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May 26, 2016

Table Titans

Tales: A Gnome Named Fish

My friends and I, all being young nerds, decided it would be fun to start our own D&D group. After spending about an hour trying to share the only rule book to create mighty characters, we admired our work and set out to play and slay. But, as can be expected from a group of 13 year olds, not all…

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May 26, 2016 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

The Secret to Being Content with Your Bank Balance

Article by: John Piper

Over the years, it has struck me as strange how many Christians pursue wealth. Jesus warns that riches make it hard for people to get into heaven (Matt. 19:23) and Paul warns that those who desire to be rich plunge into ruin and destruction (1 Tim. 6:9–10). It’s as though we either don’t believe it, or we think we’ll be the exception to the rule, or we just don’t think God’s Word could mean what it says.

But Paul means what he says—desiring to be rich is deadly. And there’s more. The key that unlocks this section of 1 Timothy 6 are these words: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (v. 6).

What’s the protection against these deadly effects of money?

Answer: a heart content in God.

Are you deeply satisfied in God, so that this satisfaction—this contentment—doesn’t collapse when God ordains you have much or little? Having little can destroy contentment in God by making us feel he’s stingy or uncaring or powerless. And having much can destroy our contentment in God by making us feel he is superfluous, or quite secondary as a helper and treasure.

What’s the Secret? 

It’s no small thing to learn how not to lose our contentment in God. This is what life is for—living to show that he is all-glorious. And this is shown, among other ways, by how he’s gloriously sufficient to give us contentment in himself in the best and worst of times. Paul had learned the secret of how to do that:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11–13)

Paul had learned “to be content.” This is the key to the right use of money in 1 Timothy 6:5–10. “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12). What was the secret? I think he gives it in the previous chapter: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

In other words, to put it in modern terms, when the stock market goes up or he gets a bonus, he says, “I find Jesus more precious and valuable and satisfying than my increasing money.” And when the stock market goes down or he faces a pay cut, he says, “I find Jesus more precious and valuable and satisfying than all that I have lost.” The glory and beauty and worth and preciousness of Christ is the secret of contentment that keeps money from controlling him.

Money Doesn’t Satisfy. Really.

Money doesn’t satisfy: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Ecc. 5:10). I know many will say, “Oh yes it does. My money is a good friend. It doesn’t let me down. I have a great house, and two cars, and a fine private school for my kids, and a boat, and a cabin, and lots of life insurance, and pensions and annuities. It may not go with me to the other world—if there is another world—but it definitely hasn’t let me down here!”

Really?

I will place my bet with the Preacher of Ecclesiastes. You were made for satisfaction with God, and your money is blinding you to that. There are deep longings you have. They rise up in the night. They creep up on you when you’re alone and discouraged. If you’re honest, you know the stuff you’ve surrounded yourself with cannot touch the deepest longings of your heart. You weren’t made to be satisfied with stuff. And none of that stuff can still the fears—and the onrush—of aging and death. No, you’re kidding yourself. The word is true: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.”

George MacDonald penetrated to the reason that our elusive quest to find happiness in having stuff does not work:

The heart of man cannot hoard. His brain or his hand may gather into its box and hoard, but the moment the thing has passed into the box, the heart has lost it and is hungry again. If a man would have, it is the Giver he must have. . . . Therefore all that he makes must be free to come and go through the heart of his child; he can enjoy it only as it passes, can enjoy only its life, its soul, its vision, its meaning, not itself. 

There is no link between having much money and knowing much happiness in this life—or the next. When the biblically wise man says “Better is . . .” he means “More deep contentment is . . .”

Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked (Ps. 37:16).

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. (Prov. 15:16).

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. (Prov. 15:17).

In other words, the key to happiness in this life isn’t wealth. You cannot find happiness in something that blinds you to the true source of happiness. Jesus repeatedly portrayed himself and his promises and his kingdom—now and forever—as a relationship and a hope and a place of supreme happiness. Don’t settle for something less.

Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from John Piper’s new book, Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power (The Good Book Company, 2016). 

John Piper is founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is also a Council member of The Gospel Coalition.

by John Piper at May 26, 2016 05:02 AM

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Jackie Hill Perry

Article by: Matt Smethurst

On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers.

I corresponded with Jackie Hill Perry, poet and hip-hop artist (check out her album The Art of Joy), about what’s on her nightstand, books she regularly re-reads, what she’s learning about life and faith, and more.

What’s on your nightstand right now? 

What are some books you regularly re-read and why? The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. This book has a way of refocusing me. It reminds me of the great necessity of holiness and it often reveals areas of sin in my heart that have either gone unnoticed or unmortified. This book will always remain in constant rotation as I’m consistently in need of its convicting yet gracious gems. What books have most profoundly shaped how you view gospel ministry?

What are your favorite fiction books?

  • Night by Elie Wiesel (sorry, not fiction)

What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

I’m still learning the joys and difficulties of my life being all but static or still, to say the least. Every season is new and different, yet nuanced at its core. Through this, it’s as if there’s always something new to learn about Christ. A new way to trust and believe his Word. A new way to seek him in prayer and learn from his church. Knowing there are new mercies every morning has been an anchoring source of peace lately. 

Editors’ note: Join us next month for our 2016 National Women’s Conference, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis, where Jackie Hill Perry will be speaking. Also mark your calender for our 2017 National Conference, April 3 to 5 in Indianapolis, where Perry will be speaking as well.

Also in the On My Shelf series: Bruce AshfordJonathan LeemanMegan HillMarvin OlaskyDavid WellsJohn FrameRod DreherJames K. A. SmithRandy AlcornTom SchreinerTrillia NewbellJen WilkinJoe CarterTimothy GeorgeTim KellerBryan ChapellLauren ChandlerMike CosperRussell MooreJared WilsonKathy KellerJ. D. GreearKevin DeYoungKathleen NielsonThabiti AnyabwileElyse FitzpatrickCollin HansenFred SandersRosaria ButterfieldNancy Guthrie, and Matt Chandler.

Browse dozens of book recommendations from The Gospel Coalition’s leaders and sign up your church at Hubworthy.

Matt Smethurst serves as managing editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have two children and live in Louisville, Kentucky. They belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Matt Smethurst at May 26, 2016 05:02 AM

In Awe of God in Unexpected Places

Article by: Bethany Jenkins

Earlier this year, we invited women to apply for a special dinner hosted by Every Square Inch at our upcoming women’s conference. Almost 100 women applied by submitting 750-word reflections that answered three questions: (1) What do you do every day? (2) How do you feel about what you do? (3) When have you found your work particularly meaningful?

Today, we feature four of the 25 women selected.

The women featured below have (at least) one thing in common—their work puts them in a posture of awe of God. In unexpected places, they have seen God’s glory in singleness, at-home work, everyday duties, and being let go. Through these circumstances, they have learned to give glory to God and worship him as high and lifted up—even when their work has brought them low.

Anna Chao is a property manager and a mortgage loan officer. Her true passion is people and engaging in conversations of faith—from hearing stories of how people came to know Jesus as Savior or hearing stories of doubt in God’s goodness. She lives in San Marino, California, with her two golden retrievers and a one-eyed black kitten. In her spare time, Anna fosters fur babies in need. 

  • Though I am single and do not have a family of my own, I have always desired to care for a family unit of my own. Little did I expect for that to look like caring for the needs of my widowed mom and college-aged brother. By serving their financial needs through the two family business we operate, I have been privileged to care for a family unit. It just looked different than I envisioned. Do I love managing properties? No. Has it drawn me closer to trusting God will provide answers to the ever-present question “How do I run a business?” Yes! My work is not where I find contentment. Knowing I am serving and caring for the needs of my family brings me great contentment. It is the means by which I influence those in the marketplace—all the while providing financially for the needs of my family.

Courtney Reissig is a stay-at-home mom and writer. When she’s not doing laundry, making PB&J sandwiches, and sweeping up messes from three little boys, she writes about a variety of topics from a Christian perspective. She is the author of The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design (Crossway, 2015) [review] and just finished her second book, on how our faith intersects with at-home work. Courtney also enjoys reading, running, and spending time with friends. 

  • The world assigns value to certain jobs, but God assigns value to all jobs since he’s glorified in all of it. But it’s more than just the here and now. My work matters in eternity, too. There will come a day where all of our work will be glorified in the new heavens and the new earth. The work I do now won’t be seen as boring or mundane; it will be seen for what it is—God’s work of loving the world through his image bearers. I can’t always see that now because I’m a sinner, my family is filled with sinners, and the thorns and thistles of life in a fallen world still curse everything God has made. But I will see it one day. One day I will see that the clean windows, raked leaves, home-cooked meals, midnight calls from sick kids, ironed shirts, fresh flowers on the desk, fresh bread for a weary friend, unloaded dishwasher, and everything in between is bringing order out of chaos and restoring God’s broken world to its rightful place. Until then, I wait and work, knowing that, in the Lord, even my most ordinary work is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

Haley Plattner just finished her junior year at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she is studying Chemistry Pre-Med. She also works at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in the chemistry lab doing research for the U.S. Army. When she’s not attending class, studying for the MCAT, or researching, Haley loves playing the violin in jam sessions with friends, playing games with her family, and getting coffee with friends.

  • I often think of Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Most days, I have the amazing opportunity to discover some of those “secret things” in my classes and at work. I get to learn about the ways God designed this world to work and use that knowledge to find new ways to protect lives and give him glory for his beauty. As David sings, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). This truth is essential to my faith—knowing that the Lord reveals himself to us in everyday wonders.

Rachael Starke lives with her husband and three daughters in San Jose, California, where she has worked for the last 15 years as a sales and marketing manager and consultant to the high tech industry, creating executives sales programs that grow revenue and executive relationships with Fortune 500 companies. An unabashed foodie and aspiring writer, her most popular writing genre to date are her tweets, which have been read on the Jimmy Fallon show.

  • My manager recently asked me to cancel several meetings and come to her office early in the morning instead. On my ominous ride up the elevator to her floor, I asked the Holy Spirit for his help and comfort. As I sat down and noticed my boss’s ashen face, God began to answer my prayers. In the gentlest tone I’d heard from her in weeks, she told me that, although she’d been fighting to renew my contract for weeks, she had been turned down. She was letting me go, not because she wanted to—as I’d feared—but because she didn’t have any other choice. I was thankful to learn that my feelings of failure were unfounded, as she offered words of blessing—praise of my work ethic and abilities, words of respect and affirmation from my coworkers and team, repentance for her harshness at times, even comments on my faith in God and how it showed. I rode back down the elevator to collect my things and marveled at how God had answered my pleas for answers about his purposes. In the end, my work had been far more about faithfulness than about success.

Editors’ note: The Faith and Work Dinner at our 2016 National Women’s Conference next month, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis, is being sponsored by EDGE Mentoring and Cerulean Restaurant. EDGE is a national mentoring organization for emerging leaders that combines personal, professional, and spiritual development in one experience. If you’re looking to mentor, or be mentored, you can find out more at Edge Mentoring. Finally, space at TGCW16 is running out, so register soon!

Bethany L. Jenkins is the Director of The Gospel Coalition’s Every Square Inch, the Director of Vocational & Career Development at The King’s College, and the Founder of The Park Forum. She previously worked on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill. She received her JD from Columbia Law School and attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, where she is a current CFW Fellow and a former Gotham Fellow through the Center for Faith & Work. You can follow her on Twitter.

by Bethany Jenkins at May 26, 2016 05:01 AM

When Grace Hurts the Church

Article by: Aaron Menikoff

I didn’t always believe the doctrines of grace. As a college student I argued vehemently against the notion that God takes the initiative in our salvation. It stank of totalitarianism to me. It seemed, well, un-American.

My viewpoint eventually changed, and I can still remember the moment I understood God to be absolutely sovereign in redemption. I was walking to work while reading a book of sermons in the Gospel of John. (I’m not sure how I did this without tripping over the curb and running into oncoming traffic.) After pouring over the chapter on Jesus’s response to Nicodemus in John 3, everything clicked: without the Spirit of God, I’d be spiritually blind; without the new birth, I’d be spiritually dead. The jaw of my heart fell out of my chest and crashed onto the sidewalk. I didn’t know Calvin from Coolidge, but for the first time I grasped what it meant to be saved to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph. 1:3–14).

Years later, I’d be labeled “young, restless, and Reformed.”

Sadly, I’m not so young anymore. I pastor a church that increasingly embraces the truth of God’s sovereign grace. Most members I serve would have a hard time defining what it means to be Reformed, but they love God, love the gospel, and long to see their unbelieving friends saved. They witness, pray, and humble me with their zeal for the Lord.

Churches Are Not Monolithic 

But the people in my church aren’t monolithic in their view of the doctrines of grace. Our statement of faith doesn’t require allegiance to all the “five points.” Some come, in part, because they love talking about God’s sovereignty. Others simply love the fact that the Word is valued, and the people are friendly. Still others are unsettled by the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility; they affirm both, but struggle.

I’ve witnessed conflict when those who heartily embrace divine sovereignty encounter those who wrestle with it. This may take the form of a brother wondering if an emphasis on grace has robbed us of evangelistic fervor. Sometimes it looks like a sister crying because someone criticized her old church for being too “man-centered.”

Have you seen similar dynamics in your church? If so, it’s helpful to remember that when it comes to God’s sovereignty in salvation, most of us fit into one of three categories:

1. The Natives

Natives grew up steeped in conversations about sovereign grace. When their Sunday school teacher asked them why God allows suffering in the world, they answered, “For his glory!” Natives are more comfortable listening to The Briefing or Ask Pastor John than NPR. Some natives assume the doctrine of divine sovereignty much the way they accept the doctrines of the Trinity and sanctification; it’s simply what the Bible teaches. Natives have a hard time understanding why people struggle with election or predestination. My kids are natives to divine sovereignty. It’s been part of the warp and woof of their lives since birth.

2. The Converts

Converts remember the day they came to understand the doctrines of grace (see above!). They can speak of that moment almost like a second conversion. They regret how they once gave themselves some credit for their salvation. Converts may even feel bitterness toward previous churches or pastors who hid from Romans 9 and Ephesians 2 the way a mouse hides from a lion and tiger. Converts are skeptical of church programs and marketing and anything that seems like it could appeal to the flesh. They worry a focus on human responsibility will eclipse the precious truth of God’s sovereignty. They lament the shallow theology of so many churches and don’t hesitate to end e-mails with a sola Deo gloria tagline.

3. The Novices

Novices are new to the idea of God’s sovereignty in salvation, and they worry it leads to a fatalistic view of the Christian life. They wonder if embracing divine initiative will cause them to take their foot off the gas pedal of Christian obedience. They’ve been told the doctrines of grace stifle evangelism and good works. They struggle to grasp how churches that did so much good for them could have neglected something as important as sovereign grace. In congregations full of natives and converts, novices can feel like second-class citizens. They need help working through the implications of God’s sovereignty, but they rarely ask for it, fearful they’ll appear out-of-step with their family of faith.

Humble Encouragement 

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you seen conflict in your church arise as these three groups strive to serve King Jesus together? If so, what’s the way forward? How can our churches be places where sound theology is cherished yet where there’s freedom to wrestle with Scripture? How can we rejoice in the doctrines of grace without frustrating our brothers and sisters who have serious concerns?

Perhaps the place to start is to identify if you’re a native, a convert, or a novice. Once you’ve done that, please take the following words as a humble encouragement to see our churches grow together in unity, grace, and godliness.

  • To the natives: Be thankful God opened your eyes long ago to the depth of his love for you. Never take good teaching for granted. God providentially placed you in a family or church that taught the whole counsel of God, gripped even the difficult doctrines, and believed a sound life depended on sound doctrine. What a blessing! However, it’s easy to take such a background for granted. Some natives grow up assuming the doctrines of grace without ever studying for themselves. If that’s you, it’s probably time to return to the Word and make sure you see divine sovereignty in the text and not simply in your favorite author.
  • To the converts: Be careful, gentle, and patient with those around you. Recognize not everyone finds the waters of divine sovereignty as warm and refreshing as you do. The novices in your church can feel like they’re drowning in an ocean of theology deeper than they ever imagined. You might help them by explaining where you once struggled with these truths, too. Not only that, be gracious when speaking about other churches or leaders who embrace the gospel even if not as robustly as they should.
  • To the novices: Be open to teachings of the Bible with which you might be uncomfortable. Let Scripture shape you. Remember that even the hard doctrines are for your good. Show compassion for the converts in your midst. Try to appreciate that God used the doctrine of his sovereignty to give them a joy in the Lord they’d never known before. Consider there are far worse things than to be than zealous for God’s Word.

A Call for Patient Love

I suppose at this stage in my life I’m somewhere between a convert and a native. Though I grew up in a non-Christian home, and though the first few years of my Christian life were spent in a church with thin teaching, I’ve affirmed the doctrines of grace for many years now. I can honestly say the words of Joseph Hart are sweeter to me now then they’ve ever been:

Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness he requireth

Is to feel your need of him.

I long for the members of the church I serve to feel their need for Christ, too. I want them to understand that no work on their part—no decision, no prayer, no walk down the aisle—was the decisive factor in their salvation. God did it, and he did it all! I’m convinced their Christian life will be richer, deeper, and healthier when they grasp that God gets 100 percent of the credit for their salvation.

And yet I still remember, in college and beyond, questioning, doubting, and even being angry at the thought that God chose me simply because he loved me. It bothered me that he didn’t choose everyone. As a young Christian my problems with God’s ultimate sovereignty in salvation were ill-founded, but they were real and needed to be addressed patiently and with love.

Whether you’re a native, a novice, or a convert, I pray you’ll remember there are others around you—even in your own church—who would be helped not only by your love, but by your understanding and sympathy.

Aaron Menikoff (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of Politics and Piety (Pickwick. 2014). Before pastoral ministry, he served as an aide to United States Senator Mark O. Hatfield.

by Aaron Menikoff at May 26, 2016 05:00 AM

Mr. Money Mustache

Recipe for a Badass DIY Electric Mountain Bike

IMG_20160525_185336

 

IMG_20160525_185336By this point, we already know that bikes are awesome and good for you, cars are useful for a few limited things but come with major disadvantages, and electric bikes combine most of the advantages of both.

But they do still come with the downside of, “how does a somewhat experienced cyclist get a really good, fast one without spending several thousand dollars?”

I’ve made two attempts at the problem so far, with the following two bikes in my little test fleet right now:

I started with a home-brewed conversion of an existing commuter bike, putting it together with speed as the only consideration. This bike is fun and can hit 40MPH if you set both the motor and your legs to maximum. But the narrow wheels and zero-suspension design is not ideal for speeds like that: I blew out the front tire and broke a back spoke in bumps and potholes during the first thousand miles of riding. And even if you can avoid damage, the ride is VERY rough when you force yourself through city obstacles at greater than normal speed.

Somewhere in there, I added a Prodeco mountain bike, to see how pre-built bikes compare to a conversion and to see if I could tempt Mrs. MM and her friends into e-biking. Diagnosis: a solid bike, but too tall and heavy for smaller people. The big tires, front suspension and disc brakes, however, were way more useful to me than I expected. Despite the mandatory 20MPH speed restriction, this quickly became my favorite bike for trailer-pulling, rough roads, and snowy conditions.

However, a friend of mine in the neighborhood decided to seek the best of both worlds: a kit that is both more affordable and higher performing than the stuff I used, with a good quality full suspension mountain bike that he selected from Craigslist. Heavy duty, light weight, lower cost, and the full 40 MPH of speed on tap if you dare to use it – a rare perfect combination in the electric bike market.

My inventor friend is Carl, better known as Mr. 1500 from his blog 1500 Days to Freedom. He is another financially independent family man / tech industry veteran in his early 40s who likes to build stuff, which means we always have lots to talk about when our paths cross here in the streets of Longmont.

Since the real challenge of putting something like this together is the research, I asked Carl if he would share his findings. He surprised me with the following complete story and recipe for the build.

Mr. 1500’s Badass Electric Bike Conversion

I’ve always loved two-wheeled machines. I’m 42 now, but still remember the day that I learned to ride a bicycle clearly. I was 7 years old and my dad had been patiently running behind me, holding the seat while I learned to balance. After about a week of practice, he let go and I continued on, upright.

At that moment, I felt freedom. I could zoom all over the neighborhood at a pace that seemed like warp speed compared to my previous mode of locomotion, walking. My friends and I spent the summers putting many, many miles on our bicycles. It was good.

My love for two-wheeled machines never faded. When I was 20, I bought a motorcycle. While I enjoyed taking twisty roads at high speed, I just didn’t use the motorcycle enough. It mostly collected dust in the garage, so I sold it.

Back in 2014, I read MMM’s post on his Ebike with great interest. I occasionally missed the thrill of going fast on two wheels. Could an Ebike give me some of that need for speed while at the same time, getting me out of the car-cage?

Pete let me test ride his new machine and it was a thrill. At one point, I found myself thumbing for a turn signal, just as I would have on a motorcycle. Somewhere deep down, my brain thought I was back on a motorcycle. Game over. I had to have my own electric machine.

My Ebike

After doing loads of research, I decided to build a slightly different Ebike than MMM’s. Instead of a hub motor like his, I went with a mid-drive mounted motor. This means that the motor is mounted at the crank instead of in the hub. The mid-drive is great for climbing and centralized weigh distribution.

The bike: Mustache advised me to look for a full suspension bike. At the higher speeds of an Ebike, the suspension helps maintain control. I also wanted a bike that would accommodate the battery on the water bottle mount. Finally, I wanted low weight. The Jamis Dakar fit the bill, but there are plenty of suitable bikes out there. Its suspension geometry allows for mounting the battery pack centrally and the bike weighs in at 29 pounds. After a couple days of Craigslist* hunting, I found a nice example for $400.

jakar-base

 

The kit: I knew that I wanted a mid-drive kit, but I needed to figure out the details:

  • Motor: I went with a 750 watt Bafang unit (note that Bafang has since released a 1000 watt motor). This kit allows the bike to cruise around at about 30 mph with no pedal input.
  • Battery: Bigger is better. This bike is meant to be a commuting tool, so I went with a big battery pack; 52 volts, 13.5 amps. I also bought a pack with high quality, Panasonic 18650 cells, the same that sit in a Tesla.
  • Charger: Lithium-ion batteries are temperamental beasts. They last much longer if you don’t charge them up to 100%. I paid extra for a charger that can charge the battery up to 80% or 90% to prolong the life.

kit

Clockwise from top left: charger, electric motor, crankset, tool kit, computer, battery pack

All of my Ebike components came in the form of a kit from Lunacycle (other places on the internet to order the kit include Dillenger and and EM3EV). The kits come with the motor, battery, sprocket, crank arms, display/computer, charger and just about everything else you need to build the Ebike. I also ordered a tool kit from Amazon and this adapter which was necessary to mount the battery on the water bottle mounts. Finally, I purchased a new chain which was needed to accommodate the larger sprocket.

The Build

I’ve done minor bike maintenance like changing tires and chains, but nothing quite as extensive as this. I was most concerned with taking apart the bottom bracket where the new mid-drive would sit.

My worries were completely unfounded. In fact, I was surprised at just how easy the build was. The most technical part was soldering together a couple of wires. With proper planning, even a novice can install this kit in two hours.

install-steps
From left to right: Disassembling the bottom bracket, installing the battery mount and connecting everything up

Basic Steps

  1. Remove the bottom bracket. Note that you’ll need special tools for this.
  2. Install the mid-drive motor unit.
  3. Install the battery pack mount and battery.
  4. Install the electronics including the speed sensor on the back wheel, the display unit and throttle on the handlebars.
  5. Connect all of the electronics.

 

finishedbike

Optional: Because the bike was full suspension, I recalibrated the rear shock to accommodate the increased weight.

Cost: The Ebike ended up costing about $1,600. The bike was $400 while the Ebike kit was $1100. The toolkit, chain and other supplies ran the bill up another $100. While $1600 is a lot of money, this bike is far better than off-the-shelf models that cost twice as much. Also, have you seen what a car costs lately?

The Ride

The Bafang mid-drive has two different types of electric assistance; pedal assist and throttle. The pedal assist detects when you are pedaling and fires up the motor, giving you a boost. My version of the kit came with five different levels, 5 being the fastest. The kit also has a throttle that can be used similar to a motorcycle. You can also program the kit through an optional cable. For example, if you don’t want to use the pedal assist, you can reprogram the unit to eliminate it and just rely on the throttle.

When you take your new Ebike on its maiden voyage, brace yourself and be careful! You’ll feel like superman the first time you turn the pedals and the pedal assist kicks in. Prepare yourself to get around town at a speed much faster than you’ve become accustomed. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the motor is quiet and smooth. When I showed the bike to friends, most didn’t even realize it was an Ebike.

The first big ride was a 16 mile trip to Lafayette, CO. The ride would have taken me at least 75 minutes on a conventional bike. Despite a stiff headwind, rolling hills, and stoplights that didn’t go my way, I completed it in 45. Because it was my first ride, I was conservative. If I would have used the throttle to enhance the pedal assist, I would have been there much faster.

Why should you ride an Ebike?

Before I rode my new Ebike,  I was worried that it might make me lazy. Would I just lay on the throttle and coast around everywhere with minimal (or no) muscle effort? The answer is a decisive No. When I’m on the Ebike, I find myself pedaling as hard as I normally do. The difference is that I get everywhere much faster. With that in mind, I would recommend an Ebike for two reasons:

Kill your Excuses: A 20 minute trip to Home Depot becomes a 10 minute trip on an Ebike. No more of the “I don’t have time to bike” excuse. You’ll get to most places at a pace similar to what you’d do in the old car. Only, you’ll be in the open air. What is better than that?

You’ll expand the distances you’re willing to bike: A couple weekends ago, I went to visit a friend in a town 20 miles away. With an Ebike, a 40 mile round-trip commute is no big deal.

It all comes back to time. I work full-time and so does my wife. We also have two children. Time is precious. The Ebike allows me to spend more time on a bike and less time in the car. I’m getting exercise and enjoying the Great Outdoors, free from that old metal cage. It is good.

Thanks for sharing, Mr. 1500! I don’t have space for any more bikes, but if I were in the market, this would be my first choice of e-bike given today’s parts scene.

Seattle Meetup Alert: If you’re in the area of Gasworks Park at 6PM on Thursday May 26th, stop by and meet some fellow Seattle Mustachians as well as the Mad Fientist and me. More details on the meetups page.

by Mr. Money Mustache at May 26, 2016 03:58 AM

May 25, 2016

Front Porch Republic

Regional Cities and the Curse of “Glocality”

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

One of the essential themes in my continuing study of and reflection upon the character and dilemmas of mid-sized cities is their “regional” character, and the temptation which exists for such cities to pretend that they–or to aspire to convince themselves and others that they are about to become–players in the global economy. I don’t mean to say that towns and cities which don’t make the list of “global cities” have been completely untouched by globalization; on the contrary, especially (but not solely) because of the internet, a dependence upon global supply chains and a cosmopolitan awareness of global economic, political, and humanitarian concerns has shaped the lives of people all across the country, no matter whether their lived environments are rural or urban. But it is, I think, undeniable that the capital and information flows which characterized our globalized environment have created real hierarchies among the metropolitan centers of the world, and the lure of that hierarchy is strong.

No one can pretend to be completely immune to that lure. At a recent commencement address at Ell-Saline High School in the tiny Kansas town of Brookville, Josh Svaty, a farmer and former state representative, made it the centerpiece of his comments. Success, he said, so often is equated with studying business or finance at a prestigious Ivy League university, and then getting corporate job in a major city: New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, or Kansas City. A city the size of Wichita “might do,” he added–but only maybe, one must assume. Real success, Svaty commented, is assumed to be found somewhere else, somewhere bigger and faster and richer, someplace that promises us that particular freedom which allows us “to get boxed into little groups that don’t really want to interact”–or aren’t even assumed to want to interact–with one another.

And why wouldn’t one assume that? Besides all the problems of perception and politics which small and mid-sized cities have to struggle with in our interconnected capitalist and cosmopolitan world, there is the fact that the possibilities of a more steady-state approach to urban life, one which attempts to articulate the means that cities that are not fully absorbed into either 1) the great metropolitan agglomerations of the world or 2) the supply chains with sustain them receive comparatively little attention. I recently read a little book that presented itself as an thorough exploration of “small cities”–Jon Norman’s Small Cities USA. It wasn’t a bad book, but aside from some of the admittedly interesting data is crunched about relative levels of socio-economic inequality and racial mixing in small and mid-sized cities (particularly those which lack a strong “creative” component–p. 90), it ultimately had no real argument to make about what is particular, in either a positive or negative sense, of the effort to strengthen and find value in regional communities of something other than a truly metropolitan scale. On the contrary, Norman repeatedly made use of exactly such a scale, measuring regional cities as successful or not primarily in terms of their “glocality”–that is, the degree to which “they look like global cities in terms of economic diversity and activities but operate on a much more local level, be it regional or national” (p. 9).

In other words, the same metrics of success which Svaty called out in his commencement address were left essentially unexamined by Norman: rather, he simply stipulates that successful cities are growing cities, growing cities are those which imitate that which characterizes or that which is provided by the global cities at the top of the urban hierarchy, so therefore a study of urban areas which is limited in size needs to center itself upon those cities which have been able to globalize themselves on a local level. Should we contemplate the possibility that the experiences of such regional urban communities might give us a different way of talking about localism and globalism? Nah. Let’s just look at everything Colorado Springs, CO, and Salem, OR have done right, and everything Wichita Falls, TX, and Duluth, MN, have done wrong.

This is no surprise to any of us who live in any of the latter category of cities, because it’s hard to go a month without hearing of some new city commission or local service organization which is sending a group of people to study how Salt Lake City, UT, or Ann Arbor, MI, have done so well. We are constantly already doing the kind of comparisons which Norman built his book around (which makes it odd that in the end he concludes that “it is likely better to spend energy on dealing with local issues than on attempts to make a small place into something similar to a larger place that is viewed as more successful”–p. 139; perhaps Norman’s next book could make that its thesis, because it certainly wasn’t the implied message of this book). It’s a consequence of living in a place larger than rural or micropolitan areas like Brookville, and reflects tendencies known to statisticians and social scientists the world over: once one enters into or achieves an environment which is suggestive of certain extensive possibilities, such possibilities become expected–and their absence becomes a source of embarrassment or derision. (“How can Wichita possibly be considered a serious city? We don’t even have a Spaghetti Factory.”) What I call mittelpolitan places are, as Norman corrected notes, not-insignificant population draws within their particular regions; the greater the mass of a place, the greater the likelihood it will become a regional subsidiary anchor for the service-oriented economy of the United States–education, banking, medical care, insurance, real estate, etc.–thus going through in miniature the same declines in manufacturing and relative increases in the “cosmopolitan” trappings of the global cities of the world (pp. 103, 112, 131). But such observations only entrench exactly the patterns of agglomeration which leave small and mid-sized cities ever more unable to compete, whether in terms economic development or retaining population: the kids who grow up in such places will only receive, again and again, the same implied message: the real action, the real opportunities, the real tests of success are to found in bigger places (and if they aren’t to be found there, they’ll be found in places bigger yet). No, if you’re open to the possibility that the towns and cities of America which obviously benefit from–as well as struggle with, as we all do–the consequences of globalization might nonetheless have something to contribute as themselves, and not as places which, because of the historical accident which placed them in Montana or Kansas or Arkansas or Maine, can only ever aspire to imitate the global cities of the world, you need to think in different terms.

James Fallows, one of country’s great (if not especially imaginative) journalists and essayists, sometimes seems to want to reach for such terms, but he can’t quite find them either, perhaps because the presumptions of bigness are just too deep in his work history and outlook. For the past three years Fallows and his wife Deborah have been flying across the United States, visiting cities, looking into the hundreds of different ways, in his view, “a process of revival and reinvention” in underway. What they’ve written about is often inspiring; their observations about regional concentrations of talent, blue-collar resistance, city libraries, racial and civic assimilation, local arts movements, and more all give hope to those wanting to extricate our thinking about city life away from the global bias. Yet Fallows can’t help (like David Brooks, with whom he shares more than a few similarities) but mourn hasn’t yet responded to the transformations of globalization in a holistic, top-down way; he wishes President Bush had used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the way Eisenhower used the “ten-terrifying ‘Sputnik shock’ of the late 1950s” to give us a moral equivalent of war moment, and push for “real national improvement.” Fallows’s “Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed” are entertaining, worth pondering, and probably often correct, but the fact that “big plans” and “research universities” are part of his perspective just goes to show that he, too, assumes that the best regional cities are those which can right-size the bigness associated with success, rather, perhaps, than those which can rethink success entirely.

For Wendell Berry, thinking about locality must escape from bigness, from the lure of globalization, however much it may actually be that even the smallest towns and rural environments are themselves, on some level, globalized. The reason that such an escape is imperative is that thinking big cannot ever not be an exercise in abstract thinking–abstraction in the sense of “simplifications too extreme and oppressive to merit the name of thought.” As he put it years ago at greater length:

Global thinking can only be statistical. Its shallowness is exposed by the least intention to do something. Unless one is willing to be destructive on a very large scale, one cannot do something except locally, in a small place. Global thinking can only do to the globe what a space satellite does to it: reduce it, make a bauble of it. Look at one of those photographs of half the earth taken from outer space, and see if you recognize your neighborhood. If you want to see where you are, you will have to get out of your space vehicle, out of your car, off your horse, and walk over the ground….Abstraction is the enemy wherever it is found. The abstractions of sustainability can ruin the world just as surely as the abstractions of industrial economics. Local life may be as much endangered by “saving the planet” as by “conquering the world.” Such a project calls for abstract purposes and central powers that cannot know, and so will destroy, the integrity of local nature and local community.

A powerful sentiment–the sort of thing which led Alan Jacobs to observe that “the old slogan ‘Think globally, act locally’ gets it precisely backwards, I believe: it is only by thinking and acting locally that we can make the right kind of difference globally.” But what does that tell us about cities, practically speaking? In our globalized and outsourced economies, most urban areas been transformed by the outsourcing logic of late capitalism, making the service-based work available within them increasing abstract by definition (writing code for programmers to execute in factories elsewhere, designing ads to attract consumers to buy products manufactured elsewhere, etc.) and thus in term leading the cities themselves to think in terms of expanding and maximizing their inherent ability to generate spaces of anonymity and abstraction: to see themselves as places of privatization and cosmopolitan experimentation. There is a huge part of human culture which longs for that particular kind of freedom and opportunity, so perhaps cities that reach a middling size and tip the perceptional scale in the direction of agglomeration ought to simply throw in the towel, and rush after whatever “glocalism” they can find?

It is easy for people to treat agrarian thinkers like Berry as resolutely anti-urban–and that accusation is true, if one assumes that all urbanism must partake of globalism. But Berry has another vision of cities in mind, a more sustainable one: a “city in balance with its countryside: a city, that is, that would live off the net ecological income of its supporting region, paying as it goes all its ecological and human debts.” Such a city would have to have a robust local culture, one robust enough to generate sufficient local affection to support a movement away from globally mediated and thus abstracted sources of the requirements of life (food, most obviously, but also other essential resources), a move which could not be made without accepting genuine costs. For people who want to articulate an actual positive value for cities that are stuck between rural life and the global agglomerations of the world, though, those costs–which, of course, couldn’t ever emerge comprehensively, all at once, but might instead be embraced democratically, bit by bit–might be worth paying. At the very least, teaching ourselves to think about such costs and benefits–costs and benefits which are, I think, particularly well realized by trying to think about what the situation of mid-sized, regional, not-yet-entirely-globalized cities presents us with today–would spare us from mucking about in some ersatz “glocal” category…which, really, shouldn’t even be a word in the first place, should it?

The post Regional Cities and the Curse of “Glocality” appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Russell Arben Fox at May 25, 2016 10:54 PM

Presentable

We’re introducing a new show today on Relay FM, hosted by Jeffrey Veen:

The Presentable Podcast focuses on how we design and build the products that are shaping our digital future. We’ll track the tools, trends, and methods being used by teams from the biggest companies and latest startups. In each episode, Jeff will bring over two decades of experience as a designer, developer, entrepreneur, and investor as he chats with guests about the how design is changing the world.

It’s really good. You should check out both the pilot and the first episode.

by Stephen at May 25, 2016 06:56 PM

Clockwise #138: You Know What You’re Signing Up For

I joined Clockwise this week to talk about Siri API integrations, no Overwatch on Mac, Apple missing the AI wave and the MacBook Pro’s rumored OLED touchbar. It was a good time.

by Stephen at May 25, 2016 06:36 PM

John C. Wright's Journal

Superluminary Episode 02 World of Death

 

For those of you who missed it, Superluminary, Episode 01, ASSASSIN IN EVEREST, is posted on Patreon:

Episode 01 Assassin in Everest

In which Aeneas Tell, the youngest member of the Imperial family of mad scientists who rule the solar system with an iron fist, is decapitated by a high-tech vampire.

Superluminary, Episode 02, WORLD OF DEATH is posted on Patreon:

Episode 02 World of Death

In this exciting episode, Aeneas Tell is flung in his pajamas onto the surface of planet Pluto.

************

As best I can see, the Patreon posts are not meant to hold the actual text being offered by writers to readers. The formatting is a mare’s nest to correct, and there seems to be no way to arrange the episodes to be read in the proper order.

I may need to post the serial episodes elsewhere, and merely use Patreon as the link terminal.

by John C Wright at May 25, 2016 04:29 PM

eagereyes

The Scrollytelling Scourge

scrollytelling-teaser

Scrollytelling is a common way of interacting with stories these days. Scroll down and the story unfolds! Except it’s often awkward, brittle, and gets in the way.

The Age of Scrollytelling

Scrolling is a funny thing. It was long considered something people rarely did, and many news organizations will still talk about stories being “above the fold” when they’re visible on most people’s screens without scrolling. But the advent of scroll wheels on mice, scroll gestures on trackpads, and of course touch screens on phones and tablets, has turned scrolling into something everybody does without even thinking about it.

Scrollytelling takes this a bit further by assuming that people would rather scroll (or swipe) through a story – hence the term – than hit buttons to advance through a story. Rather than having to click a button on a stepper, you smoothly sail through the story with your scrolly finger.

Except it doesn’t work. Let me count the ways it goes wrong.

  1. Continuous scrolling through a story with discrete steps. Let’s take the very cleverly done What’s Really Warming the World?: It presents a series of questions and answers them. Each question has a little animation, which is continuous. But the steps between the questions are discrete. Scrolling is continuous. It doesn’t match the way the story is told. A simple stepper would be way easier. The same is true of this Visual Introduction to Machine Learning – great piece, but it’s individual steps, continuous scrolling makes no sense.
  2. Knowing how long the thing is. Before watching a video on the web, I always check how long it is. If it’s longer than I feel like watching, I won’t. Scrollytelling pieces often don’t give you a good indicator how long the piece is. Yes, you may be able to se the scrollbar, but what does that mean? How far apart are the steps? I have no confidence in that as an indicator.
  3. Direct access. Just like I like to know the length of a thing, I also like being able to jump between points. Many scrollytelling pieces now have indicators for the individual steps, which sometimes can be clicked to access them directly, sometimes not.
  4. Scroll-jacking. When I scroll, I scroll. I’m the user. I’m in control. I do not want your stupid website to interfere with the scrolling because your little JavaScript thinks that I’m scrolling too fast or that I really should pause here or there before moving on. That tab is closed faster than you can say onScroll.
  5. Scrolling that doesn’t scroll. Scrolling needs to actually scroll, not just advance an animation. How the U.S. and OPEC Drive Oil Prices makes my brain hurt. I scroll, but nothing (okay, almost nothing) actually scrolls. It’s just a bunch of confusing transitions in the same space. Granted, this piece has some other issues as well, but the weird interaction makes things even worse. This Diary of a Food Tracker is another example that would have been so much better with a stepper.
  6. Precision scrolling. Why infectious bacteria are winning is really interesting, but the scrolling action is infuriating. Text scrolls over the animated graphics, and you have to watch the action while scrolling or you’ll miss it. Try to read the text, and you miss the graphics, pay attention to the graphics and the text has just scrolled off the top. This nice piece is completely ruined by the scrollytelling.
  7. Weird mixed metaphors. The fantastic Hottest Year on Record piece used scrolling as a trigger to start the animation. What if you want to see it again? Now you have to hit a button. It makes no sense. And the initial scrolling distracts, so you’ve almost certainly missed the first few years.

Stepping Back

What’s the alternative? Why, a stepper of course!

stepper

This one’s from For the Elderly, Diseases That Overlap. It’s nice and straight-forward: you know many steps there are and where you are in the sequence. Just click the Next button to go to the next one, or any of the numbers to jump around. Animation happens just the same, no scrollyanything needed. But the navigation doesn’t get in the way and doesn’t distract.

If you absolutely have to use scrolling, read – and heed – Mike Bostock’s How to Scroll. But even better: don’t.

by Robert Kosara at May 25, 2016 03:17 PM

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

Nix as OS X Package Manager

Power users on OS X are familiar with Homebrew or MacPorts for installing and managing software packages conveniently. Yet, those two well-known tools are not the exclusive players. There is a growing interest in Nix, particularly for its use on OS X.

Package management using Nix is quite simple and intuitive. It does work quite well to replace Homebrew and MacPorts. To get started, install Nix following the instructions:

curl https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh

Nix only needs access to /nix, it does not touch any other top-level directories (Nix will never pollute your /usr or /usr/local). Hence, removing Nix is a matter to nuking that /nix directory.

Once it is installed, the main command-line tool you will interact the most will be nix-env. Try installing a trivial package like this:

$ nix-env -i hello
installing ‘hello-2.10’
these paths will be fetched (0.02 MiB download, 0.07 MiB unpacked):
  /nix/store/b6bxihaz9s5c79dsgbbxvjg8w44a036i-hello-2.10
fetching path ‘/nix/store/b6bxihaz9s5c79dsgbbxvjg8w44a036i-hello-2.10’...
$ hello --version
hello (GNU Hello) 2.10

Note the installation path, a peculiar subdirectory under /nix/store. The name contains the cryptographic hash of all inputs necessary to build the package, essentially capturing the complete build dependencies. This enables powerful Nix features such as easy handling of multiple package versions, atomic installation, and many more.

Nix also creates a profile for every user, which you once you search for an executable (the importance of Nix profile itself will be more obvious once you start to be more familiar with Nix).

$ which hello
/Users/ariya/.nix-profile/bin/hello

Removing a package is as easy as installing it:

$ nix-env -e hello
uninstalling ‘hello-2.10

In many cases, Nix will install a package in its binary form (as built and cached by the Hydra-based build farm).

packages

Wondering what you can install with Nix? Well, Nix’s collection of packages (especially on OS X, around seven thousands) is not as impressive as Homebrew and MacPorts. Yet, you may find the common packages already available, from Git to Vim (and its plugins). To list all available packages:

$ nix-env -qa

Just like every package manager, Nix is also useful to upgrade your arsenal of tools. For instance, OS X El Capitan is armed with Git 2.6 by default. But perhaps you want to use the most recent Git 2.8 instead. This is not a difficult endeavor:

$ git --version
git version 2.6.4 (Apple Git-63)
$ nix-env -i git
warning: there are multiple derivations named ‘git-2.8.0’; using the first one
installing ‘git-2.8.0’
$ which git
/Users/ariya/.nix-profile/bin/git
$ git --version
git version 2.8.0

Later on, if you decide that you don’t like the latest version and you prefer to stick with the default one, the rollback leaves no meaningful left-over and it returns the state of the system exactly before you installed Git 2.8:

$ nix-env -e git
uninstalling ‘git-2.8.0’
$ which git
/usr/bin/git
$ git --version
git version 2.6.4 (Apple Git-63)

These package management tasks are not unique to Nix. Wait for the sequel of this post, where we learn the power of Nix to comfortably handle multiple environments (e.g. Python 2.7 vs Python 3.5).

by Ariya Hidayat at May 25, 2016 03:06 PM

Reformedish

Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Historical Penal Substitutionary Atonement

pannenberg volume 2Wolfhart Pannenberg is known for many elements of his theology—eschatology, history, the resurrection, the Trinity—but I rarely see him brought up in discussions of the atonement. This is a shame, because as Peter Leithart recently reminds us, in both his classic Jesus-God and Man and his magnum opus, three-volume Systematic Theology Pannenberg has one of the most helpful treatments of recent times.

I can’t go into all the details, but I simply wanted to highlight a few of the key, brief points, skipping and condensing a large amount of careful material.

First, Pannenberg tries to make sense of the extensive New Testament (especially Pauline) witness about Jesus death being “for us” in an expiatory sense as an interpretation of Jesus’ history. In other words, he tries to trace out the logic of the apostles as they reflected on the history, acts, and words of Jesus to make sense of the death of Jesus as happening “for us.”

Second, the resurrection is actually a key part of that logic. Aside from the strong emphasis on eschatology and resurrection Pannenberg develops in general, he sees it as crucial to the recognition that Jesus’ death happened for us.

If we follow the Gospel accounts, we recognize that Jesus was accused by the priests and teachers of the Law on the basis of the Law. In their eyes, Jesus was a blasphemer and the rebellious son who was trying to lead Israel astray and so they prosecuted him (and with the Romans) executed him accordingly.

But “the resurrection reveals that Jesus died as a righteous man, not as a blasphemer” (JesusGod and Man, 290). The resurrection, for Pannenberg, proves what the apostles testified to over and over again, that Jesus knew no sin—for God would not resurrect him if he had any of his own sin to die for.

Given this resurrection, we realize that Jesus’ claims about his relationship with the Father are vindicated. In which case, “those who rejected him as a blasphemer and had complicity in his death are the real blasphemers. His judges rightly deserved the punishment that he received. Thus he bore their punishment” (ibid). Or again: “The Easter reversal of the significance of the events that had led to the crucifixion of Jesus shows that Jesus literally died in the place of those who condemned him” (Systematic Theology, Volume 2,  425).

One may even want to strengthen this by appealing to the Law which states that false witnesses are to suffer the judgment which they meant to fall upon the innocent they had accused maliciously (Deut. 19:16-21).

Third, Pannenberg highlights the representative dimension to this death. In their condemnation, the Jewish leadership did not merely act as a collection of individuals. They acted on behalf of their nation and as such, the nation condemned this true Israelite as a blasphemer. Jesus dies in place, not only of the leadership as such, but for Israel as a whole.

Pannenberg connects this to Paul’s statements in Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:3, which only make sense in connection to Jesus’ condemnation under the Law:

As Paul saw it, God himself by means of the human judges not only made Jesus to be sin but also had him bear in our place (and not merely in that of his Jewish judges or the whole Jewish people) the penalty that is the proper penalty of sin because it follows from its inner nature, i.e. the penalty of death as the consequence of separation from God. (Systematic Theology, Volume 2,  426).

Jesus’ death bears the character of the natural, non-arbitrary, and just penalty and consequence of sin—separation from God.

But as highlighted by this quote, Pannenberg sees Christ’s death not only as occurring for Israel, but also for the Gentiles. He was handed over to the Gentiles. “Roman participation in the events leading to the crucifixion was perhaps the occasion for extending the understanding of the death of Jesus as expiation to the Gentile world represented by Rome” (ibid. 426). Pilate’s death was not merely an irresponsible act of judgment, but one that involved the collision of human kingdoms with God’s eschatological representative.

What’s more, from another angle, Pannenberg notes the representative character Israel and her Law bore in relation to the nations beyond its borders. Israel is a representative nation and her Law testified not only the particular covenant relationship of God with Israel, but of the moral relationship of the whole world to its Creator. All had fallen under the predicament of death as penalty for sin and Israel represented the world in this. And so, in this way Jesus truly did die “for all” (2 Cor. 5:14), “thereby effecting representation in the concrete form of a change of place between the innocent and the guilty” (ibid. 427).

Fourth, it must be noted that for Pannenberg, the “substitution” in question is not an “exclusive” one, but “inclusive.” Jesus death is, in a very real sense, for us and in our place. We don’t die that death on the cross, he does: “only he died completely forsaken” (Jesus-God and Man, 296). All the same, his death does not exclude our own or mean that we ourselves do not die. Rather, it means that by faith we are included in his death—our deaths are linked with his in such a way that he dies our death for us. In which case, our death no longer means exclusion from the presence of God, but contains the hope of resurrection life which is worked out even now in a life of righteousness (Rom. 6:13).

Each of these points can and should be worked out at length. What’s more, many of the fine-grained discussions of historical theology, Old Testament sacrificial texts, and so forth, which Pannenberg masterfully engages with remain unaddressed. All the same, it should become clear that for Pannenberg, penal substitution is no abstract doctrine disconnected from the history of Jesus, or his resurrection, but as Leithart comments, it’s a plot summary of the hinge events of the Gospels.

Hopefully this whets your appetite to dig into Pannenberg yourself. For all of Pannenberg’s oddities, its a nuanced, robust, orthodox presentation of Christ’s work of reconciliation that might spare us some of the worst mistakes made in popular preaching today.

Even more importantly, it should serve as a reminder that our doctrines are not abstractions floating free from time and space, but rather they serve us best as hermeneutical keys enabling us to understand more fully what the God who does exist beyond time and space has accomplished for us and our salvation through Christ in the midst of history.

Soli Deo Gloria

 


by Derek Rishmawy at May 25, 2016 02:59 PM

Aaron M. Renn

The Goldilocks Growth Rate

I’m back with another “Ask Aaron Anything” podcast. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, or topics you would like to see me cover, send them my way, because I want to be looking at the things that are on your minds.

Today a reader asks, what is the maximum growth rate a city can have without running into excessive negatives like congestion or environmental issues? He asked it in the context of Milwaukee. I also respond to a question about which smaller cities – less than 100,000 – are thriving without either being based on tourism/second homes,  or having a single large institutional employer like a university. It’s a great question, and I’d love to hear any that you would add. Just post in the comments.

Also, thanks to those of you who left an iTunes podcast rating. If you haven’t already, please click over quickly and leave one, because this helps people to discover the podcast. Thanks.

If the audio player doesn’t display for you, click over to listen on Soundcloud.

Subscribe to podcast via iTunes | Soundcloud.

Featured image photo by Dori CC BY-SA 3.0, which I downloaded from the Wikipedia Milwaukee page.

by Aaron M. Renn at May 25, 2016 01:24 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

“Turning 50 Is Extremely Liberating”: One Woman’s Path to Her Dream Job

This is a Born for This case study. (Read others or nominate a friend or yourself.)

I love second act stories! It’s never too late (or too early, for that matter) to create a new life for yourself and change the world while you’re at it. Tonya Hobbs took a big risk, and she couldn’t be happier.

Here’s her story:

Finding the work I was born to do was the result of a full-blown, midlife-crisis. I had changed careers and returned to school for a master’s degree in social work at age 40, but as 50 approached I was plagued by the question “Is this all there is?”

I worked in a field I loved. My job was never done. Yet I longed for something more… I just had no idea what “more” really meant.

KH3

Tonya Hobbs, founder of Kymari House.

Reading The Art of Non-Conformity helped me take an honest look at my life and realize I wanted to work for myself in an enterprise of my own making. What I longed for—but had never been able to really put my finger on—was to create something totally new that would be useful to the world.

From there, Kymari House, a nonprofit agency providing services for children who are separated from their parents, was born. It has not been a smooth road, but I’ve learned so much about what drives me and how to succeed (and fail!) along the way.

KH5

One of the Kymari House visitors.

Turning 50 is extremely liberating.

At 50, I became aware that it was truly now or never. There was no more putting off or deferring my own satisfaction. I had no choice but to take chances I wouldn’t have at age 30. I actually wish I had been more brave at a younger age, but I know for certain I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now.

It’s OK to start with nothing.

My partner Jeff Puster and I started Kymari House in 2012 with absolutely zero money, zero prospects, and zero idea how much work would be involved in bringing this enterprise to life. But we’ve managed to consistently grow the budget: it was $15K the first year, $78K the second year, and $95K at the end of the third year. We’re currently in our fourth year and are on track for a budget of around $120K.

Working a side job isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a path to success.

I worked multiple part-time jobs while growing Kymari House, and I still do side work so that I don’t have to rely solely on the agency for all of my income. I’ve grown very comfortable not having all my financial eggs in one basket and relying on myself.

KH2

The road was long, but Tonya’s dream job was waiting at the end.

By stepping off the beaten path, I found the work I was born to do.

If I had continued to follow “traditional wisdom” and make safe, respectable choices, Kymari House would never have existed, and I would be wasted and miserable. When I stopped following the rules (which in my experience are generally made for the benefit of others), I found a bright future and an adventure waiting for me each day.

Amazing things come out of the ether when you’re operating from that place of absolute truth.

After committing to my authentic passion with everything I have, the universe really has made a place for what I’m creating. I can’t tell you how many times the perfect solution to a problem just landed on our doorstep, completely out of the blue.

Life is not meant to be lived just running out the clock.

I firmly believe that what we do for a living needs to be connected to our innate passions, or else it’s just drudgery. Find that inspiration, no matter how many rules you have to break, or people you have to alarm. Today, I know I have more plans and ideas than I will ever be able to fully explore.

Learn more about Tonya and Kymari House here, and follow them on Twitter @kymarihouse.

by Chris Guillebeau at May 25, 2016 12:20 PM

Table Titans

Tales: You Guard the Door

Many years ago, my group played a Dark Sun campaign using the 2nd edition rules. We were a small group of escaped slaves consisting of a Thri-kreen Ranger, a Half-Giant Fighter, a Mul (Half-Dwarf) Cleric and a couple of Humans (Thief and Preserver Mage).

The Mul Cleric was the most noteworthy…

Read more

May 25, 2016 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Finding Jesus in ‘Last Days in the Desert’

Article by: Brett McCracken

The first words we hear out of Jesus’s mouth in Last Days in the Desert are those you might expect from a man who’s spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, alone, shivering and dusty and afraid: “Father, where are you?” The words set the tone for a film that examines the humanity of Christ by pondering what his temptations and encounters in the desert may have been like.

Loosely inspired by the Gospel accounts (Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13), Last Days puts its own spin on the biblical episode, just as the Noah or Exodus films did with their respective inspiration texts. I’ve written before that Christians shouldn’t approach these films with a flag to throw each time the filmmakers get the story wrong; instead, we should consider whether the films communicate something insightful or good, true or beautiful. We can praise what is praiseworthy even as we evaluate the film’s flaws in form and style, as well as content.

Much to Praise

There is much to praise about Last Days. Director Rodrigo Garcia is an insightful cinematic explorer of families (Nine Lives, Mother and Child), and his take on Jesus (Ewan McGregor) focuses on this relational dynamic. Garcia’s 98-minute film follows Jesus in his final days in the wilderness as he encounters a family—father, mother, and son—living in the desolate desert. As Jesus (called “Yeshua” in the film) bonds with the son (Tye Sheridan) and observes his strained relationship with his father (Ciarán Hinds), his own understanding of sonship is clarified. Ultimately, the Jesus-helping-a-son-and-father-understand-each-other plot ends up being a creative and less on-the-nose means by which we contemplate the psychology of God’s Son.

Caucasian Scottishness aside—when will someone ethnically appropriate be cast as Jesus?—McGregor’s acting is a strength of the film. He plays both Jesus and Satan, a conceit that makes for some interesting McGregor-to-McGregor dialogue scenes. The Devil is here portrayed as more than a “horns and pitchfork” caricature; instead, he’s Lucifer, an ancient God-created being who’s endured the maddening repetitiveness of world history from a resentful perch of pride. As insightful as the film is in probing the human psychology of Jesus, at times I was more intrigued by its portrayal of Satan.

The choice to depict Satan as a mirror image of Jesus is interesting. On one hand, it gives the materialist viewer an interpretive out. Perhaps this devilish tempter is just a schizophrenic voice inside Jesus’s head? Perhaps the dialogues between Jesus and Lucifer are simply symbolic of the internal war we all wage between our best and worst selves? Regrettably, one could glean from this film a doctrine of sin that writes it off as the collateral damage of a Freudian father complex.

On the other hand, Jesus seeing himself in his enemy captures the truth that sin is not just something out there. It’s what happens when we succumb to temptations to assume an autonomous identity. That’s the sort of being Lucifer is, and he presents his unconstrained will to Jesus as the ultimate forbidden fruit. Quit bothering with your Father’s bidding. Do what you want to do, just like me! 

Refreshing . . .

One of the refreshing but occasionally maddening things about Last Days is how open-ended and indeterminate it is. Its cinematography (by the incomparable Emmanuel Lubezki) is heavy on long takes, wide shots, and ambiguous stillness. The music is beautiful but minimalist. There is much silence, which contributes to the film’s Lenten, contemplative tone.

One St. Francis-inspired line from Jesus—“Action over words always”—seems to inform Garcia’s low-on-dialogue approach to the story. Refreshingly, viewers are left to interpret these multiple images and ponder gaps in the story on their own (if only evangelical filmmakers had that sort of respect for their audiences).

. . . Yet Problematic

Yet the film’s open-endedness is also problematic. The Jesus of Last Days is an “all things to all people” sort of Jesus, which makes him far less interesting. Is he really divine? Is he sinless? Was his death on the cross (depicted at the end) of cosmic significance, or simply a sad end for a well-intentioned but ultimately delusional “holy man”? Is there anything particularly Jewish/Messianic about how he understands himself and his mission?

Viewers will come to different conclusions. Garcia goes out of his way to avoid alienating Christians who may be wary of a too-controversial Jesus. But he also avoids putting off unbelievers who might be offended by doctrinal specificity or blatant manifestations of the supernatural. Anything magical in the film (an image of Jesus levitating or a beggar woman with a demonic tail) can easily be explained away as dreams or hallucinations.

The film’s avoidance of the supernatural, and the great pains it takes to situate Jesus in the dusty banality of everyday life, is striking. Don’t get me wrong. I love how earthy and relatable and human Jesus is in this film. I left the theater contemplating the incarnation in new ways. This Jesus gets rocks in his sandals, laughs at farts (really), and relishes a good campfire. He gets sunburned and shivers. He laments the death of a friend. The world he lives in is full of entropy and decay and disease and ash. You can feel his hunger and thirst and pain. Indeed, this composite of Christ is biblical; the “temptation in the wilderness” period prior to Jesus’s public ministry is meant in Scripture to underscore all of these aspects of his self-limiting humanity.

But Jesus is also divine. He’s the Son of God. Even in the desert he is filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. The evasion of this part of his identity in Last Days comes across as intellectually dishonest. This story would be of no significance if Jesus were merely a human prophet. The story matters because he is also God. We wouldn’t all still be talking about and going to movies about him had he just been a wise-but-naïve carpenter.

Of course this sort of intellectual dishonesty has for some time been common. From Thomas Jefferson (who literally cut out all the supernatural bits from his Bible) to the Jesus Seminar to the mainline churches that uphold (their favorite) moral teachings of Jesus but are embarrassed by the resurrection, many have tried to uphold a significant Jesus . . . who was just a man. But it doesn’t work. He was either a crazy, needlessly fasting person in the desert talking to himself (an interesting enough film), or he was God-in-flesh.

Gospel Prologue

When I interviewed Ewan McGregor about the film, he repeatedly referred to the character of Yeshua as being the “Son of God.” Clearly, this was his approach to the role, but the film itself never asserts it. Instead, it leaves open the possibility that this man’s last days in the desert were simply about a compassionate wilderness wanderer whose encounter with strangers teaches him lessons about family.

Ultimately this non-committal ambiguity, while at times intriguing and beautifully rendered, tempers the film’s potency. Because the story of Yeshua is not just the story of a nice, contemplative guy who doesn’t let the voices in his head get the better of him. It’s a gospel prologue in which the sinless second Adam succeeds where the first Adam failed, a theologically crucial chapter in the greatest story ever told.

Brett McCracken is a film critic for Christianity Today and the author of Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty and Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Brett McCracken at May 25, 2016 05:03 AM

The Goal of Missions May Not Be What You Think

Article by: Chase Bowers, Scott Zeller

What happened on January 2, 1998, altered the course of my (Chase’s) life.

Along with thousands of other college students, I attended the second Passion conference, which was then a new series of gatherings seeking to raise a banner for God’s glory. I heard John Piper preach for the first time, and what he communicated about God’s heart for the nations—specifically the idea that he was gathering for his fame a people from among all peoples—was paradigm-shifting for me.

Afterward I began digging into Piper’s now-classic book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker). It opens with groundshaking words:        

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.

This paragraph profoundly changed what I viewed as the goal of missions. Previously I’d assumed the goal of missions is the practice of missions: evangelism, church planting, and so on. But Piper pointed me to something bigger: the goal of missions is nothing less than the worship of God.

Engine of Worship

That worship is the fuel and goal of missions not only informs our theology, but also our practice. If worship is the goal, the local church is the primary instrument. Or, to use a car analogy, if worship is both the destination and the fuel of missions, the local church is the engine. Why? Because the local church is designed to be God’s gathered worshipers on earth—a corporate display of his glory among the nations.

Throughout the apostle Paul’s ministry, he was passionate about establishing the local church as the engine of missions. He submitted himself to local church authority in Jerusalem. He was sent out by a local church in Antioch. He instructed Titus to solidify the fledgling churches in Crete by establishing elders. He had a deep concern for local churches.

There were many exciting things about Paul’s pioneering ministry. He proclaimed the gospel to the masses in Athens, Ephesus, and beyond. He proclaimed Christ to everyone from coworkers to ruling authorities. But what mattered most to Paul was what Christ himself had promised to build: a gospel church.

When the gospel goes out, we should expect new churches to form. The end game is not one believer, or even a few believers with a vague idea that they somehow share Christ. No, the goal of worshiping Jesus is accomplished by local churches—gathered bodies of believers, under the authority of elders, who are discipling others, holding fast to sound doctrine, practicing the Lord’s Supper and baptism, and seeking to obey God.

Quit Cutting Corners

Some missions leaders and organizations dispute this point. It’s unreasonable to expect healthy, mature, self-sustaining churches to be formed, they say—that’s a “Western” notion. What matters more is reproducing informal small groups that we’ll call “churches” for the sake of our numbers. This practice is tragic. When we become satisfied with less than the biblical ideal for missions, we manifest a sub-biblical understanding of how God desires to be praised. Of course, there are certain contexts where the forms will look different, but the biblical vision of the local church remains.

When Paul mentioned the church that met in Priscilla and Aquilla’s home (1 Cor. 16:19), he wasn’t confused in his use of “church.” The aim was no different from the one Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4. It was the building of the body of Christ. Our aim must be nothing less today.

When building healthy local churches is ignored, pragmatism and impatience take hold. The Lord is not glorified by 10,000 “churches” planted in a compressed amount of time only to fall prey to prosperity theology, syncretism, or other eternally fatal errors.

Signposts to the Kingdom

God expresses his manifold wisdom when local churches meet together across the globe. So as we long for the day when redeemed rebels gather from every tribe, tongue, and nation to worship the Lamb slain, the local church is a microcosm of that great day. 

Local churches are signposts pointing the way to Christ’s kingdom—embassies of heaven on earthly soil. As we gather for worship, teaching, and table, and scatter for global witness, let’s remember the goal of missions is the worship of God. And worship necessarily drives us to establish faithful churches of disciple-making disciples among all peoples.

Chase Bowers is the pastor of global outreach at Temple Bible Church in Temple, Texas. He loves mobilizing long-term workers, teaching the body of Christ, visiting friends in least reached places, and training leaders in cross-cultural settings. Chase and his wife, Laura, have a daughter and four sons, the youngest three they adopted. In his spare time, Chase enjoys an evening with his wife, reading, fishing, and Texas football. You can follow him on Twitter

Scott Zeller serves as an elder at Redeemer Church of Dubai and as the director of a center for church planting and theological education. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Chase Bowers at May 25, 2016 05:02 AM

Why Doesn’t God Still Speak Audibly?

Article by: Patrick Schreiner

The Old Testament can be disorienting. God reveals himself in clouds of fire, in a whirlwind, even in person. He brings people to mountaintops and speaks to them. He wrestles with Jacob. Isaiah sees him high and lifted up on the throne.

It was so in the beginning when Adam and Eve walked with their Maker in the garden. God appeared to Abram (Gen. 17:1), Jacob saw him face to face (Gen. 32:30), and Moses spoke to him face to face (Exod. 33:11).

Why doesn’t God show himself like that anymore? Why does he seem invisible after revealing himself so visibly and tangibly in the Old Testament? Does this mean following him then was concrete (“leave your land”) but following him now is spiritual and psychological (“read your Bible and pray”)? Indeed, many suppose that if God revealed himself today as he did in the Old Testament, it would be more assuring to Christians and might convince the outside world.

Diverse Melodies

Viewing divine revelation like a symphony helps us with these questions. God reveals himself in diverse melodies at different times, but he is also conducting one masterpiece with a triumphant finale. 

John opens his Gospel by saying that “no one has ever seen God” and that Jesus, “the only God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18). So which is it? Did Old Testament saints see God, or has no one ever seen God? And does he reveal himself the same way in the New Testament as in the Old?

Behold the Symphony

No matter where you land on the tricky topic of theophanies, all the New Testament authors point to Jesus as God’s ultimate revelation. This might suggest God’s revelation was more physical and earthy in the Old Testament, but this is far from the truth. Jesus is not an immaterial revelation, but the truest form of a material, fleshly revelation.

Although God revealed himself in different forms in the Old Testament, these were all partial sightings. Moses asked to see God, and God revealed his back. His essential being remained unseen. As Calvin commented on John 1:18:

When John says that no one has seen God, it is not to be understood as the outward seeing of the physical eye. He means generally that, since God dwells in inaccessible light, he cannot be known except in Christ, his lively image.

Hebrews 1:1–4 confirms Calvin’s point about God being known and seen in Christ. The passage presents multiple contrasts in verses 1–2. “Long ago” stands in contrast with “in these last days.” There is an implicit distinction with “at many times” and the singular message of the Son. Previously God spoke “to our fathers,” but now he speaks “to us.” Formerly he spoke “by the prophets,” now he speaks “by the Son.” 

And this Son is the exact imprint of God’s nature. He is neither shadow nor wraith-like; he is substance—the radiance of divine glory. John and the author of the Hebrews are indicating that the Son is the better revelation. Jesus is the allegro to God’s symphony, the better exposé than the Old Testament saints perceived.

We have the better revelation in Jesus. And the symphony’s crescendo comes in his bestowing the Spirit. The third person of the Trinity is the fulfillment of the wind, the fire, the face-to-face conversations. What was once external is now internal through him. Indeed, the Spirit seals us for the tangible promises of a new heaven and new earth.

How to See God Now

While the opening sonata and the closing allegro are different, there are also similar sounds woven through each. Questions about the revelation of God can sometimes be answered with heightened priority on personal time with an immaterial being. But the New Testament emphasizes meeting God through Christ in the performance of deeds with the body of Christ, the church. We become disciples by engaging in the communal practices of faith—repentance, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, preaching, prayer, and singing.

We do these physical acts because we worship a God who is seen in Christ’s face. Just as God was seen in the Old Testament, so too by the Spirit we “see” God in Jesus. When we meet with the people of God, we are gathering with the body of Christ. And as you participate in the Lord’s Supper, you are partaking of him spiritually.

While we may read the Old Testament and wonder why God isn’t showing himself like he once did, we can rejoice since our revelation is superior. Its greatness doesn’t just come in a spiritual sighting, but in a true experience of the new creation, through the Spirit, which is found in Jesus and his church. 

Related:

Patrick Schreiner teaches New Testament and Greek at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He blogs at Ad Fontes, and you can connect with him on Twitter.

by Patrick Schreiner at May 25, 2016 05:00 AM

How to Stop Grieving the Father and Start Loving the Son

Article by: Staff

“The heart of repentance is to stop grieving the Father and start loving the Son.” — Colin Smith

Text: Genesis 44

Preached: The Orchard Evangelical Free Church

Location: Arlington Heights, Illinois

Colin Smith is pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and preacher for the radio program Unlocking the Bible. He is the author of Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross and The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life.

You can stream this episode of TGC Word of the Week here.

by Staff at May 25, 2016 04:59 AM

May 24, 2016

Liftoff #21: The Excitement Has Exploded

Today on everyone’s favorite fortnightly space podcast:

Jason and Stephen catch up some news, talk about some weird ways stars end and are then joined by Loren Grush, science reporter at The Verge to talk about commercial crew, inflatable space hotels and more.

It was really great to talk with Loren. She does killer reporting at The Verge. My thanks to our sponsors for this episode:

  • CuriosityStream: The world’s first, ad- free non fiction streaming service. Use promo code RELAYFM to get two months free.
  • Luminos: A fantastic astronomy app, 10 years in the making! Now with an Apple Watch app for skygazing!

by Stephen at May 24, 2016 07:59 PM

Connected #92: My Relationship with the Status Bar

This week Federico takes Myke on a tour of his experience with Android.

My thanks to our sponsor this week:

  • Casper: Because everyone deserves a great night sleep. Get $50 off with the code ‘CONNECTED’

by Stephen at May 24, 2016 07:50 PM

John C. Wright's Journal

Reviewer Praise for Transhuman and Subhuman

Mr. Chris Chan has kind words for my book of essays:

http://catholicbookreviewsmonthly.com/archivedReviews.aspx, December
2015. The review can be downloaded, but not read online.

Transhuman and Subhuman is a collection of sixteen essays, most of which address science fiction themes, with special stress on spiritual and theological matters.

The famous science-fiction Arthur C. Clarke’s book Childhood’s End features a scene where aliens show humanity a series of “revelatory” images on a television screen, and the supposed truths of these images convince humanity to give up on religion completely.  In “Childhood’s End and Gnosticism,” Wright pours scorn upon the puerility of this scenario, noting that it the situation that Clarke describes would be hardly enough to destroy the faiths of a planet.  He writes:

“It is with a sensation of unutterable disbelief that I read a passage saying one or two days of looking at a picture on a screen provided by the “magic” produced by creatures who look like devils, (whose mission, remember, is to facilitate the extinction of mankind), would be believed without reservation or complaint by everyone from Moscow to Bombay to Lhasa to Rome to Mecca. In the world I live in, people are stubborn and cantankerous. Some have faith that will not be swayed and some of us are nuts.”

In order to believe that faith is so fragile and easily destroyed, one must have a very poor understanding of how many people come to embrace religion.  Throughout these essays, Wright attacks the view apparently held by many science fiction writers that people of faith are sheeplike buffoons, or that faith itself is inherently a form of mental weakness.

Mr. Chan discusses one or two other essays (my favorites, by no coincidence) and concludes with high praise indeed.

Wright is one of the sharpest and most interesting cultural commentators working today, but he does more than just comment on other people’s work– he creates work of his own, reflecting his ideals of what constitutes good writing through fiction, and addressing issues of society and religion through his non-fiction essays. People might not expect to gain a better understanding of religion through science fiction, but Wright shows how God is always present, even in the writings of people who deny that He exists.

 

If, as I have cause to doubt, my humble self is one of the sharpest and most interesting commentators working today, all I can say is that you other sharp men should perhaps dabble in cultural commentary, and let your silent voices be heard; and likewise you other cultural commentators who are dull and uninteresting should muzzle yours alleged eloquence for a decade, or until you realize how shallow and foolish your columns are.

I direct this comment particularly at gargling nitwits working at the Guardian newspaper, or Buzzfeed, who seem peculiarly wedded to clamor, falsehood and unsobriety as a way of life. If I shine, it is only in contrast to the dullness of the drab. Compared to them, anyone would seen sharp. These fellows reach levels of absurd and turgid thought I can only describe as nongenderbinaryexpeallidocious.

by John C Wright at May 24, 2016 05:16 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Limited Time: Get 60,000 Points (Worth at Least $750!) on the Best Small Business Card

"
Link: 60,000 Points for Chase Ink Plus Card

Great news! A huge 60,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus is back, on the very best all-around card for Small Business spending. These are very valuable (and flexible) points that can be used with many different airlines and hotels.

I have this card myself and use it every day, along with my Chase Sapphire Preferred. I put personal charges on Sapphire and business charges on Ink Plus. You don’t have to use the cards this way, though—since many people are self-employed or otherwise have some kind of small business, you can just list your name as the business name when applying.

I’ll have more to say about this later, because it’s a great offer. For now, I wanted to make sure you knew about it right away. Here’s the quick rundown:

  • You’ll get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon completing a $5,000 minimum spend within 3 months of getting the card
  • Chase estimates the value of the points as $750. You can actually earn much more value with your points by redeeming for the right awards. Still, even if you do nothing other than “cash out,” you’ll get a net gain of $655 ($750 minus the $95 annual fee)
  • You’ll earn 5x points per dollar spent on everything you buy at office supply stores, as well as cellphone or landline bills, internet, and cable TV (I once bought tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards, earning 100,000+ points for an hour’s work. This opportunity is no longer available, but you can still earn 5x points!)

Link: 60,000 Points for Chase Ink Plus Card

###

Image: Toa

by Chris Guillebeau at May 24, 2016 04:10 PM

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

The Curse of Culture

One of the seminal books on culture is Edgar Schein’s Organizational Culture and Leadership. Schein writes in the introduction:

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of culture as a concept is that it points us to phenomena that are below the surface, that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to a considerable degree unconscious. In that sense, culture is to a group what personality or character is to an individual. We can see the behavior that results, but often we cannot see the forces underneath that cause certain kinds of behavior. Yet, just as our personality and character guide and constrain our behavior, so does culture guide and constrain the behavior of members of a group through the shared norms that are held in that group.

In Schein’s telling, things like ping pong tables and kegerators are two (small) examples of artifacts — the visible qualities of an organization. They are easy to observe but their meaning is usually indecipherable and unique to a particular group (to put it another way, copying Google’s perks is missing the point).

The next level down are espoused beliefs and values, what everyone in an organization understands consciously: “openness,” for example, or “the customer is always right”; as you might expect espoused beliefs and values devolve rather easily into cliché.

It’s the third level that truly matters: underlying assumptions. Schein writes:

Basic assumptions, in the sense in which I want to define that concept, have become so taken for granted that one finds little variation within a social unit. This degree of consensus results from repeated success in implementing certain beliefs and values, as previously described. In fact, if a basic assumption comes to be strongly held in a group, members will find behavior based on any other premise inconceivable.

The implications of this definition are profound: culture is not something that begets success, rather, it is a product of it. All companies start with the espoused beliefs and values of their founder(s), but until those beliefs and values are proven correct and successful they are open to debate and change. If, though, they lead to real sustained success, then those values and beliefs slip from the conscious to the unconscious, and it is this transformation that allows companies to maintain the “secret sauce” that drove their initial success even as they scale. The founder no longer needs to espouse his or her beliefs and values to the 10,000th employee; every single person already in the company will do just that, in every decision they make, big or small.

Microsoft’s Blindness

As with most such things, culture is one of a company’s most powerful assets right until it isn’t: the same underlying assumptions that permit an organization to scale massively constrain the ability of that same organization to change direction. More distressingly, culture prevents organizations from even knowing they need to do so. Schein continues:

Basic assumptions, like theories-in-use, tend to be nonconfrontable and nondebatable, and hence are extremely difficult to change. To learn something new in this realm requires us to resurrect, reexamine, and possibly change some of the more stable portions of our cognitive structure…Such learning is intrinsically difficult because the reexamination of basic assumptions temporarily destabilizes our cognitive and interpersonal world, releasing large quantities of basic anxiety. Rather than tolerating such anxiety levels, we tend to want to perceive the events around us as congruent with our assumptions, even if that means distorting, denying, projecting, or in other ways falsifying to ourselves what may be going on around us. It is in this psychological process that culture has its ultimate power.

Probably the canonical example of this mindset was Microsoft after the launch of the iPhone. It’s hard to remember now, but no company today comes close to matching the stranglehold Microsoft had on the computing industry from 1985 to 2005 or so.1 The company had audacious goals — “A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software” — which it accomplished and then surpassed: the company owned enterprise back offices as well. This unprecedented success changed that goal — originally an espoused belief — into an unquestioned assumption that of course all computers should be Microsoft-powered. Given this, the real shock would have been then-CEO Steve Ballmer not laughing at the iPhone.

A year-and-a-half later, Microsoft realized that Windows Mobile, their current phone OS, was not competitive with the iPhone and work began on what became Windows Phone. Still, unacknowledged cultural assumptions remained: one, that Microsoft had the time to bring to bear its unmatched resources to make something that might be worse at the beginning but inevitably superior over time, and two, that the company could leverage Windows’ dominance and their Office business. Both assumptions had become cemented in Microsoft’s victory in the browser wars and their slow-motion takeover of corporate data centers; in truth, though, Microsofts’ mobile efforts were already doomed, and nearly everyone realized it before Windows Phone even launched with a funeral for the iPhone.

Steve Ballmer never figured it out; his last acts were to reorganize the company around a “One Microsoft” strategy centered on Windows, and to buy Nokia to prop up Windows Phone. It fell to Satya Nadella, his successor, to change the culture, and it’s why the fact his first public event was to announce Office for iPad was so critical. I wrote at the time:

This is the power CEOs have. They cannot do all the work, and they cannot impact industry trends beyond their control. But they can choose whether or not to accept reality, and in so doing, impact the worldview of all those they lead.

Microsoft under Nadella’s leadership has, over the last three years, undergone a tremendous transformation, embracing its destiny as a device-agnostic service provider; still, it is fighting the headwinds of Amazon’s cloud, open source tooling, and the fact that mobile users had six years to get used to a world without Microsoft software. How much stronger might the company have been had it faced reality in 2007, but the culture made that impossible.

Steve Jobs’ Leadership

Shein defines leadership in the context of culture:

When we examine culture and leadership closely, we see that they are two sides of the same coin; neither can really be understood by itself. On the one hand, cultural norms define how a given nation or organizations will define leadership—who will get promoted, who will get the attention of followers. On the other hand, it can be argued that the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture; that the unique talent of leaders is their ability to understand and work with culture; and that it is an ultimate act of leadership to destroy culture when it is viewed as dysfunctional.

A great example of this sort of destruction was Steve Jobs’ first keynote as interim CEO at the 1997 Boston Macworld, specifically the announcement of Apple’s shocking partnership with Microsoft:

When Jobs said the word Microsoft, the audience audibly groaned. A few minutes later, when Jobs clicked to a slide that said Internet Explorer would be the default browser on Macintosh, the audience booed so loudly that Jobs had to stop speaking. When Jobs finally said the actual words “default browser” the audience booed even louder, with several individuals shouting “No!” It is, given the context of today’s Apple keynotes, shocking to watch.

Then, after Bill Gates spoke to the crowd via satellite (in what Jobs would call his “worst and stupidest staging event ever”), Jobs launched into what his biographer Walter Isaacson called an “impromptu sermon”:

If we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here. We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win Microsoft has to lose. OK? We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win Apple has to do a really good job, and if others are going to help us, that’s great, cause we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody else’s fault. It’s our fault. So, I think that’s a very important perspective.

I think, if we want Microsoft Office on the Mac, we better treat the company that puts it out with a little bit of gratitude. We like their software. So, the era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I’m concerned. This is about getting healthy, and this is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry, to get healthy and prosper again.

Here’s Shein:

But as the group runs into adaptive difficulties, as its environment changes to the point where some of its assumptions are no longer valid, leadership comes into play once more. Leadership is now the ability to step outside the culture that created the leader and to start evolutionary change processes that are more adaptive. This ability to perceive the limitations of one’s own culture and to evolve the culture adaptively is the essence and ultimate challenge of leadership.

Make no mistake: even though he had been gone for over a decade, Steve Jobs was responsible for that booing.

jobsibm121230-1

Jobs had set up Apple generally and the Macintosh specifically as completely unique and superior to the alternatives, particularly the hated IBM PC and its Windows (originally DOS) operating system. By 1997, though, Microsoft had won, and Apple was fighting for its life. And yet the audience booed its lifeline! That is how powerful culture can be — and that is why Jobs’ “impromptu sermon” was so necessary and so powerful. It was Apple’s version of Office on the iPad, and a brilliant display of leadership.

Warning Signs for Apple and Google

Over the weekend Marco Arment wrote a widely-read piece (now) called If Google’s Right About AI, That’s a Problem for Apple:

The BlackBerry’s success came to an end not because RIM started releasing worse smartphones, but because the new job of the smartphone shifted almost entirely outside of their capabilities, and it was too late to catch up. RIM hadn’t spent years building a world-class operating system, or a staff full of great designers, or expertise in mass production of luxury-quality consumer electronics, or amazing APIs and developer tools, or an app store with millions of users with credit cards already on file, or all of the other major assets that Apple had developed over a decade (or longer) that enabled the iPhone. No new initiative, management change, or acquisition in 2007 could’ve saved the BlackBerry. It was too late, and the gulf was too wide.

Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for. If they’re right — and that’s a big “if” — I’m worried for Apple…If the landscape shifts to prioritize those big-data AI services, Apple will find itself in a similar position as BlackBerry did almost a decade ago: what they’re able to do, despite being very good at it, won’t be enough anymore, and they won’t be able to catch up.

Arment is exactly right. What is fascinating, though, is that, as I wrote last week, Google has their own set of problems: users actually spend their time in social apps, mostly owned by Facebook, and while Google has a critical asset in Android, its most valuable users (from a monetization standpoint) are on iOS. How will users actually access Google’s AI capabilities (if they turn out to matter), and how will Google monetize them?

To be sure, neither company is struggling today. Apple may have failed to achieve record results for the first time in 13 years, but their 2Q 2016 revenue of $50.6 billion was more than the revenue of Microsoft, Google, and Facebook combined; Google, meanwhile, is still setting year-over-year records, with $17.3 billion in revenue.

That, though, is the challenge: BlackBerry wasn’t struggling in 2006, nor was Microsoft in 2007, or even Apple as late as 1993. There was no obvious reason to think that anything was amiss, and it was culture that ensured that whatever hints there were would be ignored. Shein again:

Culture as a set of basic assumptions defines for us what to pay attention to, what things mean, how to react emotionally to what is going on, and what actions to take in various kinds of situations. Once we have developed an integrated set of such assumptions—a “thought world” or “mental map”—we will be maximally comfortable with others who share the same set of assumptions and very uncomfortable and vulnerable in situations where different assumptions operate, because either we will not understand what is going on, or, worse, we will misperceive and misinterpret the actions of others.

And so BlackBerry thought Apple was lying about the iPhone; Steve Ballmer declared “He liked Microsoft’s chances”; and Apple, well, Apple had already decided to, in Jobs’ view, sacrifice product for profits. The time to act was at the moment of denial, not the moment of crisis.

Paths Forward

That said, both Apple and Google are still operating from positions of considerable strength going forward: iPhone growth may or may not have peaked, but it’s not going anywhere for a good long while, and the company is almost certainly working on a car. Google, meanwhile, is arguably in even better shape: the company has a massive lead in machine learning, which could manifest itself in all kinds of interesting applications, and here Android looms large.

Still, there are very obvious steps both companies could do to entrench their advantages:

  • Apple could partner with a company like Microsoft (again) to build out its services layer, both on the backend (Azure) and, if they want to get really radical, the front-end (combining Siri and Cortana). The most radical solution, though, would be fully opening up iOS in such a way that users could set Google (or any other company’s) services as defaults. This would foreclose any medium-term threat to the iPhone from an Android experience that is fully-infused with Google’s AI capabilities (more on the long-term problems in a moment)
  • Google could — should! — build a bot for Facebook Messenger. More than that, they should build an entire backend for Facebook Messenger developers. Do people want to live in Facebook? Very well, meet them there, just as Google found its user base on Windows through the browser.

Both ideas (and there are certainly others) have their issues: Apple would be foreclosing their future as a services provider, but frankly, I am extremely skeptical about this regardless. Not only does the company have the wrong organizational structure but, similar to Microsoft, the company’s overwhelming success has had far-reaching effects on the culture; in this case, the company is so focused on making physical products that it’s doubtful an effective services mentality could ever emerge, not to mention the company’s (at times disingenuous) absolutism about privacy.2

Google, meanwhile, would be supporting its most dangerous competitor. At the end of the day Google and Facebook share the exact same customers — advertisers — and even though it’s not clear how Google can steal attention back it’s also not obvious that they should aid their rival.3

The Curse of Culture

The biggest problem for both, though, is culture. Apple, beyond everything else — and in part because of the humiliation of that 1997 keynote — desires complete control; Google, for its part, desires information, and can’t tolerate the idea of Facebook having more.

The rigidity of both is the manifestation of the disease that affects every great company: the assurance that what worked before will work eternally into the future, even if circumstances have changed. What makes companies great is inevitably what makes companies fail, whenever that day comes.4

  1. Yes, Apple ultimately came to earn much more revenue that Microsoft ever did, and Google has come close, but both did so in the context of a much larger industry
  2. This too is why I don’t buy the “Wait for WWDC” response to Marco’s article; the reasons to be skeptical about Apple’s prospects here are structural
  3. That, in some respects, gets to the tragedy of this piece: Apple and Google are the most natural of partners. Neither has to lose for the other to win, and both have wasted far too much valuable time fighting a war that was never necessary.
  4. One final quote from Shein:

    If one wishes to distinguish leadership from management or administration, one can argue that leadership creates and changes cultures, while management and administration act within a culture. By defining leadership in this manner, I am not implying that culture is easy to create or change, or that formal leaders are the only determiners of culture. On the contrary, as we will see, culture refers to those elements of a group or organization that are most stable and least malleable. Culture is the result of a complex group learning process that is only partially influenced by leader behavior. But if the group’s survival is threatened because elements of its culture have become maladapted, it is ultimately the function of leadership at all levels of the organization to recognize and do something about this situation. It is in this sense that leadership and culture are conceptually intertwined.

    Are Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai managers, or leaders? And which do they need to be?

by Ben Thompson at May 24, 2016 04:07 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

The Holy Spirit by Christopher R. J. Holmes Receives Best Theology Book of the Year Award from Australian Theological Forum

The Holy Spirit by Christopher HolmesThe Holy Spirit by Christopher R. J. Holmes, published by Zondervan Academic, has received the 2015 Australian Theological Forum’s annual book award for Best Theology Book.

Holmes will be presented with the award in July at the annual conference for the Australia/New Zealand Association of Theological Schools.

“This is a very serious and competent study of the third person of the Holy Trinity, discussed powerfully within its proper Trinitarian framework,” reported the Australian Theological Forum judges. “It is an engagement with the Trinitarian (and pneumatological) insights of three of the greatest theologians in the history of the church, St Augustine, Aquinas, and Karl Barth.”

“The subject matter is of the greatest importance, while the discussion is subtle and profound,” the judges continued. “Even those not familiar with the intricacies of systematic theology will find this study clear and compelling. In times when the Holy Spirit is sometimes reduced to a feeling, thorough theology such as this is a necessity, not an option.”

The Holy Spirit is in the New Studies in Dogmatics series, published by Zondervan Academic.

Christopher R.J. Holmes (ThD, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) is senior lecturer in Systematic Theology in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Christopher is an Anglican priest and is the author of Revisiting the Doctrine of the Divine Attributes: In Dialogue with Karl Barth, Eberhard Jüngel, and Wolf Krötke (2007), Ethics in the Presence of Christ (2012), as well as many articles on the theology of Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and on Christian doctrine.

by ZA Blog at May 24, 2016 03:55 PM

New MacBook Pro rumored

MacRumors’ Husain Sumra, quoting KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo:

While long overlooked, the MacBook line is the brightest spot for Apple’s 2016 rollouts. This is particularly true of the two new MacBook Pro models, to be introduced in 4Q16, as they will have a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID, use OLED display touch bar (to replace physical function keys, located above the keyboard) and adopt USB-C / Thunderbolt 3.

Sumra goes on to write that the new machine will be offered in 13-inch and 15-inch configurations, as they are now. The addition of Touch ID would be a welcome one, but that OLED “display touch bar” is a more interesting tidbit. Several PC vendors ship softkeys for things like volume, screen brightness and media control, but this could prove to be even more flexible. For example, how many keyboard are still out there with a Dashboard button instead of one for Launchpad? If Siri is coming to the Mac, even my new Magic Keyboard would assumedly be out of date.

Additionally, if these buttons are just software, perhaps users could map custom things to certain areas. How great would it be to be able to hit something like Spotlight or ~/Dropbox with a single stroke?

The report also includes this passage:

The 12-inch MacBook will also be joined by a 13-inch MacBook, according to Kuo. The analyst believes that Apple will move forward with all three MacBook lines this year, with the MacBook Pro occupying the high-end slot, the MacBook will replace the Air as the medium-level model and the MacBook Air will serve as an entry-level model with comparatively low prices.

This feels right to me. I wonder if an entry-level Air would still come with both 11.6- and 13-inch displays, or if the larger Air will meet its end this year. Returning to a lineup where the cheapest machine has the smallest screen would be simpler and easier to understand.

Whatever happens, the rumored Q4 date for this MacBook Pro is worrisome. While the current MacBook Pro is still a good machine, Apple still hasn’t been able to get Skylake machines out the door. It’d sure be nice to see that change.

by Stephen at May 24, 2016 03:39 PM

Kbase Article of the Week: TCP and UDP ports used by Apple software products

Something useful this week:

Learn more about TCP and UDP ports used by Apple products like OS X, OS X Server, Apple Remote Desktop, and iCloud. Many of these are referred to as “well known” industry standard ports.

by Stephen at May 24, 2016 03:29 PM

Beeminder Blog

Honeymoons, True Love, and Yet More Buzz

Factorization diagram for 1 through 36

It’s one thing to see a gushing testimonial from someone in the honeymoon phase of using Beeminder. Professor Brent Yorgey [1] wrote such a post in 2013 (“Beeminder has changed my life”) in which he detailed the myriad ways he was using Beeminder after discovering it 6 months prior.

A whole other level of awesome is seeing Brent Yorgey follow up three years later with a new heartfelt ode, “In Praise of Beeminder”.

It seems “life-changing” was no exaggeration. He credits Beeminder with completing his PhD, becoming a fancypants professor, maintaining two blogs, learning ancient Hebrew, losing 15 pounds, and coming within a factor of 2 of the world record for the 500m swim.

That is true love. And from our perspective, talk about having a positive impact on the world! Such a good feeling!

And, now, even though it’s anticlimactic, here’s a roundup of all the other things we’ve noticed people saying about us around the internet (pretty much all good things, strangely!) since last time:

  1. Slowly Hacking My Way to “Having Written” and a couple other posts by Silverdrag0n: Nerdly Editing Tools and Progress Update
  2. Floris Kleijne is using Beeminder to write 100K words in 2016: January update (forgot to include this one in the last press roundup) and March update
  3. Some nice little case studies: January Habit and February Habit … oops, but they archived their goals. Sad face!
  4. Nice little testimonial and case study on Reddit
  5. Taskwarrior Pomodoro Beeminder Incrementer on GitHub
  6. Discussion of a new Beeminder competitor on Hacker News which includes people saying nice things about Beeminder
  7. Andy Brett making the case for Beeminder even when you’re wholly non-akratic
  8. The Beeminder founders’ 15 minutes of fame won’t seem to quite die, and sometimes pays dividends in Beeminder buzz, like this link-baity post on Time.com with the key phrase being “Bizarre but Possibly Brilliant”
  9. Another case study from a blog with another update
  10. Shoutout for us and Pact
  11. Our CTO Bee = “crazy coder”
  12. We were featured again on Mark Forster’s Get Everything Done blog
  13. Beeminder: A Healthy Sting
  14. “Breathes Books” beeminds reading
  15. Small mention in this post on Epson’s quantified self gadget
  16. Beeminder recipe on Workflow.is
  17. Nice little mention along with StickK in a Fortune article on behavioral economics
  18. New and improved version of the Beeminder client for Emacs
  19. Article with a list of productivity apps in Spanish that got a surprising amount of attention on Twitter
  20. Look what Alyssa Baybayan designed for us
  21. An Instapaper to Beeminder IFTTT recipe
  22. How To Become a Flossing Superhero is a wonderful testimonial and pitch for Beeminder
  23. Shout-out from our friend DollarFlipper and another
  24. 10 great productivity tips to GTD (an old one we missed)
  25. Another one in Spanish with a small mention
  26. Glowing review as #8 in this list of the top 15 mobile self-help apps
  27. How To Stop Procrastinating Using Science
  28. Commitment Devices: The Strategy of Binding Yourself to Future Actions
  29. Nice little shout-out aside in this otherwise unrelated Racket tutorial
  30. Haskell implementation of the Beeminder API! by Daniel Wagner
  31. The Ultimate Guide To Gamification: How To Trick Yourself Into Being More Productive (another old one we missed before)
  32. Change Maker: Thomas Frank of College Info Geek
  33. We made this person’s list of daily tools
  34. The direct link to this only works if you’re logged in to Habitica but huge thanks to them for featuring us on the Habitica API page and sending a steady little stream of new users!
  35. Someone thanking Beeminder on Instagram for helping get a book written
  36. A very nice Beeminder testimonial on YouTube
  37. Someone beeminding some mad skillz acquisition
  38. David MacIver’s Bee Log
  39. How To Fit Creativity Into Your Day (more of an implicit endorsement but they do have a link to us in the part about accountability)
  40. We’re one of Top 10 Self Help Apps for Android Phones according to that blog
  41. Make Yourself Known
  42. Beeminder Experiment
  43. We were this university’s app of the day
  44. Nice pitch for using Beeminder in academia
  45. We’re #148 in this impressive compilation of email tricks
  46. Small Beeminder endorsement in a long self-help article
  47. Graphing Gains
  48. Motivational Tools Are Only As Strong As You Are
  49. Oh, and here’s a whole museum’s worth of people talking about us on Twitter
  50. And last but not least, we’re very excited about the new blog Micro(chip)managed, which includes a glowing testimonial and overview of Beeminder as its second post

PS: You can hover over all those links for commentary.


 

Footnote

[1] Actually he wasn’t a professor then. That required years more beeminding. We’re being quite serious! Read on.

Also, if you don’t know Brent Yorgey, he’s well-known in the Haskell community and especially internet-famous for inventing factorization diagrams, a sampling of which are in the title image of this blog post, and to which the previous link is an especially mesmerizing implementation.

by dreeves at May 24, 2016 12:56 PM

Justin Taylor

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil

oswald-470x451Now that the Republicans are a handful of delegates away from nominating an ostensible conspiracy theorist* to be their candidate to lead the free world, it’s worth recalling this insightful post by Carl Trueman from  a few years ago:

Conspiracy theories have an aesthetic appeal: they make us feel more important in the grand scheme of things than we are. If someone is going to all this trouble to con us into believing in something, then we have to be worth conning; and the impotence we all feel in the face of massive impersonal bureaucracies and economies driven not by democratic institutions so much as multinational corporations is not really the result of our intrinsic smallness and insignificance so much of our potential power which needs to be smothered. Such views play to our vanity; and, to be brutally frank, the kind of virtual solitary vice which so much solipsistic internet activity represents.

Conspiracy theories don’t hold up, though. Nobody is that competent and powerful to pull them off. Even giant bureaucracies are made up of lots of small, incompetent units fighting petty turf wars, a fragmentation which undermine the possibility of the kind of co-ordinated efforts required to pull off, say, the fabrication of the Holocaust. History, humanly speaking, is a tale of incompetence and thoughtlessness, not of elaborate and sophisticated cabals. Evil, catastrophic evil, is not exceptional and brilliant; it is humdrum and banal; it does not involve thinking too much; it involves thinking too little.

For more, see Trueman’s excellent book, Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History, especially his chapter on Holocaust denial.

* To be a bona fide conspiracy theorist is to believe said conspiracy theories. And while there is no doubt that Donald Trump persistently traffics in spreading or entertaining conspiracy theories and cover-ups—from Barack Obama being a Muslim who was born in a foreign country to George Bush intentionally deceiving the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to Ted Cruz’s father helping to kill JFK to Hillary Clinton causing the suicide of Vince Foster to Justice Scalia being murdered by means of a pillow to discredited urban legends about Muslim terrorists being executed with bullets dipped in pig’s blood—it is virtually impossible to know whether Donald Trump actually believes any of the things he says or if he is saying them just to garner attention and create disruption. Hence, I refer to him as an ostensible conspiracy theorist—one who at the very least enjoys spreading and entertaining them, even if he doesn’t believe what comes out of his own mouth.

I should also mention that Hillary Clinton has promised, if President, to investigate and reveal what the US government knows and may be hiding about aliens and UFOs.

by Justin Taylor at May 24, 2016 08:07 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Curse of the Crit Fail

Sometimes you receive a sign that it time to stop playing. Other times you just refuse to accept it.

It was just another Friday at our local shop and we were back to play in our campaign that had now been going for six months. All of us being experienced players, we’d decided to begin this…

Read more

May 24, 2016 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

9 Things You Should Know About China’s Cultural Revolution

Article by: Joe Carter

This month mark the 50th anniversary of China’s Cultural Revolution. Here are nine things you should know about one of the darkest times in modern human history:

1. The Cultural Revolution—officially known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution—was a social and political movement within China that attempted to eradicate all traces of traditional cultural elements and replace them with Mao Zedong Thought (or Maoism), a form of Marxist political theory based on the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People's Republic of China.

2. Mao Zedong governed as chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. In 1958, Mao launched an economic and social campaign called the Great Leap Forward, which was intended to rapidly transform the agrarian country from into an industrialized socialist nation. The attempts to collectivize farming led to food shortages and the largest famine in history. During the three-year period of 1959 and 1961, between 15 million and 45 million Chinese died. Because of this policy failure, Mao’s influence in the Communist Party began to wane. He launched the Cultural Revolution in May 1966, in part to reassert his power and prestige within the party and the country.

3. The beginning of the Cultural Revolution is traced to May 16, 1966, when Mao issued a document that included “indictments” against his political foes. In what has become known as the “May 16 notification,” Mao claimed, “Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists.” Although Mao unveiled his intention in May, it was not until August that the Communist Party issued the “Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” which outlined the chairman’s goals. The two primary institutions that Mao wanted to eliminate were education and religion, the main threats to Mao Zedong Thought.

4. In the summer of 1966, groups of students—from middle school to college age—began to form violent paramilitary units. Mao, who believed violence was a sign of a true revolutionary, sponsored the radical students. He ordered the nation’s schools to be shut down and encouraged these students—known as Red Guards—to dedicate themselves to revolutionary activity. Much of this activity included violence against the elderly, teachers, and other traditional authority figures.

5. Mao and his allies held several rallies that were attended by millions of children and teens who identified as Red Guards. At an August rally for the Red Guards, the students were told to attack the “Four Olds” of Chinese society (old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.) Over the next two months hundreds of thousands of homes were looted by Red Guard members, stealing money and valuables and destroying books, magazines, and works of art. The students also destroyed religious institutions and cemeteries, libraries, and cultural and historical artifacts. 

6. Along with destroying property, Red Guards members also humiliated, tortured, and murdered innocent people. In August and September of 1966, historians Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals note, the Red Guards murdered more than 1,700 people in Beijing. In Shanghai in September there were 704 suicides and 534 other deaths related to the Cultural Revolution. During this wave of violence Mao issued a directive ordering the police not to interfere with the “student movement.”

7. Chinese historian Song Yongyi says the widespread phenomenon of mass killings in the Cultural Revolution consisted of five types: “1. mass terror or mass dictatorship encouraged by the government—victims were humiliated and then killed by mobs or forced to commit suicide on streets or other public places; 2. direct killing of unarmed civilians by armed forces; 3. pogroms against traditional “class enemies” by government-led perpetrators such as local security officers and militias; 4. killings as part of political witch-hunts (a huge number of suspects of alleged conspiratorial groups were tortured to death during investigations); and 5. summary execution of captives, that is, disarmed prisoners from factional armed conflicts. The most frequent forms of massacres were the first four types, which were all state-sponsored killings. The degree of brutality in the mass killings of the Cultural Revolution was very high. Usually, the victims perished only after first being humiliated, struggled, and then imprisoned for a long period of time.” Because the death toll is considered a Chinese “state secret,” no one knows for sure how many people died during the Cultural Revolution. Estimates by various scholars range from 500,000 to 8 million.

8. By December 1968, Mao had reestablished his cult of personality and restored his influence. Having achieved his objective, he grew tired of the chaos and violence he had unleashed. He implemented the “Down to the Countryside Movement,” an expansion of a program in which young “intellectuals” from the cities were sent to the rural areas of the country to live with a work with the peasant class. (Mao’s definition of intellectual was loose and included children who merely had a middle school education.) From 1962 to 1979, about 17 million “sent-down youths” were displaced, leaving the country with an entire generation of undereducated people.

9. The Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 with Mao’s death and the arrest of the Gang of Four. This small political faction, which included Mao’s wife, had played a prominent role in the formation and expansion of the Cultural Revolution. Mao’s successor, Hua Guofeng, had them arrested and jailed for their involvement and crimes. Although the chaos ended in 1976, the devastating revolution continued to affect the Chinese people for the next 50 years.

 

Other articles in this series:

Jehovah’s Witnesses • Harriet Tubman • Autism • Seventh-day Adventism • Justice Antonin Scalia (1936–2016) • Female Genital Mutilation • Orphans • Pastors • Global Persecution of Christians (2015 Edition) • Global Hunger • National Hispanic Heritage Month • Pope Francis • Refugees in America • Margaret Sanger • 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 • Halloween and Reformation Day • 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 • Islamic State

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, 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 May 24, 2016 06:47 AM

How to Make Your Gender Disappear

Article by: Jared Oliphint

Earlier this month, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a joint guidance to, in their words, “help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students.” The guidance cites Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, wherein schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex. As the document makes clear, students may self-determine and self-report their gender identification, regardless of their biological sex.

I want to get something out of the way: This is no “our culture is doomed” post. I make no predictions about what will actually take place, only what is allowed to take place based on what current laws and ideas now permit.

At first glance, this idea of transgender accommodation may appear as warm, inviting, and inclusive. No doubt we may initially see positive effects in some cases, where otherwise sinful abuse of transgendered people is prevented. But as time unfolds and society allows this concept to be worked out in its full consistency to more and more situations, American culture—including the LGBT community—might be forced to look back and say, “What have we done?”

Redetermining Gender 

The federal government has bought into the idea that gender identity is essentially a matter of the mind. On this understanding, one’s gender cannot be examined, measured, touched, seen, or scientifically proven; gender identity relies wholly and exclusively on self-reporting. And this report comes from one’s own internal feelings and self-analysis, regardless of age. We now have our two basic categories for discussion: gender identity has been removed from the visible (anatomy and biology) and located purely in the invisible (what goes on in the mind). Under this view, when a woman is enveloped in male anatomy, the invisible woman takes priority over and is detachable from the visible, masculine form.

When the inherently invisible nature of gender is applied consistently, laws that group people by physical features become meaningless, irrelevant, and unnecessary. Gender fluidity allows not merely a single identity-transition from male to female (or vice versa)—where the visible body may undergo transitions to mimic one’s mental identity—but also identity-transitions to reverse genders (female to male, or vice versa) or even to compound genders (male and female) at any given moment.

If our government defines gender as both invisible and endlessly fluid, what follows is that bathrooms, locker rooms, or changing areas separated based on visible differences become nonsensical. Physical gender disappears and no visible separation of any sort can be consistently defended.

At this point in history, transgender advocates may celebrate this newfound freedom. What was formerly an awkward and potentially harmful experience (bathroom use, locker rooms, etc.) for transgenders now appears to be liberated, changed into an experience with safer options. For progressives seeking cultural victories, this certainly has all the apparent earmarks of a win.

Intense Implications 

But whether our culture sees the implications of this thinking, the progressive push can only go so far without hurting its own cause. Remove gender identity from the visible and place it in the invisible mental realm, and it will become a roaring lion, seeking to devour any non-liberated belief that comes near it. Think what gender fluidity does to women’s rights: When gender identity is a mental feeling, men can have babies and can claim maternal leave from work; women can be fathers; sports teams, both amateur and professional, have no consistent reason to segregate genders. Again, the point isn’t that this will happen in our lifetime or even at all; the point is that the U.S. government has removed all barriers to these now viable, permissible scenarios.

Perhaps the most intense implications will come from within the LGBT community itself. The “T” has removed the visible gender distinctions from the “LGB.” A physically heterosexual couple can identify as a lesbian couple. A gay couple can identify as a heterosexual couple, with all the rights to a traditional marriage (but later identify as a same-sex married couple if they wish). Don’t let the initial absurdity of the idea fool you just because the idea is new; few may be pondering these implications at this point, but that doesn’t make them invalid.

Finally, severing the visible from the invisible within human identity gums up any attempt at civil rights for various races and ethnic groups. Though we’ve already seen race severed from the visible in the case of Rachel Dolezal, her example was largely dismissed by the broader culture as just obviously absurd. Few were able to see the parallels and implications from that same culture’s celebration of separating visible biology from an invisible gender identity. If I self-identify more as Hispanic than Caucasian, who are you to tell me that my self-reporting is invalid? And if I then feel I’m a Latina woman rather than a Caucasian male, I have a right to check any box I feel is correct on college applications, grant applications, or surveys. I can claim any ethnic heritage for which I identify, and I can do so at any given time.

Common Ground

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, God has told us what the world is like and how it works. Not only are humans created and designed to be either male or female (Gen. 1:27)—where visible anatomy takes priority over mental identity—but the rest of creation operates and lives based on these differences as well (Gen. 1:20–25). But intertwined with the transgender discussion, Christians shouldn’t miss our chance to correctly apply the foundational principle of inherent human dignity; because we’re created in the image of God, all men and women are to be treated in a way that affirms human value. While that doesn’t include agreement with transgenders on gender fluidity/relativity, it certainly includes advocating for their physical safety and fighting against real harm caused by genuine mistreatment from others. Do we want transgenders seeking help more from the government or from the church?

Though some transgender persons see the Christian message as inherently “unsafe,” part of the Christian call moving forward will be to prove them wrong, both through our behavior and through the reasons we give for why God made the visible world the way he did. Sin has wrecked all of our bodies, but denying the divinely revealed purposes for them isn’t the solution; we’ll still be bodily beings in the new heavens and the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13). Even after Christ returns, our eternal lives will include the visible and the invisible, and from that point into eternity the two will be perfectly matched.

Jared Oliphint is senior alumni officer and a ThM student in systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He studied philosophy at Gordon College and earned his MAR at Westminster Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Jared Oliphint at May 24, 2016 05:03 AM

The Goal of Missions May Not Be What You Think

Article by: Chase Bowers, Scott Zeller

What happened on January 2, 1998 altered the course of my (Chase’s) life.

Along with thousands of other college students, I attended the second Passion conference which was then a new series of gatherings seeking to raise a banner for God’s glory. I heard John Piper preach for the first time, and what he communicated about God’s heart for the nations—specifically the idea that he was gathering for his fame a people from among all peoples—was paradigm-shifting for me.

Afterward I began digging into Piper’s now-classic book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker). It opens with groundshaking words:        

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.

This paragraph profoundly changed what I viewed as the goal of missions. Previously I’d assumed the goal of missions is the practice of missions: evangelism, church planting, and so on. But Piper pointed me to something bigger: the goal of missions is nothing less than the worship of God.

The Engine of Worship

That worship is the fuel and goal of missions not only informs our theology, but also our practice. If worship is the goal, the local church is the primary instrument. Or, to use a car analogy, if worship is both the destination and the fuel of missions, the local church is the engine. Why? Because the local church is designed to be God’s gathered worshipers on earth—a corporate display of his glory among the nations.

Throughout the apostle Paul’s ministry, he was passionate about establishing the local church as the engine of missions. He submitted himself to local church authority in Jerusalem. He was sent out by a local church in Antioch. He instructed Titus to solidify the fledgling churches in Crete by establishing elders. He had a deep concern for local churches.

There were many exciting things about Paul’s pioneering ministry. He proclaimed the gospel to the masses in Athens, Ephesus, and beyond. He proclaimed Christ to everyone from coworkers to ruling authorities. But what mattered most to Paul was what Christ himself had promised to build: a gospel church.

When the gospel goes out, we should expect new churches to form. The end game is not one believer, or even a few believers with a vague idea that they somehow share Christ. No, the goal the worship of Jesus is accomplished by local churches—gathered bodies of believers, under the authority of elders, who are discipling others, holding fast to sound doctrine, practicing the Lord’s Supper and baptism, and seeking to obey God.

Quit Cutting Corners

Some missions leaders and organizations dispute this. It’s unreasonable to expect healthy, mature, self-sustaining churches to be formed, they say—that’s a “Western” notion. What matters more is reproducing informal small groups that we’ll call “churches” for the sake of our numbers. This is tragic. When we become satisfied with less than the biblical ideal for missions, we manifest a sub-biblical understanding of how God desires to be praised. Of course, there are certain contexts where the forms will look different, but the biblical vision of the local church remains.

When Paul mentioned the church that met in Priscilla and Aquilla’s home (Acts 18:2–3), he wasn’t confused in his use of “church.” The aim was not different than the one Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4. It was the building of the body of Christ. Our aim must be nothing less today.

When the building up of a healthy local church is ignored, pragmatism and impatience take hold. The Lord is not glorified by 10,000 “churches” planted in a compressed amount of time only to fall prey to prosperity theology, syncretism, or other eternally fatal errors.

Signposts to the Kingdom

God expresses his manifold wisdom when local churches meet together across the globe. So as we long for the day when redeemed rebels gather from every tribe, tongue, and nation to worship the Lamb slain, the local church is a microcosm of that great day. 

Local churches are signposts pointing the way to Christ’s kingdom—embassies of heaven on earthly soil. As we gather for worship, teaching, and table, and scatter for global witness, let’s remember the goal of missions is the worship of God. And worship necessarily drives us to establish faithful churches of disciple-making disciples among all peoples.

Chase Bowers is the pastor of Global Outreach at Temple Bible Church. He loves mobilizing long term workers, teaching the body of Christ, visiting friends in least reached places, and training leaders in cross-cultural settings.  Chase and his wife, Laura, have a daughter and four sons, the youngest three they adopted. In his spare time, Chase enjoys an evening with his wife, reading, fishing, and Texas Football. You can follow him on Twitter

Scott Zeller serves as an elder at Redeemer Church of Dubai and as the director of a center for church planting and theological education. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Chase Bowers at May 24, 2016 05:02 AM

The Remedy for Our Helicopter Parenting

Article by: Gloria Furman

Missional motherhood is not just for women who’ve physically given birth or for those who’ve adopted children born from the body of another. Every single Christian woman is called to make disciples of all nations. We all must labor, prayerfully expecting God to mercifully grant people new birth in Christ. Since Jesus is worthy to receive worship from the image bearers he’s created, every human being is worthy of our effort in this endeavor of discipleship.

In this sense, no Christian woman is child-free. 

Every woman in Christ is called to pass the gospel on to the next generation, who will pass the gospel onto the next generation, and so forth. The aim of our motherhood, then, is to declare the good news “to a people yet unborn” (Ps. 22:31). We share the gospel because we know nothing else will give our children the strength and motivation to give their own lives in making disciples. 

In theory, we affirm this mission is worth our lives. But in reality, if you ask me if it’s worth trading my comfort, I hesitate. In these moments I’m not so sure I agree with Paul that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). But what if mothers really believed any and every death to self in the cause of Christ was gain? How would it change the way we shepherd children and other women? 

Land Your Helicopter 

Even though he was speaking to American Christians, David Platt’s words apply to any believer tempted to live for the world: 

You and I stand on the porch of eternity. Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I’m convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to live the American dream.

As we remember eternity and embrace death for Christ as gain, then our lives will change. 

One change I predict is that we’ll stop helicopter-mothering ourselves and the people around us. To helicopter-mother is to hover over others with the intent of controlling them and/or the circumstances surrounding them. You’ve probably heard the term “helicopter mom” in regard to how some moms tend to obsessively overparent. Child psychologists in the West have been documenting this social trend and publishing their opinion papers online. Sometimes grim forecasts are given for kids parented in this manner: depression, anxiety, poor performance in school, and financial issues.

In her article “Helicopter Parenting—It’s Worse Than You Think,” Hara Estroff Marano worries that “independence took a great leap backward” with the rise of helicopter parents. When we eliminate risks for our children, she reasons, we will “rob kids of self-sufficiency.” Marano, a psychologist, believes the state of parenting is “worse than we think.” No woman wants any of these things for her children or the people she nurtures. 

I’ve heard Christian parents say they loathe the helicoptering trend, but we recognize a problem that’s even worse than the loss of independence: we inadvertently model for our children that God’s faithfulness isn’t dependable.

The overarching consequence of obsessive overparenting is that by failing to live out the truth of the big story, we fail to pass on the big story.

Helicopter parenting subconsciously teaches our disciples that though God may seem so big, so strong, and so mighty, he’s really no bigger than we are. God isn’t mighty to save, but Mommy is. 

Tear Down Your Safety Nets 

Are we in danger of becoming so preoccupied with eliminating risks in the world of our kids that we fail to encourage them to take risks for the gospel?

For now, forget the question of whether we let them go down the twisty slide, eat a breakfast cereal with artificial coloring, or cross the street. Consider the noble quest of crossing cultures for the sake of Christ. Are we parenting in such a way that our children will one day not hesitate to say, “I think Jesus is calling me to follow him into [fill in the blank: a hard place, a risky ministry, a university with less prestige for the sake of being close to a healthy church, and so on]”?

Will we celebrate the kindness of God to lead our children to take risks and make sacrifices for his mission, to spread his glory over the face of the earth? Or will we respond with the common objection many young people hear from their parents today: “What about everything that we’ve invested in you? Will you waste it?” 

Our obsession with safety isn’t the gravest concern regarding helicopter parenting; risk intolerance is. When we spend unhealthy amounts of energy in training our children and disciples to be afraid, they’ll subconsciously adopt our anemic view of God. If God is not for us, then “we need to be for ourselves” becomes the mindset. When we unhinge our obsession with safety, we’ll see a demonic strategy to hinder God’s mission holds it together, not God’s wisdom. 

My friend Tim Keesee in the film Dispatches from the Front: No Regrets, No Retreat speaks about the reign of terror and paranoia in Mao’s China. His words are poignant for this topic too: “Boundless terror is the greatest way to control the most people from the cradle to the grave.” Who’s governing our mindset about mothering? Is it King Jesus or an imposter? 

If our stewardship goals are to get as much as we can of the American dream for ourselves and our children, then we betray our King and live like his kingdom is worthless. I say those hard words just as strongly to myself—even now as my family prepares to visit the United States for three weeks. I can’t stop thinking about chasing food, stores, and stuff. We need to continually renew our minds in God’s Word. Otherwise, we’ll subconsciously buy into the helicopter narrative getting its lift from the so-called prosperity gospel, which says we ought to have our best life now.

How Are You Discipling?

The kingship of Jesus and his authority over all things is sweet encouragement to this mother’s heart. What I need to address first, then, isn’t the rules and cultural norms of mothering where I live. I need to have a renewed vision of who rules our family.

I need to see Jesus.

Is he worthy of our adoration when one or many of us are physically unhealthy?

Is sharing his gospel worth staying in a place where we receive less than perfect health care?

Is Jesus worth the sideways glances I receive from people around me when I parent my children in a way that honors him?

Am I more concerned with the food my children eat than what their souls consume?

Do I point my children to worldly success as their big goal or to the mission of God as their reason for being?

Do I remind my children, by my words and actions, that God loves us enough to take care of all of the “what ifs” in our future?

Do my kids think I serve the almighty dollar or the almighty God? 

Do we nurture our children with radical self-abandon, as though we’re expecting deliverance from another world? Because we are. 

Editors’ note: This excerpt is adapted from Gloria Furman’s new book, Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God (Crossway, 2016) [review | companion group study], released in connection with TGC’s Women’s Initiatives. Also, don’t miss our fast-approaching National Women’s Conference, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis. Furman will participate in a panel on respecting husbands as well as lead a focus gathering on reaching the nations in your neighborhood. Workshops are filling up fast, so register now

Gloria Furman lives in Dubai with her husband Dave, a pastor at Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have four young kids. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway, 2013) and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Crossway, 2014), and The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love (Crossway, 2015). You can read her blog at GloriaFurman.com and follow her on Twitter.

by Gloria Furman at May 24, 2016 05:00 AM

Why Only the Triune God Is Love

Article by: Staff

Panelists: John Piper, Tim Keller, Don Carson

Date: May 22, 2012

Event: The Gospel Coalition 2012 Colloquium in Louisville, Kentucky

John Piper is a TGC Council member, founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org, and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. Tim Keller is senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. As president and vice president, Carson and Keller founded The Gospel Coalition.

You can stream this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast here.

by Staff at May 24, 2016 04:59 AM

John C. Wright's Journal

The Decline of SF by QQ

A strange creature named QuQu asks the strange question why so many acquisition editors talk more about politics than books they’ve read and liked, and other trenchant questions.

 

One question not asked is this: “If Vox Day is from ‘outside’ science fiction, why was he a judge for the Nebula Awards, as well as a candidate for election to lead the SFWA?”

But he does show the White Supremacist supreme leader in his native garb and headdress as a Red Indian. And he points out that there were a lot more slates and lot more gaming of the system and ballot box stuffing to NO AWARD the categories I was in than even I had been aware, and not a single instance of it was the squeaky-clean Sad Puppies or brutally honest Rabid Puppies.

by John C Wright at May 24, 2016 04:49 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

Thousands More Hip-Hop Mixtapes, Why So

A few more thoughts on this one.

A lot of people stopped by when the word about the Hip Hip Mixtape Collection got around. They stopped by this little site, and then hopped over to the main collection, and they’ve been having a great old time.

When tens of thousands of people swing through a new thing, you get variant opinion, and if you’re really super double-lucky, you get some discussions way down there that are rather interesting on a “well, few people were ever going to talk about that” way.

Here are those, based on what I read:

  • Why doesn’t this guy monetize this!
  • A bunch of these tapes are fakes/crap
  • Aw, man, it’s only post-2000 stuff

Let’s address those, plus a few other things.

Why doesn’t this guy monetize this! 

Because I work for a non-profit that’s a library and archive, and we don’t monetize stuff like this. We don’t put up ads and we don’t put up click-throughs or pop-ups or demands for cash. It’s actually heartening to get these sorts of comments, because it means they’ve probably never heard of the Internet Archive before, and woo-hoo, new patrons! The more people who hear about the Archive for the first time, the better the world is for everyone. So anyway, no monetization/financial schemes behind this, sorry. (Some wanted to invest.) I’ve learned there are sites that do ad-supported distribution of these mixtapes, and they have all sorts of barriers and clickthroughs to ensure you see the ads. We are not them, that’s not what we do over at the archive.

A Bunch of these Tapes are Fakes/Crap. 

So, I came into this thing like I do a lot of things – go out and acquire whatever I can find and pump it basically automatically into thousands of items (you don’t think I’ve listened to these things in any great amount, do you?). As a result, it’s been a learning curve to find what’s in there. And what I learned is that there’s a wide spectrum of tapes out there, and that Sturgeon’s Law applies quite readily.

There are tapes that are cool amateur productions (created by a small crew or by someone trying to break into the business or get their voice heard), tapes that are kind of promotional items (like, they drop them into the world so word about the artist gets far and wide, usually done by some professional organization) and then there’s DJ mixes, where they do intense remixes of music to showcase their talents. Oh, and then there’s DJ mixes that are basically just a bunch of mp3s thrown together. As we’re finding those or get told about them, they go down. There’s nothing creative or new there (except maybe the cover art). The world is not bettered by them – I won’t miss them. So it’ll take a little while for this all to wring out, but it’ll happen.

Aw Man, it’s Only Post-2000 Stuff.

There’s definitely a lean towards the present with these mixtapes, probably a function of how I’m getting them, from online collections. There’s a few that predate 2000, but those are going to be from cassette tapes, and I’ve not yet stumbled on the Elephant Graveyard of old hiphop mixtapes from cassette. (I’ve got collections of rave tapes, and other 1980s and 1990s artifacts, of course.) I think it’s just a matter of time – after this current pipeline dries up, I’ll start trying to get us to host older and older stuff. How well that goes is up to the people out there – like everything else on the archive, it’s a matter of folks reaching out or giving good pointers or suggestions. I might stumble on things myself but it’s not guaranteed. As it is, the current collection is low-hanging fruit, and some of it is rotten and some of it is very fresh. But I definitely am not sitting on some hidden pile of pre-2000 stuff and going “nah, too historic”.

A few other thoughts

The most intense part of this whole thing was that I had to write this crazy ecosystem of around 15 scripts that deal with a whole pile of contingencies with the tapes. These scripts will fix ingested files, verify they’re what they say they are, reconfigure cover images so they’re in the right order, and add automatic metadata where possible. I actually have directories that drain into other directories that then drain into other directories, and then scripts do automatic evaluations all the way around, and then upload. It’s a terrible contraption but the results are generally OK. I then have to write scripts that crawl through the stuff and clean up what went there, and the result is what you see.

The result of this scriptology is that I’ve learned even more about dealing with odd ingestions that will be reflected on other collections as I go, i.e. the console demos collection I’ve been adding, which does all sorts of crazy robot stuff on combination .zip/.rar/whatever stuff from all sorts of sources. It sort of works! It’ll make things easier in the future! Everyone wins!

And finally – I realize that I am just stumbling backwards into this mixtape thing. It got along quite well without me or the Internet Archive for decades. It doesn’t “need” us anymore than many subcultures “need” us – but my hope is that the appearance and ease-of-access of these tapes will foster both spread of the best of what’s out there, and bring more people to the site to check out all the other things we’re hosting. I’m due someone to come in and lecture me on the “right” way to do all this and what it all “means”, and I’m up for that conversation. What I do know is that tens of thousands of listens are already on the site, with a few thousand more listens every day so whatever it is we’re doing, we’re doing it right for somebody out there. Let’s keep doing that.

And finally.

If you only have one album from this whole collection you want to be told to listen to, if you want just one single tape to somehow magically consolidate all the thousands and thousands of works on the site into one single item, well, ladies and gentlemen, your humble curator must point you in a single direction:

Yes, that’s right, I’m betting the house on Hamburger Helper: Watch The Stove, a 5-song EP mixtape of rap and hiphop, even sort of a ballad, about Hamburger Helper. Hey come back

Sure, you’re going to scoff, but over the course of this mixtape, you will have your eyes open to the myriad feelings and deep emotions of Hamburger Helper, and you too will sympathize with Helper as he explains how the world simply can’t do without this delicious mix. And if there’s one caveat, one life motto you will walk away, it’s to never take someone’s Helper. Just… don’t do it.

Enjoy the tapes. And yes, if you have leads on good additions to the collection, hit me up.

 

by Jason Scott at May 24, 2016 03:10 AM

Blog – Cal Newport

The Deliberate Creative

bmind

The Deliberate Creative

Last month, Scott Barry Kaufman posted an article titled “Creativity is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice.”

Kaufman was responding to Peak: Anders Ericsson’s recent book on expert performance.

At the core of Kaufman’s critique is the idea that deliberate practice does not work well for “almost any creative domain” [emphasis his].

As he summarizes:

Deliberate practice is really important for fields such as chess and instrumental performance because they rely on consistently replicable behaviors that must be repeated over and over again. But not all domains of human achievement rely on consistently replicable behaviors. For most creative domains, the goals and ways of achieving success are constantly changing, and consistently replicable behaviors are in fact detrimental to success.

This discussion caught my attention because my day job is the quintessential creative endeavor. As a theoretical computer scientist, I solve math proofs for a living. To conjure something that makes it past the brutally competitive peer review process in my field usually requires an original approach that makes progress where other really smart people have been stuck.

This reality is why I’m able to draw with some confidence from a well of personal experience when I note that I strongly disagree with Kaufman.

99% Perspiration

Where Kaufman and I diverge is in our understanding of how deliberate practice fits into the creative process. Early in his article, Kaufman reveals the spindly straw man he plans to joust:

“…scientists can’t keep publishing the same paper over and over again, and writers can’t keep writing the same critically acclaimed novel over and over again and expect the same acclaim…How many times would Lady Gaga have to consistently wear her meat dress without people getting bored?”

Kaufman seems to propose that what it means for a creative to practice deliberately is to keep repeating the same project again and again without change.

This is a bizarre interpretation.

Kaufman, for example, cites chess players and musicians as examples where deliberate practice is useful. And yet, chess players don’t rehash the exact same strategy over and over again — they instead innovate in creative ways to counter the play of a given opponent.

Musicians, similarly, don’t play the same song their whole career — they instead continually write new songs, and the good ones keep pushing the boundaries of their genre.

Deliberate practice, in these examples, is necessary because it’s what generates the expertise on which their creativity rests. You cannot exhibit the thrilling creativity of a chess grandmaster until you’ve spent the 10,000 deliberate hours necessary to internalize the game’s intricacies.

The same holds for most creative domains.

To return to my world, the very best theoreticians are those who put in the painstaking, deliberate hours required to keep up with the cutting edge in our field. Most scientists give up in this effort long before the stars, just like most chess players practice a lot less than Magnus Carlsen.

Our breakthroughs don’t tend to arrive ex nihlo (e.g., the above image), but instead tend to follow combinatorially from the right parts of the current cutting edge. (As I discuss in detail in SO GOOD.)

Edison summarized this observation more plainly when he quipped that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. In today’s creative economy, the perspiration is likely the result of deliberate practice.

As I’ve written before, our culture loves the idea that we’re all beautiful creative flowers just one inspiring journaling exercise away from changing the word.

But on this issue, I’m siding with Ericsson. Impactful innovation is exciting — but it almost always requires a relentless, deliberate acquisition of cutting edge skills. The final insight is often the easy part.

Even for Lady Gaga.

by Study Hacks at May 24, 2016 01:40 AM

May 23, 2016

John C. Wright's Journal

Humble Gratitude

I posted the first episode of my ongoing pulp space opera serial, SUPERLUMINARY on Patreon, and went, cap in hand, asking my kind readers to support the effort.

That was Wednesday. The promised donations have now exceeded $300 dollars a month. That amount astounds me.

I am confident nothing in my meager talents and powers are worthy of such a show of faith on behalf of my noble and generous patrons: I assume there is something in my writing which a divine muse subtly introduces into my tales, which is good, true and refreshing, in other to prove to the thunderstruck gentiles that no writer is good without the help of Heaven.

It is similar to the blessing bestowed on David the shepherd boy to allow him to slay the giant. No thunderstruck gentile, even the most foolish, would look at such an event and say, “My! That boy has a good arm!” or say “What a peculiar military coincidence!”

Likewise here: the gentiles will be sent quaking to their idols to cling at the numb stone legs of those monuments, and whisper: “The God of Abraham is God. Nothing else explains or can explain the popularity of that horrible Space Princess guy.”

Glory to God in the Highest and thanks to my patrons, friends, and supporters here on earth and elsewhere. I am astonished and humbled.

by John C Wright at May 23, 2016 09:42 PM

Daniel Lemire's blog

The surprising cleverness of modern compilers

I wanted to know how a modern C compiler like clang would process the following C code:

#include <stdint.h>
int count(uint64_t x) {
  int v = 0;
  while(x != 0) {
    x &= x - 1;
    v++;
  }
  return v;
}

Can you guess?

popcntq	%rdi, %rax

That is right. A fairly sophisticated C function, one that might puzzle many naive programmers compiles down to a single instruction. (Tested with clang 3.8 using -O3 -march=native on a recent x64 processor.)

What does that mean? It means that C is a high-level language. It is not “down to the metal”. It might have been back when compilers were happy to just translate C into correct binary code… but these days are gone. One consequence of the cleverness of our compilers is that it gets hard to benchmark “algorithms”.

In any case, it is another example of externalized intelligence. Most people, most psychologists, assume that intelligence is what happens in our brain. We test people’s intelligence in room, disconnected from the Internet, with only a pencil. But my tools should get as much or even more credit than my brain for most of my achievements. Left alone in a room with a pencil, I’d be a mediocre programmer, a mediocre scientist. I’d be no programmer at all. And this is good news. It is hard to expand or repair the brain, but we have a knack for building better tools.

by Daniel Lemire at May 23, 2016 08:49 PM

The iMac clones

The iMac G3’s design earned praise from many in the industry, with two companies so impressed they attempted to copy it with their own products.

Daewoo and Future Power announced a computer called the ePower. The blue, rounded, all-in-one design would look familiar, as this image shows:

ePower PC

In 1999, PC brand eMachines joined the race and released the eOne, a desktop computer that attempted to copy the success of Apple’s then-new iMac by using some blue plastic of the Mac’s all-in-one design.

eOne PC

Apple sued eMachines and Future Power over trade dress, stating that the computer’s design was too close to that of the iMac’s. The assumption is that these companies wanted consumers to buy a product based on attributes found in another. I’m not sure if any one was actually confused by the differences between the machines, but Apple wasn’t having any of it. Here’s Steve Jobs:

There is an unlimited number of original designs that eMachines could have created for their computers, but instead they chose to copy Apple’s designs. We’ve invested a lot of money and effort to create and market our award-winning computer designs, and we intend to protect them under the law.

Future Power settled with Apple, but continued to ship all-in-one machines. Likewise, eMachines was allowed to sell a redesigned all-in-one computer. In short, the courts ruled that this was a color-scheme issue, as US District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled:

There are many ways in which modern lines, bright colors and translucent plastics might be combined in the design of a personal computer. Any of these combinations is available to Apple’s competitors, so long as the combination selected is not so similar in appearance to the iMac as to infringe on Apple’s trade dress rights.

Of course, neither company is in business today.

by Stephen at May 23, 2016 08:17 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

2016-05-23 Emacs News

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

The post 2016-05-23 Emacs News appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at May 23, 2016 04:41 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

The Power of a “So” (John 13:4) – Mondays with Mounce

It is a well-known fact that Greek sentences tend to be longer than English, and therefore a translator will regularly turn a long Greek sentence into two of more English sentences.

The problem with this is that often the connection between the two English sentences will lose some meaning. In other words, the Greek will convey meaning that the English does not.

I came across a great example of this today in the NIV of John 13:4. This is the beginning of the Upper Room Discourse. V 4 reads, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.” You can look in vain for a Greek word behind the “so,” and you will not find it. A lack of humility could lead a person to condemn the NIV for adding in a word, but the word is in the Greek (in a sense), and is essential to the meaning of the passage.

The full paragraph reads, “2 The evening meal was in progress (Καὶ δείπνου γινομένου), and the devil had already prompted (τοῦ διαβόλου ἤδη βεβληκότος) Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that (εἰδὼς ὅτι) the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up (ἐγείρεται) from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”

Verses 2–4 are one Greek sentence, which the NIV breaks into two, with the important use of a semi-colon. What you have is a simple genitive absolute, followed by a more complex genitive absolute, a participial phrase with two ὅτι clauses, and finally you arrive at the main verb, ἐγείρεται.

The grammar is critical. The reason that Jesus was willing to get up and take the role of a servant was precisely because he had all power, he knew where he came from, and he knew where he was going. It was that knowledge (among other things, no doubt), that allowed him to set aside any pride and arrogance and to serve the disciples.

So do you know where the “so” comes from in the NIV? By breaking the Greek into multiple sentences, they were running the risk of losing the connection between these three points and Jesus’ action. The semi-colon and the “so” help the reader make the connection with the preceding. (The HCSB and NLT also use “so” but without the semi-colon.)

The ESV uses two sentences, but puts the breaks in different locations. “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.” The first sentence is painfully long and difficult to parse, but at least it does keep the three points connected to the main action.

The NET does the best job, I think. “Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself.”

Since Jesus is doing this to set an example for us, I think it is fair to say that the same applies to us. We don’t have all authority, and while we have not come from God we certainly are headed to him (I am writing to true followers). But think about what holds us back form serving our brothers and sisters. Pride. Arrogance. A sense of our own self-importance. Defining ourselves by what we do (or don’t do). Anger. Guilt. Thinking we are better than others. Not caring for the other person, and hence not living out the Greatest Commandment. Not joyfully putting the needs of others ahead of our own (Piper’s definition of love). Not willingly to disadvantage ourselves to advantage others (Bruce Waltke’s formulation of the heart of Proverbs).

However you state it, many of us struggle to truly serve others. But I wonder if we really knew who we were in Christ, if we defined ourselves in relationship to God and not our achievements, and if we tapped into the power of the Holy Spirit, I suspect more of us would be on our hands and knees serving, sacrificially, lovingly.

I am grateful for the NIV’s “so.”

by Bill Mounce at May 23, 2016 03:42 PM

The Five Flavors

Last time, we looked at the original iMac introduction that took place in 1998.

Just a year later, Apple discontinued the Bondi Blue iMac and replaced it with something far more colorful.

The 1999 iMacs came in five colors:

  • Lime
  • Grape
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Tangerine

(Blueberry is very similar to the Bondi before it, but was a little richer and slightly less teal. It’s hard to tell them apart unless you have them next to each other.)

Five Flavor iMacs

Under the covers, these iMacs weren’t drastically different from the Bondi before them. The mysterious mezzanine slot was removed, as was the IRDA port. The processor was bumped to 266 MHz, but the rest of the specs matched.1

In short, this update was just a yearly speed bump, with a lot of flash.

Here’s a quote from Jobs’ keynote address:

In our consumer surveys, [color] is far more important than most of the mumbo-jumbo associated with buying a consumer computer. Megabytes, Megahertz, Gigabytes, people don’t care about that stuff. They want to trust us to give them a really great computer … They want to express themselves and pick the color [they] want.

This marks Apple’s first efforts to offer a wide range of options to its customers in terms of how a product looked. All five iMacs were the same; customers got to pick their color. This strategy would play out for years to come, in products like the iPod mini, iPod nano and even iPhone and now the MacBook.

Jobs — and Apple today — understand that people want their purchases to say something about them. It’s a huge reason the company’s brand equity is what it is. Carrying a gold iPhone or a blue iPod nano back in the day made a statement.

That’s what these iMacs introduced to the world for the first time. This generation of iMac is a lot of fun, and it was an important step for Apple to make.


  1. Like the Bondi’s silent “Rev. B” before this, the Five Flavors would get a small spec bump just a few months after going on sale. Starting in April 1999, these machines would ship with a 333 MHz G3 and a 6 GB hard drive. 

by Stephen at May 23, 2016 03:15 PM

John C. Wright's Journal

Brings the Lightning by Peter Grant

Peter Grant, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have heard of him, is a soldier, humanitarian, pastor and author living in Texas. He has written a new book which I would like you to consider.

He has written nonfiction on his time as a prison pastor as well as science fiction yarns The Maxwell Saga and The Laredo Trilogy, but now he has written a western.

Castalia House is very pleased to announce the publication of Book 1 in The Ames Archives, Brings the Lightning, by Peter Grant.

Lightning_480

The book description:

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can’t go home?

He can go out West, where the land is hard, where there is danger on every side, and where no one cares for whom you fought – only how well you can do it.

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can’t forget.

When you can’t go home again – go West!

Peter Grant has this to say:

It’s been a labor of love for me, because I grew up on a steady diet of what I’d call ‘classic’ Westerns;  Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, the ‘English Westerns’ of J. T. Edson, and the like.  In military camps across Southern Africa, paperback copies of their books were in circulation.  One sometimes had to wait to get hold of two or three copies in order to finish the story, because missing pages at the beginning and end could make the books a little impenetrable;  but one knew there’d be more copies floating around at the next base.

I particularly strove for accuracy and historical authenticity.  I’ve gotten very tired of reading (and watching) Westerns where the weapons, or the food, or the wagons, or the clothes, weren’t period-correct.  The real thing was fascinating;  the impact of the Industrial Revolution on so many areas of life was still making itself felt, so that from generation to generation, lives would be lived very differently.  I was able to take my time while writing it, assemble a fairly decent reference bookshelf or three, and make sure that what I wrote was as accurate as I could make it.

The publisher has this to say:

for many Western civilizationists who love liberty, the Western is central to our conception of ourselves, and moreover, that there was very likely a connection between the SJW infestation in SF/F and the loss of interest in the Western genre by the mainstream publishers. As we’ve seen everywhere from computer games to comics and RPGs, it is all one big cultural war.

And then there is the fact that Fair Blows the Wind is one of my favorite novels in any genre.

So, I got in touch with Peter, told him that Castalia would love to get on board with the Western revival, and offered to publish what I learned was not merely the novel that turned out to be Brings the Lightning, but was the first book in a series about a man named Walter Ames, a Confederate who finds that he can’t return home to the farm in Tennessee after the Civil War. Peter is a man of a vast and varied experience, and it shows in his writing.

by John C Wright at May 23, 2016 02:42 PM

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by Stephen at May 23, 2016 02:31 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Hope, Expectations, and Winning the Lottery

Most people know that the lottery is not a good investment plan. It’s not rational to invest large amounts of money in lottery tickets, because you’re almost certain to lose no matter how much cash you spend at the gas station or convenience store.

Buying a single lottery ticket or two, however, is actually quite rational. Most of us don’t play the lottery as an investment in anything other than dreaming. For a few minutes after you buy the ticket and before you scratch off the numbers, or maybe even for a few days if the winning numbers aren’t announced until later, you have the opportunity to walk around with a dream in your pocket.

You don’t expect to win the lottery. You know that the odds are astronomical, so when you learn the results, you’re hardly devastated. “Oh well,” you say. “I guess I won’t be quitting my job today.”

But in your lottery fantasy, where you spend a brief moments thinking about what it would be like to receive that oversized check, you hope for it. Your hope is not based on rationality, but that’s okay. Hope is a choice. There is value in hope alone.

The rest of life isn’t as simple as thinking about our odds with a single lottery ticket. Understanding the difference between expectations and hope, though, can help us a) make better decisions, and b) make peace with the results of those decisions.

Letting go of expectations is almost always a good idea. If you have no expectations, you’ll rarely be disappointed. You may not always be able to let go of expectations, of course. You still expect your friends to be good friends, you don’t expect to get robbed when you walk down the street, and you may even expect that most people are good. Still, the more you can let go of expectations, the better.

Letting go of hope, however, is a totally different story. Again, hope is a choice. No one can take away your hope. You can hope to win the lottery even if you don’t expect to.

You can also hope for miracles. You can keep your hopes inside you, safe from harm, and bring them to mind whenever you’d like. Because if you hope for something without expecting it, you won’t be devastated when time goes by and it doesn’t happen, but you still hold space for it in your heart. This choice, all by itself, has value.

Knowing when to expect and when to hope—and when to let go of both—is the central challenge of both states of being. The answer to this is wisdom, and wisdom doesn’t just fall from the sky. To acquire wisdom, you need life experience, including negative experiences such as pain and loss. These aren’t the kind of experiences you actively seek out, of course. But when they find you, you might as well learn from them.

###

Image: Garry

by Chris Guillebeau at May 23, 2016 12:21 PM

Justin Taylor

What Happened at the United Methodist General Conference 2016?

Timothy Tennent, a United Methodist who is president of Asbury Theological Seminary (with roots firmly planted in Wesleyan soil), reflects upon the recent general conference for the United Methodists. Here is an excerpt:

In the past the system managed to work reasonably well because, despite the numbers, there was a broad agreement concerning the gospel, the Wesleyan message, and there was, frankly, more integrity about covenant keeping. All of that is gone today. The church is left without leadership. The covenant which binds us is in tatters. The gospel message has become dim. The Wesleyan distinctives have long been reduced to a few predictable sound bites which have been ripped from their original setting and meaning. We are in a tough spot.

Second, we need a little truth telling about what happened at General Conference on the issue of human sexuality. The “leadership” move by the bishops was as predictable as it was lamentable. Appoint a commission to study the issue of human sexuality and kick the can down the road for three more years.

You can read the whole thing here.

See also this piece by Collin Hansen, who (like me) was raised in the United Methodist church with longstanding family ties to this denominational tradition. Here is his conclusion:

I do not intend to minimize the work of God among thousands of faithful United Methodist churches around the world. As a former United Methodist, I thank God for these friends and co-laborers in the gospel, even if I no longer share all their theological views. I recognize my spiritual debt. They were my family. They are my family.

I’m in no position to advise these people called Methodists. I forfeited that right when I left. And no one is asking for my advice, anyway. But I want my United Methodist friends to know something important. I did not leave because of your views on sexuality. By the time I left in the early 2000s I didn’t even realize you had been debating sexuality for decades. I left to find the theology of George Whitefield and Howell Harris that converted the Welsh, including my Daniel kin. I left to learn the spiritual disciplines that sustained the Wesleys amid their conflicts with established church leaders and quests to reform British society. I left to find the spiritual zeal that made my grandfather belt out the Methodist hymnal by heart as cancer ravaged his body.

I left the United Methodist Church to find Methodism.

You can read his whole piece here.

by Justin Taylor at May 23, 2016 12:02 PM

ASCII by Jason Scott

Breaking the Dragon’s Back (What 2016 Is, Update)

On the first of this year, I posted an entry about my plans for 2016 with cutting back and getting healthy. I’ll be travelling on June 1st and probably won’t have time for a half-year update, so let’s do this now.

On the personal health front, which was important and more so than anything else, there have been great strides. I looked like this in December 2016:

ss+(2016-05-05+at+09.42.48)

Well, I looked very lucky as well as overweight. Probably 240-245 in that shot.

Now I look like this:

13086707_10153734219844527_2806251356023920681_o

I now weigh roughly 210-213 depending on weigh-in time. So, I’ve lost 25-30 pounds or thereabouts. Make it 30 or make it 20 if you prefer. So let’s call it a qualified success.

The difference is palpable. The last time I weighed 210 pounds, I was 36, so that’s about a decade ago. I feel the different walking, I can feel it on my face, and I have slightly more energy. My waist size has gone from 40 to 36.

As promised, I can wear more and more flamboyant clothing with no tightness:

13133220_10153750001324527_1260083597010933082_n

I snore less, and I definitely have somewhat lower blood pressure, although I still need the drugs that keep it in check. So, at the half-year mark, the strides are really on schedule where it comes to weight.

As I mentioned, a lot of this is I’ve cut every drink out of my life but water and seltzer. I went pretty low carb, avoiding everything for which sugar is the main ingredient. A lot of meat. A lot of cheese, and then I stopped eating cheese except as an occasional part of some meat I was eating. No bread, obviously. And then, after a while, I started getting away from massive portions. Snacking dropping down. Occasionally having something off this regimen, although seriously avoiding anything non-seltzer and non-water-only, because I no longer believe Diet anything is anywhere further than some sort of lie. And as for water/seltzer, drinking a lot of it – gallons a week, probably.

I’ve held up on this, and went through it in stages, until it became part of me. I do not miss anything except maybe ice cream and I don’t attempt to build mountains of food when I do eat. I also am mentioning all this here but don’t really bring it up unrequested in conversation. (Some people wonder what happened, which is the best question to ask.)

This is not my goal weight. My goal weight is likely around 190-195. I don’t think my body type can sustain anything lower without using some pretty radical methods/approaches, and I’m not prepared to do that. I was 200 in college, so 195 is probably it.

I’ve also not started a significant physical fitness regimen, because I didn’t want to do that until I was hauling a lot less weight. So walking will increase, and I intend to keep the numbers way up on that. In other words, I expect the second half of this year to have slightly greater difficulty over the first half. But the first half has been very satisfying.

Cg7zA4UUYAA-Pgn

The other part of all this has been divesting myself of materials, both from the Cube and from my office, into homes and warehouses and groups it should be. To this extent, let me say that I have given away or sent away a third of everything I own. I have, and continue to have, too much stuff, but it’s going along well. What you see above is me setting up a scanning and ingestion station to blow through materials and get rid of them. Here it is a while later:

CheqqlxWMAIn4Cn

Lots gone, lots scanned, and more to come. I’m just trying to get through everything as absolutely fast as possible, get it online, handled and out of my life. I want it on the Internet in some way or another, and the materials stored in proper homes. This is going slower than I’d like, but it’s because I didn’t really understand exactly how much stuff I had. I had way too much.

So many boxes are going in many directions. For example, I sent 750 POUNDS of Wired magazine to a group. I’ve sent about 10 boxes of videogame systems to another. I’m sending t-shirts to another. And so it goes. This will take the rest of the year, done right. I’d love to be rid of the cube as soon as it makes sense to try.

Finally, after a trip I’m taking in June, I’m going back to the documentaries, renewed and with a lightened load, both personally and physically. It’s time to finish those up.

So yes, I’d say 2016 is going along well so far, regarding these factors at least.

Onward.

Why_an_Atari_02

 

by Jason Scott at May 23, 2016 09:30 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Don’t Mock the Dice Odds

A year or so ago I was running a game for a bunch of friends who had never played D&D before. I'd dropped them in a room flooding with water from a sprung trap and an invisible maze between them and the exit.

While the Drow Assassin, Tiefling Warlock, and Half-Orc Barbarian tried to feel their…

Read more

May 23, 2016 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

How Vocation Brings Dignity to Your Work

Article by: Tim Challies

What we do is closely related to who we are. And as Christians, you and I are responsible to give all of who we are and what we do to the Lord.

Often we get tripped up in thinking about vocation. We might struggle to see how our work brings glory to God. Alternatively, our eyes might show us the farmer as the provider of food, or the pastor as provider of spiritual nurture. But we easily miss that God is present and active in everything they do for us.

In my new book Visual Theology, coauthored with Josh Byers, we seek to display theology applied to the Christian life in a helpful, visually appealing way (think: infographics meet doctrine). We treat topics such as the gospel, Christian identity, becoming like Christ, and more.

But arguably one of the most enjoyable and rewarding topics to take up has been vocation, and specifically some applications for how we might see the worth of our work.

You Have Many Vocations 

A great misunderstanding about vocation is that each of us has just one: I am a pastor or I am a mechanic or I am a homemaker. But a thorough understanding of vocation teaches us that we all have many areas for which we are responsible before the Lord.

You are a citizen, a son or daughter, a neighbor, a church member. You may also be a mother or father, a husband or wife, a worker or manager. Some of these vocations are more important than others. Some demand great swaths of your time, while some demand much less.

No matter what your vocations are, they all carry the same great purpose: to do good to others and bring glory to God. Your purpose as a citizen is to do good for others as a citizen and in that way to bring glory to God. Your purpose as a husband or wife is to serve your spouse, which brings glory to God. As a friend, your purpose is to do good to others and bring glory to God. [You can see my vocations represented in the graphic above.] 

Vocation Brings Dignity

The doctrine of vocation brings the utmost significance and dignity to your work. When we understand that vocation is extending the goodness and grace of God to others, to serve as the “mask of God,” we understand that in a sense all vocations are equal. All of them have the highest dignity.

The dignity of work does not come from the amount of skill necessary to do the job. Nor does it come from the importance of that work for the functioning of a nation or society. The dignity of work comes from the source of that work, which is always God himself. The doctor who operates within the deepest recesses of the human brain is in the same line of work as the person who hauls away the trash from the end of the doctor’s driveway. They are both working on behalf of God. They are both in the business of extending God’s care to other people. Both have the choice to joyfully submit to God’s will in vocation or to flee from it.

My wife and I have often spoken about her frustrations with her vocation of caring for our home and family. It is not that she has ever wanted to do anything else or that she feels trapped in a life she did not choose. It is simply that her work is difficult and repetitive and, in many ways, unrewarding. She lives in a cycle of tasks she does not particularly enjoy—washing dishes, folding laundry, applying bandages to bloody knees, and providing emotional stability to a needy husband.

What brings help and hope is this doctrine of vocation—the fact that she is serving as a kind of conduit for the goodness and grace of God. When she fulfills her vocation, she is doing God’s work on God’s behalf. God wants us to bring order to a chaotic world, and Aileen brings godly orderliness when she keeps the home. God wants to care for those who are hurting, and Aileen brings his care and tenderness when she bandages a child’s knee. God wants to extend help to men who are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and he extends this help through her. She is the means of God’s providential care. [The image to the right models how our vocation extends God’s goodness, grace, and order to others.]

And so are you in your vocation. If God has gifted you with a logical, orderly, mathematical mind, then you extend an aspect of God’s concern for this world when you design buildings or bridges or software. If God has gifted you with an eye for color and an instinct for design, then you extend an aspect of God’s concern for this world when you create beautiful art or design a slick new product branding. God could have arranged the world in such a way that he would do all of these good things himself. Instead, he assigned them to human beings, so you do this work on his behalf.

Your vocation is your day-by-day opportunity to glorify God by serving others and, in that way, serve as a faithful representative of the God who glorifies himself by serving others.

Editors’ note: This article is adapted from Tim Challies and Josh Byers’s book, Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (Zondervan, 2016). This article is made possible by support from readers and Zondervan in accord with TGC's confessional statement and theological vision.

Tim Challies is a Christian, a husband to Aileen, and a father to three children aged 9 to 15. He worships and serves as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. He is a book reviewer for WORLD magazine, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and has written three books: The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, The Next Story, and Do More Better. He writes daily at www.challies.com.

by Tim Challies at May 23, 2016 05:03 AM

Bring Back Discipling

Article by: Tommy Nelson

Discipleship has never been in vogue. Maybe that’s because discipleship takes time, and we are driven by the urgent. This is why Mark Dever’s new book on discipleship in the local church, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, is so necessary.

What I look for in any book on discipleship is simplicity. Too often authors make discipleship too sophisticated. They make it more than what it actually is: the natural process of life between a more mature Christian and a younger one who longs to grow in Christ. Dever’s book, though, is straightforward and clear.

The book is made up of three sections covering the definition of discipleship, where it occurs, and how it occurs.

Made to Disciple

Dever, who serves as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and president of 9Marks, argues that we either influence others or are influenced by others. All of us, in a sense, are discipling or being discipled. And true Christian discipleship is deliberate and unapologetic in its goal: to change others. Additionally, as a creature made in God’s image, man is created for others. Being involved in the lives of others is a natural and normal part of the human experience. We are made to disciple.

Discipleship is toil. It can be painful, disappointing, and downright humiliating. Paul uses words like “labor,” “agony,” and “suffering” to describe it. When we engage other humans on this level, we’re dealing with nature’s most unstable force. Discipleship is costly.

Discipleship is also a divine work. We labor “according to his power that mightily works within us” (Col. 1:29). Any fruitfulness will only come according to God’s good grace. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus says (John 15:5). Ministry demands what C. S. Lewis calls the “deep magic” of God’s visitation on men to restore them back to his original design. Our discipling efforts, then, must be soaked in prayer toward the one who began a good work in us and will complete it (Phil. 1:6). We cannot trust a system or program to bring about fruitfulness when only God’s grace through his Word will do.

How Do We Disciple?

Discipleship is initiated. People don’t disciple people by accident; they intend to disciple others. We identify faithful followers of Christ and then challenge them to grow in divine grace through the hard work of discipleship.

Further, discipleship is done in the local church. All sorts of people join churches and are looking for help. You need only to make yourself known and be faithful in a church, and you’ll be soon pouring into others. The vehicle of the church provides a habitat for discipleship that will continue for the rest of your life. No church ever hangs a “No Help Wanted” sign.

Discipleship also involves teaching. Mentoring stresses a relationship, but discipleship stresses context. One thing that needs to be added is curriculum. Few laypeople can come up with their own study, and thankfully there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Good curriculums are out there, and every church needs one they can trust.

As expected, Dever’s strong ecclesiology comes out in the book. Some might disagree with some of his convictions and practical applications. For example, as a senior pastor I see the preaching and teaching of God’s Word as one of my primary roles, so I’d never give up my pulpit to others as often as Dever does (40 percent of the year). Other areas of responsibility can be delegated to disciples. Additionally, our church doesn’t have staff as elders, and our elders move forward only after reaching a unanimous decision—a church vote can lead to a church split. 

Great Place to Start 

Discipling deals with the Christian responsibility to bring others to maturity in Christ. That’s a core issue. The book is rightly heavy on a biblical philosophy of discipleship and the church’s role in discipleship, but it’s somewhat light on technique and method.

So if you’re looking for a book that lays out the importance of discipleship and gives you the basics, Discipling is a great place to start. But if you’re after a resource that will help an individual or church initiate a particular strategy or process of discipleship (for example, specific curriculums, plans for individual discipleship, a comprehensive church strategy for disciplemaking, dealing with explicit problems that arise in discipling, and so on), you’ll need to supplement this helpful book with other material. 

Mark Dever. Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016. 128 pp. $14.99. 

Tommy Nelson serves as senior pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.

by Tommy Nelson at May 23, 2016 05:02 AM

I Advocate for Convicted Criminals

Article by: Cara Wieneke

A man killed a mother and her infant child over money. A filmmaker lured young boys to his home with the promise of fame and fortune so that he could molest them. A man drove off after stealing gas from a local station and crashed into a van, killing a mother and seriously injuring her two young sons.

These who have caused immense suffering in the lives of others aren’t people I casually read about in the newspaper or on Facebook. They are my clients. My days are spent reviewing court documents that detail their crimes and the suffering they have caused. I view gruesome autopsy photos, listen to appalling descriptions from eyewitnesses, and travel to prisons all over the state to talk face to face with the people responsible for it all.

I am a post-conviction criminal defense attorney and, unlike a trial lawyer, I represent people after they have been found guilty and sentenced to prison. I advocate for people who have committed incomprehensible acts of evil.

Christ Changed My World

Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I tried protecting myself from the pain and suffering I saw. I viewed my clients as cases, not people. I saw their crimes as acts deemed illegal by our government, not as evil deeds. And I tried not to think about the victims at all. Yet I considered myself a noble person since I was giving a voice to people who couldn’t speak for themselves.

But after becoming a Christian, my view changed. I began seeing my clients as human beings, and I started feeling the pain and suffering their evil inflicted on others. For every case I reviewed, I felt a small part of the pain and suffering the victims endured. There were times the pain was so great that I considered changing careers. But God kept drawing me back.

I struggled with finding God in all this—and sometimes still do. There have been days when I’ve felt as if there is nothing good in the world, only evil. On those days, I’ve felt as if the evil was pulling me under. I could see goodness above the surface, but I couldn’t reach it, couldn’t touch it, couldn’t feel it.

How Pain Can Transform

God uses pain and suffering to transform us. One client’s case reminded me of this work recently. Years ago he was addicted to drugs, needed money, and decided to rob an elderly woman who’d rented him a room. For reasons even he cannot explain, my client killed her.

When I first met him in prison, I was having one of those days where the evil seemed overwhelming. Everywhere I turned, it felt like there was just darkness—young children waiting to visit an incarcerated parent, looking scared and confused, and elderly parents visiting their incarcerated children, wondering where things went so wrong.

As I reviewed some documents while waiting to meet my client, I began questioning whether there even was a God and, if so, where he was in this chaos. As I walked back to the visiting room and heard the bars clang shut behind me, I reminded myself I was just there to do a job.

But the man who sat down in front of me was not whom I expected. He told me that he’d repented and embraced Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and that he’d been baptized. Our conversation that day was different from conversations I usually have with my clients. He didn’t try to place blame elsewhere for his actions. He didn’t complain about being incarcerated or contemplate ways to obtain his release.

Instead, he seemed content with his life. He told me God was changing him, and he seemed almost thankful for his circumstances. He expressed sorrow for the pain he had caused and became emotional when telling me he didn’t feel he was worthy of God’s grace. But he accepted God’s grace and said prison would not be the end of his story. Finally, he told me to take all the time I needed to review his case since he knew he deserved to be sitting in prison.

God Is Always There

As I left the prison and walked to my car, it was almost as if the weight had been lifted. No longer did I doubt God was there; no one but God could have been responsible for my client’s transformation.

That conversation is a daily reminder to me that God is always present, even in worst of suffering. I still feel pain when I read about the crimes people commit. Just last week in a small town near my own, a toddler was brutally raped and murdered. I wept as I imagined what her last minutes in this world must have been like. But rather than feel as if the evil is pulling me under, I try to remember that Jesus, who was called a man of sorrows (Isa. 53:4), is always there—especially in suffering. After all, he suffered for sinners like me.

Editors’ note: This essay was chosen as part of the Faith and Work Dinner being hosted by Every Square Inch and sponsored by EDGE Mentoring and Cerulean Restaurant at our 2016 National Women’s Conference next month, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis. Space at TGCW16 is running out, so register for the conference soon!

EDGE is a national mentoring organization for emerging leaders that combines personal, professional, and spiritual development in one experience. If you’re looking to mentor, or be mentored, you can find out more.

Cara Wieneke is a post-conviction criminal defense attorney at her own firm, where she works with her husband and law partner. She lives in a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana, and has two sons. She is an active member of Kingsway Christian Church in Avon, Indiana.

by Cara Wieneke at May 23, 2016 05:01 AM

Why I’m No Longer a United Methodist

Article by: Collin Hansen

I watch the United Methodist Church’s struggles from the sidelines. I am an outsider. I have no stake in the outcome. I have no seat at the General Conference, no vote for future of the the nearly 13-million-member global denomination. I have no voice over whether the Book of Discipline will be changed to allow for same-sex relationships.

This is not my fight. These are not my people.

Yet these were my people. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in his Methodism, I have more. Baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church. Married in the United Methodist Church. As to zeal, traveled from South Dakota to Los Angeles as a teenager to declare my intent to pursue ordination as a United Methodist minister. As to education, attended a university founded by Methodists with plans to study in the United Methodist seminary at its heart.

My familial allegiances, however, run much deeper. My mother’s parents were both certified lay ministers in the United Methodist Church. I don’t believe my grandmother has yet forgiven me for not seeking ordination in her church. She doesn’t know her family’s entire ethnic makeup, because her father only told her they were Methodists.

And that’s not even the Daniel side of my maternal family. According to the Welsh historian Philip Jenkins, “During the 18th and 19th centuries of the evangelical revivals, Welsh people started using distinctively biblical names, often from the Old Testament.” The first member of my mother’s family to come to America was John Robert Daniel, born in the Calvinistic Methodist hotbed of north Wales in 1826. His parish planned to send him to study for the ministry at the famous Methodist school in Bala, but instead his family joined the Welsh exodus to Wisconsin in 1845. Their Methodist zeal did not dim, though it did morph theologically after crossing the Atlantic. I learned the Methodist faith from my maternal grandfather, William Owen Daniel Jr., who loved few things more than the Wesley hymns sung in Welsh four-part harmony. Before he died in 2004, as he handed me family heirlooms that included a Welsh New Testament, he told me I had inherited the Welsh “hwyl” or long-winded emotional preaching of our Methodist forebears. It was a compliment, I think.

At age 15 I experienced the prototypical warm-hearted Methodist conversion during a youth retreat. Yet in retrospect this moment ironically marked the beginning of the end of my United Methodism. The interdenominational retreat was hosted in a nearby Lutheran church. My United Methodist pastor didn’t support this Spirit-led revival that led students to confess their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior. Four years later, as a college student, I returned to my home church in search of financial support for an evangelistic summer mission in California. This same pastor declined and said her theology taught “God helps those who help themselves.” I will never forget, however, the United Methodist women of my home church who filled this gap and hosted a fundraiser meal that more than covered my summer expenses. No period since my conversion has been more instrumental in my spiritual development.

By the end of this summer my theological trajectory had been fully redirected from mainline Protestantism toward the evangelical movement. I lived near two United Methodist churches and a student ministry house in college, but I never considered joining, because these groups seemed preoccupied with sexual politics. An African student in the seminary complained to me that his classes did not use the Bible as a required text. Meanwhile, my friends sang Wesley hymns and shared the gospel with strangers so that they might be born again. We prayed together in small groups and held each other accountable to pursue holiness. Within a few years I would be baptized by immersion and write a book on Reformed theology. My parents followed suit with baptism and joined a Wesleyan church. My brother married a Baptist woman, and their family found a home in a nondenominational megachurch.

All of us are active in churches. None of us remained a Methodist.

Not Unusual

In the last 17 years since I left home for college I’ve learned my experience is rather common. My wife’s ancestors started a Methodist church in the early 1800s in south Alabama. She grew up occasionally attending the United Methodist church where we were married. I once introduced myself as a “former Methodist” to her family’s United Methodist bishop. His indignant response revealed I had touched a particularly sore spot. When our parents were growing up the United Methodist Church had 11 million members in the United States alone. That number is now 7.2 million, and the rate of decline is picking up. In the last five years alone membership has dropped 6 percent.

The numbers bear out in anecdotal experience. Every evangelical group I’ve known since 2000 has been stocked with former United Methodists. And every story is the same. To find their Aldersgate experience of love for God who justifies sinners, they had to leave the United Methodist Church. To hear preaching that stirs the mind and affections with unshakeable confidence in the Word of God, they had to leave the United Methodist Church. To find theology that would steel them to stand with Jesus and not be swept away by theological fads, they had to leave the United Methodist Church.

I do not intend to minimize the work of God among thousands of faithful United Methodist churches around the world. As a former United Methodist, I thank God for these friends and co-laborers in the gospel, even if I no longer share all their theological views. I recognize my spiritual debt. They were my family. They are my family.

I’m in no position to advise these people called Methodists. I forfeited that right when I left. And no one is asking for my advice, anyway. But I want my United Methodist friends to know something important. I did not leave because of your views on sexuality. By the time I left in the early 2000s I didn’t even realize you had been debating sexuality for decades. I left to find the theology of George Whitefield and Howell Harris that converted the Welsh, including my Daniel kin. I left to learn the spiritual disciplines that sustained the Wesleys amid their conflicts with established church leaders and quests to reform British society. I left to find the spiritual zeal that made my grandfather belt out the Methodist hymnal by heart as cancer ravaged his body.  

I left the United Methodist Church to find Methodism.

Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He is the author of Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey With the New Calvinists, and co-author with John Woodbridge of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir. He earned an MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an undergraduate degree in journalism and history from Northwestern University. He previously worked as an associate editor for Christianity Today magazine, co-edited Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, and co-edits the Cultural Renewal series with Tim Keller. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Collin Hansen at May 23, 2016 05:00 AM

eagereyes

Row-Level Thinking vs. Cube Thinking

rubik_cube

Our mental model of a dataset changes the way we ask questions. One aspect of that is the shape of the data (long or wide); an equally important issue is whether we think of the data as a collection of rows of numbers that we can aggregate bottom-up, or as a complete dataset that we can slice top-down to ask questions.

Where It All Starts: Rows

Of course all data is row-level. The numbers have to come from somewhere, they’re listed, one by one, in a table or a database somewhere. In a spreadsheet, you can see them each individually.

This model makes sense when you’ve laboriously collected each individual data point, or you need to carefully look at them each individually for some reason. Perhaps there’s a rich history or other complex data attached that can’t easily be compared across the items in your dataset.

But most questions you want to ask of even moderately large datasets involve many data points that need to be grouped in different ways.

The Way You Slice It: Data Cubes

Rather than the bottom-up perspective of rows, data cubes are about thinking from the top down. The dataset as a whole is the thing you’re dealing with, and you don’t care about the individual rows. Asking questions means breaking the data up in many different ways. This becomes more natural as the dataset gets larger and more complex.

One of the best illustrations of a data cube I know is from the paper Multiscale Visualization Using Data Cubes by Chris Stolte, Diane Tang, and Pat Hanrahan.

slicing-cubes

Read from top left to bottom right, it basically describes how fine-grained data turns into a cube. Read backwards, it shows how the cube containing all the data in one value is broken down: first by time, then by product, then by location.

How you do you ask questions of such a dataset? You specify how you want it broken down and how to aggregate the measures. Perhaps you have a dataset of incomes for many different job titles, ages, genders, education levels, etc. Ask about the average income for men vs. women, and the database will happily answer this for you. To do so, it splits the dataset along the gender dimension, which leaves many records in each of the two groups. It then calculates the averages for each gender across all of those.

This way, you can quickly ask many different questions: what’s the average by education level? How about gender and education level? What about age? Etc. You can also of course change the aggregation, so instead of the average perhaps you want to consider the median, or the minimum and maximum in each slice. It’s all just a matter of asking the question.

The Relation to Spreadsheets vs. Databases

Spreadsheets are based on rows. That’s what you see. Any calculation you do is based on those, so you work bottom-up. Slicing the data in a spreadsheet is difficult at best.

Databases can show you the rows, but they have the tools to slice the data built in. SQL’s group by statement creates slices through the data, and the aggregations you specify in a query (avg, min, max, etc.) are applied to all the rows that fall into the groups you specify.

Sure, you could look at the rows in a database just like in a spreadsheet. But that’s not what databases are good at. Just like in my previous piece on spreadsheets vs. databases, I’m glossing over a lot nuances and special cases here. But the big-picture ways of thinking are the point here, and understanding them and their differences can help clear up many common misconceptions and frustrations.


Teaser image by Booyabazooka, used under Creative Commons.

by Robert Kosara at May 23, 2016 03:19 AM

May 22, 2016

Aaron M. Renn

How Newcastle Went From Post-Industrial Wasteland to Top 10 Global Travel Destination

creating-cities-marcus-westburyCreating Cities
by Marcus Westbury

I’ll make it easy for you: buy this book.

Creating Cities is an engaging, well-written overview of the Renew Newcastle effort in Australia that helped turn the moribund downtown of a fading steel city into one of Lonely Planet’s top ten global travel destinations in 2011.

But not only a breezy read and a feel good case study, this book is also a celebration of bottom-up urbanism, and citizens taking the revitalization of their city into their own hands. In contrast to the typical top down planning, or consensus-driven civic initiative, this is about taking a small scale, organic, DIY approach to urban life. And about how the legal, regulatory, and business practices environment of a city can be hacked to make that possible.

When you think of the problems facing Newcastle, start with the fact that you have to tell every single person outside the country that it’s the one in Australia, not England. That gives you a sense of the brand challenge the place faced. It’s a smaller Australian city, only seventh largest in the country and not even the biggest in its state, one historically centered around a major steel making complex. This would be like being the seventh largest city in Texas. The places that come to mind in the US when I read Marcus Westbury talk about Newcastle are Allentown or Youngstown. As he puts it:

For decades, Newcastle was the BHP Steelworks. We grew up in its shadow. The night sky was lit by the flames of blast furnaces, and the city set its rhythms to its changes of shifts. In nearby suburbs, mothers and grandmothers played washing-line roulette around its belching smoke and changes of wind direction. It was a city of a few hundred thousand people, and at its peak, a tenth or more of the Novocastrian workforce was employed in the steelworks. The whole city was directly and indirectly dependent on it.

Westbury was a young festival organizer who grew up in Newscastle. After getting a start there, he moved on to success in Sydney and Melbourne. He was originally attracted back to his home town by the prospect of starting a small pub. Central Newcastle was full of boarded up buildings, so he was sure that he’d be able to find a place with dirt cheap rents to open his dream bar.

As it turned out, he couldn’t have been more wrong.  He had great trouble finding anyone who would even show him a property, much less offer him rental terms.

Something more substantial was wrong here. I lost sight of my original purpose — starting that bar is still on the long list of unrealised dreams — and became more and more intrigued as to why the market and the owners weren’t behaving the way Economics 101 told me they should. An oversupply of properties should have led to a drop in the market price. So many sellers and so few buyers in the market should have meant that agents and owners were falling over themselves for my business. But the response to my approaches was indifference and lack of interest. It was a diagnosis out of kilter with the debate that the city was having at the time. The debates in local papers or in political circles had always begun from the premise that the reason the city was failing was due to a lack of interest and investment. No one wanted to do anything there. But as I had directly experienced, this wasn’t always true. What if the problem was more complex? What if the problem was not that no one wanted to do anything but that those who wanted to, for whatever reasons, couldn’t?

Thus began Westbury’s education in the vagaries of urban real estate. Some building owners were sheer speculators, hoping to cash out later at a higher price in the wake of some hoped for government redevelopment scheme. Having actual tenants might complicate that. Others didn’t want to rent at lower values because of their bankers, who would have to write down their loans once an actual lease revealed the shaky assumptions on which the financing rested. Some people were just using their buildings as tax writeoffs. In other cases, buildings had passed into the hands of multiple owners and heirs, drastically complicating doing deals. Westbury even learned to have some sympathy for the indifferent real estate agents. Because they were paid on commission, it wasn’t even worth their time to talk to someone about a low priced deal.  As Westbury observes:

The bigger picture in all this was bizarre. A city full of people desiring to do things, staring at a seeming surplus of space in which to do it. Dozens of property owners unintentionally driving down the value of their properties. Bankers concerned so much with the paper value of assets that they were running down the actual value. Perfectly legal and simple things that no one could confirm the legality and simplicity of. Governments at all levels were obsessing over how they might revitalise the city while unintentionally and inadvertently making the problems worse by confused processes, deferred decisions, and making promises they could not keep. Everyone was acting in their own interest while the city as a whole was literally falling apart.

With the help of a pro-bono lawyer and others, Westbury’s response was the creation of Renew Newcastle.  Renew Newcastle cut deals with real estate owners, the city, and would-be tenants to create a new model of making space available to people with ideas. Instead of having to write a business plan, obtain enough financing to sign a long term lease, get insurance, etc, etc. etc., Renew Newcastle makes space in vacant buildings available to startups – retailers, artists, small-scale manufacturers, etc – on a model in which the user can have the space subject to being kicked out at any time if the landlord needs it back. There’s no lease and the property is not formally rented. Renew Newcastle serves as the guarantor of the user’s behavior, provides insurance under an umbrella policy, etc.  As Westbury puts it:

Renew aimed to invert processes. It aimed to make what once had been hard easy, and what would once have been risky much less so. To take as much of what might once have been near impossible in the city and make it comparatively simple. The purpose was always to plant many seeds and see what grew. For that to work, the seeds couldn’t all be the same. To nurture an ecology, you can’t begin by planting a monoculture.

In the first six years of its existence, Renew Newcastle launched 170 different endeavors. Some of them turned into actual businesses that ultimately signed real leases.  It created a media sensation around the world, attracted academic investigators, and even led to Newcastle making Lonely Planet’s top ten global destination list in 2011.

Beyond just an interesting case study, Creating Cities outlines Westbury’s philosophy of citizens taking responsibility for their own cities and neighborhoods. The book opens with a vignette about his grandfather creating a handmade sign for a hard to find local landmark.  He laments that as our society matured and bureaucratized, we lost something of this spirit of citizen initiative without noticing it amongst the gains we were making.

I’m not sure he’d see the lineage between the sign he raised on that hill those many decades ago and the ideas outlined in this book. But that sign has always animated me. It has given me a sense of place, of continuity and connection. It has given me something else: an idea planted in the concrete up there. The idea that you could do that. That a community is built up by the thousands of actions from hundreds of individuals and their collaborations, and not down from the whims of the few. A recurring reminder that a community is something you make and remake through your actions….I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line between my parents’ generation and my own, we forgot that it could work like it did in Bert’s time. Public space became more regulated, and the once-simple intersection between individual and community action, civic improvement and control became more and more complex. Cities became expensive, privatised, professionalised and bureaucratised. Infrastructure became the job of master planners and middle managers. Societies became more individualistic, more competitive, and more unequal. People got busy. They ran out of time for such things. By the time I came of age, the idea that an individual could build something in their shed and place it permanently on public lands was almost unthinkable.

Westbury is also acutely aware of the way that his professional mindset affects his approach to city problems. I, for example, come from a management consulting background. That shapes the way I think about cities, and one reason people find my take on cities refreshingly novel is that I’m one of the few people using that lens to look at cities. Westbury is open about the way that being a festival organizer led him to think about the possibilities of utilizing urban space in ways that planners, politicians, and architects couldn’t.

He fails to mention one aspect of the festival organizer’s DNA, however: promotion skills. Undoubtedly Renew Newcastle became so widely known in part because of Westbury’s savvy marketing skills. In fact, I suspect that back home he’s got quite a collection of haters going, who think that he’s used it as a massive self-promotion platform. I say more power to him.

While not the purpose of the book, Creating Cities also implicitly throws a bit of cold water on some conventional wisdom explanations of central city decline.  For example, some Americans blame racism for white flight that decimated cities. No doubt that played some role, but Newcastle had virtually no minorities, yet its downtown collapsed anyway. It’s similar for explanations predicated on freeways. I haven’t investigated in full detail, but Google maps does not appear to show inner city freeways of the type that carved up so many US cities in Newcastle. Yet its urban core faded anyway.

It would appear that something in the very nature of industrialization and deindustrialization produces these types of declines. Other factors are merely enhancers at most.  The ubiquity of post-industrial struggles in cities all over the globe undercuts many country-specific explanations.

The book also shows that what appears simple and straightforward in economic theory is often much more complex in practice.  If this is true at the micro level, then how much more so at the macro.

Can the ideas being Renew Newcastle work elsewhere? I don’t see why not. In fact, I even know one organization in Indianapolis that did something similar, albeit not as an institutionalized approach. Big Car Gallery did a deal with the landlord to take over an abandoned service station near Lafayette Square in Indianapolis, on the proviso that they vacate if an actual tenant was found. Eventually one was found and Big Car relocated. Big Car executive director Jim Walker was very clear to stress that this had always been the plan, and I didn’t see any negative media suggesting that Big Car had been “kicked out.”  This is critical as Westbury notes. Landlords have to be confident that if they allow temporary uses like this, they can actually get their building back when they want it without looking like the bad guy.

Renew Newcastle is a powerful story that I hope to one day be able to check out in person. In fact, I previously ran a guest post about it by Westbury. I’m glad to see he turned this into a book, and Creating Cities is one that belongs in every urbanist’s Kindle.

by Aaron M. Renn at May 22, 2016 10:48 PM

Simple Beep Episode 39

On the latest episode of the Simple Beep podcast, Ed, Brian and I got real deep into the detailed history of the various revisions Apple made to the iMac. Think of it as an extended version of that YouTube video from the other day.

by Stephen at May 22, 2016 08:31 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

How to Start a Blog or Any Website for Less Than $5

Laptop-Tea

Link: Start a Blog for $5/Month

*We’ve had a lot of new readers join the blog recently from my new book and book tour. Welcome, new readers! 

Since starting The Art of Non-Conformity eight years ago, I’ve been writing and posting regularly on the blog. A lot of things have changed since those early days, especially the way that people communicate on different networks, but my love of the format remains.

When you write a blog, you can publish immediate, unfiltered information to the world at large. There are no gatekeepers or censors. You can write about whatever you want, and you’re free to expand your domain as you see fit. If you want to publish video or audio, you can do that on your blog too—but you don’t have to.

Starting a blog doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, you can do it for free over at WordPress.com. Free is fine for a lot of people and it might be fine for you, but many of us will find that it’s better to invest a small amount of money and get more benefits and features.

After previous disasters, I now work with InMotion to host most of my websites. I used Bluehost, another popular provider, for a while and finally said farewell to them after too many problems.

Every new site I’ve built recently is hosted by InMotion. If I have a problem, I can call 24 hours a day. I can email and hear back within 20 minutes. In short, I feel comfortable recommending them without reservation.

I also worked with them to arrange a discount for readers. Instead of paying a bunch of money to an unreliable host, you can pay just $5/month and have everything you need.

Why Is $5 a Month Better Than Free?

In short, because you can customize your blog, you can use your own domain (which is also cheap—think $10 a year or less). In other words, a small amount of money makes a big difference.

Full disclosure: I pay a lot more than $5/month. If your blog becomes more successful and gets a lot of visitors, you’ll want to upgrade to be better protected. In the beginning, though, you don’t need to worry about that.

The solution from InMotion works great for me and I’m happy to endorse them. If you have another solution, of course, stick with that! Always do what’s best for you. 😃

Oh, and this resource page has even more info for those who like a lot of details.

###

Image: Lauren

by Chris Guillebeau at May 22, 2016 07:24 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending May 20, 2016

A- is still not gaining weight or length well. The pediatrician thinks that she might either naturally be small (like my sister Kathy’s kids) or that there might be an underlying cause we may be able to address. I experimented briefly with fenugreek and blessed thistle to boost my supply, and have decided to skip them unless the lactation consultant tells me to go back on them. We’ll do a bunch more tests to see what we can find out. I’ll take her to Sick Kids Hospital next week, since the lab there has a lot of experience working with babies.

On the plus side, A- started waking up for long periods of time in the middle of the night. Could this be the 4-month sleep regression (that sometimes shows up earlier)? Neat! That means her brain is growing by leaps and bounds. We’re working on settling her to sleep earlier, so that she still gets all the sleep she needs.

A nurse from the Healthy Babies and Healthy Children program visited us at home. She’ll help me keep track of A-‘s developmental milestones so that we can catch things early, and she’ll also suggest activities to help A- grow. She might be able to pair us up with another neighbourhood family who can visit and share tips, too.

In terms of coding, I got my jive-angular workflow sorted out and have been using it to build a tool for my client. The npm install ran into problems on Windows, so I set it up manually by reading the source. I’ve been working on my personal tracker, too. I added more detailed logging for diapers and nursing, and I used the day view to print out one-page slices of data for the pediatrician, who seemed impressed.

I wanted to make a red jacket for A-‘s 100-day party, but the test pattern I sewed up wasn’t a good fit. I made a peasant-style dress instead. I’ve got plenty of practice sewing those! First time working with silk brocade. Pretty fancy. =)

My sister Ching is coming from California for the small party. How exciting! Next week: 100-day party with family – nothing too fancy, just a restaurant thing. More tests for A-, and a meeting with a lactation consultant. Onward!

2016-05-23a Week ending 2016-05-20 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (4.7h – 2%)
    • Earn (4.7h – 100% of Business)
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (5.3h – 3%)
    • ☑ Research scholarships
    • ☐ Complete and fax pre-op questionnaire
  • Discretionary – Productive (13.1h – 7%)
    • Emacs (0.8h – 0% of all)
      • ☑ [#B] Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding (3.0h – 1% of all)
      • ☑ Add diapers to detailed timeline
      • ☑ Add supplementation and sleep toggles to nursing screen
      • ☑ Add diaper leak, open air accident options
      • ☑ Add small/medium/large option
      • ☑ Add start and end date
      • ☑ Update database for diapers and nursing
    • Sewing (4.3h)
    • Writing (0.0h)
      • ☑ Party dress
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (21.0h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (59.4h – 35%)
    • Childcare (50.9h – 30% of total)
  • Sleep (64.5h – 38% – average of 9.2 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending May 20, 2016 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at May 22, 2016 06:48 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

John C. Wright's Journal

Backfire

The New York Times ran a front page story about Donald Trump’s behavior toward women, and discovered that, decades ago, he gave a compliment to an attractive girl whom he invited to a pool party.

When her saw her in a bikini, he said “Wow!”

The press ran the story saying it showed disrespect toward Rowanne Brewer Lane, the young lady in question: Miss Lane, as it happens, told Fox News the next day that she was enraged by the newspaper’s account. The interviewer had lied to her, and misrepresented her words. She felt neither degraded nor offended, and describes the Donald as kind, generous and thoughtful, “a gentleman,” and she intends to vote for him.

(ADDENDUM added 5/24: I was behind the times even in the hour when I wrote the above paragraph. By the time of this writing, three, not one, three of the women interviewed revile the New York Times coverage of their remarks as being deceptive, misleading, slanted, or baldfaced lies. Three of them. End of Addendum.)

The Left has so entirely deceived themselves about the nature of sex, masculinity and femininity with so much fervor and so little regard for reality for so long, that they now regard the idea that a rich playboy likes the company of beautiful women is nearly incomprehensible to them.

For a point of reference, below is what Miss Lane looked like in a bathing suit.

569full-rowanne-brewer

Who would regard it as untoward for a man to say “Wow!” when seeing this vision ?

Nearly every man I know, except the strictest and most chaste, admires James Bond and Captain Kirk, precisely because they are lady’s men. How is this to be a negative for Trump? If this is the most damning thing the professional character assassins in the press can come up with, Trump’s victory in a landslide is assured.

A disclaimer: I do not like Mr. Trump, and he is, once again, my last pick for candidate. I regard him as a blustering braggart, cunning, charismatic and unprincipled.

But I will vote for him for two reasons.

(1) He is the nominee, and the I trust the wisdom of my fellow GOP voters in this matter. Four more years under any Democrat administration will kill the nation. We will be a third world hellhole by that time, Detroit from coast to coast, or in a civil war.

(2) Mr. Trump is not afraid of the press. All other politicians are, and this gives the press, our deadly enemy, the power to bring the Jihad to our shores, and murder Americans in acts of zealous terrorism. If we do not break the power of the press, it will surely end our species and damn our souls. The press is the enemy.

Today, the enemy stumbled badly, and in an act of uproariously funny SNAFU, shelled their own side. Let us all bask in a moment of pure schadenfreude. (This word means to take a delight in the misery of others, and it so foul a concept that only the Germans have need of it in their vocabulary: but now we Americans must have recourse to it.)

What a stupid blunder. For a man to lust after a women they regard as a demeaning insult to her. But for a woman to lust after a woman they regard as natural, decent, wholesome, and laudable. And at the same time, they claim there is no difference between men and women.  How those two thoughts can be reconciled in leftwng theology, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Here is the first salvo of the backfire:

http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2016-05-18.html

Ann Coulter is a mistress of the art of sarcasm. As a journalist, I can but stand back, eyes watering and mouth agog, at her expertise.

The New York Times’ front-page article last Saturday on Donald J. Trump’s dealings with women forced me into a weekend of self-examination. As much as I support Trump, this isn’t a cult of personality. He’s not Mao, Kim Jong-un or L. Ron Hubbard. We can like our candidates, but still acknowledge their flaws. No one’s perfect.

I admit there are some things about Trump that give me pause. I’m sure these will come out eventually, so I’m just going to list them.

First — and this is corroborated by five contemporaneous witnesses — in 1978, Trump violently raped Juanita Broaddrick in a Little Rock, Arkansas, hotel room, then, as he was leaving, looked at her bloody lip and said, “Better put some ice on that” — oh wait, I’m terribly sorry. Did I say Trump? I didn’t mean Trump, I meant Bill Clinton.

Hang on — here we go! Knowing full well about Bill Clinton’s proclivity to sexually assault women, about three weeks after that rape, Trump cornered Broaddrick at a party and said, pointedly, “I just want you to know how much Bill and I appreciate the things you do for him. Do you understand? Everything you do.”

No! My mistake! That wasn’t Trump either. That was Hillary Clinton. … But this next one I’m sure was Trump.

In the early 1990s, Trump invited a young female staffer to his hotel room at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, dropped his pants and said, “Kiss it” — WAIT A SECOND!

I don’t know how this keeps happening. That was Bill Clinton. Please bear with me — it’s late at night and my notes are jumbled.

As CEO of an organization, Trump had a female employee, just months out of her teens, perform oral sex on him while he made business calls. That girl’s name was Monica Lewin– No! Wrong again! That was Bill Clinton, too! Please don’t stop reading. Let me find my Trump notes …

Ann Coulter continues in like vein. It is well worth reading the whole thing.

***

by John C Wright at May 22, 2016 04:00 AM

Aux Armes, Citoyens

http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/19/security-guard-arrested-for-removing-man-from-womens-bathroom/

A female security guard working at a Washington, D.C. grocery store was arrested Monday afternoon for physically escorting a man out of the women’s restroom after he refused to leave because he identifies as a woman.

The shopper — a young, African-American male who identified himself as Ebony Belcher to local news outlets — reportedly passed the security guard on his way into the women’s restroom at a Giant grocery store in Northeast D.C.

After seeing Belcher walk into the women’s restroom, the security guard followed him in and ordered the man to leave. When he refused, the security guard had to physically escort him out of the women’s restroom.

Upon leaving the store, Belcher called police to have the security guard arrested. D.C. police confirmed to NBC4 Washington that the woman was arrested and charged with simple assault. D.C. police told TheDC that they are treating the incident as a “suspected hate crime.”

He told WJLA that he believed “the woman had no reason to put her hands on me,” adding that he was emotionally traumatized by the incident. “I’m hurt by this. It’s terrible… I’m distraught,” he said. “People should not be discriminated [sic] based on their gender identity.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/19/security-guard-arrested-for-removing-man-from-womens-bathroom/#ixzz49LL74WZ4

My comment: The social contract is officially broken when those entrusted with protecting the body politic from criminals who would invade their natural rights have sided with the criminals and declared for the invasion, and when discussion on the matter is no longer possible, instead called hate speech.

Anarchy is a condition of lawlessness; tyranny is when the enforcers of the law are lawless.

The courts, police, and administrators are lawless when they enforce laws that have not been passed, or enforce laws so vague that they cannot serve to tell a reasonable man what is or is not prohibited and allowed.

Meanwhile, in other news, Facebook will ban users who dare to claim that there are two sexes:

http://conservativefiringline.com/facebook-saying-there-are-two-genders-violates-community-standards-earns-user-30-day-ban

One user, who asked to remain anonymous, said Tuesday he was given a 30-day ban for a graphic declaring that there are two gender— male and female.

Here’s the picture in question:

xxxyAccording to Facebook, this violates their community standards.

How is that possible?  Good question.  Apparently, Facebook is so liberal that it now rejects science and banishes anyone who disagrees.

My comment: (Note that the graphic uses the word ‘sex’, which is a real word with a real meaning, whereas the allegedly conservative newswriter uses the Newspeak nonword ‘gender’ which means either a part of speech, or, in some anthropological circles, is a technical term for a sexual role in society, regardless of one’s biological sex. Here is another case of a conservative, unwittingly adopting the enemy’s vocabulary, aiding and abetting the enemy.)

Take the two stories together. What does it mean? One enforcement is formal and legal, the police, and the other is informal and cultural, a business turning away unwanted customers. What is being enforced and why? What is the purpose?

Now, do not be deceived. When dealing with Morlocks (creatures once human, also known, ironically, as Progressives) please keep in mind that the issue is never the issue.

They do not give a Tinker’s damn about transsexuals in locker rooms any more than they give a damn about the rights of homosexuals to mock marriage, or the rights of women. If they gave a damn about any of those things, they would not run interference for Mohammedanism, nor take such pride in defending the Religion of Peace, even while it blows up Jewish schoolgirls.

Ask yourself what any Progressive would do if he saw Mohammedans honor-killing women, stoning teenage rape victims, throwing homosexuals from rooftops, and preaching a new holocaust for the Jews.

To ask the question is to answer it: the Progressive would side with, defend, write apologetics for, deflect attention from, and promote, pet and support the Mohammedan carrying a severed head, and throw the gays, women, and minorities under the bus without an eyeblink of hesitation.

He would then baldly  deny that any such apologetics ever takes place, but say (without cracking a smile) that he is only pointing out that not all Muslims are terrorists, and Muslims are people, too. Unlike Straight, White, Male Christians, who not. (Ask yourself when is the last time you heard a Progressive say ‘But not all Catholic priests are pederasts!’ or ‘Not all Whites have White Privilege!’ or ‘Not all Men are potential rapists!’)

The Progressive love affair with violent Jihadist terrorism seems odd if and only if you believe anything a Progressive says. If you look at their actions, and not their words, you see they always select the group to support who will cause the most chaos and upset in the system, regardless of what the group wants or needs.

Now, you may say you know a Progressive who is sincere, and who lacks this ulterior motive. That may be, but he is not a Progressive, not a Morlock: he is a follower, a true believer, a chump, a mark, an Eloi.

The Eloi followers of Progressive thought may or may not aware of where their leaders are leading them: but we need not reach that question. What degree of willful self-deception is involved is a matter for speculation. But once a zombie has been programmed to reject all rational conversation as racist hate speech the possibility of introspection is closed. They are neither deceived nor not deceived because they do not think about the issue at all: it is blanked out.

The Eloi exist only to be consumed by the Morlocks. They don’t make plans. They don’t matter.

No, this is pure Saul Alinsky tactics. The issue is never the issue, the issue is always chaos. The issue is always tearing down the social order, producing instability, breaking apart families, creating destruction.

by John C Wright at May 22, 2016 01:37 AM

May 21, 2016

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Workout: May 26, 2016

Push presses 3-3-3 Split jerk 1-1-1 5 sets: max unbroken toes-to-bars

by Mike at May 21, 2016 01:21 PM

Workout: May 25, 2016

30 handstand push-ups 30 deadlifts (185/135 lb.) 20 chest-to-bar pull-ups 30 back squats (185/135 lb.) 30 box jumps (24/20 in.) Every minute on the minute, perform 3 burpees. The workout starts with 3 burpees.

by Mike at May 21, 2016 01:18 PM

Workout: May 24, 2016

Run 5 km If you see this workout and don’t want to do it, please know that means it is exactly the workout that would most improve your fitness. Running, jogging and walking are acceptable. As always, we will have modifications available. Sign in for class now!

by Mike at May 21, 2016 01:14 PM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Getting to the Heart of Atonement

Article by: Bill Mounce

Old Testament noun: כַּפֹּרֶת (kappōret). Generally translated “atonement cover” or “mercy seat,” kappōret almost exclusively occurs in Exodus 25 and 37 (in the building of the ark of the covenant) and in Leviticus 16. The word describes the golden cover placed on the ark of the covenant; on it were two cherubim whose outstretched wings formed Yahweh’s earthly throne. Because he “lived” there, the Most Holy Place had to be filled with a cloud of incense on the Day of Atonement, lest the high priest see him and die. All forgiveness and purging of sin, of course, is possible only because of the forgiving grace and mercy of God.

New Testament noun: ἱλασμός (hilasmos). Hilasmos refers to “an atoning sacrifice” or “propitiation.” This word occurs in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10. Jesus is himself the sacrifice that atones for sin. Our sins have destroyed our relationship with God, but Christ’s shed blood purifies us from all sin and restores us to fellowship with God (1 John 1:6–7). We should never forget that the root of our reconciliation with God is his incredible love, expressed when he sent his Son to be our atoning sacrifice.

New Testament noun: ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion). Hilastērion means “atonement cover” or “sacrifice of atonement” or “that which propitiates or expiates.” In the Septuagint, it’s used almost exclusively for the atonement cover (kappōret) placed on top of the ark of the covenant.

1. In Hebrews 9:5, hilastērion corresponds to the Old Testament use—the atonement cover on top of the ark. That’s where God dwelt in all his glory.

2. The other use of hilastērion is in Romans 3:25, where Paul writes that God has presented Jesus as a “place of atonement.” This word must relate first to its Old Testament usage, so that Jesus is the person/place where God passes over our sins without punishing them because of his sacrifice. Christ now occupies the very place the atonement cover inhabited in the Most Holy Place for the removal of sins on the Day of Atonement. He’s also the One in whom God lives in the flesh, and the One through whom God’s wrath against sin (Rom. 1:18) is placated, resulting in a renewed relationship between God and rebels. 

When we put these two Greek nouns together along with the verb hilaskomai, we see that Jesus is represented in the New Testament as the priest who performs the atonement sacrifice (hilaskomai), as the One who is himself the atonement sacrifice (hilasmos), and as the place where the atonement sacrifice occurs (hilastērion).

Everything we need for God’s forgiveness, for the removal of God’s anger, and for reconciliation with God himself can be found in Jesus.

Bill Mounce is the president of BiblicalTraining.org and the author of many Greek reference books, including Basics of Biblical Greek (Zondervan, 2009) and Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Zondervan, 2006), from which the excerpt above is taken.

by Bill Mounce at May 21, 2016 05:02 AM

Evil Looks Like You

Article by: Jared C. Wilson

What does an evil person look like?

In the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, a not-unexpected thing happened in the social media sleuthing for the perpetrators. As readers of popular sites like Reddit pored over photos of the marathon public, they began to highlight suspicious looking figures. And by “suspicious,” many meant bag-lugging figures of potentially Middle Eastern countenance or some other vague nonwhite descriptor. Some, of course, in both the mainstream and the alternative media insisted (hoped?) the bomber(s) would be white, homegrown terrorists. But in both cases everyone sort of assumed they knew what evil looked like in this instance.

Then something strange happened. The photos of the bombers were released by the FBI. Turns out the perpetrators looked a little like everybody’s diverging presumptions assumed they would. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev weren’t homegrown, perhaps, but they were sort of homeraised. They were Muslims, yes, but not Middle Eastern. From Russia’s Caucasus region, these fellows were literally from the place from which we get the word Caucasian.

Tamerlan was a little easier for our know-it-all eyes to read. The older brother with more visibly evident militant leanings—YouTube clips, hearsay from attenders at the local mosque and even family, concerns from Moscow about terror links, a much-reported trip to Russia the previous year.  

But Dzhokhar? As my wife said, “He looks like just a baby.” Lots of people were echoing that sentiment. The very face of Dzhokhar—young, somewhat doe-eyed, moppyhaired like every other teenage boy in my town and probably yours—demanded the label “patsy.” From the minute the two were identified, speculators saw only his face and his place in the birth order and deduced he was coerced by his older brother, probably against his will, or somehow duped. Some suggested he was set up by the government.

When the media began to interview Dzhokhar’s former teachers and current classmates and friends, the insistence became deafening: “He’s not the type of person who would do this,” “He’s laid back,” we were told. “He’s cool. He listens to rap music and drinks beer (plays beer pong, even!) and smokes pot and gets with girls, which means he’s not a radical Muslim. Which means he’s not evil!” Or so they’d say.

When Terrorists Tweet  

What exactly does evil look like, again?

Certainly not like the typical college kid, right? But then I think we need only see what this college kid did in the immediate days after he set down a backpack near children in order to murder them. He went to the gym to work out. He went to a party. (Friends say nothing seemed out of the ordinary.) He tweeted. I’m inclined to think that even if you were coerced, duped, and pressured to murder three innocent people (and a fourth a few days later) and injure many others, you wouldn’t act so nonchalant afterward. Nonchalance about one’s evil actions is exactly the face of evil.

And the idea that someone like a “chill” college kid could never murder anybody is simply ignorant. We know this from countless other newspaper headlines, but we also just know it inside. Just a few years of doing pastoral counseling has reaffirmed for me that “normal” people can do some very terrible things. Just a few moments of heart introspection will affirm that I am—and you are—quite apt at murderous thoughts, at the very least.

So what does evil look like?

I think it looks like you and me. 

Not Beyond Hope 

But then there’s this: nobody is beyond hope. Nobody is beyond redemption. There is no sin so great that God’s gospel is not greater still. Make no mistake: God is holy and just. It’s not graceless to suggest Dzhokhar’s older brother has already begun his eternal damnation. But it’s graceless to suggest it’s the only option awaiting Dzhokhar himself. The same apostle Paul who served and died for Christianity was previously one of its leading opponents and most violent persecutors. When he talks about the difference between being dead apart from Jesus and being alive in Jesus, he knows what he’s talking about. And as long as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is breathing, there’s time to repent and believe. For he who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be called the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). If that offends you, I don’t think you know what the face of evil looks like. Or the face of love.

Something happens, though, when we keep our eyes on Jesus. When we find the courage to take our eyes off ourselves, to stop rooting around in the pigsty of our culture for any piece of filth that smells like it might satisfy and to turn our face toward the heavens. We feel the sunlight. The broken mirror of our soul begins to pick up that radiant glow. And what do we see?

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, the same Paul who despaired about feeling caught between good and bad, the same Paul who said that apart from God we are devil-worshiping dogs in heat, says that if we will keep our face turned to Jesus, we will be transformed. In fact, he says that by gazing intently at Jesus’s glory, we will be changed, more and more, to resemble Jesus himself.

Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from Jared Wilson’s new book, Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes It Compelling (Baker Books, 2016). 

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Jared C. Wilson at May 21, 2016 05:00 AM

May 20, 2016

confused of calcutta

Father and son: a post for the cricket-mad

Cat Stevens, Father and Son, Tea For The Tillerman, 1970 One of my favourite songs, from one of my favourite albums, written and performed by one of my favourite musicians. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him perform “live” a couple of times, and I treasure those memories. [I was really looking forward to watching a … Continue reading "Father and son: a post for the cricket-mad"

by JP at May 20, 2016 11:02 PM

Market Urbanism

Market Urbanism MUsings May 20, 2016

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1. This week at Market Urbanism:

Emily Washington champions Market Urbanist ideas on The Federalist radio hour

Tory Gattis contributed How Houston Can Grow Gracefully: Snow White And The Nine Dwarves

Each of these “villages” could comfortably grow to as much as a million people themselves, which, when added to 2-3 million in Houston, gets us as high as 12 million people in the metro area.

Adam Hengels wants to loosen up on exclusionary zoning before trying other schemes: Exclusionary Zoning and “Inclusionary Zoning” Don’t Mix

Given that, by definition, zoning is exclusionary, Inclusionary Zoning completely within the exclusionary paradigm is synonymous with Inclusionary Exclusion.

Anthony Ling contributed an articles translated from Portugueses: Densifying Transit Corridors Is Not Densifying Enough

Many factors justify TODs’ attractiveness to current planners, including that they make transit viable, increase the centrally-located housing stock, and satisfy residents of low-rise areas, who usually enjoy keeping their neighborhoods’ original features.

Zach Caceres made sense of the philosophy of the late Zaha Hadid‘s partner: The Bottom-Up Urbanism Of Patrik Schumacher

Markets and open exchange are a ‘robust information processing system’—the best that humans have yet found. Cities are also ultimately about structuring information. The built environment embodies generations of lessons learned by humanity, the evolution of a community reflected in its roads and walls, and the deliberate structuring of human affairs through architecture.

Michael Lewyn found evidence that not many real people object to home sharing such as AirBnb: To Know Home-Sharing Is To Support It

Only 4 percent of Americans think home-sharing should be illegal, and only 30 percent think it should be taxed.  52 percent think homesharing should be legal and untaxed.   Even among self-described liberals, only 38 percent think homesharing should be taxed.

2. Where’s Scott?

Scott Beyer spent his 5th week in San Antonio. This weekend he’s visiting the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, and the famed old Texas cowboy town of Bandera. He wrote an article this week for The Federalist about Houston’s Liberalized Land Use Approach, and two Forbes articles about a grand new park in San Antonio, and The Republican Party’s Urban Problem

Some believe Trump’s rise will force the Republican Party to split. A better alternative would be for the party to rebrand itself by figuring out which population segments of America are actually growing, where they are moving, and what issues matter to them. The GOP would begin this process by entering cities.

3. At the Market Urbanism Facebook Group:

The New York Times wrote about the data compiled by Market Urbanism’s Stephen Smith showing the degree to which zoning keeps Manhattan small  (via Jess Rem)

via Krishan Madan: New York City plans to appeal case that favored crane-operator union

Jonathan Coppage shares his piece at the American Conservative on the need to legalize accessory dwellings

Emily Washington‘s article on low-quality housing was translated to Portuguese at Caosplenajado

via Krishan Madan:  Housing: Part 143 – Closed Access and Inequality

Sandy Ikeda and Bob Higgs love Mexican plazas

via Logan Mohtashami and Anders Mikkelsen  Million Dollar Creep: Where Seven Figure Homes are the New Normal

via Nick Zaiac:  NIMBYism is weakening dramatically in the UK

None other than Donald Shoup shares his latest on urban parking policy

Matt Robare NIMBYism makes sense when resisting theft of your own backyard

via Matt Bufton on what liberals get wrong about Jane Jacobs

via Nolan Gray:  The Benefits of ‘Zoning Lite’ in Houston

Michael Lewyn at Planetizen:  Cities as Playgrounds…For Children (via John Morris)

4. Elsewhere:

Chicago is moving forward with a proposal to regulate and tax Airbnb at the behest of big hotel chains, despite broad support of the service

So long, NIMBYs? Gov. Brown’s housing proposal could mean sweeping Bay Area changes via SFBARF

Forbes on the dangers of big data in cities

Aaron Renn continues his work, via podcast, on the black migration from ‘progressive’ cities

5. Stephen Smith‘s tweet of the week:

by Adam Hengels at May 20, 2016 09:45 PM

John C. Wright's Journal

Social Justice Archipelago

If you wish to see what your fiancee is most likely to become as years pass, meet and speak with her mother.  Likewise, if you wish to understand the modern Left, note what prior generations of Leftists have done in nations where they assumed power.

A passage from The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). … For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the stormy applause, rising to an ovation, continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin.

However, who would dare to be the first to stop? … After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who would quit first! And in the obscure, small hall, unknown to the leader, the applause went on – six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly – but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?

The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter…

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved!

The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel. That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.

That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:

“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”

On a related topic I see that the Nebula Awards have been announced. The winners in the four major categories:

Novel: Uprooted, Naomi Novik
Novella: Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
Novelette: “Our Lady of the Open Road,” Sarah Pinsker
Short Story: “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong

Normally, professional courtesy would require me to give my congratulations to the winners, under the supposition that they had created works of merit and been duly awarded by a panel which judged the work on it merit in an unbiased fashion.

However, all the public organs of SFWA have assured me, and the mainstream press as well, not vehemently, repeatedly, malignantly and stridently, that judging Science Fiction works based only on merit is an unparalleled evil, and that I and mine are worse than neonazi bigots even to suggest such a standard.

Hence, logically, to only way to avoid accusation of unparalleled evil to judge not on the merits, but to be biased, ignore the evidence, and grant the award as a ritualized gesture of political correctness. One need not even read the work, merely note the sex, race and victimhood status of the author. (Not his real sex, race, and victimhood, of course, but only how he self-identifies.)

It would be untoward for me to assume the Nebula panel has not followed these jury instructions in this case, because that would be to assume that SWFA is guilty of rank hypocrisy.

Consider the winners of the four categories over the last five years:

  • 2015: 4/4 women
  • 2014: 3/4 women
  • 2013: 4/4 women
  • 2012: 2/4 women
  • 2011: 2/4 women

So I will not be congratulating these winners, because I would like to be the first to stop applauding.

Allow me to assume a businesslike expression and sit down in my seat. The winners have won nothing.

Ladies, the award has been robbed of all value by your enemies, who hold you in the contempt of, if I may coin the phrase, the sexism of low expectations.

They thought you could not win in a fair competition, so they gave it to you of out pity for the inability they assume, sight unseen, mars all your work. They assume this because of your sex, and for no other reason.  They are prejudiced against you, while claiming the opposite. Do not think them your friends.

Friends tell the truth. Enemies utter flattery.

***

by John C Wright at May 20, 2016 09:24 PM

Connected #91: Developer Festival

This week on Connected:

The boys talk about Google’s I/O announcements and Federico drops a bombshell.

My thanks to our sponsor this week:

by Stephen at May 20, 2016 07:03 PM

Englewood Review of Books » ERB

ERB Weekly Digest – Richard Foster, Reading for the Common Good, Race – May 20, 2016

 
 

ERB Editor Chris Smith’s New Book
Reading for the Common Good is almost here…  
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Reviews, etc. posted this week on The ERB website:

  • Shaka Senghor – Writing My Wrongs [Feature Review]
    Can a Murderer Change His Ways? A Feature Review of  Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison Shaka Senghor Hardcover: Convergent, 2016 Buy now:  [  ]  [   ]   Reviewed by Deborah Bloom   Is it possible for a violent murderer to change their ways and become a productive member of society? […]
     
  • 5 Essential Ebook Deals for Christian Readers – 20 May 2016
    Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out: ( Richard Foster, C.S. Lewis, Rainbow Rowell, 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…   Richard Foster *** $1.99 *** NEXT […]
     
  • Sampling the Charleston Syllabus.
    One of this week’s best new releases is: The Charleston Syallbus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence Chad Williams, Kidada Williams, Keisha Blaine, Eds. Buy now: [ Amazon ] This book captures a lengthy Twitter conversation, in the wake of the Charleston shootings, about essential readings on racism and racial violence.  Included below are […]
     
  • Michael McRay – Where the River Bends [Review]
    Shattering our views of Criminal Offenders A Review of Where The River Bends: Considering Forgiveness in the Lives of Prisoners.  Michael McRay Paperback: Cascade Books, 2016 Buy now: [  ]  [   ]    Reviewed By Paul D. Gregory   In the documentary “What I want my words to do to you,” American playwright and activist […]
     
  • C. Christopher Smith – Reading for the Common Good [Podcast]
    Yesterday, Relief Journal released the podcast episode that ERB editor Chris Smith recorded with them about his new book and also his previous book Slow Church. [ LISTEN NOW ] Relief Journal’s podcast is relatively new, and previous episodes include interviews with Marilyn Chandler McEntyre and D.L. Mayfield. The podcast features Dan Bowman and Amy Peterson talking […]
     
  • New Book Releases – Week of 16 May 2016
    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 Chris Armstrong Read an excerpt from this book… NEXT BOOK >>>>>
     

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by csmith at May 20, 2016 04:22 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

True Life Change – An Excerpt from Visual Theology

As Christians, merely 9780310520436_2not sinning isn’t enough. We are to pursue holiness.

The story of the prodigal son is the perfect example of what it means to turn from sin to righteousness. In today’s excerpt from Visual TheologyTim Challies and Josh Byers offer encouragement and visually guide us through the four traits of the prodigal’s change, the same true life change you want to see in your own life.

 

The story of the prodigal son is one of the finest short stories ever told and certainly one of the sweetest of Jesus’ many parables. You are familiar with the story, I am sure.

It involves a young man who approaches his father and demands his inheritance. By demanding his inheritance, he is essentially wishing his father dead, wishing he could have the benefits that ought to be his only after his father is in the grave. It is as if he is saying, “I wish you were dead so I could have your money. Since you’re not dead, at least give me my money.” Remarkably, Dad grants this young man his wish and gives him the money.

Not surprisingly, the money does not last long. The young man goes out and blows it all on wild and reckless living. He lives the high life, spending the equivalent of millions and millions of dollars until every penny is gone and he is left alone and destitute. All he has left to keep him company is his regret. With his pockets empty and his belly aching, he soon finds himself feeding pigs, doing the absolute worst and most menial job that society can offer. But this is what he has to do to keep himself from starving to death. He even finds himself looking wistfully at the pigs and fighting jealousy as he sees them gobbling their food.

But then he comes to himself. He comes to himself and remembers the love and the character of his father. (Luke 15:17-24)

The prodigal gives us a great picture of true repentance, of true life change. I want to point out four marks of repentance because they highlight the very traits I know you want to see in your life.

SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

This man has been utterly lost in his sin. He has been so committed to his sin that it has blinded him to his foolishness. He has been behaving like a pagan and a fool. But then he suddenly comes to his senses. Actually, God brings him to his senses, and at that point, he is able to see his sin clearly. He is given the gift of insight — of seeing his condition, of seeing his fallenness. And you, too, if you are a Christian, have come to your senses. True life change begins with a spiritual awakening.

TRUE REPENTANCE

The prodigal son’s spiritual awakening is followed by repentance, by seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. The son determines he will return to his father and beg for help. He takes the long road home, goes to his father, and admits his sin: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (verse 18). He shows that he regrets not only the consequences of his sin but the sin itself. This is the great distinction between true and false repentance. He is not distressed that his money is gone, and he is not distressed that he had to eat pig’s food — not first or foremost. He is distressed that he has alienated himself from his father. What hurts worst at the end of it all is the distance he created from his father by sinning against him. True life change demands repentance.

Pages from Visual Theology_contentNEW BEHAVIOR

The son admits his sin, but he does more. He says, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He even plans to say, “I don’t need privilege. I don’t need position. Just give me you. Be my father, and I don’t care about anything else.” He would rather be a servant in the house of his father than a rich man in a distant land. Do you see how far his heart has changed? He has not only repented of his pride but has begun to display humility as well. He not only has repented of his laziness but is now willing to work hard. He is a changed man. He is replacing sin with righteousness. True life change demands new behavior.

RECEIVING FORGIVENESS

Finally, we see him receiving his father’s forgiveness. He receives his father’s hug. He receives the ring and the robe and the shoes, those symbols of position and acceptance. There is no faux humility here, no attempt to throw those things off and play the martyr. He does not try to say, “No, I’m beyond forgiveness. I am wretched and wicked. Please punish me. Please hurt me.” No, he receives the forgiveness of his father and knows that he has been fully restored. He believes his father and begins to live as if what his father tells him is true. True life change demands accepting God’s forgiveness.

In the prodigal son, we have a great picture of what it means to turn away from sin and to turn toward holiness and righteousness. True change is not only admitting wrong and stopping doing what is wrong. It is far more than that, far more complete. Let’s talk about what it means to put on the new man or to put on those new clothes.

PUTTING ON THE NEW

In the last chapter, we looked at these words from Colossians 3:5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” The passage does not end there. Paul does not conclude with a list of things we must not do. Instead, we find a second list of traits and behaviors — the kinds of traits and behaviors that Christians are meant to exemplify: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (verses 12 – 14).

 

9780310520436_2

See the truth. Live the truth.

Buy your copy of Visual Theology today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book.

by ZA Blog at May 20, 2016 12:00 PM

Table Titans

Tales: Woolsworth, God of Sheep

I was recently invited to play 5E with some good friends of mine who have been playing for years. We have a rather large party (seven players) so our DM has to put up with a lot. I mean a LOT.

We had recently discovered that incredibly over-complicated plans seemed to work rather well for us.…

Read more

May 20, 2016 07:00 AM

Front Porch Republic

The Dirt on Your Shoes

Today, I needed to get my shoes shined. I usually shine them myself, but I forgot this morning. Luckily, in my building in downtown Indianapolis, there is a shoe shine stand. He’s been there for years and does a great job. When he does shine my shoes, we talk about the weather, sports and politics — you know, that usual banter between men.

When I sat down in the shoe shine chair and put my feet up on the shine supports, I looked down at the mud on my wingtips, and it gave me pause. Great pause. I asked him to hold on for a second while I took a quick snapshot of my left foot with my phone. He simply shrugged off my odd request, rolled back his chair and then got back to work a few seconds later.

The reason I wanted to capture the image of that dirty shoe was not proof that I am a poor caretaker of my Allen Edmonds wingtips. Rather, that mud on my shoe is from a specific time and place. A place where time stands still and marches on at the same time. This place is a little patch of land in Loudon Township, Fayette County, Illinois. More specifically, a country cemetery attached to a little church with only two or three active members. To those of us who know this place, it is simply called Springhill. One word, not two.

Growing up, Springhill was a place I visited on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, showing up with my mom and dad with rolls of paper towels, Windex and armfuls of silk flower arrangements. This was the place where I talked to my grandfather, who died 8 years before my birth, but whose name I bear. It was the place where, over the last 40 years, more and more the people whom I knew and loved took their final journey. It is the place, to where, under a red maple tree, we brought my dear mother back home in 2008.

It’s a place where saints and bigots rest side-by-side. Victims of violence, both external and self-inflicted, spend their eternity here as well. Addicts, alcoholics, teetotalers, the pious and lapsed all come together in the ground and also crowded together under those little tents saying their last goodbyes to their loved ones. It is the place that inspired me to learn about my family history, and accept on its face all the simultaneous honor and disgust that comes with learning about ones roots.

At last count, of the nearly 700 interments at this little postage stamp in the oil patch, I’m related to nearly 85 percent of them. Related either through my mother, father or marriage — shirt-tail relation we call that where I’m from. That’s a lot of stories. A lot of history. A lot of unknown.

I grew up about a half hour from there, went to college, then graduate school, and ran off to the city to start my life. When I return it’s usually for weddings and funerals, sometimes with the latter having more beer available. You see that dirt on my shoes is a loamy metaphor for a lot of things.

Antonin Dvorak was a Czech composer who become enamored with the black spirituals of the 19th century and composed what is commonly known the New World Symphony. One lyrical stanza reads:

Mother’s there ‘spectin’ me,
Father’s waitin’ too;
Lots o’ folk gather’d there,
All the friends I knew,
All the friends I knew.
Home, I’m goin’ home!

Maybe Dvorak was on to something? Maybe not. But after last week, my recent thoughts are returning to that place at Wright’s Corner, where I will take my final ride. Halfway between Saint Elmo and Beecher City, but all the way home for me.

So, the next time you knock the dirt of your boots, or shine up your Hush Puppies, think about that dirt. You might surprise yourself.

(Image source)

The post The Dirt on Your Shoes appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jeff Lilly at May 20, 2016 05:15 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

When God’s Word Meets Your Story

Article by: Kathleen Nielson

Our women’s initiatives team finds a lot of interest these days in training women to study and teach the Bible in the context of the local church. Many women who come to our conferences or access our resources are pursuing in-depth study of the Scriptures, and they’re always looking for materials to help spur them on. Many pastors are also looking for ways to encourage and guide women in their congregations to “dig in” to the Word more deeply and to teach it to other women.

That’s why we made this collection of plenary talks from the last women’s conference a little different. God’s Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah doesn’t just compile the talks (though it does that, and there are again discussion questions for each chapter). There are also comments from the speakers on the process of preparing expositional talks. We’ve included an introduction on what biblical exposition is and why it’s so important, and also a chapter on teaching Old Testament narrative.    We hope this volume will do more than recap talks from TGCW14. We hope it will help stimulate growth and training in the Scriptures in a variety of church contexts (Bible studies, various classes, one-to-one Bible reading, and so on). We’re excited for this volume to be a part of our women's initiatives vision: to support the growth of women in faithfully studying and sharing the Scriptures; in actively loving and serving the church; and in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the callings of their lives.    The following adapted excerpt introduces the chapter on Old Testament narrative.

This fact that narrative is story is obvious and basic, but we should notice it—and delight in it. Scripture’s stories are not a decorative shell for theological truth; they are the revelation of God to us, in all the details of their “story-ness.” Old Testament narratives are true stories, to be sure; these stories give us the real live history of our faith, telling us what actually happened, generation after generation. But these true stories are shaped, selective, full of artistry—great gifts from a Creator God.

Stories Are Universal

Stories are universal. People throughout human history and throughout the diverse cultures of the world all tell stories in one way or another. In fact, one profitable way to study the history of any civilization is to study its stories. That the impulse to create and relish stories transcends culture must be one reason God amply filled with story this Word that he purposed to send out to all the nations. As we consider the genre of narrative we should remember that its beauties (and all the Bible’s literary beauties) are part of God’s gracious means not just to grow and nourish believers but also to draw new believers to himself. I’ve seen many a woman come to Bible study and be drawn into the details and the power of a story she doesn’t yet understand but which somehow moves her and connects with her.

Stories do tend to draw people—all kinds of people. Is there anyone reading this who has not been asked by a child, “Tell me a story”? But why do people love stories? Perhaps it’s because God made us human beings to live in place and time and flesh and blood—which is where stories happen. We’re all living out stories . . . seeing them unfold . . . waiting for the end! We all recognize and resonate with universal themes that stories treat, themes of beginnings and endings, birth and death, family, hope, grief, love, loss, good vs. evil, seasons and harvests, longing for home, and on and on (see Leland Ryken’s Words of Delight). 

I find it fascinating that my pre-school granddaughter regularly asks to have this or that event in her life recounted by an omniscient narrator (me), with herself as the third-person heroine. Events that involve discipline are popular requests. “Tell it to me in a story,” says Adelyn. And so I begin: “Late one afternoon, Adelyn went into the kitchen, smelled and then glimpsed the yummy chocolate cookies on the counter, glanced around and saw that no one was watching . . .” It’s not like she doesn’t know what’s going to happen! But she’s transfixed by her story. I think all of us human beings are transfixed by our stories.

Stories Are Concrete 

Stories are concrete. One of the distinguishing features of narrative is that it invites us in to concrete experience, not just abstract idea. Often we think of the apostle Paul’s theological propositions as the Bible’s real, hard stuff, and story and poetry as the more ethereal fluff. Actually, theological propositions, crucial as they are, can be pretty abstract and heady—whereas story deals with stuff like feasts with lots of food and drink, broken down walls, women getting pregnant, battles and blood, sheep, bread, and all of the physical reality where we live and where God is working moment by moment. 

Many of us have observed (or used to be) giggling young readers who found and marked certain graphic parts of the Bible that are fun to read—again and again. How about that story from Judges 3 of Ehud thrusting his sword into the very fat belly of King Eglon? In vivid detail, the text says the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade . . . and that’s not all it says! Scripture’s narratives are remarkably concrete, and that’s the nature of story: to give us real experience in a concrete place and time. 

The scene from Nehemiah 2 in which sad-faced Nehemiah serves wine to the Persian king, Artaxerxes (with the queen sitting right beside him, we’re told) ushers us right into the tension of that particular moment in the presence of royalty—which contrasts starkly with the later scene from that same chapter in which Nehemiah, safely in Jerusalem, rides out at night “by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate” to inspect the broken-down walls and fire-destroyed gates (v. 13). We may not know exactly where each named gate, spring, and pool was located, but as Nehemiah rides past them one by one, we are transported along with him in this memorable nighttime inspection tour, passing burned-down gate after burned-down gate, along the rubble of Jerusalem’s wall. The scene feels both surreal and desolately real.

Stories Are God's Revelation of Himself 

These concrete stories fill the Scriptures. They are our history as God’s people, and God is gracious to “tell it to us in a story.” Over a third of the Old Testament comes to us in narrative form, giving us salvation history through the true stories of real people who lived it out. God clearly wants us to pay close attention to the details of these stories; they’re definitely not just for the children!

Steven Mathewson comments that “many churches teach Bible stories to children downstairs in the basement while the adults study Paul’s epistles upstairs in the auditorium” (The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative). No—we all need to hear these stories that fill the Scriptures, and we need to hear them taught. Even as we receive them and delight in them in the narrative form God inspired, we must remember that they are true and that their truth instructs us. As John Piper has reminded us in chapter five of God’s Word, Our Story

There is a point to the narrative—and the point is a person. . . . Biblical stories are no more ends in themselves than history is an end in itself, or the universe is an end in itself. The universe is telling the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). And the history of the world is what it is to show that God is who he is. God writes the story of history to reveal who he is—what he is like, his character, his name.  

Editors’ note: Join us next month for our National Women’s Conference, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis. Space is running out, so register soon!

Kathleen Nielson serves as director of women’s initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. She holds MA and PhD degrees in literature from Vanderbilt University and a BA from Wheaton College. Author of the Living Word Bible studies, she speaks often at women’s conferences and loves working with women in studying the Bible. She shares a heart for students with her husband, Niel, president of Covenant College from 2002 to 2012 and now leading a network of Christian schools and universities in Indonesia.

by Kathleen Nielson at May 20, 2016 05:03 AM

How to Speak Human

Article by: Kevin Vanhoozer

Philosophy may have begun in wonder, but these days it’s often lost in technical language: either the convoluted prose of Continental-philosophers-who-use-too-many-hyphens to speak of human being-in-the-world or the LASIK-like propositional precision of certain Anglo American philosophers who prefer to drink their discourse logically neat: “straightened, not stirred.” It’s also lost in professionalization: like other academic disciplines, philosophers too increasingly have to specialize in order to find jobs.

Charles Taylor, professor emeritus at McGill University (Montreal), may be one of the last of the old-school philosophers—thinkers who pose wide-ranging questions, have the intellectual range to frame answers, and whose answers stem from a singular essential insight.

Post-Analytic Philosophy 

Taylor is best known as author of Sources of the Self (1989) and A Secular Age (2007), big books that try to come to grips with the human condition in our time. Taylor is a post-analytic philosopher, trained in analytic philosophy but part of an exodus from bondage to instrumental reason and naturalistic objectivity—a picture of language (and humanity) that has held moderns captive. It’s this picture of language as a depiction of the world outside us that Taylor both examines and rebuts in his new book, The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Linguistic Capacity. Here Taylor takes up unfinished business that he started in his Philosophical Papers: Volume 1, Human Agency and Language (1985), in particular the two chapters titled “Self-Interpreting Animals” and “Language and Human Nature,” where he argues humans have linguistic capacities that other animals simply don’t.

The Language Animal marks an important battle in Taylor’s ongoing war against the forces of “immanentization,” namely, a reductionist naturalism that tries to account for meaning and meaningfulness in this-worldly (i.e., scientific) terms only, without any reference to history, narrative, a broader community, or transcendence.

How Not to Talk About Language

Taylor is out to debunk one picture of language, not least because it’s dehumanizing, and to set out and defend a second picture, which allows both language and humanity to come into its own.

Taylor dubs the first view the “designative” and says it developed from Descartes, Locke, and Hobbes. On this modernist view, words designate objects or ideas with which humans are already familiar. As Adam in the garden named the animals, so humans use language to label things that are given, already there. Words come too late to contribute anything new; they can refer to things and encode information, but they’re always after the fact. Further, if linguistic capacity means no more than labeling things, then perhaps we should call higher primates “language animals” too.

Taylor thinks this view mistaken, reductionist, and overly narrow, but he acknowledges its powerful grip on the modern imagination—a function of the paradigm status of science in our culture, of science’s interest in descriptive and instrumental uses of language, and of the physicalist assumption that privileges the vocabulary we use for describing matter in motion.

How Language Makes Meaning

Taylor devotes the bulk of The Language Animal to arguing for the superiority of language not as an instrument for designating objects but as “the medium we are in; a feature of what we are” (90). Language doesn’t simply come after the fact; it’s the prior condition of our subjectivity and intersubjectivity. Taylor’s basic thesis is that “language can only be understood if we understand its constitutive role in human life” (261).

Of course we name things. Taylor doesn’t think the designative view is altogether wrong, merely incomplete. Speech expresses thought and refers to states of affairs in the world, but language doesn’t simply represent what exists independently. On the contrary, certain ways of viewing the world and being with one another wouldn’t be possible without language. Meaning doesn’t simply label but expresses “the significance that things have for us” (179).

Meaning isn’t atomistic (one word for one thing) but holistic: words have meaning only in the context of humans doing things together—in what Wittgenstein calls forms of life. One of the most striking of Taylor’s claims is that our “linguistic capacity is essentially shared: it sustains a shared consciousness of the world” (333). Without language, humans would lack the crucial capacity “for joint attention, or communion” (335). In the beginning was the dialogue.

And action. Taylor insists that language is related to forms of embodied life, forms of enactment-like ritual. The “country” of language we inhabit “goes way beyond the ‘province’ of information-encoding, important as this is” (99). Beyond the desert of designations lie metaphors and narratives that make possible new ways of seeing the world and of living together.

Articulate is an important term in Taylor’s vocabulary and has to do with the bringing of something to light—making some aspect of our existence visible that, without the language, would simply not appear. In bringing something to speech, we also bring it into explicit awareness and set it out in the open, so to speak, for others to consider too. For Taylor, our most important concerns—God, freedom, morality, the meaning of life—aren’t objects in the world, but concerns that exist for us only by virtue of their articulation in language, symbol, story, and song.

In an important sense, Taylor practices what he preaches, bringing to light an aspect of what it means to be a linguistic animal through 10 chapters of articulations. He clearly favors hermeneutical over analytic approaches to language, for the simple reason that the former, in attending to language as used in a variety of contexts, practices, and forms of life, does a better job of accounting for the messiness of human agency and history: “learning the language and learning to make sense of . . . life cannot be separated” (285). This essential insight only partially compensates for a style and structure not as translucent as it might have been with more editing. Nor does it help to learn that the case is incomplete: Taylor hopes to produce a companion study that will further explore his preferred constitutive view in post-Romantic poetry and poetics.

How Then Should Evangelicals (and Theologians) Speak?

What does this have to do with the gospel, or with evangelical theology? Quite a bit, actually.

There is little evidence Francis of Assisi ever said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words”—but if he did, his accent was misplaced, since the Bible and theology, not to mention missions, evangelism, and preaching, are all forms of ministering words. The gospel itself has cognitive content (though of course it cannot be reduced to cognitive content). It thus behooves us to ask: What is language? What is it for? How does it work?

The two pictures of language generate different pictures of thinking as well. In some evangelical circles, the logico-analytic mode dominates the narrative mode, but in other evangelical circles the narrative mode seeks to exclude the logico-analytic mode. The former may identify inerrancy with a narrowly designative view of language where truth is reduced to designative reference; the latter may become so intoxicated by the multivalence of narrative that it is uncomfortable speaking about inerrancy at all. Informed evangelicals, while insisting on the truthfulness of Scripture, have always preserved place for expressions like “doing the truth” (esp. 1 John), and for Jesus as the Word of truth, for spectacular diversity of literary genres that include the evocative imagery of apocalyptic and the crushed bruising of lament.

Should we always worry about trying to translate what stories articulate in narrative form into timeless, contextless truth? Does not the fact even the critics most influenced by postmodern voices are happy to talk about what narratives do and don’t mean intimate that, even while we recognize that narratives have their own way of making their rhetorical appeal, the narrative world is not cut off from considerations of truth? Taylor’s work raises questions about the social imaginary (i.e., the pre-theoretical framework for understanding that shapes all thought), including the various frameworks adopted by evangelicals.

Taylor thinks that contemporary analytic philosophy is still indebted in various ways to Cartesian philosophy and to the goal of using language to set forth an accurate description of the natural world and of seeing meaning as “something down-to-earth, and nonmysterious” (117). Is the task of Christian theology simply to designate the realities to which it refers in unambiguous propositions? Should we not follow the way the biblical words and themes and genres go, to trace them out and preserve them and penetrate them better? Put differently: to what extent is the canon a sine qua non of Christian consciousness, the mind of Christ?

Just when you thought it safe to go into the water of analytic theology, we must now ponder the value, and perhaps the necessity, of post-analytic theology.

Charles Taylor. The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2016. 352 pp. $35.00.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of several books on theology, hermeneutics, and culture.

by Kevin Vanhoozer at May 20, 2016 05:02 AM

How Do I Preach Expository Sermons from Proverbs?

Article by: Dan Doriani

Editors’ note: “Preacher’s Toolkit” is a new monthly series that seeks to answer questions related to preaching. If you have a preaching-related question or issue you’d like for us to answer, please write us at ask@thegospelcoalition.org. We recently launched an Expository Preaching Project, for which TGC Council pastors will prepare free instructional resources on expository preaching in both video and print formats in six strategic languages. We’re prayerfully seeking to raise $150,000 to fund the project. To make a donation, please click here and select “Expository Preaching” from the designation list.

Previously: 

The expository preacher aims to preach both single books of Scripture and the canon as a whole. He may turn to Proverbs for the summer because it’s practical, fills a unique slot in the canon, and suits months when people come and go, making self-contained messages beneficial.

But Proverbs presents unique challenges for three primary reasons. First, since consecutive proverbs seem to have slight connection to one another, how does one preach an expository message on one verse?

Second, some proverbs seem like promises that aren’t always true. Constraints of space require me to refer readers to commentaries like The Book of Proverbs by Bruce Waltke, which answer that question well. 

Third, we wonder how proverbs lead organically to Christ. Pastors know it would be easy to preach moralistically, with the gospel tacked on at the end: “No one is wise like this, no one can do this, so turn to Jesus.”

I want to concentrate on the first and third challenges.

Some Structural Unity

The first problem is not so acute as it seems, since Proverbs has more structural unity than initially appears. Early chapters develop several themes at length: the fear of the Lord (1:1–19), the call to wisdom (1–2; 8–9), trust in the Lord (3:1–12), teaching fathers and listening sons (4), sexual abstinence and pleasure (5; 6:20–7:27). We can link many proverbs from chapters 10 to 30 to these leading themes:

  • Descriptions of the wise and the fool (12:15–16; 17:10, 12, 16) fit Proverbs 8–9.
  • Instructions for parents and children (10:1; 22:6; 22:15; 29:15; 13:1; 23:22) belong with Proverbs 4.
  • If Proverbs 5 blesses the romantic aspect of marriage, Proverbs 31 names the practical element. Single proverbs about the blessings of marriage (12:4; 18:22; 19:14; contra 21:9) fill out the picture.

There are also clusters of Proverbs that develop a theme. We have messages for fools (26:1–12), especially sluggards (6:6–11; 26:13–16); advice for dining with rulers (23:1–3); and warnings about drunkenness (23:29–35). A burst on God’s plans and ours in 16:1–4 unifies scattered sayings (16:9; 12:15; 11:14; 15:22; 24:10).

Similarly, individual proverbs on getting and keeping wealth (10:22–25; 11:24–25; 15:27) develop the first and last cluster on wise use of wealth (10:1–5; 22:22–23:11).

Four Christ-Centered Themes

These clusters lead organically to Jesus if we take time to work through all his roles. Jesus is the wisest man, the Son perfectly attuned to the Father, the true husband, the perfect worker, the loyal friend, the man who followed God’s plans, who knew how to handle wealth. Consider these four themes.

1. Jesus the good worker. 

Dozens of Proverbs praise diligence and mock laziness. It almost seems the Gospel writers had the wise, faithful worker of Proverbs in mind when they described Jesus. For example, a fool doesn’t know when it’s time to work (24:30–34), but Jesus was never “slack in his work” (18:9). He knew he had to work during the day, when he had opportunity (John 9:1–5). The sluggard loves to sleep and eat; these are his main activities (26:14–15; 20:13).

But Jesus worked hard (John 5:17), toiling through the night as he prayed (Luke 6:12), as he taught his disciples (John 13:30–17:26), and as he suffered for his people (Matt. 26:36–75). Above all, Jesus fulfills the promises that the wise, hard-working man will see results for his labor (10:4–5; 12:9, 11, 14, 27; 16:26). By his work on the cross, Jesus became the hard working man who accomplished his work (John 4:34). When Jesus finished the work the Father gave him, he saw the result of his labor and was satisfied (Isa. 53:11; John 5:36; 19:30).

2. Jesus the faithful son. 

Jesus is the ideal son of Proverbs 4 who heeds his Father’s instruction. He does what his Father says (4:1), keeps his heart pure (4:23; cf. John 8:46), speaks as his Father directs (John 12:49), and follows his Father’s path (4:26–27; John 12:23–28; Luke 9:22, 46; Acts 2:23).

Jesus performs the work his Father gives, especially by giving his life for his people (10:1, 5; John 5:19, 36; 10:17–18). For John, Jesus is a truly noble Son. He is the Son who grants others the right to become sons of God (John 1:12–13). Indeed, he brings many sons to glory with him, by tasting death and defeating the one who held death’s power (Heb. 2:8b–15).

3. Jesus the true friend.

The principal sayings in Proverbs about friendship stress loyalty and faithfulness, especially in time of need. We have seven great proverbs on friendship (17:17; 18:24; 19:4, 6; 27:6–10), but they seem atomistic, with no link to great themes of Proverbs (although there is a “difficulty in relationships” section in 18:23–19:7). But according to Scripture, friendship originates in the character of God.

The Lord was a friend of Abraham and Moses, which he proved by helping them in time of need and by revealing himself to them (Gen. 18–19; James 2:23; Exod. 33:7–11; 34:6). In John 15:13–15, Jesus reveals himself as archetype of friendship when he lays down his life for his friends.

4. Jesus the wisdom of God incarnate.

As a child, Jesus was filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52). Later, crowds marveled at his wisdom (Matt. 13:54). Solomon was Israel’s wisest king, yet of himself Jesus claimed, “One greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42; cf. 1 Kings 4:32; Matt. 11:19). Paul agrees: Jesus is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24, 30). In him all wisdom is hidden (Col. 2:3).

Additional themes abound. Jesus always delivers the truth well (25:11, 15; contra 26:7). He hates a bribe and unjust gain (15:27). He trusted God with all his heart, even though his path seems crooked, until the resurrection proved it straight (3:1–10).

Three Paths to Christ

A preaching plan, then, might look like this: A pastor notices a cluster of proverbs on a theme that illumines an aspect of living in the fear of the Lord (1:7). He closely studies one or more core proverbs, then fills out the picture by drawing on others, scattered through the book. If biblical history illustrates the teaching, all the better (see Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim, 303–313).

So the preacher will present Christ from Proverbs in three ways:

First, show how Jesus embodies and completes every element of wisdom.

Second, show how Jesus’s roles as wise worker, friend, son, spouse, and righteous man lead to his redemptive work. We don’t merely want to staple Jesus to the end of a moralistic sermon: “You need to do this. Actually, you can’t, so turn to Jesus.” Because Proverbs always describe the wise man and the fool, it is never mere moralism. Because it describes character, it describes Christ.

Third, show how that, since Proverbs describes Jesus, it includes those who belong to him—the men and women who abide in the true vine and bear much fruit through union with him. Proverbs describes Jesus who is our model, our Redeemer, our strength. And since Jesus enables by grace, even as he redeems by grace, wise living is within reach.

Dan Doriani serves as vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology at Covenant Seminary. He teaches two core courses for the master of divinity program—ethics and Reformation and modern church history—as well as some elective courses on exegesis and church life. He previously served as senior pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton, Missouri.

by Dan Doriani at May 20, 2016 05:00 AM

We Need to Talk About the Holy Spirit

Article by: Staff

Workshop Leader: J. D. Greear

Date: April 14, 2015

Event: The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, Orlando, Florida

J. D. Greear is lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of Gospel, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart , and Jesus, Continued.

by Staff at May 20, 2016 04:59 AM

Blog – Cal Newport

Top Performer Closes Friday at Midnight

Last Call

A quick and final reminder: registration for the next session of Top Performer closes Friday at Midnight PT (so that we can get started on Monday).

If you’re still considering, the course home page should hold answers to all of your questions.

by Study Hacks at May 20, 2016 12:56 AM

May 19, 2016

Apple shows off revamped San Francisco store

Jim Dalrymple:

It’s not often that Apple invites journalists to its stores for a preview anymore, but today was a bit different. Apple not only unveiled its new San Francisco store, it also explained its new strategy for its major retail outlets.

As I sat listening to Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, it became clear very quickly that Apple kept its attention to detail in the design of the location, but completely rethought how it functioned.

by Stephen at May 19, 2016 11:46 PM

Reformedish

Gandalf, Job, and the Indignant Love of God

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.” (Job 38:1–3)

gandalf-job-and-the-indignant-love-of-god_350_233_90Easily one of the most bracing passages in Scripture, God’s words to Job are exhilarating in their majestically aggressive grandeur. After 36 chapters of divine silence in the face of Job’s comforters and Job’s passionate self-defense—indeed, his prosecution of God’s justice and character—the Holy One opens his mouth and reduces Job to stunned, repentant silence.

At first glance, of course, it’s easy to see these speeches simply as magnificent assertions of the Lord’s raw power over human puniness. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who determined its measurements—surely you know! What were you doing when I was pinning up the stars like twinkle lights, little fella?” It sounds like an old man putting a young buck in his place: “I was working this job before you were in your mama’s womb.”

God seems downright salty here.

You can read the rest of the article here at The Gospel Coalition.


by Derek Rishmawy at May 19, 2016 10:16 PM

Workout: May 22, 2016

Please note there will be a holiday workout on May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes are cancelled. 500-m row Rest 5 minutes 800-m run Rest 5 minutes Max body-weight back squats in 5 minutes

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:15 PM

Workout: May 21, 2016

Please note there will be a holiday workout on May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes are cancelled. Bulgarian split squats 8-8-8-8 Accumulate 1,000 ft. of sled pushes with a partner. Switch every 100 ft. While partner works, perform as many push-ups as possible.

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:15 PM

Workout: May 19, 2016

Please note there will be a holiday workout on May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes are cancelled. Floor presses 4-4-4-4-4 1-mile jug carry

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:14 PM

Workout: May 20, 2016

Please note there will be a holiday workout on May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes are cancelled. Monster Mash Run 600 m 1 round of: 60 double-unders 40 overhead squats (95/65 lb.) 20 pull-ups Run 600m 2 rounds of: 30 double-unders 20 squat clean thrusters (135/95 lb.) 10 pull-ups Run 600m 3 rounds […]

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:14 PM

Holiday Workout: May 23, 11 a.m.

There will be a holiday workout May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes, including Legends, will be canceled. Please sign up here as you normally would. The workout is set for two hours, but you will not be working out for two hours. Come on out and make some new friends!

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:13 PM

Holiday Workout: May 23, 2016

There will be a holiday workout May 23 at 11 a.m. All other classes, including Legends, will be canceled. Please sign up here as you normally would. The workout is set for two hours, but you will not be working out for two hours. Come on out and make some new friends!

by Mike at May 19, 2016 08:12 PM

The Frailest Thing

Maybe the Kids Aren’t Alright

Consider the following statements regarding the place of digital media in the lives of a cohort of thirteen-year-olds:

“One teenager, Fesse, was usually late – partly because he played Xbox till late into the night ….”

“We witnessed a fair number of struggles to make the technology work, or sometimes to engage pupils with digital media in the classroom.”

“Homework was often accompanied by Facebook, partly as a distraction and partly for summoning help from friends. Some became quickly absorbed in computer games.”

“Adam [played] with people from the online multi-player game in which he could adopt an identity he felt was truly himself.”

“Megan worked on creating her private online space in Tumblr – hours passing by unnoticed.”

“Each found themselves drawn, to varying degrees, into their parents’ efforts to gather as a family, at supper, through shared hobbies, looking after pets, or simply chatting in front of the television – albeit each with phones or tablets at the ready – before peeling off in separate directions.”

“Digital devices and the uses they put them to have become teenagers’ way of asserting their agency – a shield from bossy parents or annoying younger siblings or seemingly critical teachers, a means to connect with sympathetic friends or catching up with ongoing peer ‘drama.'”

Okay, now what would be your initial thoughts about the state of affairs described by these statements? Generally speaking, presented with these observations about the lives of 13-year-olds, I’d think that we might be forgiven a bit of concern. Sure, some of this describes the generally recognizable behavior of “teenagers” writ large, and nothing here suggested life-or-death matters, necessarily, but, nonetheless, it seemed to me that we might wish things were a touch different in some respects. At least, we might want a little more information about how these factors play out over the long run.

But the author framed these statements with these sorts of interpretative comments:

“… the more we know about teenagers’ lives the clearer it becomes that young people are no more interested in being constantly plugged in than are the adults around them.”

“As adults and parents, we might spend less time worrying about what they get up to as teenagers and more time with them, discussing the challenges that lie ahead for them as adults in an increasingly connected world.”

Couple that with the opening paragraph, which begins thus: “With each generation the public consciousness conjures up a new fear for our youth ….” There is no quicker way to signal that you are not at all concerned about something than by leading with “each generation, blah, blah, blah.”

When I first read this piece, I felt a certain dissonance, and I couldn’t quite figure out its source. After thinking about it a bit more, I realized that the dissonance arose from the incongruity between the cheery, “the kids are alright” tone of the article and what the article actually reported.

(I might add that part of my unease also regards methodology. Why would we think that the students were any more transparent with this adult researcher in their midst than they were with the teachers whose halting attempts to connect with them via digital media they hold in apparent contempt? Mind you, this may very well be addressed in a perfectly adequate manner by the author in the book that this article introduces.)

Let me be clear, I’m not calling for what is conventionally and dismissively referred to as a “moral panic.” But I don’t think our only options are “everything is going to hell” and “we live in a digital paradise, quit complaining.” And what is reported in this article suggests to me that we should not be altogether unconcerned about how digital media floods every aspect of our lives and the lives of our children.

To the author’s point that “the more we know about teenagers’ lives the clearer it becomes that young people are no more interested in being constantly plugged in than are the adults around them,” I reply, that’s a damnably low bar and, thus, little comfort.

And when the author preaches “As adults and parents, we might spend less time worrying about what they get up to as teenagers and more time with them, discussing the challenges that lie ahead for them as adults in an increasingly connected world,” I reply, that’s exactly what many adults and parents are trying to do but many of them feel as if they are fighting a losing battle against the very thing you don’t want them to worry about.

One last thought: we are deeply invested in the comforting notion that “the kids are alright,” aren’t we? I’m not saying they are not or that they will not be alright, necessarily. I’m just not sure. Maybe some will and some won’t. Some of the very stories linked by the website to the article in question suggest that there are at least some troubling dimensions to the place of digital media in the lives of teens. I’ve spent the better part of the last fifteen years teaching teens in multiple contexts. In my experience, with a much larger data set mind you, there are indeed reasons to be hopeful, but there are also reasons to be concerned. But never mind that, we really want to believe that they will be just fine regardless.

That desire to believe the “kids are alright” couples all too well with the desire to hold our technology innocent of all wrong. My technological habits are no different, may be they’re worse, so if the kids are alright then so am I. Perhaps the deeper desire underlying these tendencies is the desire to hold ourselves blameless and deflect responsibility for our own actions. If the “kids are alright” no matter what we do or how badly we screw up, then I’ve got nothing to worry about as an adult and a parent. And if the technologies that I’ve allowed to colonize my life and theirs are never, ever to blame, then I can indulge in them to my heart’s content without so much as a twinge of compunction. I get a pass either way, and who doesn’t want that? But maybe the kids are not altogether alright, and maybe it is not altogether their fault but ours.

Finally, one last thought occurred to me. Do we even know what it would mean to be alright anymore? Sometimes I think all we’re aiming at is something like a never-ending and exhausting management of perpetual chaos. Maybe we’ve forgotten how our lives might be alternatively ordered. Maybe our social and cultural context inhibits us from pursuing a better ordered life. Perhaps out of resignation, perhaps for lack of imagination, perhaps because we lack the will, we dare not ask what might be the root causes of our disorders. If we did, we might find that some cherished and unquestioned value, like our own obsession with unbridled individual autonomy, might be complicit. Easier to go on telling ourselves that everything will be alright.


by Michael Sacasas at May 19, 2016 06:30 PM

The iMac G3 family tree

In August of 1998, Apple released the Bondi blue iMac. This computer left a bunch of stuff in the past, including beige plastic, ADB and serial ports, and the floppy drive.

It received a minor update a couple of months in, but the Revision A and B machines aren’t all that different.

In January 1999, the company introduced the Five Flavors. Essentially it was a faster 1998 iMac, but in new exciting colors: Blueberry, Lime, Tangerine, Strawberry and Grape. A speed bump took place in April 1999, bringing the machine to 333 MHz.

In the fall of 1999, things started getting more complicated. Apple switched to slot-loading optical drives and slightly revised the cases, making the computers a touch smaller and more transparent. At the bottom of the line was a USB-only Blueberry for 999 dollars. The Five Flavor colors made a comeback, gained FireWire ports and were renamed “iMac DV.” A new color — Graphite — shipped with FireWire and a 13 GB hard drive as the high-end model.

In July 2000, things got out of hand. A 799 dollar Indigo iMac shipped with no FireWire and no support for AirPort. The faster DV Summer 2000 added Ruby, while the faster-again DV+ was available in Indigo, Ruby and Sage. The DV SE sold in Graphite and Snow and came with an even faster processor and 30 GB hard drive.

February 2001 brought some much-needed sanity. The Early 2001 iMac included the ubiquitous Indigo, and introduced Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power. These patterns were molded into the plastic, and supposedly took Apple 18 months to perfect. The Early 2001 SE swapped Graphite for Indigo and came with an updated G3 and a faster GPU.

The last generation of iMac G3 was available in Indigo, Graphite and Snow. After the iMac G4 was introduced in early 2002, just the Snow remained, and stayed on sale all the way to March 2003.

There’s no doubt that the iMac G3 family tree is confusing in places, but I think Apple learned some valuable lessons here. As shown later in products like the iPod and now the MacBook, color matters to people. Many customers didn’t care so much about the difference between a 400 and 450 Mhz computer; they cared if it came in blue or if it came in green. Likewise, Apple learned that giving each of its good/better/best products a discrete name just led to confusion. If you buy a MacBook Air today, you just get an “MacBook Air.”

by Stephen at May 19, 2016 06:15 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Constantine’s Conversion to Christianity: Was It Real? Does It Matter?

constantine_blog_banner

One of the major turning points in the history of the church was Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.

Some Christians consider Constantine a saint. Others treat him as a politician, who only used Christianity for political purposes. And still others believe Constantine’s conversion was sincere—but that he also used Christianity for his own gain.

Let’s take a deeper look at Constantine’s conversion—both the motives behind it and the effect it had on the church.

Who was Constantine?

Constantine was the first Christian emperor. His reign began in 306, and after a series of internal struggles, he consolidated his rule over the entire Roman Empire in 324. In addition to his successful military campaigns, Constantine made several administrative changes that established and extended his influence.

In the history of Christianity, Constantine is most remembered for bringing state-sanctioned persecution to an end.

What do the sources say about Constantine’s conversion?

Constantine had two visions. The first, according to pagan sources, was a vision of Apollo in the year 306. In this vision, he was given 30 wreaths, symbolizing the 30 years he would reign as emperor.

But according to Christian sources, the vision that mattered wasn’t in 306, but in 312. And it wasn’t at the temple of Apollo, it was at the battle of Milvian Bridge.

Eusebius describes the event:

A most marvelous sign appeared to [Constantine] from heaven, the account of which it might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person. . . . He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle.

Was the whole incident fabricated? Was it a figment of his imagination? And, if he dreamed something or saw something, what was it?

A likely explanation is that he did indeed have some kind of experience—a dream, a vision, or both—but that the interpretation was provided by Christian advisers (notably Ossius, or Hosius, bishop of Cordoba, Spain). They may have helped Constantine to see in his experience the monogram of Christ as the Christian interpretation of what he saw.

After the vision, Constantine instructed his soldiers to put the Chi Rho monogram of Christ on their shields. This Christogram became an almost ubiquitous Christian symbol, often combined with the letters alpha and omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), for Christ as the beginning and the end.

chiro

Constantine’s smaller army won the battle of Milvian Bridge, and he secured control of Rome. Eusebius interpreted the event in grand biblical terms, comparing the defeat of Maxentius’s army to the destruction of the Egyptians under Pharaoh in the Red Sea.

When did the empire favor Christianity?

After this, Constantine began to favor Christians, and he slowly began to shift the ideological underpinnings of the Roman Empire.

The most important event in this shift happened the next year, in 313, when Constantine entered into an agreement with Licinius at Milan. This agreement, the “Edict of Milan,” granted the free exercise of religion to “Christians and all others.”

The second significant change happened in 330, when Constantine left Rome. He had become uncomfortable with the pagan associations of the city. Instead, he began to favor the wealth, commerce, and culture of the eastern empire.

He founded a new capital on the site of the old Greek city of Byzantium and named it Constantinople. Today it’s the modern city of Istanbul.

His rule in Constantinople laid the basis for the orthodox Christian empire known as the Byzantine Empire, which would last more than 1,100 years.

Strangely, Constantine wasn’t baptized until near his death. This set a precedent for others in the fourth century who delayed their baptism until their old age or their death bed so as to obtain the maximum benefit of the forgiveness of sins.

How did the church respond to Constantine?

Throughout his lifetime, Constantine favored Christians and the role of Christianity in the empire.

He gave bishops the privilege of adjudicating disputes, and their decisions had the same status as decisions by civil judges.

He also initiated an extensive church building program. He built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; churches to commemorate the martyrdom of Peter and Paul; the Lateran basilica; and many others.

At the same time, although he was permissive of Christian practice in the empire, he was also lenient toward pagan religious practices. Many of his actions were designed not to offend pagans or were subject to ambiguous interpretation. For example, the prayer he composed to be recited by the army was religiously neutral between pagan and Christian monotheism. And the legislation making Sunday a legal holiday gave leisure to Christians for their church assemblies, but was worded as an honor to the sun.

With Constantine’s conversion, the church found itself in a new position: the emperor became the most powerful proponent of Christianity. This caused three major problems:

1. The competence of the state in church affairs

Church-state relations changed radically in the years after Constantine’s conversion. The church was simply not prepared for the change from a persecuted church to a favored church.

Some people, like Eusebius, saw the empire’s recognition of Christianity as an act of God’s providence. Others took a more sober line, and stressed the responsibilities now placed upon the authorities charged with Rome’s welfare.

2. The nature of the church itself

The Donatist schism raised anew the question of the holiness of the church: Is the church the church of the pure, or is it a mixed body, a “hospital for sick souls”? Can a church of the majority and of a ruling class be a holy church?

The changed circumstances also prompted the rise of monasticism. Monks sought to work out the true Christian life with the same intensity that had characterized the times of persecution. Denied literal martyrdom, they attempted a martyrdom of self-denial.

3. The definition of doctrine

The definition of doctrinal orthodoxy was brought to the forefront by the Trinitarian controversy, sparked by the teachings of Arius. Doctrinal controversy threatened the unity of the church and with it Constantine’s goal of harmony in the empire. The problems of Arianism and Donatism both arose during Constantine’s reign. They raised fundamental questions about the definition of the church and of the deity it worshiped.

The definition of doctrinal orthodoxy was brought to the forefront by the Trinitarian controversy, sparked by the teachings of Arius. Doctrinal controversy threatened the unity of the church and with it Constantine’s goal of harmony in the empire. The problems of Arianism and Donatism both arose during Constantine’s reign. They raised fundamental questions about the definition of the church; Constantine called the Council of Nicaea to help resolve these questions.

How do most Christians view Constantine today?

Sometimes one’s faith and convictions prove to be the politically expedient course of action. Since it can often be difficult to know our own motives for the actions we take—and even more difficult to understand the motives others take for their actions—we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions about Constantine’s conversion.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Constantine and his successors created a civil society composed mostly of Christians, and in which Christianity was the dominant force. It prompted the church to respond to new challenges—both doctrinal and cultural.

New Church History online course!

There is much more to learn about Constantine. As a next step, sign up for a brand new online course taught by Everett Ferguson, Church History 1.

In this course, you will discover:

  1. Who the most important figures in church history are
  2. What the key controversies in the church were, and how they still shape the church today
  3. Which ideas defined and shaped the church during its first 1,200 years
  4. The significant turning points in church history, including the Roman emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, the Great Schism between churches of the East and West, the Crusades, and numerous others
  5. The dynamic relationship between broader world history and church history

Even better, you can take advantage of an introductory discount for a limited time. Sign up now!

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Or, to learn how you can offer this online course at your church or school, contact us today!

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by ZA Blog at May 19, 2016 03:38 PM

Market Urbanism

To Know Home-Sharing Is To Support It

If you read elite commentary on the home-sharing industry (that is, Airbnb and its competitors), especially on the Left, you might think it is quite controversial.  However, a recent Pew survey suggests otherwise.

According to Pew, very few people know very much about home-sharing.  Only 11 percent of Americans have used home-sharing services,  and 53 percent of all adults have never even heard of them.  Only 9 percent of Americans claim to have heard “a lot” about the homesharing debate, and 16 percent have heard “a little.”  Among people who have actually used home-sharing services, these numbers rise to 19 percent and 37 percent.

But to the extent Americans are aware of home-sharing, they like the idea.  Only 4 percent of Americans think home-sharing should be illegal, and only 30 percent think it should be taxed.  52 percent think homesharing should be legal and untaxed.   Even among self-described liberals, only 38 percent think homesharing should be taxed.

by Michael Lewyn at May 19, 2016 02:42 PM

Justin Taylor

Walker Percy’s 1981 Letter to the New York Times on the Con and Doublespeak of the Abortion Discussion

walker-percy

A letter from Walker Percy (1916-1990) printed on June 8, 1981, in the New York Times: 

Covington, La. — I feel like saying something about this abortion issue. My credentials as an expert on the subject: none. I am an M.D. and a novelist. I will speak only as a novelist. If I give an opinion as an M.D., it wouldn’t interest anybody since, for one thing, any number of doctors have given opinions and who cares about another.

The only obvious credential of a novelist has to do with his trade. He trafficks in words and meanings. So the chronic misuse of words, especially the fobbing off of rhetoric for information, gets on his nerves. Another possible credential of a novelist peculiar to these times is that he is perhaps more sensitive to the atrocities of the age than most. People get desensitized. Who wants to go about his business being reminded of the six million dead in the holocaust, the 15 million in the Ukraine? Atrocities become banal. But a 20th century novelist should be a nag, an advertiser, a collector, a proclaimer of banal atrocities.

True legalized abortion—a million and a half fetuses flushed down the Disposall every year in this country—is yet another banal atrocity in a century where atrocities have become commonplace. This statement will probably offend one side in this already superheated debate, so I hasten in the interests of fairness and truth to offend the other side. What else can you do when some of your allies give you as big a pain as your opponents? I notice this about many so-called pro-lifers. They seem pro-life only on this one perfervid and politicized issue. The Reagan Administration, for example, professes to be anti-abortion but has just recently decided in the interests of business that it is proper for infant-formula manufacturers to continue their hard sell in the third world despite thousands of deaths from bottle feeding. And Senator Jesse Helms and the Moral Majority, who profess a reverence for unborn life, don’t seen to care much about born life: poor women who don’t get abortions, have their babies, and can’t feed them.

Nothing new here of course. What I am writing this for is to call attention to a particularly egregious example of doublespeak that the abortionists—“pro-choicers,” that is—seem to have hit on in the current rhetorical war.

Now I don’t know whether the human-life bill is good legislation or not. But as a novelist I can recognize meretricious use of language, disingenuousness, and a con job when I hear it.

The current con, perpetrated by some jurists, some editorial writers, and some doctors is that since there is no agreement about the beginning of human life, it is therefore a private religious or philosophical decision and therefore the state and the courts can do nothing about it. This is a con. I will not presume to speculate who is conning whom and for what purpose. But I do submit that religion, philosophy, and private opinion have nothing to do with this issue. I further submit that it is a commonplace of modern biology, known to every high school student and no doubt to you the reader as well, that the life of every individual organism, human or not, begins when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with the chromosomes of the ovum to form a new DNA complex that thenceforth directs the ontogenesis of the organism.

Such vexed subjects as the soul, God, and the nature of man are not at issue. What we are talking about and what nobody I know would deny is the clear continuum that exists in the life of every individual from the moment of fertilization of a single cell.

There is a wonderful irony here. It is this: The onset of individual life is not a dogma of the church but a fact of science. How much more convenient if we lived in the 13th century, when no one knew anything about microbiology and arguments about the onset of life were legitimate. Compared to a modern textbook of embryology, Thomas Aquinas sounds like an American Civil Liberties Union member. Nowadays it is not some misguided ecclesiastics who are trying to suppress an embarrassing scientific fact. It is the secular juridical-journalistic establishment.

Please indulge the novelist if he thinks in novelistic terms. Picture the scene. A Galileo trial in reverse. The Supreme Court is cross-examining a high school biology teacher and admonishing him that of course it is only his personal opinion that the fertilized human ovum is an individual human life. He is enjoined not to teach his private beliefs at a public school. Like Galileo he caves in, submits, but in turning away is heard to murmur, “But it’s still alive!”

To pro-abortionists: According to the opinion polls, it looks as if you may get your way. But you’re not going to have it both ways. You’re going to be told what you’re doing.

HT: Russell Moore

by Justin Taylor at May 19, 2016 12:53 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

If Plan A Fails, Remember that You Have 25 Letters Left

alphabet

*My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.

Lesson: Craft backup plans. They will allow you to take more risks and make better choices.

There’s no shame in having a plan B, or even plans C–Z. Use the “if this, then that” method to make a backup plan for every career choice, and then make a backup for the backup. If one strategy doesn’t work, move to the next.

Vanessa Van Edwards had a message to get out to the world. As an expert on social psychology, she spent her days developing business courses on persuasion and influence.

1600

The business was going well, but soon she wanted to expand her audience. She’d set her sights on partnering with Creative Live, an online platform for lifestyle and business instruction.

Vanessa had several friends who’d taught Creative Live courses, so she could easily have asked for an introduction to a high-level decision-maker at the company—but that’s not what she did.

Instead of connecting to one of the producers or executives at Creative Live, she took a different approach. She wrote in to the customer support email that was listed on the website, making her case for why her course would be so effective.

At first, this sounds like a terribly risky strategy. Writing in blindly, with no introduction, to an all-purpose email address that probably received any number of random pitches? It was the online equivalent of cold-calling. Surely the odds of success would be low, if not nearly zero.

But you may have guessed that Vanessa was actually quite smart. She gave the message an unforgettable subject line: “Here’s how I’ll make you a lot of money.” In the email body, she included a link to a slide presentation that went into great detail about why her proposed course was such a good fit for the company.

As an expert in persuasion, Vanessa put her skills to good use, building a case that made it easy for the executives who eventually saw the email to say yes.

The technique worked. Vanessa’s course went on to become one of the highest-grossing Creative Live courses—no small achievement, since there are hundreds of courses taught by experts and great teachers. But that’s not what was most interesting about her technique, at least to me.

When she told me this story over coffee, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the route she had chosen for that initial pitch. It was a bold move, no doubt, but it also sounded unnecessarily risky. Why not just go through a referral, I asked. Wouldn’t that greatly increase the odds of her proposal reaching a real decision-maker instead of having the message relegated to the spam folder or deleted by an intern?

Her answer was interesting. She told me she had purposefully wanted to build support for her course throughout the whole company, not just in the executive suite. She was seeking true partnership in the project, and wanted the people on the front lines to know about her. (A senior producer for Creative Live confirmed that this is exactly what happened: “We saw Vanessa’s email go through the ranks, being passed around from department to department.”)

Still, though, I persisted—why take the risk of rejection in the first place?

To this question, Vanessa had another quick answer: “Oh, I thought about that. If the cold pitch didn’t work as I hoped, I would have gone to the referral network.” That’s when I understood: there wasn’t actually any risk. Because her initial approach had only been her plan A, she had a whole suite of contingency plans ready and waiting in the event that plan A failed.

In other words, even though the cold pitch was her optimal scenario, she also wasn’t banking on it. If it didn’t pan out, she’d simply change tactics.

When I was starting out in business I used to say things like, “Screw the backup plan! Backup plans are for wimps.” But now I know that this isn’t usually the greatest idea. Backup plans don’t make us wimpy; they actually allow us to take on more risk.

Born for This is available from Amazon.com or your favorite local bookseller. You can also take the free quiz or join me on tour in your choice of more than 30 cities.

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Image: Chrissy Wainwright

by Chris Guillebeau at May 19, 2016 12:27 PM

Market Urbanism

The Bottom-Up Urbanism Of Patrik Schumacher

 

urban field

[editor’s note: This article was originally posted at Medium.com, and republished with permission of the author, Zachary Caceres. Below are links to some of the Free Market Urbanism writings and speaking of Patrik Schumacher, Partner at Zaha Hadid ArchitectsSchumacher’s writing is often too dense for me to parse, but Caceres does a great job of breaking it down.]

Free Market Urbanism – Urbanism Beyond Planning

I Am Trying to Imagine a Radical Free Market Urbanism

Illinois Institute of Technology Lecture On “Free Market Urban Order”

The Bottom-Up Urbanism of Patrik Schumacher

What is the “Radical Free Market Urbanism” of Patrik Schumacher? Here’s his deal as I understand it, gleaned from reading Schumacher’s nearly impenetrable essays.

Schumacher believes that architecture and urban design is at a crossroads. The styles that animated the mid-20th century are dead, because they depended too much on central planning (the sort of zoning and design that Jane Jacobs hated).

Modernism is dead and was the last truly coherent architectural design philosophy or style. But postmodernism isn’t really anything. He calls it the ‘garbage spill’ approach to urban design—where anything goes in such a way that you get an incoherent sprawling mess. Many modern American cities are like a Frankenstein of awful central planning and unstructured garbage spill.

So he proposes Parametric Design, a new—and to Schumacher—coherent 21st century design style. Parametricism is a conscious adaptation of insights from complex systems theory to design. Fundamentally, parametric design is like a fusion of agent-based modeling with complex computation enabled by computers. These models are about tying elements together rather than imposing a vision from above.

With so many linked dependent variables, the design takes on qualitatively different forms as you manipulate the independent variables. It’s like ‘emergence’ in biological systems.

Parametric design makes plans easily editable and manipulable even after construction has begun. It can also link untraditional data to design variables, like the heat map of the sun rays over a city. The heat map could then be used to determine height restrictions in a way that channeled sunlight throughout the design.

Schumacher consistently calls Parametric Design a “radical free-market urbanism.” He understands at a deep level the epistemological risks of central planning and why excessive planning is a failed paradigm.

Markets and open exchange are a ‘robust information processing system’—the best that humans have yet found. Cities are also ultimately about structuring information. The built environment embodies generations of lessons learned by humanity, the evolution of a community reflected in its roads and walls, and the deliberate structuring of human affairs through architecture.

The “Postfordist network economy”, as Schumacher calls the 21st century, is all about dense communication webs. Digital technologies go a long way to connect us, but there will forever be demand for built environments that also densify human connection. Schumacher believes the job of the visionary architect is to design such environments.

Despite the free-market language of Schumacher, he rejects the idea of planning of all by all. This is the garbage spill. By analogy, you might think of the garbage spill as an unsophisticated libertarianism that imagines every man a sovereign entity that must independently contract for all services/rights/protections.

The secret for Schumacher is to have an overarching urban design via parametricism that creates the constraints necessary for successful ‘unplanned’ market urbanism to take place.

Anyone familiar with complex systems can see the connection here. Emergence demands constraints on the agents in a system. A well-functioning market requires laws and regulations that enable social cooperation. A well-functioning urban environment requires a parametric frame to allow ‘radical free-market urbanism’ to occur.

I find Schumacher’s arguments compelling. Economics is undergoing a similar shift from a quasi-Newtonian reductionism to complexity and emergence via the work of places like Santa Fe Institute. Physics is already well on its way and there are signs that political science and law could go that way too, with people like Oliver Goodenough successfully modeling contracts as a computational system. So why not architecture as well?

Perhaps complexity will eventually eat everything. We will see the primary job of human beings as finding ways to structure our environment—legally, architecturally, politically—so that we allow for positive complex emergence, dense connections, and social cooperation.

by Zachary Caceres at May 19, 2016 12:21 PM

Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Google’s Go-to-Market Gap

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Google’s rise is that it is almost entirely attributable to having the best technology. That sounds like it should be the normal state of affairs, but in truth there are an untold number of research projects and startups that had superior technology but never became viable businesses; perhaps there was no business model, or an inability to build a requisite ecosystem, or most commonly, an inability to find a viable market and/or reach consumers who might be interested.

Great Companies Versus Great Technology

For example, look at the other technology giants, all of whom got their start on the basis of more than pure technology:

  • While Bill Gates and Paul Allen built Microsoft’s first product (Altair BASIC), the company’s dominance was established via a business development deal with IBM to provide an operating system for the nascent IBM personal computer; the actual OS (MS-DOS) was acquired from a company called Seattle Computer Products. And while Microsoft would go on to develop all kinds of technology, everything that followed rested on the leverage from that IBM deal.
  • Amazon started out as a primitive website that was differentiated by its selection and ability to deliver anywhere in the U.S. And while the company has certainly invented a lot of technology when it comes to web services and logistics, its advantage remains rooted in its scale.
  • Facebook’s technology was so basic that Mark Zuckerberg’s first employee — his roommate Dustin Moskovitz — didn’t even know how to program; he would go on to be Facebook’s first Chief Technical Officer. What got the site off the ground was the way it digitized pre-existing offline networks — it started from its market and worked backwards.
  • Apple’s strategy has certainly been predicated on having the best products, but that does not necessarily mean the company has always had the best technology. The Mac GUI was famously “inspired” by Xerox PARC, the iPod was hardly the first MP3 player, and while the original iPhone was certainly a technological marvel, it not only was built on everything that came before it but also required huge investments in distribution to become the juggernaut it is1

To be clear, all of these companies had great technology, but it wasn’t enough — it rarely is.

Google = Best

Google stands in stark contrast: relying on links and a lot of math to rank sites was a technological breakthrough of the first order — and no company wanted to buy it, despite the fact it was very much on sale. And yet, usage grew exponentially thanks to word-of-mouth: Google’s search was so startlingly better — and the cost of trying it was simply typing in a URL — that the product grew like wild fire without business development, distribution, or marketing. By the time Google did their first distribution deal, with Yahoo in 2000, Google was already handling millions of queries a day simply because they were superior; Yahoo only hastened Google’s inevitable domination.

The focus on being the best became a core piece of Google’s identity, and the biggest factor in how they hired. Steven Levy wrote in In the Plex:

The founders also knew that Google had to be a lot smarter to keep satisfying users—and to fulfill the world-changing ambitions of its founders. “We don’t always produce what people want,” Page explained in Google’s early days. “It’s really difficult. To do that you have to be smart—you have to understand everything in the world. In computer science, we call that artificial intelligence.”

Brin chimed in. “We want Google to be as smart as you—you should be getting an answer the minute you think of it.”

“The ultimate search engine,” said Page. “We’re a long way from that.”

Page and Brin both held a core belief that the success of their company would hinge on having world-class engineers and scientists committed to their ambitious vision. Page believed that technology companies can thrive only by “an understanding of engineering at the highest level”…

“We just hired people like us,” says Page.

So many of Google’s successes — and failures — is wrapped up in this sentiment. So, too, is their future.

The Google Assistant

Yesterday at the Google I/O keynote the dominant theme was the very real progress Google is making on genuine Artificial Intelligence that goes far beyond search. Sundar Pichai said in his opening remarks:

It’s amazing to see how people engage differently with Google. It’s not just enough to give them links. We really need to help them get things done in the real world. This is why we are evolving search to be much more assistive. We’ve been laying the foundation for this for many, many years through investments in deep areas of computer science. We’ve built the knowledge graph — we today have an understanding of 1 billion entities, people, places, and things, and the relationships between them and the real world. We have dramatically improved the quality of our voice recognition…Image recognition and computer vision, we can do things we never thought we could do before…We even do real-time translation.

Progress in all of these areas is accelerating, thanks to profound advances in machine learning and [artificial intelligence] (AI), and I believe we are at a seminal moment. We as Google have evolved significantly over the past ten years and we believe we are poised to take a big leap forward in the next ten years leveraging out state-of-the-art capabilities in machine learning and AI, we truly want to take the next step in being more assistive for our users. So today, we are announcing the Google assistant.

There is little question that Google is far ahead in artificial intelligence. Late January, in a humorous juxtaposition that was almost certainly coincidental but telling all the same, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the social network company’s progress in building a computer that could play the board game ‘Go’, long thought unbeatable by computers. Mere hours later Demis Hassabis, the head of Google’s DeepMind division, revealed in a blog post that Google had done exactly that: their machine learning-based program, called AlphaGo, had defeated a three-time European champion, and would soon take on the best Go player in the world (AlphaGo would go on to win that match 4–1).

To be sure, this is a single example, but any time spent using the increasing number of Google products that rely on machine learning-based artificial intelligence — translation, voice and image recognition, and yes, search — quickly make it obvious just how much better Google is, and, thanks to the copious amount of data at the company’s disposal, how much better they are likely to become. The problem is that in today’s world being the best may not be enough.

Open Versus Closed

While describing how Google search grew by word-of-mouth, I snuck in one line that looms very large when it comes to thinking about both Google’s past and its future: “the cost of trying it was simply typing in a URL.” Google’s initial success was not just because they were superior at search: thanks to the fact that the interface with Google was a web page, the company had instant access to every person on earth with a PC and a functioning Internet connect — and they didn’t have to pay a dime. On the flip-side, if you heard about this amazing new search engine, you didn’t need to go buy a CD or even download a program: you simply typed “Google.com” and the results spoke for themselves. Make no mistake: the brilliance of Larry Page and Sergey Brin was only perhaps surpassed by the brilliance of the people they hired, particularly in the early days, but the company’s success was very much intertwined with the openness afforded by a browser and the world wide web.

Today, though, the PC is fading in relevance, and the browser along with it: what matters is mobile, and the means to connect with users is to either be embedded into the phone or have an app where people live. And while Google has a massive foothold thanks to Android, a huge number of its best customers are on iOS, and nearly all its customers live in Facebook.

The implications of this are obvious — just look at maps. Google Maps is widely regarded as being the superior product to Apple Maps, yet the latter is used three times as often on iPhones; such is the power of defaults and being “good enough.”2 Similarly, while Google’s voice recognition far outpaces Apple’s Siri, the fact that Apple sets the rules means that Google’s Gboard keyboard for iOS cannot include dictation.3 More broadly, on iOS the only way to use the Google assistant that Pichai announced yesterday will be to open a Google app (or go to a search field in, you guessed it, a browser): using Siri will always be much easier and frictionless.

The situation is even more challenging when it comes to social networks broadly and messaging specifically, which is to mobile as the browser was to the PC: a meta-OS where people spend the vast majority of their time. The problem for Google is that while the browser was an open platform that not even Microsoft could control — sure, they killed Netscape, but Google built its audience from within Internet Explorer — social networks and messaging services are not only closed but nearly impossible to compete with. No matter how great of a messaging service Google may build — another I/O announcement was a messaging service called Allo, which heavily features the Google assistant — the most important feature of any messaging service is whether or not your friends use it, and nearly every geography in the world is locked up by a competitor.

There is a new arena — the home, the one place where talking is usually better than pecking away at a phone no longer in your pocket — but here Google is behind Amazon. The latter, thanks to the failure of its own smartphone efforts, was freed from the smartphone obsession that resulted in Google wrongly identifying the smartphone-dependent Nest as its connected home offering, instead of a voice-focused standalone device like the Echo. There is almost certainly time to catchup, but it’s telling that Google’s announced competitor — Google Home — is still months away.

Google’s Go-to-Market Challenge

The net result is that Google has no choice but to put its founding proposition to the ultimate test: is it enough to be the best? Can the best artificial intelligence overcome the friction that will be involved in using Google assistant on an iPhone? Can the best artificial intelligence actually shift human networks? Can the best artificial intelligence win the home in the face of a big head start?

That the answer may very well be “no” (or mixed, at best), is at the root of my 2014 piece Peak Google. That piece was about business relevance, something that goes beyond the collection of cash or the creation of superior technologies. The question I was asking was which companies are the best equipped to build new businesses going forward, and here Google’s outlook is far cloudier than it was back when the company was, for all intents and purposes, invented.

The problem is that as much as Google may be ahead, the company is also on the clock: every interaction with Siri, every signal sent to Facebook, every command answered by Alexa, is one that is not only not captured by Google but also one that is captured by its competitors. Yes, it is likely Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are all behind Google when it comes to machine learning and artificial intelligence — hugely so, in many cases — but it is not a fair fight. Google’s competitors, by virtue of owning the customer, need only be good enough, and they will get better. Google has a far higher bar to clear — it is asking users and in some cases their networks to not only change their behavior but willingly introduce more friction into their lives — and its technology will have to be special indeed to replicate the company’s original success as a business.4

  1. To put it another way, the technology at the heart of Apple’s products — OS X and iOS — has its roots in NeXT, a business failure
  2. By most accounts Apple Maps is indeed “good enough” in the U.S.; from personal experience, though, it very much falls short in many other countries
  3. Google does deserve a lot of credit for finally remembering that Android exists to serve Google, which should be focused on all users, not its own platforms
  4. Which itself is under threat: to fully leverage Google assistant in Google search will almost certainly deepen Google’s antitrust troubles with the European Union

by Ben Thompson at May 19, 2016 12:09 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

[Common Places]: Reading Notes: Theological Epistemology

Open book on wooden deckOne feature that will appear regularly this year will be a monthly series entitled Reading Notes. In these posts, editors and contributors will lead readers to significant literature related thematically to our other ongoing series. This month Kevin Vanhoozer introduces classical and contemporary literature related to theological epistemology as a fitting conclusion to our engagement of James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies project (see here).

 

Epistemology studies the nature, method, sources, and norms of knowledge. Theological epistemology thinks on these things in relation to the knowledge of God. The qualifier “theological” highlights a key question: is the knowledge of God a mere subset of other kinds of knowledge (i.e., general epistemology), or does theological epistemology refer to a way of knowing God, and perhaps other things as well, informed from the start by particular theological concerns, in which case it becomes an instance of “special” epistemology (as in Esther L. Meek’s Loving to Know: Covenant Epistemology)? Three considerations favor this latter option: first, theology privileges particular sources of knowledge, not simply reason and experience but also Scripture and tradition; second, theology emphasizes the necessity of God’s own self-revelation and, thus, the gift-like nature of our knowledge of God; third, as Aristotle knew, the subject matter must in some measure dictate the manner in which it is known.

Augustine’s dense treatise On the Trinity makes several bold moves in the direction of a properly theological epistemology, one that spells out the epistemological significance of particular doctrinal topics. Augustine’s analysis of the Trinity allows him to provide a distinct (and surprising) theological understanding of the “subject” and “object” of knowledge: the knowing human subject becomes the object of God’s self-revelation; the “object” of knowledge, God, is known and loved through God (i.e., in Christ through the Holy Spirit). In Augustine’s theological epistemology, then, God is the ultimate knowing subject who shares his self-knowledge with the human knowing subject/object via a personal (i.e., covenantal) relation, namely, the Holy Spirit as bond of love.

Augustine also explores the epistemological consequences of sin: if the goal of knowledge of God is the vision of the triune God, the Spirit needs to convert resistant hearts. Love and knowledge therefore go hand in hand, for knowing God is ultimately a matter of interpersonal communion. (Augustine got there long before the postmodern call to connect knowledge of God with love of others, as in Justin Thacker’s Postmodernism and the Ethics of Theological Knowledge.) A valuable secondary source is Luigi Gioia’s The Theological Epistemology of Augustine’s De Trinitate, which will be even more helpful when OUP releases it in paperback this August.

The Reformed tradition is an important shaft in the mine of theological epistemology that has repeatedly struck gold. Calvin begins the Institutes of the Christian Religion with his celebrated thesis associating the knowledge of God and self-knowledge. (George Ille pursues this pairing in his Between Vision and Obedience: Rethinking Theological Epistemology, tracing a view of rationality that follows the drama of God’s engagement with the world.) The first two books of the Institutes deal with the knowledge of God the creator and God the redeemer respectively, and Calvin proceeds quickly from the created and fallen status of our knowledge of God to what truly interests him, namely, the corrective lens of Scripture as an instrument of the Spirit’s illumining testimony. Interested readers might also consult B. B. Warfield’s 1909 essay, “Calvin’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God” or the more recent monographs by Edward Dowey (Knowledge of God in Calvin’s Theology) and/or T. H. L. Parker (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: A Study in the Theology of John Calvin).

Two more recent Reformed treatments deserve mention. John Frame follows Calvin in making the knowledge of God a theme in its own right in his Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. This book treats the traditional loci of epistemology—objects, justification, and methods of knowledge—under the rubric of God’s covenant lordship. He also one-ups Calvin in suggesting that knowledge of God, self, and world are interdependent, and in a sense identical (a signature move of Frame’s tri-perspectivalism). Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief displays the rigor for which he is rightly celebrated as an analytic philosopher yet employs the distinctly theological notion of testimony given by the Holy Spirit (a distilled version of the argument is available in Plantinga’s much shorter Knowledge and Christian Belief). Mats Wahlberg’s Revelation as Testimony similarly argues that knowledge of God is mainly testimonial, and that God himself, Word and Spirit, is the author of this testimony.

No survey of theological epistemology would be complete without mentioning Karl Barth, whose Church Dogmatics I/1 and Anselm: Fides Quaerens Intellectum pursue with a theological vengeance Aristotle’s insight about the manner of knowing approximating the subject matter to be known: God makes God known through God. This is theological epistemology all the way down. Martin Westerholm’s The Ordering of the Christian Mind: Karl Barth and Theological Rationality offers a penetrating analysis of theological reasoning, in particular, how human creatures come to know the truth of their Creator without reducing God to the level of other objects in creation (i.e., idols) by taking the standpoint not of an autonomous knowing subject but, rather, of an eschatological subject made new in Christ. It repays careful study, as does Kevin Diller’s Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma: How Karl Barth and Alvin Plantinga Provide a Unified Response, a state-of-the-art discussion that weds Barth’s view of revelation with Plantinga’s view of basic beliefs. The result: a “theo-foundationalist” approach in which the Spirit enables our capacity to know the Father through the Son. This is a theological epistemology that (in this reviewer’s opinion) also retrieves something very much like Augustine’s original insight that human knowledge is a matter of right participation in the triune economy of self-communication.

Theological epistemology is not something one does “before” doing theology. It is not a method for knowing God but a way of thinking about methods of knowing in light of God’s triune self-revelation. John Webster’s The Domain of the Word: Scripture and Theological Reason shines further light on these matters.

Let me conclude by alerting interested parties to the forthcoming publication of William J. Abraham and Frederick D. Aquino, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology. This promises to be a comprehensive survey of general and special (i.e., theologically distinct) epistemic concepts, historical figures, and contemporary approaches to the question of how we know God—in short, a potential game-changer whose aim is to establish the epistemology of theology as a new sub-discipline in its own right.

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Kevin J. Vanhoozer is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He received his PhD from Cambridge University and is the author of ten books, including Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine and Pictures at a Theological Exhibition: Scenes of the Church’s Worship, Witness, and Wisdom.

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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, Reading Notes, offers annotated bibliographic suggestions regarding classical and contemporary works in systematic theology.

Michael Allen and Scott Swain, editors

by Kevin Vanhoozer at May 19, 2016 12:00 PM

The Third Bit

Get Better But Not Change

The tragedy of the Hapsburgs was that they wanted things to get better, but couldn't bear the thought that anything might actually change.
Frederic Morton

George Orwell said something similar in his landmark essay on Dickens. Poverty, filth, hopelessness: Dickens raged against them all, but in every one of his books, the plucky hero is saved by a bequest from a long-lost uncle or some other deus ex machine. Dickens could see that his world was broken; what he wouldn't allow himself to see was that the problem was structural, and that the only way to fix it for everyone was to re-structure the world by taking power away from the haves and giving it to the have-nots.

I was reminded of this when a friend pointed me at the so-called "Effective Altruism" movement. As Amia Srinivasan pointed out last year, its members undoubtedly want to do good, but like all utilitarians, they're only willing to do so within the framework that has served them well. Elsevier's acquisition of Mendeley and the SSRN is similar: like most big players in Silicon Valley, they're OK with disruption (in this case, to scholarly publishing) as long as it doesn't threaten their hold on power. But to paraphrase Orwell, the purpose of change is change. As far as I'm concerned, any "revolution" that doesn't truly aim for that doesn't deserve the name.

by Greg Wilson (gvwilson@third-bit.com) at May 19, 2016 08:00 AM

Justin Taylor

How to Criticize a Fellow Christian or an Unbeliever in Controversy

The best piece on know on how to maintain a godly disposition in theological controversy comes from a letter that John Newton wrote a pastor who was preparing to criticize a fellow minister.

The entire thing is well worth reading, but let me highlight here one section in particular on how we should think about our opponents in a controversy.

Commend Your Opponent to Earnest Prayer for God’s Teaching and Blessing

Newton writes:

As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

Newton observes that your opponent is either a genuine believer in Christ or he is not. And that effects the motivations for interacting with godly respect, even if it does not change the results.

How You Should Think If He Is a Believer Who Is Greatly Mistaken

First, Newton deals with how we should regard a misguided believer:

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should shew tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.

In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ for ever.

How You Should Think If He Is an Unbeliever Who Is an Enemy of God

Second, Newton takes up the case of conversing in controversy with someone who is unconverted:

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace, (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit,) he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas! “he knows not what he does.” But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign good pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defence of the Gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.

You will not regret reading the whole thing.

by Justin Taylor at May 19, 2016 07:26 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Don’t Stop Believing

My first real campaign involved my Druid, Lily, and my best friend's Barbarian whose name was Fjorn Spektakula. Fjorn came from the small fishing island of Sweden and worshiped a non-existent god named Thor, a storm god of their own creation.

Throughout the three year campaign, Fjorn used his…

Read more

May 19, 2016 07:00 AM

Nicholas Nethercote

I want more users on the Nightly channel

I have been working recently on a new Platform Engineering initiative called Uptime, the goal of which is to reduce Firefox’s crash rate on both desktop and mobile. As a result I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at crash reports, particular on the Nightly channel. This in turn has increased my appreciation of how important Nightly channel users are.

A crash report from a Nightly user is much more useful than a crash report from a non-Nightly user, for two reasons.

  • If a developer lands a change that triggers crashes for Nightly users, they will get fast feedback via crash reports, often within a day or two.  This maximizes the likelihood of a fix, because the particular change will be fresh in the developer’s mind. Also, backing out changes is usually easy at this point. In contrast, finding out about a crash weeks or months later is less useful.
  • Because a new Nightly build is done every night, if a new crash signature appears, we have a fairly small regression window. This makes it easier to identify which change caused the new crashes.

Also, Nightly builds contain some extra diagnostics and checks that can also be helpful with identifying a range of problems. (See MOZ_DIAGNOSTIC_ASSERT for one example.)

If we could significantly increase the size of our Nightly user population, that would definitely help reduce crash rates. We would get data about a wider range of crashes. We would also get stronger signals for specific crash-causing defects. This is important because the number of crash reports received for each Nightly build is relatively low, and it’s often the case that a cluster of crash reports that come from two or more different users will receive more attention than a cluster that comes from a single user.

(You might be wondering how we distinguish those two cases. Each crash report doesn’t contain enough information to individually identify the user — unless the user entered their email address into the crash reporting form — but crash reports do contain enough information that you can usually tell if two different crash reports have come from two different users. For example, the installation time alone is usually enough, because it’s measured to the nearest second.)

All this is doubly true on Android, where the number of Nightly users is much smaller than on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Using the Nightly channel is not the best choice for everyone. There are some disadvantages.

  • Nightly is less stable than later channels, but not drastically so. The crash rate is typically 1.5–2.5 times higher than Beta or Release, though occasionally it spikes higher for a short period. So a Nightly user should be comfortable with the prospect of less stability.
  • Nightly gets updated every 24 hours, which some people would find annoying.

There are also advantages.

  • Nightly users get to experience new features and fixes immediately.
  • Nightly users get the satisfaction that they are helping produce a better Firefox. The frustration of any crash is offset by the knowledge that the information in the corresponding crash report is disproportionately valuable. Indeed, there’s a non-trivial likelihood that a single crash report from a Nightly user will receive individual attention from an engineer.

If you, or somebody you know, thinks that those advantages outweigh the disadvantages, please consider switching. Thank you.

by Nicholas Nethercote at May 19, 2016 05:28 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

How Our Work Embodies God’s Love

Article by: Bethany Jenkins

Earlier this year, we invited women to apply for a special dinner hosted by Every Square Inch at our upcoming women’s conference. Almost 100 women applied by submitting 750-word reflections that answered three questions: (1) What do you do every day? (2) How do you feel about what you do? (3) When have you found your work particularly meaningful?

Today, we feature 4 of the 25 women selected.

The women featured below have (at least) one thing in common—they are working in ways that they incarnate the love of God to their neighbors. Whether that means loving her patients (Anna), her readers (Elizabeth), her foster children (Kelly), or her clients (Rebecca), each of these women is leveraging her work to embody the love of God to anyone who crosses her path. In their work, they are the hands and feet of Jesus, helping those who look to them for help, encouragement, and hope.

Anna Smith is a night-shift nurse who works at a large hospital in Indianapolis. She primarily cares for neuro and trauma patients who are recovering from a variety of problems—from strokes to major motor vehicle accidents. When she isn’t working or catching up on sleep, Anna loves to run, bake cookies, and mentor other young women.

  • As I read through the New Testament, it’s clear that Jesus was passionate about providing healing and education to the people with whom he interacted. He was so willing to get down into the dirt of people’s lives—to provide the care they needed to fix their physical concerns as well as teaching them about ways to move beyond their current state of suffering. The connection between Jesus’s ministry and what I do as a nurse is clear. Healing and teaching are integral parts of what I do as a nurse, so nursing is absolutely an opportunity for neighbor love. Although the job is often not glamorous, I am blown away by the opportunity I have to be Jesus’s hands and feet.

Elizabeth Hyndman is an editor and social media strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources. When she’s not inserting Oxford commas and answering questions about Bible studies, she likes to drink chai lattes, write, and explore her home city of Nashville, Tennessee. 

  • Because I get to read the comments on our blog and social media as part of my job, I get to see the end results we work toward. Women write to tell us their stories and how our studies and events have had an effect on their lives. One woman wrote in to tell us she had invited a friend to participate in a Bible study we hosted through our blog. The friend had been hurt by the church and had decided never to enter its doors again. She was, however, willing to study God’s Word through the internet. The moment was a perfect marriage of my two jobs—Bible study, online. The end result was a woman being discipled and encouraged in her faith.

Kelly Hughes is a mother of four, foster parent, piano teacher, creator of the PghMomtourage, and founder of the Foster Love Project. Kelly seeks to provide resources to local foster families and serves as an advocate for foster care and adoption in western Pennsylvania. She and her husband, Andrew, live in Pittsburgh, where they serve together in local church ministry.

  • “In 45 minutes you will receive a 2-year-old boy and his 4-day-old brother who is still detoxing from drugs in his system.” Goodbye, last night’s blissful sleep. Hello, newborn world. We saw the bruises on his arms and the shaking of his hands. We prayed for his mother to be rescued from the addiction that held her so tight that she chose drugs over these precious lives. Three short days later and off to court they went, only to be sent to live with a relative. Barely time to blink and no time to say goodbye. We pray they are loved and cared for wherever they are. We hear the statement over and over again: “I couldn’t do foster care because I couldn’t give them up.” The self-centeredness of this statement pierces my heart again and again. These kids certainly never asked to be in the middle of such difficult and uncertain circumstances. You may have heard the quote, “We embrace the heartbreak of letting them go if it means they know the feeling of being held onto.” We cling to that truth when our hearts ache during the grieving process.

Rebecca Meyer is a counselor with Cross Care Counseling and a ministry associate in the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton College. In both contexts, she equips people to think biblically about the intersection of faith, sexuality, and gender. In addition, she is a recitation instructor for the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation’s School of Biblical Counseling distance learning program. She and her husband live in Chicago.

  • Being charged with coordinating campus conversations about sexuality as a woman lends itself to having frank conversations about sexuality with both male and female colleagues. This feels like living in uncharted territory, in the middle of something incredibly politicized and sometimes X-rated. When I was in third grade, I wanted to be an astronaut. Although that plan didn’t pan out, I feel like an astronaut at the college. Surprisingly, I love being an astronaut! I consider it a great privilege that students trust me with their questions about sexuality. I have a front-row seat to the surprising, transforming work of the Holy Spirit. I genuinely love the students for who they are and who they are becoming. I can’t think of anything more God glorifying than making campus a safer place and being a conduit of freedom from sexual sin.

Editors’ note: The Faith and Work Dinner at our 2016 National Women’s Conference next month, June 16 to 18, in Indianapolis is being sponsored by EDGE Mentoring and Cerulean Restaurant. EDGE is a national mentoring organization for emerging leaders that combines personal, professional, and spiritual development in one experience. If you’re looking to mentor, or be mentored, you can find out more at Edge Mentoring. Finally, space at TGCW16 is running out, so be sure to register soon!

Bethany L. Jenkins is the Director of The Gospel Coalition’s Every Square Inch, the Director of Vocational & Career Development at The King’s College, and the Founder of The Park Forum. She previously worked on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill. She received her JD from Columbia Law School and attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, where she is a current CFW Fellow and a former Gotham Fellow through the Center for Faith & Work. You can follow her on Twitter.

by Bethany Jenkins at May 19, 2016 05:02 AM

Are You Flexible for the Gospel?

Article by: Don Carson

In 1 Corinthians, Paul repeatedly makes the point that we must adopt as our aim the salvation of men and women. “I make myself a slave to everyone,” he writes, “to win as many as possible” (9:19). “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews” (9:20). “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak” (9:22). And this: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (9:22).

At the end of the section, the same thought is still on his mind:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (10:31–11:1)

Will It Hinder or Help the Gospel?

Paul is not interested in setting aside his rights as an end in itself. “I make myself a slave to everyone,” he points out, “to win as many as possible” (9:19). If no one’s spiritual wellbeing will be threatened if he eats meat, he will order a steak. In some instances, standing on one’s rights may be exactly what is called for.

Yet one should always be ready to abandon the appeal to one’s rights. Precisely which is the wisest course of action in a particular crisis may largely be determined by this question about the aim and effect of the options: How will this course of action contribute to, or hinder, the work of the gospel?

It is also important to recognize that becoming a world Christian—one whose commitment to Jesus and his kingdom is self-consciously set above national, cultural, linguistic, and racial allegiances—cannot be an end in itself. The aim is not to become so international and culturally flexible that one does not fit in anywhere; the aim, rather, is to become so understanding and flexible that one can soon fit in and further the gospel anywhere.

Reverse Culture Shock

I have learned that reverse culture shock is the worst culture shock. Many who go abroad for a few years brace themselves to handle the new culture; they almost never brace themselves to handle the jarring impact of re-entry into the culture they’ve left behind. At the seminary where I teach, we constantly warn international students of the kinds of reverse culture shock they must expect to face when they return home.

This sort of disorientation also accounts, in part, for the frequency and intensity of the criticism of Western institutions and churches uttered by many Third World leaders. God knows there is enough to criticize in the West. Nevertheless, in my experience, very few Third World leaders spend much time criticizing the West and stressing the need for properly contextualized theology until they’ve spent a few years studying in the West. Many of them no longer quite fit back home. Meanwhile, where have they learned their criticisms of the West? In the West, of course! To criticize the West is an extremely Western thing to do. In fact, to criticize wherever we are is an extremely Western thing to do. Very few of these leaders, for whatever reason, actually engage in much contextualized theology. Instead, they make their reputations criticizing the West.

Of course, I have met some wonderful exceptions to all these generalities. But the generalities ring true to many who have traveled in Christian circles in different parts of the world.

All of this criticism would change its face considerably if the aim were always “to win as many as possible.” So much of the awkwardness of not quite fitting in anywhere would disappear, if we simply chose to act in such a way as to accomplish this aim.

The more a gap opens up between the culture of the church and the culture of the surrounding society, the more important it is to know how to bridge it. But the concern must never be to prove how cosmopolitan and sophisticated and flexible we are. The aim must be “to win as many as possible.”

Avoid Cloister Christianity

Certainly it is easy to recall instances where that was not the aim. A friend of mine, a minister at a church in England, was asked to go up to Scotland and speak at a mission sponsored by a Christian group in a Scottish university. Astonishingly, though they had been expecting about 75 people to show up the first night, 150 turned out—half of them Muslims who had decided to come as a group to find out for themselves what Christians thought.

The Christians in the university thought they needed to “warm up” the crowd, so they produced a singing group that went through a number of Scottish ballads. Then this musical group, bright eyed and bushy tailed, announced they would like to sing some Christian songs. They began with “Awake! Awake! O Zion / Come clothe yourself with strength”—and 75 Muslims walked out.

One must not be too hard on those young Scottish Christians. They simply didn’t think. But that is a tragedy in itself. They never carefully asked the question, “What should I do to win as many as possible?”

Barriers must be overcome. Different groups have different languages, smells, tolerances, history, shared memory.

We must adopt as our aim the salvation of men and women. Only this vision will enable us to avoid cloister Christianity. We need to meditate on Psalms 96 and 98; Isaiah 49:1–13; Jeremiah 12:12–33; Micah 4; Colossians 1:15–29; and Revelation 4–5. We must become global in our awareness and compassion. Cultural sensitivity and flexibility must become tools to enable us to address the challenges of cross-cultural evangelism wisely and courageously, rather than ends in themselves to create a myopic elite of lovely, flexible people.

Editors’ note: The following is an excerpt from The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians by D. A. Carson (Baker, 2004).

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

by Don Carson at May 19, 2016 05:02 AM

Help Me Teach the Bible: George Guthrie on 2 Corinthians

Article by: Staff

In this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible, I sit down with George Guthrie (no relation), professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, to talk through how to teach Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.

Guthrie provides clarity on the “triumphal procession,” our transformation “from one degree of glory to another,” as well as how to teach on financial giving in a way that captures the beauty of the passage. Guthrie has participated in numerous Bible translation projects and wrote Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word as well as the volume on 2 Corinthians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. 

Recommended Print Resources

Recommended Audio Resources

You can stream the episode here.

Editors’ note: You can hear Nancy Guthrie at our 2016 National Women’s Conference, June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis. In addition to teaching a workshop on suffering, Guthrie will interview John Piper about how to teach the book of 1 Peter. Space is running out, so register today!

by Staff at May 19, 2016 05:01 AM

Gandalf, Job, and the Indignant Love of God

Article by: Derek Rishmawy

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.” (Job 38:1–3)

Easily one of the most bracing passages in Scripture, God’s words to Job are exhilarating in their majestically aggressive grandeur. After 36 chapters of divine silence in the face of Job’s comforters and Job’s passionate self-defense—indeed, his prosecution of God’s justice and character—the Holy One opens his mouth and reduces Job to stunned, repentant silence.  

At first glance it’s easy to see these speeches simply as magnificent assertions of the Lord’s raw power over human puniness. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who determined its measurements—surely you know! What were you doing when I was pinning up the stars like twinkle lights, little fella?” It sounds like an old man putting a young buck in his place: “I was working this job before you were in your mama’s womb.”

God seems downright salty here.

Parental Power

Part of the point of God’s speeches is to assert that power and distinction. There’s something gloriously ferocious about it—like standing on the rocks before the ocean, awed at the force of the waves crashing upon them. But surely that can’t be all. Otherwise, it seems God shows up, flexes, and puts Job in his place for whining since God is God and that’s the end of that.

But is that all that God does?

In her magisterial work Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (Oxford, 2012), Eleonore Stump calls attention to the benevolent, parental character of God’s acts of power described to Job (187–90). His creative activity causes the sons of God to sing for joy (Job 38:7). He treats the sea like a mother would, wrapping it up in swaddling clothes, telling it where to go and no further (Job 38:8–11). In stanza after stanza, the Lord depicts his personal, parental, and powerful care for all of creation, both animate and inanimate, in realms and times beyond Job’s imagining.

On this read, God isn’t simply overwhelming Job with raw power, but inviting him into an expanded point of view. God is displaying before Job a world in which his power is exercised with wisdom, care, and loving discernment for the good of his creatures. God, quite boldly, shows Job the perspective from which he views and governs his world.

Gandalf Uncloaked

So what of God’s opening lines? Is he not dealing forcefully with Job? Is he not angry? Even indignant and sarcastic? Yes, but none of this means he’s acting with anything less than merciful lovingkindness.

In one of the early passages in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf tries to persuade Bilbo to leave the one ring behind, but, having fallen under its spell, Bilbo hesistates. As Gandalf pushes, Bilbo becomes belligerent, even angry, at Gandalf:

“Well, if you want my ring yourself, say so!” cried Bilbo. “But you won’t get it. I won’t give my precious away, I tell you.” His hand strayed to the hilt of his small sword.

Gandalf’s eyes flashed, “It will be my turn to get angry soon,” he said. “If you say that again, I shall. Then you will see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked.” He took a step towards the hobbit, and he seemed to grow tall and menacing; his shadow filled the little room.

At this point, Bilbo is fearful. He backs away, trembling, wondering aloud what’s come over the old wizard. Then he defends himself against the charge of theft. Gandalf responds, “I am not trying to rob you, but to help you. I wish you would trust me, as you used.”

Bilbo has mistaken Gandalf’s aggressive, forceful stance as a raw assertion of power. In his blindness over the ring, he makes accusations against Gandalf and impugns his character, his care, and his concern. But the indignation of love elicits Gandalf’s fire. He’s angry, yes, because of the foolishness of Bilbo in thinking he could challenge him, but even more for thinking he had to—for thinking he couldn’t trust him. Gandalf’s anger at the hobbit’s accusation demonstrates his indignant love.

Indignant Love

This is Stump’s insight into God’s challenge of Job. God is on Job’s side and does take his miserable “comforters” to task. In a real way, Job is the only one who’s spoken truly of God. But the Lord’s comfort isn’t the comfort of a gentle consolation, it’s the fiery comfort of counter-charge. Sometimes the only way to correct a person who believes nobody cares about him is to be indignant at the insulting suggestion, causing him to see and know how misguided that belief really is.

Job is never given a direct answer to his questions. He’s not told of God’s dealings with Satan, nor of God’s ultimate purpose in permitting what he does.

Instead, he’s given the one thing he needs—God himself. God himself comes to confront him. God himself comes to console him. God himself comes to reveal some of his own heart, a view of his providence and governance. And this is the dignifying tenderness of God’s forceful rebuke—he deals with Job as someone who merits his care and attention, as someone who, though small and confused, is deeply loved by the Lord of heaven and earth.

Derek Rishmawy is a systematic theology PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He contributes to Christ and Pop Culture, Christianity Today, and writes at his own blog, Reformedish. He also co-hosts a podcast called Mere Fidelity. You can follow him on Twitter.

by Derek Rishmawy at May 19, 2016 05:00 AM

John C. Wright's Journal

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by John C Wright at May 19, 2016 02:42 AM

SUPERLUMINARY on Patreon

0 SUPERLUMINARY

An internet magazine hired me to write an old-fashioned space opera in the mood and flavor of ‘World Wrecker’ Hamilton to run in fifty or so weekly episodes of two-thousand word each.

However, the magazine folded and returned the rights to me. It is my wish to bring it to my fan (Hi, Nate!) directly.

The title is SUPERLUMINARY.

The plot is this: The sole survivor of an illfated expedition to Pluto finds the Infinithedron, a library of supertechnology from the alien race that created life on earth and guided evolution to produce mankind.

He returns to earth only to discover world war has decimated civilization. Rather than sharing the secrets, he uses them to conquer mankind, impose peace and order, but also abolishing aging, disease, famine.

Lord Tellus (as he calls himself) imprints each of his children with a different branch of the alien science, but the whole of it is taught to none. These Lords of Creation (as they call themselves) are commanded to create life on each of the worlds and moons of the solar system. Scores of artificial intelligent races are fashioned, who adore the children as godlike. The secret of faster than light drive Lord Tellus keeps to himself: mankind he keeps in the solar system. But what is his reason?

He goes mad, and his children rise up in rebellion, and he vanishes, leaving behind mysteries and guesses.

Aeneas Tell, son of Lady Venus, youngest of the imperial family, dreams of overthrowing the his family in favor of a republic, but when he introduces a rebel into the imperial palace for a coup, he is betrayed, and barely escapes with his life, and flees to Pluto.

Here Aeneas discovers the horrific secret his grandfather was hiding, and an ancient evil that sleeps beneath the eternal ice. Aeneas finds himself snared in a labyrinth of intrigue, striving somehow to convince his Machiavellian family to cooperate against a mutual foe none of them credit.

Read the first episode here:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/superluminary-01-5489523

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by John C Wright at May 19, 2016 02:38 AM

May 18, 2016

Aaron M. Renn

The Cultural Power of New York City

Promotional image for Hamilton the musical.

Promotional image for Hamilton the musical.

I’ve never been a huge theater guy in general, much less Broadway shows. So I never paid that much attention to it.

But the smash success of Hamilton is something hard to ignore. And it really provides a window into the overwhelming cultural power of New York.

Hamilton is a play that is running at a theater that seats 1,300 people. You’d think that by its very nature as one play, in one city, in a not that big venue, it would be limited in the effects it could have.

But Hamilton turned out to be a sensation whose effects extended far beyond Broadway. President Obama saw it multiple times.  The Wall Street Journal reported that even in Washington, in political circles it’s embarrassing if people find out you haven’t seen Hamilton.  The cast album was a best seller, reaching #1 on the Billboard rap charts and #12 overall.

But the most interesting thing to me is the role that Hamilton the musical played in keeping Hamilton the man on the face of the $10 bill.  The Treasury secretary had previously announced that Hamilton was going to go, replaced by a female to be named later. Eventually he reversed course and decided to put a woman on the $20 instead. Various factors played into this. Some women’s groups lobbied for the $20 because it is more widely used than the $10.  Others decried Jackson for racism. But even the New York Times said, “nothing so roiled the debate as the phenomenon of the musical ‘Hamilton.'”

The idea that some play running in New York could affect the decisions of the federal government is pretty stunning, and validates the dictum that politics is downstream from culture.

What’s more, it shows the cultural clout of cities, and especially that of New York.  Broadway and London’s West End are the theater equivalent of major label record company or major Hollywood studios. In many such media and cultural fields, there are a handful of key entities, and those are overwhelmingly based in New York, London, and Los Angeles, which wield grossly disproportionate cultural clout compared to other cities.

by Aaron M. Renn at May 18, 2016 08:22 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Easy Way to Earn Extra Points on Everything You Buy (No Annual Fee!)

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Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited

What if you like the idea of travel hacking, but don’t want to pay an annual fee? There’s a new way to earn cash-back or points—your choice—on a card that never has a fee.

The new Chase Freedom Unlimited card will give you $150 Cash Back just for getting the card and spending $500 in the first 90 days (remember, there’s no fee). You can “cash in” your free money at any time by applying it to your statement balance.

Alternatively—and often a better choice—you can transform your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points, as long as you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Ink Plus, or another Ultimate Rewards-earning card.

Interestingly, if you don’t have one of those other cards (and don’t want to get it yet), you can stockpile the cash back credits in your Freedom account without paying any fees. Then, when you’re ready to make your big transfer, you apply for the other card and transfer all the cash back credits to Ultimate Rewards. Voila!

To break it down, here’s why this card is interesting:

  • You’ll earn 1.5% cash back or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points on everything you buy
  • There aren’t 2x bonuses on travel and dining, like there are for Chase Sapphire Preferred (so it’s best to use another card for those expenses)
  • There is no annual fee, now or ever

The best strategy is to get this card and use it for everything you aren’t earning more than 1 point per dollar for.

In addition to the fact that there are no fees, there’s also no risk with this card. If you can’t use Ultimate Rewards points, you can simply “cash out” and get the money back on your statement balance.

You can think of this as the gateway drug of earning points for free travel. I often hear from people with a partner who doesn’t fully appreciate how awesome it can be to use points for amazing travel experiences. Here’s a way to win them over. 🙂

With no annual fee, the option for cash back, and the potential to earn 1.5 points on everything, this is a fantastic new offer that will serve a lot of people well.

Happy travels!

Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited

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Image: Kevin Young

by Chris Guillebeau at May 18, 2016 04:51 PM

On Siri’s OS X supposed look and feel

Juli Clover at MacRumors, discussing Siri’s appearance in the yet-announced OS X 10.12:

In the menu bar, there’s a simple Siri black and white icon that features the word “Siri” surrounded by a box, while the full dock icon is more colorful and features a colorful Siri waveform in the style of other built-in app icons. Clicking on either of the icons brings up a Siri waveform to give users a visual cue that the virtual assistant is listening for commands, much like on iOS devices when the Home button is held down.

I dig the Dock icon, but I sure hope that menu bar icon is still a placeholder.

by Stephen at May 18, 2016 04:42 PM

Market Urbanism

Densifying Transit Corridors Is Not Densifying Enough

Curitiba

Curitiba

One recent urban planning trend advocates for so-called “Transit-Oriented Developments”, or TODs. This is when cities allow already built-up areas to increase development along mass transit corridors, such as bus or rail lines. If such transit infrastructure didn’t exist, the potential development increase in these areas would be restricted.

The TOD idea is mainly based on the Curitiba model, a city that allowed denser building and populations along Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors. The above image shows the effects: high-rise buildings with minimum or absent setbacks along the corridors, and sharp decreases in density on adjacent streets, since these latter streets would theoretically use the BRTs less.

The same logic is being applied for São Paulo’s new recently-approved Zoning Code: sharp density increases in allowed built-up areas along mass transit corridors, and more low-slung buildings further into the neighborhoods.

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This TOD model is certainly better than previous ones, wherein dense development was restricted altogether, even when near mass transit. As I’ve previously noted, lower densities undermine the economic feasibility of transit networks, which rely on intense agglomerations. Many factors justify TODs’ attractiveness to current planners, including that they make transit viable, increase the centrally-located housing stock, and satisfy residents of low-rise areas, who usually enjoy keeping their neighborhoods’ original features.

But I haven’t become a broad advocate of TODs because they disproportionately favor these low-rise residents, disregarding everyone who must be pushed into suburban peripheries. A TOD-driven approach has a correct logic of analyzing neighborhood scale, and trying to organize it likewise, based on transit and street availability. But it doesn’t account for the factthat every unit left unbuilt within a neighborhood will necessarily be built in the outskirts, generating longer commutes and higher infrastructure costs. Peripheral residents certainly are not the same as downtown ones, but they would still benefit from living in central locations that they are now priced out of.

So how would densification work inside neighborhoods not directly served by mass transit?

Keep in mind that allowing denser development does not mean all neighborhoods will suddenly become hyper-dense. Some regions are more attractive than others, and redevelopment costs are higher in neighborhoods already filled with 8- and 9-story buildings, such as the areas suggested for more density in São Paulo’s new Zoning Code. For redevelopment to occur, the demand for housing must surpass all transaction costs – meaning there would already need to be enormous pressure to occupy the area previously restricted via regulation.

Image of São Paulo’s Zoning Code diagram, representing the maintenance of heights and densities inside the neighborhoods.

Image of São Paulo’s Zoning Code diagram, representing the maintenance of heights and densities inside the neighborhoods.

 

Less-demanded neighborhoods will not receive such development, remaining available for those who prefer less intensive or cosmopolitan features. When considering a city’s dynamics as a whole, we should keep in mind that lower-density options will always be available, even if a little more distant from central zones. But the person demanding a less urban lifestyle should be the one to endure this distance trade-off, not the other way around.

Critics frequently claim that dense development would lead to greater motorized traffic congestion, but I disagree. As such areas become more viable for walking and transit, the need for personal car use would decrease on a per-capita basis.

Lastly, while such upzoning certainly transforms neighborhood characteristics, that transformation is just part of urban life. We should remember that no city or building would exist – not even the 8-story ones São Paulo intends to preserve – if its first inhabitants had shut out new neighbors on behalf of preserving their lifestyles. City life is, by definition, the life of dense human agglomeration of people.

[Originally published on the blog Caos Planejado]

by Anthony Ling at May 18, 2016 04:25 PM

John C. Wright's Journal

Book Bomb: NETHEREAL, or, Space Pirates in Hell

A rising, fresh-faced and deserving superversive author, Brian Niemeier, asked me to help promote his book, which I am delighted to do.

The inestimable Larry Correia, the Mountain the Writes, says he  read this a couple of months ago and the best way to describe it is Space Pirates Go To Hell. He adds “Only it is way cooler than that description makes it sound.”

Mr. Correia organized a Book Bomb for today, May 18th, and I urge anyone reading this to join in and support the effort.

My lovely and talented wife edited the book, and she describes it as akin to Roger Zelazny’s work, which is high praise indeed coming from her, as Mr. Zelazny is one of her favorite authors.

Nethereal
by Brian Niemeier
Nethereal

The goal of a Book Bomb day is to urge as many people as possible to buy an author’s book on the same day. The more books sell, the higher it gets in the rankings, the more new people see it.

If the book is one to your taste, buying it as the same time as other patrons enlarges the ratings on Amazon, which helps garner publicity.

A healthy Book Bomb will bring an author to the attention of hundreds of potential fans who not otherwise see his work. Amazon is preferred for its size and scope, but any purchase will help.

So please purchase a copy today, and urge your friends, allies, associates, and serfs and minions likewise.

by John C Wright at May 18, 2016 04:09 PM

eagereyes

OpenVis 2016 Talk Videos and Pointers

openvis-teaser

The OpenVis Conference had another great selection of talks this year. Here is a list of my favorites, with talk videos and pointers to some additional materials.

The conference venue was the IMAX theater of the Boston Aquarium, which was great. Not only was the huge screen and theater seating a definite plus, but the ticket also included admission to the aquarium. Lots of OpenVis attendees went to see the fish and penguins during the lunch break.

The following is a relatively short list of my favorite talks. All the talk videos are up on the OpenVis website. You should take a look and play with the visualization of the topics covered by each.

Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas, Seeing Machines Think

Martin and Fernanda (or, to use the collective term I coined for them at OpenVis, Marnanda) gave a fun talk about visualization for neural networks. They focused on the visualization for the TensorFlow project they recently released.

One little gem in that talk was a link I grabbed to one of Martin’s demos: a little chess program that shows you what it’s thinking about. Fun to play with, though I wish it had some more ways of interacting with its thought process.

Amelia McNamara, Do You Know Nothing When You See It?

Amelia is a professor of statistics at Smith College. Her talk was quite different from the talk about Nothing Andy Kirk gave two years ago. She talked about a different approach to statistics than usual: using bootstrapping and simulation to build up distributions instead of looking up a value in a table for a test. She also used the graphical inference work by Hadley Wickham et al. from a few years ago.

Amelia has posted some links to materials as well as a complete write-up of her talk.

Nadieh Bremer, SVGs Beyond Mere Shapes

Last year and especially the year before, some of the technical talks went way too far into the weeds of code that really didn’t make much sense in a talk. This year, they stayed at the right level, where they gave people ideas and pointed them in the right direction without trying to teach them things they could not possibly remember from a talk.

Nadieh’s talk about SVG and CSS was especially well done. She showed some very clever uses of CSS, like different kinds of animation, using gradients to create a graying-out effect, etc. She has posted her slides and code, and is also slowly writing up a whole series of blog postings about all the different topics she covered. Great stuff.

Zan Armstrong, Everything is Seasonal

I really enjoyed Zan‘s talk, and I still think about it. She argued that seasonality needs to be taken into account when doing time series analysis. Okay. Then she showed the seasonality in birth data on several levels, which was really interesting.

But the key was her very cleverly constructed dataset that demonstrated how monthly aggregation leads you astray when your data has weekly rhythm. I’ve never seen this shown so clearly. She has made the birth data and some pointers available on github. If you only watch one talk today, make it this one.

Mona Chalabi, Informing Without Alienating

I’m a big fan of Mona Chalabi’s work. She’s a Data Editor at Guardian US now (Guardian UK and FiveThirtyEight before that), where she takes on some of the topics many people don’t like to touch: bodily fluids, sexuality, etc.

She was the clincher when deciding whether to go to OpenVis, and I was not disappointed by her talk. She has a very human approach to data and does some really interesting work to bring difficult topics to people. In addition to watching her talk below, you should also follow her on Instagram, where she posts very interesting hand-drawn visualizations.

Kennedy Elliott, 37 Studies on Human Perception in 30 Minutes

Kennedy is Graphics Editor at the Washington Post. Her talk was a tour de force of 37 (or, as she later admitted on Twitter, actually 39) studies on perception in visualization. She has written the whole thing up on Medium and you can watch it below. It’s a great way to get a sense of the kind of work that visualization is based on.

Jessica Hullman, The Visual Uncertainty Experience

The most surprising talk to me was Jessica’s. Her talks tend to be more on the dry academic side – but not this one. She used some really fun comparisons and generally hit it out of the park. Well done!

This is my selection, covering less than half the talks. Siena Duplan has written a list that covers some other talks as well. And you should check out the rest yourself.

by Robert Kosara at May 18, 2016 03:15 PM

Keeping Busy

What’s It Worth?

Every year, Sand Hill Angels invests in number of start-ups. We know how much money we’ve invested (several million dollars a year) and what we’ve received in return (securities of various types). But, we have not, until now, tried to … Continue reading

by Mark Mitchell at May 18, 2016 03:00 PM

Roads from Emmaus

How Death Unlocks Life

Myrrh-bearers Sunday, May 15, 2016 Acts 6:1-7; Mark 15:43-16:8 Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Christ is risen! Today on this third Sunday of Pascha, we return for a little while to a ... READ MORE ›

The post How Death Unlocks Life appeared first on Roads from Emmaus.

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at May 18, 2016 02:39 PM

Hack / Make

Continuously Editing

One of my first major pieces on this site, published in February of 2012, compares and contrasts the trend of minimalism with what I was calling “active ownership”:

Active ownership, which differs from minimalism, is about investing your limited attention, money, space, and time to what you value so that those things will thrive. Being vested in something makes you care more about it. You can’t do or have everything, so when you choose to take active ownership, it becomes a commitment to it and decisions and compromises have to be made about what commands your limited attention. As a result of the explicit choice you make in how you spend your attention, you reduce the things around you to what’s most valuable. What’s not valuable gets cut from your attention budget.

When I wrote this, and for several years after, I was incredibly invested and active in Hack/Make. I was writing, editing, and building a community of friends around the work I was doing here. I practiced the process of writing, editing, and publishing while discovering a voice online. I made decisions and personal sacrifices so I could focus on writing for this site. It’s been a place for me to explore ideas, code, and a systematic thought process in a time when I was setting the building blocks in my adult life. I’m a much better of a person because I actively invested myself in that work.

But for more than a year, I’ve been struggling to stay passionate about Hack/Make.

When I look back through the archives, though I’m happy with the body of work as a whole, there isn’t a lot of individual pieces that I’m terribly proud of. Some of that is because I’ve matured as a writer and my old stuff reads as weak. But I also think it’s because I’ve matured as a person and the way I think about the topics I wrote about here has evolved. Many of these topics—task lists, scripting, tools—were the problems I found myself interested in at the time. Most no longer hold my interest since I’ve either figured out something that works for me or recognize the problem as unsolvable. By trying different productivity tools and systems, I’ve learned that less is more and that I enjoy life more when focusing on other things.

I’ve spent the last couple of years making friends, traveling, and falling in love. I see the beauty and hardship, the complexity and the honesty of the human world in these people and places. When I remember to stay in any given moment, I forget about being “productive”. I now embrace getting out from in front of the computer. I look forward to getting away from the safe feeling of methodologies and the comfort of routine: they served their purpose at the time, but often being comfortable for too long means you’re not growing. Ditching the constraints of all these systems means I get to explore the intricacies of being truly human.

To keep the site alive I’ve tried drafting posts about how the blog will evolve in nature as my interests have changed. I’ve tried updating the tagline of the site to set the course for a new vision that excited me and I’ve spent countless hours brainstorming ways to rename the site so I wasn’t disgusted by the word “hack”—which I’ve come to loath—every time I sit down to write. Through all this, I realized I’m just not excited about Hack/Make any more.

Passions change, focus shifts, and, sometimes, what once brought you joy no longer does. I was no longer taking active ownership in the site nor consistently reinvesting myself in it.

I closed that article, four years ago with this:

This process of actively owning, continuously editing what you do, and explicitly choosing what’s around you results in a deeper passion for those things and is worth investing in.

It’s time for me to make some edits. I’ve written about focus and attention and I need to spend mine elsewhere. I want to reset my writing practice and take time to collect ideas, write drafts, and hone the craft. I need to bring joy and humanity back into my writing and rediscover my passion for it.

Though it would be easiest to take it offline, but I’m going to keep Hack/Make live. It’s still a good reference for myself and, hopefully, for others who want to learn about productivity methods. If you find this study to be bringing you energy, enjoyment, or help provide you some feeling of flow in your life, I encourage you to continue. It’s not that I think this practice is a waste, it’s just not what I need to focus on.

Writing will always have a place in my life, whether or not I’m posting to a blog. I’m learning that, often, the payoff is the writing. It’s in the writer’s cramp and in filling notebooks. In thinking through problems and developing your opinion. In evolving your outlook and seeing life in fresh new ways.

I’m still drafting my next chapter but found in life’s little moments is more than enough material.

by Nick Wynja at May 18, 2016 02:09 PM

Table Titans

Tales: The Importance of Being Average

Back in the dawn times, in the days when Dwarf and Elf were classes, we didn’t have any of your fancy point buys or take the best 3 out of 4d6 and apply to the result to any attribute. No, we rolled 3d6 in order (uphill both ways in the snow) and took what we got.

Sometimes the party might be a…

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May 18, 2016 07:00 AM

Justin Taylor

90 Years Ago Today—The Mysterious Disappearance of the Preacher Aimee Semple McPherson: An Interview with Matthew Avery Sutton

ASMMatthew Avery Sutton is the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor and Graduate Studies Director at Washington State University.

His most recent book is American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Belknap Press [Harvard University], 2014). [Review.]

But before that he wrote a fascinating study entitled Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Harvard University Press, 2007).

Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) was the dynamic and controversial and immensely popular preacher and founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel—a Pentecostal denomination which still exists today with 1,600 churches and a quarter of a million members and adherents in the U.S., and 75,000 churches with 8.7 million members and adherents in 136 countries.

More than a standard biography—like Edith Blumhofer’s Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody’s Sister or Daniel Mark Epstein’s Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson—Sutton’s work not only tells the story of Sister Aimee but also explores her theology, culture, influence, and legacy. It is a fascinating work that I highly recommend. The PBS documentary series American Experience based their Sister Aimee based upon Sutton’s book.


 

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I keep thinking of the tag line for the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series that begins, “What if I told you. . . .” If they did one for Aimee Semple McPherson, perhaps they’d say, “What if I told you that one of the most famous fundamentalist preachers of the 1920s and 30s was not a man but a woman, and not just any woman, but one who went through two divorces and who became something of a sex symbol.” So how did something like that happen in that day and age?

It happened precisely because of the day and age. McPherson represented so many trends of the era. She helped drive the rise of a new mass media, celebrity culture. She launched her career on the heels of the first wave of feminism and the coming of woman suffrage. And she embodied—in every way—the sexual revolution of the 1920s. What makes her unique, and worth exploring as a historical subject, was how all of this intersected with her religious faith.

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There’s “famous” and then there’s “Christian famous.” The former are bona fide celebrities; the latter tend to be big fishes in a small pond. What kind of celebrity was Sister Aimee? In other words, how well-known was she in the United States at the time?

She was not Christian famous—and of course in the 1920s there was no “Christian” subculture—no Kirk Cameron, no Veggie Tales, no Amy Grant—there were simply celebrities. And she was among the most famous. She was profiled in the major magazines of the era from Harpers to Vanity Fair, and she was the subject of hundreds of news stories not just in her hometown Los Angeles papers but in the New York Times. She also drew a good deal of international attention in places like London.

So in May of 1926-the same month Henry Ford institutes the 5-day, 40-hour work week for his factory workers in Detroit, and C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met for the first time in England—the news comes out that Aimee Semple McPherson, at the age of 34, has vanished from Ocean Park Beach, north of Venice Beach and south of the Santa Monica Pier. What had she been doing before this, where was she at during the time of the disappearance, and what did people assume had happened?

McPherson, who was born in Canada in 1890, had converted to pentecostalism as a teenager and she soon thereafter claimed to be able to heal people. She built her career as an itinerant evangelist and then settled down in 1923 in Los Angeles where she opened a huge five-thousand seat megachurch called Angelus Temple.

ep_angelus_temple_1920s

The next year, she launched a state-of-the-art radio station, Kall Four Square Gospel (KFSG). She also started a monthly magazine, a weekly newspaper, and incorporated a film company. Her church drew enormous crowds of locals and tourists alike, who came especially to see her Sunday evening “illustrated” sermons—the most popular shows in town.

In these entertaining productions, McPherson blended what she called the old-time religion with Hollywood pizzazz, using costumes, actors, an orchestra, expensive lighting, and elaborate stage sets to perform her messages.

It was at the peak of her fame, in the spring of 1926, that McPherson mysteriously vanished.

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People praying and searching the beach for Aimee Semple McPherson.

 

But then five weeks later, she dramatically returns, stumbling out of the desert in Aqua Prieta, Sonora (Mexico), some 600-700 miles away from LA. What did Aimee say had happened? Was she believed, and how was she received?

McPherson’s reappearance made for a great story. Some people at the time alleged that she had run away with a lover. Others thought that she might have orchestrated an elaborate publicity stunt. But McPherson told the first reporters to arrive an account from which she would never deviate. Kidnappers had taken her from Venice beach that mysterious day in May when, as she came out of the water, a man and woman begged her to go to their car to pray for their dying baby. McPherson agreed, but when she reached the car, she was shoved in from behind and given an anesthesia, rendering her unconscious. She awoke to find that three people had snatched her: an unnamed man, another called Steve, and a woman who answered to Rose. The trio held her in a shack in the Mexican desert while they attempted to secure a ransom from Angelus Temple. They promised to sell her to “Felipe” in Mexico City if the church did not meet their demands. Church leaders did receive many ransom notes, which they turned over to local police, but investigators dismissed them as hoaxes. When Rose left McPherson alone one day, she freed herself by rubbing the ties on her wrists against the jagged edge of a large open tin can. Jumping out of a window, she began her desert trek to Agua Prieta.

ASM_in_DouglasAZHospital

Aimee Semple McPherson (center) convalesces in a Douglas, Arizona, hospital. From left to right are District Attorney Asa Keyes; her mother, Mildred Kennedy; her 15-year-old daughter, Roberta Star Semple; her 13-year-old son, Rolf McPherson; and Deputy District Attorney Joseph Ryan.

 

Between 30,000 and 50,000 people showed up to welcome the train carrying Aimee Semple McPherson upon her return on June 28, 1926.

 

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Why did she end up going to trial, and how did that turn out?

There was actually a series of trials. First, the district attorney convened a grand jury ostensibly to determine if he had enough evidence to indict the “kidnappers” (even though they had not been identified or arrested). He used this investigation to attack McPherson’s story and to pry into her personal life. Then, when he concluded that she had lied in her testimony to the grand jury, he decided to convene a second grand jury to determine if McPherson should stand trial for criminal charges. The grand jury concluded that she should. The DA then scheduled the criminal trial for early 1927, but then his case imploded and he dropped all the charges against the evangelist.

The question everyone wants to know is: what really happened? What are the basic arguments for and against the idea that she was telling the truth?

Ah yes, so what really happened during those mysterious thirty-six days in 1926? In the ninety years since McPherson vanished, most Americans have assumed that she had an affair with her radio engineer, Kenneth Ormiston.

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Aimee Semple McPherson with Kenneth G. Ormiston, the engineer for KFSG, the Christian radio station owned by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

 

After all, it certainly looked that way.

McPherson herself acknowledged during the first grand jury investigation that such rumors abounded even before the kidnapping.

Furthermore, it would be an amazing coincidence if the evangelist vanished at exactly the same time that the engineer, using a series of pseudonyms, took off with a secret, disguised lover to the northern California beach town of Carmel—which he did do.

Then there is the issue that most troubled McPherson’s own closest confidants: she worked really hard behind the scenes to pressure the DA to drop the case against her. Why? After her many public proclamations promising that the courts would vindicate her, why didn’t she want the investigation carried through to the end? What was she afraid of?

But most damaging of all was the testimony of her mother, Minnie Kennedy, a true piece of work. Although Kennedy stood by her daughter during the trials, the temple matron opened up to reporters two years later, at a time when her relationship with Aimee had disintegrated. She claimed that the year before the kidnapping McPherson seemed to be infatuated with Ormiston and implied that they had become “too close.”

But if McPherson had chosen to disappear, why would she concoct such an outrageous kidnapping story? There are many possibilities. It might be that she was truly in love with Ormiston. Since he was married and she was divorced, her pentecostal followers would never have approved. Admitting to a relationship with the radioman would have undermined everything that she stood for and all that she had labored so hard to achieve.

Or maybe Ormiston had nothing to do with her disappearance. She may have lacked the energy to continue her work. She might have liked the idea of living outside of the Hollywood spotlight.

Or maybe, as one pioneering journalist suspected, she got some bad advice from one of her publicity aides. She might have vanished with the intention of quickly returning for a dramatic sermon, never anticipating what a huge sensation she would cause.

Finally, there was also the issue of her mental health. At times she behaved immaturely, she often lacked foresight, and she occasionally struggled with lethargy and depression. She may not have been thinking clearly or rationally when she left the beach that mysterious day. (And, in fact, she eventually died in 1944 of a drug overdose.)

Nevertheless, as damning as the circumstantial evidence linking McPherson to Ormiston appears to be, the mystery will probably never be totally solved. Those who were closest to McPherson stood by her kidnapping story; and neither Ormiston nor anyone close to the engineer ever claimed that McPherson was his secret mistress. Most importantly, neither a politically savvy district attorney who had gambled his career on this high profile case, nor two very well financed newspapers ever uncovered a single shred of evidence that conclusively linked McPherson with Kenneth Ormiston during the spring of 1926. But she certainly did not escape the scandal unscathed.

That said, I am confident based on the circumstantial evidence that she was in Carmel with Ormiston. The evidence—circumstantial as it may be—is pretty overwhelming.

How did her life change after this ordeal?

She went through a really dark period for almost the next decade, in which she struggled to rebuild her ministry and to restore her reputation. But in the mid-1930s she returned to her old time pentecostal roots and her ministry experienced the revival she had longed for. Blending faith with compassion for the poor, she established a racially inclusive, effective social service organization during he Great Depression. By World War II, she had once again become one of the most popular ministers in the country. Linking religious faith with patriotic politics, she drew thousands of Americans to her movement. She died on September 27, 1944. The evangelical denomination that she established, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, continues to grow.

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60,000 mourners attend the funeral of Aimee Semple McPherson (age 53) on October 6, 1944

 

Aimee_Semple_McPherson (1)

I’d venture to guess that most folks reading this had not previously heard of Aimee Semple McPherson. It may strike them as an interesting story but without immediate relevance for today. In what ways do you think her life and theology and theatrics influenced American culture and American religion in particular?

Aimee is in many ways a prototypical American hero. She began her career on the margins of society, became a Hollywood star reaching the pinnacle of power, and then helplessly watched her empire nearly implode. Her story speaks to contemporary issues and resonates with important historical themes that remain with us today. Her life illuminates our enduring struggles to find intimacy, our efforts to overcome personal racial or gender or class barriers, our unease with the influence of religion on American politics and culture, and our nervousness about the opportunities and limitations of new technologies. Basically, Aimee tells us a lot about who we are as Americans.

_79237805_aimee

by Justin Taylor at May 18, 2016 06:58 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Your Sin Is Not What You Think

Article by: John Piper

The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more.

We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created.

My Definition of Sin

Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. The bottom of sin, the root of all sins, is such a heart—a heart that prefers anything above God; a heart that doesn’t treasure God over everything else, and everyone else.

Sin is the deepest, strongest, and most pervasive problem in the human race. In fact, once Paul has made clear the essence or root of sin (Rom. 1–3), he goes on to make clear in the following chapters the magnitude of its power in us. He speaks of sin reigning like a king in death (5:21); holding dominion like a lord (6:14); enslaving like a slavemaster (6:6, 16–17, 20) to whom we’ve been sold (7:14); as a force that produces other sins (7:8); as a power that seizes the law and kills (7:11); as a hostile occupying tenant who dwells in us (7:17, 20); and as a law that takes us captive (7:23).

Not Mainly Behavioral

This deep, strong, pervasive reality of sin in us defines us until we are born again. That miracle must happen, or the deep antagonism toward God will go on controlling and directing us forever. Jesus put it this way: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:6–7). By virtue of our first birth, we are merely flesh—devoid of God’s Spirit and life. But when we’re “born of the Spirit,” God’s Spirit gives us spiritual life and moves into us, and we have life in him forever.

That life comes with the light of truth. “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12). Eternal life and true light are always together. We “live in the light” when the Spirit gives us life.

To underline the serious bondage we’re in before this new birth, Paul goes on to say, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18). What we are apart from new birth—new creation by the Spirit of God because of Christ—is the embodiment of resistance to God. “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (8:7). Why can’t it? Because it doesn’t want to. We disapprove of God as supreme (1:28). We exchange him, because we prefer other things more.

So we must lay to rest forever the notion that sin is mainly what we do. It’s not: it is mainly who we are—until we are a new creature in Christ. And even then, it’s an ever-present, indwelling enemy to be put to death every day by the Spirit (7:17, 20, 23; 8:13).

Before Christ, sin isn’t an alien power in us. Sin is our preference for anything over God. Sin is our disapproval of God. Sin is our exchange of his glory for substitutes. Sin is our suppression of his truth. Sin is our heart’s hostility to him. It’s who we are to the bottom of our hearts. Until Christ.

What We’re Made For 

Against this bleak description of the root of our problem when handling of money, sex, and power, what also becomes clear is that this distortion of our souls isn’t what we were made to be. We were meant to know God and to glorify and thank him (Rom. 1:19–21). We were meant to see him and, by seeing him, reflect his beauty. We were meant to do that not by exchanging him for something, but by preferring him over everything. We were to glorify God by treasuring him over all treasures, enjoying him over all pleasures, desiring him over all desires, prizing him over all prizes, wanting him over all wants.

The mark of the true Christian isn’t that sin never gets the upper hand—not that our desires are flawlessly Godward. The mark of the Christian is that at the root of our lives is this new treasuring of Christ over all things. He has assumed a place in our hearts that pulls us back again and again to renew our devotion to him as supreme. Christians have discovered that the indwelling Spirit magnifies the worth of Jesus above all things, and moves us to repentance when we fail to feel that worth as we ought. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from John Piper’s book Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power (The Good Book Company, 2016). 

John Piper is founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is also a Council member of The Gospel Coalition.

by John Piper at May 18, 2016 05:02 AM

Are You My Mother?

Article by: Courtney Reissig

Who can forget the first time your baby looked you in the eye with a sense of knowing you’re the one who can be counted on? Or the first time the woman you’d been mentoring began writing down your words, storing them away for future reflection? Or the first time your child said “Mommy” with confidence?

It’s hard to forget these examples of mothering. They move us. They stay with us. They encourage us to press on. But know what else they often do? They make us feel like the center of the universe. Sure, maybe it’s a small universe, but we still feel like we’re the center. Our little children, both spiritual and physical, orbit around us—and on a good day, we feel pretty good about that attention. On a bad day, we’d rather just pack up and quit the whole thing.

It’s hard to ignore our tendency toward self-focus in this mothering task. We talk so much about the sacrifice mothers make, but even with all the dying to self that goes on, self still finds its way back into our minds. And it likes to camp out at the front.

Gloria Furman knows that tendency, so she’s written a book that intends to move self back to its rightful place in God’s big story. In Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God, Furman takes us where few mothering books have gone before: through biblical history.

This book won’t tell you how to be a better mom to your kids, or a better mentor to your disciples, or a better teacher to your students, or anything else that comes to mind when you think about motherhood. But it will place you in the middle of redemptive history and give you a vision for God’s global purposes that spans far beyond your living room walls.

Grand Plan, Grand Mission

Missional Motherhood is divided into two sections: “Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God: Nurturing Life in the Face of Death” and “The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood: Go, Therefore, and Mother Disciples.” Furman starts first by saying that missional motherhood is for every woman—regardless of whether you have physical children (15). While most motherhood books speak only to mothers with children at their feet, Furman reminds us we’re all mothers to someone because, as she says, “mother is a verb, too” (15).

Section one takes us through God’s plan in salvation history. The reader is placed in God’s story, since that’s where we all must find ourselves, even if you’re not a believer in Christ. If you’ve never immersed yourself in biblical theology, this section is an excellent overview. To read it in a book on motherhood is a delight. We need to see God’s overarching purposes in the world in order to see where we fit into it. We need to be reminded regularly that God has a plan that goes beyond us, but also includes us. This section is a beautiful reminder of that plan.

Section two moves us to Christ and how his life, death, resurrection, and ascension transform our mothering. Furman says that our “sacrificial nurturing work would be radically reoriented if [we] understood that Christ is the creator of motherhood. Motherhood is for his purposes in the world” (107). She goes on to say that “God designed his creation to praise him, and his creation of motherhood is no exception” (107). This is the point of motherhood—to be part of his work of making disciples through us. And because motherhood is about disciplemaking, all women are included in this glorious work.

One thing that kept coming to mind as I read was, What about men? Don’t they nurture life as well? Furman anticipates this question. Drawing on the truth that men and women are created in the image of God, she notes they’re created differently to tell a story about him. And she highlights how the way men and women nurture life might differ in each culture (108). Furman provides two examples of nurturing life from her context (the Middle East) that will resonate with readers.

Biblically Rich, Vividly Compelling 

There are many strengths in Missional Motherhood, most notably the depth of theological truths sprinkled on every page. Lest you think a book on motherhood need only be filled with practical examples and light Scripture (because moms are tired), think again. This book is deep—and that’s a good thing. Women need (and want) to know there’s meaning in the work they’re called to, whether it’s mentoring a young foster child, opening their home to strangers, teaching the Bible to women, or raising the next generation. Mothering is significant, and we need the truth of God’s Word to bear us up. If you’ve ever doubted that women can, and should, do theology, read Missional Motherhood

Furman also has a knack for vivid imagery to drive home the point. Her way with words is beautiful and compelling. She’s a capable and smart writer, able to take deep truths and distill them into digestible nuggets for her readers, while remaining a delight to read.

As I mentioned, Furman introduces readers to biblical theology. I imagine not all would pick up Graeme Goldsworthy or Greg Beale, but many would pick up Gloria Furman. This is a gift to her readers. She’s exposing women to excellent teaching through a framework many desperately want help in—motherhood.

For all of the strengths of this book (and there are many more I don’t have time to mention), one thing I would’ve liked to see more concrete non-traditional mothering examples. It’s hard to hit everyone—and I’m a mother to young children, so I was served by Furman’s examples—but I think even more would have added to an already excellent book.

Overall, this book is a gift to women everywhere. Missional Motherhood is a breath of fresh air in a book market that tends to put women in different camps (married or single, mother or non-mother). Furman reminds us we’re all called to nurture life in the face of death—no matter our season, culture, or context. 

Gloria Furman. Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016. 224 pp. $14.99. 

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 May 18, 2016 05:02 AM

4 Reasons to Be of Good Courage in Suffering

Article by: Kristen Wetherell

What does it look like to suffer well?

It’s easy to answer this question in theory, but much harder when suffering crashes into our experience. As I’ve struggled with chronic physical pain, sleeping through the night, and general weariness of body, mind, and soul, I’ve wondered if it’s okay to be angry, when it’s right to ask God for deliverance from trials, and how it’s possible to be joyful despite perplexing circumstances.

The apostle Paul knew and addressed the hardships of earthly life:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. (2 Cor. 5:1–6)

Paul reminds us that it’s possible to be of good courage in suffering—to be full of hope, peace, and joy—as we cling to the gospel. Here are the four reasons he gives.

1. Be of good courage because heaven is coming.

Paul reminds us that our human bodies are temporary shelters broken down by the elements. We live a tent-like physical existence since sin has stained our perfection, separating body and soul through inescapable death.

One day, however, we will behold the return of Jesus on clouds of glory and the restoration of all things. On that day, our earthly tents will be transformed into indestructible buildings from God. Our souls will also be wholly restored as we’re freed from sin’s grip and our glorification is made complete.

But how does this future reality make us of good courage right now? It motivates us to place our ultimate hope in the last day and beyond, not in our present circumstances. Even if we’re never granted release from our current afflictions, we have gain in Christ because of our future home with him, purchased through redemption by his blood.

2. Be of good courage because of freedom in prayer.

I love the rawness of Paul’s words: “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” Our groaning, when rooted in our ultimate hope of eternity with Christ, manifests itself in confident prayer to a Father who knows our needs, hears our requests, and delights to give us what’s best. 

Sometimes I wonder, Is God pleased when I accept my afflictions, or when I cry out to him for help and deliverance? It seems from this passage the answer is “both.” Our groaning in prayer pleases God because:

  • In humbling ourselves before our Father we draw nearest to him. Suffering often breaks us of self-will and self-sufficiency and points us to his will and his sufficiency. It reveals our sin and our need for a Redeemer.
  • It proclaims we have freedom as God’s children to ask him for our requests, even deliverance from trouble. We can approach his throne of grace with confidence because of the blood of Jesus, believing God’s will is perfect.
  • It expresses that we ultimately long to be covered by the righteousness of Jesus and made increasingly like him, not to be granted temporary comforts or escape from trouble. 

Because of God’s grace in Christ, we can groan openly and long passionately for both temporary deliverance and ultimate restoration.

3. Be of good courage because God uses suffering as preparation for glory.

Because we’re God’s beloved children, all things are working together for our benefit and his exaltation (Rom. 8:28). Though we may never fully understand God’s wisdom in our suffering, we choose to cling to his love, demonstrated chiefly through the sending of Christ.

The reason we’re able to be of good courage amid pain is a firm belief in God’s love for us, expressed in the gospel, and a confidence that our “slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). For how much better, how much more beautiful and excellent, will heaven with Christ be after we’ve groaned in our earthly tents for a time? 

4. Be of good courage because of the Holy Spirit’s presence and promise.

Paul reminds us that our Father “has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” of our house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. The Holy Spirit is our good deposit that our future heavenly home has been secured and that the life of Christ dwells in us now, amid our sufferings. His presence and promise strengthen us to endure, mature, and hope.

The Spirit calls to mind the true words of God; helps us in our weakness; convicts us of sin and righteousness; illumines our inner being to the knowledge of God; and pours the love of Christ into our hearts. What a ministry! And the Spirit enables us to respond to suffering as Jesus did, with prayer and dependence and trust in God’s unseen plan.

Suffering well is no easy task, but the pursuit of good courage in affliction is worth the fight:

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor. 5:9–10)

Someday, you and I will stand before Jesus, justified in his sight by grace through faith. And we will delight to hear, because of good courage in suffering: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” 

Editors’ note: For more on this topic, join us next month for our 2016 National Women’s Conference, “Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering,” June 16 to 18 in Indianapolis. Also be sure to mark your calender for our 2017 National Conference, April 3 to 5 in Indianapolis, where Kristen Wetherell will be speaking, along with Sarah Walton, on “The Gift of Suffering: Why Pain May Not Be What It Seems.”

Kristen Wetherell is a writer, speaker, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She’s married to Brad, loves exploring new places, enjoys cooking, and writes music in her spare time. Her desire is to glorify Jesus Christ and edify believers through the written Word. Connect with Kristen at her website or on Twitter @KLWetherell.

by Kristen Wetherell at May 18, 2016 05:00 AM

What False Repentance Looks Like

Article by: Staff

“Repentance is the other side of the coin of salvation. It’s not enough to have some kind of faith if we don’t have the real thing as far as repentance is concerned. The two go together.” — Conrad Mbewe

Text: 1 Samuel 15:24

Preached: January 25, 2015

Location: Cornerstone Baptist Church, Roseville, Michigan

Conrad Mbewe has served as pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, since 1987. KBC is presently overseeing the establishment of about 20 new Reformed Baptist churches in Zambia and other African countries. Mbewe also maintains a full itinerant preaching ministry in different countries around the world and is the editor of Reformation Zambia magazine. He has written about 40 booklets in Africa and three books that have been published internationally, including Foundations for the Flock (Granted Ministries, 2011).

You can stream the episode here.

by Staff at May 18, 2016 04:59 AM

John C. Wright's Journal

Ancient Epic and Future Fiction

Ancient Epic and Future Fiction
or
Epic Deprivation Syndrome

Here follows the notes for a speech given at Franciscan University of Steubenville an evening in April of 2016. The speech as given differs from these notes in several respects: for sake of time and clarity, certain segments were omitted, or words changed. The prose below is unpolished, for I present my readers with my raw first draft that I wrote that afternoon in haste.

 

THREE QUESTIONS

This evening I would like you to entertain the proposition that as humans, we need epics, but that in the modern age, we suffer from what we might call Epic Deprivation Syndrome.

I propose epic depravation is a disease not of the mind or body, but of the soul, and it afflicts not one men or faction of men, but whole cultures and generations. Nations can go mad just as men do.

I propose that the primary symptom of Epic Depravation Syndrome is a social pathology something like colorblindness or tone-deafness, where the moral sense of the consensus of society can no longer register correct stock responses in the face of moral qualities: it is neither attracted to great good nor repelled by great evil.

If all generations need epics and this generation suffers from epic depravation, this leads to the additional questions:

  • First, what is an epic?
  • Second why do we need them?
  • Third, what is causing the current epic depravations,
  • Fourth, what has been done hitherto to alleviate the symptoms, and,
  • Finally and most importantly, should be done to cure it.

For the hour is late, and the prognostication is grim:

I fear the final result of this syndrome, if the disease is allowed further to grow unchecked, is the destruction of our civilization and the damnation of our souls.

SKEPTICISM

Now, I hope this prognostication is so dire and dreadful that it will provoke your instant skepticism. If your scholarly minds have been properly trained by this wonderful institution, you should be thinking that it is impossible that something so frivolous as the lack of a certain type of poem or story would have such vast and morbid consequences.

Let us begin, as all proper skeptical scholars must, with a definition of terms. What is an epic?

1                                     EPIC WHAT?

Flying to my dictionary, I find Mr. Webster defines the term this way: An epic is extended narrative tale in elevated or dignified language, in which heroes of great importance perform valorous deeds, vast in scope and of lasting historical significance to the nation or the world.

The elements here are the extended length, the elevated language, the heroic character of the protagonist, the scope of the setting and the historical stakes of the action. No one writes an epic about a whaling expedition out of Nantucket or about a cuckold wandering the streets of turn of the Century Dublin except as a parody, or an ironic anti-epic.

2                                     EPICS WHY?

Do we need epics, and if so, why?

To answer that, we need to take a step back, and ask a deeper question. Do we need stories? If so, why?

I would like you to imagine that we discover intelligent life on Pluto some time later this year, and find the Plutonians to be remarkably like us, with the one difference that they tell no fictional stories of any kind. They have news reports, and may even have abstracts or summations, thought experiments or hypothetical scenarios, which speak of events in a general way. Perhaps the Martians even have parables as a rhetorical device, or to use as concrete examples, or to make a point. But imagine, even if they are as intelligent as Man, the Pluotnians tells no stories, no poems, no tales.

All they do is talk shop.

This is something like imagining a race that never sleeps and never celebrates, has no festive days and no feasts. While something like this is certainly possible, while and anyone attempting to build a utopia on Earth, from the Massachusetts Puritans to the Chinese Communists, has delighted in eliminating delight from life, we are at somewhat at a loss to say why Men could never live like the hypothetical Plutonians, who tell no stories and have no poems.

Certainly there are adults on earth, very hard working and practical people no doubt, who have no time for stories.

But surely even they played pretend in their youth, and imitated their elders, pretending to tend dolls as mothers are seen tending babies, or pretending to kill Nazis or Japs as their fathers did to preserve the nation, or kill Redskins or Redcoats to found the nation.

Now, if anyone in the audience bristles at the fact that I assume it is normal and right for little American boys to pretend to shoot bankrobbers or to fight Hessians or American Indians or Japs or Nazis, I would like to draw your attention to how rarely you have bristled of late.

Because my boys have never played cops and robbers in their lives, nor cowboys and Indians. Their imaginations are concerned with Power Rangers, Pokemon, and ninja dinosaurs.

It seems to be rare and getting rarer. How many little girls play house or play with dollies also seems to be on the wane, or, at least there is a coordinated and deliberate effort to discourage little girls from playing dolls and encourage little boys.

Now, if you are tempted to bristle at the assumption that little girls like babies and little boys like bloodshed, first, I can assure you that parenthood will open your eyes. But the question of why your eyes are closed on this point, when you are observant and awake on so many other issues, is also a significant question.

Make a note of your bristling when someone assumes normal things are normal, because it is the byproduct of your having been exposed to a school of thought, a philosophy, and a spirit, which is antithetical to stories in general, and epics in particular, and epics of Christendom most of all. More on this point later.

Young children play pretend to learn. (There are other reasons why they play pretend, no doubt, but the learning aspect is the one that concerns us this evening.) Playing pretend is a live action version of the story telling man have shared since the first campfire was lit in the Paleolithic.

Stories create a miniature model of creation each man carries in his heart.

Our Plutonians will no doubt have histories and scientific theories, but without a story-world to tell them what is significant and what is not, their histories will be lifeless and dry recitations of fact without meaning, and their theories be pointless.

The live action stories little girls and little boys play out in their play teaches that babies are cute and must be cared for, the home is precious and must be maintained, that bankrobbers are evil, the savages must be fought if civilization is to prevail, and that British soldiers, or German, or Japanese, must be slain if freedom is to be won.

More to the point, stories in general are vectors by which the values and virtues, judgements and wisdom of generation is passed to the next. The stories we enjoy from other cultures are those that address the universal values common to all men; those of our own culture are those that address our particular values, and pass them along.

It is not simply natural that men would like springtime and sunlightshine on leaves of trees, or the voices of beautiful women singing, or the glories of knight on horseback in full career, or the sanctity of monks in prayer.

There are people to whom the sight of a mommy singing a lullaby to a baby makes them sick, and the idea of portraying cops as heroes for fighting bankrobbers makes them jeer and sneer with satanic disdain. They have learned the wrong stock responses. To them the bread of elfland tastes like dust and ashes.

Those who would be trained in the virtues and wisdom of this, our culture, have additional stock responses to which the culture must be acculturated, if the culture is to be passed on.

Allow me to dwell on this point for a moment, and describe two examples in some detail. As it happens, both examples are from the epic genre, so their details will make a number of questions clear:

2.1             Lord Of The Rings

The first is Lord of the Rings, and if I need to summarize the plot to anyone going to a Catholic University, he needs to read more fairy tales.

The story is the tale of Frodo Baggins, a member of the smallest and weakest of the races of the free peoples of the West, the chubby halflings. He is a country squires in a cheerful little country tucked in some overlooked nook of Middle Earth.

He acquires a dread and dreaded ring of power, the ruling ring, which can smother and dominate the souls of men and rob the world of hope.

This ring, so fair to the eye, was crafted in ages past by the Sauron the Great, into which he hid his life, and he cannot die while the ring endues. This deathless necromancer king has arisen once more in the world, and taken up his old stronghold in southern lands in the Dark Tower, and seeks to conquer the world. His strength is unparalleled: his eye sees afar. He need only the One Ring returned to him in order that he conquer everything under heaven until the end of the world.

The ring inevitably corrupts anyone who uses it, and ineluctably draws after it the ghostly and terrible Black Riders, fell spirits in service to the enemy. The ring can only be destroyed by returning it to the fires wherein it was created, a mountain of fire in the midst of the enemy’s land, where his strength is greatest.

Frodo, aided by varied companions from whom he is soon sundered, and followed by the wretched starveling Gollum, after greatest hardship and suffering and seeming death, carries the ever-growing burden of the ring through the barren ashes of the Dark Land to the brink of the unholy fires: there his strength fails.

By seeming mischance, brought on by what seemed at the time to be a misplaced sense of pity, Frodo is maimed and the ring cast into the pit by a design greater than any of the players could have foreseen: a great evil passes from the world, but the lesser evils must be scoured out by the little hobbits in their little land, and even then the wounds of the world are not cured, not by any balm found in Middle Earth.

The elves depart, and all the glories of the First Age fail, and Frodo goes with them, boarding the last ship leaving from the last harbor of the elves. Sam, his faithful servant, who had followed him faithfully throughout, is sundered from him and returns home to wife and children. Sam’s youngest child is named after a flower that once bloomed in the golden wood, but which will never be seen again.

2.2             Yingxiong

The other is the movie YĪNGXIÓNG staring Jet Lee, released in America as HERO.

The story is the tale of a most skilled assassin whose mission is to kill an evil tyrant and ruthless conqueror, the Qin Monarch. The conqueror had survived a prior attempt on his life by an assassin named Broken Sword, and therefore allows no man to approach him closer than one hundred paces.

A prefect named Nameless however, arrives with news that he has slain the Broken Sword and two other assassins, and asks permission to approach within ten feet, that he may tell the story of his duels whereby he overcame the king’s enemies, and display the swords he took from them as proof.

The king hears his tale-within-a-tale, but dismisses it as false: he suggests that the assassins volunteered to be killed in order to give Nameless a chance to approach the king.

Nameless then tales the truth: that two of the three assassins cooperated with him, but that Broken Sword did not, taking up the study of calligraphy after his failed attempt on the king’s life.

The brushstrokes of the calligraphy not only contained the secrets of his deadly sword technique, but the ideogram he draws reveals to him that all nations under heaven must be unified under the Qin monarch, and therefore the monarch’s career as conqueror must be aided, not hindered.

The monarch is moved by the tale and ceases to fear Nameless; Nameless is so impressed by the monarch’s courage that he now believes the vision of Broken Sword to be correct, and that China must be unified at all costs. He abandons his mission and spares the king. Another assassin attacks, and Nameless defends the king.

In return, the king reluctantly has Nameless condemned to death and executed on the palace steps. He is innocent of wrongdoing, and, in fact, a hero who preserved the king, but in order to maintain the appearance of the Monarch’s power and dignity, the omnipotence of law and order, the innocent man must be sacrificed to this noble falsehood. He willingly accepts this.

At the end of the film, the name of the king is revealed: he is the first Emperor who unified China after the warring states period. As the credits roll, the calligraphy praising the nation of all nations under heaven being unified in one rule is displayed while stirring music plays.

2.3             The Contrast Of The Two

Now, when I walked out of the movie theater, I admit I was most impressed with the action and spectacle and scope of the movie HERO. It was, in truth, an epic story.

The all-conquering monarch is portrayed not only as wise and dignified, but as impressive. He dresses in all black armor like Darth Vader, and is so insightful that he can tell from the way candles blow in the prayers racks arranged before him whether the words leaving the lips of those who address him are truthful or not.

But I also laughed, because as I walked, I realized I had just seen the only movie in my life I was ever to see where Sauron the Great was portrayed as the good guy.

Both tales portrayed, with admirable adroitness, a sense of life, a vision of the universe, too organic and complete to put into words. Describing a worldview is like trying to describe a beautiful women: you can praise some of her features, but there is always an elusive quality not to be captured in words.

The worldview of Jet Lee’s HERO is alien to the worldview of Professor Tolkien’s Middle Earth, as different as the writings of Confucius are from the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

In the legendary Middle Kingdom of the movie, the little man, so little he does not even have a name, is nothing. Cruelly and unjustly sacrificing both his life and his honor to maintain the appearance of dignity in the ruler is considered right and good by all parties.

In the Middle Kingdom, the empire is all: the person is nothing.

In Middle Earth, the Halfling not only has a name, he has a genealogy chart reaching back to the founding of the Shire, and his little land troubles the counsels of the strong and the great, for all things depend on his moral choices, and in the end, the blind moral choice of mercy and pity: for even the wise cannot see all ends.

There is a scene where the loyal servant Sam, weary, hungry, and frightened during endless nights of creeping and sneaking in the enemy’s land behind enemy lines, looks up from where he is hiding, and in one break in the eternal cloud cover of poisonous smog and ash that hangs over the dark land. There he sees the light of a single star shining in all its purity, and realizes that all the evil empires devised in mortal lands, ultimately, must fail and pass away, as must all mortal things: but whether he finds the strength to do what that eternal light demands of him is all important.

The empire is nothing. The soul of one little man is all.

Sam beholding the star and finding the resolve to continue is parallel to the scene of the Nameless beholding the calligraphy of the sword, and abandoning his resolve to slay the tyrant, but instead to serve and uphold tyranny, even at the cost of his life and honor.

The bravery of both is universal, and any man of any culture or background should be able to see and admire such things: the glorification of the weak and meek is a Western ideal found only in Christendom, and a Chinaman should be, if he is loyal to his own culture, as puzzled and nonplussed by the climax of Lord of the Rings as I was by the climax of HERO.

2.4             Creation Myths

Buttressed by these examples, even though one is of a legendary China and the other of a wholly imaginary past era, we can answer both what Epics are for and what the depravation of them does.

An epic is a miniature creation story: in this case, the creation of China out of the Warring States period, or the creation of the Fourth Age, the era of Men, out of the Third Age, when the glamor of the elves of the Golden Wood and also the danger of the Dark Lord of the Dark Land passed away.

Creation stories are the story of how the cosmos came to be, and they provide the listener the stock response to take regarding the fundamental enigma of life in this universe.

That enigma, in case you have never lived in this universe before, is why life can be so beautiful and so full of love and glory and great things, and yet at the same time be overshadowed the by the terrors of disease, death, war, and famine, terrible suffering and appalling expanses of pathless wastelands, cold seas, cold stars, so evidently inimical to man. How can life be so good and so bad at once?

Why do we know in our hearts that we are immortal when every evidence of life shows how horribly mortal we are, that all we cherish is vain and passing, doomed like us to die?

These deep questions are beyond the scope of this present talk to address: I mention them only in passing to draw your attention to the fact that, for example, the account of creation given by Moses in Genesis asserts that the universe is good and very good, adorned by a divine power who filled heaven, ocean and dry land with sun and stars, fish and foul, leaf and flower, beast and man as an architect might adorn and fill a temple. The evil of life is produced by man’s foul rebellion against God.

The stock response produced by such a worldview is one of immense gratitude and immense guilt, and a divine hope in the better world to come.

This is somewhat at odds with the pagan notions of gods arising by accident out of a primal chaos, and either building the world in the corpse of a giant, as the Norse have it, or by driving heaven away from the earth in an act of cruel patricide, as the Greeks tell, followed by titanomachy and rebellion, and the gods quarrelling over who should rule heaven, sea and underworld.

The Babylonian neighbors of the Jews told a story about the sons of the dragon of chaos slaying their mother to establish the world, creating man as slaves, and destroying them in the deluge because of their noise and commotion.

The stock response produced by such a worldview is glorification of victory through strength, and deep despair over the futility of it all.

Oriental notions of infinities piles on infinities of years reaching in endless circles of endless returns proffers a different stock response yet, which buttresses the fatalism for which the East is famous, both the pragmatism of the Confucian, the mysticism of the Taoist, the crushing despair of the Hindu, and the mystic, otherworldly quietism  of the Buddhist.

A creation story is to tell tale of what all men are, and what all have in common. It is meant to be universal.

2.5             Epic As Local Creation

An epic is for a nation. (By this, I do not mean a nation-state which is a modern, and, to my mind, an uncouth invention springing from unhealthy parochialism.) I mean the old sense of the word nation, meaning a body of tribes with a common ancestor, sharing a language and a culture. I mean a way of life.

When the creation story tells what man is, and what his place in the universe, the epic tells who your founding ancestors were, for what causes they fought, and why your way if life is what it is.

  ILIAD and ODYSSEY

To bolster the proposition that epics act as miniature creation stories, let me propose a few observations about the history of epics which, no doubt, you have probably encountered in your lessons heretofore:

The most famous epics in the West, foundational to Western literature, are the ILIAD and the ODYSSEY. Nearly all the local foundational myths of the various city-states of Hellas are mentioned, at least in passing, and the basic heroes.

The interesting thing here to note is that the Iliad begins in wrath and ends in death. It runs from the quarrel of Achilles with Agamemnon over the division of spoils, to the mercy shown Priam by the bloodstained hands of Achilles, and allowing the noble Hector to be buried with honor. It is to be noted that all the quarrels in these epic are provoked or urged on by the gods and their petty jealousies, but also the singular act of military courtesy shown by Achilles to the foes is debated in heaven, and arranged by his divine mother, Thetis, who promises him rich ransom from Priam’s hand in return. Priam is escorted through the enemy lines by a god in disguise. But there are no gods around when Achilles is moved by Priam’s demeanor and courage, and both men weep mortal tears for their losses in this war.

The depiction of the Homeric combat is so realistic that some scholars wonder whether Homer was a battlefield surgeon.

Consider the grisly realistic description of in BOOK 13, line 640-653 of Harpalion, a prince allied with the Trojans. Harpalion is struck from behind by an arrow through the right buttock, which misses the pelvic and pubic bones, and hits the bladder to lethal effect. Some 150 spears and arrows strikes to specific internal organs according to their point of entry and trajectory are described. Homer knew which wounds were lethal.

By way of contrast, in the Song of Roland, the exuberant French poet describes the hero plunging Durendel, his indestructible sword, through Saracen shoulder, breaking all his ribs and cleaving his body in two, also killing the horse beneath him.

Mallory in LE MORTE D’ARTHUR is only slightly less unrealistic with knights flung from saddles rather than simply being impaled by foemen’s spear; Ariosto in ORLANDO FURIOSO is deliberately absurd: he has one of his superhuman knights spear six men at arms on the same lance on after another like a boy threading frogs on a spit, and with tremendous understatement mentions the knight tossing the heavy lance aside.

Homer also portrays his Hellenic heroes in so realistic and unflattering a hue that some scholars speculate Homer to have been a partisan of Persia: we can dismiss those scholars as being unable to apprehend the clarity of self-criticism for which the two most insightful races of man, the Greek and the Jew, are famed.

The contrast with BEOWULF is instructive: the hero there is portrayed as a flawless example of Germanic courage and courtesy, and the unsightly quarrelsomeness and squabbling with which the Greek heroes conduct their business is notably absent. The bad dragon sits on a hoard never to be spent, whereas the good king rewards valiant deed with openhanded payments of gold, well forged swords, cups and steeds and other fine gear. Ironically, the poem is written by a Christian about his pagan ancestors, and he treats of them with great respect, as all Christians tend to do with pagan things, but does not blink at describing their rites as devil worship. They are portrayed as great, sad, stoical, and doomed. Homer portrayed his heroes as men, warts and all. The Beowulf poet, perhaps coming from a less civilized or cynical time, reports the deeds of the heroes with no overt reference to any tragic flaws.

Stark stoicism is present in Homer’s poem, and the larger message told in the surrounding material of the Trojan cycle speaks volumes about the Greek character. If the theory I propose that the epic poem was the primary vehicle for passing that worldview to younger generations is correct, the poem also established that character. Greece arises as a nation in its defiance of a more powerful foe in the East, for Persia was the eternal enemy of Hellas until the final triumph of Alexander. The message in the Trojan story and the returns in the Odyssey is of the tragic consequences even for the victor.

Odysseus dwells in a world of monster-haunted wilderness and hostile neighbors, disloyal retainers and ambitious youngsters, with his single goal his return to a kingdom, house, and wife that can be won back only by his deceit, his self-humiliation as a beggar in his own house, and then by his heroic strength, his reliance on his son, and, at the very end, by the divine intervention of the goddess of wisdom cowing his rebellious retainers and restoring order. The picture is a poignant one.

The dire melancholy of the pagan character is evident throughout Homer. His evident love of such things as well kept homes and well-tended fields has almost a Japanese poignancy concerning the fragility of such things.

The poems glorify heroism while never blinking at the terrible costs of war, in a fashion that few other since can match: every lesser poet tends either to glamorize the combat unduly or unduly to undermine the heroism involved in marching alive into the roaring hell of battle.

Nonetheless, when all is said and done, what is accomplished? The wrath of Achilles is appeased, but the terrible war will continue. Odysseus finds his weary way home, but there will be other wars in his son’s time, or his son’s sons, and next time it might be their homes burned and plundered, their wives and daughters carried off weeping and Cassandra or Briseis.

 AENEID and PARADISE LOST

The AENEID was Virgil’s knockoff copy of the Odyssey, but with two differences, one obvious, and one subtle.

The obvious one is this: At the end of the Iliad, nothing was settled. Nothing is settled at the end of any Greek tale, because the idea that anything would be established forever is alien to the Greek view of history.

Their view, not unlike the Hindu, was that history was static: cities would rise and fall, and be forgotten, and the wars surrounding the Mediterranean were of no more significance than the wars between frogs and cranes surrounding some pond in the forest. Only the Egyptians where old enough to remember Atlantis, and even they would pass away some day. The gods themselves were the conquerors of the older Titan, and would be overthrown themselves someday.

This element of Oriental despair is absent from the AENEID for the simple reason that Imperial Rome, by the time when Virgil took up his harp to sing of her earliest days, was the unparalleled queen of the known world. Rome had no predecessor in history except, perhaps, the mighty and doomed greatness of Troy, whose walls were built three quarters by a captive god, hence never could be overcome by force. The Roman idea of history was of an obscure and unrecorded period when pirates rules the seas and nomads the land, and, after the fall of Troy, the rise of Rome and her great rival and opposite number to the south, detestable Carthage. The favor of the gods blessed Rome and established her as the eternal city. There is no prophecy of a Twilight of the Gods in Roman mythology, no promise that Rome would one day fall.

The subtle one is more strange: for some reason, the Romans counted their founding ancestor as Aeneas, a minor character in the Iliad, the son of Venus and Anchises, who escapes the burning of the city, and flees to the barbarous West. IN true Roman pious fashion, he carries his father in one hand and his household gods in the other. The enmity with Carthage is established in the episode where Dido falls for him, but the divine command of destiny calls him away, and she commits suicide, calling down the wrath of all Carthaginians upon Aeneas and his breed forever.

But it has confused the human heart why the poet, or the tradition he followed, would select a fugitive who lost the war as the figure to be the founder of the greatest city in the world. There is something almost Christian in the paradox.

I pass over the PHARASALIA because no one has ever heard of it. BEOWULF was already mentioned in passing.

I will say nothing about the Matter of Britain or the Matter of France except to say that the triumphant stories of Charlemagne and his superhuman paladin prevailing against the paynim knights, or King Arthur establishing a round table of equality and a sword of justice only an innocent boy could draw from the stone but then failing to prevail against treachery among his kin, reveals as clearly as a miniature portrait the national character of France and England. They are creation stories for those peoples and summaries of their notions of the fair and foul of life.

With the Advent of Dante and Milton, the epic turns a corner, and becomes something of another form.

Neither are national epics: Dante is not describing the first ancestor of all Italians climbing through hell, up purgatory and into heaven, but of himself, a single soul.

He performed the event, unique, as far as I know, among poets of using romantic love as an extended metaphor and introductory trial by fire for divine love. He is establishing far more than the stock responses one should have toward one’s homeland: he is summing up the Christian world, everything from astronomy to astrology, to Aristotelian moral theory to theology to history, cleverly comingling classical pagan mythology with Christian prophecy, metaphor, and drama, into one exquisitely structured and architecturally balanced whole. The epic is about hell, purgatory, and heaven, and hence about justice, hope, and love.

Likewise, Milton is not writing an epic except as a shell out of which to break: he is using all the tropes and habits of the epic poet — including the Homeric conceit of beginning each poem with a prayer to the muse to aid the poet — to tell of something greater. Not his explicit rejection of the matter and approach of his forebears in Book Nine, where he turns from the tale of the creation of the world to the matter of the Fall of Man:

                                  … I now must change
Those notes to tragic—foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal, on the part of man, revolt
And disobedience; on the part of Heaven,
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this World a world of woe,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
Death’s harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
Not less but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
Or Neptune’s ire, or Juno’s that so long
Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea’s son:
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial Patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplored,
And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse,
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleased me, long choosing and beginning late,
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deemed, chief maistrie to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabled knights
In battles feigned (the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung), or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazoned shields,
Impreses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshalled feast
Served up in hall with sewers and seneshals:
The skill of artifice or office mean;
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem! Me, of these
Nor skilled nor studious, higher argument
Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
That name That name, unless an age too late, or cold
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
Depressed; and much they may if all be mine,
Not Hers who brings it nightly to my ear.

 

Milton’s true genius was lost on later and more worldly ages who did not appreciate his subtlety. Some rather pagan poet of a later age who himself praised Hell as somehow worthy of admiration for its animal energies (an idea unsurpassably absurd, considering that demons are purely spiritual beings, not animal at all) displayed his lead-footedness of wit by saying that Milton was of the devil’s party.

What Milton did, of course, was portray Lucifer with all the trapping of an epic hero of the tragic mold: an allegedly great figure with the greatest of an Achilles or an Aeneas. He embarks on a voyage across chaos more daring than Odysseus, he faces Michael the Archangel with the boldness of a Hector, he makes speeches worthy of Cato and Seneca, and his palace, build by Mulciber, is finer than that of Priam.

And … then he gets to paradise, and sees the children of blessedness, and is ashamed and awed by the simple pastoral happiness of our father and mother.

His palaces and pomps and fine speeches about it being better to reign in an empire of endless pain than to serve in a kingdom of infinite joy, to the properly tuned ear, should ring as hollow as a brass coin at that point.

Anyone to whom they still ring like gold should have his ears checked, and still to simpler poets in the meanwhile.

Satan’s grandeur is a hollow grandeur, and readers who hear it otherwise are hollow men. Milton shows why are those old pagans with their tedious havoc of war are melancholy: because their pagan poets were deep enough to know their world was hollow.

The pagans knew their world was missing something.

The two hundred words or so in the creation story of Genesis, and two volume epic of the Jewish people that followed, had what was missing.

The moderns are hallow without knowing they are hollow: the world is not descending into paganism. It has reached something darker and worse. The postmodern is craven and smug and doomed where the ancient pagan was noble, melancholy, and doomed, because the modern world is hollow and small, but he postmodern men are too hollow and too small to notice.

3    THE DEPRAVATION: The Darkness of the Enlightenment

It is ironic that, after Milton, poets found themselves something at a loss for epic material:

Keats attempted to Miltonize the Titanomachy of the classical Greeks, marrying it to an unconvincingly evolutionary view of life reminiscent of Hegel, optimistic yet fatalistic, in his magnificent and incomplete HYPERION.

Wagner turned to the matter of Norse myths in his even more magnificent Ring Cycle of operas. While Wagner might have captured a common theme among intellectuals of his day who were growing discontented with Christianity, the worldview portrayed of strong heroes who fight boldly and die sadly is a huge step backward from the rather more sophisticated view of Milton and Dante.

Milton ends his great poem with a promise, even while the forlorn parents of mankind wander, hand in hand, into the wild; and Dante ends with a rapturous vision so great that the poet never bothers to tell us how, or even if, he returns to earth.

Compared to that, the ending of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG has the hero die, the villain die, the king die and his sister die, the girl die, and her horse die, and the mermaids of the Rhine get their ring back and they live happily ever after.

By pagan standards, Wagner’s RING is as deep and great as anything Homer ever did, but by Christians standards, it is shallow, because it only deals with the surface features of life, questions of fortitude, death and fate, not the deeper features of faith, eternity and grace.

Sometime between the French Rebellion and the end of World War One the West began to lose its mind – all the foundation ideas of the West no longer made sense to Westerners. Christianity had not stopped a war which, once it was done, no one could recall why it had been started.

Chivalry was dead, slain by the suffragettes: the imposition of civilization on the savage and backward peoples of the world was beginning to seem not only needless, but repugnant, more barbaric than the barbarism it halted.

Victorian belief in progress was dead, but, ironically, the maniacal belief in progressivism, the belief than man, unaided from heaven, could produce the heaven on Earth (something Heaven itself has not done) was firmly fixed in the mind of the West.

The modern West, one step at a time, has lost sight of God, lost sight of common notions of decency, lost all sense of balanced judgement and are even now losing the last vestiges of reason.

The great irony that mankind lived in an era when the greatest wars ever fought, world wars, and the greatest breakthroughs in medicine and science were being made, man learned to fly and in one generation stepped on the moon, was the generation where epics withered.

What replaced epic was an abortive form called realism.

3.1             Morlockery and Realism

Morlockery is a term I have coined to describe that soft-edged cloud of modern thinking beloved of the Progressive elite. There is no rigorous definition of Morlockery for the same reason there is no Magisterium for the Witches, and no Supreme Ruling Council of Anarchists. We are talking about a loose and incoherent alliance of incoherent thinkers.

The central principle of Morlockery is that it lacks principle. It is a disjointed admixture of Machiavelli, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche and Nihilism.

  • Its Machiavellian view of morals says that the ends justify the means, and says that noblest ends, such as world Utopia, justify the basest means, such as genocide;
  • Its Darwinian view of history says that races and bloodlines are locked in remorseless and eternal war to extinction, that men should be bred like a dogs, and the weak and unwanted be exterminated;
  • Its Marxist view of economics is that the free market is a Darwinian war between economic classes which must regard each other as implacable foes; modern feminism uses the same terms to describe romance, marriage and all male-female relations.
  • Its Freudian view of ethics says that to repress the natural and selfish impulses in a child leads to neurosis, therefore ethics is unnatural, whereas pride and lust and greed and ire and perversion are not only natural, but healthy.
  • Its Nietzschean theology says that God is dead and therefore Power is God.
  • Its Nihilist metaphysics says that nothing means anything, therefore no philosophy has meaning and no reasoning is reasonable.

The Christian idea of a brotherhood of man, or the Enlightenment idea of limits to government, is alien to Morlock thinking and abominated by them.

But such is the poisonous moral atmosphere of the modern age.

Ours is the first era in history which holds, as its basic metaphysical postulate of moral reasoning, that reality is optional.

If reality is optional, there is no objective moral law, merely arbitrary or useful social myths called ‘Narratives’, and no such thing as reasoning.

It is possible to raise a child to be a sociopath. A sociopath is a being without a conscience. He is able to avoid punishment, but he acknowledges no authority competent to impose duties on his behavior. Even the authority of reason is dismissed as suspect and partial.

It is possible to raise a generation of sociopaths merely by raising a critical number of sociopaths among them.

Possible? It is not even difficult. All one need do is teach no young how to reason nor how to reflect on their consciences. It is no more difficult than raising a generation of illiterates: merely teach no young how to read.

At that point, without recourse to reason and without recourse to conscience, and being unable to perceive or even to imagine abiding by any moral standard, mankind will be reduced to being merely an ape that talks.

It will indeed be a rational creature, able to calculate a sum or repair a motor, but it will not be human. It will be a creature that can be tamed, like a dog, not to injure its master’s kin, but also trained, like a dog, to kill its master’s prey, but the ability to reflect upon the moral meaning of its trained behaviors will be lost. It will be human in name only, if it deserves that name. A fitter name for the race replacing Man is Morlock.

Such forms the backdrop of assumptions, the starting point, of what any story teller or film maker expects his audience to accept unasked and unsupported.

How can one create a satisfactory drama against such a backdrop, with such intellectual furniture as the props?

3.2             Morlock Stories

What kind of tales can Morlocks tell?

The doctrine of Modernism holds that there are no utopias and no otherworldly realms, other dimensions, or other worlds. This not only robs tales of their most interesting locations (what would PARADISE LOST be without a paradise to lose?) but it robs even realistic locations of their realism. If you do not believe in heaven, a heavenly place on Earth, a quiet wood or a happy home, cannot seem realistic to you either.

The hellish scenery of NINETEEN-EIGHTY FOUR or ANIMAL FARM is removed from the mainstream of realistic fiction by being placed in the future. They are too extraordinary as scenery to tell a realistic tale, even though, honestly, they are as realistic as Soviet Russia or Cambodia.

Hence the scenery in realistic fiction must be drab and ordinary. Stories can no longer be set in the past as our ancestors, who lived in the past, understood their time: to be realistic, a story can only be set in the modern idea of the past. The stories cannot be set in the future, because there is no realistic consensus as to what the future will hold. The future can only be imagined with an act of speculation, and realism relies for its effect on the absence of speculative or imaginary elements that are found in normal story-telling.

Realism does not lend itself easily to adventure stories, which rely for part of their appeal on the exotic locations, unclimbed mountains, impassable jungles, vast deserts, artic wastes, oriental realms of splendor.

Setting a realistic tale in China brings too much of hint of the air of Cathay, which smells like the air of Elfland to those of us from the West, or contains the charm of Arabian Night’s Tales, or the menace of Fu Manchu. Realism relies for its appeal on the pseudo-Darwinian conceit that man is not so extraordinary a creature, and this naturally makes writers of Realistic fiction shy away from exotic locales. The mysteries of the Sphinx are not for them; the gold of Ophir is not in their tales. Realistic writers might set their stories in downtown Dublin, or fascist Spain, but not in Tir-n’a-Nogth or Eldorado.

The point here is not that realism necessarily excludes the exotic. One can find real adventure in the real world, in stories of espionage, war, exploration. But the close parallel between real world adventures and fantastic adventures tends to make realistic fiction shy away from them: they seem, oddly enough, to unrealistic. Neal Armstrong was a real person, and so was George Washington or William of Orange. No realistic stories will star such heroes, except in a way meant to discourage hero-worship, for heroes worthy of hero-worship have too much of the glamour of elfland about them, too much of the sacredness of the Temple of Mars.

MOBY DICK is set in the real world and is peopled by characters one could have met in Nantucket during the whaling days. And yet the more fantastic elements of the story, the eerie menace of the White Whale, the omens and prophecies that foretell the coming death of the Pequod, give the story an unrealistic flavor.

Here I must make an aside on the role of irony in realistic fiction. Irony is meant to rob any fantastic elements in a story of their fantasy, a thing realism finds disconcerting. So, for example, in MOBY DICK, when some omen, such as the loss of Ahab’s cap, or some prophet, the not-so-subtly-named Elijah, prophesizes doom, the event is told with humor and irony, so that the fantastic effect is diminished, robbed of its supernatural mood, and the event can be seen as merely one of those odd and unexplained coincidences. The colorless world of the realistic writer allows for odd coincidences and ironies. Indeed, for realists of the more nihilist school, the unexplained is a welcome element, provided it does not induce awe or respect in the breast of the audience. The realist seeks to produce disrespect for the world, not respect; confusion, not awe; a conviction that the world is mad, and incomprehensible, and that reason of man is too weak to grasp it. With irony, a realistic story teller can reintroduce magical and fantastic elements in his tale, but rob them of their force, so the tale is still bound within what the Modernist ideology allows as being realistic.

The irony and humor in MOBY DICK, the gravity of the theme, and particularly the pessimism of the theme, allows it to remain in the mainstream of realistic fiction. If the tale had been told without the droll exaggerations of Ishmael’s dialog, if the story had been a story of Christian redemption rather a paean to pagan fatalism and agnostic pessimism, it might have been too fantastic and too imaginative for the school of realism.

As with the scenery, so with the props. The great sword Excalibur, or the Ark of the Covenant, or Peaches of Immortality, cannot make an appearance in realistic fiction. The attempt to introduce a prop with some significance and grandeur tends to move the story outside of the stream of realism, and into Pulp Fiction or Boy’s Adventure Tales.

The special gadgets of spies and heroes, jet-packs or bulletproofs cars in GOLDFINGER or GREEN HORNET or even JONNY QUEST make the story less realistic, even though jet-packs and armored cars actually do exist. The “McGuffin” was Hitchcock’s word for whatever the object is that drives the plot: the thing the spies care about but the audience does not.

When the McGuffin is something that can save or doom the world, launch an atom bomb or decode all the enemy messages, it tends to have that glamour of elfland around it, like the one magic sword that can save the kingdom, the one magic ring that curses gods and heroes. Realistic fiction tends to do without props of any particular note. They don’t like McGuffins.

Modernism emphasizes that all objects are inanimate and fungible, merely goods for exploitation, not things of value in and of themselves. Tales about real things that exist, such as the Hope Diamond, which famously brought bad luck to all who owned it, cannot comfortably be fit into a realistic tale. Leopold Bloom is not going to come across the Hope Diamond in his adventures, because he does not have adventures. The fact that the Hope Diamond really exists does not mean it can appear in a realistic story, because realistic stories are never about the extraordinary.

A plot is a structure of events such that each event is a painful choice between two or more alternatives dictated by the previous events. All the events must be meaningful; crucial. A tense and fast paced plot moves from crisis to crisis with no room for error. A chessgame has a plot: each move is narrowed to specific possibilities by the move of the opposing side. Spy thrillers, detective novels, adventure stories, and other normal story-telling fiction outside of realism, all have plots and concentrate on plot reversals and surprises. In a chessgame, with its highly structured rules, reversals can be sudden and absolute. A chessman can escape from check and checkmate his opponent in one move.

This is why, in boy’s adventure stories, Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite: the presence or absence of the one glowing green stone can suddenly reverse the plot. This is why the One Ring can destroy the Dark Lord even at the highest peak of his dread power: because there is more drama, more hopes and fears bound up into a smaller space of time, if the villain is defeated at the moment of his utmost strength. The rare green rock, or the one magic ring, becomes as important as the King in chess: it is the one piece that can win or lose the game.

Realistic stories shy away from plots for the same reason they shy away from McGuffins. A plot requires that one event, a climax, determine the outcome of the story. A climax is hence an extraordinary event, not merely one meaningless happenstances following another meaningless happenstance. Realism shuns the extraordinary for the ordinary.

Hence, realism tends to prefer pointless and meandering stories, rather than plot-driven stories. ULYSSES by James Joyce has no more plot than ALICE IN WONDERLAND: things simply happen, one after the next, but no extraordinary events that reverse the direction of the plot or drive the plot to a climax.

This absence of moral meaning in the Modernist ideology makes stories loyal to that ideology uncomfortable with ascribing meanings even to simple acts. The effect is to rob realistic stories of their moral meanings. Even a simple moral, like a pulp novel’s ‘crime does not pay’ comes across as too fantastic, because unrealistically simplistic, to the sophisticate of realism.

Stories with an obvious moral meaning, where a hero prevails because he is faithful, or trusting, or pure, or does not break his word, moves out of the realm of realism and back into normal story telling. In the movie SIGNS by M. Night Shyamalan, what seemed to be unconnected coincidences actually turn out to be the signs of an underlying pattern of events, a divine providence unheard-of in realism, but common in ghost stories and other normal story-telling. Nothing is fated and no fate is deserved in realistic fiction. Normal story-telling, from OEDIPUS REX to RETURN OF THE JEDI is all about fate, and also in any time travel story where the character’s actions cannot break the pattern of events: Fritz Leiber’s THE BIG TIME or Heinlein’s ‘All You Zombies.’

Character development is likewise lacking in imagination in a realistic story. There are heroes in real life, from a soldier, to a fireman, to a boy scout lost in the woods who uses his wits to find rescue, displays some element of courage and greatness.

But Modernism, thanks to Freud, no longer believes man is responsible for the content of his character for good or for ill. If one man seems heroic, it is either a falsehood perpetrated by the press for propaganda reasons, or his lack of fear is due to a genetic accident.

There is no excellence and no honor in the world of realism: one is either irrationally afraid or irrationally lacks fear, and there is no rhyme or reason as to why one man has good character or one bad. So, not only have you no heroes in realistic fiction, you have no villains either.

A real villain, such as a Nazi war criminal, an apologist for Communism or a serial killer cannot be placed in a realistic novel without moving it into the realm of thriller, war story, detective novel or horror.

Character development in the modern novel is as lacking in development as the plot is in motion: character studies generally tend to look at the sick, the mad, the dipsomaniac, the loser, the fraud, the zero. The characters of realistic novels do not even contain the virtues and vices of real people, but instead turn out the inmates of Bedlam for their cast of characters. Heroism is regarded as unrealistic and childish.

Even such simple human emotions as love and romance, because these also contain a hint of the air of Elfland, a memory of paradise before the fall, cannot be tolerated in mainstream literature, but must be moved to their own special genre, that of romantic fiction. A realistic novel, such as LOLITA, must treat romance as some particular type of sickness, as something without meaning, not something that ennobles and uplifts. If the romance uplifts the hero to greatness, as in CYRANO, the story becomes too adventurous and too exotic for realism.

All these things combine to one theme, which is pessimism or irony. We can see a pattern in the realistic fiction:

  • the scenery is mundane and unimaginative.
  • The props and events are ordinary rather than extraordinary, and hence unimaginative.
  • The events also must lack the one thing the human imagination always reads into events, that is, a moral purpose or providential meaning. The way a dull and unimaginative mind sees life, as a flux of events in which no pattern can be found, is the viewpoint of modernism.
  • No extraordinary characters, no men of sterling virtue or villains of blackest vice, can exist in modernism, because there is nothing extraordinary in their world. It takes an act of imagination to picture the personality and behavior of a saint or a serial murderer.

In sum, the realistic novel is the novel that is as unimaginative as possible in all areas of scenery and setting, props and plots, characters and themes.

The only area left for the imagination is cleverness of presentation, symbolism, dialog: hence these are the areas on which writers and critics of this genre concentrate. It is all form with no substance. Even here their contempt for the extraordinary has prevented another Milton or Shakespeare from emerging from the ranks of the modernists. One can find, at best, clever gibberish or plays on words in James Joyce, but you will not find a St. Crispens’ Day speech which could be profitably read to a craven man to restore his flagging courage.

Fiction is an exercise of the imagination. Realism is that particular type of fiction which uses as little imagination as possible, and in ways means to inspire as little as possible.

And Epics are right out of the question. Our definition of an epic included heroic character, significant action, and moral gravity: all these things realism eliminates.

3.3             Postmodernism

Realism is not the final state of things.

If a Morlock is a creature unable to make or even imagine moral judgments, he only avoids injuring others to avoid punishment. He cannot imagine any other evil aside from injury, and he cannot but resent the lash of the master who inflicts the punishment. Only a totalitarian system of rewards and punishments can check his impulses. Conditioned to equate “goodness” with reward, and therefore the only good he can imagine is reward, usually physical pleasure, such as wine, women, and song, but sometimes psychological pleasure, such as praise, rank and dignities. The Morlock must be a hedonist.

A hedonist can strive to get pleasure, but he cannot make sacrifices properly so called. He can only delay current gratification for greater, later gratification. As a story, this is not much of a drama: a Morlock cannot tell a tale of greater moral depth than a tale about a heist or a caper.

The literature of defiance is mockery, irony, and satire. Morlocks can mock but cannot make.

Hence, there can be no heroes in a Morlock story, only victims.

The matter cannot be told in elevated or dignified language because elevation and dignity offends Morlocks as inegalitarian and inauthentic. Only the language of the gutter seems real and forceful to their degraded minds.

Morlocks also lack reason, a sense of proportion, and a sense of common sense. Seeking stimulus, and resenting any attempts at control, they seek indecency.

Nothing of national or world-historical importance can be at stake, because in the nihilist universe nothing is important because nothing makes sense.

The Morlockian rebellion against reason never ends, because the point is to promote ever more illogical and unrealistic offenses against the conscience. It is addictive: ever larger doses of grotesque ugliness, outrageous perversity, malign brutality, and inhuman cruelty are needed to produce the same rush of smug self-esteem.

4    THE ALLEVIATION: The Rise of Science Fiction

However, upon being driven out from the magazines and publishing houses that printed the modern and postmodern stories, the muses took flight and landed in the most unlikely places imaginable: the penny dreadful, the pulp magazine, the western, the detective story and the science fiction magazine.

Here were all the elements of epic, except, perhaps, for the elevated language. But the rise of modern fantasy, thanks to Lin Carter and to Professor Tolkien, has also allowed elevated language to return.

The Western is the epic of America because it is the creation story for modern America, at least, America as she was when she was confident in herself and her place on Earth. The basic theme of all Westerns is the spread of civilization across the wilderness. Both the savage Indians and the lawless cattle rustlers must be subdued for justice to prevail, and the actions on lonely and heroic men are those on which the effort succeeds or fails: there is a reason why the Lone Ranger is alone.

That a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do is the core virtue told by the Western and also the primary virtue such tales meant to impart to the young.

Likewise again, the story of Detective tales, especially of hardboiled detective tales of the type made famous by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler had the rather bold moral that the law and order had to be maintained even in a world where the differences between right and wrong were unclear. Humphrey Bogart’s speech in the end of THE MALTESE FALCON says more about American moral views than anything else that curt.

Likewise, the basic theme of the Science Fiction story, those that are not dystopias warning of the dangers of the scientific age, is the conquest of the universe, the use of reason and scientific advancement to overcome all the troubles of nature, and perhaps of human nature. The primary value science fiction is meant to impart to the young is the sense of the grandeur and wonder of the universe, and the joyful hope that the soul of man is grand enough to study and learn those wonders, to understand and tame them.

Science Fiction, despite the fact that it was invented in France and England, is primarily American in spirit, because it is the type of tale told by the men who first learned to fly and first stepped on the moon.

The wonders of science, not of pagan gods, are displayed to the science fiction reader’s imagination, and the glories and dangers of the natural universe. Is Scylla any more terrible than the back hole at Cygnus X-1? Is the Cyclopes more fearsome than the Martians of H.G. Wells? Are the elves of Spenser’s FAERIE QUEENE any more piquant and mercurial than the Lunarians of Poul Anderson’s HARVEST OF STARS?

More to the point, science fiction serves the role of a creation myth for the American spirit, a myth rightly set in the future rather than the past, as befitting a pioneer race of unparalleled innovative accomplishment. This is no boast, but plain history: Between Robert Fulton, the Wright Brothers, Morse and Bell and Edison, the Manhattan Project and the Moonshot, Americans have shown a sufficient innovative ability to grant mankind fins like a fish, wings like a bird, messengers swift as Mercury, light bright as Prometheus, the fires of the sun, and footsteps on the moon. Small wonder that the wonder story returns in humble guise of scientific adventure tales: to what else could these things be likened, but fables of magicians and genii?

5    THE CURE: A Return to the Greatest Story Ever Told

Science fiction, at least the branches that are optimistic and cherish the innovative and pioneering spirit, are, of course, insufficient to ward off the lure of the Morlockian view of the universe. Indeed, if anything, the naturalism inherent in the mainstream of science fiction is powerless to fend off a corruption of Freudian, Darwinian and Hegelian mythologies since it draws from those sources for its effect, particularly the desolate visions of endless spaces and infinite futures seen in the works, for example, of Olaf Stabledon or H.G. Wells.

No, since the New Wave fiction of the 1960s at least, a concerted effort has been underway to interject modernistic themes, prose, and moods into science fiction, and, in the decades since, full-blown and highly politicized Morlockianism.

No hope to cure Epic Deprivation can be found here. Where, then?

Naturally, one must seek supernatural cures for supernatural ailments. The loss of epics entails a loss of knowledge of man’s self and his place in the cosmos. It is a spiritual wound. The recovery must be through spiritual means.

Christianity is unique among religions for two reasons: the first is that it is true and purports to be true, whereas pagan tales do not claim not to be the inventions of poets attempting to capture something finally ineffable. Neither is Christianity a ritualized form of philosophy, as is Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, or Confucianism. Second, it has the form of a story, and a penetratingly dramatic story at that, whereas the cosmos of the Hindu is an endless cycle without beginning nor end, or of the classical pagans, a tale of parricide and tyranny taking place in a world that rose from chaos without cause or purpose.

The allergic reaction of the modern mind against all things Christian prevents too obvious an intrusion of Christian themes into mainstream works, but the epic of man’s fall and (at a terrifying price) redemption and eventual triumph is the central epic needed to end modern man’s confused opium-dream of endless temptation and endless frustration as each temptation proves false.

Professor Tolkien showed how merely Catholic theme and sentiment is so powerful that, even when disguised and placed in a world of Middle Earth where Christ’s name is unknown, a whole generation can be electrified and uplifted, and vote his work the best of the century.  Christ’s power is so potent that it can raise the dead, and this applies to flagging nations as well as to dying genres and forms of art.

The New Age and its epigones, with no attempt to disguise their aim, announced their purpose was to subvert the dominant social paradigm and undermine the current social order, which they, for reasons not hard to guess, find intolerable.

However, one can only undermine so much, until one is half buried in a muck pit with rubble to each side. The literature of mockery and despair  and whining and absurdity can undermine and diminish what men love, but cannot build anything in its place. That requires a superversive literature, one that will build up what nihilism has torn down: one that uplifts rather than undermines.

What form this future epic literature of the superversive will take the muses assigned to inspire the next generation alone can say with authority.

Whether the creative efforts of superversive literature will prevail over the dragging dreariness of subversive literature, Heaven alone decrees. But we can take comfort in one great and golden truth: while it is so that the Devil schemes with infernal persistence and sullen energy always to pervert, subvert, and undermine the good gifts God grants, turning good to bad; it is also so that God makes beauty and virtue spring forth from the evils Hell inflicts, turning bad to good.

God the Creator gave man the gift of speech; the Devil perverted speech and inflicted the curse called lying; God in retaliation breathed the golden gift of artistic inspiration into man, and gave man the power to use lying in service of divine beauty, by crafting stories and tales and poems, so that lies were made into a wonder, and man is made into a creator like unto the Creator who made him.

 

 

 

by John C Wright at May 18, 2016 03:55 AM

Blog – Cal Newport

Immersive Single Tasking: Virtual Reality and the Coming Age of Hyper-Productive Work

kings-hall-600px

Ready Thinker One

Earlier this month, I demoed the HTC Vive virtual reality system. I was impressed. The Vive uses wall-mounted sensors that track your movements as you walk around a virtual space and interact with it using handheld wands.

The effect can be quite immersive.

At one point in the demo, I found myself in a small science lab. I could walk around and explore whirring gadgets on shelves. On a whim, I crouched down and peered under a sink and examined the pipes underneath.

It’s a scene straight out of Cline…but with less Dungeons and Dragons references.

Yesterday, however, I had a revelation about this technology. After giving a speech about deep work, I participated in a discussion with local entrepreneurs. Someone asked me what role virtual reality might play in supporting deep work.

A light bulb went off in my head. The answer was clear: potentially a lot!

Immersive Single Tasking

The appeal of virtual reality is the sense of immersion it creates. It takes you out of your normal world and places you somewhere new.

In my book, I talk a lot about the power of using special locations reserved only for deep thinking. With the help of virtual reality, this idea could be pushed to an extreme.

Imagine, for example, that when it comes time to…

  • …work on a math equation you can transport yourself to Kings College Hall (see above) to work on a giant whiteboard anachronistically added to the scene.
  • …tackle a new chapter in your science fiction novel you can place yourself in a quiet room in a space station with a rotating view of the galaxy twinkling outside your window.
  • …reflect on a major professional decision you can sit quietly at a Himalayan monastery and watch the breeze flutter prayer flags.

In other words, if used to enable the type of immersive single tasking described above, virtual reality has the potential to unlock massive amounts of deep work-fueled productivity.

Put another way, perhaps the best way to combat the addictive appeal of inboxes and feeds is to make the act of thinking hard even more appealing.

by Study Hacks at May 18, 2016 12:58 AM

Armin Ronacher's Thoughts and Writings

A Europe For Our Children

Most of the readers of this blog are not from Europe, let alone Austria, the country I was born in. As such I'm not sure how many will actually care about Austrian politics here, especially if it's a lengthy post. But I would still like if you read it because I think the topic is important and not just because of Austria. Our problems here are not just ours, they are a general issue that affects all of Europe and the western world.

So since you are probably in no way familiar with Austrian politics or the situation in the country I want to give you a brief overview. Austria has recovered very quickly from the war torn country it was after World War 2 and emerged as one of the most powerful economies of Europe if looked at on a GDP per capita basis. It underwent a conversion from an agricultural country with some tourism attached to being dominated by the service industry and producing technology and parts (the economical tree map looks confusing because it's so heavily diversified).

However as great as the country has developed after the wars and as profitable the creation of the Eurozone was, there was an end to this positive trend and it came with the financial crisis of 2007/2008 (although with a bit of a delay). The economy did recover, but it did not do it to the extent people wanted. At the same time necessary reforms were not implemented (or not implemented in the right ways) and as a result the country has suffered major blows in the last few years. From a personal point of view I cannot stress enough how disappointed I am that many of my collegues went to other countries and started their companies there or work there. But it would be foolish to blame politics on this alone. This is as much a problem of politics as it is a problem of culture.

We now reached the point where cheap and populist ideas like reducing social welfare for non citizens gets popular support. In this environment right wing parties emerge and this sunday Austrians will probably elect the first right wing leader of the country since the end of World War 2.

But politics not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is the erosion of civilized discourse in Austria and I think in all of Europe. A large part of the general public are unable to have civilized discussions on the bases of facts and instead conspiracies and emotions take over and this is something that extends to politicians in Austria as well.

The Symptoms and Problems

If you look at the emotional state of the country you can see a few symptoms and problems that help the populists to raise to power:

  • Inability (or unwillingness) to learn and understand how Austria and the world changed in the last few years. I think this is a big one of the people who want to leave the European Union and do similar crazy things to the Austrian economy. We're so intertwined with it, that I doubt anyone can predict what would happen as a consequence of leaving it.

  • Comparing things that cannot directly be compared is a very related problem. As an example the Euro might have been a mistake for Germany but that does not mean that the Euro was not a profit for Austria. We were pegged to the Mark before, for us not much changed. If anything the situation improved because we're an export nation and our export partners are other European countries and if they also use the Euro they cannot harm our exports by devaluing their own currencies.

    But despite the fact it's so very hard to compare countries because they are so fundamentally differently structured - yet people will still do it in conversations. Switzerland is heralded as the great example of continental Europe in Austria but it's so specific out of history that it's incredible hard to copy or imitate.

  • Not being able consider the other side. I am shocked sometimes what people here in Austria think the US are like. The idea that both Europeans and Americans might have very similar fears or hopes for TTIP for instance does not seem to exist here.

  • Fear of change. I think this is a typical Austrian problem but to smaller extent it probably exists elsewhere too. Everything new is torpedoed until it cannot be avoided any more because every single other country already did it before. That applies to smoking bans as much as to embracing of credit cards, online services, acceptance of homosexuality, Sunday shopping, flexible working hours and much more.

  • Broad categorization. I think Austrians are masters at giving good/bad labels to large masses of people based on some categorization instead of considering the individual. Refugees are either good or bad, the industry is good or bad, corporations are good or bad, immigrants are good or bad. That individually a refugee could be good or bad is impossible to comprehend in the general discourse and if someone does bring it up, it often gets dismissed as an outlier.

  • Inability to give credit. This is particularly a problem in Austrian politics. It's one party against the other and never ever would a ruling party give an opposition party credit or the other way round. Likewise would social democratic voters never give conservative parties credit for something or the other way round.

The Root Causes

But what causes this behavior? I think Austria's history has a lot to do with it. In the recent history there were conservatives versus social democrats. Combined with the fact that after the war Austria emerged not only as a loser but also has one with a lot of baggage due to the support to national socialism and the complicated way to deal with it after the war. As such the population was always split in two on this level. However they could unity at least somewhat by voting for one of the two large centrist parties. Because the country was doing really well, there was no reason to reevaluate this.

However when disaster struck this rift became bigger instead of smaller and particular with this upcoming presidential election only the most extreme candidates made it into the run-off. Voters did not vote for people they believed in as much as they voted by using tactics against predictions. This now has lead to one the ugliest pre-elections I have seen.

Politics are no longer about doing the right thing but defending principles, even if they are completely unfounded. Even though everybody says they have the best for Austrian in mind everyone is so stuck to their own opinion that not a single meter of compromise can be achieved. Newspapers paint scary pictures of the different outcomes of the election, how the country will be torn, how one candidate would mean European sanctions and how the other candidate would mean the end of a functioning society.

A Path Forward

There are clearly many things wrong in this country but so is it everywhere else. We're not alone with the changes in the world and we cannot fall back to local solutions for these problems. But likewise can we not pretend that problems don't exist. This behavior of ruling parties has helped the rise of the populists. It does not help to pretend that immigration without integration does not contribute to problems in society. We need a more honest approach with more talking to each other.

Just a few days ago we got a new chancellor and he has indicated that he wants to end the course of confrontation his predecessors had. This has been supported by all other parties other than the right wing FPOe. I hope they reconsider and also want to constructively work together with the rest of the government to lead the country forward and to restore a positive way of thinking rather than the fear that has been going around for the last years.

This however is not something that is a problem that needs to be solved in government. This is a problem that we as people in that country have and we need to talk to each other more. If we talk more to each other I hope it becomes clear that we share many core values, we just don't always agree on all of them.

And to my friends in Austria: please vote. But more than that: please accept that if the outcome is not what you wanted, that it does not mean the end of the country as you know it.

by Armin Ronacher at May 18, 2016 12:00 AM

May 17, 2016

Greg Mankiw's Blog

John C. Wright's Journal

Pro-Islam Bias in the News

A reader, I assume as a joke, said that there was no pro-Islamic bias in the modern news media. But then he drew the joke on and on, asking rhetorical questions and filling in the answers he thought I should answer, and then asking questions about that, and putting additional answers in my mouth, to the point where I wondered if he were not joking, but delusional.

One of the pretend accusations is that I am parroting what my corporate masters wish me to parrot, as if, first, I am not parroting what my Vatican masters which me to parrot, and, two, as if I as an newspaperman and newspaper editor and therefore unable to notice the coverage slant.

But I recall the way the local and national papers covered of the Beltway sniper (the press universally speculated that it was an angry white male, and downplayed the religion of the shooter once it was discovered) I continue to see the way the press is unable to cover the rape epidemic in Scandinavia.

I recall the coverage from the Paris murders. Why did the Muslim terrorists go to a Jewish grocery? During the attack, a reporter for Sky News, one of the largest English-language news services in the world, said on Fox News: “Whether it was targeted specifically for its religious connotations it is difficult to know.”

A New York Times writer blamed it on Major Hasan’s “snapping” (in an article titled “When Soldiers Snap”). Chris Matthews said “it’s unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting.” NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten explained that Hasan, though never in combat, may have suffered from “pre-traumatic stress disorder.” (the world’s first example of a man being shellshocked who was never shelled.) And the U.S. Department of Defense classified the Fort Hood shootings as acts of “workplace violence,” not terror, let alone Islamic terror.

In the U.K. Between 1997 and 2013, at least 1,400 girls, as young as eleven years old, in the small English city of Rotherham (population 275,000), were repeatedly gang-raped and treated as sex slaves. The U.K. government acknowledged that these atrocities were allowed to go on due to the fact the perpetrators were British Pakistanis and the girls were white.

The author of a 2002 report identifying Pakistanis as the perpetrators and organizers of the Rotherham gang rapes and sex slavery was sent to diversity training.

Finally, why won’t the New York Times print even one Charlie Hebdo cartoon?

So: no media bias in favor of Islam, eh?

A delusion is a belief held contrary to fact held in defiance of any reasoning or evidence. For those of you who are not delusional, here is a partial list of some pro-Islamic media stories I found after one second of Googling, with links to the original.

BBC says it is ‘too Christian’ and vows to make more Muslim, Sikh and Hindu programmes.  The BBC should give more airtime to religious programmes for faiths other than Christianity, a report by the corporation’s own ethics boss has concluded.  Schedules could be changed to make room for live broadcasts from mosques, with extended coverage of the Eid celebrations, according to Muslim leaders.  The suggestions come after Aaqil Ahmed, BBC head of religion and ethics, said the broadcaster’s current output was “too Christian” in an internal review now being considered by director general Lord Hall.

New York Times Lets Slip the T-Word:  Taquiya.  It’s almost like terrorists won’t tell you the truth unless you repeatedly interrogate them and subject them to pressure.  Perhaps in some sort of isolated facility accompanied by gentle flowing streams of water.  But it’s interesting that the New York Times even used the term “taquiya”.  When Ben Carson mentioned taquiya, the media hurriedly rushed to throw together their usual “fact checks” to disprove the idea.  Sunni Islamist groups have generally maneuvered the media into repeating their talking points on the term backed by the usual “interfaith scholar” who are treated as authorities on Islam.

What the media didn’t tell you:  Muslim student who got kicked off Southwest Airlines.  The mainstream media and their pals at designated terrorist group CAIR went ballistic after learning that an Iraqi student was removed from a flight after an alleged ‘Islamophobic’ woman reported him after overhearing him speaking Arabic.  What the media conveniently left out is that the (see something say something) woman is a native Arabic speaker and said he was talking about terror group ISIS.

Top 10 Misreported or Underreported Stories of 2015.  [#1] The Fake Iran Agreement:  In July the mainstream media celebrated a deal between Iran and the P5+1 that would provide Iran with sanctions relief along with virtually no accountability.  Today, the administration, along with their lapdogs in the press, continues to argue that this somehow adds up to a good deal for the world.  It doesn’t.  In fact, there really is no deal at all.  The New York Times and other news organizations still call this a “signed” deal.  It isn’t.

How The Mainstream Media Spread Another False ‘Islamophobia’ Story.  The journalists and publications which implied the hit and run in Molenbeek this weekend was a ‘far right’ anti Islam attack had no evidence to suggest that it was as they reported, but they knew what story they wanted to write.  That’s why most hesitantly wrote “during” a “far right demonstration” instead of bluntly labelling the driver a “far right activist” as did the Daily Mail, the first publication to report on the story.  Instead of acknowledging the categorical error, or clearly reporting the truth as it emerged, however, the Mail quietly edited their original article, burying the factual change three quarters of the way down the page, and failing to issue a correction or clarification.

Busting Dumb Clichés About Terrorism.  The public organs often say that ‘radical clerics’ cause ‘radicalization’ or that otherwise ordinary Muslims become ‘radicalized’ after watching too many cool beheadings on Youtube and reading too many Al Qaeda PDFs.  The responsible press people want to do this to draw a distinction between peaceful, law-abiding Muslims and the types of people who detonate nail bombs next to baby carriages in airports.  This is a foolish distinction to draw.  Terrorism is a disquieting demonstration of power that synergizes well with instantaneous global communications technology.  It can make people in Chicago nervous from a small explosion thousands of miles and an ocean away.  The bomb isn’t just a bomb:  it’s a media event. […] The terrorists are just dramatizing what’s going on over a longer period of time in an instant.

A terrorist attack has happened in Europe. Let the standard response begin.  This morning Islamist suicide-bombers struck one of the few European capitals they haven’t previously hit in a mass-casualty terrorist attack. […] We will shortly move to the next phase, which is to find a good news story amid the rubble.  Anything will do, but best of all is a Muslim good news story.  After Paris it was swiftly reported that one of the suicide bombers at Stade de France had been turned away by a brave Muslim security guard.  The story whizzed around the world before anyone could check whether it was true.  It wasn’t.  But people needed it to be.  Not because Muslims don’t do good deeds, but because in the wake of any Islamist terrorist attack people need people opposed to the bombers to be Muslim and the bombers themselves not to be Muslim.  Then the good Muslim can represent Islam while the bad Muslims can be said to have nothing to do with it.

Terrorists Kill Nuns at Nursing Home in Yemen; Networks Out To Lunch.  As of Tuesday morning [3/8/2016], ABC, CBS, and NBC’s morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the attack by suspected ISIS gunmen in Aden, Yemen on Friday which left 16 people dead — including four nuns of Mother Teresa’s order — at a nursing home.  According to a Friday article by the New York Times, the deceased Nobel Peace Prize winner founded the home, which was “one of several care facilities in Yemen established by Mother Teresa beginning in the 1970s.”  Correspondent Hakim Almasmari, who is based out of Sanaa, Yemen, filed a report on the terrorist attack on Sunday’s CNN Newsroom.

HuffPo: ‘Is Islam Really the Religion of Violence?’.  In an fascinating exercise in selective data use, the Huffington Post has published a remarkable essay suggesting that the vast majority of terrorists have nothing to do with Islam and that Islam itself has nothing to do with encouraging violence.  In his article Monday [2/22/2016], “Is Islam Really the Religion of Violence?  Here Are the Facts,” Saudi-born writer Hanzala Bin Aman tiptoes through an FBI study on terrorism to cull the statistics that seem to justify his thesis that Islamic terrorism only makes up a tiny percentage of all terrorist acts, and therefore shouldn’t be singled out as a source of particular concern.  For example, Aman declares that a mere 6% of all terrorist attacks on US soil between 1980 and 2012 were carried out by Muslims.  What he fails to mention is that 94% of the deaths due to terrorist acts in the United States during the same period were carried out by Islamic terrorists.

Washington Post Airbrushes Obama’s Mosque Visit.  Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post provides a near-worshipful account of President Obama’s Wednesday [2/3/2016] visit to a Baltimore mosque. […] Jaffe describes the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque as “a simple house of worship.”  Post readers are never informed that things at the mosque aren’t quite that simple.  As Scott [Johnson] has pointed out, just a few years ago the FBI was monitoring this mosque as a breeding ground for terrorists, after arresting a member for plotting to blow up a federal building.  Agents secretly recorded a number of conversations with a 25-year-old Muslim convert — Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain — and other Muslims who worshiped there.  According to the criminal complaint, Martinez said he knew “brothers” who could supply him weapons and propane tanks.

Sex Crimes Across Germany: The Coverup Unravels.  Britain’s Daily Mail must be one of the world’s oddest news sources, but occasionally it does some good original reporting.  That is the case with respect to its coverage of the epidemic of sexual assault that has erupted across Germany: […] The common denominator, of course, is that the attackers were recent Islamic immigrants, most of them apparently “refugees.”

Europe’s Dishonest Elites, and Ours.  The German situation is even worse than you presented.  Sure, the Cologne police chief got fired, but the despicable mayor hasn’t resigned.  And, sure, there has been some scrambling and slithering by left politicians, including, mirabile dictu, Angela Merkel, Mutti herself, to tap dance away from the catastrophe they’ve created and countenanced.  But the massive coverup and deafening silence from the left and the MSM is the real story and it’s disgusting. […] There is a complete blackout — utter silence — from the likes of the execrable Salon, from Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, The New Republic.  Zip, nada, nothing!

Coverup of Mass Molestations on New Year’s Eve in Cologne Draws Ire.  Oh, how the German authorities wanted to bury this story.  But when nearly a hundred women reported sexual molestation by a crowd of Arabs numbering nearly 1,000 during the Silvester celebrations in the heart of Cologne, the news got out: […]

CBS Muslim Panel Accidentally Includes Professional Leftist Obama Operative.  CBS’s Frank Luntz sought to gauge the attitudes of an ostensibly ordinary panel of Muslims in America towards Donald Trump.  Undeclared to the audience, however, is a professional left-wing agitator seated in the front row who is an alumnus of the Obama Administration.  Linda Sarsour, an anti-American hater of Israel, Islamic supremacist, and regular commentator on left-wing media, was not identified as such when offering her views on Trump.  Rather, she was presented as an ordinary Muslim in America.

Executed Saudi Shiite Cleric Al-Nimr Backed Terror Attacks on America.  The Saudi justice system is cruel and barbaric.  But occasionally they get one right.  The media is scuttling to turn Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite leader so great they named him twice, into a martyr after the Saudis put him down on terror charges.  But Nimr al-Nimr was a terror leader.  There are no shortage of quotes from him endorsing terrorism, backing Iran and calling for Iranian intervention in Saudi Arabia.  And yes, he hated America too. […] Nimr was an agent of Iran.  We, these days, have no ability to execute traitors.  The Saudis do.  Saudi Arabia is full of Sunnis who say most of the same thing.  Nimr got it because he was a Shiite and backed Iran.  We don’t actually have a dog in this fight, but we can say good riddance to another enemy.  The media has tried to turn Nimr and his relative Ali Mohammed al-Nimr into martyrs.

In WABC Report, Palestinian Assailants Are the Victims.  CAMERA has contacted editors ABC’s New York station to request a clarification making clear that of the four Palestinians killed Dec. 24, three were killed as they carried out attacks against Israelis, and the fourth was killed in a violent clash with Israeli soldiers.  Contrary to the false impression given in the Dec. 24 report, they were the perpetrators of West Bank attacks, not the victims.

Jihadists Do The Strangest Things.  I read an interesting article by Daniel Pipes in which he pointed out that in the United States we have had many []potential instances of jihadi violence in which the Establishment has colluded to sweep the Islamic dimension under the rug, treating the perpetrators as common criminals whose biographies, motives, and connections are of no interest and therefore remain unknown.[]  Pipes mentioned the pending criminal case of a Jersey City Muslim named Yusuf Ibrahim.  Pipes noted that Ibrahim had allegedly shot and killed two Coptic Christians, cut off their heads and hands, knocked out their teeth, and then buried them in Buena Vista Township, New Jersey.  Yusuf Ibrahim is a Muslim, but can Islamic Doctrine actually support such actions?  Islamic Doctrine is based on the commands of Allah found in the Koran and the teachings and example of Muhammad.  So let’s see what Islamic Doctrine has to say about this.

Huffington Post’s ‘Muslim Christmas Message’ Is More Lies.  While Christians across the Muslim world suffer oppression, humiliation, and slaughter, the Huffington Post continues to pound out an alternative reality about the “religion of peace.”  The latest in its long string of cynical and deceptive nonsense about Islam comes from the dishonest Ahmadi Muslim Kashif Chaudhry:  “A Muslim’s Christmas Message.”

‘Allahu Akbar’: It Means Almost Everything — Except What The Establishment Media Says.  Media outlets routinely mangle the true meaning of “Allahu akbar,” the ubiquitous battle cry of Islamic jihadists as they commit mass murder.  The war-cry is mistranslated in the Western media as “God is great.”  But the actual meaning is “Allah is greater,” meaning Allah Is Greater Than Your God or Government.  It is the aggressive declaration that Allah and Islam are dominant over every other form of government, religion, law or ethic, which is why Islamic jihadists in the midst of killing infidels so often shout it.  One primary purpose of shouting is to “strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Allah.”

Muslim Gang-Rape Marathons Continue Across Europe: Where’s The Press?  Political-correctness now extends to the identification of rapists in Europe where the press continually under-reports the high incidence of the most heinous sexual assaults and gang-rapes you can hardly imagine.  The true War on Women is being waged as we speak in the form of child-rape, sexual assault, paedophilia and gangs of Muslim men brutally raping women, in marathon fashion while crowds cheer them on and the press all but ignores.

New York Magazine Makes Light Of Female Genital Mutilation.  In a remarkable screed, New York Magazine’s Ed Kilgore dismisses established reports documenting the rise of Female Genital Mutilation in the United States stemming from years of large-scale Muslim migration.  Kilgore, a self-described “veteran Democratic wonk”, took issue with a Breitbart News report detailing how Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s omnibus spending bill fully funds all visa programs utilized by Muslim migrants and, in fact, expands those programs to fund President Obama’s new Syrian refugee resettlement operation.  In the piece, Breitbart News reports that by funding and expanding these visa programs, Ryan’s omnibus enables next year’s admission of nearly 300,000 Muslim migrants on autopilot visas.

You can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland — I wouldn’t either.  Just a family of eleven, off to Disneyland.  A lovely big British family, off to the place where magic happens and Mickey Mouse makes dreams comes true.  They’d saved hard to get together the £9,000 for flights to make their family happy at Christmas.  But were turned away at the gate by ruthless officials from USA Homeland Security who said they were no longer allowed to board.  At least, that’s the story you’d be believing if you listened to the BBC or Labour’s blond-bobbed maniac Stella Creasy, whinging on about the obvious discrimination against them on religious grounds.

Poor Muslim banned from Disneyland was self-proclaimed ‘Taliban supervisor’.  The liberal media was crying foul when a British Muslim family of ten was suddenly and mysteriously denied permission to travel to America.  All they wanted to do was visit Disneyland!  The liberal media was crying that this poor Muslim family simply wanted an all-American vacation, and they suffered evil discrimination, simply because they were Muslim!  At least, that was the story, until today, when it turns out that one of the banned Muslims said in on Facebook that he was a “Taliban supervisor”.

Facebook page linked to Taliban and Al Qaeda was registered to same address as British Muslim father whose Disneyland trip was blocked by Homeland Security.  A British Muslim father whose planned Disneyland trip was ruined when he and his family were barred from boarding a flight to the U.S. has now been forced to distance himself from a Facebook account claiming links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, 41, his brother and their children, aged between eight and 19, said they were stopped at the departure gate at Gatwick airport and told their visas to the US had been revoked.  He claimed the family were barred from flying ‘because they are Muslim’.

Was mosque link reason for British family’s US travel ban?  An American relative of the British Muslim family barred from entering the US to visit Disneyland has suggested it might have been because he attended the same mosque as one of the shooters behind the California terror attack.  Muhammad Mahmood, who runs a car repair shop in San Bernardino, California, told the BBC that the US government must justify the decision to exclude his British relatives.

Muslim Sensibilities Offended In Londonistan After Being Refused Travel Permission To Disneyland and California.  According to the perpetually aggrieved version: the Muslim “family” has spent $9,000 for a joyful “family” Christmas vacation, before they encountered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Islamaphobia at the airport.  Cue spontaneous acts of media outrage.  How dare the U.S. deny them their right to visit Mickey Mouse?  However, what they don’t tell you is the “family” was actually two brothers.  Two middle-aged brothers, last name Mahmood, traveling with their nine kids aged 8 to 19.  No moms, no wives, just the two brothers.  Oh yeah, and then there’s this: […]

Also posted under Muslims pretend to be the victims of the conditions they have created.

Where is the reporting on Iran’s Islamic terrorist groups that are as monstrous as ISIS?  It is intriguing that mainstream media has focused on violent terrorist acts of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), a radical Sunni Islamist group, while they are deliberately avoiding raising awareness about other Islamist terrorist groups that are as brutal as ISIS, if not worse.  The other groups that I am referring to are primarily the Iranian-backed radical Islamist militias.  Brutal terrorist groups such as Kataib al-Imam Ali (KIA) are not any less violent than ISIS when it comes to the aggressive and horrific tactics they use against civilians.  In fact, they are known for showing videos of cut-off heads and bodies burned over open fires.  This particular group, which is backed by Iran, originated from the Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Shebl al-Zaidi is the secretary-general of Kataib al-Imam Ali and he is known for his sectarian and vicious tactics.  Another militia group that is known locally for its violent attacks is Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.  It reportedly receives approximately $2 million a month from the Islamic Republic.  There exist more than 100 of these Islamist terrorist groups and they are increasing on a daily basis as they branch out.

“Swedish Problem” is Here: Muslims Gang Rape 39 year old woman in upscale DC exurb; crickets in major media.  The following story unfortunately is a sad and growing problem across the Western world, one that is going to be replicated in every town and city across the US unless citizens begin to vocally, forcefully and equivocally say NO.  Haymarket, VA is a wealthy, upscale exurb of Washington DC that has gone in less than 10 years from a sleepy majority white rural hamlet to a sprawling landscape of McMansions occupied by the multicultural box checking apparatchiks that fill out Tables of Organizations in bloated DC agencies.  It has turned a formerly solid red Republican congressional district rabid Blue.  With the multiculturalism and diversity and tolerance comes a crime wave that was before unknown.  If it’s not black males in hoodies committing armed robberies, which has now come to be “expected”, it’s that most pronounced high water mark of multiculturalism:  Muslim gang rape.  Not a word in any of the major media.

NBC Promotes Agenda Driven Poll Result — AND, Yet Again, Hides The Data.  Against an increasingly obvious level of support for a common sense freeze on Muslim immigration the progressive apparatchik within the bowels of NBC/WSJ rush to the typeset to deflect the damage.  We’ve written extensively before about pollster Mark Murray, NBC, and their agenda-polling promotion, so there’s no reason to re-hash that again.  However, the latest attempt is so far beyond absurd the light from where absurd emanates won’t catch it for a year.

9 Facts About Islam The Media Doesn’t Want You To Know.  The way in which Trump made his proposal, a press release no one saw coming late on a Monday afternoon, was a tactical move — one designed to keep his enemies off guard and sputtering.  Whether it is Jeb Bush or Wolf Blitzer or Hillary Clinton or Joe Scarborough or the White House, they look dazed, confused, and weak.  Best of all, they are exposing themselves by retreating into their dangerous, politically correct talking points — talking points that lie about the true threat of Islamic extremism.  Here’s the thing, though:  The American people know these are lies.  They have seen Paris and San Bernardino and Fort Hood and Boston and Chattanooga and on and on and on and on.  They have access to a New Media that tells the truth about Islam.  Even if they don’t have all the facts, their instincts tell them something is horribly, terribly wrong when Obama and his DC Media allies paint Islam with Happy Talk.

FBI Stats Debunk DC Media’s ‘Muslim Backlash’ Myth.  The suspect in the recent mass-shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood is an obvious lunatic.  Nevertheless, our rotted DC Media has had a field day using those murders to attack all pro-lifers as culpable.  Naturally, this Narrative was flipped entirely after last week’s Islamist atrocity in San Bernardino.  Although the most recent F.B.I. statistic prove the “Muslim backlash” is a pure myth, the DC Media, ever in pursuit of labeling everyday Americans as racist, relentlessly spread the myth.

New English Quran Praised by CNN Says Book Often Means Opposite of What It Says.  CNN hopes that the new Study Quran, a book of English translations and commentaries on the Quran, will help “curb extremism.”  Is the book a genuine attempt to counter the jihadists’ interpretation of Islam?  Or is it a cynical exercise designed to deceive Western non-Muslims, keeping them ignorant and complacent about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat?  Unfortunately but predictably, it’s much more the latter than the former.

How the Left Sees Islamic Terrorism.  This is a glimpse into a parallel universe, i.e., MSNBC.  The MSNBC host, the appalling Melissa Harris-Perry, explains that Islamic terrorists are nowhere near as bad as the police, “right wing” terrorists — all murderers who are not Muslims are presumed “right wing” — and so on.  Her guest adds that it is extraordinary how few Islamic terrorists there are.  [Video clip]

Having ruled out Islam…
CNN Insanity: Erin Burnett Wonders If ‘Postpartum Psychosis’ Led to Slaughter.  Struggling to offer an alternative explanation for the obvious conclusion of terrorism, CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday [12/3/2015] wondered if one of the killers from Wednesday’s rampage snapped as a result of “postpartum psychosis.”  This was after two former FBI agents explained to Burnett just how Tashfeen Malik was radicalized.  Despite this, the CNN anchor wondered, “I just have to ask you, could there be something else, anything else, that could have explained her involvement?  Something like a postpartum psychosis?”

Another Jihad Attack, Another Cover-Up.  [N]o one on CBS or NBC or ABC or PBS or NPR or in the New York Times or the Washington Post will remind his or her audience that the Islamic State and other jihad groups consider themselves to be at war with the United States, and have explicitly and repeatedly called upon Muslims in the U.S. to commit mass murder of American civilians.  Would anyone have wondered about the motive of a German national who slaughtered fourteen Americans on U.S. soil in 1943?

The Real Scandal(s) Behind the Muslim MU Hair-Dragger.  On Wednesday, November 25, Youssif Z. Omar made international news.  According to Columbia, Missouri, police, the 53-year-old Omar stopped by the local public high school, spotted a 14-year-old relative not wearing a hijab, grabbed the girl “very violently by the hair,” and pulled her down a flight of stairs.  Once outside, Omar slapped the girl in the face and pulled her by the hair into his car. […] As of Monday morning [11/30/2015], the daily Missourian, the award-winning publication of the university’s overpraised journalism school, had yet to mention a story that had been covered in the days prior from New York to London.  From all appearances the J-School is training its students to avoid stories with inconvenient narratives, a useful skill, one supposes, if they hope to fit into America’s major newsrooms.

New Report Points To DC Media Cover-Up of 9/11 NJ Muslim Celebration.  Despite the corrupt DC Media’s dishonest and highly-coordinated campaign to shut him down, Donald Trump’s refusal to back up even a step has resulted in yet more proof of the media’s ongoing cover-up of the almost certain fact that some number of American Muslims celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Washington Post: “Want to stop Islamic terrorism? Be nicer to Muslims.”  At last, we have hit on the solution to the global jihad onslaught:  just be nicer to Muslims, you greasy Islamophobes.  All those people sitting in those Paris cafes — just think of how mean they were being to Muslims.  Some of them were probably even drinking alcohol.  Oh, the Islamophobia!  And those people in the Radisson Blu in Bamako, Mali:  if only they had dropped their radically Islamophobic stance of going about their business, eating, drinking, sleeping and the like.  How dare they provoke Muslims in that way!

5 arrested on Ohio Turnpike in Trumbull County.  They are all from in and around Columbus and are being held in the Trumbull County Jail.  Officials confirmed with WCMH in Columbus that there was no terrorist link to the alleged activity.  Once the vehicle was stopped, it was searched.  According to the report, the five men arrested were Jibril Abdiselam, 24; Mohammeddeq Hassan, 27; Mohamed Mahamoud, 26; Zakaria Warsame, 25; and Said Sheikh.

Same story as above, but now it turns out they’re “foreign nationals.”
Ohio: 5 Muslim Foreign Nationals Arrested with Identify Theft Equipment.  How many did they help around and through the vetting process?

Facebook Censored Me for Publicizing Islamist Atrocities.  Three weeks ago, just as I flew to India to speak at the “India Ideas Conclave” in Goa about international jihadi terrorism, I received a warning message from Facebook.  The social media conglomerate said I could no longer post any messages on my timeline addressed to my 80,000 friends and followers worldwide.  It said I had violated Facebook’s “community standards.”  My offence?  I had shared a video that implicated Islamic State (ISIS) in committing war crimes against enemy prisoners of war.  As much as I was shocked to learn of Facebook’s decision, the irony was I found the video on Facebook.  It did not show beheadings and I had labeled the post with a warning of graphic violence, and that “viewer discretion is advised”.  None of that mattered.  For days, I tried to reach Facebook, with no success.  I discovered that Facebook’s security was apparently being handled out of an office in Hyderabad, India, home to some of that country’s leading and most vocal Islamists.

When the Third World Attacks.  Give me a break, New York Times.  The Paris terrorists were 100 percent Middle Eastern, although most were born in Muslim ghettos in Europe.  After 50 years of the most backward, dysfunctional cultures pouring into the civilized world, the media are forced to blatantly lie to us whenever immigrants attack:  This has nothing to do with refugees!  Ismail Omar Mostefai is “a Frenchman.”  Ismail is “French” in the same way that Caitlin Jenner is a “woman.”

Liberal Media Claims Lady Liberty Is a Muslim.  Obama often blathers delusionally about the supposed contribution of Islam to American culture, raving at one point that Muslims built “the very fabric of our nation.”  His friends at the Washington Post have finally uncovered what they are passing off as evidence to back him up: […]

Also posted under media bias in favor of Islam and lies about Islam.

With Blood Still in the Streets of Paris, New York Times Defends Islam.  Blood still stains the streets of Paris.  France is in a deep state of shock; it is a nation of walking wounded.  A British survivor of the concert at Bataclan tells how ISIS terrorists “tortured wounded victims by slitting their stomachs with knives.”  The media isn’t reporting these gruesome details.  They are over Paris — not even a week has passed and the New York Times, the Associated Press and the rest of elite herd are promoting and proselytizing for Islam.

NBC News Accuses Obama Critics of Ebola-Style ‘Freak Out’ Over Syrian Refugees.  First Read’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann are smart people, and at least they are not accusing anyone of racism, but their Tuesday morning [11/17/2015] attack on Obama’s critics is equal parts smug, factually-challenged, filled with false choices, and clueless.  Nothing is more ridiculous, though, than the premising of this piece on the anti-science basis that eventually Obama’s response to the Ebola crisis was “vindicated.”

Mika Attacks ‘Hateful’ ‘Stupid’ GOP Governors for Questioning Syrian Refugees.  On Tuesday’s [11/17/2015] Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski went off on a number of governors who have vocally expressed their opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into their state without a proper vetting process, calling their views “hateful” and “stupid.”  The MSNBC host accused the governors, which include Democrat Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, of “tapping into hatred” for daring to suggest that the federal government should press the pause button on allowing any new refugees into this country until we fully know who they are.

Fox’s Shep Smith Tears Into ‘Political Extremists’ Refusing Refugees: This Isn’t Who We Are.  Fox News anchor Shepard Smith delivered a commentary Monday afternoon [11/16/2015] in which he scolded the various state governors who decided to bar refugees from their states in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Without specifically mentioning the governors, Smith said the U.S. has a responsibility to protect the values on which the nation was founded, warning that “political extremists” could lead the country to “self-destruction.”

Heilemann: Governors Refusing Syrian Refugees ‘Shameless, Un-American’.  Would John Heilemann have called Francois Hollande “shameless” and “un-French” if a few months back he had halted the immigration of Syrian immigrants into France, thus stopping two of the Paris terrorists — who reportedly posed as refugees — from entering the country?  The question arises because on today’s [11/16/2015] With All Due Respect, Heilemann condemned as “shameless” and “un-American” the dozen or so governors, mainly Republicans, who have declared that their states won’t accept Syrian refugees.

Lying through their teeth and their maps.  When MSNBC used inaccurate and misleading maps in October to illustrate Jewish and Arab land claims in the Holy Land, it took only hours for it to admit their error.  Church groups have been using the same set of maps for many years, with no sign of slowing down.  The maps are a set of four (sometimes five) panels purporting to show the shrinkage of “Palestinian” land from 1946 and on.  The first panel shows what is currently called Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank almost entirely colored Palestinian green, with the faintest amount of Jewish blue.  As the maps progress through 1947 to 1967 to the present day, wending their way through the U.N. partition plan of 1947, the aftermath of the June War and Oslo, the blue gobbles up more and more of the green.

Media Rushes to Shift Focus of Paris Attacks Away from Jihadist Terror.  Before the dust had settled and even the extent of the damage and number of dead had been tallied from a string of terror attacks in Paris, France, liberals in the old media establishment were already writing pieces blaming conservatives, bemoaning that the attacks had taken the focus off pet liberal issues like Mizzou and global warming and wringing their hands over the safety of Muslims.  Salon was early out of the gate with a story twisting the terror attacks into a weapon to use against conservatives.

No, There’s No Terrorists Among the ‘Migrants’.  Definitely not Abdurraouf Eshati, 29, who claims to be from Wales but was busted with a bunch of other dodgy Arabs exploiting Europe’s open borders. […] One of the details CNN leaves out:  according to the BBC, he didn’t just live in Wrexham, Wales, UK, but he lived in the jihadi/terrorist mosque there, the Wrexham Islamic and Cultural Centre.  (Islamic Culture?  That’s what they do with orange jumpsuits and knives).  Why did he live in the mosque?  He was one of the imams.  CNN spares you that knowledge, you delicate flower, you.  After all, he wasn’t the main imam.

New Muslim Majority City Council Member in Michigan Issues Warning.  The message is clear:  non-Muslims move or else.  Yet when the Muslims gained control of the city council last week, a local reporter, Will Jones, summarized how immigrants had “dramatically changed the face and culture of this community,” and said exultantly, “Now, the Hamtramck City Council is going to reflect that diversity.”  What’s diverse about a Muslim majority?  Is there anything less diverse and more oppressive than Islamic law?  What Muslim countries are diverse?

The Editor says…
This shows that “diverse” is a code word used in the news media when they are too timid to say “non-white.”

Moral Equivalence in the Middle East.  In the current epidemic of Palestinian violence, scores of Arab youths are attacking, supposedly spontaneously, Israeli citizens with knives.  Apparently, edged weapons have more Koranic authority, and, in the sense of media spectacle, they provide greater splashes of blood.  Thus the attacker is regularly described as “unarmed” and a victim when he is “disproportionately” stopped by bullets.

According to the left, Israeli citizens deserve to be murdered.  It’s been clear for years that the left has been losing the moral plot.  But I never thought I would see it apologise for, even defend, the stabbing to death of Jews.  The silver lining for the left is that it’s impossible for it to sink any lower.  This is as low as it gets.  The response in the West to the spate of foul murders by car, knife and meat cleaver in Israel has been almost as shocking as the killings themselves.  Many have stayed silent, a global version of “bystander culture”, where people look awkwardly at the ground as someone is battered in front of them.  The Western media is currently a shameless shuffling bystander to murders in Israel.

MSNBC Admits Anti-Israel Graphics Were ‘Wrong’.  MSNBC has admitted that highly controversial graphics aired on the network that depicted Israel as stealing land from the Palestinians were “factually wrong” and that the broadcast would be corrected on Monday [10/19/2015], according to a network spokesperson.  The cable news network has been fighting off criticism after it aired the graphics and analysis, including a map linked to conspiracy groups branded as anti-Semitic, that portrayed Israel as existing on territory expropriated from Palestine.  The graphics garnered criticism from pro-Israel advocates and has now prompted the network to acknowledge that the graphics were highly misleading.

Reporting from Jerusalem: The astonishing bias of NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin.  NBC News foreign correspondent and Palestinian-American Ayman Mohyeldin reported from Jerusalem this week as a Palestinian man dressed in camouflage raced past his camera wielding a knife. […] The incident ended with the man being shot dead by Israeli police at the Damascus Gate.  Mohyeldin went live to report on the incident minutes after it happened and stayed live for roughly an hour on MSNBC.  But Mohyeldin, failed to give viewers the full picture of what he had just witnessed.  He failed to tell viewers for over an hour that the suspect was a Palestinian and that he was dressed in a camouflage uniform similar to the ones Israeli soldiers wear.  Mohyeldin never referred to the attempted terrorist attack as anything other than a man being shot by Israeli officials.

Biased coverage of Israeli-Palestinian ‘violence’: When terror becomes ‘tensions’.  If you are seeking an example of bias in the media’s coverage of what journalists are calling the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian “violence,” consider the case of Ahmad Manasra.  In an angry speech on Wednesday night [10/14/2015], Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, appealed for calm but accused Israeli security forces of killing Palestinian boys “in cold blood,” singling out the 13-year-old Manasra as one of the Palestinian youths Israel had “executed.” […] There are at least two major problems with Abbas’ charge:  First, Ahmad Manasra was not “executed” or even shot by Israelis.

Can the New York Times Discuss Whether Mohammed’s Flying Horse Really Visited the Temple Mount?  So the New York Times lapsed into what has been called Temple Trutherism by trying to deny the existence of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount. […] But let’s have some equal time here.  The Temple Mount is holy to Jews because of the Temples.  So the New York Times chose to discuss whether the Temples really existed.  It’s holy to Muslims because Mohammed supposedly flew there on a flying horse (with a woman’s head).  Can we get a discussion of whether that really happened?  Or does the New York Times only find it acceptable to mock Judaism, not Islam?

He stopped a jihadist in France. Now he’s been stabbed in California.  The original story about Skarlatos and Harper-Mercer evidently has legs.  In all there have now been three high-profile, possibly related violent attacks in France, Oregon, and California that might be connected to the world of Islamofascist (some prefer the descriptor Islamo-Nazi) terrorism.  In this writer’s opinion, no reasonable person who follows current affairs can reflexively dismiss the seeming connection of attackers and victims, given what’s going on in the world right now.  This is not to say that there necessarily is (or was) an Islamist plot against the three American men.  But the mainstream media, as usual, isn’t doing its job.  Journalists are sitting on their hands, regurgitating talking points, and failing to consider the big picture.

Muslim refugee riots ignored in U.S. media blackout.  Sweden, seen by many American progressives as the model of multiculturalism and tolerance, has been experiencing increasingly violent unrest involving immigrants in its three largest cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.  Sweden, along with Germany, make up Europe’s two most generous welfare states.  They are also the most welcoming of Islamic immigrants, more than a million of which have flooded into the continent this year from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and North Africa.  The unrest and destabilization in Sweden, which has received zero coverage in the U.S. media even as President Obama plans to ramp up his own refugee welcoming program, is exactly the type of upheaval that the global elite have planned for all of Western Europe and America, analyst Paul McGuire told WND in a[n] Oct. 6 article.

Media and Muslims.  Complaining about liberal media bias is like complaining about a puppy peeing on the rug:  it’s just what they do, and if you don’t like it then don’t have them in your house.  We’ve all seen editorials masquerading as news and television anchors impersonating objective journalists when hosting Republican debates or Sunday talk shows.  We, America’s non-leftists (whether or not Republicans), know the game and filter our processing of “news” and debate questions through that lens.  But the media’s recent obsession with what Republican presidential candidates think of Muslims (or whether President Obama is one), their badgering of said candidates with questions that are irrelevant to the governing of the country, their distraction away from legitimate issues and into the looking glass of political correctness so extreme that it is literally ridiculous (i.e. not just silly but, as one online dictionary puts it, “deserving or inviting derision or mockery”) demands a response beyond “that’s just what they do.”

Washington Post: ‘Prejudicial’ to Judge Islam’s 1,200 Year-Old Ideas.  The Washington Post’s sensitive editorial board writes it is “prejudicial” for a GOP candidate to judge the catastrophic record created by the 1,200-year-old Islamic ideology.  The editorial’s headline, “Prejudice is on full display in the GOP presidential race,” was initially aimed at the two leading GOP candidates, outsiders Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. […] In fact, Carson said what is obvious to the vast majority of Americans — that a person who embraces Islamic ideas should not be president.

Ben Carson Zooms to Top of Media’s Kill List.  The enemedia is patting itself on the back, congratulating itself with headlines that declare, “Ben Carson Walks Back Anti-Muslim Comments With More Anti-Muslim Comments,” when in fact the subheadline is, “I stand by the comments.”  This is the sharia-compliant media at its deadliest.  Islamic supremacists and their running dogs in the media have unilaterally adhered to the blasphemy laws under the sharia (Islamic law).  Anyone who violates these laws (which mandate that one must not criticize Islam or Muhammad) will be destroyed.  In Muslim countries, you are executed for blasphemy.  In the West, for the same “blasphemy” your character and good name are assassinated.

CNN’s Cuomo Fears NYT Piece Detailing ISIS Raping Women and Girls Casts Negative Light On Islam.  Thursday [8/13/2015], The New York Times published a disturbing piece about the Islamic State having enshrined “a theology of rape,” specifically against women and girls who aren’t Muslim.  In other words, if the female isn’t Muslim, it’s totally fine to assault her, sell her, and keep as property. […] Yet, for CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the New York Times piece might promote stereotypes.

There Was a Significant Terrorist Attack in France This Week and the Mainstream Media Hasn’t Even Bothered Telling You.  Three deliberate, simultaneous explosions rocked a major petrochemical plant in France on Bastille Day, but as usual it is still ‘too early to talk about terrorism’.  Despite the nature and severity of the attack, which French investigations have conceded was deliberate and with a delicious turn of French understatement “malicious”, yesterday’s explosions at the Berre L’Etang refinery in second city Marseilles failed to make the front page of a single English-language newspaper this morning.  The explosions took place on Tuesday morning [7/14/2015] and set alight two enormous petrochemical tanks which stood half a kilometre apart, immediately ruling out the possibility of blaming an industrial accident.

No, the Chattanooga Shooter Really Does Appear to Be a Jihadist.  In the immediate aftermath of Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez’s killing of four Marines and wounding of at least three other people, there was a noticeable effort to portray the jihadist as an all-American boy from small-town Tennessee.  With just a bit of digging, however, a different picture is emerging.  The New York Times reported Friday morning [7/17/2015] that Abdulazeez had spent about seven months in Jordan last year.  As is their wont in cases where Muslims kill Americans, investigators hastened to point out that overseas stays in a region rife with Islamic radicalism are not necessarily suggestive of terror ties … even if the traveler, on his stateside return, promptly shoots up military installations while the Islamic State and al-Qaeda urge Muslims to shoot up military installations.

Two shootings, and two very different media reactions.  Newsrooms demonstrated remarkable caution this week and avoided speculation about the motives of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, who went on a shooting spree in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing four U.S. Marines and injuring several more.  The same cannot be said, however, for how the press reacted in February when three Arab-American teens were shot and killed in Chapel Hill, N.C., over what turned out to be a parking dispute.  In that case, many in media appeared to suggest that the motive was anti-Muslim sentiment.  But when news broke Thursday [7/16/2015] that there was a mass casualty event in Chattanooga, the media was careful not to jump to conclusions based on Abdulazeez’s name or the fact that he was a naturalized citizen from Kuwait.  “I know we don’t know the motive of this young man,” MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell said during a broadcast shortly after the attack.

Muhammad… Muhammad… Where Have I Heard That Name Before?  In the wake of the latest mass shooting, carried out by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, an engineer like so many Islamic terrorists, we are seeing the usual scramble to avoid stating the obvious.  On CNN, Tom Fuentes ludicrously cautioned that Muhammad is not an Islamic name: […]

Mitchell Fishes for Better Angle on Chattanooga Terrorist.  MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell went fishing for a better angle Friday [7/17/2015] when she asked a former classmate of Chattanooga mass murderer Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez whether he enjoyed “hunting” and other “small-town Tennessee activity.”  “Were guns a big part of activities — social or other activities?” Mitchell asked her interviewee abruptly. […] Mitchell is a vocal opponent of the widespread availability of firearms.

The Editor says…
Andrea Mitchell was apparently hoping to portray an Islamic terrorist as Jed Clampett, just because he lived in Tennessee.  “Fishing for a better angle” is exactly right — it appears that she desperately wanted to steer the conversation away from the obvious:  This was just another in an endless series of “lone wolf” attacks, encouraged and incited by Islamists via the internet.

The Religion of Peace Spreads Its Good News.  Islamic terrorists carried out deadly attacks on three continents yesterday.  In all, over 60 people were killed following a call by ISIS for Muslims to go the extra mile in honor of the holy month of Ramadan.  You might miss this story if you look for it in the Washington Post, as it is vastly overshadowed by an above-the-fold, screaming headline celebrating the Supreme Court’s gay rights decision.

CNN still running dubious right-wing vs. Muslim extremists statistic.  CNN aired a statistic Friday morning [6/19/2015] alleging that “right-wing extremism” is responsible for more deaths since Sept. 11, 2001, than “Muslim extremism.”  The thing is:  The statistic is dubious.

Detroit Reporter Tells Truth About Muslims in Michigan: Forced to Apologize.  A reporter for a Detroit TV station got in hot water earlier this week when she mentioned that, given the substantial Muslim population in the state, “it should not come as a real surprise” if there was a Michigan connection to Islamic State.  The reporter was roundly criticized.  Not for stating the obvious, but because she said the words “Muslim” and “ISIS” in the same sentence.

It Takes a Good Guy with a Gun to Defend Freedom of Speech.  When two terrorists in body armor and carrying assault rifles came for a roomful of cartoonists and fans of freedom of speech in Texas, the media took the side of the terrorists.  CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group with ties to terrorists, spun the attack by claiming that the contest had been intended to “bait” the terrorists. The media quickly picked up the “bait” meme.  The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dallas Morning News, CNN and even FOX News all accused the cartoonists of “baiting” the poor Muslim terrorists into attacking them.  The actual attempt at mass slaughter was dismissed as the terrorists “taking the bait” from the cartoonists who had been fiendishly plotting to be mass slaughtered by them for the publicity.

Media Coverage of Pam Geller Proves Many Journalists Don’t Believe in Free Speech.  Journalists are supposed to understand the first amendment; their profession is based on it.  Yet so many people on both political sides of American media have shown themselves to be absolute boobs in the wake of Pamela Geller’s event in Texas.  This week, a Muslim cleric told her she deserved death for blasphemy over cartoons.  Where’s the outrage over this?

There’s a war on free speech — and radical Islam is winning.  The New York Times ran an editorial distinguishing between “free speech” and “hate speech” writing that the event “was not really about free speech.  It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.”  CNN’s Chris Cuomo wrote on Twitter that “hate speech is excluded from protection,” later claiming it was a “clumsy tweet.”  Fox’s Bill O’Reilly got into the act, saying the organizers of the event “spurred a violent incident.”  Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas and Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, floated restrictions on the First Amendment freedoms, stating, according to the New York Times, that, “The discussion we have to have is:  When does free speech become hate speech, and when does hate speech become incitement to violence?”

MSNBC: America killing Muslims ‘in the streets for decades” explains Garland shootings.  If there’s an attack on American’s anywhere, I think there’s a law that there has to be someone on MSNBC to defend the attackers.  They always seems to get TV time.

The New York Times Loves Blasphemy, Except When It Targets Muslims.  The New York Times editorial board tore into the nearly-murdered organizers of the Garland, Texas “Draw Mohammad” event Wednesday [5/6/2015], calling it “hate speech” and “an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.”  “Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism,” the Times editorial reads.  “As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.”

Why Won’t Pamela Geller Shut Up?  How dare Pamela Geller get targeted by terrorists bent on committing mass murder.  That’s been the reaction of a portion of the opinion elite to news that Geller’s “draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, was (unsuccessfully) assaulted by two heavily armed Muslim men in an attack the Islamic State took responsibility for.  The Washington Post ran an article on Geller headlined, “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas.”  News that the Post has yet to break about other terrorist targets:  “Malala Yousafzai refuses to admit fault for seeking an education”; “Coptic Christians won’t concede error for worshiping wrong God”; “Unrepentant Shiites continue to disagree with Sunnis.”

Times Editors Hate Geller’s ‘Hate Speech’ and Love Others’ ‘Free Speech’.  Yesterday, the New York Times editorial page informed us of the fine distinctions between “free speech” and “hate speech.”  We are instructed that “the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech.  It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred.”  It turns out that the difference is what lies in the heart of the creator.  And the Times knows what’s in the heart of the creator.  The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo, which lost a dozen employees when jihadists sprang into their office with machine guns in an incident that later evolved from an attack on ideas to an attack on Jews, are according to the Times, worthy of defense because the publication “has always been graphic satires of politicians and religions, whether Catholic, Jewish or Muslim.”

Liberal Media Work With Jihadists.  With the help of the media, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is setting people up for terrorist attacks inside the United States.  Pamela Geller is the latest on the list of the SPLC that has now been targeted for death by the jihadists.  ISIS says “…we will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter.”  ISIS is angry that Geller, an opponent of jihad, has defended the First Amendment right of free speech against Islamic Sharia law.  In response, ISIS tried to massacre people at Geller’s Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas on Sunday.  Two terrorists were killed and an unarmed security guard protecting the event was shot in the leg.  It’s an open secret that ISIS can get locations for its targets from the SPLC website.

Actual WaPo headline: “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas”.  The media is so, so angry at Pam Geller for putting them in a position where they have to side with her (sort of).  They already despised her.  Now that she’s made them unwilling allies in defending her right to mock Mohammed, they’ll never forgive her.

NBC News Reporter Ayman Mohyeldin Wants Islam Protected From Satire.  Ayman Mohyeldin is advertised by NBC News as an objective reporter.  This objective reporter became infamous earlier this year for lying about and smearing a decorated veteran sniper, the late Chris Kyle, as a “racist” who went on anti-Muslim “killing sprees” in Iraq.  Mohyeldin, who is a Muslim, used his MSNBC perch Tuesday [5/5/2015], not to condemn the murderous savages in his faith who attempted to murder Pam Geller and Geert Wilders at a free speech event, but to demand a culture change in America that would not “allow” people to engage in what he calls “hate speech” against Islam.

New York Times: Not Entirely Clear What Motivated Mohammed Cartoon Gunmen.  Completely and utterly unclear what might have led two devout Muslims to try and kill cartoonists drawing Mohammed.  It’s not one of those obvious things like plastic bottles destroying the planet or all the problems in the Middle East being caused by the Jews.  This is a great big mystery which we may never solve.  Was it Global Warming?  Or maybe some of that airborne PTSD?  Maybe it was economic inequality.

Cartoonists are Controversial and Murderers are Moderate.  Controversial, intolerant and provocative.  Mainstream media outlets broke out these three words to describe the “Draw the Prophet” contest, the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Pamela Geller.  While the police were still checking cars for explosives and attendees waited to be released, CNN called AFDI, rather than the terrorists who attacked a cartoon contest, “intolerant.”  Time dubbed the group “controversial.”  The Washington Post called the contest, “provocative.”

I support free speech, but….  After Pamela Geller’s free speech event in Texas and the terror attack that followed, it has been stunning to hear one journalist after another ask Ms. Geller why she held the event, question the wisdom or need for such an event, and go so far as to insinuate that she was somehow to blame for the violence.

What is the American Freedom Defense Initiative?  Its name paints an image of a group dedicated to protecting American ideals.  But critics call it the opposite — an intolerant hate group opposed to freedom of religion.  Now, with two gunmen killed outside one of its events, the American Freedom Defense Initiative is back in the spotlight — once again, surrounded by debate.  Here’s what to know about the controversial group: […]

The Editor says…
It’s almost amusing to see CNN paint the AFDI as the hateful troublemakers and homicidal Islam as the victims.  CNN is a media bias self-caricature.

Americans Support Nuclear Deal With Iran?  Presumably, hardly any of those telephoned by the pollsters realized that the objective of the agreement, assuming that Iran abides by it — a laughable assumption — is to extend the time it will take Iran to build a bomb to one year.  Even assuming that objective could be achieved, which most experts do not believe, it would be a small payoff for ending sanctions, which will entrench the mullahs’ regime and increase the resources they can devote to nuclear enrichment and ICBM development, which will not be addressed in the prospective deal.

Colonized by the Muslim Brotherhood.  [Scroll down]  So why doesn’t the Press report just the facts?  What is the reason for such an incredible failure by the press to inform the American people of the dire state of their government under Barack Obama?  There are several.  Many advisors to Obama are married into the media, or have worked in media themselves prior to joining the administration.  Both Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice have familial connections with powerful executives in (what was once known as) the free press.  Four times more journalists identify as liberal compared to conservative.  Evidently, with the case of Brian Williams coming to light, some in the media don’t care about the truth and would rather make up bald-faced lies.  Yet the biases above don’t fully explain the conspicuous silence of the mainstream press on the Muslim Brotherhood.  For it is no longer bias or loyalty that sway the press, but fear.  The Obama administration has proved that it will stonewall, punish, illegally wiretap, and in general make life difficult for inquisitive members of the press.  Case in point, Sharyl Attkisson, who refused go along with the official lies regarding Benghazi.

CBS Evening News Omits United Flight Passenger Was Screaming About Jihad.  All three of the major broadcast networks covered during their Tuesday night [3/17/2015] newscasts the story of unruly passenger abroad a United Airlines flight from the day before, but it was the CBS Evening News that left out the key detail that the man was screaming about Jihad and there being a bomb abroad the plane.  In what should have an easy story to cover and then move on, anchor Scott Pelley created another case of media bias in labeling by not providing any real details as to what the man was doing while competitors ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News mentioned it multiple times.

Does a Climate-of-Hate Lead to Violence? At Vox it Depends on the Victim’s Race and Religion.  The killing of a Iraqi immigrant last week has become an occasion for Vox to revive the climate of hate argument, i.e. the claim that malevolent forces prompted the violence.  Vox made exactly the opposite argument less than three months ago after the killing of two NYPD officers at the hands of a black Muslim.

Number of Christians Kidnapped by ISIS Soars; CBS and NBC Yawn.  News concerning the mass kidnapping of Christians by ISIS in Syria worsened on Thursday [2/26/2015] with reports from multiple human rights groups that raised the initial number of those taken from 150 to now at least 220.  If you watched the network evening newscasts, though, you would not have known that if you had tuned into CBS or NBC.  This latest case of network bias by omission comes as NBC has yet to cover this story on either Today or NBC Nightly News while CBS had covered it on the February 24 editions of CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.

The ‘Unmasking’ of an Islamic Terrorist, mainstream media style.  In mainstream media reports brutal Islamic terrorists go very quickly to the “Mr. Emwazi” stage and are portrayed in sob sister-sympathy: […]

Vox: Media, President Must End Political Correctness About Radical Islam.  One of Vox’s authors who has been at the forefront of the push to denounce critics of radical Islam as “Islamophobes” has dramatically reversed course on the issue of ISIS’ connection to Islam.  On Thursday [2/19/2015], Max Fisher said it’s time for the president to stop pretending no such connection exists.  Just as significant, he revealed that he and others in the media have been intentionally misleading Americans out of a desire to control what readers think about Islam.

Man Asks Bus Passengers If They Are Muslims And When They Say No, He Stabs Them.  Incidentally, the Washington Post’s headline makes it sound as if a non-Muslim is stabbing Muslims:

Police: Man stabs two after asking if they are Muslim

People objected to that deliberately-misleading headline, so they’ve changed it to a slightly different lie:

Police:  Muslim man stabs two after discussion about religious beliefs

They did not have a “discussion about religious beliefs.”  He asked people if they were Muslim and, upon learning they were not, attacked them in accord with the teachings of his religion.

The Media’s Difficulty in Perceiving Christians as Victims.  [Scroll down]  Finally, some newsroom denizens practice an open contempt for Christians and/or religion in general:  The Washington Post‘s Sally Quinn had no problem openly declaring, “When It Comes to Hateful Internet Speech, Christians Are the Worst.”  Separately, the President of the United States just did an interview with Vox’s Matt Yglesias who once declared, “I take an old-school Jacobin-style line that religion should be stamped out.”  The coverage of Christians abroad is pretty skimpy — other than when Pope Francis says something that progressives like.

Say it, Obama: ‘Islamic’.  A recent news bulletin announced that police in Nova Scotia broke up a plot by two men who aimed to carry out mass murder at a shopping mall and then commit suicide.  Here is what the Associated Press said about the plot in its second paragraph:  “Police and other officials said it was not related to Islamic terrorism.”  Whew, that’s a relief.  And a surprise.  If you shared my instant reactions, you also are wondering what […] is going on with the Obama administration.  When the liberal Associated Press feels the need to address readers’ assumptions about Islam and terrorism, we have a reached a tipping point.

Barnicle: We Can’t Call It Radical Islam ‘Because We’re The Crusaders.  Joe Scarborough opened today’s [2/17/2015] Morning Joe with a protracted and impassioned plea for America — and in particular President Obama — to call out radical Islam by name.  Mika Brzezinski was dubious, citing unspecified “difficult times” in the past when presidents used the wrong language.  But taking Mika’s misgivings a giant step further, Mike Barnicle flatly declared that we can’t call radical Islam by name because “we’re the Crusaders.”

Washington Post Offers Up Five Myths Of Islamic Radicalization.  [Scroll down]  [“]Europe’s bigger problem is the divide between its Muslim and non-Muslim communities.  This is less about counterterrorism and more about the need for better political and economic integration.[“]  That might be important if these radicals actually wanted to integrate on our terms.  They don’t.  They want nations to integrate on their radical terms.  They want to continue creating more radicals.  They want to operate in their own terms.  That is the forest.  The attacks are almost a distraction from the true aim of radical Islam.

PBS: America’s “Most Trusted Institution” and its Coverage of Islam.  [Scroll down]  It is with Islam too that PBS betrays its own reputation for trustworthiness and lack of bias.  To explain this, it would help first to see how PBS ended up, no doubt with the best of intentions, presenting to the American public a series of apologetics about Islam — all still available.

Media’s Lack of Curiosity About Killer of Muslims in North Carolina.  [Scroll down]  The SPLC runs a hate crimes racket, and the media — desperate to promote headlines that fit their pre-existing left-wing narratives about race, inequality and religion — are quick to swallow their propaganda.  “I think it’s perfectly natural to guess that this is anti-Islamic,” [Mark] Potok told the [Washington] Post in the interview regarding the triple murder.  “Not just because the three victims are Muslim, but because there has been so much terrible news in recent days about extremist Muslims.”  Potok also appeared on MSNBC on the morning of February 13 with the news anchor Tamron Hall, and there was no mention of Hicks’ political leanings, which appear to be consistent with their own.

NYT Defends Houthis: ‘Very Reassuring’ that ‘Death to America’ Slogan Not Meant Literally.  The Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, have taken control of the capital, including the airport and the United States embassy.  The Houthis forced US Marines leaving the country to leave them their weapons.  The rebels have also seized abandoned vehicles once used by US officials.  New York Times reporter Rod Nordland met with the Houthis who reassured him that they were just keeping US vehicles for safekeeping.

Annals of Dhimmitude: New York Times Celebrates Early America’s ‘Islamic Roots’.  If you ever doubted for a moment that the Gray Lady has become a crack whore for the Obama administration, put your doubts aside.

High Horses.  Politicians seem to know lot about religion these days.  They can, like [Ta-nehisi] Coates not only inform people of their true beliefs, as opposed to what they believe they believe, but can do something even more remarkable:  tell who belong to other faiths.  Journalists and politicians with no discernible religious training have the astonishing ability to declare with confident certainty that individual persons are “not Muslims” or that particular acts have “nothing to do with Islam”.  They can do this while somehow remaining Christians themselves — if that’s what they are.

Scarborough on Obama Prayer Speech: “Where Did He Go To Church? Where Would He Get Such Ideas From?”  [Scroll down]  [“]I saw a CNN documentary maybe five, six years ago and it was — it was, you know, ‘extremism in the name of God.’  And they were so desperate to find Jewish examples of extremism and then — this was right after 9/11 — and then their example for Christian examples of extremism was some schools — some Christian schools in America actually make women wear skirts below their knees.  How ghastly.  Let’s see.  Wear skirts below your knees on this side at fundamentalist schools, blow up the World Trade Center on this side.[“]

Media struggling with images of Islamic State murder.  The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s brutal murder this week of Jordanian pilot Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh presents a dilemma for U.S. media:  Should images of the execution be aired or should they be withheld from the public?  Right-leaning news organizations, including Fox News and Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, say the images should be shown to the public, arguing that it will better help the American people to understand the terrifying nature of the Islamic State, which controls portions of Iraq and Syria.

Whitewashing savagery: Al-Jazeera English bans use of ‘terrorist’ for mass killers.  Al-Jazeera America launched with plenty of lofty rhetoric about covering the world in a deeper way without the ideological baggage of the main channel in Qatar.  The new outfit hired a number of big-name journalists from such outlets as CNN, MSNBC and PBS, and hoped to establish a foothold in America with a global focus.  But the Al-Jazeera enterprise here just lost a chunk of its credibility, in my view, for the way its sister network, al-Jazeera English, has chosen to describe terrorism.

Fox Should Apologize For Their Apology.  Fox has undermined its own credibility by apologizing for something that was true.  Accurately reporting on no-go zones dominated by Muslims in Europe is now a no-go zone.  Our media have made a mess of the whole issue and are now afraid to dig themselves out.  What a disgrace and disservice to news consumers.

Journalism school dean: The First Amendment ends at insulting Mohammed.  Unusual, not because it’s rare to see an American journalist bowing to Islamic sensibilities on depictions of Mohammed but because typically they don’t go so far as to demand legal limits on their own profession.  When the New York Times refuses to run a cartoon goofing on Islam, they don’t want the reason to be government censorship.  They prefer to be censored by more sympathetic agents, like violent Muslim radicals.

NBC Hyped ‘Da Vinci Code,’ but ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Is Too Offensive.  In the wake of the massacre of journalists in France by Muslim terrorists, NBC has made an editorial decision to not show the cover of the new Charlie Hebdo cover featuring Muhammad, deeming it too offensive for viewers.  This is quite a contrast to the way the network promoted The Da Vinci Code in 2006.  The movie (and Dan Brown book it was based on) insisted that Jesus Christ was not divine and had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene.  Many Christians considered that offensive.

Bias at the BBC.  When interviewing a Jewish woman at the unity march in Paris, BBC Reporter Tim Willcox had the temerity to admonish her, “Many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”  This was a woman who herself might have been murdered in that very supermarket earlier that day.  Clearly, this man lacks sensitivity and benevolence, and could never have visited Israel.  He evidently attended the march not as a reporter of events, but as one whose ideology was to challenge its purpose where Jews were concerned.

‘Foist-a-phobia’ mainstream media coined the term ‘Islamophobia’.  Question: If there is, as Barack Obama and many ‘world leaders’ contend, no such thing as Islamic terrorism, how then can there possibly be such a thing as ‘Islamophobia’?  All those video-taped beheadings you see on the Net are in your overactive imagination.  Balking, blogging, and speaking out against them in any way, lands you in the Islamophobia category.  Resistance is futile when the mainstream media gangs up with Big Government against the plebes.

Charlie Hebdo Editor Blasts U.S. Outlets For Not Showing Prophet Muhammad Cover.  The editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo on Sunday [1/18/2015] slammed news organizations that refuse to publish the newspaper’s controversial cartoons, saying “they insult the citizenship.”

‘Hug a Terrorist’ mentality following Paris attacks?  [Scroll down]  There are other stories in the Paris terrorist attacks that also go a long way to stretch credibility.  Like the one about the Kouachi brothers allowing the man whose car was confiscated to get his dog before they raced off in his car.  Then there’s the latest one reported today by Britain’s Daily Mail how 40-year-old Charlie Hebdo journalist Sigolène Vinson revealed how she stared into the killer’s ‘big, soft, troubled eyes’ as he told her ‘have no fear we don’t kill women’.  Perhaps the biggest question of all about the terrorist attacks in Paris could be:  Is it the mainstream media or some other source attempting to leave the impression that terrorists let the owners of confiscated cars to first retrieve their pets and don’t kill women.  Before we know it, we will be hearing that Islamist terrorists don’t kidnap, enslave, decapitate, crucify and bury their victims alive.

NY Times Editor: Charlie Hebdo Cartoons ‘Innately Offensive’ to Muslims.  The New York Times published two stories today about the latest cartoon cover of Charlie Hebdo, but still refuses to print the cartoon, saying it is needlessly offensive to Muslims.  In a story titled, “New Charlie Hebdo Cover Creates New Questions for U.S. News Media,” editor Dean Baquet says the image is “innately offensive” to Muslims.

Media need to stop covering for murderous Muslims.  Every time another Muslim terrorist beheads, butchers or bombs, journalists do their best to hide from the reality.  Or quickly cover up the result as if they believe the rest of us will soon forget.  Recent terror attacks in the United States, Canada, Australia and Israel (journalists love to skip them) haven’t stopped the short-term memory wipe.  On Monday evening and Tuesday morning, ABC, CBS and NBC left out the Islamic connection from the trial of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  ABC Chief Investigative Reporter Brian Ross speculated that, “the jury will also see this bullet-pocked anti-American message.”  Islam?  Nope.

Don’t Be Deceived by the Reaction to Charlie Hebdo Massacre — Our Media Are Cowards.  In the wake of today’s massacre in Paris, there has already been a lot of preening about journalistic bravery.  Much of it has come from people who, it can be shown, don’t have the guts to work in Charlie Hebdo’s newsroom.  Preening about free speech may be reassuring at times like this, but what we need are apologies from those who haven’t done enough to defend free speech, as well as a real desire to hold those journalists and politicians who have undermined free speech accountable.

AP: Islam Fundamentally a Religion of Peace, ‘Brazen’ Critics Probably Racist.  AP writer Lee Keath published an article on Monday dealing with the “debate among Muslims over interpreting faith” — without mentioning that thousands of deaths are meted out every year in the name of Islam across the globe.  Keath instead describes those who question the link between Islam and jihadist violence as “increasingly brazen.”  Rather than focusing on the “brazenness” of the murderers in Islam’s name, the author instead points towards those who dare critique the Religion of Peace.

The Media’s Main Bias is Anti-American.  Here is a useful thought experiment.  Pretend that yesterday’s French terrorists were not radical Muslims but instead members of the Westboro Baptist Church.  How many news stories would a) omit their religious affiliation or b) express concern that members of the Westboro Baptist Church now faced anger and discrimination in their community?  Of course the answer is zero, and in fact we could expect a steady stream of stories that examined the exact opposite and laid out in painstaking depth how the twisted religious beliefs of the Westboro Baptist Church members and the poisonous rhetoric of church leaders directly led to this abominable event.  Nightline and 20/20 would doubtless send reporters to Kansas for lengthy pieces complete with videos of the scary rhetoric to which the Westboro members are regularly exposed.

The Official Apologist for Murder and Terror of The New York Times: Nicholas Kristof.  On the day when journalists were massacred in Paris, while blood still ran wet where they had fallen, and as eye witnesses described the killers’ shouts of “Allahu Akbar” — “Allah is great” — the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof asked the world not to judge the killers too quickly:  most urgently, he said, don’t jump to the conclusion they are Muslims.  Really?  Even when they sounded the Muslim prayer?  Even when they called their deeds, loud and clear in the streets of Paris, “vengeance for the Prophet”?

Lib Pols and Media Are Just Plain Cowards.  Anyone with a brain in their head knows that the killers who attacked the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris were Muslims.  Whether they were fanatics or not, the killers believe they are Muslim when they commit acts of violence while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ to avenge slights against their prophet Mohammed.  Cowardly politicians, however, and the craven media refuse to call a spade a spade and consequently encourage these acts of savagery against civilization.

The problem is within Islam itself.  [E]ven before the broken bodies of the French cartoonists had been removed from the scene, apologists on the American political left were taking to cameras and keyboards to make sure the apparent greater crime of political incorrectness was not perpetrated.  CNN pundit Sally Kohn sent out a barrage of politically correct tweets that repackaged the foolish charge made years ago by fellow left-winger Rosie O’Donnell that, “radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam.”  You can be forgiven for struggling to remember the last time monks with suicide belts stormed a mall food court or a group of knife-wielding nuns beheaded an infidel before mass.

Internal CNN memo: ‘We are not at this time showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons’.  CNN is not showing detailed images of cartoons from the Charlie Hebdo magazine that could be viewed as offensive to Muslims, CNN senior editorial director Richard Griffiths said in a message sent to CNN staff Wednesday afternoon [1/7/2015].

New York Times: With A Dozen Parisians Dead, MUSLIMS Hit Hardest.  A dozen people may have been murdered by Islamic terrorists in Paris Wednesday morning, but The New York Times can’t help but note the real tragedy behind the shooting: the growth of Islamophobia.

New York Times Reports On Muslim Proselytizing During Charlie Hebdo Attack, Then Deletes It.  When Islamic terrorists expressly tell their victims why they’re being attacked, our mainstream media will do anything to cover it up.  They’ll change the subject, they’ll blame the victims… they’ll even stealth-edit their own copy.  Here’s the latest example of the New York Times censoring itself to avoid offending Muslims after an act of Islamic terror.

USA Today column: Why did France allow satirists to attack Mohammed?  USA Today caused a stir last night when they published a column from Anjem Choudary, whom they describe as “a radical Muslim cleric” from London specializing in shari’a law.  Earlier in the day, the Financial Times attracted a raft of criticism for publishing a column that insinuated that Charlie Hebdo‘s staff brought on their massacre themselves, but Choudary doesn’t even bother with a sop to free speech, which he dismisses as a non-Islamic concept.  Instead, Choudary blames France for not protecting “the sanctity of a Prophet,” and says we should not expect anything else other than murder from Muslims when that doesn’t happen.

Video: Shep Smith Not OK with Calling Paris Attackers Muslims.  Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went on an editorial rant against those rushing to judgment and suggesting that the terrorists who massacred twelve people at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday [1/7/2015] might be — gasp — Muslims. […] It’s not Catholic, it’s not Jewish, it’s not Mormon, it’s not 7th Day Adventist, it’s not Buddhist.  No one in the intelligence community is running around Paris today looking in Baptist churches for these terrorists or checking their connections to the local Jehovah’s Witness community.  The terrorists are Muslim, by their own definition.  Who is Shep Smith to define what Islam is for these jihadi terrorists, who self-identify as Muslims?  Or who is President Obama, who has said the Islamic state is not Islamic, to tell anyone one else what the parameters of their religion must be?

CNN’s Sally Kohn Wonders Why Jews and Christians Aren’t Blamed for Terrorism In the Same Way As Muslims.  Hey Sally, let me know the last time the Christians and Jews went on a religious massacre or a beheading spree.

National Cathedral to host Islamists.  The cathedral, part of the Episcopal Church, has long been the site of important services, including memorial services for presidents, some of whom are buried there.  But the Cathedral has never before been used for Muslim services.  The [Washington] Post reports this as a feel-good story.

You Don’t Say, New York Times.  Up until yesterday’s attack in Canada these things were classified as “workplace violence,” or by some other euphemism.  Now, we learn that it is “extremism” that is behind the attacks.  Progress of a sort.  Next question for the Times:  What kind of extremism are we talking about here?

Must We Talk Nonsense?  The New York Times editorial board — a motley collection of knuckleheads — is wrestling mightily with the fact that everything they believe just happens to be untrue.  Most especially, all that end-the-war-in-Iraq stuff hasn’t turned out as well as they hoped and their militant-Islam-is-no-worse-than-any-other-religion meme is beginning to seem a bit shaky and, oh yeah, even though there’s no such thing as evil, these ISIS guys look suspiciously like what evil would look like if it were, you know, evil.

Pro-islam propaganda in the Minneapolis newspaper:
Minnesota Muslim leaders spread the word that ISIL is not Islam.  Muslims across Minnesota gathered this weekend for one of Islam’s major religious holidays, one rooted in prayer, charity, sacrifice to community — and nothing to do with beheadings or violence.

Sharyl Attkisson: CBS News Nixed Story that Predicted Obama’s Comments on ISIS.  Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson told Fox’s MediaBuzz Sunday morning [10/5/2014] that her former employer nixed a story of hers two years ago that anticipated much of what President Barack Obama is currently saying about ISIS.  Attkisson very publicly split with CBS News in the spring following a string of stories on Fast and Furious and Benghazi; on the way out she accused CBS of being too compliant with the Obama administration.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Guests: Islam Not Relevant to Oklahoma Beheading.  MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a roundtable discussion last week which eventually turned to the topic of the beheading of a woman in Moore, Oklahoma on Friday.  Harris-Perry and her guests Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad argues that it was merely a case of workplace violence to which Islam had no particular connection.  “It is a story that I read as a workplace violence,” Harris-Perry said to open the topic.

NBC Silent on Oklahoma Beheader’s Islamic Radicalism.  In NBC’s sole report on the incident on the Friday “Nightly News,” host Brian Williams didn’t mention Islam.  Segueing from a report on ISIS that, ironically, mentioned beheadings, Williams said “The FBI is investigating an absolutely awful attack in our country.”  Williams went on:  [“]Police say a man who was fired yesterday from a food processing plant went on a rampage there beheading a co-worker then repeatedly stabbing another before a company executive who happens to be reserve deputy in the area shot and subdued him.  The suspect is expected to survive his wounds and face multiple charges.[“]  So as far as NBC viewers know, Nolan could be a Methodist, a devotee of Wicca or an atheist.

The Jihadi Serial Killer no One’s Talking About.  For two bloody months, an armed jihadist serial killer ran loose across the country.  At least four innocent men died this spring and summer as acts of “vengeance” on behalf of aggrieved Muslims, the self-confessed murderer has now proclaimed.  Have you heard about this horror?  Probably not.  The usual suspects who decry hate crimes and gun violence haven’t uttered a peep.  Why?  Like O.J.’s glove:  If the narrative don’t fit, you must acquit.  The admitted killer will be cast as just another “lone wolf” whose familiar grievances and bloodthirsty Islamic invocations mean nothing.

“13 Year Old Boy” Killed by Israel Turns Out to be Adult PLO Terrorist.  Maybe a really old 13.  A 13-year old who has been left back more times than Arafat at the airport security checkpoint.  Elder has found a bunch of other “children” who could easily get a drink in any bar.

A ringside seat to our own destruction.  Headlines have focused on the atrocities committed by ISIS on the northern Iraqi front.  The leading stories seem almost expressly written by the Onion to make fun of political correctness. […] The story adds, almost superfluously, that ISIS is attempting to shoot down aid deliveries.  They would do that, wouldn’t they?  Yet all this time the world was assured there was nothing to worry about in the hundreds of radical mosques, the thousands of militants eagerly received into the West and creeping sharia law in its institutions.  The dangers, they were told, all lay in the Tea Party and elusive militia groups holed up in a cabin in the Ozarks.

Journalists Restricted By Hamas Rules and It’s Reflected in Their Coverage.  On August 6, Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies charged that while the media have filled their stories on the current conflict in Gaza with “pictures of neighborhoods reduced to rubble, with Palestinian men, women and children in desperate circumstances,” they have been negligent in telling their audiences that Hamas has been “deploying civilians as human shields, storing missiles in mosques and UN schools, setting up command posts in hospitals, using ambulances to ferry terrorists to battle, and children to dig tunnels.”  One reason for this bias, according to May, is Hamas’ intimidation of journalists.  May relayed that when one Spanish journalist was asked why TV viewers weren’t seeing more footage of Hamas fighters the reporter responded:  “It’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”

Ben Shapiro Blasts CNN Over Its Anti-Israel Coverage.  Appearing on CNN Tonight Monday evening [8/4/2014], Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Ben Shapiro blasted the left-wing network for its anti-Israel coverage over the past three-plus weeks of Israel’s war of self defense against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.  Just as National Review’s Lee Habeeb did Monday morning, Shapiro again proved that CNN has no answer for its indefensible behavior… other than straw men.

Americans support Israel and the press hates it.  One gets the impression that America’s broad support for Israel’s mission in Gaza over that of Hamas militants, support reflected in policy in Washington, is evolving into an obsession for members of the press.  In fact, it seems that the more stubbornly Americans cling to their support for their country’s democratic ally in the Middle East, the more frenetic and scolding the media’s tone has become while covering the conflict.

Was a UN School in Gaza Really Bombed?  (Update: No, It Wasn’t).  The UN is going bonkers because they say another one of their schools in Gaza was shelled.  Ten people were killed and dozens injured, but read this account carefully from The Guardian: […] The UN is going bonkers because they say another one of their schools in Gaza was shelled.  Ten people were killed and dozens injured, but read this account carefully from The Guardian: […] The attack was not on the school.  The bomb hit the street outside the gates of the school and killed and injured people standing at the gate — not in the school itself which was being used as a shelter.

Forty questions for the international media in Gaza:
[#7]  Have you seen Hamas fighters in Gaza?
[#8]  If yes, why have you not directly reported Hamas fighting activity when you are eye-witnesses in Gaza, but rather indirectly reported about what the IDF says they Hamas has done?
[#9]  Are you scared to publish photos of Hamas operatives on your Twitter page, or broadcast images of Hamas fighting and aggression on your news channel?
[#10]  Have you published any photos of terrorists launching rockets in Gaza?  If so, are these images being turned down by your newspaper or broadcaster?
[#11]  Have you thought of interviewing the traumatised residents of southern Israel?
[#12]  When Israeli authorities say that most of the dead in Gaza are terrorists, and Hamas says most of the dead in Gaza are civilians, how do you differentiate?

The Self-Inflicted Hamas ‘Massacre’ Blamed By the Media on Israel.  According to the Hamas version of events — widely promulgated in the media by ITN, the Telegraph and the Belfast Telegraph — an Israeli airstrike on a crowded market place during a partial ceasefire in the Shijaiyah neighbourhood of Gaza City on July 30th, 2014 was responsible for the deaths of 17 people, including blue-helmeted photojournalist Rani Rayan.  However as Thomas Wictor has incontrovertibly demonstrated using close analysis of film footage of the incident, the deaths were not caused by Israeli shrapnel but by secondary explosions from a vast cache of Hamas rockets.  Oh, and the market wasn’t ‘crowded’ either:  it had been closed for the day.  And this particular area wasn’t included in the ceasefire zone, either, because Hamas was continuing to fire rockets from it.

Top Secret Hamas Command Bunker in Gaza Revealed And why reporters won’t talk about it.  The idea that one of Hamas’ main command bunkers is located beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is one of the worst-kept secrets of the Gaza war.  So why aren’t reporters in Gaza ferreting it out?  The precise location of a large underground bunker equipped with sophisticated communications equipment and housing some part of the leadership of a major terrorist organization beneath a major hospital would seem to qualify as a world-class scoop — the kind that might merit a Pulitzer, or at least a Polk.  So why isn’t the fact that Hamas uses Shifa Hospital as a command post making headlines?

Media cover-up of Hamas crimes starting to unravel.  Yesterday [7/28/2014] one of the stories thrust into the mainstream media was nearly simultaneous explosions in a Palestinian neighborhood and at al-Shifa hospital.  The media immediately took the Hamas line that it was Israeli missiles.  Later, the IDF stated that it had not fired on those locations, and that the explosions were misfired Hamas or Islamic Jihad missiles.

Why the media bear moral responsibility for the Gaza civilian casualties.  Former Col. Richard Kemp, who was head of British forces in Afghanistan, has laid out with great clarity why the very media who bemoan the civilian casualties in Gaza bear moral responsibility for the carnage. […] [T]he essence of his point is that Hamas deliberately uses children and others as human shields in order to gain media coverage of the victims.  Without media coverage, there would be less incentive for this cruelty.

A Letter of Thanks from Hamas to the Media.  Dear Members of the Mainstream Media,  You’ve been awesome!  Everyone knows that we start unwinnable wars with Israel because the real victory happens when you predictably side with us each time.  And you’ve been so supportive of our strategy that we really want to acknowledge your helpfulness.

White House condemns Israeli shelling of UN school.  The United States is condemning Israel’s shelling of a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip that was sheltering displaced Palestinians.

The Editor says…
The AP didn’t mention anything about missiles being stored in UN schools.  Hmmm.  I wonder why they left that part out.

Over 700 Syrians Were Killed Last Week. But Jews Didn’t Do it, So the Media Doesn’t Care.  From reading the international and national news you would probably never have known that last Thursday and Friday alone, over 700 people were killed in Syria at the hands of jihadists and pro-Assad forces.  Muslim on Muslim, Arab on Arab, human on human, whatever you like to think of it as[,] Western media is doing an awful job of reporting these abhorrent incidences[,] and I think I know why.

French ‘Mother’ Kills Teacher in Front of Class.  It was headlining AOL on Friday [7/4/2014]:  a story about a woman stabbing a schoolteacher to death in front of a class of five and six-year-olds.  The gruesome and bloody crime occurred in the southern French town of Albi; the victim was a 34-year-old mother of two.  But a certain bit of information is conspicuously missing from virtually all the reportage.  We’re told the killer was under the impression that the teacher had accused her five-year-old daughter of theft.  We’re told she had a history of child abuse and “severe psychiatric problems.”  We’re told she’s 47.  And we’re told she’s a she.  But her name is nowhere to be found, and information about her background is… well, you’ll see.

MSM finally realizes that Islam is really, really scary.  After years of terrorism that resulted in, among other things, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, murder of Americans in Benghazi, and the brutal hacking death of off-duty soldier, Lee Rigby in London, the main stream media is finally sounding the alarm on the religion President Obama claims America “shares common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Dana Milbank’s Heritage disaster.  Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank set off a flurry of outraged tweets on Monday night [6/16/2014] after posting a highly critical recap of a panel event at The Heritage Foundation that, he says, “deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.”  Video of that panel has since surfaced and — in my view — Milbank grossly misrepresented the nature of that exchange.

What Dana Milbank Does Not Tell You.  [Scroll down]  But what’s more, Milbank relies on the account of “Saba Ahmed, an American University law student,” who is the aggrieved victim of his piece.  She’s a moderate, caring Muslim girl targeted by the group because she is Muslim.  What Milbank does not tell you is that Saba Ahmed is a family friend of Mohammed Osman Mohamud, the convicted Islamic bomber who tried to blow up Portland, OR in the name of jihad.  Milbank also does not tell you Saba Ahmed has been arrested for stalking and her family claims she was diagnosed with a mental disorder.  She’s also been active at Occupy rallies denouncing American war efforts.  She has made opposition to the American war against terrorism a key part of what she does.  And she took to Heritage to hijack a conversation on Benghazi, turning it to her issue, which had not even been a topic of conversation.

Who is the Most ‘Bloodthirsty’ Enemy?  Certainly, “bloodthirsty” comes to mind whenever the Taliban is mentioned.  Consider the five terrorist leaders released from Gitmo by the White House. […] Yet, they are not the ones who earn the “bloodthirsty” title from [Brian] Beutler. […] No, the term “bloodthirsty” is used as follows:  “the problem for the diffuse conservative outrage industry is that nuanced debates over public relations strategies and the relative ‘value’ of Guantanamo detainees probably wouldn’t have satisfied bloodthirsty right-wingers.”  Does Beutler really think that Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, or Sean Hannity is more likely to order a car bomb into a crowded marketplace to kill women and children than any of the Taliban Five?  How about the beheading prisoners or the honor killing of women?  Would he rather see a Taliban gunman walking down the street than a Fox commentator?

The Obama Doctrine.  To leftists like our president, we are the bad guys.  Sharia law is a right.  Israeli’s self-defense and sovereignty are wrongs.  Islam is a beautiful religion; Judaism and Christianity are backward and hateful.  Islamophobia is real.  The jihadi threat is not real.

Politico Honchos ‘Jump the Shark’ To Defend Obama’s Taliban Release.  Blake Hounshell, an editor at Politico Magazine, downplayed Obama’s decision to release five Taliban leaders in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, based on the fact that the five terrorists are not “ninjas.”  On his verified Twitter feed Hounshell wrote, “What’s the argument that these five Taliban guys are so dangerous?  Are they ninjas?  Do they have superpowers?”

The New York Times: Making the world safe for terrorism.  On the front page of Sunday’s New York Times was a hysterical article charging the New York Police Department with trampling Muslim civil rights by trying to recruit Muslims who had been arrested on other charges to be informants. […] The article implied that Muslims were being singled out by law-enforcement officials because of their religion, and that they were asked invasive and improper questions about their religion.  Freedom of the press is limited to those who own it, H.L. Mencken once said, an axiom that The Times has demonstrated repeatedly by routinely deprecating the threat of “Islamic terrorism” in the United States.  For years, The Times has blindly pursued an agenda that coincides with the same agenda of radical Islamic groups masquerading as “civil rights” groups in trying to prove that Islamic terrorists were unfairly convicted and framed.

Journalists’ guide to Islam called cave-in to political correctness.  A “how-to” guide published by a prominent journalism school to help reporters covering Islam-related issues is under fire from critics who say it sacrifices the First Amendment to political correctness.  “Islam for Journalists,” an online guide from Washington State University, says coverage of the Muslim world can be fair, yet inoffensive without compromising journalistic principles.  Yet it pointedly condemns publication of images of Muhammed, an act which is forbidden by the Koran, and seems to equate it with violence carried out in the name of Islam.

Islam for Journalists:  [Video clip]

Sinking Al-Jazeera American Launches Left-Wing Docs.  According to the latest report, Al-Jazeera America’s (AJA) ratings are exactly zero.  Although available in 55 million homes, no one is watching.  Worst of all, AJA has had absolutely no impact on the national conversation.  Nothing the cable news network has done so far has penetrated anywhere — which is all that matters to the media.

WashPost Suffers Another Disgusting Case of Fort Hood Amnesia in Assessing Obama’s Terrorism Record.  On the front page of Saturday’s Washington Post, reporter Scott Wilson spun furiously to avoid the obvious fact that candidate Obama’s promises and President Obama’s record on the War on Terror are remarkably at odds.  Worse yet, Wilson insisted that only the Boston Marathon bombings (death toll: three) counts as a “successful mass terrorist attack on Obama’s watch,” which completely avoids the mass shooting at Ford Hood by an Islamic radical (death toll: 13), which is often ridiculously categorized as workplace violence.

Media Imbalance on the Nairobi & Peshawar Massacres.  On a weekend in which 75 Christians were killed by jihadists outside a Church in Pakistan, you may wonder why the main news (by far!) was the killing of 68 people in Nairobi (Kenya) — also by jihadists.  (The UK’s ‘Islamophobic’ Daily Mail hasn’t featured it all so far and the ‘right wing’ Telegraphonly featured it in its ‘World’ section.)  There must be reasons for this very large imbalance.  So I will suggest a few.

This story originally appeared at NewsBusters
‘Islam,’ ‘Muslim’ censored from newspaper reports on Kenya, Pakistan attacks.  In Nairobi, Kenya last weekend, Islamist militants took over a high-end shopping mall and began executing non-Muslims.  In Pakistan, Islamist suicide bombers detonated at a Christian Church on Sunday.  Yet on Monday, September 23, 90 percent of the top ten (via circulation numbers) daily newspapers’ headlines in the United States censored the words “Islam” and Muslim” from Nairobi and Pakistan reports.  One — the New York Daily News — didn’t even have a headline for the latest Islamic terrorist attacks.  That’s journalism at its finest.

Kenya terror attack: disgracefully, the BBC still won’t call these murderers ‘terrorists’.  Let’s get this straight.  There is nothing wrong with using the term “militants” to describe the al-Shabab gunmen.  But they are terrorists, by any criterion, and that word should also be used.  The Beeb won’t do it, however.  It virtually bans the word from reporting, lest it be used “inappropriately”.  Many BBC journalists, who are overwhelmingly on the Left, support the causes for which armed gunmen fight in, say, Palestine.

Al Jazeera and the soft underbelly of America.  Can you imagine Adolf Hitler owning a TV news network that spewed his hateful rhetoric across the United States either before or during World War II? […] This principle doesn’t have anything to do with the First Amendment or tolerance of other people’s ideas.  It has to do with self-preservation.  If you are engaged in a war for cultural survival, you don’t just turn a blind eye to a foreign effort to subvert your nation from within.  Unfortunately, that instinct for survival no longer exists in modern America — which, like it or not, is engaged in a long-term battle of wills with Islamism, the movement to impose the political and cultural version of Islam known across the globe in a worldwide caliphate dedicated to the implementation of sharia (Islamic law).

Media Matters Gushes Over Al Jazeera’s Anti-American Propaganda.  Media Matters for America doesn’t often find much time in its busy schedule of incessantly attacking Fox News to praise other news outlets, so it is noteworthy that it took a moment Wednesday [8/21/2013] to give a slobbering electronic kiss to Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera In America.  The mainstream press went similarly apoplectic when Rupert Murdoch decided to buy the Wall Street Journal a few years back.  And it routinely bashes Murdoch’s Fox News as an illegitimate source of news.  Yet these same folks think it’s just peachy that Al Jazeera launched its cable news network in America on Tuesday after buying up the remains of Al Gore’s failed Current TV.  National Press Foundation President Bob Meyers, to cite just one example, called it a “transformative” event in journalism, akin to the launch of CNN in 1980.

Al Jazeera Targets America.  Anti-Al Jazeera posters have recently appeared in Egypt saying, “A bullet kills a man, a lying camera kills a nation.”  This attitude led to the new government closing the channel, after 22 staffers quit in disgust over its pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias.  Al Jazeera is the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group now laying siege to Egypt and burning Christian churches there.

Liberal media love new Jesus book ‘Zealot’, fail to mention author is Muslim.  Reza Aslan, author of the new book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” has been interviewed on a host of media outlets in the last week.  Riding a publicity wave, the book has surged to #2 on Amazon’s list.  Media reports have introduced Aslan as a “religion scholar” but have failed to mention that he is a devout Muslim.  His book is not a historian’s report on Jesus.  It is an educated Muslim’s opinion about Jesus — yet the book is being peddled as objective history on national TV and radio.

Fox Guest Slams Reza Aslan’s ‘Aloof Arrogance’.  President of the Media Research Center Brent Bozell appeared on Fox News Wednesday afternoon [7/31/2013] to rebut days of criticism over Lauren Green’s recent interview with author Reza Aslan, in which the Fox anchor repeatedly questioned Aslan’s motives for writing a text on Jesus when he himself is a Muslim.  “It was the exact correct question that needed to be asked,” Bozell said.  “She had every right to ask him, ‘Do you have a bias? Are you being influenced by your faith to write what you’re writing?’  He should have said, first and foremost, said, ‘Yes I am.’  To deny it shows the aloof arrogance of ‘How dare she even ask that question?'”

If you see something, say nothing.  It was a report of the now numbingly familiar sort.  Witnesses at the synagogue in Paris recounted that an Iranian immigrant had been screaming “Allahu Akbar!” while he chased the rabbi and his son.  When he finally caught up, he slashed away at them with a box-cutter, causing severe lacerations.  Nevertheless, the Associated Press assured readers that “[a]n official investigation was underway to determine a possible motive.”

Domestic Propaganda: NY Times Puffs Al Jazeera America’s U.S. News Focus.  Al Jazeera, bank-rolled by the emir of Qatar and based in Doha, used $500 million petro-dollars to buy Current TV from Al Gore back in January.  At the time, according to [Brian] Stelter, it planned to produce just 60 percent of AJA’s programming in the United States.  The rest would come from its existing propaganda channels Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English.  The network has since rethought that plan.

Islamist Media Mavens Sabotage Our War On Terror.  The London and Boston attacks are a gruesome reminder we’re still at war with jihadists, at home and abroad.  However, we’re also at war with their apologists and propagandists.

A multicultural society where all truths are equal stokes the flames of evils like Woolwich.  There has been the usual outpouring of predictable responses since Drummer Rigby was murdered by (alleged, for legal reasons) Islamists:  Iraq war; Muslim anger at that war; EDL every bit as big a threat to our way of life as Islamist murderers, etc.  Every report is couched in ultra-cautious terms by the media:  after two war memorials were desecrated this week, most reports stated that the police couldn’t say whether it was the act of Islamists or some trouble-stirring, shadowy “far-Right” group.

10 arrested so far in British soldier’s killing as Muslims fear backlash.  As concerns about rising Islamophobia in Britain grew amid anti-Muslim protests and attacks targeting mosques, authorities made a 10th arrest in last week’s knifing death of a British soldier.  Armed police arrested a 50-year-old man on a street in the town of Welling in southeastern England.  The man’s connection to the case was unclear, but like the other nine suspects, he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

The Editor says…
Apparently CNN wants us to feel sorry for the Muslims because they “fear backlash.”/p>

What Spurred Woolwich Attacks? What Difference At This Point Does It Make?  None at all, to the head-in-the-sand (or elsewhere) US media.  According to Newsbusters, the US media are bending themselves into pretzels to keep from having to connect two killers who brutally murdered a British soldier while they shouted “Allahu Ackbar!” to Islamism, jihad or anything else that might illuminate their motives.

As Stockholm Riots Move Into Fifth Day, Press Aversion to the M-Word Is Nearly Unanimous.  A Google News search on “Sweden riots” done tonight [5/24/2013] at 10 PM ET (not in quotes, sorted by date, with duplicates) returned 314 items.  Adding the word “Muslim” to the search reduced the number of results to nine.  Fewer than a handful are from establishment press outlets, and one of those only appeared in the search results because a commenter and not the story’s writer used the M-word.  That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the determined denial of reality in which the worldwide press is engaged in reporting riots in the suburbs of Stockholm, which have entered their fifth day.

Networks’ Evening Shows Don’t Name Islam in London Terror Attack.  What does a murderous jihadist terrorist have to do to get some recognition for his cause?  You hack a British soldier to death in broad daylight on a London street while shouting “Allahu akbar” and then “swear by the almighty Allah” that you’ll never stop fighting, and the U.S. broadcast networks still can’t bring themselves to utter a word about Islam.  True, the ABC CBS and NBC evening broadcasts called the attack “terrorism,” but for all the information they gave viewers, the attackers might have been Basque separatists or animal rights zealots.

LA Times: Boston Bomber’s Faith was ‘Conservative Islam’.  Exactly what is “conservative Islam”?  Was Tamerlan self-radicalized into “conservative Islam,” LA Times?  How about Hasan at Ft. Hood?  Was he another “conservative Islamist” who committed “workplace violence?”  Matt Pearce is the reporter responsible for coining this new phrase.

The New York Times Erases Islam from Existence.  While the New York Times dispatched its best and brightest lackeys to Boston to write sensitive pieces on how hard it was for the two Tsarnaevs to fit in, it fell to a UK tabloids like The Sun to conduct an interview with the ex-girlfriend of the lead terrorist and learn that he wanted her to hate America and beat her because she wouldn’t wear a Hijab.

Busted Rhetoric “Explains” the Brothers Tsarnaev.  As more information about the brothers — and their parents — has emerged, various pundits continue trying to explain away anti-Western, militant Islam’s role in forming the Brothers Tsarnaev’s murderous mindset.  That piece of the puzzle doesn’t suit their purpose when they play the Blame Game.  They have a need for something else, something deeper, in their never-ending attempt to tell us rubes “what it all means.”  In the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one theory getting attention was his stymied dreams of a boxing career.

Boxing Extremists.  The media has found the real cause of the Boston Marathon Bombing.  It was not radical Islam.  Oh no.  That’s silly and, if we’re being honest with each other, a little offensive.  I’m disappointed in you for even thinking such a thing.  How dare you jump to conclusions like that?  No no, the real spark?  The real evil that sent Tamerlan Tsarnaev down his deadly path?  The New York Times has found the real killer.  It was boxing.

Bombers’ Mosque In Boston A Factory For Terrorists.  The New York Times thinks the Boston bombers “self-radicalized” on the Web.  But it didn’t look at their mosque, which has churned out other terrorists, too.  USA Today, on the other hand, did look at their mosque — the Islamic Society of Boston — and found “a curriculum that radicalizes people,” according to a local source quoted in the paper’s investigation.  “Other people have been radicalized there.”

The Lazy, Intellectually Bankrupt Racial Prism Through Which Media And Academia View Terrorism.  Chris Matthews, whose analysis is often a leading indicator of the impulse on the left to ascribe racial and political motives to the violent compulsions of sociopaths, took the opportunity of an erroneous report about an attack on the JFK presidential library on the day of the bombings to speculate about the conservative political beliefs of the yet-unidentified perpetrators.  Matthews’ speculation proved to be prescient — his reaction foreshadowed a shameful spree of baseless conjecture by other journalists, commentators, and professors.

Geraldo Rivera Apologizes To Muslims For The Boston Marathon Bombings.  Your first thought after reading that title is probably something like, “Wait, what?” Then, you realized it was Geraldo Rivera and it started to make more sense.

I Saw Something, So I’m Saying Something.  Are you fed up with the antiseptic slogan, “If you see something, say something?”  The authorities expect us to report suspicious backpacks, but stay silent as the tomb about the nature of the men who put them there.  We’re instructed to speak up about a bloodied man’s movement under a boat tarp, but to shut up about the ideological movement that drove him to commit his carnage.

Boston jihadi had direct contact with Chechen jihad terrorists.  “But scholars cautioned Friday against concluding that the Tsarnaevs’ motives were purely religious.” — Lisa Wangsness in the Boston Globe, April 20, running interference for Islamic supremacists yet again.

NBC Nightly News Ignores Boston Bombers Ties To Islam.  After the media spent the week praying the Boston Marathon bombers wouldn’t have ties to radical Islam, it’s now going to be interesting to see how they report the religious beliefs of the Tsarnaev brothers.  Failing miserably Friday [4/19/2013] was NBC’s Nightly News which despite airing a 90 minute special broadcast on the ensuing manhunt in Watertown, Massachusetts, according to an examination of the closed-caption transcript didn’t once mention the Tsarnaev’s Muslim connection.

Mark Steyn: Media will downplay Boston bomber-Muslim link, same as Ft. Hood, underwear bomber.  As it turned out, the suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were indeed Muslims, and Steyn, author of “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon,” said the media wagon-circling would begin “any moment now.”

Newspaper caught photoshopping injuries out of Boston Marathon photograph.  A US newspaper has admitted that it digitally altered a front-page photograph of a Boston Marathon bombing victim so that the woman’s pants covered her horrific leg wounds.  The woman’s gory wounds had vanished on the large image that wrapped around the New York Daily News on Tuesday [4/16/2013], despite the photograph appearing unedited online and in other publications in the US.

CNN’s Amanpour Hoped ‘Beyond Hope’ the Boston Bombing Suspects Weren’t Mideast Muslims.  Dave Weigel at Slate reported from an awards dinner Tuesday night [4/16/2013] for the leftish Arab American Instiute about the crowd’s discomfort with the notion that the Boston assailants would turn out to “look like them.” (That, I think, would mean Middle Eastern and Muslim, although AAI president James Zogby describes himself as a Maronite Catholic.)  They tried not to say it out loud, he said, but then CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, there to receive an award, said it for them.

NBC News Covers For Muslims’ Vicious Destruction of Non-Islamic Artifacts.  Ian Johnston, a Staff Writer for NBC News, writes this about the recent destruction of archaeologically important sites in Mali:  “To many in the West, such actions are simply wanton vandalism.  However, experts say the thinking behind it is actually part of a wider tradition of rooting out idol-worship and superstition found in Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.”  (Emphasis added.)  How dare they?  Jews are not destroying religious symbols, idols, churches, or mosques, ever.  And Christians do no such thing, either.  But Muslims have been on a jihad to destroy the religious artifacts that non-Muslim believers hold precious.  Only Muslims are doing this, and they are committing the greatest archaeological crimes in human history.

Is Saudi Prince Steering News Corp. Coverage?  [Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal] owns the largest chunk of News Corp. stock outside the Murdoch family.  Shortly after his purchase of 5.5 percent of News Corp. voting shares in 2005, Alwaleed gave a speech that made it clear just what he had bought.  As noted in The (U.K.) Guardian, Alwaleed told an audience in Dubai that it took just one phone call to Rupert Murdoch — “speaking not as a shareholder but as a viewer,” Alwaleed said — to get the Fox News crawl reporting “Muslim riots” in France changed to “civil riots.”  This didn’t make the “Muslim” riots go away, but Alwaleed managed to fog our perception of them.

Virtually Absent From U.S. Press Coverage of Egypt’s Constitution and Referendum: It’s About Sharia Law.  As voting on Egypt’s constitution begins, an Associated Press story this morning by Aya Batrawy and Sarah El Deeb typifies how the U.S. press is only nibbling around the edges of its content.

The Ground Zero Mosque and Media Sleight of Hand.  The entire controversy over the Ground Zero mosque is an illuminating example of how the media manipulates public perceptions.  Now the central deception — that the Ground Zero mosque was never really a mosque at all — has been fully revealed. […] The entire episode showed how far the mainstream media’s version of events can be from reality — an increasingly important lesson nowadays.

Something Is Wrong.  Don’t look now, but Islam is becoming the MSM’s official religion of America. […] We are not supposed to be doing obeisance to a religious group that has many adherents who want us dead.  We are not, as journalists, supposed to be labeling anyone as “The” Prophet.  But somehow, it’s happening.  The MSM has become a voice for Islam.  Hitler saw it long ago.  Terror and fear of violence can bring about amazing changes in people’s behavior.  So can a misguided political correctness and self-loathing for the greatest nation on earth.

Taliban Attack Destroys Six Harrier Jets at 180 Million Dollar Cost.  This is yet another disaster in Obama’s failed war in Afghanistan and it also gives the lie to the notion that these worldwide coordinated attacks timed at around September 11 were due to popular outrage because of a movie.  The media talking heads still spewing that nonsense in their way on free speech are engaging in criminally irresponsible reporting and are covering up the real scope of events.

Letting Islamists dictate ‘Free speech’.  An incendiary video about the prophet Muhammad, “Innocence of Muslims,” was blamed for the mob attacks on our embassies in Libya and Egypt (and later, Yemen). […] Over at MSNBC, contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch, plus University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler, all agreed that the people behind the video should be indicted as accessories to murder.  “Declared Butler: “How soon is Sam Bacile [the alleged creator of the film] going to be in jail folks?  I need him to go now.”

Shariah vs. the Constitution.  A New York Times editorial on the current Mideast crisis is mostly a predictable attack on Mitt Romney, and an unusually dishonest one.  But the conclusion is a clueless classic: “Libyan leaders have condemned the killings and promised to work to apprehend those responsible.  Egyptian leaders, inexplicably, have not followed that lead.”  Inexplicably!  Let’s see if we can explain.

Time Magazine: Anti-Islam Filmmakers Are ‘Islamophobic’ But Deadly Rioters Just ‘Orthodox Muslims’.  The caption accompanying a September 13 TIME magazine photo slide tags the filmmakers behind “The Innocence of Muslims” as “Islamophobes” while those rioting in the Arab street supposedly in reaction against said film are merely “orthodox Muslims.” […] Of course, “orthodox” means “right teaching,” which may be the exact opposite of what TIME wants to communicate.  If violent protests are the mark of theologically orthodox Muslims, that suggests they are acting in accord with the tenets of their faith, not contrary to it.

Christiane Amanpour: West Is Extreme, Not Islamists.  ABC journalist Christiane Amanpour, (a journalist? Really?) appeared on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos to discuss the film that supposedly ignited the furor in the Middle East and spew her usual venom about the intolerance of the West and benevolent Muslims.

NBC Publishes Unproven Claims of ‘Anti-Muslim Incidents’ in USA.  When “journalists” confront conservatives, typically every claim, statistic, or assertion is challenged, but when talking to kindred spirits, reporters allow any manner of claim to pass by unchallenged.  Such is the case with NBC’s interview of spokesmen for CAIR who, without any proof, were allowed to claim that “a spike in hate” against Muslims was occurring in the U.S.A.

1.5 Billion Bin Ladens.  To suggest, as the White House keeps saying, that rioting in more than twenty-five mostly Muslim nations is the result of some amateur film that no one has seen reveals an administration that thinks Americans are stupid and unaware that President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East is responsible for the crisis that has killed our ambassador to Libya and others.  A compliant mainstream news media continues to report this fiction.

MSNBC Liberal Pundits, Muslim Brotherhood on the Same Side Against Free Speech.  Earlier today [9/12/2012] two MSNBC commentators called for the prosecution of those involved in making the film that has been blamed for the attacks on US interests in Egypt and Cairo.  This afternoon, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government has formally called for such prosecution.

The Huffington Post Whitewashes Sharia.  Big broadcast news and print media offer Islamic supremacists and their leftist shills unfettered access to defame, lie about, smear, and give misleading information about freedom’s fiercest defenders, without giving the victims of these vicious defamation campaigns the opportunity to rebut the false charges.  This is twenty-first-century Goebbels-style propaganda.  Islamic supremacists and their useful idiots on the left are given enormous power — the kind of influence and access to deceive and mislead the American people that Nazi propagandists were given in Germany.

Suicide of the Western Media.  That the mainstream media leans overwhelmingly to the Left has long been known; that it shares the hard Left’s taste for authoritarian controls on the freedom of speech has not been so widely noted, but is becoming increasingly clear.  Last week both the British Guardian and the New York Daily News published pieces equating truthful and accurate reporting about jihad violence and Islamic supremacism with “hate speech,” and calling for such reporting to be placed beyond the bounds of acceptable public discourse.  That restrictions on free speech might come to harm their own profession is apparently something they haven’t considered.

The Terrorists Among Us, Protected by Media & Governmental Forces.  What is going on now went on in Iran and Gaza.  The people had the freedom to vote for enslavement to theocracy and Shariah law.  Their freedom usually ends there.  It took Patrick Poole of PJ Media to expose one Ohio terrorist — Dr. Sultan Sallah — who was living among us, spreading terrorist ideals while he was at the same time being protected by the U.S. government and the media.

Suicide of the Western Media.  Last week both the British Guardian and the New York Daily News published pieces equating truthful and accurate reporting about jihad violence and Islamic supremacism with “hate speech,” and calling for such reporting to be placed beyond the bounds of acceptable public discourse.  That restrictions on free speech might come to harm their own profession is apparently something they haven’t considered.

Media Ignores Islamic Khilafah Conference in Illinois Suburbs.  You may have heard about the Islamic Khilafah Conference in Illinois that took place on Sunday [6/17/2012].  Although, it’s not likely you have heard much if anything about it from the mainstream media. […] According to David Horowitz’s Discover the Networks, Hizb ut-Tahrir (Arabic for “The Party of Liberation”) is a political party, more than a religious one, and works within the Ummah (community of believers)… to restore the Khilafah (Caliphate, or Islamic Kingdom) with the long term objective to replace existing governments and bring about a worldwide Islamic state under the Shari’ah (Islamic Law).

Journalists don’t have good grasp of religion.  Evidence of big media’s bias against religion that doesn’t advance the secular and liberal agenda of the Democratic Party is beyond dispute.  Any faith attached to a conservative agenda is to be ridiculed, stereotyped and misrepresented.  Islam is a notable exception.  The media appear to bend over backward not to offend Muslims.

Afghan girls poisoned in anti-school attack.  More than 120 schoolgirls and three teachers have been poisoned in the second attack in as many months blamed on conservative radicals in the country’s north, Afghan police and education officials said on Wednesday [5/23/2012].

Bias alert!
There is nothing “conservative” about poisoning little girls.  Reuters blames the attack on “conservative radicals”, which is an oxymoron in itself, but they are really talking about “Muslim radicals.”

Dearborn Arab shoots black customer in back, kills, media ignores.  The killing happened on March 9 but curiously national media attention has been nil as have been the typical race-baiting mouthpieces.  Neither would dare question the Muslim or Arab community they’ve protected for so long.

Ted Turner: U.S. and Israel Should Disarm to Prevent Nuclear Iran.  Appearing as a guest on Thursday’s [5/3/2012] Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN, the news network’s founder, Ted Turner, complained that a double standard exists between the U.S. and Israel being allowed to possess nuclear weapons while Iran is expected to be nuclear-free, as he suggested that all countries dispose of their nuclear arsenals to persuade Iran not to build such weapons.

60 Minutes’ Journalistic Crime of Omission.  Bob Simon’s Sixty Minutes segment titled Christians in the Holy Land can be legitimately accused of the journalistic crime of omission, and for those with an ungenerous spirit, Simon may be blamed as well for the act of commission.  Simon simply ignored the obvious in covering the status of Christians in the Holy Land:  the fear and intimidation Palestinian Christians suffer at the hands of the Muslim-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Media’s Deadly Bias.  Writing articles on terrorism in a post 9/11 world becomes more difficult each day.  It’s certainly not due to the lack of terror or terror arrests; that, unfortunately, is never ending.  Since 9/11 there have been 18,598 deadly terror attacks all in the name of Islam.  The writing on the subject of terror for myself and others has become a ‘cat and mouse game’ with the media and the current administration.  I cannot even count the amount of times arrests have been made in a terror plot here in the U.S. and there is absolutely no further information available.  When I say no further information, I am referring to the suspect’s gender, age and of course, the name.

Destroy all churches.  If the pope called for the destruction of all the mosques in Europe, the uproar would be cataclysmic.  Pundits would lambaste the church, the White House would rush out a statement of deep concern, and rioters in the Middle East would kill each other in their grief.  But when the most influential leader in the Muslim world issues a fatwa to destroy Christian churches, the silence is deafening.

New York Times nixes anti-Islam ad, runs anti-Catholic ad.  Executives at The New York Times have rejected a full-page anti-Islam advertisement that mimicked a controversial anti-Catholic advertisement they published on March 9.  According to a Mar. 13 letter sent by the Times to the ad’s sponsor, anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, the $39,000 anti-Islam ad was rejected because “the fallout from running this ad now could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger.”

The Editor says…
Apparently the editor of the New York Times believes that American troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region are currently in no danger, but if the NYT runs the wrong sort of advertisement, all that tranqulity goes out the window.

German media totally ignore the brutal rape and mutilation of a 16-year-old German girl by Muslim savages.  ‘Gates of Vienna’ blog has asked the blogosphere to do the job that the pro-Muslim biased left wing media refuse to do.  AGAIN!

Rick Santorum: An American Ayatollah?  It’s the latest Leftist talking point:  Rick Santorum is a bit dangerous, a bit unhinged, deeply religious and dangerously fanatical, not to be trusted with the governance of our pluralistic republic, and certainly not with guardianship of the First Amendment protection of the freedom of religion.  The prominent Leftist Muslim writer Reza Aslan has recently become a foremost exponent of these claims, although they did not by any means originate with him.  Leftist journalists and Islamic supremacist spokesmen always march in lockstep, using the same talking points, as I’ve pointed out previously…

We Are at War. Is the Media Scared to Really Cover It?  Journalists are much more tolerant of attacks on Christianity than Islam.  It is a fact. … The media’s present politically correct excuse is that Islam binds certain minority group’s cultures in a way Christianity does not.  First, that is [nonsense] and speaks of a secular ignorance about many Christian communities even in this country.  Second, it is an excuse so the media does not have to admit it is scared of muslims.  You’ll see a news story about Christ in a jar of urine, but don’t ever expect to see a cartoon of Mohammed on the nightly news.  The reporter doesn’t want to get murdered.

Ten Minutes on Honor Killings.  There were many important things that I did not have time to discuss.  I should have congratulated Canada for prosecuting both the actual perpetrators and the collaborators in the Shafia Honor Killing.  However, the 25 years without parole sentence for the murder of the four Muslim female victims only amounts to 6½ years for each victim.  Not good enough.

Learning the Wrong Lessons From the Fort Hood Massacre.  Submission to Islam has been institutionalized by our national security apparatus.  The official handling of the Fort Hood massacre proves the case. … Immediately after the shootings, President Obama called Hasan’s actions “inexplicable” and suggested that he may have “cracked” under stress.  The media followed suit, emphasizing the stress of treating soldiers emotionally scarred by war, and insinuating that Hasan had been unfairly picked on by his colleagues.  One talking head said “we may never know if religion was a factor” in the killings.

Why Pay to Read Lies? Newspapers in Decline.  [Scroll down]  Almost anything published about Islam must be read through the thin gauze of political correctness that ignores the menace of Islam to those living in Muslim nations and in nations where they gain a population foothold.  It is a religion that sanctions stoning women to death, decapitating “infidels”, and even sending children into mine fields to clear them.  It is pure barbarism and has zero tolerance for freedom of speech, the press, other religions, or independent thought.  All of this has much to do with the decline of newspapers nationwide.

The High Price of Telling the Truth About Islam.  [Scroll down]  CNN breezed through town and produced a quick hit piece painting all of the mosque opponents as uneducated rednecks and the Islamic community as everyday people who were being wrongly persecuted.  Soledad O’Brien’s producer offered to buy some of my footage from me with the explicit promise that their piece was going to be called “Islam: In America” and would not focus more than a few minutes on Murfreesboro.  After an inside tip that this producer was lying to me, I confronted him and got some rather vague answers.

Canadian confusion over honor killings.  Mohammad Shafia, his second wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya and their son Hamed were all convicted of first degree murder in a court in Kingston, Ontario for murdering Shafia’s first wife and his three teenaged daughters by Tooba. … The Toronto Star wants to know if the murders were honour killings or domestic violence. … I’ll answer the question for their readers right off the bat.  The murders were honour killings, absolutely no doubt about it.

NBC, AP Avoid ‘M-word’ in Report About ‘Honor Killings’.  It is the religion that dare not speak its name… at least on NBC News and at the Associated Press among other politically correct circles.  Both media outlets reported on a verdict in an “honor killings” case in Canada while managing to avoid mentioning a certain religion whose name starts with “M.”

Med student shot to death near Galleria.  A 30-year-old student in the Texas Medical Center was shot to death driving in her car Monday [1/16/2012], yards away from her family’s townhome near the Galleria area.  Gelareh Bagherzadeh was studying molecular genetic technology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  She was of Iranian descent and was active in promoting Iranian women’s rights, Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties said.

The Editor says…
Before it was sanitized by the Houston Chronicle, the headline was, “Iranian women’s rights activist slain in car near Galleria”.  The URL shows some evidence of that, and if you need additional proof, I grabbed a screenshot from Lucianne.

Muslims Attacked!  Last month, the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) held an event in Amsterdam featuring two speakers who favor liberalizing Islam.  More than 20 members of these pro-sharia groups pushed their way in shouting “Allahu akbar!”  They demanded the event be stopped, called the speakers apostates, spat on them, threw eggs at them, and threatened to kill them.  Proud of these actions and apparently not overly concerned with legal consequences, they even made a YouTube video of their “protest.”  Now here’s the least funny and most Orwellian part:  Very few Europeans — very few journalists, politicians, members of the self-proclaimed Human Rights community, or Muslim organizations claiming to be moderate — have expressed outrage over this boot-stomping suppression of free speech in a city, country, and continent that claim to value freedom and tolerance.
[Emphasis added.]

Nine Michigan car dealerships in Hizbollah scheme, laundered money in US banks.  Another update on All-American Muslim life in Michigan… that won’t be seen on TLC.

New TV Show Idea: All-American Christian.  I have a great idea!  How about a TV show titled “All-American Christian”?  Christians have been getting a bum rap in cinema and the mainstream media for quite a while.  In a spirit of fairness, compassion, and tolerance, a TV show promoting Christianity is simply the right thing to do.  After all, the last thing we need is Christian-phobic Americans.  We must educate Americans to realize that Christianity is a religion of peace.  Christians are not anti-American.  The TV show will confirm that Christians are not very different from you and me, and they’re just as patriotic.  Also, Christians would never attempt to force Biblical law down our throats.

The Santa Killer Was a Religion of Peacer.  Aziz Yazdanpanah, known only as the “Santa Killer,” was a follower of this “amazing faith” who slaughtered his family on Christmas Day after his wife dumped him and his 19-year-old daughter wouldn’t stop dating a non-Religion of Peacer.  The adherents of said faith refer to this act as an “honor killing,” and when it occurs police and the press reckon it unworthy of unearthing and condemning publicly.

Gunman Shoots Hollywood Drivers While Screaming “Allahu Akbar”.  A 26 year-old gunman opened fire on random drivers yesterday in Hollywood until he was shot dead by police.  He was screaming “Allahu Akbar” while he shot Hollywood drivers.  That’s what the witnesses said. … As Atlas Shrugs reported — not one media outlet reported that the man was screaming “Allahu Akbar” as he shot at innocent Hollywood drivers.  Once again the media hides the truth from the American public.

Hollywood Jihad.  What is most disturbing about this story, apart from the obvious horror, is that not one news account reported what one witness said the shooter was screaming:  “allahu akbar.”  Not one news account.  The media is the enemy.

Teaching Journalists How to Report on Jihad.  Muslim-American advocacy groups with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), are on a mission to combat what they claim is the Western media’s habitually negative reporting on Islam.  After all, it’s difficult to advance the Brotherhood’s agenda of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” when the media keep reporting on a steady stream of terror plots, honor killings, and encroachments by shariah on American soil.  But if journalists take to heart the message of an online course from The Poynter News University, then their “skewed” perspective won’t be a problem anymore.

Jihad For Journalists.  An elite media school is training reporters to downplay Islamic violence, arguing more people die from AIDS. … Must we spell it out for Poynter profs?  Jihadi murder isn’t run-of-the-mill murder.  It’s mass murder done in the name of religion.  That makes it uniquely horrifying — and far more newsworthy.  It also targets governments and destroys properties — even whole economies.  In another blunder, the course redefines jihad as “struggle” against sin rather than the holy war it’s overwhelmingly practiced as.

Sharia Vigilante Street Justice in America.  [Scroll down]  After I learned of the attack on Mr. Alsaegh, I did not want to rush to judgment and waited until he told me that the FBI concluded that this was a hate crime.  I believe that my article on this incident is the first to be reported in the media.  This incident has been totally ignored by the mainstream media.  Why is it that attacks perpetrated by Muslims against Muslim infidels or honor crimes are ignored?

Breivik no Christian nut, just nuts.  So a murderer quotes Gandhi.  So a fascist quotes Churchill.  A Satanist calls himself a Christian soldier.  But that was enough to shift the coverage in the mainstream media.  They were positively relieved, even thrilled, the mass murder here was done by someone who wasn’t Muslim.  CBC news anchors started repeating every hour:  The murderer was by a “Christian fundamentalist” who hated Muslims.

New York Times Downplays Muslim Fort Hood Terror Plotter.  The New York Times downplayed the arrest of an AWOL Muslim soldier charged in connection with a plot to attack Fort Hood soldiers.  The newspaper all but ignored the role Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo’s religious faith may have played in the alleged plot.  Abdo was arrested in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood.  He was found with weapons, explosive, and jihadist materials.

A thinly-disguised infomercial for Islam:
TLC to Air ‘All-American Muslim’ Reality Series.  TLC unveiled plans Thursday [7/21/2011] for an upcoming reality TV series about Muslims living in the US.

Prince of Lies.  “A Prince Among Slaves” was one of the more ambitious efforts to sell African-Americans on Islam.  Aired nationwide on PBS and still making a tour of the United States, the documentary claims to tell the story of an African Muslim prince who was sold into slavery in the South.  The story of Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori is used as a springboard to incorporate Islam into American history, misrepresent it as an anti-slavery creed and convince African-Americans that their cultural background is Muslim. … [But] The Prince was actually a vicious racist who was a mass murderer of Africans and a brutal plantation overseer.

Losing His Religion.  We learn from the CBS story that [Yonathan] Melaku is a lance corporal in the Marine Reserves.  The Associated Press adds that he is a naturalized American citizen, originally from Ethiopia.  CBS also reports that “Melaku was carrying a notebook that contained the phrases ‘al Qaeda,’ ‘Taliban rules’ and ‘Mujahid defeated croatian forces’ when he was detained,” but “that the suspect is not thought to have been involved in a terrorist act or plot.”  All of which raises an obvious question — but one that goes unanswered in the reports from CBS and AP, as well as others from ABC News and the Washington Post.  We could only find one news organization that had the answer:  Fox News Channel, which reports that Maliku is Muslim.

Stop Al Jazeera’s expansion in the United States.  Let’s not let the Islamic supremacists once again invoke the freedom of speech to kill our freedom of speech.  The ruse of using freedom of speech to allow propaganda broadcasts over our airways is another stealth attack on the United States of America.  The issue of the expansion of Al Jazeera into the United States can only be likened to an expansion of Goebbels’s media network into the U.S. at the height of World War II.

Another Al-Jazeera Journalist Suspected of Terror Ties.  A journalist for Al-Jazeera has been arrested on suspicion of being an agent of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.  The journalist, Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Afghanistan, is a Palestinian.  He was apprehended by Israeli authorities as he attempted to leave the West Bank.  The detention of Allawi, a major development in the media wars over the future of the Middle East, is not the first time that Israel has detained journalists from the channel.

A family is butchered in their beds and the world neither knows nor cares.  Today, five members of one family lie buried.  There is no good reason why the story of their deaths should be similarly entombed.

NPR on a Bad Day.  [Scroll down]  The motives of NPR are also clear:  they are advocates for the Palestinians.  In their Middle East reporting, where the distortions are not so obvious to their American audience, NPR can get away with promoting Arab hate propaganda, and the murder of Jews which follows.  We have come to a new low, where respected America media are perfectly willing to balance a lie with a truth and call it fair reporting.  The facts themselves are not open to doubt.

British Columnist Under Investigation For Criticizing Terrorists.  In Great Britain, the historic cradle of liberty and sanctum of freedom of expression, it appears that you can no longer refer to Arab depravity in the slaughter of an Israeli family — including a three month-old baby — as they slept without someone going to the police to get you arrested for racism.

CBS, NBC Newscasts Give Scant Coverage to Muslim Terror Attack at German Airport.  Two US airmen were killed by a Muslim terrorist in Germany yesterday [3/2/2011], but neither CBS nor NBC thought it worthy of more than 30 seconds of coverage on their evening newscasts Wednesday night.  While ABC devoted a full segment of the March 2 “World News” to the issue, the CBS “Evening News” and the NBC “Nightly News” offered only scant news briefs and buried the story deep into their broadcasts.

Gunman Screams ‘Allahu Akbar’, Obama Sees Motive Unclear.  A terrorist described as a “21-year-old Kosovar who lives in Frankfurt,” opened fire at the Frankfurt Airport, killing two American soldiers.  Kosovo’s population is 80% Muslim.  The New York Times reports that “the gunman first talked to the military personnel to find out who they were and then opened fire, shouting ‘God is great’ in Arabic.” … Once again, the President and the mainstream media — even the report on Fox News — scrupulously avoid the words “Muslim,” or “Islam” and reference to any possible religious motive for the attack.

NPR Insists Buffalo Beheading Has No Islamic Overtones.  Almost the entire media skipped this chilling honor-killing verdict from Arizona on Tuesday, from Reuters:  “An Arizona jury on Tuesday found an Iraqi immigrant guilty of second-degree murder for running down his daughter with a Jeep because she had become too Westernized.”  Faleh Almaleki killed his daughter Noor in October 2009 because she spurned his arranged marriage and was living with her boyfriend.  Apparently, to report this is to be “Islamophobic.”

Sharks Are Not Misunderstood Dolphins, and Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace.  When a Muslim commits an act of mass-murdering terrorism, in contrast, the left does not camp out in front of the shooter/assassin/bomber’s home and scrutinize every person he ever in his life came in contact with and blame them all for his actions.  Instead, the media personalities report on acts of terrorism the way they do shark attacks.

Katie Couric:  ‘Maybe We Need a Muslim Version of The Cosby Show’.  In her Web show analyzing the trends of 2010, the CBS Evening News anchor made a serious speech (in her serious, deep-thinker glasses) against the deep “seething hatred” against Muslims in America.

Another NPR Hit Piece on Israel.  Never mind Juan Williams:  What really gets me about National Public Radio is the way it manages to cover Israel in a manner more reminiscent of Tishreen’s or Al Jazeera’s style than that of an American news outlet.

NBC “People of the Year;” shades of 1939.  In the event you didn’t tune in to the NBC Thanksgiving special “People of the Year” with Matt Lauer, you missed that distinction being bestowed upon (among others) Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind the “Ground Zero mosque” in New York City.  Appearing very comfortable answering a short series of softball questions from “Lauer the enabler,” El Gamal wants us to believe that his intentions to build an iconic symbol of Islamic conquest are noble.

Turning Churches Against Israel.  The Evangelical Left is anxious to neutralize evangelicals as America’s typically most pro-Israel demographic, especially by focusing on the plight of Palestinian Christians, who are portrayed as victims exclusively of Israeli oppression.  “With God on Our Side,” predictably, portrays pro-Israel Christians as mindless zealots indifferent to Palestinian suffering and exploiting Israeli Jews as merely tools for precipitating the Second Coming.  Hapless quotes from Christian Zionists are contrasted with thoughtful articulations from Palestinian Christians and other pro-Palestinian advocates.

Surrendered Nation.  NBC is naming a waiter-turned-thug-turned-impostor developer, Sharif El-Gamal, as “person of the year” because he is behind building a triumphal mosque at Ground Zero, the site of the largest, most heinous attack on U.S. soil in American history.  Then there is this outrage:  one of TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” candidates is the radical Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has said that “the U.S. has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has the blood of innocent non-Muslims on its hands” and that Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.

Juan Williams and the Left’s Intellectual Bankruptcy.  Juan Williams makes the understandable post-9/11 observation that the sight of Muslims on airplanes makes him nervous, and NPR immediately fires him.  Bill O’Reilly states the obvious truth that Muslims attacked the United States on 9/11, and Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walk off the set.  These incidents and others demonstrate that the Leftists in the mainstream media and their Islamic supremacist allies are wholly intellectually bereft — and so they cannot engage their opponents on the level of ideas, but must instead bludgeon them into silence.

Why Is Everyone Still Missing the Real Story of the Fort Hood Massacre?  I was reading through media coverage over the past couple days on the anniversary plans and all the various recaps of that sad and violent day when it occurred to me that the unifying thread among all the various stories was the apparent inability to directly address the Muslim angle.  While not a scientific survey, I must’ve gone through 8 newspaper articles and half a dozen write-ups from television online websites and none could bring themselves to refer to Hasan as an American-born Muslim…

Did someone mention Fort Hood?

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart

NPR Grant Raises Coverage Questions.  National Public Radio, which fired news analyst Juan Williams last month after pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has featured the Islamist group’s leaders on air nearly two dozen times in the past three years, while never addressing CAIR’s designation as a cog in a Hamas-support network, a review of NPR transcripts shows.  Earlier this year, the Department of Justice stood by its inclusion of CAIR on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the terror-financing prosecution of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).  That list became public in June 2007, but never has been discussed in any of the NPR broadcasts featuring CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper and other officials.

Media Capitulation:  If Juan Williams Is Fair Game…  Over the last few days, on the news channels and the net, it has been wall-to-wall coverage of the Juan Williams firing by the tools over at National Public Radio.  NPR was serving the hydra-headed, Hamas-supporting Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which called on them to take action against Williams.  I am grateful for this high-profile incident.  Much like with the Ground Zero mosque affair, Americans have suddenly become aware of something quite terrible — a sea change, a profound transformation of a basic assumption, and a stunning reversal of their very basic unalienable rights.

Did someone mention Juan Williams?

In CNN’s America, We’re Heavily Black and Muslim.  CNN, like many liberal media outlets, is very interested in diversity — in race, creed, sexual preference, everything but ideology.  But this image today, as CNN launched a new marketing gimmick asking viewers to fill in the sentence “My America Is….”  If we’re going to get into bean-counting here, judging from the graphic behind anchorman Tony Harris today, America is majority-black and has a lot of Muslim women.

Just Admit it, Newspapers:  You’re Scared of Muslims.  Advice for my newspaper friends:  Listen to Penn Jillette.  “[W]e haven’t tackled Islam because we have families,” he says.  “[A]nd I think the worst thing you can say about a group in a free society is that you’re afraid to talk about it.”

The Jihad Against A Seattle Cartoonist.  It should be front-page news in every newspaper in the country:  Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris has given up her job, her home, and even her identity because of death threats for Islamic supremacists.  That Islamic jihadists can force an American citizen into hiding for exercising her freedom of speech is bad enough; that her cause has aroused only indifference from the media and the nation’s leading officials is even worse.

Dutch Courage, Liberal Cowardice.  As a parable on the cluelessness of the liberal commentariat about the threat of Islamic extremism, Slate magazine’s feature “explaining” why the Netherlands is supposedly more “anti-Islam” than other nations is hard to top.  The idea that Holland is uniquely given to “Muslim bashing,” as Slate‘s headline writers put it, is itself highly suspect.

Ground Zero Imam’s Group Trained NY Times Mosque Reporter.  A New York Times reporter, who has co-authored several fawning articles on the Ground Zero mosque, previously attended a media training program run by the mosque’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, according to the group’s website.

The Media’s Debacles.  The latest reporting from the New York Times, Newsweek and Time have set new records for not wanting to report the news that doesn’t fit their editorial line.  Glenn Beck’s Tribute to Honor in Washington D.C. that attracted in the neighborhood of half a million participants was resigned to a few inches on page 34 of the Times and the other liberal journals were hardly more accurate in their non-coverage.  Their sanctimonious condemnation of all opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque was the icing on the cake of irresponsible journalism.

Fabrication:  Newsweek Makes Up Ground Zero Election Day Tea Party Rally.  [If a mosque at Ground Zero] isn’t appropriate, would it be an appropriate place for a Tea Party rally to be held?  Possibly not.  But whether that’s the case or not, Newsweek’s David A. Graham would have you believe there will be a so-called “Election Day Tea Party rally” held at Ground Zero, led by former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, as an effort to shore up support for a 2012 presidential bid.

Survey Shows Arabs More Opposed to GZ Mosque Than American Media.  According to a recent survey by the Arabic online news service Elaph (Arabic version here), 58 percent of Arabs think the construction should be moved elsewhere.  And according to a Media Research Center study released last week, 55 percent of network news coverage of the debate has come down on the pro-Mosque side.

CNN Continues One-Sided Reporting on ‘Islamophobia’ in America.  On Thursday’s [9/2/2010] American Morning, CNN’s Deborah Feyerick continued her network’s promotion of the charge the “Islamophobia” is growing in the U.S. All but one of Feyerick’s sound bites during her one-sided report were from those who agree with this charge, with the sole exception being used an example of someone using “Islam…[as] a political wedge issue.”

Bigotry on bigotry.  Why did Florida pastor Terry Jones garner all that media attention last week for threatening to burn Qurans on Saturday’s 9/11 anniversary?  I believe it’s because network swells had spent weeks trying to frame opponents of the ground zero mosque — also known as the Lower Manhattan Islamic community center — as stupid anti-Islam bigots, but that story line wasn’t sticking.  So networks found a stupid anti-Islam bigot in Florida who had nothing to do with the mosque, but who reinforced their political view.

The Problem of Inbreeding in Islam.  There is a dire phenomenon rising in Europe that is crippling entire societies and yet the continent sleeps, refusing not only to confront the destructive elephant in the room, but also to admit its very existence.  The troubling reality being referred to is the widespread practice of Muslim inbreeding and the birth defects and social ills that it spawns.

ABC News Tries To Incite Incident At Mosque Protest.  In 1989 during my first gig as an investigative reporter with the Guam Tribune, my editor sat me down and I’ve never forgotten his warning, “It’s the job of the news media to report the news, not incite it.”  Tell that to ABC News.

ABC News Issues ‘Reprimand’ To Their Ground Zero Mosque Plant.  ABC News has reprimanded one of its employees for trying to start some kind of ruckus during Sunday’s Ground Zero Mosque protest.

Talk About a Cartoon Controversy.  Why is no one questioning the media’s sham portrait of the Cordoba House/Park 51 mosque detractors?  On Sunday, the New York Times’ Frank Rich leveled a flurry of nasty accusations at those on “the neocon and the Fox News Right” who object to the placement of the mosque near Ground Zero.  He substantiated none of them.

The Media and the Mega-Mosque.  It was deceptive.  At a White House dinner with Muslims celebrating Ramadan, Barack Obama finally weighed in on the Ground Zero mosque controversy.  Incredibly, he lectured Americans about the religious freedom of Muslims “that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan.”  Those were prepared remarks, a clear and very deliberate effort to skirt the issue.  But this time, it was blatantly sophomoric, too.

American ‘Bigots’ Versus Media Propagandists.  Once the Constitutional issue was resolved — and it was resolved when Americans demonstrated that they clearly understood the First Amendment — the issue became one of respect.  How has the left framed the issue of respect?  Americans must completely respect Muslim sensibilities — even as the Muslims involved with the project completely ignore Americans’ feelings.

More about the proposed Ground Zero mosque.

AP Orders Staff:  ‘Stop Using the Phrase “Ground Zero Mosque”‘.  In an unusual move, the Associated Press has publicly released an advisory memo to its reporters on how to cover of the Ground Zero mosque story — and the first rule is that journalists must immediately stop calling it the “Ground Zero mosque” story.

Did someone mention the proposed Ground Zero mosque again?

Time Deputy Managing Editor: America’s ‘Obsessed’ with ‘an Enemy That May No Longer Exist’.  “[N]ine years after 9/11, the fight over the mosque near Ground Zero shows how obsessed we remain with an enemy that may no longer exist.”  That’s the argument from Time magazine deputy managing editor Romesh Ratnesar in his August 17 online Viewpoint essay entitled, “The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Debate:  Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat.”

At Last, CNN Finally Gets Something Right About Islam.  A chilling and shockingly honest portrayal of poor immigration policy by CNN.  This is a freak act of journalistic integrity aimed squarely upon the crippling policies of arch-tolerance and appeasement.  CNN, for perhaps the first time I applaud you.

The Gaza Flotilla Ambush:  What Did the White House Know?  For decades, the network of leftists and Islamic fascists behind the Gaza ambush has been trying to create a media extravaganza to make Israel look bad before the world.  Call it a conspiracy, or call it a network of like-minded radicals and Islamofascists.  Whatever it was, their chance came on May 31 off the coast of Gaza.

Alinsky, Stalinsky, It’s Still the Same Old Agitprop.  [Scroll down]  What do you suppose Bill Ayers and Jodie Evans were doing in Egypt and Cyprus before sailing toward Gaza with that boatful of Turkish suiciders who were all ready to kill and be killed for Allah?  Was that a coincidence?  It looked like a classic piece of agitation-propaganda.  A whole mob of journos were there to get pictures of all the blood and gore.  The media are basically lazy, and they want onlly to hustle for photo-ops when they know they can get a big headline.  It’s simple laziness.  The Turkish suicider stunt on the “peace flotilla” gave them headlines for weeks.  Today the brainwashed masses in Europe and the Muslim countries still think the innocent side was guilty, which was the whole purpose of the stunt.

This Is Rare Courage.  [Scroll down]  When it comes to the brutal slayings of young Muslim women by their fathers, brothers, or husbands, The [New York] Times gets squeamish.  As Ms. Hirsi Ali relates, this misplaced sensitivity arises from the cult of multiculturalism, which would rather tolerate egregious crimes against women than offend Third World sensibilities.

Honor, and Shame.  When you look at all the formulaic sludge that wins the Pulitzer Prize for Most Unread Multipart Series, it is striking that not one of the major newspapers has done an investigative series on the proliferation of “honor killings”, not in Yemen or Waziristan but in the heart of the western world.  Instead, as Phyllis Chesler writes:  [“]The mainstream media rarely covers them.  More often, local media does, but even local media does so walking-on-eggshells, careful to quote from at least one apologist and one know-nothing.[“]

More about so-called honor killings.

The Consequences of Media Failure.  For some time now, critical observers have warned about the “halo effect” that “human rights” NGOs have benefited from even as they were taken over by radical political activists who had strong links to jihadi organizations and individuals.  This halo effect works in two directions:  it extends to the “allies” of these hijacked NGOs (“peace activists”) and also to the MSM which tends to convey the “testimony” of the NGOs as reliable news.  All of this comes to a grotesque climax in the flotilla affair.

“Soft” Censorship:  Honor Killings That You Won’t Read About.  The mainstream media rarely covers them.  More often, local media does, but even local media does so walking on eggshells, careful to quote from at least one apologist and one know-nothing.  Usually, the (hardcopy) mainstream media covers such events weeks later, only briefly, or as a way to “spin” any possible prejudice against the perpetrators involved.  Sometimes they are mentioned, but only in passing.  Rarely do follow-ups appear.  Usually, a wire service piece is used, and no original reporting is done.  Sometimes, the newspaper’s blog might refer to a piece which first appeared in another newspaper which, in turn, has mentioned the subject only in passing.  I am talking about how rarely the American mainstream media covers honor killings committed in North America.

A New Reuters Anti-Israel Photography Scandal?.  During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the news agency Reuters admitted that one of its pictures of smoke and destruction caused by Israel’s bombing of Beirut had been augmented in a Photoshop program by photographer Adnan Hajj.  The Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday [6/7/2010] reported Reuters was under fire again yesterday for manipulating photographs in a bias against Israel, this time in the Gaza flotilla story.

In Both Words and Pictures, Reuters Continues To Lie About Israel.  Having been caught doctoring pictures during of the violence aboard the guerilla flotilla boat, Mavi Marmara, Reuters is circling the wagons and looking for other ways to discredit Israel.  Officially, Reuters says the elimination of the IHH terrorists holding knives in the pictures it originally published to its wire was an editing error.

Al-Reuters:  Sorry!  We always crop our photos at the edges.  Israeli officials, facing criticism for boarding an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza strip, stress that their troops used deadly force in self-defense.  News that Reuters had cropped two images of armed “peace” activists, including one with bleeding Israeli soldiers surrounded by armed flotilla crews supports the Israeli position and threatens Reuters with scandal.

Inaccurate, biased reporting on Obama-Abbas meeting.  In its June 10 edition, the Washington Post runs an article by Michael Shear about President Obama’s meeting with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the White House.  The article is both inaccurate about Obama’s pledge of more aid to the Palestinians and also biased with its total silence about a strong disagreement between the two leaders about continued anti-Israel incitement by the Palestinian Authority.

Muslim Lies and Videotape.  More and more facts are coming out about the [Gaza flotilla] incident and it does not look good for those who rushed to judgment and fell for the hype.  As we now know, for instance, video footage has proven that the Gaza flotilla jihadists initiated the violence against Israeli soldiers:  However, those who conspired to manufacture such a crisis know that they have won the PR war since whatever facts come out later will not be covered with the same intensity and passion of the first days following the incident.

See No Evil.  Daniel Pipes is one of several commentators to note that many reporters would love to dismiss each new terrorist incident as the work of lunatics, until the disappointing news arrives that the suspect is yet another Muslim Jihadist.  Several observations leap to their feet immediately, and there is a deeper point too.

FOR EXAMPLE:  There is no mention of the word “muslim” in this article, even though that’s obviously what they’re talking about.
Immigrant youths riot in Sweden, burning down school.  Rioters in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, have burned down a school building and thrown stones at police in a second night of disturbances.

The plain truth about Israel:  In other times, Hearst Newspapers White House Correspondent Helen Thomas’s demand that the Jews “get the hell out of Palestine,” and go back to Poland, Germany and America would have been front page news in every newspaper in the US the day after the story broke.  In other times, had the dean of the White House Correspondents Association expressed such hatred for the Jews, the White House would have immediately removed her accreditation rather than wait three days to criticize her.

The dots some don’t want to connect.  [Scroll down slowly]  At Fort Hood, Maj. Hasan jumped on a table and gunned down his comrades while screaming, “Allahu Akbar!”, which is Arabic for “Nothing to see here” and an early indicator of pre-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The Times Square Bomber, we are assured by The Washington Post, CNN and Newsweek, was upset by foreclosure proceedings on his house.  Mortgage-related issues.  Nothing to do with months of training at a Taliban camp in Waziristan.

When is a Dirty Bomb Attack Not a Terrorist Attack?  Critics have been accusing The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper of failing to accurately report on terrorism and terrorists for years and have pointed to the failure of the newsroom to use the word “terrorist” when it is clearly called for as evidence.

The MSM looks for any explanation other than the obvious.
Mystery Solved.  As information about Faisal Shahzad accumulates, a number of misconceptions are being dispelled.  It turns out that the Times Square would-be bomber was not, Mayor Bloomberg’s speculation notwithstanding, someone who was unhappy about Obamacare.  Nor was the bomber the random “white man” who was filmed by a security camera removing his shirt a block away from Shahzad’s Pathfinder.  Nor was he, to Contessa Brewer’s deep regret, one of those dreaded Tea Partiers.  Nor was his “motivation” a mystery, as suggested by the Associated Press.  No, to the surprise of some — but not us — Faisal Shahzad was a jihadist.

Times Square Jihad?  What Jihad?  Now that would-be Times Square car bomb jihadist Faisal Shahzad has been exposed as an Islamic jihadist, the liberal media are searching for an explanation, any explanation, for his attempted attack that doesn’t involve Islamic jihad.

Left Is Certain of Tea Partiers’ Motives, but Finds Terrorists Inscrutable.  For days after the [Fort Hood] murders, liberal-Left commentators and mainstream media reports attributed Hasan’s mass murders to everything but his Islamic beliefs — even though it was known that he yelled out “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the Greatest”) just as he began his shooting.  As “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews announced, “It’s unclear if religion was a factor in this shooting,” and then added, “He makes a phone call or whatever, according to Reuters right now.  Apparently he tried to contact al-Qaida … That’s not a crime, to call up al-Qaida, is it?”

MSNBC’s Ratigan Worries About ‘Racism’ Toward Muslims After NYC Bomb Attempt.  Near the top of Tuesday’s Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan fretted over American Muslims being harassed in the wake of the failed Times Square bombing:  “how do you deal with these types of crimes without resulting in racism, effectively, towards people of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent? …is there not a natural backlash to this?”

All Things Considered … Except Evidence — and Scholarship.  Despite being interviewed by NPR religion reporter Barbara Bradley for over thirty minutes, and providing her much additional written material countering Jenkins’ flimsy speculations, precious little of my rebuttal was included in the broadcast.

How To Kill Political Correctness Before It Kills Us.  One of the strongest supporters of Islamic terrorism is our mainstream media.  That’s because its political correctness means that the mainstream media doesn’t give the public the truth about the threat of radical Islam (or whatever you want to call it — Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism, hijacked Islam, jihadism, etc.).  In other words, if we don’t kill political correctness, it will kill us by making us unaware of the ongoing war fought by radical Islam against the U.S. and the West.

AP Silent on Motive of Killer Who ‘Needed to Take His Family Back to Allah’.  Why is the legacy media so reluctant to note the possibility of a radical Muslim faith leading to violence?  On numerous occasions, the mainstream press has refused to note even a potential connection.  The latest such example concerns a recent quadruple homicide in Chicago.

CNN Trots out Jihad Teaching Extremist, Calls Him Instructor of Islam.  As has been noted here in the recent past, it isn’t just government entities that are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to identifying radical Muslim preachers as accessories to terrorism — it’s also the media.  Consider the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who has consistently shown ties to terrorist attacks, yet who had gone predominantly under the media radar as nothing more than a simple cleric.

Merry Christmas from the World of Islam.  With attention focused on the flagrant security breaches around Flight 253 on Christmas Day, too little has been made of the timing of the attack.  Most readers will be surprised to learn that this was not the only Christmas attack on Christians.  Here is a list of other holiday attacks which I found without extensive research… Isn’t it noteworthy that you did not hear about any of this from the general media?

The Islamic Roots of Abdulmutallab’s Suicidal Odyssey.  [Scroll down]  It’s just all so mysterious.  It’s so mysterious that the news anchors on CNN continue to incredulously ask each other and their guests these questions — back and forth, over and over again, in a cyclical circus that has no end and that never produces the most obvious answer staring any sensible person right in the face. … All one can be sure of is that an adversarial culture or ideology must not be blamed and that America, somewhere, somehow, must definitely be at fault.

Now They Tell Us — Ft. Hood Was Terrorism.  [Scroll down]  It never occurred to our politically correct media — or if it did, they would never have dared to give voice to their suspicions — that the self-evident answer was that Maj. Hasan was a Muslim terrorist, either sent to infiltrate the Army and attack it from within, or radicalized while in the service and ordered to kill as many Americans as he could before this “Soldier of Allah” became the latest martyr for Islam.

Why Won’t the MSM Cover Islam?  What Are They Afraid Of?  There are many things on the World Wide Web that are not suitable for public viewing but that should be required viewing for journalists and political figures to alert them to the horrors that exist in some parts of the world.  This should not be to incite but rather to rinse away their naïvité in dealing with a hostile culture and our potential enemies.  It is apparent that the mainstream media has no interest in covering stories that shed an unfavorable side of Islam and, frankly, this smacks of cowardice.

Dangerous Myths.  [Liberals apparently believe] the mainstream media will report the facts truthfully and accurately.  Sure they will — without using the words “terrorist,” “Islamic” or “Muslim” whenever they can avoid them.  The Fort Hood massacre by Islamic terrorist Major Nidal Malik Hasan was the epitome of such willful denial.

Guess The Missing Word In NY Times Report On Attempted Plane Bombing.  Imagine that there had been a series of three incidents in which members of a [invented for present purposes] fanatical Jewish sect had attempted to bring down airliners from Arab countries.  In reporting on the latest attempt and describing the previous ones, do you think the New York Times might have mentioned the religion of the perpetrators?

Ali Velshi Stops Rep. King From Naming Northwest Airlines Terrorist.  CNN’s Ali Velshi on Friday [12/25/2009] stopped Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) from divulging the name of the terrorist who tried to set off a bomb as a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam began to land in Detroit.  Velshi did this claiming, “[W]e have not got any information on anyone being charged.  So thank you for bringing us information.  But would ask you not to name anybody on TV right now, we do not have any word of official charges.”

Flight 253:  AP Scrubs ‘M-Word’.  It has been interesting watching the Associated Press reports on the attempted takedown of Flight 253 devolve in the past 12-plus hours.  In its 8:56 a.m. report (likely dynamic and subject to change), it looks like the assemblage of AP writers who worked on the story have succeeded in … ridding the report of the M-word (“Muslim”).

The anything-but-Islam pundits strike out.  Not long after Major Nidal Malik Hasan had pulled the trigger for the last time at Ft. Hood, the mainstream media began assembling their anything-but-Islam narratives.  A rationale was needed, something that could plausibly be claimed to motivate a killing spree.  A desperate rush to explain his behavior in politically palatable terms naturally resulted in desperate stories in which preposterous motivations, contrary to the known facts, were posited.

Jihad at Fort Hood.  According to NPR, “the motive behind the shootings was not immediately clear, officials said.”  The Washington Post agreed:  “The motive remains unclear, although some sources reported the suspect is opposed to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and upset about an imminent deployment.”  The Huffington Post spun faster, asserting that “there is no concrete reporting as to whether Nidal Malik Hasan was in fact a Muslim or an Arab.”  Yet there was, and what’s more, Major Hasan’s motive was perfectly clear — but it was one that the forces of political correctness and the Islamic advocacy groups in the United States have been working for years to obscure.

Reaction to the Fort Hood shootings:
Memo to ABC:  There’s a Reason He’s Not Called Smith.  Of course, what else is predictable is how the media is covering it.  In the words of an NPR report:  “we know he took his faith seriously, but we can’t say for sure that was a factor.”  Right.  That’s exactly what they say about anyone who bombs an abortion clinic, as we know.

More commentary about Fort Hood.  Major Malik Hassan, after being transferred from Walter Reed Hospital to Fort Hood decided to celebrate his promotion and transfer by shouting “God is great” in Arabic while gunning down a dozen of his fellow soldiers.  The mainstream media is falling all over itself today in an attempt to somehow paint this domestic Islamic terrorist as the victim rather than the perpetrator.  Muslim-friendly to the point of being Muslim-centric, the news networks are even trying to do their reporting without mentioning the killer’s name.

Muslim Suffers Bruised Ego in Fort Hood Tragedy.  President Obama honored the victims by immediately warning Americans not to “jump to conclusions” — namely, the obvious conclusion that the attack was an act of Islamic terrorism.  As conclusions go, it wasn’t much of a jump.  But the mainstream media waited for no information — indeed actively avoided learning any information — before leaping to the far less obvious conclusion that the suspect’s mass murder was set off by “stress.”

Dobbs Compares President’s Post-Cambridge to Post-Fort Hood Remarks.  Some of the mainstream media intelligentsia following the Fort Hood, Texas massacre have cautioned people to reserve judgment about the suspect Major Nidal Malik Hasan and have bypassed many key details in order to live up to what could be construed as a politically correct standard.  CNN’s Lou Dobbs isn’t one of them.

Fort Hood Horror.  Horror spread quickly across America as the story unfolded:  An Army psychiatrist went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 and wounding 30.  But as more information emerged, clearly pointing to an act of terrorism, many in the “news” media simply chose not to report news.

They Kill Us and We’re the Ones to Blame.  By ignoring the fact that 66 percent of the deliberate attacks within the US military by other soldiers, have involved Muslims — the media is engaging in blatant deceptiveness.  Unless Muslims somehow suffer from a form of PTSD more severe than non-Muslim soldiers, or unless Muslims comprise 66 percent of the US military — both false statements, it is obvious that the question of Islamic beliefs should be investigated as central to these acts of violence.

ABC, CBS, NBC:  Obama’s Lapdogs.  Ever since Candidate Obama set foot on the national scene, the “mainstream” media have been eating out of his hand.  And regrettably, today those same news stations still are.  This has been made abundantly clear through their coverage of the recent terror attack on Fort Hood.

Mainstream Misreporting:  Ft. Hood Shooter’s Motives.  “We don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,” said President Obama with regards to Nidal Malik Hasan’s motives in murdering thirteen people last week.  So maybe President Obama and his press secretary won’t acknowledge that Nidal Malik Hasan is a terrorist, but that is no excuse for members of the mainstream media who are ignoring this facet of the recent Fort Hood shooting.

Political Correctness, Ft. Hood, and Hollywood.  Almost before the echo of gunfire from the massacre at Ft. Hood had faded, the news media launched a pre-emptive rationalization for the slaughter committed by Muslim traitor Nidal Malik Hasan.  To divert attention from the shooter’s inconvenient name, the talking heads began speculating sympathetically about the fragile mental state of poor frazzled Hasan, who had never seen combat but nonetheless must have “snapped.”

More about the incident at Fort Hood.

CAIR coverage ignores terror ties.  Is the Council on American-Islamic Relations merely a civil rights organization exercising its constitutional right to lobby on Capitol Hill like hundreds of other non-profit organizations?  That’s the way Politico and other mainstream news outlets have portrayed CAIR — despite the FBI’s decision this year to cut off ties to the Muslim group after its designation by the Department of Justice as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the largest terrorist-finance case in U.S. history.

Freedom of Religion:  A Precious American Right, an Islamic Capital Crime.  Given the anti-Christian views of many Muslims and of all the Western book-and-column writing atheists and secularists, I wonder if Rifqa Bary, the teenage convert from Islam to Christianity, is not respected as a hero who is fighting for her freedom of religion but seen, rather, as someone who has taken yet another reactionary path.  Perhaps if Rifqa had launched a lawsuit for the right to wear hijab or a burqa in Ohio she might immediately have gotten mainstream media sympathy.

Did someone mention Rifqa Bary?

News Media Blackout: Iraqi Muslims Slaughtering Christians.  Either intentionally or unintentionally, United States news media outlets are ignoring the violence perpetrated by Muslims against Christians in Iraq.  While some believe this stems from the fact that reporters have moved on to stories other than US operations in Iraq, others believe this lack of coverage has more to do with the anti-Christian bias that exists within the media.

‘Apostate’ Girl’s Father:  The Unreported Story.  Rifqa’s parents, Mohamad and Aysha Bary, signed affidavits declaring themselves indigent.  That’s why the Florida court appointed a lawyer for the father and a lawyer for the mother.  Both their lawyers are being paid by the taxpayers of Florida. … Yet in a Dunn and Bradstreet report filed by Mohammad Baryhimself for his business, Bary Gems, he states his business does $237,561 per annum.  The wife, Aysha Bary, makes high-end bridal gowns (that income may be off the books, but she works every day).

Iran Linked to International Terror; Media Snoozes.  Ever since the failure to find WMDs in Iraq, the American public and the media have demanded a nearly unreachable standard of proof before indicting a foreign government.  When someone calls Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, proof that they are “linked” to al-Qaeda is demanded.  Once al-Qaeda’s refuge in Iran is offered as a counterpoint, proof that the regime knows of their presence and that the group isn’t merely working with “rogue elements” of the government, but the government as a whole, is required. … In the world of intelligence, it is extremely rare to come by the “smoking gun” now commonly requested.

Armed and Extreme, but Buried in Briefs.  The Tiller assassination garnered three stories, an editorial and a column (mine) over the following two days, and a week later a front-page story, whereas The Chronicle ran two national briefs about the military-recruiter attack, on Page A5 one day, and Page A6 the next.  Other media underplayed the domestic terrorist attack as well.  For me, the reason is pretty obvious:  Stories that reinforce journalists’ political beliefs rate the front page or top of their newscasts; stories that do not are not considered big news.

Media Takes Whitewashing of Islam to a Whole New Level.  [There is] a blog on the Post/Newsweek website by top-tier Islam apologist John Esposito.  Esposito is the founding director of something called the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University — which means that the Saudi royal family pays his salary.  Which, in turn, means that a man on the payroll of the world’s most oppressive Islamic regime is engaged by the Washington Post and Newsweek to provide their readers with objective facts about Islam.  This perverse state of affairs is, alas, par for the course in today’s mainstream media.

Bidding farewell to the country’s ‘war on terror’.  The liberal media are now actively downplaying Muslim terrorism, and that was vividly demonstrated last week when two soldiers were shot by an American-Muslim in Arkansas.  One of them, 24-year-old Private William Long, was killed.  There is no doubt the cold-blooded murder of Pvt. Long by Carlos Bledsoe, aka Abdulhakim Muhammad, was a shocking story.  But if you were watching Katie Couric on the “CBS Evening News,” you missed it, as Couric did not mention the murder.  On ABC, Charles Gibson ignored the story as well.  On NBC, Brian Williams spent less than two minutes on the situation.

Oh, and Incidentally …  You gotta’ love the New York Times and its hyper-politically correct sensitivities about revealing the ethnic or religious backgrounds of criminal suspects.  Thus we have today’s front-pager:  “4 Accused of Bombing Plot at Bronx Synagogues.”  Who were these four, I wondered?

The Media, Islam & Political Correctness.  The New York Times has been assailed by conservative critics such as Dallas Morning News columnist and blogger Rod Dreher for downplaying a troubling aspect of the case:  all the suspects are Muslims.  (They had converted to Islam while in prison for drug offenses, theft and other crimes.)  The first Times report on May 20 mentioned this fact only in passing — despite a statement by New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at a press conference that the four had talked frankly about wanting to “commit jihad.”

Homegrown Islamic Jihad in the Bronx.  Four African-American converts to Islam, all of whom converted to Islam in prison, have been arrested by the FBI just as they attempted to bomb two Riverdale synagogues, (the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple), in the Bronx and a New York National Guard air base in Newburgh, New York where they lived and attended a mosque.  Why do I begin by clearly stating the race and religion of the terrorists?  Because the liberal mainstream media refuses to do so, or buries such facts on its back pages.

Show Me the Mullah.  I am struck by the lack of coverage in the media of the obvious beneficiary of the rise in Somali piracy.  Let’s just ask the question; who stands to gain from this phenomenon?  It’s pretty simple really.  The piracy in the northern Indian Ocean raises large sums of money for fundamentalist Mullahs and puts a big hurt on Suez Canal traffic.  This piracy is a de facto extension of the strategy behind the assassination of Anwar Sadat and busloads of foreign tourists.

Were Shooters Unidentified in Press Because They Were Muslim?  We have a shooting incident in Minnesota perpetrated by three Muslim Somali immigrants but for some reason almost every single media report about the incident omits the names of the shooters, names of obvious North African or ethnic origin.  So, the question is, did the Old Media in Minnesota purposefully leave the names unreported so that they could cover up the fact that the criminals were Somali immigrants?  And, if so, why would they do this?

The words “islam” and “Muslim” are conspicuously absent from this story:
FBI raids three Minneapolis money-transfer shops.  Federal agents raided three Minneapolis money transfer businesses that mainly serve the Somali community Wednesday [4/8/2009], seeking records of financial transactions to several African and Middle East countries.  E.K. Wilson, a special agent for the FBI in Minneapolis, confirmed that agents searched the businesses on the city’s south side to track money transactions, but wouldn’t disclose any further details.

Somali Pirates Tied to Jihad.  The latest crisis off the coast of Africa where Somali pirates hijacked a US flag ship is not something that suddenly materialized out of thin air.

The darkest brand of ‘honour’.  When an Ethiopian man in Alexandria, Va., killed his wife, the report in last week’s Alexandria Gazette Packet tiptoed nervously around his motive.  It said that cultural issues were involved and that he had ordered her not to interact with co-workers.  In case the point still wasn’t clear, the reporter attempted to explain:  “In Ethiopia, women have more defined roles.”  That’s a cowardly way of saying that women automatically obey their husbands in Ethiopia but sometimes don’t in America.  The deliberate ambiguity would be comic if it were not attached to a tragedy.

Not Merely Wrong, but Unprofessional.  Every time you think the New York Times cannot sink any lower, you open the paper and find something else that leaves you wondering about the lack of editorial judgment at the Grey Lady.  Today’s Op-Ed page is, on the surface, clear evidence of the paper’s editorial agenda with regard to the Islamist regime in Iran.  Of the three pieces on the page, two are devoted to the cause of appeasing Iran.

The Media Sees No Evil.  Consider media coverage of last November’s Mumbai terrorist attacks, which left more than 170 dead.  While the media were quick to link the group responsible, Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the territorial battle over the Kashmir valley, they were largely silent when it came to the group’s main objectives:  to establish an Islamic state in South Asia and annihilate all “enemies of Islam,” including Hindus and Jews.

Muslim misperceptions:  It seems that world’s media agrees with the majority of the world’s Muslims that the 900 killed by the Israelis in Gaza are more worthy of outrage that than the two hundred thousand African Muslims killed by Arabs in Darfur.  As a result, Hamas is encouraged to attract Israeli fire towards civilian targets, by firing weapons from schools and homes, correctly believing that their tactics will not be criticised.

Is Israel Doomed?  Israel’s enemies assert that its destruction is inevitable, and those who would destroy her are cheered on by many in the West.  At the same time, Western mainstream media, particularly in Europe but also major media outlets in America, do puff pieces on Israel’s genocidal adversaries, slant the news to conform to her enemies’ propaganda, and support the delegimitization of the Jewish state.

Gaza and The One-World Media’s Propaganda.  As the Israelis continue their push into Gaza; as they continue an offensive military campaign against Hamas, born of the need to protect Israeli civilians from rockets fired by Hamas jihadis, it is almost impossible to gather accurate information regarding the conflict, at least not from the mainstream media.

CNN busted running phony Gaza propaganda, doesn’t fess up.  Down the memory hole goes fake video run by CNN to tug on viewers’ heartstrings, following its debunking by clear-headed observers.  The “most trusted name in news” lacks the integrity to fess up for channeling Palestinian propaganda, though.

The Media Collude in Terrorist Crimes against Humanity.  The key is not the terrorists.  They are stuck in their ways.  The real key is the international media — who are hardly neutral observers as they like to pretend.  The international leftist media are essential players in this melodrama.

LA Times gives column space to deported Hamas terrorist.  How low can a newspaper go? The LA Times edges closer to Der Stürmer territory, giving precious op-ed space to Hamas terrorist Mousa Abu Marzook, deported from the US in 1997.

The Disgrace of “The Nation”:  As Israel fights a life and death battle with Hamas terrorists, the American Left is doing its part to come to the aid of Hamas.  Spearheading this effort is The Nation magazine.

The So-called International Community.  The so-called international community has a script already prepared for any news from the Middle East.  In this script, there is only Israeli violence, Israeli repression, Israeli guilt.

The Mumbai Massacre: Caused by the Jews.  In a bout of journalistic malpractice, The Washington Post ran a story Tuesday declaring that officials had uncovered the true motivations of the Mumbai terrorists:  400 years of persecution by the West and the existence of Jews, especially in Israel.

The Case of the Missing Honor Killing:  I’m glad that America’s Most Wanted chose to dramatize the honor killing of Sarah and Amina Said in Dallas on Jan 1, 2008 by their father Yaser Abdul Said, who has been missing ever since.  I hope the program helps aid in his capture.  I applaud on-camera narrator John Walsh, who has turned his own grief at the loss of his child into something positive for so many others.  However, the dramatization was oddly, perhaps even purposefully misleading.

The Media’s Hypocritical Obsession with Madoff’s Faith.  As I’ve previously noted, the Times goes out of its way to describe terrorists who are ethnic Arab Muslims and south Asian Muslims as “gunmen,” “attackers,” “fighters,” (never as terrorists), and they rarely use the word “Arab” or “Muslim” to characterize the perpetrators of a deadly rogue action.  However, the paper of record will use the word “Muslim” to describe an aggrieved victim who has alleged “Islamophobia” or “racism.”

Were There Muslims in Mumbai?  Let’s see:  In the past 30 years, the overwhelming majority of acts of terrorism were committed by Muslims.  Most terrorist groups have names like jihad-this and Islamic-that.  Terrorists regularly quote the Koran’s kill-the-infidels verses.  (“O True Believers, when you encounter the unbeliever, strike off their heads!”)  Al-Qaeda and company tell us that their goal is to advance the global jihad.  Those inciting inter-religious violence have titles like sheikh, imam and mullah.  But linking Islam to terrorism is “misleading”?

There’s Nothing To Explain.  The Left’s rush to explain the Mumbai attack in terms of Western antagonism, and not in terms of the doctrine of jihad, feels like simple collusion with monsters.  The musings of the average American accountant or traffic cop or lawyer are one thing, but are we really to believe the editors of Newsweek and Time suffer from “naiveté” in their understanding of global frictions.

Whose side are they on?
We thought we were safe… then CNN stepped in!  A South Wales couple caught in the Mumbai terror attacks claimed last night that CNN put their lives at risk by broadcasting where they were.  Lynne and Kenneth Shaw, of Penarth, warned that terrorists were listening in to the media to pinpoint Western victims.  Mrs Shaw claimed the American cable TV channel had broadcast details of where they were at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

Roars About Russia, Bare Whispers About Islam.  What American presidential candidate would ever explain the Islamic push, financial and otherwise, in the West for mosque construction, Islamic schools (madrassas), campus Islamic studies (apologetics) departments, Sharia law-inspired legal challenges, lobbying for Sharia-compliant banking and the like as a matter of Islamic imperialism?

PBS dropped ‘Islam vs. Islamists’ on political grounds.  The producer of a tax-financed documentary on Islamic extremism claims his film has been dropped for political reasons from a television series that airs next week on more than 300 PBS stations nationwide.

Deal lets PBS stations air Islam film.  A documentary billed as “the film PBS doesn’t want you to see” will at long last get a national audience.  The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) announced a joint agreement yesterday to make “Islam vs. Islamists” available to the 354 Public Broadcasting Service member stations across the nation as a “stand-alone” TV program, with a little extra embellishment.

Nation of Islam Allowed to Review PBS Documentary on Moderate Muslims.  A conflict of interest involving the radical Nation of Islam and the Washington, D.C., affiliate of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is an example of unethical journalism that benefits extremist Muslims, according to a national security expert and a Hollywood filmmaker.

New ‘Useful Idiots’?  For years, the Soviet Union benefited from those Vladimir Lenin is said to have dubbed “the useful idiots of the West” — reporters, scholars, leftists, and assorted romantics who said the Soviet system of totalitarianism was not so bad.  Leading its own charm offensive, another evil empire, the Muslim Brotherhood, has assembled its own enablers among the West’s august institutions during the last few years.

This is what passes for journalism these days:
ABC Fakes Muslim Prejudice, Unsurprisingly Finds ‘Islamophobia’ in America.  Apparently to prove that the US is filled with Muslim hating yahoos, ABC went on the hunt to find “Islamophobia” in America and the result is “Witness to Discrimination:  What Would You Do?”  Since they didn’t really know where to find any, ABC News decided to create their own prejudice against Muslims by hiring an actress to put on Muslim dress and get “confronted” by a Muslim hating coffee store server — also an actor hired by ABC.

CAIR’s Spin Guide:  As part of its ongoing campaign to make sure you learn about Islam only what it wants you to learn, the notorious Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued a new media guide — available only to “media professionals” — that purports to “educate the media and disabuse journalists of misinformation” about Islam.

Look Forward to Anger.  Our media regularly make the assumption that the book burners and fanatics really do represent the majority, and that assumption has by no means been tested.  (If it is ever tested, and it turns out to be true, then can we hear a bit less about how one of the world’s largest religions mustn’t be confused with its lunatic fringe?)

Defining Terror Down:  Apparently the media elite spent too much time on the phone with CAIR apologists to bother reading the FBI affidavit, which makes it clear they were motivated simply by Islamic jihad (as if that were anything new).  It records the men saying they were willing to die killing infidels in the name of Allah.  One asks who’ll take care of his family.  Not to worry, another responds, “Allah will take care of your wife and kids.”  They watched speeches by Osama bin Laden calling for jihad, videos of jihadi attacks, and videotaped messages from two of the 9/11 “martyrs.”  Yet the media would have none of it.

A hate crime with no hater.  In an AP story on Naveed Haq, “Man charged in Seattle shooting rampage”, Gene Johnson of AP leaves out Haq’s declaration, “I’m a Muslim American, I’m angry with Israel.” … This omission makes his grievance seem purely political — one that any self-respecting Leftist would share.  This is compounded by the fact that Johnson also neglects to mention that Haq is Pakistani, thereby leading the reader to the impression that when he says “our people,” he must be Palestinian or Lebanese.  After all, he couldn’t possibly mean “Muslim people,” could he?

French Police Faulted in Youths’ Deaths.  An internal police review of the 2005 electrocutions of two teenagers that triggered weeks of rioting in poor French neighborhoods faulted police officers for their handling of the case, a lawyer for the victims’ families said Thursday [12/7/2006].

 Editor’s Note:   Notice that the word “Muslim” is conspicuously absent in the article above.  The “youths” were killed during the French riots, which are discussed at greater lengthhere.

Louis Farrakhan’s First Congressman.  At this particular time in history, it is a matter of note that Congress is about to receive its first Muslim member. … [Keith] Ellison’s Muslim faith has generated no controversy in the campaign.  On the contrary, it has served to insulate aspects of his public record from close scrutiny in a city whose dominant news organ, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is a paragon of political correctness.  With the exception of columnist Katherine Kersten, the Star Tribune has scrupulously avoided examining Ellison’s long train of troubling associations, foremost among them his ties to the Nation of Islam.

The Terrorists Among Us:  Reporting the arrests, the New York Times called the men “South Asians” — though one of them was an Egyptian, two were Somali, and most had been born in Canada — thus concealing by an inaccurate euphemism the most salient characteristic of the alleged plotters:  that they were all Muslims.

Poisonously biased.  CNN’s Christiane Amanpour has set a new standard — and not the kind a news network usually trumpets.  God’s Jewish Warriors, her two-hour screed against Israeli settlers and American supporters of Israel, is the most poisonously biased and factually shoddy feature to air on mainstream American television in recent memory.

Stop Our Networks from Helping Al Qaeda.  You have seen it.  We have all seen it.  Worst of all, the families of the heroic soldiers killed, have seen it.  “It,” is a video montage of American military vehicle after American military vehicle, getting blown up in Iraq by Improvised Explosive Devices, or IED’s. … More often than not, our very networks will use this footage as a propaganda tool to demonstrate to the American people that “Bush’s war” in Iraq is a failure.  Yes, we have all seen these horrible images, but did you ever ask yourself where the video came from?

Does AP stand for Al-Qaeda Propaganda?  The Associated Press, the reliable just-the-facts news agency you and I once knew, no longer exists.  Amoral propagandists have taken over.  It is not only in the disturbing matter of Bilal Hussein, AP photograher and al-Qaeda associate, being held without charge in U.S. custody in Iraq that this is evident.  But also in the departure from balanced, nonpartisan coverage that has always been the AP’s promise to us, its customers.

Underreporting Muslim violence:  Like many news junkies, I’ve noticed that stories putting Muslims in a bad light tend to be sketchy and underreported.  A minor example is the comment — “the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House” — by the head Muslim chaplain of New York City’s prisons. … A much bigger example is the misleadingly low-key reporting of the Ilan Halimi murder in Paris.

Baltimore Sun Leaves Terrorism out of Nigerian Oil Violence.  One country’s terrorist menace is one Baltimore Sun reporter’s insurgency.

How Islamic Terrorists Manipulate the Media:  Thuggery helps explain the obscenely low volume of negative press coverage of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.  But it doesn’t account for all, or even most, of the persistently slanted coverage.  As any veteran of Middle East media coverage knows, many Arab stringers and free-lancers — hired on the cheap by Western outlets, ostensibly because of their superior knowledge for local leaders and events — see it as their duty to demonize Israel, while exalting fellow Arabs or Muslims.

The Imam Scam and the Democrats’ House of Games.  Since [9/11/2001], it’s doubtful that even the most ardently PC liberal has boarded any airplane without carefully evaluating all fellow passengers — and not to evade inebriated conventioneers.  It is that same indelible angst of their brothers’ making which a group of Muslims exploited last month to perpetrate a hideous apparent hoax.  And the soon-to-be empowered Democrats and their gullible accomplices in the media proved the perfect patsies for this odious plan to make the skies ever more dangerous for Americans.

Note:  There is much more discussion of the Minneapolis incident on this page.

CAIR, Hamas and the House Candidate.  Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison is shaping up to be the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, and the mainstream media is treating his candidacy as an unalloyed triumph of multiculturalism.

A Conversion You Can’t Refuse.  The kidnapping in Gaza of two Fox News reporters, and the significance of their subsequent “conversion” to Islam at gunpoint, vanished from the front pages after their August 27 release. … Their plight shows the problems of evaluating reports emanating from areas infested by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments.  We know already that some “journalists” are simply propagandists … But a larger problem is that honest local reporters have their lives threatened if they tell the truth.

Why abduct us?  We cede our values for free.  Did you see that video of the two Fox journalists announcing they’d converted to Islam?  The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism.

Covering the Conflict in the North:  The media’s coverage of Israel’s conflict with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group was filled with examples of bias, inaccuracy, and manipulation.  While firing thousands of rockets into Israeli cities, Hezbollah was able to frequently manipulate the media into portraying the conflict as a “disproportionate” Israeli attack against Lebanese civilians.

War on terror is also war against liberal media and politicians.  Terrorists around the world love America’s liberal politicians and liberal media who support these so-called “insurgents” and “freedom fighters.”  Insurgents?  Freedom fighters?  No, they are cold-blooded murderers with a mission to destroy every Jew, Christian and infidel if they do not convert to radical Islam.  And every American, by definition, is an infidel.

Muslims urged to buy influence in world media.  Muslim tycoons should buy stakes in global media outlets to help change anti-Muslim attitudes around the world, ministers from Islamic countries heard at a conference in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday [9/13/2006].

Riots over mosque on the Queen’s doorstep.  The outbreak of disorder began after a mother and her daughter were set upon by a gang of 20 Asian youths armed with baseball bats, iron bars and pitchforks.  The shaven-headed thugs — all dressed in white robes — launched the attack after pouring out of a former office building which is being used as an unofficial mosque.

[There they go again, calling young Muslim men “Asian youths” to avoid calling them what they are.]

CBS’s Wallace Played Softball in Interview With Iran’s Leader.  A conservative media watchdog organization says while the recently televised interview of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by CBS’s Mike Wallace was not as embarrassing as Dan Rather’s 2003 talk with Saddam Hussein, it was clear Wallace was kissing up to the Iranian strongman.

Media in Lebanon — The fevered manufacture of the liberal agenda.  There is so much honest news to peddle, I don’t know why the media is offering us so much pure visible tommyrot when it comes to the Israeli attacks, unless they openly favor Hezbollah and have an axe to grind.

Movie shows photo fraud involved in wartime journalism.  Numerous examples of Photoshop embellishment and throw-down toys carefully arranged by news photographers to evoke emotion.

Speaking of fraud…
No more ambulances for terror.  I remind you again of CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s description last month of Hizballah’s ruse: “…One by one, they told the ambulances to turn on their sirens and to zoom off, and people taking that picture would be reporting, I guess, the idea that these ambulances were zooming off to treat civilian casualties, when in fact, these ambulances were literally going back and forth down the street just for people to take pictures of them.”

Use and Abuse of Euphemism:  When a coven of Islamist terrorists got arrested in Canada, the news wires initially had a devil of a time conveying the information that, well, a coven of Islamist terrorists had been arrested.  The New York Times reported that the suspects were “mainly of South Asian descent.”  Many reporters quoted Mike McDonell, a police spokesman, who said the terrorists “represent the broad strata of our society.”

The Criminalization of Christianity:  Unfortunately, the widespread persecution of Christians around the world continues unabated and receives almost no attention from the international media.  For instance, over the last several months, nearly 2,000 Christians in one African nation have been rounded up and imprisoned.  Yet these victims of religious persecution have received nowhere near the attention [Abdul] Rahman received.

When is Jihad Not Jihad?  When it is spiritual struggle.  Witness the latest European Union pronouncement, which advocates an exclusive definition of jihad as “spiritual struggle” in the public discourse, lest the tender sensibilities of Muslims be offended.

Understanding Bias:  You click on MSNBC.com and notice a hot new development in the Mideast.  How should you go about analyzing the news report?  There are certain questions you can keep in mind that may reveal underlying bias.

Tactical victory no match for media superiority.  Israel has yet to figure out that wars aren’t just fought on the battlefield.  They are also fought on the mediafield.  And the mediafield ultimately is larger than the battlefield.  Why?  Because world opinion is what ultimately settles issues of world politics.

Louis Farrakhan Rips ‘Wicked Jews’ in Hollywood.  It’s been nearly a month since Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakahan blamed “Zionists and neo-cons” for “manipulating” President Bush into invading Iraq – before blasting “wicked Jews” in Hollywood for promoting “lesbianism [and] homosexuality.”  Yet, outside of a few newspapers in Chicago, the same press that showers positive coverage on Farrakhan’s Million Man marches has yet to get around to covering his Feb. 26 Saviours Day speech.

Liberal use of language:  Officials of that great bastion of liberalism — the European Union — reportedly want to replace the term “Islamic terrorism” with “terrorists who abusively invoke Islam.”

Sometimes survival gets a bit noisy.  If the Jews would just die without making a lot of noise, the Nice People could get on with the really important things in life, stuffing their faces with salmon and bean sprouts, watching the Rev. Billy Don Moyers pontificate on PBS, and making more Nice People.  The Nice People, manipulated by the coverage of the fighting in Lebanon, are getting fed up with the Israelis, who are acting as if they have the right to survive ….

Islamic States Press for Limits on Free Expression.  Islamic groups and governments are pressing ahead with a campaign to have international organizations take steps, including legal ones, to provide protection for their religion in the wake of the Mohammed cartoon controversy.

Hell no, we won’t work.  After the rampages last fall, mostly by unemployed and disaffected Muslims — almost universally referred to as “French youths” by an international press too afraid to reports facts that may not be considered polite — French Prime Minister Dominuque de Villepin has proposed measures designed to encourage French companies to hire more young workers.

Al Jazeera goes global.  Al Jazeera is ready for America, but is America ready for Al Jazeera?  The Al Jazeera Channel, the controversial Arab-language network that has emerged as the principal television news source in the Arab world, is going global with an international English-language spin-off designed for European and American audiences.

What is ‘Human Rights Watch’ watching?  When it comes to Israel and its enemies, Human Rights Watch cooks the books about facts, cheats on interviews, and puts out predetermined conclusions that are driven more by their ideology than by evidence.  These are serious accusations, and they are demonstrably true.

American news media:  little courage and little honesty.  Everyone and his mother knows why the networks and the print journals haven’t shown the cartoons — they fear Muslims blowing up their buildings and stabbing their editors to death.  The only people who deny this are the news media.  They all claim that they won’t show the [Mohammed] cartoons because of sensitivity to Muslim feelings.

Note:  There is a separate page for material about the Riots over the Mohammed Cartoons.

PBS Station Nixes Show On Terrorism.  Following last-minute cries of protest from Muslim leaders last week, a Public Broadcasting Service affiliate in Dallas canceled the premiere of a documentary on the roots of Islamic terrorism.  “The Roots of War:  The Road to Peace” was scheduled to air on KERA-TV on Sunday, January 29, but the premiere was postponed by the station’s managers after a local Muslim group alleged that the program contains inaccuracies and anti-Muslim bias.

Lott’s Comments Get 20 Times the Coverage of Murray’s:  The mainstream media gave former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s comments praising his Senate colleague Strom Thurmond nearly 20 times the coverage it devoted to Sen. Patty Murray’s remarks praising Osama bin Laden during the same period of time.

Protecting Muhammad:  The most striking aspect of the controversy is the leverage of the offended Muslim community.  Even in the United States, even a publication as venturesome as Slate magazine describes the offending caricatures but is careful not to reproduce them.  A quite natural curiosity attaches to how these 12 caricatures actually looked.

NASCAR Furious With NBC Over ‘Dateline’ Segment.  “It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC’s stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news,” [NASCAR spokesman Ramsey] Poston said [4/5/2006].  “Any legitimate journalist in America should be embarrassed by this stunt.  The obvious intent by NBC was to evoke reaction, and we are confident our fans won’t take the bait,” he said.

More Muslim Enemies from Within:  If this event had been an anti-Muslim rally, the story would be front-page news.  Editorialists and academics would be decrying racial and religious intolerance.  Left-wing celebrities and MTV veejays would be hectoring us about the need for unity and harmony.  But it was an anti-American rally.

This article is on topic, really.  Read the whole thing.
Muslims and media:  There’s one good thing about the news that Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest Saudi prince in the world, just bought Harvard and Georgetown Universities — or, at least buried them up to their ivy in $40 million.  It gives everybody reason to relive a McAuliffe moment.

Radical Arabs Seek Influence Over U.S. Media.  There are terrorists in the Muslim world seething with hatred for all Americans.  This war, unlike any other we have confronted, presents us with an enemy that is everywhere and nowhere.  The media are a key battleground.  It is a war largely without nation-state soldiers in uniforms.  To add to the confusion, our enemy has skillfully blurred the lines between bloodthirsty murderers and legitimately religious people.  Thus, the pressure for “tolerance” that often fails to distinguish the former from the latter.

A thug by any other name…  It’s unclear how [Christophe] Bertossi would prefer that the violent young Muslims (invariably called “French youths” in the mainstream media) be treated.  If torching cars and destroying schools isn’t criminal and terrorist behavior, nothing is.

Al Qaeda Loves Our Unpatriotic Media.  The New York Times, CBS, and other news organizations have joined with the ACLU in demanding that the Pentagon release more sensational photos and videos of Iraqi prisoner abuse.  The inevitable result of such disclosure, according to General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is that Islamic terrorists will exploit the material and kill Americans.  Do our media care?

Well, they got me….  The First Amendment and I have been evicted from ABC Radio in Washington, DC.  On July 25th, the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that I be “punished” for my on-air statements regarding Islam and its tragic connections to terrorism.  Three days later, 630 WMAL and ABC Radio suspended me without pay for comments deemed “hate radio” by CAIR.

CAIR killing free speech in the U.S.?  Though there is some disagreement between local talk station WMAL and fired mid-morning host Michael Graham over the details of his recent termination, one thing is not in dispute:  the big winner is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called for his ouster, yet has never specifically condemned Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas or Hezbollah.

French Fried Muslim Madness.  Here’s the typical feed coming from liberal thought police central:  “Riots have broken out in Paris suburbs.  This wave of destruction has been at the hand of North African and Middle Eastern descent French youths who have been disenfranchised and unemployed by haughty white French people.”  Yeah, if you do a little digging, I bet you’d find that, as Mark Steyn wrote, the names of the “French youths” culpable for this anarchy are not Pierre, Patrice, Henri and Claude, but rather Habib, Achmed and Mohamed.

Cowed by CAIR:  DC talk station fires host.  Washington, D.C. talk radio station WMAL, 630 AM, has caved to pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has savaged journalists, critics of radical Islam, even the Fox TV show “24” but which just as steadfastly has refused to specifically condemn various Islamic terrorist organizations.

Take off the muzzle.  These days, there’s very little you can’t do on television.  However, there are plenty of things that you can’t say, on television or in print.  Not because these things aren’t true, but because they’re considered politically incorrect.

Michael Graham, spiked by ABC.  Remember this the next time ABC toots its own horn as a defender of free speech.  Michael Graham, a popular talk-radio host on ABC-owned WMAL in Washington, D.C., publicly declared that “Islam is a terror organization.”  Under pressure from a radical Islamic group, ABC fired him.

 Excellent   Caution:  Muslims easily inflamed.  Absent from this blame exchange is any recognition that many Muslims can be incited to violence by anything or nothing.  It’s as if they live poised for outrage.

NPR Repeatedly Describes Far-Left Islamists as “Conservative”.  When it comes to ideological labeling, the media standard is to presume that the bad guys are the conservatives or the ones on the right.  How else to explain “hard right” and “conservative” communists when communism is on the far left?

Privatize PBS and NPR.  PBS became the object of outraged citizens when it broadcast a blatantly anti-Boy Scout documentary called “A Scout’s Honor” in 2001.  And last December, “Mohammed:  Legacy of a Prophet” was more an infomercial for Islam than an objective documentary.  To a greater extent even than PBS, NPR has become a mouthpiece for the radical left.  Conservatives have their talk radio and Christian stations while liberals occupy the mainstream media.  But the radical Left has found its home at