast their votes for political reasons I know to be men and woman who enjoy the awards ceremony, and take pleasure in the glamor of the award.

I suspect (and intend, if my fans and readers will aid the plan) that next year will have similar results, and that No Award will sweep the categories: and the year after that as well, and after that.

At a certain point, after some years of this, the fans who enjoy the award ceremony will notice that it has been despoiled of all meaning.

No one will be particularly interested in going to a ceremony where a spokesman for far leftwing activism stands at a podium and announces, for the third or fifth or tenth year in a row, that fandom regards its own genre as having produced no works worthy of any recognition.

Honest onlookers will conclude that this is the case. Honest onlookers will take voters at their word, and conclude that the science fiction that wins the WorldCon award is unworthy of recognition. The onlooker will turn to other genres, or other fandoms.

The political activists who have invaded the Hugo Awards process have no one to blame but themselves, and yet some little but real joy will have been extinguished in their lives, and a little more darkness will grown in their hearts.

The Sad Puppies this year gave the Morlocks the chance to mend their ways and return to the original meaning and intent of the Hugo Awards, that is, giving the award to the best science fiction story. The proffer was rejected with contempt.

The Eloi, until now, enjoyed the convention and the awards. Handing out a little statue of a rocket to whoever told the best space story of the year is not a very refined or complex joy. It is simple, straightforward, and something common to all mankind. We like applauding. We like to praise those we like.

It is a simple pleasure.

And that simple pleasure was taken away from the Eloi because of the petulance of their own actions, and the malice of the Morlocks who lead them.

I sat in a darkened theater listening to the Morlocks leading the Eloi in cheers of sickening self righteousness, cheering for the destruction of their own simple pleasure. The master of ceremony, prancing and mincing on the stage, in severe tones told us that booing the No Award was untoward and not allowed, but no cross word was spoken to those that cheered the arson.

I assume the debacle of self-immolation is being celebrated in all the usual quarters by all the usual suspects. What fools these Morlocks be.

What next?

We honest men and lovers of SFF cannot simply walk away from the cesspool of political correctness and Morlockery, and find some other place, some new award, to be our home.

Our fathers pursued a strategy of cost-effective retreat in their generation, and all that happened is that the Morlocks of that generation followed them.

The cesspool spread from one college to the next, from one newspaper and film company and publishing house to the next, from one circuit court to the next, from one stater to the next, until the whole landscape was submerged in sewage from coast to coast.

This is the world we inherited, thanks to the willingness of our fathers to live and let live with avowed enemies and retreat in disgust from institutions they corrupted.

If we start our own new award, the Morlock cesspool-dwellers will follow us, seek entry, and corrupt it. That is what carrion do.

If we retreat or show weakness, the gibbering baboons will rejoice, can claim the heap of poo they have shoveled together in their own camps and kitchens is their mountain of victory. One need only look at the world of painting and sculpture to see the result of that.

The self-destructive nature of Morlock psychology requires that they attack us, and never cease. So this year’s effort to pursue a moderate and measured response failed.

War without mercy or let is all that remains.

The greatest danger is to ourselves from ourselves. We must steel our hearts against the temptation to give into bitterness or hate.

Hate is their diet. We are motivated by love of the genre, the simple pleasure of reading, and delight in all things in the cosmos, from the normal romance of man and wife to the sublime glories of spinning galaxies, clusters and superclusters in the vast and burning cathedral of light we call the universe.

All that is ours. Our works and our ways should and do reflect this, including our works of art.

They are perverted sexually, mentally, and in all ways. Their petty acts of outrage-masturbation and self righteousness harm them as well as us, and are quite unsightly to boot. A pool of sticky liquid best left unidentified: That is theirs. Their works and ways reflect this, including their works of art-hatred.

Let us not be cruel and let us not be unloving.

It is out compassion for them which should burn like fire and stoop like avenging angels to obliterate the foetid slagheaps they have made. We must drive them from the field, back into their unsightly warren holes and pest holes, then we must cleanse the leper, forgive, and rebuild.

We must not become them. We are the builders, the creators, the makers of what makes science fiction great. They are the poop-flinging monkeys, the harpies, the despoilers, the barbarians.

We can prosper without them, and they cannot live without us, because without someone to build up, the destroyer has nothing to destroy.

For the love of Mary Shelly, who invented our beloved genre, and in honor of all those greats who filled our reading lives with dreams as bright as fire, we cannot let them turn the greatest form of literature the modern world will ever know into the dreary wasteland of postmodern dreck.

To arms!

 

 

by John C Wright at August 24, 2015 06:39 AM

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Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together

On the shelf, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together looks like a tame textbook about Dietrich Bonhoeffer as theological educator. On the inside, though, Paul House has written a compelling critique of modern theological education and a case for pastoral training that’s best described as “life together.”

As House, professor of Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School, explains in the preface, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision comes from a melding of his appreciation for Bonhoeffer and his experience in the academy. Accordingly, he brings to the project many questions related to the current state of theological education. His book, therefore, is much more than another Bonhoeffer biography. It’s a historical investigation for the sake of contemporary application.

From the outset, House’s approach may be perceived as precarious. For historical purists, he runs the risk of bending data to fit his own concerns. For theological educators, his method of retrieval may seem obscure or unimportant compared with contemporary practices. Yet for those with ears to hear, his book sheds light on Bonhoeffer even as it cross-examines today’s pedagogical methods.   

Bonhoeffer as Theological Educator 

After completing his second doctorate in 1930, Bonhoeffer began teaching theology at the University of Berlin in 1931. He was only 25. From then until 1940, he lectured on theology and trained aspiring pastors. Though banned from the University of Berlin in 1936, he spent half a decade (1935–40) teaching, counseling, and doing life with a few dozen students. It is this period of which House writes. He retells the story of the seminaries Bonhoeffer started and the backstory of his two classic works, Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship.

In the first two chapters House explains the conditions leading to Bonhoeffer’s career in theological education. Chapter 1 gives a defense for studying this season of Bonhoeffer’s life, one “biographers and scholars . . . rarely highlight” (21). Chapter 2 outlines Bonhoeffer’s theological training, his biblical commitments over against church leaders compromising with Nazi Germany, and the formation of two schools—the first at Finkenwalde (and earlier at Zingst) from 1935–37; the second at Köslin and Gross-Schlonwitz and later at Sigurdshof from 1937–40.  

In the next three chapters House relates Bonhoeffer’s teaching to the books he wrote during these years. Never an aloof academic, Bonhoeffer engaged personally with his students—both in their studies and after they entered the ministry. This “incarnational” model of teaching forms the foundation of all House urges educators to consider.

He does this first with consideration of The Cost of Discipleship (ch. 3) and then Life Together (ch. 4). Then in chapter 5 House takes up the theme of endurance. He tells how Bonhoeffer and his seminaries suffered (each were ultimately shot down by the Gestapo). He highlights the weariness with which Bonhoeffer labored, the commitment to remain in war-torn Germany, and the way Scripture—especially Psalm 119—strengthened his soul. These chapters illuminate the provenance of Bonhoeffer’s writings, but they also display the Christ-centered passion which enabled him to teach amid sparse provisions and governmental threat.

Chapter 6 concludes the book with “some possibilities for incarnational seminaries.” This chapter applies all House has observed in Bonhoeffer’s life and writing. It also encapsulates his own burden for reforming seminary education. He holds Bonhoeffer’s seminaries as models from which modern educators can learn and selectively imitate. In discerning what is “transferable to our work today” (184), he answers a handful of objections and proceeds to make applications at a variety of levels (e.g., large seminaries, small seminaries, seminary enrichment programs, university theology departments, etc.). This is the most unique part of the book, and the one to which theological educators should give the most consideration.

House as Theological Reformer

Perhaps it’s too much say that House is a theological reformer, but he calls for reformation in this book. He’s concerned with the state of affairs in evangelical education, and rightly so. The ever-increasing online movement invites students to download information without developing relationally. Even with an increase in church-based training, Internet-only degrees abound. And still in their infancy, we don’t yet know what kind of effect this training will have on the church universal.

This is the great benefit of reading Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision. House makes us take stock of how we are training future pastors. By introducing Bonhoeffer’s pedagogical methods, he gives an alternative approach to training—one that may be better suited for secular America.

As Jason Allen has rightly observed in his insightful “Whither Christian Higher Education?,” 21st-century educators must hold fast to biblical truth, fight for religious liberty, and be willing to consider changing operational practices. As the president of Midwestern Seminary, he urges Christian schools to pursue “operational sustainability” without dependence on Pell Grants and federal student loans. Indeed, this is wise counsel, but is it enough to just address matters of finance?

House would not think so. In order to develop men for the difficulties of Christian ministry in a secular age, he offers a number of changes seminaries could make. In this review, I can only mention three gleaned from his reading of The Cost of Discipleship.

Three Changes to Seminary Education

First, instead of having an open enrollment, a standard practice today, seminaries should accept “committed students” (89–94). Such a practice would cause schools to shrink (or close), but that’s the point. Following Bonhoeffer’s model, the goal of seminary education shouldn’t be size but strength. The world needs strong ministers and House is convinced smaller environs for education are necessary for that.

Second, committed students need “committed teachers,” teachers who aren’t looking to advance their careers but who are zealous for the glory of Christ, the growth of his church, and the good of the student (95–97). In my experience, these are the kind of professors I had, but I can imagine a sort of teacher who singularly prides himself on his academic achievement. It’s this kind of teacher I’m tempted to become and must crucify for the greater advancement of the Great Commission.

Third, seminaries must aim to produce “committed shepherds,” pastors grounded in the Word and willing to suffer for the sake of Christ (97–98). This is perhaps one of the most compelling aspects of Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision, but one that is more than a little ironic. Most American seminaries are places of architectural and floral beauty. In these pleasant surroundings, students are prepared to go to war. But will that work? Should we be surprised that many seminarians stay at home or are unequipped to go to the places like those described in Nik Ripken’s The Insanity of God? I don’t say that to be sarcastic, but realistic. House calls for seminaries to train gospel warriors, but to do so may require further changes.

Call for Theological Reformation?

These three challenges illustrate the kind of force with which House writes. He is passionate about the gospel, the church, and its ministers. Thus, as he looks to Bonhoeffer, he sees a Christ-centered educator worthy of our consideration and faithful imitation.

It’s my hope that his book gains a wide hearing among evangelical pastors, professors, and administrators. Academically, it fills a lacuna in Bonhoeffer scholarship. Practically, its retrieval of Bonhoeffer’s pedagogical practices provides a comparative study in how theological education is conducted. But most importantly, I pray its story of Bonhoeffer, a brave pastor-theologian, may inspire a wave of new “incarnational seminaries.”

Could it be that in an age when the future of American theological education is in question, we’re actually on the precipice of a great theological reformation? If so, we’ll need new models for training, and no model may be better than that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as captured in Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision.

Paul R. House. Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 207 pp. $17.99.

David Schrock (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lives in Seymour, Indiana. For the last year he has worked with other local pastors to start a theological seminary in Indianapolis. He is married to Wendy, and they have three sons, Titus, Silas, and Cohen. He blogs at Via Emmaus.

by David Schrock at August 24, 2015 05:02 AM

A Call for a More Reflective Christianity

I remember sitting with a young man in our church in a diner near my office. He was frustrated with me. For two months now, we’d been meeting about his anxiety. It wasn’t chronic or crippling, but it tended to put him on edge and came with occasional outbursts of anger his young wife and daughter had to deal with. Sitting in the same diner two months before, he had asked for help and we had agreed to start meeting. He wanted to change. He had punched a hole in his apartment wall and it scared his daughter and enraged his wife. He didn’t want to be like that. 

It had been two months, but he was still edgy and still couldn’t resist the urge to fly off the handle. He was irritated. The problem, he suspected, was in my counsel. That may be, I confessed, but nevertheless, change takes time. The more he insisted this wasn’t working, the more I realized what he wanted was a technique, not transformation.

Victims of a Calculating Existence 

In 1955, the famous philosopher Martin Heidegger gave an address on the importance of a “reflective mind.” He looked around at the state of his day and warned his listeners they were in jeopardy of losing something fundamental to our humanity: the ability to reflect. He called his age a “calculating” age. They were driven by technique and up-to-date data for success, which was prohibiting deep reflection and self-correction.

Taking a look around today, I can’t imagine Heidegger would say things have improved. In fact, he might accuse our age not only of consenting to a technique-driven mentality, but of being obnoxious about it. We look for an “expert” in our area of interest, who has a technique, and then we apply it to our situation, hoping for success. We download the “9 quick steps to a better X” and the “10 rules for a successful Y.” 

The problem is that these techniques tend to oversimplify human complexities, human relationships, personal experiences and histories, and other dynamics that create problems or hindrances to success. And so we drop the technique whenever it fails us and start looking for a new one. We adapt this technique-driven life to our spirituality, our work, our leadership, our marriages, our parenting, our friendships. What Heidegger saw in the technique-driven life was a pervasive indifference to reflection, a danger of becoming victims of a “calculating existence.”

Emotional Intelligence 

Edwin Friedman observed (in 1996!) in his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix that our society is in a data deluge and that we depend on the newest techniques like an addict depends on the next hit. This kind of dependence, he wrote, “erodes . . . confidence, judgment, and decisiveness” and lives with the illusion that “if only we knew enough, we could do (or fix) anything” or that “we failed because we did not use the right technique.”’

This mindset, Friedman noted, prohibits leaders, parents, families, and clergy from entering into the “emotional process” of difficulty and shaping others into deeper persons—persons with more resources in their emotional, spiritual, and intellectual bank to face the challenges of life.

This is what people mean when they talk about “emotional intelligence.” Emotional intelligence has a wide variety of usages, but Dan Allender defines it as the ability to “step into the morass of hurt, accusation, and defenses in order to hear and see the real issues.” He calls it “wisdom tempered.”

The one not over-dependent on new data or the next technique has slowly garnered wisdom and “emotional intelligence.” Therefore, they can draw on creativity, intuition, wisdom, freedom, commitment, and passion for every challenge or crisis.

Psalm 107’s Path

In Psalm 107, the psalmist gives four test cases that can help us in this regard. He lays out situations in which a person or group was in extreme need, whether through mere circumstance or personal sin, and yet was delivered by God every time. Each test case ends the same way: “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man.” In other words, God’s love and deliverance should produce thanksgiving. The entire psalm concludes, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.”

The wise considers his life and ponders his circumstances, ultimately to see God’s hand and steadfast love during any challenge or difficulty. The fool goes on with his life without attending to how deeply God has loved him. In each of the four cases, the subjects had to be confronted in either their weakness or their sin—and had to either change or repent.

The new techniques, quick fixes, and “9 steps” tend to sidestep this sort of self-correction. They offer an easier path, but the easier path offers a small return. The wise, however, experience fullness: “For he satisfies the longing soul, the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Ps. 107:9). The psalmist knows he feels the pangs of hunger when he resists the quick fixes, but it’s a hunger the Lord satisfies with good things.

Learning a Reflective Life 

The mindset the psalmist suggests is hard to maintain. It is contrary to the technique-driven life. In order to live a reflective life, then, you must be okay with the tension of not always having immediate answers and quick fixes. You must be patient with people, with prayer, and with the Spirit of God for wisdom. You must be comfortable with failure and with repentance. You must be okay with other people’s successes while you are tangled in trials. None of us are good at those things, naturally.

Maybe the first stage in the reflective life is to find someone wise to follow. Someone who has experienced difficulty and challenges with joy and creativity. This isn’t likely the person who forwarded you the article titled “9 Ways to Start Your X.” They are likely patient, tender, prayerful, and joyful. They listen well. They don’t try to do everything “efficiently,” but prayerfully. Frankly, they’re probably older. Spend time with them and you may not immediately become wise, but you’ll at least know where wisdom dwells.

John Starke is pastor of preaching at Apostles Church in New York City and co-editor of One God in Three Persons (Crossway, 2015). You can follow him on Twitter.

by John Starke at August 24, 2015 05:02 AM

Making Music with Echoes of Eden and Longings for Heaven

Soon after being a contestant in the fifth season of American Idol, Dave Radford went to college to study vocal performance and music education. He struggled walking consistently with the Lord, but he quickly came in contact with a serious community of Christians through Cru and got plugged into a gospel-preaching church.

“It was during this time that I truly began to understand what it meant to know the Lord,” he says. “I began to understand the gospel more and more so that it affected every aspect of my life. I grew more spiritually in two years than I could have hoped for. The gospel began to permeate all of my thoughts and, without thinking, the gospel started to become a major theme in my songwriting.”

Fast forward almost 10 years later and Dave is married to Licia, and together they formed a band named The Gray Havens, a self-described “folk-pop duo whose unique artistry draws from such influences as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Jonathan Edwards.” 

Last year they released their full-length album, “Fire and Stone” [iTunes]. I spoke with Dave about their newest album, how Tolkien influences his songwriting, why heaven is such a dominant theme in his music, and more.

You and your wife go by The Gray Havens, which I’m guessing is a play on J. R. R. Tolkien’s final chapter of the Lord of the Rings trilogy “The Grey Havens.” How did you two decide on the name? What influence has Tolkien had on your music and writing?

We were on a deadline to print our first CD and didn’t have a band name. We reached out to our Kickstarter backers and “The Gray Havens” came back as a suggestion that we really liked (definitely a Tolkien reference). It’s hard to overstate Tolkien’s influence and value. The imagination, attention to detail, and authenticity portrayed in The Lord of the Rings is unparalleled. I try to emulate the same kinds of qualities in my songwriting. He also placed an incredibly high value on music and song (even over poetry and prose!), which I very much appreciate.

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It's evident you do a fair bit of fiction reading. Your music is laced with narrative and stories. What kinds of books inform and shape your creative life? Are there non-fiction books that have also been key in your life and thinking as an artist?

It’s funny because I’m always asking everyone else that same question. To my detriment, I’m not a very patient reader and don’t finish a lot of the books I start (my wife, Licia, is the opposite). The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia aside (which have significantly shaped my writing), I like anything with a good plot, preferably fast paced, that has creatively descriptive writing and themes like:

1. Escape from time 2. Escape from death 3. Relationship with non-human beings 4. Love that never ends 5. Good triumphing over evil 

I wrote down these themes while listening to Tim Keller talking about Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories.” Stories aside, I would say my main inspiration for writing has come from listening to great contemporary preaching and teaching from men like John Piper, Tim Keller, Jerram Barrs, Joe Rigney, and others.

Your first EP album “Where Eyes Don’t Go” (2012) is permeated with C. S. Lewis references. One of my favorite songs is “Music from a Garden,” a reference to Aslan's creation of Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew. What were you aiming for here? Did you write most of the songs with Lewis on your mind?

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That song was a sort of melding between Genesis 1 and a chapter from The Magician’s Nephew where Aslan sings Narnia into existence. I listened to a recording of a Jerram Barrs talk given years ago titled “Echoes of Eden” [later expanded as a book]. The idea is one of living in exile from paradise yet still having trace “memories” of what we’ve been exiled from, though we’ve never been there. Lewis likened it to “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” We hear the echoes with a longing that’s both sorrowful for what was lost and yet hope-filled for what is to come.  In “Jack and Jill, pt. 2” you creatively reimagine Jack (of the nursery) dead and in heaven. It's a fun song as Jack sees a Lamb white as snow. What’s going on?

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I was looking for a plausible way to lyrically transfer the main character of the song into a different world than his own (totally plausible, I know). It seemed that having the character hit his head and wake up as though in a dream might work, which reminded me of Jack and Jill. Once that happened, the proverbial nursery rhyme floodgates were opened, beginning with “Mary had a little lamb and he was white as snow.” I wrote this when I was around 20 years old and tested it on my siblings, thinking they would veto the idea immediately. Surprisingly, they showed enthusiasm and so I kept going that direction. 

What’s your favorite song on the album? Which was most challenging to write? 

My favorite song on the album is “Far Kingdom,” proabably for reasons I’ll hint at in the next question (I peeked). However, when it comes to a particularly challenging song to write, “Stole My Fame” definitely qualifies. It’s a bit angsty and ethereal (which I was not used to), probably influenced from listening to “Florence + the Machine.” Lyrically it goes after the turmoil that stems from not being able to take credit for anything you accomplish, cycling through emotions of complaint, humility, and ultimately joy. This is probably our favorite song to perform live since it’s so different from anything else we’ve done (and because we always invite a couple people from the audience to join us on stage to play percussion). 

&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;http://thegrayhavens.bandcamp.com/album/fire-and-stone&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; href=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;http://thegrayhavens.bandcamp.com/album/fire-and-stone&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Fire and Stone by The Gray Havens&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;

The album’s final song, “Far Kingdom,” returns to a familiar theme in your music: heaven, the joys that await us there, and our longing for God’s presence. It’s a gentle, meditative song. What keeps you returning to this theme?

&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;http://thegrayhavens.bandcamp.com/album/fire-and-stone&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; href=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;http://thegrayhavens.bandcamp.com/album/fire-and-stone&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Fire and Stone by The Gray Havens&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;

I think about heaven all the time. It probably resurfaces more in my writing than any other topic. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards (representing the old dead guys team) and Randy Alcorn and Sam Storms (the other team) are my influences here. I owe each of these men a great debt for deepening my understanding of how Scripture portrays the joys of eternity. The promises are staggering.

For instance, upon entering into heaven, joy in God will be eternally full and, at the same time, increasing. Imagine the most joy you’ve ever experienced in single moment. Multiply that by a thousand. That might be what you feel upon seeing Christ face to face for the first time. Take that joy and multiply it by a million (you can do this because you have an ever-increasing capacity to keep up with it). Multiply that joy by a billion, and then the whole process by another billion. At this point, you haven’t come close to enjoying (or knowing) all that Christ is because he is infinite and unsearchable. That’s where I want to be. 

Ivan Mesa serves as an editor for The Gospel Coalition where he oversees book reviews. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Louisville, Kentucky, and are members of Clifton Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter

by Ivan Mesa at August 24, 2015 05:01 AM

Everything Is Not Meaningless

Editors’ note: This series analyzes perplexing passages of the Bible. Previously:

“Completely meaningless,” Qohelet said, “completely meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Eccl. 1:2)

Thus begins the reflections of Qohelet, often translated Teacher (NIV) or Preacher (ESV), though the Hebrew Qohelet means neither, but rather Assembler. Later we will consider the significance of this name, but first we will explore the significance of Qohelet’s conclusion that everything is meaningless.

To properly understand the book of Ecclesiastes it’s critical to understand there are two speakers with separate messages in the book, not just one. Qohelet speaks in the first person (“I, Qohelet”) in the body of the book (1:12–12:7), but his words are framed (1:1–11 and 12:8–14) by a second speaker who talks about Qohelet (“he, Qohelet”).

The Message of Qohelet

Simply stated, Qohelet’s message is this: “Life is hard and then you die.” He has tried to find the meaning of life in wisdom, pleasure, work, wealth, status, and relationships and has come up empty.

Three factors render life meaningless. First, death renders life meaningless. Qohelet has no confidence in an afterlife. One grows old and dies. “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it” (12:7), a reversal of God’s creation of Adam (Gen. 2:7). Thus, wisdom may have limited value over folly, but death renders even wisdom meaningless (2:12–17).

Second, injustice renders life meaningless. If there is no afterlife, then perhaps meaning might be found in rewards in this life for the godly, wise, righteous person. However, Qohelet’s experience indicates that life doesn’t work that way. He’s seen “a righteous person perishing in his righteousness, and . . . a wicked person living long in his evil” (7:15).

Third, humanity’s inability to discern the proper time renders life meaningless. As the well-known poem beginning in Ecclesiastes 3:1 describes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven.” Indeed, the wisdom enterprise in the Bible depends on the sage’s ability to discern the right time for the right word and the right time for the right action. But, according to Qohelet, even though God has “made everything appropriate in its time . . . no one can discover what God is doing from beginning to end” (3:11).

For these reasons, there is no meaning in life. The best one can do in the light of the human predicament is carpe diem, that is, grab whatever gusto one can in life. Of the six times Qohelet urges his hearers to carpe diem (2:24–26; 3:12–14, 22; 5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7–10), the most telling is 5:18–20 where Qohelet states that those who are able to carpe diem do “not remember much about the days of their lives for God keeps them so busy with the pleasure of their heart.” In other words, those who carpe diem can at least distract themselves momentarily from the harsh reality that life is difficult and ends in death.

Is Qohelet Solomon?

Qohelet’s message is indeed sad, but it’s not the message of the book any more than the message of the book of Job is that of Job’s three friends. But before proceeding to the message of the frame narrator, it’s important to reflect on the significance of the name Qohelet.

Qohelet, as mentioned above, can best be translated “Assembler.” It is a nickname, not a proper name, and serves to associate Qohelet with Solomon. I say “associate” rather than “identify” since it’s unlikely Qohelet is Solomon, as has been noted by numerous interpreters since Luther (including Moses Stuart, Franz Delitiszch, and E. J. Young, among many others). Today very few commentators—including evangelical commentators—think Qohelet is Solomon. After all, if Qohelet is Solomon, why use a nickname like Qohelet? And why are there so many passages in which Qohelet speaks of the king as a third party (1:16a; 4:1–3; 5:8–9; 10:20)?

So why even bother to associate Qohelet with Solomon in the first part of the book when Qohelet searches for meaning in wisdom, wealth, work, status, and pleasure? Well, the readers of the book would remember the story of King Solomon, the king who had it all. He had more wisdom than anyone, more wealth, more pleasure (remember he had hundreds of wives and concubines). He was, speaking anachronistically and a bit flippantly, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Hugh Hefner all rolled up into one. But all that wealth, wisdom, and pleasure was not enough for Solomon, who ended his life a sad apostate. The message for the reader of Ecclesiastes, then, is a warning not to live with the illusion that “if I only had more” (money, wisdom, pleasure), then I would be satisfied with life.

More than Life Under the Sun

But what’s the message of the second wise man? First of all, there’s a reason why he’s exposed his son to Qohelet’s thinking. After all, Qohelet wrote “honest words of truth” (12:10). But he also warns his son that such thinking is not only instructive but painful (“like goads . . . like firmly implanted nails”), and that he shouldn’t become obsessed with such thinkers (“Furthermore, of these, my son, be warned! There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body,” 12:12).

The second wise man commends Qohelet as an example of honest thinking about life “under the sun.” In essence he’s saying, “Son, Qohelet is 100 percent correct. Under the sun, life is difficult and then you die.”

However, the second wise man goes on to encourage his son toward what we might call an “above the sun” perspective: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of humanity. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil” (12:13–14).

The take-home message of Qohelet is brief, but packed with meaning. The second wise man tells his son to establish a right relationship with God (“Fear God”) and maintain that relationship by obeying his commands and living life in the light of the future judgment. We might anachronistically say that he speaks of justification, sanctification, and eschatology in a verse and a half.

In my opinion, it’s also likely that these final two verses, written toward the end of the Old Testament time period, allude to the three-part Hebrew canon: “Fear God” (the Writings), “obey the commandments” (Torah), and the future judgment (Prophets). Thus the father tells his son (and later readers) he shouldn’t try to find meaning under the sun, but only in God. Put God first and then everything else can find its proper place.

Ecclesiastes in Light of Christ

As a final comment on Ecclesiastes’ message, we turn to the one place in the New Testament that alludes to the book:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it. (Rom. 8:18–20)

The word frustration (mataiotes) is the Greek word used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word meaningless (hebel) in Ecclesiastes. Paul points out, through the use of the divine passive, that God subjected the creation to frustration (an obvious allusion to the Fall). Thus when Qohelet sought to find meaning “under the sun”—that is, in a fallen world—he was doomed to failure.

Paul, however, does not stop there. He goes on to speak about how the creation was subjected to frustration “in hope, that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into freedom and glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20–21).

The apostle here speaks of the gospel. Jesus subjected himself to the fallen world (Gal. 3:13; Phil. 2:6–11) in order to free us from the curse of the Fall. He even suffered death, the thing that rendered Qohelet’s life meaningless, in order to liberate us from the sting of death.

Reading the book of Ecclesiastes in light of the New Testament points us to Jesus in whom our lives find true meaning. 

Tremper Longman (PhD, Yale) is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College. He is the author of many books, including the commentary on Ecclesiastes for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series. He and his friend and psychologist Dan Allender have also written Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life, also based on the book of Ecclesiastes.

August 24, 2015 05:00 AM

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

Smeagol Nielson Hayden

As regular readers of this column know, there was a Hugo Award ceremony this weekend. Speaking personally, let me say that I had a lovely time visiting with friends and meeting fans.

I was asked beforehand more than once if I thought there would be any unpleasantness or insults from the few but vocal pests in jest I call Morlocks who have been steadily infiltrating and corrupting the science fiction community in general, and the Hugo Award process in particular, over the last twenty years.

I answered in the negative. The Morlocks are a cowardly lot, and would not dare say to my face the foolish lies they say behind my back on the internet. Besides, like me, they came to have a good time and to celebrate our mutual love of science fiction, and applaud in the fashion of good sports what we each severally take to be the best the genre offers. I thought there would be no incident.

I am sad to report that I was mistaken. The Archmorlock himself displayed his courage against the short and girlish figure of my meek and gentle wife.

At the reception just before the Awards Ceremony itself, my lovely and talented wife, who writes for Tor books under her maiden name of L Jagi Lamplighter, and who had been consistently a voice of reason and moderation during the whole silly kerfluffle, approached Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden at the party to extent to him the olive branch of peace and reconciliation.

Before she could finish her sentence, however, Mr. Hayden erupted into a swearing and cursing, and he shouted and bellowed at the tiny and cheerful woman I married.

I should mention that during the last few months of the Sad Puppies kerfluffle, I once upon a time accurately described him, Mr. Moshe Feder, and Mrs Irene Gallo of Tor Books as ‘Christ Haters.’ The support of abortion, sodomy, and euthanasia rather unambiguously put a soul into the position of open rebellion against Christian teachings. In addition, any man who bears false witness against his neighbor, delights in poison-tongued gossip, and destroys writing careers of anyone who does not support his politics not only disobeys Christ, but violates the ordinary decency of ordinary men of good will of any faith.

It seems that Mr. Hayden is a Roman Catholic and was so deeply moved to offense by my words that he could not retain a levelheaded and professional demeanor while speaking with my short little wife. He shouted filthy words at her and stormed off. I do not know if there were tears in his eyes.

Before I continue, I should explain to the reader that Mr. Hayden, and no one else, was the driving force behind the corruption of the Hugo Awards in these last fifteen to twenty years.

It was he who spearheaded the infiltration what had once been the fans’ award and expression of love for the most excellent work in the field.

Once, the Hugos were the popular award given to the best works by Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Bob Silverberg, Ursula K LeGuin and Harlan Elison, and Roger Zelazny. After much patient effort, the Hugo Awards, together with the SFWA (the Science Fiction Writers of America) were controlled by a small clique of like minded creatures loyal to Mr. Hayden.

Thereafter, the Hugo voters awarded awards to the Tor authors Mr. Hayden selected based on their political correctness, and expelled those whose politics the clique found not to their taste.

None of this was done on merit. Editors and writers in the field have been silence or shoved to the sidelines thanks to the action of the clique. I mention no names in public, but those in the field recall the various false accusations leveled against numbers of people, both working for Tor and outside.

So, in effect, the Hugo Award became the Tor Award. It was given, over and over again, to works of modest merit (such as REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi) or none at all (“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt) or selected solely on the grounds of their promoting political correctness or sexual abnormalities (“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu).

I should also mention something of which I was previously unaware, but which a close friend (who happens to be a tireless and diligent librarian researcher) explained to me in some detail.

It seemed that the monster known as Vox Day is a creation entirely of Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Theodore Beale, some years ago, was a well respected judge of the Nebula Award committee for SFWA, and a writer of a libertarian column for a conservative website. Out of the blue, unprovoked, and unannounced,  Mr. Hayden launched a series of bitter personal attacks against Mr. Beale. The two men were not acquaintances, and the attacks were based solely on the conservative or libertarian ideas Mr. Beale express in a column written for a conservative or libertarian readership in a conservative journal.

It was thought policing pure and simple. Reading back through the archives and old comments, one is astonished to come across a remark by John Scalzi chiding Mr Hayden for being a thought policeman, and criticizing an author’s outside political writings into the discussion. This was before Mr. Scalzi became the bootlicking toady of Mr. Hayden, obviously.

Even more astonishing, the remarkable and controversial stances Mr. Beale delights to strike were nowhere in evidence in those pre-Hayden days, nor is there is single comment by any woman anywhere that he was anything other than a perfect gentleman. Mr. Beale’s opinions about the scientific basis of an alleged genetic equality of the races and sexes appear to have been provoked (at least at first) by sheer, cussedly perverse delight in pointing out the flaws and blindspots in Mr. Hayden’s political dogmas.

So both the corruption of the Hugos AND the rebellion of the Rapid Puppies against that corruption are laid square at the doorstep of Mr. Hayden.

This is the man who ruined the Hugos, and is in the process of ruining Tor Books.

I am, in all modesty, a skilled author, one of the finest writing today. I intend to write no more books for Tor, until, at the very least, I am ameliorated for the unprofessional behavior shown in public toward that other loyal Tor author, L Jagi Lamplighter, my wife.

Tor, thanks once more to Mr. Hayden, has lost the otherwise unshakeable love and loyalty of one of their more skilled writers, namely, yours truly. (I say one because my wife is an unnaturally forgiving and kindhearted woman, and I cannot guess her mind in this matter.)

But there is one note of hope in all this petty bitterness.

Of all the things said or written since first Larry Correia announced that the craptastification of the Hugo Awards created Sad Puppy syndrome and was the leading cause of puppy sadness, this comment alone, my observation that Mr Hayden and his cronies are Christ Haters, is the one that provoked him to this undignified and petulant display.

I was unaware that he was a Roman Catholic. This is cause for immense hope. He could go tomorrow, nay, today, to a confessional booth, receive the sacrament, and save his darkened soul from damnation.

He could take the host tomorrow, nay, today, and the evil spirit of malice, greed, stupidity and sloth which had been darkening his intellect and casting such a shadow of malodorous corruption across our whole genre could be fumigated, or, to use a more accurate word, exorcised.

It could happen in a moment, in a miracle. All of the last twenty years of crap that has been given awards, and all of the careers stifled or ruined by this man, all the promising books that never saw the light of day because they were shouldered aside by poorly-written uber-Leftist propaganda penned by freaks who hate our genre and despise our founding members — all that could be forgiven by heaven and not held against Mr. Hayden’s account on Judgement Day.

Two decades and more of lies, lies, lies could be sponged away in once second of absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation. All he has to do is kneel and ask.

We must certainly pray for this poor, sad little man and all the damage he has done to the esteem of our genre, the people he has hurt, and the careers his malice has ruined.

That damage will not be sponged away in a year, or in a decade, if ever, but at least one human soul could be saved.

Why does this hope leap up in my heart? Because if Mr. Hayden were truly and utterly lost, it would not bother him to hear his support of contraception, abortion, sodomy and euthanasia called Christ-hatred. Christ said that we who love Him does what He says. Those who do the opposite, and who hate and persecute the body of Christ, hate Christ.

Sin darkens the intellect. Sin makes you stupid. Support for contraception tempts the weakminded to support the sexual revolution hence to support abortion; support for the sexual revolution require the normalization of divorce, then fornication, then perversion; support for abortion tempts the weakminded to support euthanasia, because human life is no longer sacrosanct, but instead merely an adjunct to human bodily pleasure. Once an otherwise intelligent and decent man is convinced all these abominations and horrors are moral, he has a visceral hatred of morality, of decency, and of honest, and he soon learns to hate decent and honest people.

This unfortunately involves a corruption of the taste as well. The beauty’s of God’s cosmos and the wonder of it no longer please the Gollum. The wretched soul expresses indifference, and soon comes to despise all things bright and beautiful, including that sense of wonder, and that exercise of the powers of speculation and imagination which characterize the science fiction genre.

I am not saying sin makes one come hate science fiction. I am saying sin makes one come to hate anything and everything that is filled with fun, and wonder, and pleasure, and delight. The Enemy hates us because we bear the image of Christ in us, and so anyone who hates Christ, sooner or later, comes to hate humanity.

But anyone who turns away and returns to God — and we Roman Catholics have a wide number of sacraments and long memory of traditions to help and aid the angels and saints in their mighty works — anyone who repents can be saved from all that.

Even he can be saved. Even a man like Mr Hayden, who screamed at my wife and his authoress, because his conscience was pricking him, even he can be saved. (More to the point, even I can be, provided I answer enmity and malice with love and compassion.)

Answering malice with compassion is impossible for any Son of Adam to do in the long run, but not for any Son of the New Adam who puts his heart in the pierced but omnipotent hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

by John C Wright at August 24, 2015 03:49 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

Digitize the Planet

I know it’s been announcement city over here for the past week and a half. Here’s the last piece in the puzzle: trying to solve the biggest looming problem for online libraries and archives.

So, people get it: When items are online, they become infinitely more useful. They can transfer instantly, they can be viewed through a wide variety of means, and automatic scripts and robots can have their way with the data, producing all sorts of additional information by analyzing them. Digital is good. Digital is top-shelf fantastic, actually. Digital’s the way to go.

But.

Once people realize that digital is the way to go, they assume institutions like the Internet Archive, with its massive scanning operations and other ingestion abilities, must be able to work like Doc Brown’s Mr. Fusion.

mrfusion

Nnnnnnnope.

I mean, make no mistake, the Archive can digitize a hell of a lot, and there’s a pile of projects going on right now – they digitize a thousand books every single day, and they’re duping records, videocassettes and other media in at a fantastic rate. But as this happens, so does word that things are available, and then a grateful and well-meaning audience wants to send even more stuff into the machine to be processed.

And as people achieve enlightenment about the awesomeness of the archive, they start assuming that sending in 20-30 crates of “stuff” means that stuff will just slip into the stacks with no issues. And at some point, unless there’s funding attached, that’s just not going to be true. There’s a line at the door, trust me.

Meanwhile, the Archive’s machines and servers can provide instant, accessible homes to digital files almost instantly – if you upload an .ISO, or a PDF or a MP3 file, it knows just what to do. And when you add the metadata/information about that file, we end up with a nice little entry indeed. That is going incredibly well.

So here’s my solution, which I hope is obvious:

Teach everyone to digitize. 

Tell people what tools, practices, and methods they need to turn stuff in their house or place of business into digital files. Give them links to the software that will work on their platform of choice. Provide tips for getting the best capture. Inform them about the importance of descriptions and how that’s done. And for people who are with unusual formats or who don’t feel comfortable with the above, give them links to people and places who are comfortable and can work with them to make it work.

And tell them all the related stuff, too – how to digitize without destroying the originals, how to track down rare stuff or verify it’s not already online, and how to be hero of your particular culture or community in getting it stored away.

In doing this, a whole range of disparate, non-specific pages out there that cover this and that will be added into a central clearinghouse of CC0-licensed information that will spread far and wide.

It’s the next logical step.

So, it is with great pleasure I announce the DIGITIZE THE PLANET WIKI.

http://digitize.archiveteam.org

AsciiGlobe

Naturally, as it has been up for about 3 hours, it’s very scant. A lot has to be added. But collaborating, and with clear goals in place, I expect to begin assembling a large amount of information in a short period of time. It’s all out there, after all.

The goal is that a person with neat “stuff”, or thousands of such people, can begin going after a whole range of materials and bring them online, for the world to share. Let’s turn this into a flood, a massive wave of items that had no advocate, who have no foundation to grant them immortality. I’d love to see placemats, training VHS tapes, old cassettes, and all the knowledge of the underground and overlands get into the Archive (and other repositories).

It’s the future. Building a library, together.

Let’s see how it goes.

by Jason Scott at August 24, 2015 01:19 AM

Roads from Emmaus

What is the Secret to Eternity?

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost / Twelfth Sunday of Matthew, August 23, 2015 I Corinthians 15:1-11; Matthew 19:16-26 Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. “What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” ... READ MORE ›

The post What is the Secret to Eternity? appeared first on Roads from Emmaus.

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at August 24, 2015 01:08 AM

August 23, 2015

Karen De Coster

Ban Everything

This is how our parents wheeled the brood around in the 60s. Before there were Safety Nazis and an omnipotent Nanny State. Now, such a thing would warrant a visit from Child (un)Protective Services.

safety belt

by Karen De Coster at August 23, 2015 09:33 PM

52 years of 911 →

I'm not a huge Porsche fan, but the 911 is a fascinating study in how a design language can work for decades.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 23, 2015 05:58 PM

Karen De Coster

Unenforceable Laws Work So Well

Again, government policy to “ban” behavior only shifts the burden to another form of the same behavior. And the results are even worse. Folks now hold their phones down low instead of upward, as they drive, causing them to take their eyes off the road entirely, causing more crashes.

It’s illegal to text while driving in most U.S. states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban, compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.

by Karen De Coster at August 23, 2015 11:09 AM

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

Quote of the Day

There are times when a man grows breathless at the sheer dizzying artistry of a genius of poetry.

This is from a commenter named Steve over at the Vox Day website:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/they-proved-larry-right.html?showComment=1440400310261#c3182311945030057222

If we were to erect a monument to the spirit of our age, it wouldn’t be something sublime like the Eiffel Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica or the Empire State Building. No grandiose frescos would decorate it. No wondrous ostentations in gold leaf and lapis lazuli would adorn it. No clean-limbed marble statuary would guard it.

No, it’d be a squat, ugly thing, like a paleolithic fertility fetish or a Morlock or typical WorldCon polyamory enthusiast. It would be sexless, androgynous and gendernonconforming all at the same time, and rendered in drab wattle and daub. Its most striking feature would be a great big mealy mouth, from which would drip liquid bromides and taurine fecal matter. Hordes of hooting crypto-humanoids in their mobility scooters would gather under this toxic shower to pray for equality and more all-you-can-eat buffets.

I am so putting that Morlock statue in my next book, somehow. Damn that is a fine bit of imagery.

by John C Wright at August 23, 2015 07:19 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

In Realtime: Post-Mortem

I’m just keeping the theme with the title. Future postings will be less obscure.

20150819_171430

This is a wrap up and list of conclusions after this grand experiment.

And an announcement.

But first things first.

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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WARNING TIME.

In my inbox, going back over a year (and going back years in my mail archives) are people letting me know about Stuff Going Away. When you’re known as someone who rails against needless lost of information and history, it stands to reason that folks will come running with news of most anything shutting down anywhere.

That’s how I was told there was some place with manuals that was going out of business at some point. And that’s how I mailed them last year, and that’s how I was on the phone with Becky, first and last employee of the Maryland edition of Manuals Plus, on a Wednesday. By Friday, I was visiting the warehouse. And by Monday, it was me and dozens of people loading things into boxes.

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I stress this because one needs to understand both the timeline and the swiftness of the operation that ensued, because a lot of criticisms or suggestions were simply not possible in the time given. That Said, I am happy to have them for the next time something like this crosses my life. It just wasn’t possible with such a small amount of warning.

Regarding warning: Yes, I was told that this place was closing, and in theory I could have cooked up some plans in the previous months, but the problem was the closing deadline kept shifting. Originally, there was talk of March 2015, and it wasn’t until August 2015 it was getting serious, like Becky calling me and telling me I better move on it immediately serious. It was easily possible that the owner might have decided to keep it. And this was not one of the major things on my radar my year – not even close. So that’s why it wasn’t until the Friday before that I found myself in the warehouse.

Which brings me to:

IN PERSON TRUMPS E-MAIL AND PHONE EVERY TIME

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Here’s Becky and I during the load. Becky and I had talked a couple times on the phone and multiple times on e-mail, but I could tell that with the owner, Nick, there needed to be a human being in the warehouse and not promises on the phone. I’m sure I’m not the only one with memories of someone talking grandiose schemes and solutions over the phone or in e-mail, building castles in the air. The problem is that it’s very easy for people to shoot out a bunch of promises, which are wishes instead of plans. I hopped into my car and drove 400 miles round trip for a one-hour conversation. That’s the big difference. Nick was affable in person, talked straight, and when I shared my ideas, he was all for it.

This was not a simple “whatever”, either. He was essentially saying “feel free to run wild in my storeroom I paid a lot of money for years earlier, and take whatever you want to”. That’s an enormous amount of trust to visit upon someone. And I think that showing I was willing to make that trip was what convinced him, as was my very long days being accessible and running things during the load-out week.

And that leads to the plan.

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THE PLAN WAS TO GET THINGS AS STABLE AS POSSIBLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AS EASILY AS POSSIBLE.

The shifting factor was the warehouse. The time constraint was the warehouse closing. Whatever could be done to stabilize those two situations was my priority.

Here, there could have been a wild amount of choices. If I’d had warning and could have talked to everyone I needed to at Internet Archive or another institution, I could have probably hired some tractor trailers, gotten some Gaylord containers (they’re huge, and forklift compatible), and just loaded the Gaylords up with documentation before sending it off to my institution’s warehouse.

Or I could have a pile of warehouses ready to go, along with people who loaned trucks, and we could have been in there with a fleet of trucks ready to go. That is, if we’d known it was going to happen when it did. But we didn’t.

It’s the speed that was the key factor. That’s why I went for a local storage facility, a local moving company, and bouncing between them as fast as possible – the storage facility was stable (and under contract, not favors), and I could keep renting more space as it became obvious we had a gross underestimation of how much there was.

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THERE WAS A LOT MORE STUFF THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT.

The “25,000 manuals” came from an estimate of “21,000 manuals” that I thought was low. We are sure this is 50,000 manuals and it may be many more. And when it came to amount, we had bought a wildly-over-the-top 252 banker’s boxes until we found out that we really needed about 1,700. Nearly every estimate was low: the amount of stuff, the amount of boxes, how many people would be willing to show up, how many days we would have. This was all logistics 101, but that brings up the other positive:

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WE WERE RIDICULOUSLY FLEXIBLE.

Over the three days, we could stay late, we could pack more, we could move more and we could stop and go as we needed to. We weren’t locked into some hard dates and time, and Nick was very kind to keep extending us since we were essentially saving him recycling money by taking maximum amounts of stuff away.

WE DIDN’T HAVE ONE GEEK BREAKDOWN.

We were so lucky. Having dozens of people, especially really intense personalities involved in something like this meant there was potential for a real world-class meltdown. Either an argument over how things were doing, a “I don’t like this person” tantrum, or just a general “could you please not <thing you actually kind of have to do>”. I’m not saying conflict didn’t happen – I’m sure some people avoided each other or someone decided they’d had enough and quietly left the proceedings. But we didn’t have a meltdown, and that is very, very appreciated.

I ENCOURAGED THE WALKABOUT.

When people came in, I offered for them to spend 5 minutes just taking the place in. It helps, if you’re going to volunteer and be doing a simple thing in the corner for an hour, to walk around and understand what you’re dealing with and why you want to do it. Some people got tours from me, others were happy to walk through themselves. Some looked, and immediately turned and said “WHAT DO I DO”, and, well, that’s cool too.

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I LET PEOPLE PROVE THEMSELVES.

There were what I called “smart jobs” and “dumb jobs”, both of them vital. “Dumb jobs” didn’t require any particular training – things like “assemble these boxes out of cardboard” or “make sure there’s no empty boxes in the aisles”. The “Smart Jobs”, like “sort through these manuals to get the unique ones, including minor changes in revisions”, needed an eagle eye and endless concentration. Some people were up for that, others were not quite in the mood. There was also variant approaches, and some people took hours to do what others did in 15 minutes. That said, that was progress. By giving people lots of shelves to go over (there were over 300 shelves, after all), different approaches and skills with the sorting could co-exist. Also, people would go over other shelves that had been “done” and double check that was the case. It let us catch a lot.

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FOOD. REST.

We ordered pizza a lot. One volunteer brought in coolers and drinks. And if someone had to walk outside or smoke or just sit down, we let them. This wasn’t some insane army with punishments for walking off – this was a volunteer effort and it wasn’t right to call it anything else.

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YOU MUST ACCEPT THE SITUATION.

We did about 2+ months of work in 2 days. As I told each volunteer as they settled in, we were going to miss stuff, stuff was going to be destroyed, and yet every thing we picked out and put into a box would be, in some way, saved. If you launch into a project this large wanting the outcome to be 100% perfect, you’re going to have the aforementioned meltdown. You do your best – every move you take is improving the situation.

In the very rare cases where miscommunication meant someone had not pulled all the right things, it was trivial to have another person go through the shelf again. The attitude to take is that the second person wasn’t “fixing” the efforts of the first person – they were partners.

KEEP IT LIGHT.

 

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People kept coming back because the goal was obvious, the environment was self-directed, and people could talk and share stories. This happened a lot – I walked into lots of geeky and informed conversations from people who were just thrown together. We had families come, and everyone was shown a good time. And where possible, I tried to be funny, except where I was annoying the hell out of people. Well, maybe I kept trying, anyway.

NEVER, EVER, EVER FAIL TO INDICATE HOW YOU WERE JUST A DOPE WITH AN IDEA AND 70 PEOPLE DID THE REAL WORK.

It’s an easy narrative/headline to say “Jason Scott saved this.” no, no way. If this had been just me, it’d be a tiny fraction of what got out. No, people worked their asses off, much harder than me, and it was because of these selfless people that we ended up with the collection we did.

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PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU CAME AND ARE MISSING FROM THIS LIST.

The hundreds of people who sent in money to make it feasible to do all this.

Tim Skoczen, Reverend Ragnarok, Tom Miller, Darrell Kindred, Matthias Lee, Andrew Peterson, Mark Gifford, Rob “Deker” Dekelbaum, Rich Kulawiec, Anne Nester, Douglas Taylor, Effrem Norwood, Joe Hourcle, Brent Greissle, J. Alexander Jacocks, Jonathan Sturges, Pete Morici

AND NOW, A LITTLE ANNOUNCEMENT

One of the volunteers involved in the project, Daniel Siders, suggested that the goodwill and the interest in these types of project shouldn’t fade away with the completion of the main part of the Manuals Plus project. He instead proposed that there be something like Archive Team for physical rescues. Naturally, there’s a lot to learn in that space, but with a level of speed and radical approaches that worked for Archive Team, maybe something good will come of it.

Therefore, in one line, I announce: ArchiveCorps.

by Jason Scott at August 23, 2015 04:16 AM

August 22, 2015

Karen De Coster

Fed, Yellen, Interest Rates, Capital Markets – Roll Your Dice

To quote the mediameisters: “U.S. economic conditions are getting close to warranting America’s first interest rate hike since 2006. Or at least that’s what officials at the Federal Reserve thought in July…”

How many times have you seen that scaremongering tactic over the last two years? I peruse the news daily, looking for headlines such as, “The Federal Reserve faces a potential cliffhanger,” or “Fed may have just gotten a red light for rate hike” or “U.S. Economy ‘Approaching’ Interest Rate Liftoff” or “Yellen still thinks Fed will raise rates this year” or “she strongly hinted that rates will go up sooner rather than later” or …. you get the picture. It’s utter central planning, nightmare-ish madness intended to keep all of you in your begging chains and to keep the capital markets in a willy nilly state of absolute uncertainty so that economic actors have to throw darts at a board in their cubicle in order to make economic-financial decisions.

And the folks who *think* they comprehend the ultimate game plan because they can pick up a copy of The Wall Street Urinal, and read it, are the worst kind of tools for the Banksters, Central Planners, and other assorted fascists and hooligans who run this nation’s assorted monetary schemes and promise factories. Ask yourselves: how can the markets possibly function with the present being predictably unhinged and the future completely unpredictable?

Then there’s the propaganda assuring you all that the Bankster cartel is acting based on protecting your interests. So keep piling your dollars into your shoddy 401k catch-all, folks, and keep thinking that it’s an “investment” for which you are rightly entitled to, and for which nothing can go wrong. Somebody beam Janet Yellen up, please. And for all of you who have conveniently forgotten 2007-2008, somebody beam y’all up, too. Because you ain’t seen nothing yet. When all of this recklessness blows up, as it will again, the unsustainable that became the government-guaranteed unshakeable will become the unpronounceable.

by Karen De Coster at August 22, 2015 12:26 PM

CrossFit Naptown

WOD of the Week Vote

Sunday’s Workout:

 

11:00am-12:00pm and 12:00pm-1:00pm Open Gym

Wod of the week!

9-15-21 Thrusters and Burpees
3 Deadlifts, 2 Hang Power Cleans, 1 Push Jerk AMRAP double unders
Run 800, 30 Push Ups, 400 Run, 20 TTB, 200 Run, 10 dips
Row 500, Swing 50, Wall Ball 50: 3 Rounds
Tabata: Sit Up, Air Squat, Pull Up
Team Chipper

Poll Maker

by Anna at August 22, 2015 01:31 AM

August 21, 2015

ASCII by Jason Scott

A Small Dark Detour

As the story of the saved manuals gained steam, a greater audience of people began to be aware of it.

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Once you get past a few thousand, people start showing up who…. don’t forward the conversation. I just wanted to talk a little bit about that situation of the modern era, since I consider it one of my areas of study. As always, it’s good to have two different things going on at any time, so besides the manual recovery project was a study in how the internet at large responds to it, especially when there’s no particular “group” to go ad hominem on. (Sadly, a rarer sight in the present day.)

Let’s set aside the people who were positive (and they were the VAST MAJORITY), neutral, or didn’t comment.

Negative comments came in several forms.

First, the general opinion of the exact value of the manuals themselves and whether it was worth this much effort to take them elsewhere. Some people questioned the use and utility, while others (I assume) wished there was a way to wave a magic wand that had an LED display on the side showing the value.

Next, there were deep concerns about the process of how this was being done, with a lot of informed opinion coming from viewing the photos. One particular winning comment mentioned the volunteers should “stop wasting time reading” because they saw a photo of the volunteers looking at manual revisions. Others dreamed up grandiose saving schemes that assumed, fundamentally, that money and labor would be there, a non-guaranteed situation at best.

Finally, there was a range of commentary about the Manuals Plus company itself, with judgments all along the line of their business sense, approach to this dissemination, and, in one case, yes, a veiled physical threat.

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Obviously, considering how south things can go online, these are pretty minor disagreements. But they were strongly stated, intense, and reflective of how the medium seems to promote taking extreme stands. Subtlety isn’t welcome. Grace takes a back seat.

As someone who has grown up from the early days of consumer-grade online telecommunications to the present day, I don’t want to believe the patient is terminal. I want to hope that in the same way we no longer generally mess around with DNS settings like we used to and we no longer live under a financially ruinous telephone billing scheme, I’d hoped we’d start to have real, honest solutions to endless bad commentary issues other than “let the mob vote” and “hooray, we shut off comments, we are heroes”.

But more notable is that sense that people, faced with a situation going on, feel compelled to think they are a required part of the process, even if they contribute nothing more than literally noise. Paul Ford captured a lot of this in this essay in which he reveals that sense of “Why Wasn’t I Consulted” being a core value of the Internet as it is – that sense you’re a part of things that you are seriously not a part of.

The problem might be fundamentally human. Maybe there is no solution.

This was all a minor note, playing helplessly in the background, as a symphony of goodwill swelled around the world for this project. But it tells me there’s so much more to learn about this network we’ve built.

I’ll think about it, sleeping on this pile of manuals.

by Jason Scott at August 21, 2015 10:09 PM

Practically Efficient

Wolfram Alpha + LaTeX revisited

I mentioned before how useful it can be to evaluate numerical LaTeX expressions with Wolfram Alpha using Alfred. I still do that a lot, but now that I have a Wolfram Alpha pro subscription, I'm spending more time on the WA website itself to take advantage of features like calculation history.

Another benefit of being on the website is being able to visually see how WA interprets the code I enter. This is a fantastic way to verify that I entered the code that I thought I entered—especially for longer expressions that go beyond the visible boundary of the input field.

A recent example: I wanted to evaluate:

\frac{1677 - 1251.76}{1 + \frac{(1-0.004)}{1.04} + \frac{(1-0.004)(1-0.005)}{1.04^{2}} + \frac{(1-0.004)(1-0.005)(1-0.006)}{1.04^{3}}  }

The first time I copied this expression into WA, I accidentally missed the very last bracket, probably because there was some extra space in front of it.

I was able to quickly see that something was wrong since I intended the 1677 - 1251.76 term to be in the numerator.

So I tried again, making sure to capture all of the code, and got what I was looking for, including the numerical value of the expression, 113.41.

Being able to evaluate these expressions on the fly is a godsend and greatly reduces the chances for typos in the final document. As an added bonus, since WA generates a unique URL for each query, I can copy it into my .tex file as a comment for later reference. For example, here's the calculation above.

by Eddie Smith at August 21, 2015 05:15 PM

Front Porch Republic

The Good City and the Good Citizen

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Plato wasn’t the first to recognize the connection that exists between morality and community, though he was the first to give it philosophical expression. In the Republic, Plato saw psychological integrity and political stability as analogous. The well-ordered soul…

Read Full Article...

The post The Good City and the Good Citizen appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Berny Belvedere at August 21, 2015 04:48 PM

Englewood Christian Church: We Blog! » ERB

ERB Weekly Digest – Brené Brown, Stanley Hauerwas, Peter Enns, Ebook Bargains – August 21, 2015

 
 

Our new introductory reading guides to the work of:
 Brené Brown | Stanley Hauerwas

 

The excellent book The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns, is only $1.99 now for Kindle!
[ Get your copy now!

 


 

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

  • John J. Thompson – Jesus, Bread and Chocolate [Review]

    A Parable of Authenticity and Hope   A Feature Review of  Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World John J. Thompson Paperback: Zondervan, 2015 Buy now: [  ]  [ ] Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis   John J. Thompson’s Twitter profile describes him as a “music lifer from the faith-fueled […]
     

  • 5 Essential Ebook Deals for Christian Readers – 21 August 2015

    Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out: (Peter Enns, Cheryl Strayed, Bill McKibben, AJ Heschel, 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… Peter Enns *** $1.99 *** NEXT […]
     

  • Steven Green – Inventing a Christian America [Review]

    From Myth to History   Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding Steven K. Green Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2015 Buy now:  [ ]  [ ]   Reviewed by Michial Farmer       In March 2010, the Texas Board of Education found itself embroiled in a national controversy when it debated, and […]
     

  • Brené Brown – Introductory Guide to Her Work

    Next Tuesday willl see the release of Brené Brown’s latest book Rising Strong! In honor of the occasion, we offer an introductory reading guide to Brown’s previous work to get you up to speed…   Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.She has spent the past thirteen […]
     

  • Nancy Nordenson – Finding Livelihood [Review]

    Work and its Discontents   A Review of    Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure Nancy Nordenson Paperback: Kalos Press, 2015 Buy now:  [ ]   [ ]   Reviewed by David Clark     Nancy Nordenson’s most recent book, Finding Livelihood: A Progress of Work and Leisure, contains a collection of elegant […]
     

  • New Book Releases – Week of 17 August 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 Jen Hatmaker Read our interview with Jen Hatmaker about this book…  NEXT BOOK >>>>>
     

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by csmith at August 21, 2015 04:05 PM

Crossway Blog

August's New & Notable Books

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden

Kevin DeYoung; Illustrated by Don Clark

The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.

With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.

“I love what Kevin has done here! I’m buying a copy for each of my grandkids.”
—Rick Warren, #1 New York Times best-selling author, The Purpose Driven Life; Pastor, Saddleback Church

Learn More / Free Excerpt


Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God

Crawford W. Loritts

Calling Christians to a faith that does not waver in a God who does not lie, popular radio host and pastor Crawford Loritts challenges us to live fully for Christ, confident in God and his unshakable promises. Highlighting God’s faithfulness in the past, plan for the future, and presence for the here and now, Loritts will help you cultivate a bold faith capable of enduring whatever the world throws your way.

“If you spend any time with Dr. Loritts, you quickly learn that his greatest joy is serving others with a unique combination of grit, humility, and unwavering faith in God. I’m not at all surprised that his book Unshaken provides such an inspiring reminder of how potent our faith can be in every endeavor we pursue. He has lived out its pages for decades and his words are trustworthy.”
—Dan Cathy, Chairman, President, and CEO, Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Learn More / Free Excerpt


Writers to Read: Nine Names That Belong on Your Bookshelf

Douglas Wilson

If books are among our friends, we ought to choose them wisely.

But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. In Writers to Read, Doug Wilson—someone who’s spent a lifetime writing, reading, and teaching others to do the same—introduces us to nine of his favorite authors from the last 150 years, exploring their interesting lives, key works, and enduring legacies. In doing so, Wilson opens our eyes to literary mentors who not only teach us what good writing looks like, but also help us become better readers in the process.

“In Writers to Read, we find Wilson at his best: curating the authors who have inspired him and who he believes will galvanize the next generation with theological conviction and imagination. Highly recommended.”
—Gregory Alan Thornbury, President, The King's College; author, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism

Learn More / Free Excerpt


God's Kingdom through God's Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology

Peter J. Gentry & Stephen J. Wellum

In this abridgement of the groundbreaking book Kingdom through Covenant, a biblical scholar and a theologian offer readers an accessible overview of the overarching structure of the Bible. Tracing the significance of the concept of “covenant” through both the Old and New Testaments, this book charts a middle way between covenant theology and dispensationalism—exploring the covenantal framework undergirding the history of redemption.

God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants is hermeneutically sensitive, exegetically rigorous, and theologically rich—a first-rate biblical theology that addresses both the message and the structure of the whole Bible from the ground up.”
—Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

Learn More / Free Excerpt


Bavinck on the Christian Life: Following Jesus in Faithful Service

John Bolt

Herman Bavinck looms large as one of the nineteenth century's greatest Christian thinkers, contributing much to modern Reformed theology. Yet, despite his theological prowess, Bavinck was first and foremost concerned with being “a worthy follower of Jesus.” In this book, John Bolt—editor of the English edition of Bavinck’s four-volume masterpiece, Reformed Dogmatics—brings the great Dutch theologian’s life and work to bear on following Jesus in the twenty-first century, helping us see the direct connection between robust theology, practical holiness, and personal joy.

“In one seamless volume, Bolt shows how Bavinck’s contributions help correct our nearsightedness as we become tethered to his conviction that the Word of God is ever living and ever active in every day.”
—Gloria Furman, Pastor’s wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai; mother of four; author, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

Learn More / Free Excerpt


A Christian Guide to the Classics

Leland Ryken

In this brief guidebook, popular professor, author, and literary expert Leland Ryken explains what the classics are, how to read them, and why they’re still valuable. Written to help you become a seasoned reader and featuring a list of books to get you started, this guide will give you the tools you need to read and enjoy some of history’s greatest literature.

“Ryken is a warm and welcoming guide to the classics of Western literature. The books in this series distill complex works into engaging and relevant commentaries, and help twenty-first-century readers understand what the classics are, how to read them, and why they continue to matter.”
—Andrew Logemann, Chair, Department of English, Gordon College

Learn More / Free Excerpt


Tell Me the Story: A Story for Eternity (Redesign)

Max Lucado

It began with a dream in the heart of God.

Against the soundless sweep of infinity, the great Creator shaped a world and filled it with children made in his own image. And that world is now the stage where a great human drama is played—the fall of the human race, its redemption, the ongoing battle between good and evil, and the coming again of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Winner of The Gold Medallion Book Award, Tell Me the Story from best-selling author Max Lucado and award-winning illustrator Ron DiCianni offers parents a powerful tool for introducing their children to the overarching story of the universe. Combining engaging illustrations with sensitive narrative, this first volume in the “Tell Me” series helps prepare children to understand their place in God’s story and hear the voice of their heavenly Father.

Learn More / Free Excerpt

by Crossway at August 21, 2015 01:21 PM

Justin Taylor

3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Critique—done well—is a gift to the one being criticized. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Prov. 27:6a). We should welcome the opportunity to have our thinking corrected and clarified. We see see in a mirror dimly and we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12), but God has gifted the church with teachers who often see things more clearly than we do at present. In God’s providence and through the gift of common grace he may also use unbelievers to critique our views, showing our logical mistakes or lack of clarity.

Critique done poorly—whether through overstatement, misunderstanding, caricature—is a losing proposition for all. It undermines the credibility of the critic and deprives the one being criticized from the opportunity to improve his or her position.

It’s impossible in a blog post to set forth a comprehensive methodology of critique—if such a thing can even be done. But there are at least three exhortations worth remembering about criticism: (1) understand before you critique; (2) be self-critical in how you critique; (3) consider the alternatives of what you are critiquing.

1. Understand Before You Critique

Mortimer Adler makes the important point in  How to Read a Book:

Every author has had the experience of suffering book reviews by critic who did not feel obligated to do the work of the first two stages first. The critic too often thinks he does not have to be a reader as well as a judge. Every lecturer has also had the experience of having critical questions asked that were not based on any understanding of what he had said. You yourself may remember an occasion where someone said to a speaker, in one breath or at most two, “I don’t know what you mean, but I think you’re wrong.”

There is actually no point in answering critics of this sort. The only polite thing to do is to ask them to state your position for you, the position they claim to be challenging. If they cannot do it satisfactorily, if they cannot repeat what you have said in their own words, you know that they do not understand, and you are entirely justified in ignoring their criticisms. They are irrelevant, as all criticism must be that is not based on understanding. When you find the rare person who shows that he understands what you are saying as well as you do, then you can delight in his agreement or be seriously disturbed by his dissent. (pp. 144-145)

I do think we have to add at least one caveat to Adler’s perspective here. He is assuming goodwill upon the part of the one being criticized. In the last decade or so I’ve noticed theologians with novel interpretations or positions who perpetually protest that they are being misunderstood. At some point, we might judge that the theologian doth protest too much. If not even the most careful and considerate critiques can understand one’s point, it may be that there is some incoherence to the point itself. The idea that understanding and critiquing the theology of some folks is “like trying to nail jello to a wall” has now become a cliche—but the metaphor is apt and exists for a reason.

Nevertheless, Alder’s perspective is one we need to hear and to heed in so far as it depends on us. Viewed from a biblical perspective, there are moral imperatives bound up with the act of reading and critiquing. Jesus tells me to do unto others as I would have done unto me, and he tells me to love my neighbor as I love myself—and this includes how I interact and critique.

2. Be Self-Critical

John Frame, in a piece on “How to Write a Theological Paper,” makes the second point:

Be self-critical.

Before and during your writing, anticipate objections. If you are criticizing Barth, imagine Barth looking over your shoulder, reading your manuscript, giving his reactions. This point is crucial. A truly self-critical attitude can save you from unclarity and unsound arguments. It will also keep you from arrogance and unwarranted dogmatism—faults common to all theology (liberal as well as conservative).

Don’t hesitate to say “probably” or even “I don’t know” when the circumstances warrant. Self-criticism will also make you more “profound.” For often—perhaps usually—it is objections that force us to rethink our positions, to get beyond our superficial ideas, to wrestle with the really deep theological issues.

As you anticipate objections to your replies to objections to your replies, and so forth, you will find yourself being pushed irresistibly into the realm of the “difficult questions,” the theological profundities.

In self-criticism the creative use of the theological imagination is tremendously important. Keep asking such questions as these.

(a) Can I take my source’s idea in a more favorable sense? A less favorable one?

(b) Does my idea provide the only escape from the difficulty, or are there others?

(c) In trying to escape from one bad extreme, am I in danger of falling into a different evil on the other side?

(d) Can I think of some counter-examples to my generalizations?

(e) Must I clarify my concepts, lest they be misunderstood?

(f) Will my conclusion be controversial and thus require more argument than I had planned?

3. Offer Your Alternative

Millard Erickson, in an earlier edition of his Christian Theology (p. 61 in the 2nd edition) emphasizes an additional point:

In criticism it is not sufficient to find flaws in a given view. One must always ask, “What is the alternative?” and, “Does the alternative have fewer difficulties?” John Baillie tells of writing a paper in which he severely criticized a particular view. His professor commented, “Every theory has its difficulties, but you have not considered whether any other theory has less difficulties than the one you have criticized.”

Good criticism is hard work, and it’s necessary work until Christ returns. The above three points won’t prevent us from making every mistake, but they will help us be better critics and therefore better servants of God and truth.

by Justin Taylor at August 21, 2015 01:18 PM

The Urbanophile

When High Density Is Humane

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So many of the complaints about density seem to revolve around all the supposed negative affects of congestion, as well a general sense of the inhumanity of high density living, which in the popular mind is associated with the proverbial “concrete jungle” and a forest of skycrapers.

I can understand why many people want a house on a big lot. On the other hand, high density living, done right, can be extremely livable, humane, and even uncongested.

When I lived in Chicago I frequently would have people tell me that they couldn’t imagine themselves living in such a big, dense city. They no doubt had impressions of living there shaped by their visit to the Loop and other tourist areas, which are indeed crowded and have attributes of the concrete jungle.

But other than a narrow strip less than half a mile wide along the lakefront, most of Chicago isn’t built like that. Chicago actually has some of the most beautiful, livable streets and neighborhoods in America. Except for a few small areas with so-called WPA streets, its neighborhood streets have full infrastructure with generous sidewalks and parkways full of mature trees. Homeowners often landscape this and their front yard such that it’s like walking through a lavish garden simply to walk down the street. Alleys mean no trash in front and the city has virtually no on-street power lines. It also has full and amazing street lighting on streets and alleys. The building stock is mostly single family homes, 2- and 3-flats, and lowrise apartment buildings. Much of it is like a city in a garden.

My old neighborhood was Lakeview, which has 94,000 people in about 3.2 square miles, or 30,000 people per square mile. Yet its residential streets are quiet, tree-lined, and delightful – a far cry from the concrete jungle. Frankly, they are better than the average street in most Midwest cities.

Today I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This neighborhood is the second most dense in the entire city of New York, with 209,000 people in 1.9 square miles, or 110,000 per square mile – almost four times as dense as Lakeview and 25 times as dense as the city of Portland.

Given this density, you might think it would be a horrific urban nightmare to live in. Yet, it’s incredibly pleasant, bucolic even.

The picture at the top of this post is West 68th St., where I live. It’s a tree lined street of low to mid-rise buildings with mature trees and very little traffic. Contrary to the jackhammers all night long stereotype of New York, it’s very quiet.

Most of the streets in the UWS are similar: tree-lined, quiet, with beautiful low-rise brownstones and such. Here are a couple photos that I believe are both of West 69th.

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I should mention that behind these buildings, while there aren’t alleys, there are often interior courtyards between blocks with open space and greenery.

The avenues feature taller buildings, but while there are some skycrapers, there aren’t really that many. Here’s a stretch of Columbus Ave, with typical commercial-residential mixed use buildings. (The average is probably a bit more intense than this shot).

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Here’s the intersection of 72nd and Broadway, one of the major intersections in the neighborhood. There are some taller buildings and more intense retail, but a number of those buildings are just stunningly beautiful as well.

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West End Ave., one of the major residential avenues, has more mid-rise towers, but mostly beautiful pre-War buildings at around ~12-14 stories, or not much different from Barcelona.

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Central Park West is one of America’s premier streets, with similar sized buildings to WEA, many of them truly landmark designs, that overlook Central Park.

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Speaking of which, I am a five minute walk from Central Park, ten minutes from the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center (LC has more arts and culture going on than all but probably five total metro areas in the US), and about 15 minutes to the Hudson River greenway. There are two subway trunk lines passing through the area. Traffic moves very rapidly on the main avenues, which have synchronized lights, and you can often traverse almost the entire length of the UWS on say Columbus without stopping. The streets have very light traffic mostly except a handful of major crosstowns. The grid design makes navigation a snap. Accident rates are low.

Though not everybody is as close to Lincoln Center as I am, all of the UWS has good access to Central Park, subways, and the Hudson River. Other people are closer to other cultural amenities, such as the Natural History Museum.

While not every aspect of the UWS is positive, I feel very grateful to live here. It’s an extremely humane and pleasant place to live, despite the density. In fact, the main knock most people have on the UWS is that it’s so humane it’s boring.

I think the Upper West Side shows the elements you need to make density, even very high densities, work right, namely:

1. The right built form, with a variegated style of low to mid-rise buildings – not high rise – and lots of quiet, tree lined, side streets, with mostly high quality architecture.

2. Infrastructure, notably the subways.

3. Amenities like Central Park, the Hudson River, and Lincoln Center.

4. Well-functioning public services, especially public safety and sanitation.

The last one is of particular note, as the neighborhood was not as nice as it was today with only the first three. John Podhoretz, who grew up in the area in the 1970s, wrote about what it was like before order was restored. The musical West Side Story is actually set in the far south end of the neighborhood. (Lincoln Center, whatever its merits as a cultural district, was built as an urban renewal effort to get rid of the Puerto Ricans in the area). Central Park wasn’t much of an amenity when it wasn’t safe to go into it.

These obviously take wealth to sustain, but not all of it has to come from the neighborhood. Clearly the superior building stock came from neighborhood wealth, but parks, subways, etc. are paid for on a broader basis. Given the vibrant ethnic neighborhoods that exist today in other parts of the city, I’m sure this could have been a successful, safe working class Puerto Rican neighborhood with today’s public services environment. Of course, once safety and services were addressed, the value of the real estate skyrocketed.

There are some high rises in the UWS, particularly to the south, but these are the exception, not the rule. Yet this is still the second most dense neighborhood in the city with a hard to comprehend density of 110,000 per square mile. I can see why it isn’t for everybody, but I think people would agree that a neighborhood built like Paris or Barcelona (and in fact lower rise than those cities in most places) is hardly a concrete nightmare.

Density, done right, can be supremely humane and livable.

I think the UWS also illustrates the fallacy of too much of today’s urbanist thinking which is all about building tall to increase housing supply. If you can get to 110K density with mid and low rise buildings, skyscrapers just aren’t needed to provide any reasonable amount of density in the United States.

There’s also a lot of talk about supply restrictions. I don’t like historic districts all that much, because I think in practice they are abusive. Much of the UWS is in a historic district. There are any number of stink bomb buildings on the UWS I wouldn’t mind seeing replaced with new development, a few new skyscrapers wouldn’t be a disaster. If the population density even went up, I wouldn’t mind – it might even be good. But at the risk of sounding like a NIMBY, there’s just no way a neighborhood like this should see a massive increase in FAR to enable redevelopment with taller buildings. Turning one of the world’s great neighborhoods into Midtown would be a disaster.

Instead going directly to policies like “let’s just remove DCs height limit,” instead people should be taking a look at very high density neighborhoods like the UWS that function amazingly well and figure out how to adopt the lessons of that to other places.

by Aaron M. Renn at August 21, 2015 12:15 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Is it Possible? – An Excerpt from Character Formation in Online Education

character formation in online education cover

We live in an era where education institutions are pioneering many new options. As we seek to understand if online education holds potential for the Christian institution, author Joanne J. Jung says it does. In fact, she claims online learning can offer benefits traditional classroom learning can’t. Through the pages of Character Formation in Online Education, she guides instructors on how to create online education that matters.

This excerpt finds Jung setting out her argument right out of the gate. Read on to get a taste.

***

Advertising for online courses is ubiquitous: TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, the Internet. But are all online courses created equal? The general consensus among students is that online classes are easy. That descriptor, however, does not generally refer to the ease of access to these courses, though they are accessible. Nor does it describe the students’ poolside relaxation while taking the course, though I’m sure that has been done. In this case, easy means completing some reading, adding to a discussion board, and submitting a final paper. The course is essentially taken in isolation with no requirement to interact or converse with anyone — the professor or other students. It is easy to simply go through the motions of learning in order to earn course credit.

On the instructional side, similar impressions exist. Imagine the appeal of teaching a class where the professor appears only in videos, students periodically respond to discussion questions, and a teaching assistant grades the assignments and final paper. Meanwhile, the professor sits on a sandy beach, sipping a tall iced mocha Frappuccino. These professors claim they teach an online course, but they are not really teaching and their students are not really learning. These courses are merely put on autopilot and thus are viewed as easy.

Compare this to a good, in-class learning experience where students are presented with engaging material and the rigors of the class are personally demanding. And of course, nothing beats the personal conversations before or after classes or during office hours where a student’s interaction with her professor could change her life. Face-to-face classroom settings with the personal, unmediated presence of the professor and students can be very effective, but even these do not guarantee relational connections that foster learning. In physical classrooms, just as in online ones, teachers can seem detached and impersonal.

Cultivating effective pedagogy in an online class is possible. Learning outcomes and expectations need not be compromised. Students can engage in transformational learning that impacts their lives. This type of online class is not only possible but may even offer experiences superior to those found in on-campus classes.

Here’s one example. In a typical on-campus class, there are times when a professor presents a question for large-group discussion. The percentage of students who respond is relatively low, perhaps 10 – 15 percent. Students who require time to process information and form their own thoughts are conscious of the time constraints. Before their viewpoints are defined enough to articulate and the risk is low enough to communicate those thoughts out loud, the opportunity to respond has already been seized by more prepared, spontaneous, or unreserved students. As a result, the usual handful of regulars contribute to discussions, but the majority of students prefer or feel forced to remain silent and less involved in the learning process. Meanwhile, the professor feels the need to continue presenting more information or responding to other questions or comments. One of my students, Zach P., once commented, “I am a person who might have input on a topic, but in a classroom setting, by the time I have gathered my thoughts, the conversation has moved on to the next topic.”

The kind of well-organized and carefully designed online class described and promoted in the following pages uses a variety of visual, audio, and written media. Assignments are designed to foster interaction with fellow students and the professor. The depth of students’ interaction is developed as they process thoughts, ideas, perspectives, and even feelings. The online format, an education without borders, provides a plethora of opportunities to engage with students in their learning and character formation.

Technology now allows the professor to take advantage of a number of features where students are able to see the personality behind the course — the Oz behind the curtain — as they are learning and become known and impacted by the professor. A part of the professor’s life makes an imprint on students’ lives. Online education, if it is going to affect character formation, deserves pedagogy that inspires.

Character formation is more than an outward, behavioral, or moral change. It deals with who one is now and who one is becoming over the long haul in his or her life. Whether in ordinary, everyday life or in the challenges and trials that force the true self to emerge, whether in the presence of eyewitnesses or in the solitude of seeming obscurity, character formation is an ongoing work. Godly character formation is aligned with spiritual formation, as its goal is growth in an honest relationship with self as a whole person, with others, and with God.

It deals with the default self, the real self. It is developed by what one allows to enter most deeply into one’s heart and soul and is the lifelong response to the grace of God by the power of his Spirit in growing likeness of the Son. God’s Word informs this process, as evidence of this lifestyle of godliness has both inward and outward consequences: inward, a growing dependence and trust in God, who proves himself worthy of that trust; and outward, reconciled relationships with others, who matter a great deal to God. Our world needs more pervasively influential, Christ-centered, others-focused people.

There is skepticism among educators about character formation in online education. Many cannot imagine that real transformation can be achieved in any format other than in the traditional model of residential education with in-class face time. Profound spiritual formation, however, can and has happened through quality and effective learning in online education.

If you have settled for the “easy,” uninvolved approach to online education, be warned. The following content will only serve to stir a discontent with that status quo. If, however, a desire is stirred in you to know more about the kind of professor, the kind of course, and the kind
of character formation possible in your online classes, read on. (Pgs 13-15)

***

As Jung says, read on. Character Formation in Online Education offers practical guidance for creating communities that cultivate character growth. This book is coming soon, so pre-order today.

by ZA Blog at August 21, 2015 12:00 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

An Unlikely Sentence

"Blanchard, Mankiw, and Romer are all in the Wu-Tang Clan."

From Dietz Vollrath, an economics professor at the University of Houston, in his Hip-Hop History of Macro.

by Greg Mankiw (noreply@blogger.com) at August 21, 2015 11:10 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Beer Elemental

News

Some friends of mine from were playing a game which I finally had the chance to join in on, as I was visiting them that weekend. They use hero points (one granted each level, and they can be accumulated) to act out near-impossible heroic feats.

My Dwarven Cleric, Bifur Boulderbelly, a renowned…

Read more

August 21, 2015 07:01 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Is There Any Actual Demand for Same-Sex Marriage?

[Note: This is the first in an occasional series on the marriage revolution. Because facts and evidence are essential for making gospel-centered arguments about the cluster of controversial topics related to marriage, the first few posts will attempt to clarify some of the important numbers related to marriages, both heterosexual and homosexual.]

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.* One question the Court ignored—and which few people ever truly considered—was whether there is an actual demand for same-sex marriage.

In an attempt to provide an answer we must first determine how many people would be interested in same-sex marriage.

How Many Americans Are Homosexual?

For years the general public has revealed in surveys that they believe about 1 in 4 Americans (23 percent) are gay or lesbian. For whatever reason, whether due to the skewed focus on homosexual issues or because Americans are just bad at math, the estimates are about six times higher than reality. Taking the average across surveys about sexual orientation reveals that only about 3.8 percent of adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The population of the U.S. in 2014 was 319 million. Approximately 23.3 percent are younger than 18, which puts the adult population at 245 million adults. That gives us an estimate of 9.3 million who identify as LGBT.

A review of the survey data also shows that 1.2 percent of adults are bisexual compared to 1.4 percent who are lesbian or gay—that is, just over half are lesbian or gay and just under half are bisexual. But we’re looking for the number of same-sex couples who would be interested in marriage, so we need to break the numbers down even further.

Approximately 6.8 percent of adults report having had both same-sex and different-sex sexual partners since the age of 18. Only 1 percent say they have had only same-sex sexual partners since the age of 18. By this standard, nearly nine out of ten LGB adults (87 percent) are bisexual. That’s a revealing statistic, but not particularly useful for our purposes.

However, if we only consider sexual behaviors in the last five years or in the last year, we find that 1.9 percent of adults have had exclusively same-sex sexual partners, and 1.5 percent have had both same-sex and different-sex partners.

How Many Same-Sex Marriages Should We Expect?

Let’s assume this group of self-identified gays and lesbians (1.9 percent of adults) would prefer to marry someone of the same sex. For the sake of simplicity, let’s also assume that half of all bisexuals (0.75 percent of all adults) would also prefer to marry someone of the same-sex. That gives us a pool of 8.5 million U.S adults who may be interested in same-sex marriage, a potential for 4.3 million same-sex marriage couplings.

Now let’s look at the number of marriages. In 2014, approximately 49.8 percent of the American adults (159 million) were married, or about 80 million couples. Almost one out of every two American adults was married. By that year, 35 states allowed same-sex marriage.

Let’s suspend judgment for the moment and assume that lesbians, gays, and currently same-sex oriented bisexuals have the same interest in marriage as heterosexuals. For the sake of argument, we’ll also assume that any lesbian or gay couple who wanted to get married could have either married in their own state or crossed state lines to get a marriage license. In addition, we’ll also assume that, like the general population, one out of every two lesbians and gay men would choose to be married.

Based on those assumptions (all of which I think are more than plausible), we should expect to see 2.2 million same-sex marriages even before the Supreme Court ruling.

How Many Same-Sex Marriages Are There in America?

How many were there? The best estimate is 170,000.

In other words, that is only about 8 percent of the number of same-sex marriage we should expect to find. Out of the pool of 8.5 million U.S adults we would expect to be interested in same-sex marriage, only 340,000 sought a marriage license. Of the population that identifies as LGBT, a mere 4 percent are in a “same-sex marriage.”

Even after the Supreme Court ruling that number is not likely to increase. Because same-sex marriage has been legal in most parts of the country for several years, there was not a lot of pent-up demand when the ruling came down (in Texas, a state of 30 million people, only 465 same-sex couples sought a marriage license on the first day they were eligible). Even if the number were to double to 8 percent in the next decade—a completely unrealistic expectation—fewer than one in ten LGBT Americans would be married. And no one I’ve seen who has thoroughly examined the statistics predicts the number of same-sex marriages will reach 500,000 over the next decade, much less 1 million to 2 million in the next few years.

Same-sex marriage became the law of the land without anything close to proportional demand by homosexuals to actually marry someone of the same sex. There are likely many more polyamorists who would be interested in getting married than same-sex couples. Indeed, when polygamy is legalized (an issue we’ll consider in a future article), the number will likely be double or triple the number of two-person same-sex marriages.

For more than a decade both same-sex marriage activists and social conservatives have claimed that the LGBT community has little interest in monogamous, traditional forms of marriage and that the goal was merely to normalize homosexual relationships. Both groups were ignored or shouted down, yet the marriage statistics show they were right all along.

However, homosexuals are not the only group showing a lack of interest in marriage. In the next post in this series we’ll examine the past 144 years of marriage and divorce data in America to discover when the “decline” aspect of the marriage revolution really began.

*Throughout this article—and this series—I’ll refer to same-sex marriage without the use of scare quotes. The reason is because I find the use of such quotes tedious for the reader and not because I believe “same-sex marriage” to be marriage. In fact, let me clarify that despite any attempts by the culture or courts to redefine the term, marriage is an institution that only exists between a man and a woman. The lack of scare quotes does not imply any endorsement of the linguistic and ontological errors embedded in the phrase “same-sex marriage.”

by Joe Carter <p><strong>Joe Carter</strong> is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/How-Argue-Like-Jesus-Communicator/dp/1433502712/?tag=thegospcoal-20"><em>How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History&rsquo;s Greatest Communicator</em></a>. You can <a href="https://twitter.com/joecarter">follow him on Twitter</a>.</p> at August 21, 2015 05:24 AM

Children, Race, and the Gospel

When events like those in Charleston, Ferguson, and New York City are brought to our awareness, we’re reminded that we’re still a country and a culture with deep divides along racial lines. These events make us uncomfortable, and push us to debate strategies and develop plans for reform. We call on government to legislate answers; we support organizations that form to champion the cause and fix the problem once and for all. Calls for “culture change” and a “new society” acknowledge the equality of all people, and actively work for it. 

But after a few weeks, when media have moved on to another issue, we grow weary and feel helpless to change anything. And we quietly give up—until the next event, when we cycle through again.

Shifting Our Focus 

But what if we’ve been approaching race-related social change all wrong? First, the chief problem isn’t with government and civil leadership; it’s with sin. Our inability to truly embrace the differences of others—thereby diminishing or distancing ourselves from them—exposes the depth of the darkness in our hearts. When we look at another with an attitude of “less than,” we doubt the goodness and wisdom of God in creating them.

Above all we need the gospel, not legislation. We need a radical change in our hearts, not merely a change in the system. 

When we think of cultural change, we often look to public leaders, scientists, and politicians, believing they have the power to change the problems of our culture. And in doing so, we miss that the true change-makers are literally right under our noses. They are in cribs, in strollers, on scooters, at our dinner table. Our kids can truly create cultural change, since they’re the ones who get a fresh start at seeing others without all the baggage we adults carry with us. 

If we want real culture change, then, our focus ought to be on equipping our children. We must help them to see their need for Jesus, and to love and value every person God has created. 

Talking About Race 

But how do we do this? We create a relational environment in which conversations about race are welcome and safe. 

For several years I’ve taught a seminar on how to talk to your kids about sex. Most times the room is packed with eager parents anxious to learn the exact words to say when their kid asks about the s-word. So it’s always fun to watch their expectations crumble when I spend most of the time having them work through their own issues about sex. Until they can become open and comfortable ­­­­with their own issues, they won’t be able to communicate a clear, honest, and healthy message about sex to their children. Often children will ask simple questions, but parents will jump to conclusions about intent and launch into discussions that miss the mark. The same principle applies to conversations about race. A child’s simple remark or question can spark within us a sense of fear, inadequacy, anger, or even guilt. And we can respond in ways that suggest race isn’t a safe topic after all. But it is! It is vital, in fact, and we must get better at it.

God’s Word speaks openly about race. It’s not shy. It acknowledges that the differences in each of us are a profound part of the gospel story. The Samaritan woman points out racial difference when speaking to Jesus at the well: “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9). The apostle John describes the diverse future for which we’re headed: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). The author of Hebrews reminds us of our responsibility to “remember those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body” (Heb. 13:3). 

If the Bible speaks openly and directly, then we need to as well.

How Do We Do This?   

Here are a few suggestions for how to move forward.

  • Create an environment in your home where curiosity about differences among people is safe and acceptable. Allow your child’s observations and questions to be freely expressed without judgment. When adults show embarrassment or evade a child’s question, we send a clear message that it’s not good to talk about that issue. 
  • Speak of differences positively. When your child notices differences in someone’s hair or skin color, remark with wonder about God’s creativity in making so many different types of people. It makes the world such an interesting place when we all look different. 
  • Expose your child early on to people of diverse skin colors. If this can’t be done in person, then at least use books and videos. Be mindful of the toys, books, and videos you have in your home. Make sure the people represented in these forms of media aren’t all the same race as your child. Also be mindful of how the media you and your kids watch portrays racial stereotypes.
  • Don’t overreact to your child’s comments about race. Find out what he or she is really saying and why. “That’s right,” you could say. “Isn’t it great how God made people different and interesting?”
  • Be mindful of your words in discussing and describing people in everyday conversations. Do you describe people primarily by their race?
  • In her book I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World, Marguerite Wright encourages us to aim for color-fairness, not color-blindness. Instead of pretending we don’t see racial differences in those around us or saying “we’re all the same,” we should openly acknowledge that we are different and that it’s inherently a beautiful thing.     

Agents of Change 

There is real hope for change in our culture’s struggle with racism. The greatest potential doesn’t rest in the hands of politicians and activists, however, but in the hearts of our own children. 

Equipped by an understanding of the gospel and its embrace of all people, our children can become redemptive agents of change in our culture. Let’s work to empower them to be just that. 

by <p><strong>Brent Bounds</strong> (PhD, Fordham) is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and works for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.&nbsp;</p> at August 21, 2015 05:02 AM

The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech

Almost two centuries ago Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that the taproot of the country’s freedom was Americans’ “habits of the heart.” Today, journalist Kirsten Powers fears that root is at risk:

The illiberal left is eradicating these “habits of the heart” so Americans won’t even remember what it was like to be able to speak freely without fear of retaliation from a silencing mob or a few disgruntled lefties.

Powers thoroughly documents this thesis in her new book, The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech. Like the phenomenon it describes, The Silencing spotlights a barrage of incidents in which intolerant liberals have demonized, censored, and sought to marginalize those who dare dissent from their “settled” orthodoxy. Powers catalogs cases of students’ free speech shut down for opposing abortion or same-sex marriage, academics silenced for urging debate in such instances, individuals pressed from employment or off prominent platforms for their beliefs, and journalists stonewalled for asking the “wrong” questions or reaching “incorrect” conclusions.

Rather than welcoming discussion of opposing viewpoints, illiberal liberals resort to attacking the character of opponents, often impugning dissent as racist, misogynist, and homophobic. The result is a toxic environment for liberty.

Liberal Whistleblower 

This topic is significant, and the source makes it more so: Powers is herself a liberal. As she sees it, true liberalism ought to value ideological diversity and welcome debate—a perspective she learned growing up in a progressive household amid a conservative Alaskan community. After moving to New York City as an adult, however, she encountered a different kind of illiberal liberalism: an insular kind that was dismissive of competing viewpoints. Conservatives were a rarity. “That unfamiliarity bred contempt,” she observes.

Powers admits adopting that outlook for a time as she worked in Democratic politics on the East Coast. But then “two experiences unexpectedly put me in a regular relationship with conservatives: working as a contributor at Fox News and a later-in-life conversion to Christianity.” These contacts exposed a discrepancy between stereotype and reality.

The divergence between the popular images and realities of the two camps—Christians and conservatives more reasonable than their caricatures, liberals less open-minded than their reputation—is fodder for her portrait of illiberal liberalism. 

Tactics and Targets

Much of the silencing occurs through social pressure, technically avoiding restriction of free speech. Yet especially on college campuses, the use of official actions like speech codes, “free speech zones,” and investigations have a seriously chilling effect. Powers cites the research of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which surveyed 400 institutions of higher education and found more than half had extremely restrictive policies on student speech. 

Christian groups have faced increasing challenges on a number of campuses. Like many other groups, Christian student organizations typically require leaders to uphold its core beliefs. InterVarsity, for example, requires leaders to sign a statement of faith while welcoming all students to participate (indeed, 25 percent of participants aren’t Christians).

When the California State University (CSU) system decided to require student groups to adopt a policy opening membership and leadership to all students, InterVarsity had to choose between its beliefs and university policy. The Christian group stood by its convictions and, as a result, lost recognition in the 23-campus Cal State system during the 2014–2015 school year. In June 2015, CSU and InterVarsity reached an agreement that will allow the group back on CSU campuses.

But InterVarsity’s press release announcing the breakthrough noted that the group still faces challenges elsewhere in California and several other states. Similar incidents have driven Christian groups off campus at Vanderbilt University and Bowdoin College

Conservatives and Christians are frequently the targets of the intolerant left, but, as Powers documents, it doesn’t stop there. Illiberals also lash out at moderates or even liberals who don’t toe the politically correct line. Such was the experience of journalist Campbell Brown, who pursued education reform to the consternation of the teacher unions, and of Atlantic and Slate commentator Hanna Rosin, whose book The End of Men [review] was perceived by some feminists as undercutting their claims about the plight of women.

“Illiberal feminists are perhaps the most ferocious warriors among the illiberal left,” Powers observes. “They deny conservative men the right to speak on any issue that affects women, and they are utterly intolerant of any dissenting women, even disallowing them their right to state their own opinions in their own words.”

Coerced Conformity Hurts Common Good

Silencing debate on important issues is detrimental to public discourse, and forcing religious ministries to conform to the new orthodoxy on marriage undermines promising solutions to social problems, Powers argues. She cites the example of Bethany Christian Services, the country’s largest adoption agency, which works in 36 states to place children in a permanent home with a mother and a father. When same-sex couples seek adoption through Bethany, the group refers them to another agency.

But Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., have insisted that religious child welfare agencies abandon such convictions, forcing out Roman Catholic and evangelical child welfare providers. If that trend continues, groups like Bethany will be marginalized. That would be a serious loss both to the children served by such religious groups and to the community at large.

The publication of The Silencing is timely since the threats it chronicles will only increase in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to mandate same-sex marriage nationwide. Just a few weeks before the book’s mid-May release, the U.S. Solicitor General had told the Court that, if marriage were redefined, religious schools could face issues over their non-profit tax status for maintaining a biblical view of marriage.

Religious individuals and organizations are rightly concerned about the implications of the decision. Protections such as the federal First Amendment Defense Act and the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act—as well as similar proposals at the state level—are critical now that the Court has imposed same-sex marriage on all 50 states. Policies like these will determine whether those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman are free to continue operating in good faith or are marginalized as extremists.

“I am a longtime vocal supporter of same-sex marriage,” Powers writes. “But in my experience, most people who don’t share my opinion—which included, until recently, scores of Democrats—are not bigots but people with sincere and respectable beliefs. . . . [A]uthoritarian demands for intellectual conformity and the relentless demonizing of people who don’t support same-sex marriage are inherently illiberal and wrong.”

Ending Silence, Reviving Debate

Powers’s closing admonition is succinct, though not simple: “Now, go make some unlikely friends.” The prescription is a good formula for greater tolerance in society. It’s much easier to demonize those you don’t know.

That’s not the only lesson to take away from The Silencing, however. It contains a number of implications for our public discourse, such as:

  • Defy intimidation by speaking up. “In the illiberal attack on free speech, victory is silence,” Powers reminds us. “The more success the illiberal left has in terrorizing people who express dissenting views, the fewer objections there will be.” A “few disgruntled lefties”—to use her words—can create the impression of widespread opposition. Standing up to such intimidation is the way to defeat it.
  • Challenge people to reason. Don’t deal in stereotypes. Use well-reasoned argument, and expect others to do the same. Call on others to live up to their ideals. Powers quotes Gregory Jao, national field director for InterVarsity, to this effect from October 2014: “It’s an irony for us that, in the name of inclusion, they’re eliminating religious groups because of their religious beliefs. My understanding of an inclusive, welcoming university is to accept people based on their own beliefs. I’m inviting Cal State to live up to its best goals.” Thankfully, as of summer 2015, it appears that Cal State is taking steps in that direction in the case of InterVarsity.
  • Speak with charity. The dehumanizing, hateful language and tactics used in many of the incidents Powers recounts is shocking. It’s a reminder to all citizens, especially Christians, to treat all people with dignity and respect—regardless of our disagreements.

The Silencing is a welcome call to revive debate and sustain civil discourse. A free society requires such exchange, and we cannot navigate the challenges ahead without it.

Kirsten Powers. The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free SpeechWashington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2015. 304 pp. $27.99.

by Jennifer Marshall <p><strong>Jennifer A. Marshall</strong> is vice president for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at <a href="http://www.heritage.org/">The Heritage Foundation</a>&nbsp;and senior research fellow at the Institute of Theology and Public Life at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.&nbsp;She is the the author of<em> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Now-Not-Yet-Twenty-First-Century/dp/159052649X?tag=thegospcoal-20" title="">Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the 21st Century</a></em>. You can <a href="https://twitter.com/MarshallJenA">follow her on Twitter</a>.&nbsp;</p> at August 21, 2015 05:02 AM

5 Myths and Truths in Loneliness

Having been an ordained minister for 32 years and licensed psychologist for 18, I (Gary Barnes) have had the privilege of being entrusted with many personal stories of loneliness. As individuals from all walks of life have opened up with their struggles, I’ve been deeply affected from two different directions. From a psychological perspective, I’ve been struck by the depth of pain humans encounter in their experience of loneliness. And from a theological perspective, I’ve been amazed at how significant human loneliness is to the triune God.

This dilemma has taken on fresh importance as it’s become intertwined in the debate over same-sex marriage. Difficulties in interaction are especially pronounced with the exchange of religious and theological arguments. My aim here is not to “win” an argument over same-sex marriage. My hope is to move us all from debate to dialogue, particularly as it relates to the vital issue of loneliness. 

Here are five popular myths that heighten loneliness for us all.

Myth #1: Loneliness is a result of something bad, and therefore no one should have to experience it.

Truth #1: Even before sin entered human experience, God described loneliness as “not good,” yet he used it to bring about a greater good. 

Aloneness isn’t just important to our triune God; it’s central to his design for our dealings with each other and with him. Nor is loneliness simply a result of personal choices or the world’s groaning under sin. Before the fall in Genesis 3, God proclaims, “It is not good for man to be alone” even as he evaluates his sin-free world. In infinite wisdom, then, God created a perfect human being incomplete on purpose.

In his book Fill These HeartsChristopher West refers to this as a “burning yearning” desire meant to drive us to God’s design so we’d experience our eternal destiny with him: “The yearning of eros reveals that we are incomplete, and that we are in search of another to make ‘sense’ of ourselves.” In Genesis 2 God ordains the marriage of male and female as another aspect of his design for our aloneness. Yet he never designed marriage to fulfill the incompleteness or eradicate the aloneness. Rather, it more fully reveals our need for our ultimate destiny—to be in union with him.

Myth #2: Loneliness is a result of singleness, a second-class transitional stage of life on the way to the first-class state of marriage.

Truth #2: Loneliness isn’t a result of singleness. Single and married are equal and necessary image bearers of God. Blessings of fullness and contentment (though not full completeness) are to be experienced in both states.

Neither marriage nor singleness should be deified or deprecated. Marriage and singleness reflect the love of God in different and necessary ways. While spouses reflect the exclusive nature of God’s love, singles in community reflect its inclusive nature. We don’t exist as isolated inviduals. Sexuality and bonding are part of relationships. As Stanley Grenz explains in Sexual Ethics:

This relationship between sexuality and bonding is present in single existence as well, even though the sex act as the “sacrament” of the bond is absent. . . . Single Christians, therefore, who because of their abstinence from genital sexual expression are often in touch with their affective sexuality, have a unique ministry of love to offer in service to the Lord within the fellowship of the community of Christ.

Myth #3: We can avoid loneliness by getting married. 

Truth #3: Loneliness can be equally experienced in singleness or marriage. In fact, many can feel more alone in their marriage than they did in their singleness. 

Even a great sense of satisfaction in marriage or singleness will reveal remaining unsatisfaction. As Augustine reminds us in his famous prayer, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” We have a God-wired incompleteness only he can fill. Yet sin causes us to exacerbate our loneliness and dissatisfaction by trying to fill this God-shaped vacuum with substitutes.

Psychological research yields “discovered truths” confirming this “revealed truth.” In Evidence Based Practices for Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy, which examines the outcomes in individuals and relationships, Scott Stanley and I (Gary Barnes) report on more than 30 years of scholarship in the field of marital health and success. The two primary variables considered are stability and satisfaction. Those in the stable and satisfied group are aiming to help each other grow and to protect “differentiated unity” or “oneness not based in sameness.” In other words, outcomes aren’t so much about finding the right person as they are about being the right person who makes right choices over time.  

Myth #4: Loneliness can be avoided by meeting my sexual needs.

Truth #4: Trying to meet non-sexual needs sexually will heighten loneliness. Only when we meet our non-sexual needs in non-sexual ways will we begin to adequately address our loneliness. 

Healthy sexual intimacy requires many intentional healthy non-sexual choices. Sexual activity alone will never fulfill our emotional or spiritual needs.

In his book Soul Virgins, Doug Rosenau defines a soul virgin as “one who continuously seeks to value, celebrate, and protect God’s design for sexuality—body, soul, and spirit—in oneself and others.” The goal should be to build a Christlike character that seeks sexual wholeness and celebrates deep, fulfilling intimacy appropriate to each type of relationship. Along the journey, non-sexual needs must be met non-sexually.   

Myth #5: Limiting my freedom will increase my loneliness.

Truth #5: Trying to preserve freedoms will heighten loneliness. In fact, having fewer choices decreases loneliness. The paradoxical truth is this: “In choosing to have less, you choose to have more.”

Christians agree that we are called to love as God does. We love with benevolent power rather than self-serving power. We love as whole people, as male and female, as single or married. And God showcases this benevolent love in the person, work, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Stanley and I (Barnes) show that one of the key predictor variables for satisfaction and stability in marital relationships is “dedication commitment” in contrast to “constraint commitment.” In “constraint commitment,” couples stay together because of what it would cost them to split up. In “dedication commitment,” couples remain together because of personal sacrifices for the sake of “us.” Self-limiting choices are more closely associated with greater stability and satisfaction.

If we’re not careful, our pursuit of satisfaction and avoidance of loneliness will lead us to treat others as things created for our sake, not as persons created for God’s sake. The solution isn’t found in more self-indulgent liberties, but in limiting ourselves with the compelling love of “the great mystery”—the sacrificial love displayed in Christ’s union with the church (Eph. 5:31–32).    

Looking to Another

There are many popular myths associated with our experience of loneliness. This isn’t a gay or straight problem. We must look to God’s Word and re-examine our own beliefs and strategies in dealing with loneliness, and, as a result, better love one another in our common struggle.

Ultimately, the solution to our loneliness is not found in another person. It’s found in God.

by Gary Barnes <p><strong>Gary Barnes</strong> is&nbsp;a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is&nbsp;ordained in the Anglican Church of North America and is a licensed psychologist with a specialization in marriage and family. He is also the co-producer of the documentary&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.compellinglovefilm.com/">Compelling Love &amp; Sexual Identity</a></em>.</p> at August 21, 2015 05:00 AM

Clockwise 100: The Speed of Your Voice →

As part of #RelayBirthday, Myke and I took over Clockwise today:

An introspective, touchy-feely edition of Clockwise as we celebrate our 100th episode with special guest hosts and special guest guests.

Get it while it's hot.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 21, 2015 12:45 AM

August 20, 2015

CrossFit Naptown

CrossFit Team Series

Monday’s Workout:

Strength:
Back Squat
1-1-1-1-1

WOD
12:00 As Many Rounds As Possible
3 Inverted Burpees
6 Chicken Pecks
9 Hollow Rocks

 

teamseries

 

Click here to view the official rulebook for the competition.

The competition will run from September 8-14 and October 6-12 with workouts being released at the start of each week and teams having the full window to complete the workouts. We have one team officially signed up from CrossFit NapTown and would love to have a few more throw down. We will plan on running these workouts in class, so you may as well sign up to be a part of the action. It may be the perfect way to get extra time with your Bracket Buster team just before that event!

by Anna at August 20, 2015 10:36 PM

Infrequently Noted

Doing Science On The Web

Cross-posted at Medium

This post is about vendor prefixes, why they didn’t work, and why it’s toxic not to be able to launch experimental features. But mostly this post is about what to do about it. The argument and implications require nuance and long-term thinking. That is to say, despite diligent efforts to clarify and revise, this post is likely to be misunderstood.

Vendor prefixes are a very sore topic, and one where I’ve disagreed with the overwhelming consensus. In the heat of the ‘11–12 debate (a.k.a. “prefixpocalypse”) I tried to outline a rough hierarchy of the web platform’s concerns:

  1. Meeting developer & user experience needs with new features
  2. Eventual interoperability for successful features
  3. Minimizing harm to the ecosystem from experiments-gone-wrong

The debate and subsequent (conflicting) prohibitions & advice centered on the third point: minimizing pollution.

Recall that in 2012, Google, Apple, Blackberry, and a host of other vendors were all shipping browsers based on a single CSS engine (WebKit) without changing the -webkit-* prefixes to be vendor-specific. Instead, a large proportion of the web’s users experienced premature compatibility for experimental features. Developers could get the benefits of broad feature support without a corresponding standard. This backed non-WebKit-based browsers into a terrible choice: “camp” on the other vendor’s prefixed behavior to render content for their users or suffer a loss of users and developer loyalty.

This illustrates what happens when experiments inadvertently become critical infrastructure. It has happened before. Over, and over, and over again.

Prefixes were supposed to allow experimentation while discouraging misuse, but in practice they don’t. Prefixes “look” ugly and the thought was that ugliness  —  combined with an aversion to proprietary gunk by web developers —  would cause sites to cease using them once standards are in place and browsers implement. But that’s not what happens.

Useful features that live a long time in the “experimental” phase tend to get “burned in”, particularly if the browsers supporting them are widely used. Breaking existing content is the third rail for browsers; all of their product instincts and incentives keep them from doing it, even if the breakage comes from retracting proprietary features. This means that many prefixed properties continue to work long after standard versions are added. Likewise, sites and pages that work with prefixes are all-too-easy for web developers to write and abandon. It’s unsettling to remove a prefix when you might break a user with an old browser. Maintenance of both sites and browsers rarely subtracts, but the theory of prefixes hinges on subtraction.

Everyone who uses prefixes, both browser engineers and web developers, start down the path thinking they’ll stop at some point. But for predictable reasons, that isn’t what happens. Good intentions are not an effective prophylactic. Not for web developers or browser makers (to say nothing of amorous teens).

This situation is the natural consequence for platform/developer time-scales that are out of sync. Browsers move more slowly than sites (at the micro scale), but sites must contend with huge browser diversity and are therefore much more conservative about removing “working” code than browser engineers expected.

Now What?

Years after Prefixpocalypse everyone who works on a browser understands that prefixes haven’t succeeded in minimizing harm, yet vendors proudly announce new prefixed features and developers blithely (ab)use them. Clearly, a need for new features trumps interoperability and pollution concerns. This is natural and, perhaps even healthy. A static web, one which doesn’t do more to make lives better is one that doesn’t deserve to thrive and grow. In technology as in life there is no stasis, only various speeds of growth or decay.

Browsers *could *stop prefix ecosystem pollution from happening by simply vowing not to add features. This neatly analyses the problem (some experiments don’t work out, and some get out of hand) and proposes a solution (no experimentation), but as H.L. Mencken famously wrote:

…there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.

We have already run a natural experiment in this area. At the low point after the first browser war, Microsoft (temporarily) shrink from the challenge of building the web into a platform. Meanwhile IE 6’s momentum assured its place as the boat-anchor-browser. Between 2002 and 2006, the web (roughly) didn’t add any new features. Was that better? Not hardly. I’m glad to be done with 9-table-cell image hacks to accomplish rounded corners. Not all change is progress, but without change there is no progress.

Or, put better by W3C Memes:

image alt text

“One does not simply ship no new features for a year and remain competitive”

We do need new features, and we’d like good versions of them — fewer document.alls, WebSQLs and AppCaches, thanks.

We know from experience developing software of all kinds that *more iteration *yields better results. Experimentation, chances to learn, and opportunities to try alternatives are what separate good ideas from great products. Members of the Google Gears team report they considered building something like Service Workers. Instead they built an AppCache style system which didn’t work in all the ways AppCache didn’t work (which they couldn’t have known at the time). It shouldn’t have taken 6+ years to course-correct. We need to be able to experiment and iterate. Now that we understand the problems with prefixes, we need another mechanism.

Experiments That Stay Experiments

Prefixpocalypse happened because experiments escaped the lab. Wide-scale use of experimental properties isn’t healthy. Because prefixed properties were available to any site (not matter how large), it was straightforward for the killer combination of broad browser support and major site usage to ensure that compatibility would work against ever ending the experiment. The key to doing better, then, is to limit the size of the experimental population.

The way prefixes were run was like making a new drug available over the counter as soon as a promising early trial was conducted, skipping animal, human, and large-scale clinical trials. Of course that would be ludicrous; “first do no harm” requires starting with a small population, showing efficacy, gathering data about side-effects, and iterating.

In the web platform, the missing ingredient has been the ability to limit the experimental population. Experiments can run for fixed duration without fear of breaking the web if we can be sure that they never imperiled the whole web in the first place. Short duration and small, committed test populations allow for more iteration which should, in the end, lead to better features. ***The web developer feedback needs to be the most important voice in the standards process****, and we’ll never get there until there’s more ability for web developers to participate in feature evolution. *Experimental outcomes are ammo for the standards development process; in the best-case they can provide good evidence that a feature is both needed and well-designed.

Putting evidence at the core of web feature and standards development is a 180° change from the current M.O., but one we sorely need.

So how do we get there?

Some mechanisms I’ve thought through and rejected (with reasons):

  • “Just have users flip things in about:flags”
    This has several persistent downsides: first, it doesn’t limit the size of the experimental population. If every site encourages users to flip a particular flag, odds are enough users will do so to set usage above a red-line threshold.

  • “Enable it by default on your Beta/Dev channel browser”
    Like the flag-flipping mechanism, it puts a burden on users which is perhaps the wrong place to put it. Experimentation of this sort is likely to get better feedback when developers can work with experimental features without the additional friction of asking users to use different browsers.

The Chrome Team has been thinking about this problem for the past several years, including conversations with other vendors, and those ideas have congealed into a few interlocking mechanisms that haven’t been rejected:

  1. Developer registration & usage keys.
    A large part of the reason it’s difficult to change developer behavior about use of experimental features is that it’s hard to find them! Who would you call to talk about use of some prefixed CSS thing on facebook.com? I don’t know either. Having an open communication channel is critical to learning how features are working (or not) in the real world. To that end, new experimental features will be tied to specific origins using keys vended by a developer program; sites supply the keys to the browser through header/meta tags, enabling the features dynamically. Registration for the program will probably require giving a (valid) email address and agreeing to answer survey questions about experimental features. Because of auto-self-destruct (see below), there’s less worry that these experiments will be abused to provide proprietary features to “preferred” origins. Public dashboards of running experiments and users will ensure transparency to this effect.

  2. Global usage caps.
    The Blink project generally uses a ~0.03% usage threshold to decide if it’s plausible to remove a feature. Experimenters might use our Use Counter infrastructure and RAPPOR to monitor use. Any feature that breaches this threshold can automatically close the experiment to new users and, if any individual user goes above ~0.01% (global) use, a config update can be pushed to throttle use on that site.

  3. Feature auto-self-destruct.
    Experimental features should be backed by a process that’s trying to learn. To enable this, we’re going to ensure that each version of an experimental feature auto-self-destructs, tentatively set at 12–18 weeks per experiment. New iterations which are designed to test some theory can be launched once an experiment has finished (but must have *some *API or semantic difference, preferably breaking). Sites that want to opt into the next experiment and were part of a previous group will be asked survey questions in the key-update process (which is probably going to be a requirement for access to future experimental versions). Experiments can overlap to provide continuity for end-users who are willing to move to the next-best-guess and provide feedback.

We’re also going to work to ensure that the surfaced APIs are done in a responsible way, including feature-detection where possible. These properties add up to a solution that gives us confidence that we can create Ctrl-Z for web features without damaging users or sites.

In discussions with our friends in the community and at other browser vendors we’ve thought through alternative ways to throttle or shrink the experimental population: randomness in API names, limiting APIs to postMessage style calling, or shortening experiment lifetimes. As Chrome is going first, we’ll be iterating on the experimental framework to try to strike the right balance that allows enough use to learn from but not so much that we inadvertently commit to an API. We’ll also be sharing what we learn.

My hope is that other browsers implement similar programs and, as a corollary, cease use of prefixes. If they do, I can imagine many future areas for collaboration on developing and running these experiments. That said, it’s desirable to for different browsers to be trying different designs; we learn more through diversity than premature monoculture.

Moving faster and building better features don’t have to be in tension; we can do better. It’s time to try.

Thanks to Owen Campbell-Moore, Joe Medley, Jeff Yasskin, Adrian Bateman, Jake Archibald, Ian Clelland, Michael Stillwell, Addy Osmani, and Chris Wilson, and Paul Irish for their invaluable feedback on drafts of this post.

by alex at August 20, 2015 08:08 PM

Justin Taylor

D. A. Carson: “Damn All False False Antitheses to Hell”

FCD. A. Carson:

So which shall we choose?

Experience or truth?

The left wing of the airplane, or the right?

Love or integrity?

Study or service?

Evangelism or discipleship?

The front wheels of a car, or the rear?

Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge?

Faith or obedience?

Damn all false antitheses to hell, for

  • they generate false gods,
  • they perpetuate idols,
  • they twist and distort our souls,
  • they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.

—D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 234.

by Justin Taylor at August 20, 2015 06:23 PM

Front Porch Republic

Laudato Si’ and the Feverish Summer

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 1.17.13 PM

For many, this summer was long, hot, and awful — at least politically; no one particularly recalls the weather. Why so rotten? Laudato si’, Obergefell, Planned Parenthood, and Trump. The less said about Trump the better, a judgment many people…

Read Full Article...

The post Laudato Si’ and the Feverish Summer appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by R. J. Snell at August 20, 2015 05:24 PM

Crossway Blog

Introducing the ESV Daily Devotional New Testament

Read through the New Testament in a Year

Many of us want to read the Bible each and every day, but sometimes it's difficult to know where to begin or how to apply the truths we read in our daily lives. A devotional resource can help provide a framework for letting God’s Word penetrate the affections and desires of our heart.

The ESV Daily Devotional New Testament was created to help reveal the gospel's transforming work throughout the New Testament. As Alistair Begg writes in the foreword,

There are all kinds of devotional aids for which we have reason to be thankful. However, nothing can or should take the place of regular, systematic reading of the Bible, which contains everything necessary for salvation. So let me commend this volume as a vital help in learning and living as a Christian.

The ESV Daily Devotional New Testament features 365 gospel-centered devotions adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. In addition to 1-2 paragraphs of encouraging reflections on the biblical text, each devotional also includes a relevant passage from the Psalms and thoughts for prayer.

Full of rich content and available at an affordable price, the ESV Daily Devotional New Testament is a great resource for anyone eager to read and meditate on God's Word on a daily basis.

Learn more and download a free excerpt today!

by Matt Tully at August 20, 2015 12:45 PM

Justin Taylor

Perhaps My Favorite Interview: An Hourlong Conversation with John Piper and John MacArthur

I think my favorite sit-down conversation was with two men I deeply admire: John Piper and John MacArthur. The interview took place on September 28, 2007, at the Desiring God 2007 National Conference in Minneapolis. (You can listen to the audio or read an edited transcript here.)

The conversation was noteworthy to me in how, despite some similarities, God calls and uses very different people to accomplish his purposes. Whether God has wired you more like Piper or more like MacArthur, I hope this encourages you.

Here are the 10 questions I asked them:

  1. Do you remember when you met each other for the first time or when you became aware of each other’s ministries?
  2. I was looking this morning at the dates for both of your fathers: Dr. Jack MacArthur, 1914-2005; Dr. Bill Piper, 1919-2007 — almost the exact same lifespan. They both had honorary doctorates from Bob Jones. They were both Baptists, and both traveling evangelists. Tell us about their examples, the lessons that you both remember from your dads on faithfulness and endurance, or particular things that stick out to you that have impacted your ministry and life.
  3. Did your fathers both want or expect you to be pastors? If so, did they ever express that desire to you?
  4. Dr. MacArthur, do you remember the conversation you had when you told him you felt called to gospel ministry?
  5. Dr. Piper, can you tell us about the time when you wrote a letter to your father telling him about your decision to go into pastoral ministry?
  6. If you could go back now to when you started pastoral ministry and talk to the thirty-four-year-old John Piper and the twenty-nine-year-old John MacArthur, knowing what you know now, what do you think would be the most important thing to tell them on the front end of their ministries?
  7. You both receive a tremendous amount of praise — and a tremendous amount of criticism. How do you personally handle both the reception of praise and the reception of criticism? How do you keep from being prideful on the one hand, and overly discouraged on the other hand? How do you process that when a high praise comes in or a harsh criticism so that you’re responding biblically?
  8. So many young pastors and missionaries look up to both of you and read your books. As you counsel young men and women on the mission field, it seems like one of the truisms is that circumstances often confirm our calling. And if you’re good at something, fruit often comes with that. You’ve both had incredibly fruitful ministries. How do you think through the issues of faithfulness and fruitlessness? Take someone out there is who is in a small church, or on the mission field, and a year goes by, two years go by with no converts, no apparent fruit. How should they think through the possibility that this might not be their gifting, they need to pull back from that, there’s no fruit being produced, versus the perspective that they need to stick it out for another ten years, twenty years, thirty years?
  9. When you personally get discouraged and want to throw in the towel, where do you go biblically? Is there a particular passage or book that you find yourself returning to over and over again? And where do you go outside the Bible? Is there a particular author or book that you return to over and over again when you’re discouraged or downcast?
  10. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you when you die? What do you want to be known for?

by Justin Taylor at August 20, 2015 12:04 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

[Common Places] Engaging with Kate Sonderegger: Interview (Part 1)

Sonderegger_Katherine_photo2014The release of a book within a multi-volume systematic theology project makes for a momentous occasion in the world of systematic theology. Over the last few years a number of such projects have launched, none to greater acclaim or worthy of more significant attention than Katherine Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology. In a previous post we introduced and began to explore critically the volume on the Doctrine of God. In this and another post we will make available an interview that Scott Swain and Michael Allen had with Kate Sonderegger. In this post we inquire about her book’s organization, her theological influences, her commitment to monotheism (in light of charges that such a belief leads to hegemony and violence), and how this inaugural volume will relate to her upcoming volumes in this series.

***

You describe at great length why you start with divine unicity or oneness. Could you describe why your account of that one God addresses these attributes and not others? What guided your judgments of inclusion and exclusion, of focus and emphasis? You also enlist and engage a varied cast of characters across the text for engagement. Could you describe something of your process of selecting or deselecting figures for inclusion and conversation (whether in agreement or disagreement)?

Kate Sonderegger: This is an excellent question, and I think touches on a deep conviction of mine, that method follows doctrine; it does not precede it. So, I think, on one hand, that I might say that these decisions are simply primitive: these theologians speak powerfully to me in this area, these texts guide my thought, the elements of the majesty of God demand my attention. I simply begin, and begin there. In some ways I think theology as a whole should be primitive in just this sense—these voices from the tradition are simply given. But on the other hand, there are decisions that lie close to hand. I aim to take up theologians who have developed a particular attribute or perfection most powerfully and lucidly; they are the ones recognized by the tradition as pioneers, exemplars in this area of doctrine. Always theology should honor the arguments of others at their strongest. I aim, too, to manifest and enact the conviction that the traditional “scholastic” Attributes of God—Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence—are biblical and arise from an attentive and faithful reading of Holy Scripture.

Regina Schwarz has argued in her well-known book The Curse of Cain that an emphasis upon monotheism historically leads to violence. Could you say something regarding the way a classical Christian commitment to divine unicity should or should not affect our behavior amongst one another?

Kate: The creation narrative in Genesis has struck and instructed me by its use of the “jussive” as the form of the LORD God’s work ad extra: the Lord “welcomes” or “invites” creaturely reality into being. (Typical jussives: let us walk together, let us consider this question, let there be peace on earth, let there be light.) They are imperatives, commands, but of a welcoming kind. I think this is the Way of our God, in creation and providence, and beyond. We are commanded in just this jussive way—invited—to walk in love, to outdo one another in showing honor, to live humbly and justly, to give and shed light abroad. Those are all ways that the God who is One prompts a broad, humane, and ethical ways of life. I think too that we might consider the Unicity of God an encouragement to pay special honor to one another’s uniqueness, each one’s “thisness” or “haecceitas,” and it in this way to welcome rich diversity and difference among creatures. Of course we human creatures have hardly excelled over the seasons and centuries in patterning ourselves on the Divine Generosity; there’s no denying the sometimes frightful history. But we are welcomed into the Beloved Community all the same—and this is grace.

The theology of Karl Barth has been a strong influence throughout your theological career. In this volume you make a number of rather un-Barthian moves. Does this signal change in your own thinking about the Basel Master? If so, what are some of the factors that led to this change?

Kate: Barth, I think, will always stand as a father of the faith to me, and a Doctor of the Church, for us all. The Church Dogmatics is matchless; there truly is no other voice like his. But Barth has always given me the wonderful gift of freedom. I have never had the conviction, when I study him, that I must agree with him in all particulars, even in most, to stand in his circle or to learn from him. Unlike many modern theologians, it seems to me, that Barth welcomes, indeed, insists upon independent thought. He challenges us to read afresh, to hear the Word in our day, to give our answer. It may strike others as odd to say, but I find this theologian, so seemingly combative and “intolerant,” a great apostle of liberty.

Can you give us a hint about how your commitments regarding divine unicity and uniqueness will come into play in your treatment of divine triunity in the next volume?

Kate: It seems to me that the Mystery of Trinity should be a form and expression of the Divine Oneness: we say and honor One when we say, Triune. I hope to develop this conviction through an exposition of the Divine Life: the Processions as the Dynamic Generativity and Generosity of the Living God. This Life of the One God, Itself Infinite, does not exist without determination or order; God is a Structured Infinity. The Life of God is the Source—not Ground or Antitype!—of all creaturely structure, life, place. In Him we live and move and have our being: this too is an element of the Mystery of Trinity. God is Truth and Goodness; altogether Very Good. This is Trinity, and the Source of Incarnation.

***

Kate Sonderegger (DMin, STM, Yale University; AB, Smith College; PhD, Brown University) is the William Meade Chair in Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary, VA. She is the author of That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew: Karl Barth’s “Doctrine of Israel” (University Park: Penn State Press, 1992) and Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God, Volume 1 (Fortress, 2015), the first installment of her multi-volume systematic theology. Professor Sonderegger is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Kampen-Princeton Barth Consultation, Karl Barth Society of North America, American Theological Society, Society for the Study of Theology, and the co-chair for the Reformed Theology executive committee.

***

Common Places is a regular column on the Zondervan Academic blog with a focus on systematic theology. The loci communes or “common places” of Christian theology, drawn out of the Scriptures and organized in a manner suitable to their exposition in the church and the academy, have functioned historically as common points of reference for theological discussion and debate. This column will focus upon the classical loci of systematic theology, not as occasions for revision, but as opportunities for entering into the ongoing conversation that is Christian systematic theology. We invite you to join and dialog with us on the first and third Thursdays of every month. For more about Common Places, read the column introduction.

Our current series, Engaging with Kate Sonderegger, explores the recently released first volume of a significant multi-volume project in systematic theology from a classically minded contemporary theologian. This brief series not only introduces the project but critically explores some of its salient and distinctive features.

Michael Allen and Scott Swain, editors

by Michael Allen and Scott Swain, editors of Common Places at August 20, 2015 12:00 PM

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

Shanghaied Again

So, on Tuesday, I was woken up again by the Cherubim saying gruffly: “Mom, Mom. Go to store. Buy some milk!” (Teenage boys. Lots of milk use here.)

And this time, thanks to you, I was able to get up and buy milk and a number of other things that we needed.

In fact, thanks to the astonishing generosity of John’s wonderful, wonderful readers we were able to pay all our bills in August. And with the help of two gracious and amazing friends, we have our mortgage for September covered.

The manna in the desert was not more miraculous. ;-)

God bless you guys!

(And prayers for a peaceful, harmonious Hugos weekend are most welcome!)

by John C Wright at August 20, 2015 11:58 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Hands to Thyself

News

In the few short years that I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons, I feel like I have met many types of players; from the Role-Player to the Rule Master, from the Go-With-The-Flow to the Tactician.

I've seen how many different players have treated their dice as well. I've watched the Casual…

Read more

August 20, 2015 07:01 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Pursuing Gospel-Shaped Worship in Your Church

Can we assume that all true churches practice gospel-shaped worship? In one sense, yes. After all, the gospel forms the church and informs what it does. Christians gather together because the gospel brings us together. In this sense, corporate worship is certainly gospel-shaped. But what about pursuing such worship intentionally? Here we can’t be so sure. 

So what can churches do to ensure their services are centered around the gospel? What’s the remedy for churches with worship unshaped by the gospel? How can our entire gathering reflect the gospel narrative? Why sing in the first place? With these questions and more in mind, Matt Boswell (pastor of ministries and worship at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas) sat down with Jared Wilson (director of content strategy at Midwestern Seminary and managing editor of For the Church) and Shane Barnard (one half of the musical duo Shane & Shane). In this eight-minute discussion, these leaders consider what churches can do to more deliberately make corporate worship gospel-shaped.

For more on this subject, and to help your church make needed changes, pick up the new Gospel Shaped Worship group study from TGC and the Good Book Company. This seven-week curriculum on worship by Jared Wilson includes DVD teaching, discussion questions, ideas for sermons series, daily devotionals, and more. 

by Ryan Troglin <p><strong>Ryan Troglin&nbsp;</strong>is an editorial assistant in the Office of the President at <a href="http://www.sbts.edu/">The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary</a>. He and his wife, Stacey, are members at <a href="http://www.thirdavenue.org/">Third Avenue Baptist Church</a> in Louisville, Kentucky.</p> at August 20, 2015 05:02 AM

Pursuing Gospel-Shaped Worship in Your Church

Can we assume that all true churches practice gospel-shaped worship? In one sense, yes. After all, the gospel forms the church and informs what it does. Christians gather together because the gospel brings us together. In this sense, corporate worship is certainly gospel-shaped. But what pursuing such worship intentionally? Here we can’t be so sure. 

So what can churches do to ensure their services are centered around the gospel? What’s the remedy for churches with worship unshaped by the gospel? How can our entire gathering reflect the gospel narrative? Why sing in the first place? With these questions and more in mind, Matt Boswell (pastor of ministries and worship at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas) sat down with Jared Wilson (director of content strategy at Midwestern Seminary and managing editor of For the Church) and Shane Barnard (one half of the musical duo Shane & Shane). 

In this eight-minute discussion, these leaders consider what churches can do to more deliberately make corporate worship gospel-shaped. We need to be having this conversation and more things need to be said. This video is a good place to start. 

by Ryan Troglin <p><strong>Ryan Troglin&nbsp;</strong>is an editorial assistant in the Office of the President at <a href="http://www.sbts.edu/">The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary</a>. He and his wife, Stacey, are members at <a href="http://www.thirdavenue.org/">Third Avenue Baptist Church</a> in Louisville, Kentucky.</p> at August 20, 2015 05:02 AM

Christianity and ‘The Good Wife’

Christians have often complained about the lack of intelligent portrayals of Christianity and Christian characters in popular media. We are often, if not dominantly, portrayed as prudish, saccharine, and hypocritical. One is left only with clichés of heroic “I’m no saint” confessions to priests and with characters like Angela from The Office.

One of the few exceptions is the surprisingly intelligent examination of Christianity taking place on the margins of the critically acclaimed CBS legal drama The Good Wife. If you’re unfamiliar, the show follows the life of Alicia Florrick, a wife of a disgraced politician who begins a career in law after spending years at home raising two kids. At its core The Good Wife is a fast-paced legal drama in the style of L.A. Law, and is generally regarded as a good show not because of any specific innovations, but because it does the basics well.

But for a show not trying to be innovative, it has managed to accomplish a rare feat: its portrayal of religion—particularly Christianity—is accurate, respectable, and surprisingly even-handed. Religion is part of a larger theme throughout the show: the narratives that control one’s life. Specifically, is one’s belief in God the controlling narrative of their life, a component of their history, or basically irrelevant? In addition, The Good Wife examines the credulity of one’s faith commitments when strained by ordinary and extraordinary events. This past season was perhaps its best treatment of Christianity, personal narrative, and the sincerity of belief, particularly as portrayed through three of its principle characters: Grace, Peter, and Alicia.

Grace the Christian

Since season 1, Grace Florrick has been the primary character through which religious issues are examined. While her conversion to Christ at a youth rally is met with shock and disdain from her mother, Grace remains a Christian throughout the series. Such a character could easily become a stock goody two-shoes who always does the right thing and never wavers from her beliefs. But the producers do a superb job of depicting Grace’s faith in the midst of internal and external struggles. She deals with common American teen issues: whether to date a boy with a troubled past and the difficulty in developing close friendships, for example.

The viewer also watches her mature in her faith. In season 1, as a young believer Grace follows the advice of another young Christian and interprets Matthew 10:34 as an invitation to rebel against her parents. In season 6, a considerably more mature Grace encourages her mom not to engage in this sort of prooftexting, but to look at Scripture as a whole to ascertain meaning and intent. Additionally, the viewer watches Grace struggle with seasons of uncertainty and weariness as most Christians do.

Peter the Hypocrite

Peter Florrick’s conversion occurs in season 2 as he begins a run for state attorney. He begins a relationship with an African-American pastor (Isaiah) with the hope that Isaiah’s endorsement will help him win votes in the upcoming election. Under the care of Pastor Isaiah, Peter appears to repent and begins pursuing a life devoted to God. Throughout the season one is left to wonder whether this pursuit is genuine or merely politically expedient. A few following seasons of affairs and back-room political tactics lead us to assume it was just a phase, which is confirmed when Peter reconnects with Pastor Isaiah in season 6. In a car ride Peter dodges questions about whether he still has faith, insisting that instead of being a “good” person he’d prefer to be an effective politician.

Such a withdrawal from a seemingly genuine confession of faith is, I would argue, an accurate portrayal of what often occurs in the real experience of people’s lives. Many have a “conversion experience” only to see the effects wane over time, eventually explained away as a temporary “phase” (Jesus’s parable of the soils is an apt explanation for this phenomenon). Instead of the conversion launching the narrative which orders the rest of one’s life, it becomes a minor episode in another dominating history. For Grace, her conversion remains the controlling story of her life. For Peter, his conversion experience is overwhelmed by and subsumed under the narrative of the effective politician.

Alicia the Atheist

The dominant theme throughout the show is Alicia Florrick’s wrestling with the narrative of herself as the good wife. Her public image is dominated by her willingness to stand by her husband after his admitted adultery. She’s portrayed as the moral conscience of a law firm that continually bends rules in the pursuit of legal victory.

Her own admitted atheism is occasionally referenced throughout the series, particularly in her interactions with Grace, but it’s brought to the forefront when she decides to run for political office in season 6. Alicia is forced to make the kind of ends-justify-the-means compromises she previously rejected, with the only consequence being the potential loss of respect from her daughter. What’s revealed throughout the show is that Alicia’s morality is grounded in her role as a mother and politician’s wife; once the demands of those roles wane, and she assumes the role of politician herself, there’s no longer an identity to undergird moral decisions. The absence of a worldview grounded in God’s Word and a morality derived from being made in God’s image makes such a shift all the more easy.

Fair Examination

Though not a “family friendly” show (this is not 7th Heaven—there are frequent sex scenes that are unsettling despite broadcast television regulations), The Good Wife may be the best option for those tired of seeing the negative stereotypes of Christians that have become cliché in Hollywood. It presents a fair and in-depth examination of the impact of faith and unbelief on individuals and their overarching perception of themselves. This is accomplished without the kind of moralizing that would make it a Christian niche program ignored by the viewing public.

Hopefully other shows will follow this lead, helping to depict a Christianity that resembles less its egregious outliers and more the common impact it has on its faithful adherents. 

by Mike Niebauer <p><strong>Mike Niebauer</strong> is&nbsp;a pastor in the Anglican Church in North America. After 10 years of planting churches in Chicago, he recently moved to State College, Pennsylvania, to begin planting <a href="http://statecollegeanglican.com/">Incarnation Church</a>.&nbsp;</p> at August 20, 2015 05:02 AM

Help Me Teach the Bible: Dan Doriani on James

To teach us how to teach the book of James, in this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible we talk with Dan Doriani, vice president of strategic academic initiatives and professor of theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. Doriani is the author of Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible, a book that is essential reading for every Bible teacher, as well as numerous commentaries. He also wrote the introduction and notes on the book of James in the Gospel Transformation Bible. Topics in this discussion include:

  • the way Jesus is presented differently in James compared to other epistles
  • the tree tests of James
  • the nature of “true religion”
  • the gospel according to James
  • bringing a social justice framework to teaching James
  • whether there’s conflict between James and Paul regarding faith and works
  • praying for healing according to James

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful in preparing to teach James:

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 <p><a href="http://www.nancyguthrie.com/" title=""><strong>Nancy Guthrie</strong></a> teaches the Bible at her home church, <a href="http://www.cornerstonepresfranklin.org/" title="">Cornerstone Presbyterian Church</a> in Franklin, Tennessee, as well as at conferences around the country and internationally, and through books and DVDs in the <a href="http://seeingjesusintheoldtestament.com/" title="">Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament</a> series. She offers companionship and biblical insight to the grieving through <a href="http://www.nancyguthrie.com/retreats/" title="">Respite Retreats</a> that she and her husband, David, host for couples who have faced the death of child, through the GriefShare video series, and through books such as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Hope-Pathway-through-Suffering/dp/1414312962/?tag=thegospcoal-20" title=""><em>Holding on to Hope</em></a><em> </em>and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Hearing-Jesus-Speak-into-Sorrow/dp/1414325487/?tag=thegospcoal-20" title=""><em>Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow</em></a>.</p> at August 20, 2015 05:01 AM

Do All Infants Go to Heaven?

Recent revelatory videos about the practices of Planned Parenthood have stirred many to ask about the eternal destiny of these precious unborn babies. So are those who die in infancy lost? The same question applies to those who live beyond infancy but, because of mental disability or some other handicap, are incapable of moral discernment, deliberation, or volition.

This is more than a theoretical issue designed for speculation. It touches one of the most emotionally and spiritually unsettling experiences in all of life: the loss of a young child.

The view I embrace is that all those who die in infancy, as well as those so mentally incapacitated they’re incapable of making an informed choice, are among the elect of God, chosen for salvation before the world began. The evidence for this view is scant, but significant. 

1. In Romans 1:20 Paul describes recipients of general revelation as being “without excuse.” They can’t blame their unbelief on a lack of evidence. There is sufficient revelation of God’s existence in the natural order to establish the moral accountability of all who witness it. Might this imply that those who are not recipients of general revelation (i.e., infants) are therefore not accountable to God or subject to wrath? In other words, wouldn’t those who die in infancy have an “excuse” in that they neither receive general revelation nor have the capacity to respond to it?

2. There are texts that assert or imply that infants don’t know good or evil and hence lack the capacity to make morally informed—and thus responsible—choices. According to Deuteronomy 1:39 they are said to “have no knowledge of good or evil.” This in itself, however, doesn’t prove infant salvation, for they may still be held liable for the sin of Adam.

3. We must take account of the story of David’s son in 2 Samuel 12:15–23 (especially verse 23). The firstborn child of David and Bathsheba is struck by the Lord and dies. In the seven days before his death, David fasts and prays, hoping that “the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.” Yet following the child’s death, David washes, eats, and worships. Asked why he’s responding this way, David says, “Since he has died, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (v. 23).

What does it mean when David says “I shall go to him”? If this is merely a reference to the grave or death in the sense that David, too, shall one day die and be buried, one wonders why he’d say something so patently obvious. Also, it appears that David draws some measure of comfort from knowing that he will “go to him.” It’s the reason why David resumes the normal routine of life. It appears to be the reason he ceases from the display of grief. It appears to be a truth from which he derives comfort and encouragement. How could any of this be true if David will simply die like his son? It would, therefore, appear David believed he would be reunited with his deceased infant. Does this imply that at least this one particular infant was saved? Perhaps. But if so, are we justified in constructing a doctrine in which we affirm the salvation of all who die in infancy?

4. There is the consistent testimony of Scripture that people are judged on the basis of sins committed voluntary and consciously in the body (see 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Rev. 20:11–12). In other words, eternal judgment is always based on conscious rejection of divine revelation (whether in creation, conscience, or Christ) and willful disobedience. Are infants capable of either? There is no explicit account in Scripture of any other judgment based on any other grounds. Thus, those dying in infancy are saved because they do not (indeed cannot) satisfy the conditions for divine judgment.

5. Related to the above point, is what R.  A. Webb states:

[If a deceased infant] were sent to hell on no other account than that of original sin, there would be a good reason to the divine mind for the judgment, but the child’s mind would be a perfect blank as to the reason of its suffering. Under such circumstances, it would know suffering, but it would have no understanding of the reason for its suffering. It could not tell its neighbor—it could not tell itself—why it was so awfully smitten; and consequently the whole meaning and significance of its sufferings, being to it a conscious enigma, the very essence of penalty would be absent, and justice would be disappointed of its vindication. Such an infant could feel that it was in hell, but it could not explain, to its own conscience, why it was there.

6. We have what would appear to be clear biblical evidence that at least some infants are regenerate in the womb, such that if they died in their infancy they would be saved. This provides at least a theoretical basis for considering whether the same may be true of all who die in infancy. As Ronald Nash points out, “If this sort of thing happens even once, it can certainly happen in other cases.” Supporting texts include Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:15.

7. Some have appealed to Matthew 19:13–15 (also Mark 10:13–16; Luke 18:15–17) where Jesus declares, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Is he simply saying if one wishes to be saved one must be as trusting as a child (i.e., devoid of skepticism and arrogance)? In other words, is Jesus merely describing the kind of people who enter the kingdom? Or is he saying these very children were recipients of saving grace? If the latter were true, it would seem to imply Jesus knew that the children he was then receiving would all die in infancy. Is that credible?

8. Let me close with an argument that’s entirely subjective (and therefore of questionable evidential value). Given our understanding of God’s character as presented in Scripture, does he appear as the kind of God who would eternally condemn infants on no other ground than that of Adam’s transgression? Again, this is a subjective (and perhaps sentimental) question. But it deserves an answer, nonetheless.

I can only speak for myself, but I find the first, third, fourth, fifth, and eighth points sufficiently convincing. Therefore, I do believe in the salvation of those dying in infancy. I affirm their salvation, though, neither because they are innocent nor because they have merited forgiveness, but solely because God has sovereignly chosen them for eternal life, regenerated their souls, and applied the saving benefits of the blood of Christ to them apart from conscious faith.

Editors’ note: This essay has been adapted and shortened from Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Crossway, 2013). 

by Sam Storms <p><b>Sam Storms</b> is lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also serves as a Council member of The Gospel Coalition.</p> at August 20, 2015 05:00 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

In Realtime: It Is Done

When I can feel my face again, and after I finish cleaning up my untouched-for-a-week life up in New York, I will sit down and write a proper Post-mortem of everything, but here’s the high level news.

 

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The goal, as you might recall, was to go into a closing warehouse of manuals, take as much as we could, and store it somewhere so that it could be properly “dealt with”, with the rest ending up in the trash.

We hit that goal. In total, the number of boxes is something between 1,600 and 1,700. These are boxes that each contain from a half-dozen to dozens of manuals, shop notes, catalogs and other related documents, mostly for testing equipment and electronics tools.

A few of us tried to do a very roughvery hand-wavy job of determining what the total number of manuals was, because it sure as hell wasn’t 25,000. At the end we decided that it is definitely over 50,000 and it is probably as high as 75,000. So we rescued twice as many items as I was told the room contained. That’s fantastic.

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The amount of people who had walked in through the front door to volunteer help, some of them knowing nothing other than an address and that a friend had said “You must go there”, numbered at least 60. In some cases, entire families came – Mom, Dad, Daughter, Grandkids all being put to work to find duplicate manuals. Finding what a volunteer can best be used for is a bit of an art and not a science, but I did my best – some people were a little too roughed up to be lifters, and others were handed a task and went at it for 5 hours without a complaint or a break, building up a ruinous sweat.

I didn’t get a photo of everyone and it is going to be a crapshoot to get all the names up there, so when I do the postmortem and thanks, I expect to be modifying that posting for weeks.

My job was mostly to keep a lid on knowing how it was all going to pan out and to make sure our two main outside vendors, the moving company and the storage facility, didn’t give us any surprises.

Neither did.

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To make things easier, I’d rented two, and then three spaces at a storage company a mile from the warehouse. It wasn’t one of the free ones people generously offered (and which were all between 30 and 60 miles away), but instead was a very quick staging and timeout location for getting things out of immediate danger. I’ll just repeat that, here: this is not the final home, just an easy place to start to look at the collection intelligently and carefully. In an ideal world, I’d have been let into the warehouse in January and would slowly have cataloged and worked through the whole place, and then began organizing the moves and future homes. But this went down in less than a week, and here we are.

There were a lot of great ideas that volunteers and collaborators came up with, on the spot, looking over the whole thing. Systems and procedures and what-ifs and what-abouts abounded. Generally, I took the word of someone standing right there over someone on a forum bloviating about the One True And Right Way. From these volunteers came ideas like how to approach some sorting, methods to mark off completion, potential organizations that might be interested, and so on.

But one volunteer had, by far, the most immediate major influence.

Floating in the back of our minds was how we were going to get all these boxes over to the storage. Even with a mere mile distance, it would be a soul-killing convoy of cars and trucks putting items into the storage units. It could have gone into Thursday. Thoughts of grabbing day laborers were floated, along with who knew what friend who could bring “a truck”.

But this volunteer suggested we hire movers, and also suggested who he had heard were great local movers. They ended up being Budget Movers of Westminster. A quote and a price later, and there they were at 9am the next morning. The next morning.

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Like it often is with professionals, they didn’t whine, grate, or sniff when faced with a room of boxes – they just got to it.

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Having wrangled volunteers for three days at that point, it was great to just have the ability to hire a firm to get the last tedious and dangerously physical portion done. “Please take this mass of boxes and get them to this other box.” was worth paying the money for, money which people all over the world sent me.

I rush to say that we definitely did have a couple other trucks and cars in the mix – we did four major loads of boxes from the warehouse to the units, and along the way, four car/truckloads of boxes went through volunteers, just to get that last little bit into the units before it got to be too dark.

At the end, we had all the boxes into the units (with some space left over), and for various values, the manuals and materials were “safe”.

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When we were done with the storage, we went back through the warehouse, cleaning up some messes, tidying the place, and giving the shelves one last review.

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One volunteer didn’t want to go. He kept sorting, kept going through, kept finding what he thought was one last unique manual. He went from shelf to shelf, just checking, just wanting to be 100% sure we’re captured one unique copy of every single manual in there. He’d gotten a ride from a friend up from Virginia, and then just stayed. He did not have a clear plan for how to get back, but figured it would work out, just like I’d written a post on here the previous Friday, in what was just a little less than a week ago, announcing this impossible task.

But he just wouldn’t let it finish.

We ended up shutting the lights off on him.

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There’s a lot left to write, and I’ll get that going immediately in a post-mortem, along with ideas for the future. But at this moment. I am totally at peace with how things have gone. I’m in the manual world now, and I love the people it has brought into my life.

More coming soon. Thank you, everyone.

 

by Jason Scott at August 20, 2015 03:16 AM

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

Time and Lies Wait for no Man

I just got an email from an SJW theologian telling me that it is impossible to hate a sin while loving a sinner whose sins are corrupting, lobotomizing, torturing, and killing him. His logic seemed to be that it is hypocrisy to love someone and yet to hate what hurts him.

Of course, being self-lobotomized with modern education and an industrial sized sense of his own self righteousness, the SJW theologian believes that the word ‘sin’ is another word for ‘fun’ — in which case, he thinks I am advocating loving the funster while hating his fun which would be a paradox.

I hate my sins because they hurt me and damn me and darken my intellect. I love myself just fine, perhaps too much.  I do not see how it is hypocritical to treat others with the same standard with which I regard myself. Indeed, to a non-SJW, treating others as you treat yourself is not hypocrisy, but the very opposite.

I hate lies, and there is no time to battle them. I wrote another chapter of my juvenile today, and I want to get it finished as quickly as time allows. Hence, like Vox Day, I have no time to waste writing letters to idiot SJW theologians, or to the lying vermin at NPR.

For I see the following at the Vox Day website:

A Latino, an Indian, and a White man

Walk into a room. How does NPR describe them? As three white men. Because badthink:

The prestigious Hugo Awards, which honor science fiction and fantasy writing, will be held Saturday. Lately, they have been given to more and more women and writers of color as the world of sci-fi opens up — and that’s prompted a backlash from a group of mostly white male writers who call themselves the “Sad Puppies.”

Listen to the rest of it here if you like, I’m not going to bother.

What a boatload of maroons.

by John C Wright at August 20, 2015 03:12 AM

Karen De Coster

Whooping Cough Vaccination Fail

For all of the “herd immunity” evangelists who believe that everyone should be shamed into or forced to become revenue streams for the medical-pharmaceutical-government-criminal complex. To quote the article:

The Reno County Health Department tells us a majority of the total cases have been vaccinated.

Same thing is going on in Wichita County, Texas. And the same thing in Massachusetts. So the solution, according to the herd, is to get more people vaccinated.

All the children among these cases were all immunized and their immunizations were all up to date.

..Health officials say the best way to protect your child is to get them immunized as well as the whole family including parents and grandparents.

Because even if they still get the disease, they will most likely get a much milder case of it.

These final two statements are completely illogical and unscientific. But I thought the Vaccination Nation argument was entirely sound, and all else was anti-science? This may be a partial explanation for what is actually transpiring here. Additionally, the National Vaccine Information Center reports:

The Hutchinson News reports that, although “scientists say people are protected from the disease if vaccinated” (an inaccurate statement, given the children infected children in Hutchinson school district), people vaccinated against pertussis can spread the disease to others.

And this is precisely the point to bear in mind as you read about pertussis outbreaks. The outbreaks are not necessarily occurring because of the lack of so-called “herd immunity”—not enough people being vaccinated. They may well be occurring because of the vaccinated population itself.

by Karen De Coster at August 20, 2015 01:33 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending August 14, 2015

My birthday was last week. I had fun reviewing the past year. So much has happened, and I’ve learned a lot: new skills, deeper interests, and so on. Yay!

I’ve been dealing with a lot of bleahs. W- has taken over cooking and has been wonderfully supportive. With any luck, I should be out of this phase soon.

Still have a hard time with focused thinking, but fortunately, the programming I do for my consulting clients isn’t blocked like that. When I find it difficult to write, I fill my mind with reading instead. I’ve been going through a lot of nonfiction books and science fiction novels from the library, and I’ve started picking up Latin again.

I’ve been playing around with doodling a bit more. It’s fun sketching a few random curves and seeing where my imagination goes, or gradually shaping a drawing into something that resonates with me.

W- and I finished True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM) in Borderlands 2, hooray! Now we’re going through side missions and occasionally farming loot. I often join him for a few hours of gaming in the evening. Good for in-jokes and shared experiences.

Next week: small steps…

2015-08-19a Week ending 2015-08-14 -- index card #journal #weekly

output

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

  • Business (9.9h – 5%)
    • Earn (4.4h – 44% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (5.5h – 55% of Business)
      • Drawing (5.5h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (9.0h – 5%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (8.6h – 5%)
    • Emacs (1.7h – 0% of all)
    • Writing (2.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (42.6h – 25%)
  • Personal routines (28.7h – 17%)
  • Unpaid work (1.0h – 0%)
  • Sleep (68.1h – 40% – average of 9.7 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending August 14, 2015 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at August 20, 2015 12:43 AM

Daniel Lemire's blog

Computing in 2025… what can we expect?

It is hot today in Montreal, so let me play my favorite game: (mis)predicting the future (2025).

  • If the past is any guide, we shall still program using Java, JavaScript, C, SQL, and so forth. Linux will still be everywhere.
  • Using libraries or web services, almost anyone will be able to build a simple application with human-level speech or image recognition, cheaply and quickly. And I do mean “almost anyone” as in “any reasonably smart kid in high school”.
  • Processors with 2 or 4 cores will look antiquated. Basic computer systems (at least in the cloud) will be made of hundreds of cores.
  • Whereas storage is currently nearly infinite in practice, in 2025, memory will be nearly infinite in the sense that programmers will not worry much about running out of memory, even on mobile devices. However, you will only able to access a fraction of this memory per second with any single core.
  • Though we shall still have silicon-based processors, some other technology will be taking over… maybe something esoteric like carbon nanotubes.

by Daniel Lemire at August 20, 2015 12:38 AM

August 19, 2015

iPods continue to fade into history →

Mark Gurman:

Typically reserved for accessories like Apple Watch bands, headphones, and iPhone cases, Apple Store accessory walls will now be home to the recently-updated iPod line. Apple products, ranging from iPods to iPads to Macs, have typically been stored in the back of Apple Stores and brought to a customer upon the point of sale. Now, when a customer wants to buy an iPod, she or he can simply pull it off a shelf without needing to wait for the product to be brought from the back room.

This isn't a surprising move, of course. I was in our local Apple Store last week and noticed that the iPod table was not only still somewhat prominent in the store, but that no one was near it. After being booted from Apple.com's navigation, it was only a matter of time before the product line would lose its place in the stores as well.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at August 19, 2015 10:36 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Olympic Lifting Meet 11:00am

Saturday’s Workout:

Teams of 2-4:
800 Meter Run
*carry 24/16kg Bell
400 Meter Lunge
*all travel, switch who lunges
200 Meter Broad Jump
*all travel, switch who jumps
100 Meter Relay
*all run 100 Meter individually, tag next partner to go
50 Meter Tire Flip

 

 

Saturday August 22nd:

The NapTown Barbell Club will be having their third mock Olympic Lifting meet TODAY at 11:00am corresponding with the end of the current cycle. Athletes will run through an Olympic Meet complete with judges, Olympic rules, and a single platform. It is a really cool environment to experience and a great opportunity to try for PR lifts. We will not be having regular Barbell Club class at 9:00am today because of the Mock Meet. Again, the meet will begin at 11:00am. This means that you will need to warm up yourself before then. Watch this for motivation.

115kg/#253 Snatch by 75kg/#165 Lidia Valentin

242kg/#532 Clean and Jerk by 105kg/#231 Ilya Ilyin

by Anna at August 19, 2015 07:03 PM

Olympic Lifting Details

Friday’s Workout:

Strength:
Strict Press
1-1-1-1-1

WOD:
Tabata :20/:10 x 8
Straight Leg Sit Ups
1:00 Rest
Air Squats
1:00 Rest
Pull Ups
*score total reps at each movement

 

Olympic Lifting Meet Ins and Outs

Saturday August 22nd, we will be hosting an in-house (mostly) Olympic Weightlifting meet. Olympic Weightlifting in the real world (i.e. at the Olympics) is a little bit different from what we are used to as CrossFitters. So here are a few details on what makes Olympic Lifting special, what may fly in a CrossFit competition will give you a red flag in an Olympic meet so read through carefully!

 

Format and Scoring:

Olympic Weightlifting consists of lifters performing two lifts, the snatch followed by the clean and jerk. All athletes will be weighed in prior to the start of the meet and placed in weight classes. In sanctioned meets, athletes are only lifting against other athletes in the same weight class. However, due to the small size of our competition we will be using Sinclair scoring to find bodyweight to weight lifted ratios to determine standings. Each lifter is given three attempts at the snatch during the snatch portion of the meet and three attempts at the clean and jerk during that portion. The final score for each lifter will be the highest successful snatch weight plus the highest successful clean and jerk weight.

Timing:

Each lifter is given 60 seconds to perform their lift after their name is called by the judge. The order of lifters is based upon the weight of the attempt taken by each lifter, i.e. lighter attempts precede heavier attempts. If a lifter is to take two lifts in succession, then she or he is allotted 120 seconds between the first and second lift. The meet starts with the snatch and once all athletes have made three snatch attempts the clean and jerk section begins where the same timing and ordering is followed.

Basic Elements of a Good Lift (apply to Snatch and Clean & Jerk):

All lifts performed during the meet must occur on the lifting platform, any lift that goes off of the platform will be considered a missed lift. The feet are the only part of the body that is permitted to touch the platform, if a lifter hits the platform with the knee but still stands the bar up it is still a missed lift. The athlete must return to standing with the feet together and be given the down signal from the judge before returning the bar to the platform. For a lift to be considered successful, two of the three judges must show the white flag of approval!

Snatch Particulars:

For a good snatch, the athlete must move the bar from the floor to an overhead position in one continuous motion. The lifter cannot pause during the ascent and must catch the bar with extended arms, any press out will result in a missed lift.

snatch2-e13469596989891

Clean Particulars:

The bar begins on the platform horizontal to the lifters feet and is lifted in one continuous motion from the floor to the athletes shoulders. The feet must return to the same line and legs must be extended before beginning the jerk.

img_6690

Jerk Particulars:

The lifter will bend the legs and take the bar from the shoulders to a fully extended position of the arms overhead, if the bar is pressed out then the rep will not count, it must be caught at extension. The feet must return to the same line with the arms still locked out overhead and the athlete must be given the down signal before returning the bar to the platform.

Svetlana_Podobedova_2012c

 

by Anna at August 19, 2015 06:39 PM

Workout: Aug. 27, 2015

Snatch balances 1-1-1-1-1 Overhead squats 1-1-1-1-1

by Mike at August 19, 2015 06:36 PM

Workout: Aug. 26, 2015

21-15-9 reps of: Pull-ups Deadlifts (225/155 lb.) Box jumps (24/20 inches) Skills Session Work up to a heavy but not max front-squat triple Amass 2 minutes in an L-sit Max flexed-arm hang Test max vertical jump from standing and with a running approach

by Mike at August 19, 2015 06:26 PM

Workout: Aug. 25, 2015

Push presses 2-2-2 4 rounds of: 100 feet of overhead walking lunges (45/25 lb.) 20 push-ups

by Mike at August 19, 2015 06:19 PM

Front Porch Republic

When Shame Vanishes

Old Man with a Beard

“… shame will vanish.” Hesiod, Works and Days

Hesiod gives a remarkable description of a degenerate culture by pointing to several of its hallmark characteristics. This one is particularly chilling.

“Shame” for the Greeks refers to a crucial human passion: one that recoils from what is wicked or indecent. The feeling of shame is rooted in an insight—be it ever so subconscious or pre-conceptual—an insight into the real distinction between good and evil. Indeed true shame springs from an appreciation that moral uprightness is precious, and its opposite repulsive.

While to feel shame for evil is natural, just how deeply and about what we feel it is subject to our social and moral environment. Cultivation of proper shame is a hallmark of civilization.

But shame can vanish.

Our society often treats what is shameful as though it were good. The worst instances are perhaps too obvious to need mentioning. Yet we might fruitfully look closer to home, and consider our own sensitivity to what is shameful, albeit in lesser instances. Immodesty, crude language, unnecessary violence, rude manners, disrespect for authority and age, crassness, a cult of ugliness: these are shameful. Yet it seems we are becoming inured to them. Alas, sometimes we entertain ourselves with them; we watch (even share?) internet videos highlighting them.

If we, our friends, and our children are not ashamed of that which is shameful, rooted in a reverence for the whole spectrum of what is good and beautiful, then we must act to change this.

Hesiod’s words may have described his age, and they do describe our own age in large part. It is in our power whether they describe our own lives and households.

Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead. It also describes various characteristics of both a troubled time period—Hesiod’s own, and those of a golden age. I am going to devote several Wednesday Quotes to the characteristics of the former, followed by several concerning the latter.

Image: Old Man with a Beard, Rembrandt

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

The post When Shame Vanishes appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Cuddeback at August 19, 2015 05:50 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Throw Back Thursday

Thursday’s Workout:

Scap Activation

WOD:
Row 500
50 Russian Swings (32/24)
50 Wall Balls (20/14)
Rest 2:30
3 Rounds

 

 

2014 Bracket Buster

 

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This event was absolutely epic. Just look at how much fun is clearly about to go down in this photo!! It takes a ton of help and support to make this event run smoothly and we have been grateful to have so many help us in the past. This year’s event is shaping up to be another great one and we are again asking for any and all help that we can get that weekend.

September 19th and 20th, the walls of CFNT Delaware will be packed with athletes ready to take on two days of friendly competition in a tournament style bracket. If you are not competing, then volunteering is your way to get involved! You get a behind the scenes look at how the competition runs, get to boss athletes and spectators around so you can set up equipment, and even judge people without it being morally unacceptable. All wins.

Click here and register as a volunteer for any time that you may be available that weekend. Registering through here ensures that you will get a swagged out t-shirt for the event, it may even say judge on it.

 

by Anna at August 19, 2015 05:45 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Textbooks are a bargain

Compared with Harvard tuition, that is, according to Irwin Collier:
Excerpts from the Harvard Catalogue for 1874-75 with principal texts.... Incidentally, one finds that annual fees for a full course load at Harvard ran $120/year and a copy of John Stuart Mill’s Principles cost $2.50. Cf. today’s Amazon.com price for N. Gregory Mankiw’s Economics which is $284.16. If tuition relative to the price of textbooks had remained unchanged (and the quality change of the Mankiw textbook relative to Mill’s textbook(!) were equal to the quality change of the Harvard undergraduate education today compared to that of 1874-75(!!)), Harvard tuition would only be about $13,600/year today instead of $45,278.

In other words, over the past 140 years, textbook prices have risen only 114-fold, whereas Harvard tuition has risen 377-fold. 

Over this period, the CPI has risen 22-fold. So the real price of textbooks has increased about 5-fold, or a bit more than 1 percent per year.

by Greg Mankiw (noreply@blogger.com) at August 19, 2015 05:09 PM

Justin Taylor

The 7th Planned Parenthood Video + 4 FAQs

Today (August 19, 2015), saw the release of the seventh Planned Parenthood video: Human Capital—Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product.

Here is the summary:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19–The third episode in a new documentary web series and 7th video on Planned Parenthood’s supply of aborted fetal tissue tells a former procurement technician’s harrowing story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion.

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore different themes within Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 3, “Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product,” launches today. . . .

The series focuses on the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and Tissue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a biotech start-up that until last week was partnered with two large northern California Planned Parenthood affiliates to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation.

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘I want to see something kind of cool,'” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”

The San Jose Planned Parenthood does abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Referring to the beating heart of the aborted fetus, O’Donnell remarks, “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.”

State and federal law require that the same treatment be given to an infant born-alive after an abortion as to a normally delivered baby (1 U.S.C. 8, CA Health and Safety Code 123435). California law also prohibits any kind of experimentation on a fetus with a discernible heartbeat (CA Health and Safety Code 123440). StemExpress has been cited in published scientific literature as a source of fetal hearts used for Langendorff perfusion, which keeps a heart beating after it is excised from the body:http://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/…

O’Donnell also tells how her StemExpress supervisor instructed her to cut through the face of the fetus in order to get the brain. “”She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. I can’t even describe what that feels like,” she says.

The video also features recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the Executive Director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, and also of Perrin Larton, Procurement Manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country. Van Handel admits, “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating,” and Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.”

CMP’s Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Today’s video contains heartrending admissions about the absolute barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and baby parts sales in which fetuses are sometimes delivered intact and alive. Planned Parenthood is a criminal organization from the top down and should be immediately stripped of taxpayer funding and prosecuted for their atrocities against humanity.”

1. If I Haven’t Seen the Other Videos Yet, What Do I Need to Know?

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)

The following is a very helpful summary of what has happened thus far—both in terms of the undercover investigation and its effects so far:

2. Scientifically, Does Human Life Really Begin at Conception Or Is It Merely Potential Human Life?

BirthSpiral14 (1)

Three distinguished and brilliant professors:

  • Patrick Lee, the McAleer Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville (author of Abortion and Unborn Human Life)
  • Christopher O. Tollefsen, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina,
  • Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University (co-author with Tollefsen of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life)

recently responded to the idea that there is no scientific consensus regarding the beginning of human life.

They point out that “there have been countless scientific monographs and scholarly articles—in embryology, developmental biology, and genetics—explicitly affirming that a human being at the earliest stage of development comes to be at fertilization.”

They cite three among many possible examples:

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

“Fertilization is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual.” Signorelli et al., Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, CELL TISSUE RES. 349(3):765 (Mar. 20, 2012)

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte” (emphasis added; Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Mueller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000, p. 8). (Many other examples could be cited, some of which may be found here.)

Lee, Tollefsen, and George write:

That is the authority of science. On request, we can cite dozens more examples. The authorities all agree because the underlying science is clear. At fertilization a sperm (a male sex cell) unites with an oocyte (a female sex cell), each of them ceases to be, and a new entity is generated. This new entity, initially a single totipotent cell, then divides into two cells, then (asynchronously) three, then four, eight and so on, enclosed all the while by a membrane inherited from the oocyte (the zona pellucida). Together, these cells and membrane function as parts of a whole that regularly and predictably develops itself to the more mature stages of a complex human body.

From the zygote stage onward

this new organism is distinct, for it grows in its own direction;

it is human—obviously, given the genetic structure found in the nuclei of its cells;

and it is a whole human organism—as opposed to what is functionally a part of a larger whole, such as a cell, tissue, or organ—since this organism has all of the internal resources and active disposition needed to develop itself (himself or herself) to the mature stage of a human organism.

Given its genetic constitution and epigenetic structure, all this organism needs to develop to the mature stage is what human beings at any stage need, namely, a suitable environment, nutrition, and the absence of injury or disease. So it is a whole human organism—a new human individual—at the earliest stage of his or her development.

This is why it is correct to say that the developing human embryo is not “a potential human being” (whatever that might mean) but a human being with potential—the potential to develop himself or herself (sex is established from the beginning in the human) through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages and into adulthood with his or her identity intact.

You can read the whole thing here.

3. What Questions Are Lawmakers Asking the CEO of Planned Parenthood and the Secretary of US Health and Human Services?

Represenatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently sent letters to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards about Planned Parenthood’s “potentially unlawful transactions involving fetal tissue.”

They wrote:

According to its 2013-14 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood received more than $500 million in government funding in the last fiscal last year alone, accounting for more than 40 percent of the organization’s total revenue. The Department of Health and Human Services provided a significant portion of the federal funds that Planned Parenthood received. It is not clear whether Planned Parenthood used any federal funds to support transactions involving fetal tissue.

They requested that Burwell:

1. Identify each agency within HHS that provides funding and/or support to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, and the programs that each agency administers that provide such funding and/or support.
2. For each year 2010 through present, identify the total amount of federal funding that HHS provided to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, broken down by agency, group, and program.
3. Identify what restrictions or regulations apply to the use of funding provided by HHS to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates.
4. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or HealthCare.gov under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

And they asked that Richards:

1. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from the federal government, and identify all program(s), grant(s), and other sources of the federal funds.
2. For each year from 2010 through present, provide all financial statements and annual reports, including but not limited to Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.
3. For each year from 2010 through present, identify and provide an accounting of all Planned Parenthood activities that were financed with federal funds, to include the specific amount of federal funds used for each expenditure.
4. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from Medicaid programs by state.
5. For each year from 2010 through present, provide a list of the 50 highest-paid Planned Parenthood employees. Include the individual’s title, annual salary, bonuses and any other compensation.
6. According to the 2013-2014 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood ‘supports 66 independently incorporated affiliates, operating approximately 700 health centers across the U.S.’ Provide a list of these affiliates and health centers including a contact with phone number or email for each.
7. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or HealthCare.gov under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

Both Richards and Burwell have until August 28 to provide this information to the committee.

4. If Planned Parenthood Were Ever to Be Shut Down, Where Would Women Go for Contraception, Mammograms, and Health Care?

Here’s a helpful graphic to pass along to others, showing that there are 20 comprehensive care clinics for every Planned Parenthood:

plannedparenthood177 (1)

For more information on this, go here.

by Justin Taylor at August 19, 2015 04:28 PM

Mr. Money Mustache

Get Rich With: Your Own Urban Tribe

A small tribe of Mustachians gathers in a Seattle Park

A small tribe of Mustachians gathers in a Seattle Park earlier this summer

Here in the MMM family household, we live a lifestyle that could be considered unrecognizably oddball, or classically familiar depending on who you ask. Although the fairly well-appointed house in an expensive area probably does a good job at reassuring certain neighbors that we fit in, our lives are pretty different.

We spend most of our time within a 2-mile circle with home at the center. The car is just starting in on its third tank of gas for the year, and I’m expecting this one to make it through December. We often go months without visiting any store besides the grocery, and the half million dollar house contains no TV set, clothes dryer, powered lawnmower, ties or suit jackets of any sort, and no items of clothing (other than great hiking shoes) worth more than about $50.

None of this is by necessity or due to lack of money, it’s just how we’ve ended up after ten years of  freedom from conventional work, while trying to optimize our lives for happiness rather than maximum consumption. But the end result is still pretty powerful, as I can’t seem to blow more than about $25,000 per year no matter how luxurious we feel our lives are.

The further along we go, the more I realize this is a great way to live, and probably not just for us. Because a life like this comes with other changes aside from the superficial spending-related ones described above. It seems that we are sliding right into the comfortable groove of much older human civilizations, the ones in which all of our instincts are more at home: something you could call the tribe.

The Modern Urban Tribe

I’ve noticed that our life is following a pattern that echoes back to a far distant era. We wake up when our bodies feel they have had enough sleep and the house is brightening with the sky. I walk outside to inspect the sunrise with bare feet and strong coffee, and a relaxed breakfast for all of us is never compromised. Only after this routine, sometimes with music or other times with a chapter of reading from a book, do we start to think about other things like meetings or appointments or heading out for some good old-fashioned hard work.

Our house backs onto a park, which is at the center of a human-friendly community where people actually walk places. Because of this, people tend to just show up throughout the day. Little MM might run out to join some friends after seeing them out throwing toy airplanes in the park, who later join him to make mud rivers in the back yard or come inside for a round of Starcraft II. Kids wander in pairs or groups from one household to another without an armored SUV escort, or even shirts or shoes. We all climb trees and play in the creek. Adult friends might stop in as part of an afternoon walk, which ends up leading to beers and the joint cooking of a feast, which in turn attracts other adults and children, possibly even leading to unexpected tent sleepovers in the back yard.

In such a community, leisure and work tend to blur together. I might recruit a friend to help build a fence, who ends up needing my help to replace a furnace. A third friend might stop by to learn about the installation process, but mention a house he saw for sale down the street which leads to a short-term real estate investment partnership. Everybody could use some help at times, and everyone has some help to offer at other times. As a result, kids and salads, tools and books and loaned vehicles, money and heirloom tomatoes and homebrews tend to circulate freely through the crowd, enriching us all with each transaction.

Such a life is not just the quaint habit of a few lucky rich people in a friendly, safe neighborhood. It is the foundation of human civilization itself. We are meant to live in medium-sized groups, to walk between each other’s dwellings, and to collaborate and play freely with an abundance of unscheduled free time. When you start with these basic building blocks of a community, you automatically press your happiness buttons and suddenly start living a much happier, healthier life.

Lessons in Tribalism from my Summer Vacation

This summer, I had an unusually action-packed trip as I made my way through the cities of Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and surrounding spots in Canada to visit friends and family. With our own lifestyle so bright in my mind, it was fascinating to see how other people live.

Many people we know in Ottawa live in isolated suburbs, scattered 30 miles from their other friends and from work. Some chose their location because they wanted to live on a large plot of land, and others because they wanted a big house that still fit within the limits of their mortgage payment budget. But few if any made the choice based on living within walking distance of friends, family, food and work.

They have adapted to this situation by living more planned lives. A long email discussion of schedules precedes any gathering of friends, and they need to work around traffic and weather and repairs and gas prices. Brand new cars have gone from shiny to dull to rusty to junkyard while my used car has yet to lose the stiff blackness of its nearly new seat fabric. Getting together is still fun, but it tends to happen less often and end earlier in the night. I couldn’t help but notice the amount of happiness this physical distance seems to subtract from the equation.

Later I ended up in San Francisco, peeking in on the lives of some new friends as an outsider. As I joined the neighborhood parties and looked at the way this much smaller, bike-scaled city functions, I noticed that the social life of these friends was much more similar to my own despite the much larger population of the city. Spontaneous gatherings and sharing of household amenities was the norm. Patios or parks would fill with neighbors and driveways would fill with bikes. The fact that people lived within walking or biking distance of friends seemed to make all the difference.

The final lesson came when I headed to Victoria, BC for three days. This is an island city of 80,000 people which happens to feature the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Canada. Meeting a friend at a the airport, we immediately went to one neighbor’s house to borrow a bike for the duration of my visit and ditched the motor vehicle. Then we rode to a barbecue gathering for local business owners. The next day featured a longer ride through the city and out to the surrounding lakes and mountains, then I took a bus downtown to join a meetup of Mustachians in a public park. Afterwards we walked out for a late night dinner, and then I enjoyed an hour-long solo midnight walk back through the city to my temporary home.

I found an amazing similarity to my own city of Longmont, Colorado. More seemingly random people knew and cared about each other, spontaneous gatherings and excursions to the mountains were commonplace, and the general consensus was that this was a wonderful and happy place to live. Prosperity and good health seemed to be in abundant supply in these more tribe-oriented places.

So How Can this Make us All Richer?

I believe the close and local community is a big part of what we’ve been losing with modern life. The dual-full-time-income-plus-kids household, ivy-league preschool syndrome, car commuting and suburban sprawl in our city designs have all made it a little harder to live a local lifestyle. But it absolutely does not have to be that way.

There’s a Greek island called Ikaria that pops up regularly in health news because its people enjoy some of the longest, healthiest lives on Earth. At least once a month, somebody emails me a link to one of a few major stories about it, because they notice the parallels to the lifestyle you and I are working towards right here. Plenty of sleep. Some outdoor hard work every day. A high degree of socialization. And of course, olive oil and wine as desired. Ikaria is the Original Island of the Mustachians. Even without much money, these people are wealthier than most of us in rich cities.

Slowly but surely, the US is waking up from its suburban slumber and starting to change the way cities are designed, with groups like Strong Towns pushing and city planners trained in New Urbanism pulling as they gradually start displacing the people who were raised with nothing but cars. But without even waiting for these changes, we can start adding some Ikaria to our own lives.

Great Friends are Hiding Among your Neighbors

Some of my own tribe travels the streets of Longmont, CO

Some of my own tribe travels the streets of Longmont, CO

You just need to start meeting your neighbors. Not just one or two of them, but all of them. Not everybody will be cool or fun or have much in common with you, but some of them actually will. When I move to a new house, I actually write down the addresses of the 10 nearest houses and then set a goal of filling in a name and summary of the details for each household. Then I keep branching out and making eye contact and meeting people from other nearby blocks, because it is a genuinely happy thing to know people who live so close to you.  Why focus your energy on traveling to meet friends who live several cities away, while ignoring those right next door who you haven’t even met yet?

Joining local groups can facilitate this, whether it’s through a school, business group, church, or bike, sport or volunteer club. Even getting a part-time job at an in-style downtown venue works well. The key to keeping it tribal is simply to keep it local – you need to mingle with people you actually live with. To create an area with a “high social collision rate” as a doctor friend of mine puts it.

Even after 10 years in my own city, I still run into a new person every week who I’d actually like to spend time with, who lives within a five minute walk. As the network grows, so does my happiness. And miraculously, the number of things I can think of to spend money on continues to drop, because a more satisfying life automatically cuts down your desire to doll it up with more toys.

The answer to a better life may be walking past you right now.

Further Reading: 

This year a busy urban neighborhood in South Korea tried banning cars for an entire month. It ended up blowing everyone’s minds for the better: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3045836/heres-what-happened-when-a-neighborhood-decided-to-ban-cars-for-a-month

Do any Longmontians want to try this here? The first city in the US to accomplish this feat will start a chain reaction that changes everything.

 

 

by Mr. Money Mustache at August 19, 2015 04:00 PM

Connected 53: Go Down the Pole and Run to the Fire →

This week's show was a special one:

This week, Stephen and Myke are joined by David Sparks to talk about Relay FM’s first anniversary, the MacBook and the Apple Music Festival.

My thanks to these sponsors:

  • lynda.com: An easy and affordable way to help individuals and organizations learn. Free 10-day trial.
  • TextExpander 5, from Smile: Type more with less effort.
  • Igloo: An intranet you'll actually like, free for up to 10 people.

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by Stephen Hackett at August 19, 2015 03:30 PM

Reformedish

Mourning the Gentle Locusts of Egypt with mewithoutYou on the Way to the Promised Land

pale horsesThis last month has been one of great upheaval. For those of you unaware, my wife and I just uprooted our lives in Orange County, California to move to Deerfield, Illinois in order to pursue a Ph.D. in theology there. While this is a fantastic opportunity that I’m still pinching myself over, we had to leave our jobs, families, friends, and basically every regular feature of our life behind to do so.

Needless to say, this has not been without its challenges of various sorts. Wrapping up a ministry, leaving an office in the hands of another, charting routes, selling cars, packing up an apartment, driving across country, saying goodbye to friends and family, and the half-dozen other major steps I could list are all–taken simply by themselves–large undertakings. We praise God we’ve had wonderful friends and family who have helped us throughout the process, or we would never have survived.

As I sit here on the “other side” of the biggest steps in the ordeal in Trinity’s library, though, it’s all a bit surreal to think about. To be honest, I think it’s going to be a long time to process the meaning of this move for us just in practical terms, but the existential ones will likely take even longer.

One thought that’s struck me in the process, however, was triggered by the release of mewithoutYou’s newest album Pale Horses a month or so ago. It’s kind of been the soundtrack of the move for me. It was the album stuck on repeat in my car as I drove around Orange that last month, running errands, making final purchases for college group events, or the last drive to the coffee shop up the street, or over to our friend’s house for the final time before the trip out.

On it is one particularly powerful song called “Red Cow.” It’s one of the most mewithoutYou songs to ever mewithoutYou, full of lyrical gravity, gut-wrenching vocalization, rocking distortion, and passion. It’s why I love this band. Weiss’ lyrics on the song fall into a characteristically, stream-of-consciousness meditation that slips back and forth between scenes from, possibly a trip through the Midwest and a telling of the Biblical story of the Exodus. And in the middle of it, of course, he tackles issues of meaning, symbol and reality, the captivity of idolatry, and so much more.

Here, give it a whirl:

As I said, I listened to this album and this song a lot while I was driving around that month. There’s so much going on in there that I’d love to unpack. But listen after listen, the line I kept coming back to was this gem, sung in the mournful, longing voice of the Israelites:

O for the land we knew before the frogs withdrew,
And the fragrant pomegranate blooms where the tender locust flew.

In that one line, Weiss invokes the narratives of the wilderness wanderings of Israel after Moses led them out of the land of their slavery, Egypt. After the initial thrill of liberation wore off, the Israelites were quite prone to grumbling. A couple of days of thirst and hunger, a couple of hours too many of walking, and the newly-freed sons and daughters of Jacob were ready to throw in the towel and return “home.”

Exodus 16 gives the account of one such instance:

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:1-3)

Here they are, just a couple of months after God stretched out his hand to work mighty wonders before them in order to make them his own. He brought frogs, flies, and locust, rained down hail and blackened the skies, bringing the mightiest Empire in the ancient world to its knees before their eyes. Not to mention bringing them out of grinding slavery of the worst sort.

And what’s their response? Grumbling and mourning ingratitude of the sort that actually caused them to misremember and distort their time in Egypt. It’s not just that things are tough out here, but back in Egypt they used to “sit by the meat pots” and eat until their guts were full. It was practically paradise in their telling.

Now, for years this story had frustrated me to no end. I just didn’t get it. I mean, I understood, theoretically, that all sin, all face God with that same gross ingratitude deeply lodged in their hearts. But there seemed to be something extraordinarily obtuse about the whole sorry affair.

And yet, here, as I drove along a number of those mornings, stressing out about all the things I had to get done–the hard conversations, phone calls, running around, managing stressful personal relations, my own rising sense of anxieties over the exposure of all my inadequacies that were sure to come–I found myself thinking a number of times, “This all would have been so much easier if I’d have just stayed home. I wouldn’t have to say goodbye, or worry about finding a car, or McKenna getting a job, or whether I’d measure up to the road ahead.”

Of course, nothing about my last gig was even remotely like slavery in Egypt. I loved my last job and church–that’s part of what’s been so hard about leaving. But here I was, preparing for a journey to the very good thing God was giving me–the “promised land” of challenging study and adventure–and I’m sitting there, longing for the lands that the “gentle locust flew.” A little difficulty, a few nights going to bed wired and waking up exhausted were managing to crowd God’s extraordinary mercy and provision out of my vision for the future.

Isn’t that the way of things? Our good, beautiful God promises a hope and a future just on the other end of hardship and yet, at the first taste of uncertainty and struggle, I clamor for the ease I used to know.

I’ve been slowly learning to thank God that his way of giving is not like ours, though. It is not tempered by our feeble and fickle gratitude. He doesn’t just sit there, waiting to see if you’re grateful enough, or trusting enough, or righteous enough before he continues to care and provide for you. He’s the good God who makes his sun shine on the righteous and the wicked and has patience with his children as the grow and make their way into the sun.

In the case of the Israelites, their complaint provides an opportunity for God to flex again, providing the manna, the bread of life that would feed them in their wilderness wanderings. For his children today, we have the promises of our Savior that he is the bread of life who sustains us day by day (John 6). Of his graces and mercy there are no end. He is the one who provides us our daily bread–both physical and spiritual.

And that is my hope in the middle of all the transitions and weirdness–wherever he takes us, Jesus will never stop giving us what we need most: himself. And if that’s true, it’s all gonna work out.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at August 19, 2015 02:35 PM

Kbase Article of the Week: What's the difference between a "disc" and a "disk?" →

I linked to this back in 2009, but it is well-worth another post:

They're pronounced the same, but, technically speaking, there is a distinct difference between a disc and a disk.

You can just feel the Nerd Annoyance dripping off this article.

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by Stephen Hackett at August 19, 2015 02:00 PM

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Aggregation and the New Regulation

This article isn’t about the New York Times’ exposé on Amazon’s workplace (I covered that on Monday). Nor is it about the polarized reaction to that exposé (I covered that on Tuesday). Rather, it’s about the fact I’m writing about it for the third day in a row.1

Whatever your feelings about the New York Times’ article, there’s no question it’s a blockbuster. It has dominated Twitter for going on five days, and is the most commented story in New York Times history. Just as in days gone by nearly every other news organization in the country, including TV, spent the early part of this week following up on the story, and perhaps most consequentially, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos felt compelled to respond via a company-wide email. It’s obvious why: not only did the story have the potential to damage Amazon’s ability to recruit talent, the way in which the story resonated broadly threatened the willingness of people to visit Amazon at all.

This was almost the exact opposite of what happened in New York City a few weeks previously. Mayor Bill de Blasio had over the course of several months been setting the stage to cap the growth of for-hire car companies so that the city could study the effect on Manhattan’s traffic; critics, including Uber — the company most hurt by the proposal — argued that in actuality the mayor was paying back taxi companies for their support of his campaign. Just days before the cap was set to be implemented, de Blasio and his aides were confident; BuzzFeed reported:

City Hall doesn’t buy the notion that Uber is growing fast enough for a cap to disrupt the service…And the mayor’s circle also doesn’t believe that Uber is broadly popular, or represents anything most New Yorkers care about.

“It’s a boutique side issue,” said a top City Hall ally. “There’s a small set of excited tech people who are reading Mashable and might think the mayor isn’t innovative enough.”

Three days after that quote was published, de Blasio backed down, withdrawing the proposal in the face of crumbling poll numbers and rival politicians taking advantage of the reality that there were a huge number of New Yorkers that cared greatly about having access to their favorite car-sharing service. It turned out that politics as usual — get some money, make some promises, get elected, and then make good on those donations — didn’t really apply, at least for this issue: Uber had aggregated public opinion in its favor.


I wrote last month about Aggregation Theory, and both Amazon and Uber are examples of the theory in action: Amazon doesn’t make the stuff they sell (mostly), but they sell everything to a huge number of customers in the market with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Uber is even more distinct: the company doesn’t own the cars that provide its service but instead owns the customer relationship. Both are enabled by the Internet’s radical lowering of transaction costs and the possibilities for scale that result.

The point of leverage for these Internet companies is those consumer relationships: Amazon attracts a wide range of suppliers and merchants eager to sell to their customer base, and the company is not shy about leveraging said customer base to extract value from its suppliers. Similarly, Uber continually squeezes drivers with lower prices and higher fees, even as it remains the top choice for drivers because of its rider liquidity.

This last point is key: under aggregation theory the winning aggregators have strong winner-take-all characteristics. In other words, they tend towards monopolies. Google is perhaps the best aggregation theory example of all — the company modularized individual pages from the publications that housed them even as it became the gateway to said pages for the vast majority of people2 — and so, given their success, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the company is under formal investigation by the European Union.3

Still, as this excellent feature in Bloomberg Businessweek explains, in some respects what has happened has been a shock:

[In February 2014 European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Joaquín] Almunia stood at the podium in an auditorium on the ground floor of the Berlaymont, the 50-year-old institutional headquarters of the European Commission, and announced [a deal with Google]. Google’s long-running antitrust ordeal in Europe, it seemed, was finally over…

On April 15, 2015, Almunia’s successor, Margrethe Vestager, a 47-year-old former finance minister from Denmark, approached the same Berlaymont podium in the same auditorium. “Dominant companies can’t abuse their dominant position to create advantage in related markets,” she said bluntly, formally accusing Google of exploiting its supremacy in general search to dominate the market for online product searches — the equivalent of an indictment, the very move that Almunia had sought to avoid through the private settlement at Davos…

In the span of just 15 months, Google somehow lost Europe.

It turns out that there was one event that stood out in that 15 months; one event that may very well end up costing Google up to $6 billion and a dangerous loss of focus: a newspaper column. From the Bloomberg Businessweek article:

In April 2014, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, wrote an open letter to Schmidt for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung titled: “Why We Fear Google”…When Google favors its own services, he [wrote], “It is not even clearly pointed out to the user that these search results are the result of self-advertising. … This is called the abuse of a market-dominating position.” Of the proposed settlement with Almunia, he says: “This is not a compromise,” because of the requirement that Google’s rivals bid in an auction for placement in the new search box. “This is the introduction, sanctioned by an EU authority, of that kind of business practice which in less honorable circles is called extortion.”

Soon after the letter ran, Axel Springer and Lagardere Group, the French media syndicate and owner of the Hachette Livre publishing company, launched a trade organization called the Open Internet Project to oppose the Google deal. At the same time, Deutsche Telekom, the German phone company, filed its own antitrust complaint against Google, becoming one of the first large European companies to join the fight. The case against Google no longer seemed like a conspiracy led by Microsoft. European Big Business didn’t like the settlement either.

The trouble with accusing Google of abusing its position is that, as the company is fond of pointing out, “Competition is only a click away.” In other words, unlike monopolists of old, Google is not in any way locking you in to their platform. Nor, for that matter, are Amazon or Uber. Rather, each of them, along with the other Internet companies whose business models fit Aggregation Theory, compete on the basis of the user experience, because once they have the users the suppliers of whatever it is those users want will have no choice but to fall into line.

It follows, then, that to the degree that governments answer to the people, effective control and regulation of these companies will be even more difficult than regulating the monopolies of old: that’s why Google got its first deal, and it’s why Uber was able to stare down de Blasio. What changed in Google’s case, though, was the Axel Springer article and the widespread attention it received. Similarly, while Amazon is not being accused of antitrust (for now anyways), at least in some small way the company was this weekend forced to respond in a way they usually avoid because of an article. Meanwhile, Uber, seemingly in a worse position politically, emerged from its crisis stronger than ever, confident in its ability to wield the collective influence of its customers to accomplish its political ends.

In other words, the regulation situation for these massive winner-take-all companies is not hopeless, but it has changed: their strength derives from the customer relationships they own, which means quiet backroom deals and straight-up arm wrestling of the Google and Uber varieties are liable to backfire in the face of overwhelming public opinion; it is in shaping that public opinion that the real battle will be fought. And while it’s true that the direct relationship aggregation companies have with their users is an advantage in this fight, the overwhelming power of social media is the new counterweight: it is easier than ever to reach said users with a report or column that resonates deeply. Your average writer or reporter has more (potential) power, not less.


I do think, on balance, this shift is a positive one. While it’s true that absolute power leads to ruin, up until that point aggregation companies win by maximizing the user experience, a big positive for consumers. Moreover, unlike old supply or physical distribution-based monopolies, the Google argument — competition is only a click (or app download) away — largely holds: I think it unlikely most of these companies, having won by delivering more consumer surplus than anyone else, will have that much latitude to suddenly start keeping most of that surplus for themselves.4

There is certainly an argument that the seeming haphazard nature of what breaks through on social media and what doesn’t ought to be a concern, and it’s one I share, but perhaps for different reasons than most: I’m certainly worried about the truth being suppressed, or blatantly false stories making the rounds, but even more insidious is a seemingly objective story that mostly gets the facts right but the context wrong.

It’s arguable the New York Times’ Amazon piece fits here: not only are there legitimate arguments to be made that hard-driving and criticism-intensive workplaces drive progress in a very real way,5 it’s also true that Amazon’s white-collar employees have plenty of options; the treatment of the company’s factory workers is a far greater outrage in my opinion. That said, several of the anecdotes in the New York Times’ story are clearly awful and indefensible and the reason for Amazon’s quick response: should said anecdotes turn out to be true the story will have already done a great deal of good (and while the New York Times story didn’t draw attention to warehouse conditions, much of the follow-up has).

Still, I think the situation is better than a past that people remember as being far better than it actually was: local newspapers certainly used to expose scandals, and the financial freedom driven by a geographic advertising monopoly helped in that regard. Today, though, the day-to-day existence of customers is not only better with instant access to the world’s information, all the world’s books and retail goods, and transportation services anytime and anywhere, but there is also the fact that market forces driving said providers to compete first-and-foremost by the customer experience are far more effective in reducing bad behavior broadly than a local journalistic gumshoe could ever be.

On the flipside, the size and stature of these companies makes for a big target, and the New York Times just showed that an investment in pursuing that target is likely to pay off. That is ultimately a good incentive and an important counter-weight that is not only good for society broadly but, in the long run, good for the companies under investigation as well.


Stratechery will be on vacation next week

  1. So meta
  2. Although the company has now been passed by Facebook when it comes to the amount of traffic driven to publishers
  3. Or maybe it should, given the reality of the previous footnote
  4. For example, to use two commonly made arguments that happen to be relevant to this article, I don’t think either Amazon or Uber will be able to one day simply jack up prices; their value, should they achieve it, will come from having superior cost structures that scale in the truest sense of the word — every additional customer lowers the cost/per/customer for the company as a whole — which by extension will result in radically larger volumes than today
  5. Not just in tech but also all industries

The post Aggregation and the New Regulation appeared first on Stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at August 19, 2015 01:47 PM

The Urbanophile

The Architecture of Dictatorship

Conveniently, last week’s episode of Monocle 24’s the Urbanist had a theme of the architecture of dictatorship. The very first segment is a piece on Stalinist architecture in Moscow. If the audio player doesn’t display for you, click over to listen on Soundcloud.

by Aaron M. Renn at August 19, 2015 01:44 PM

Crossway Blog

Lessons on Church Planting from the Prince of Preachers

This is a guest post by Dave Harvey, author of Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry.


A Majestic Vision

Charles Spurgeon was crazy-busy on steroids. In addition to his duties as pastor of the massive Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, Spurgeon worked unrelentingly on behalf of his beloved Pastors’ College. Here’s just some of the ways he served the college:

  1. He was a recruiter for the Pastors’ College. [1]
  2. He was a lecturer for the Pastor’s College. [2]
  3. He was a fundraiser on behalf of the Pastor’s College. [3]
  4. He was a scout to position men upon completion of the Pastors’ College. [4]

Yet all of these roles serviced one glorious pursuit: planting churches! Spurgeon’s majestic vision was to plant churches for the sake of the gospel. For him, missiology needed a robust ecclesiology to be truly biblical. So Spurgeon dedicated his ministry to seeing churches multiplied through church planting.

From Spurgeon’s example we can learn 3 distinct lessons:

1. Train Men to Love the Church

The Pastors’ College was strategically integrated into the Tabernacle so students could observe how to apply their studies within a working model. This deepened their love for the local church as they observed the transforming power of the gospel at work. Dallimore observed, “This school had a benefit the others did not possess. The college was part of the life of the Tabernacle, and association with a great and active church provided a wealth of instruction and a power of inspiration to be found nowhere else.” [5]

Once the students finished the program, they left the Pastors’ College to reproduce what they had observed, experienced, and come to love. The graduates had seen the fruit of gospel-application within the church and wanted to multiply it by planting churches. Spurgeon understood: only men who love the church can effectively reproduce it.

As we work with men considering the call to ministry, we would be wise to follow Spurgeon’s example of training men to love the church. Like begets like. Men do what men see. Only men who are shaped by the church will learn to cherish it and sacrifice whatever is necessary to replicate it.

The Great Commission is a call to train men to love the church.

2. Train Men to Build the Church

Spurgeon’s view of missions was church-centered and church-based. He knew that one gospel-centered model, well built and wisely deployed, could have a greater impact than one hundred aimless churches. Spurgeon dared to believe that the Metropolitan Tabernacle could make a culture-shaping difference.
And they did!

Be it the Pastors’ College, the Stockwell Orphanage, the Colportage Ministry, the Rock Loan Society, or the Penny Pulpit, the Metropolitan Tabernacle was a local church with a global vision. As Dallimore concluded, “The Metropolitan Tabernacle was not, as some have assumed, merely a highly popular preaching center. . . . The Tabernacle was a great working church.” [6]

“Great working churches” serve strategic roles in God’s evangelistic design—they become recruitment hubs, training centers, and mission beachheads for gospel expansion. They create working models that display the impact of the message they bear.

Most importantly, they become magnificent tools to connect the world to the Caller.

3. Train Men to Multiply the Church

The Metropolitan Tabernacle was not built as a monument to Spurgeon’s leadership, gifting, or ambition. It was built to be a church-multiplying church. Only months after completing the facility, Spurgeon wrote,

I look on the Tabernacle as only the beginning; within the last six months, we have started two churches—one in Wandsworth and the other Greenwich—and the Lord has prospered them; the pool of baptism has often been stirred with converts. And what we have done in two places, I am about to do in a third, and we will do it, not for the third or the fourth, but for the hundredth time, God being our Helper. I am sure I may make my strongest appeal to my brethren, because we do not mean to build this Tabernacle as our nest, and then to be idle. We must go from strength to strength, and be a missionary church, and never rest until, not only this neighbourhood, but our country, of which it is said that some parts are as dark as India, shall have been enlightened with the Gospel. [7]

The legacy of this great church is undeniable. Consider what these biographers have said of Spurgeon and his extraordinary work in church planting.

Perhaps the most significant auxiliary work of the Pastors’ College, and that which made the greatest and most long-lasting contribution, was the work done in church planting. Scores of churches were planted in London and throughout the country because of the College students’ efforts. [8]

Many men went to places where there were no churches and built them. Some went to good residential areas, others to poor districts. Some went to the slums, and there they witnessed for the Lord, preached on the street corners, visited door to door, and handed out tracts. They then secured meeting places of some kind and gathered people in, won them to the Lord, baptized them, and organized them into churches. [9]

Spurgeon got it. Training church planters isn’t merely downloading more spiritual knowledge. It’s about altering leadership genetics to include the church and then deploying men to multiply the church.

A Great Working Church

Charles Spurgeon was missional before it was cool. He was able, therefore, to build something in the present that delivered men into the harvest . . . and into the future. Spurgeon built a “great working church” and then gave his blood, sweat, and tears to multiply the model all over the land.
Over a century later, we are the inheritors of his spiritual legacy, not only through his preaching, but through his commitment to multiplying healthy churches.

Praise God that the Gov’ner of the Tabernacle and Prince of Preachers was also a Prince of planters!

Notes:
[1] Lewis Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1992) 409; Tim Curnow et al., A Marvelous Ministry: How the All-round Ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon Speaks to us Today (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1993), 66.
[2] Drummond, Prince of Preachers, 412; Curnow et al., Marvelous Ministry, 66.
[3] Drummond, Prince of Preachers, 411; Curnow et al., Marvelous Ministry, 67; Arnold A. Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985) 102, 104.
[4] Drummond, Prince of Preachers, 341.
[5] Dallimore, Spurgeon Biography, 105.
[6] Dallimore, Spurgeon Biography, 153.
[7] Drummond, Prince of Preachers, 341.
[8] Drummond, Prince of Preachers, 419.
[9] Dallimore, Spurgeon Biography, 108.


Dave Harvey (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the pastor of preaching at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Dave has over 25 years of pastoral experience and has traveled nationally and internationally teaching Christians, equipping pastors, and training church planters. He is the Executive Director of Sojourn Network, founder of AmICalled.com, and serves on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Dave is the author of Am I Called?, Rescuing Ambition, and When Sinners Say I Do, as well as a contributing author to Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.

by Matt Tully at August 19, 2015 01:27 PM

Front Porch Republic

And Now a Bubble Burst, And Now a World

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What but design of darkness to appall?

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The post And Now a Bubble Burst, And Now a World appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jason Peters at August 19, 2015 01:25 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Travel Hacker and Ethical Fashionista: On the Road with Lauren K. Lancy

This is a travel hacking case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Not only is Lauren Lancy a travel hacker, using miles & points to see the world and return home to New York, but she’s also merged travel and fashion with her new project, The Kindcraft.

Introduce yourself!

I’m a fashion designer and trend forecaster from Brooklyn. At the end of 2012, I traded New York City’s concrete jungle for the jungles of Southeast Asia. Now, instead of designing for fast fashion brands, I advocate for slower, more thoughtful and ethical kinds of fashion.

My interest in handmade products, textiles, and ethnic arts took me to Luang Prabang, Laos where my husband and I lived for 2013. Our home is now in Chiang Mai, a creative city in the tropical mountains of Northern Thailand.

I travel regularly to meet artists for my latest project, The Kindcraft, which is a celebration of makers of traditional art and contemporary craft from around the globe.

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How does your work with The Kindcraft merge with traveling?

Since taking the leap to Asia in 2013, I’ve traveled all over the world. Thanks to some clever hacking and good planning, I’ve been able to visit over 15 countries throughout Asia, Oceania, and Europe to seek out artisans making beautiful handmade products.

“Slow Made” has really become a global movement and I have to travel in order to observe trends and see the connections between places and products. Most recently, I was in Tokushima, Japan to visit a small company called Buaisou who are indigo farmers and dyers working in a reclaimed barn in the Japanese countryside. Their indigo process is different than what I’ve seen in Thailand, and it’s also a different process to how they make indigo in India. It was cool to see their space and learn about their work!

What’s even more exciting than visiting Buaisou Japan is that I will also be traveling to visit Buaisou Brooklyn to see their new space in Bushwick very soon! I’m looking forward to document both of their workspaces which will give my readers the whole story about these makers from East to West.

I feel fortunate that I can travel between places to demonstrate these connections between traditional art forms and contemporary design.

Tell us more about your interest in thoughtful fashion.  

What we wear is not only a reflection of our individual style, but also a reflection of our values. If we shop thoughtfully and support ethical fashion and independent makers, our choices can influence broader cultural attitudes and positively influence our society.

I love hearing people ask questions like “How was this made?” and “Will this last a long time?” Considering the “how” and not just “how much” is a positive social change that begins with us as individuals in all areas of our life – from what we eat, to how we shop for products and clothes.

We have a growing opportunity to support independent makers and the continuation of heritage craft – like weaving –  which I hope will create a culture of thoughtful consumption.

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What inspired you to move away and change your career focus?

I’m always inspired by meeting people from different cultures and experiencing the beauty of their everyday lives – learning about what they eat, how they celebrate, to their dress, traditional arts, and contemporary craft. In short, I’m inspired by travel.

But one moment during my around-the-world honeymoon in 2010 stands out.

It was a very hot day in Hanoi, Vietnam and we were visiting The Hanoi Museum of Ethnology. Despite the stifling late afternoon heat in a museum, I was captivated. The heritage crafts there had stories woven into them. There was depth and richness in the handmade items I saw that afternoon that didn’t exist in my design work in New York.

I think about that moment in Hanoi and others from our honeymoon—like seeing a silver coin Akha headdress in Laos, and then kimonos in Japan—as the moments my career changed.

You mentioned you’re a travel hacker. What cards and rewards systems do you use?

I have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink cards, which allow me to accumulate Ultimate Rewards points. I can then transfer these to a variety of airline and hotel partners. Accumulation is only part of the story, though: Understanding how to get great value out of point redemptions is critical.

One recent example: I used a 70,000 point Chase Ink sign-up bonus to book most of the four-month trip that I’m on now. I transferred those points to United Airlines for a round trip ticket between Chiang Mai, Thailand and the United States.

The rules for the award ticket allow both a long stopover and an open-jaw routing (where you arrive from one city and leave from another), so I’m taking full advantage of that. I scheduled a weeklong stopover in Japan to visit with friends and research indigo dying with traditional kimonos.

Another bit of travel hacking: I was also able to celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary in a suite at the Park Hyatt Tokyo by using a Hyatt upgrade. We continued on to the West Coast of the USA to visit my husband’s family, then purchased a cheap multi-stop ticket to visit my family in Ohio before landing in NYC, where I’ll be working for a few months. The routing lets me leave directly from New York to return to Thailand and, due to a scheduling change by the airline, I now even have an opportunity for a two-day stopover in Beijing on my return to Chiang Mai.

All told, I’m flying CNX>TYO>PHX>CVG>NYC>PEK>CNX for about $350.

While in Thailand, I take advantage of Starwood’s ability to transfer to Japan Airlines in a unique way: JAL recently partnered with local airline Bangkok Airways and, to promote it, has been running a discount on mileage redemptions (about 1/3 the normal amount of points).  

I took advantage of a discount to buy a bunch of SPG points last year and now, whenever I need to hop over to a nearby Asian destination, I redeem these points at a fraction of the cost that a cash ticket would be.

Lauren8

Tell us about an encounter fresh in your mind.

The first time that I met Famjoy Sealee was in 2012. Famjoy is a skilled embroiderer and she’d traveled a great distance from her small village in Northern Laos to attend the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. She was there to demonstrate the weaving of the Yao Mien ethnic group of Northern Laos, and I was there to support the art and ethnology group that had brought Famjoy to the States.

It was Famjoy’s first time outside of her village and, even though we didn’t share a language, we bonded as we worked together for a few days. I was happy to represent Famjoy at the market and do small things like help her find food that she could eat (plain rice from Whole Foods) during her stay in the States. I was incredibly impressed by her mastery of weaving and watching her demonstrate techniques which few people in the West have ever seen up close.

After moving to Laos in 2013, I finally made the bus journey to her remote village to meet her in 2014 where Famjoy shared her craft and a delicious staple meal of fresh ethnic food of local vegetables, rice, and river fish.

The great debate: aisle or window?

Window!

Lauren4

What has surprised when on the road?

I’ve learned how to be patient, how to slow down and live a more “Bor Bpen Nyang” lifestyle. After moving to Laos, the first thing I learned how to say after “Hello” and “Thank You” was “Bor Bpen Nyang” which means “No Worries” – it’s a phrase locals say a lot.

There is a joke that the “P.D.R.” in “Lao P.D.R.” (People’s Democratic Republic) actually means “Please Don’t Rush.”  Of course that’s not true, but it’s a pretty fair exemplification of the slow pace of life and the gentleness you see in everyday interactions there. No one seems to be in a hurry in Laos and Northern Thailand – and that’s a beautiful thing coming from bustling city life of Manhattan.

My life in New York embodied the pace of the city: Up early. On the subway and pushing through crowds of people to get to my cubicle in Midtown. Work late. Take the subway back to Brooklyn to have a quick dinner. While I still love the energy of city life, I didn’t like that hurried-yet-empty feeling at work and living for short weekends.

I finally got to exhale and warm up in the sunshine of Southeast Asia where the lifestyle is generally more relaxed. Moving from New York City to Laos was a big leap, though, and it took time to adjust. I was still the same ambitious New Yorker that I was when I left, so the slower-paced lifestyle that I admire can also be a source of frustration.

I try to practice patience if my projects don’t move at the pace and quality that I would like for them to. Overall, I feel fortunate to have be able to blend the things I admire of both cultures – the kindness and patience of Southeast Asia, with the drive of work-focused New York – into a new balance.

Lauren7

Can you describe the gentleness you see in Laos?

Of course there is a wide range personality types anywhere you go in the world, but I think it’s fair to say that there is a tenderness between people here.

People don’t seem to talk over one another the way they do back in the States, and there seems to be concern to avoid anyone “losing face” or being unnecessarily embarrassed. I see this tenderness in shy smiles and the gentle teasing between friends and family.

Look around a small town in Laos and you’ll see a peaceful environment of palm trees and temples, rickety bicycles, the sounds of monks’  drums, and the smell of sticky rice in the air. The gradual sunset over a river and the mountains at the end of a hot day is such a joy.

Lauren9

Best travel tips…go!

A trip begins with an idea, then comes research into places to go and people to see.

My husband generally handles booking with miles while I look into what’s happening – local fairs and markets, art, restaurants, and hotels.

Pack deliberately.

I lay everything out and edit over hours or days. I always carry the same bag (The Aeronaut by Tom Bihn) and I don’t take a lot with me, so I choose carefully creating a collection of clothes that I’ll be happy to wash and wear again and again on the road.

Four items for the plane:

Warm socks, extra water, saline spray, and healthy food.

Where are you headed next?

We’re spending three months in New York. I’m looking forward reconnecting with friends and colleges before returning to Chiang Mai in August. This will be our first attempt at splitting time between Asia and America.

Stay up to date with Lauren at  The Kindcraft or via Instagram @thekindcraft.

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by Chris Guillebeau at August 19, 2015 11:59 AM