Weekly Roundup (Shutdown Edition)

If the cover image worried you for a moment, fear not, faithful readers.  The Evangelical Outpost did not shut down this week.  We’re an essential service!

Politico takes us on a photo tour of the previous 17 federal government shutdowns.  (What might be most surprising to many people, given the current level of rhetoric in the media, is just how many times the government shut down during the Reagan administration with a Democrat-controlled House).

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Matt Welch writes at CNN that, while the shutdown is bad politics (especially for Republicans), it’s ultimately nothing to worry about.

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In the midst of all the budget battles raging these days, with frequent calls from Republicans to lower taxes and cut entitlement spending, Andrew Quinn argues that it’s time for conservatives to make explicit what is already implicit in their economic goals: championing the poor.

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Not only is the world still spinning during the federal government shutdown, but worlds beyond our solar system are too.  Here’s the first cloud map of one such exoplanet.

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Warning: This article is graphic and not for those with sensitive consciences, but it is a must read (especially for those with children):  Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today.

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From r/atheism to the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s Facebook page, online atheists love their memes, especially the ones that are “devastating” to religon as well as being humorous.  Here are few such Devastating Arguments Against Christianity (Courtesy of the Internet).  As it turns out, the arguments are indeed devastating…just not to religion.

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Stanford Team Sheds Light on the Medieval Foundations of Modern Science.

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Desiring God’s 2013 National Conference was all about C. S. Lewis, with some fascinating topics and a stellar speaker lineup (including Phil Ryken and Kevin Vanhoozer).  The free video and audio is availabe here.

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When creativity and love meets technology, magic happens:  Creative Dad Takes Crazy Photos Of Daughters.

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Essayist and programmer Paul Graham has written a brief and helpful article on How to Disagree.  For the visually inclined, here is a an image based on his essay ranking the 7 types of disagreement.

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33 Of The Most Hilariously Terrible First Sentences In Literature History:

Betty had eyes that said come here, lips that said kiss me, arms and torso that said hold me all night long, but the rest of her body said, “Fillet me, cover me in cornmeal, and fry me in peanut oil”; romance wasn’t easy for a mermaid.

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Part two of the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, is going to be a massive hit at the box office, despite the underwhelming first installment.  How do I know?  Two words:  The ‘Batch (just listen to the final moments of the new trailer):

Weekly Roundup

UPDATE:  “Where’s the outrage?”  Christians are being singled out and massacred from Pakistan to Syria to the Nairobi shopping mall. Kirsten Powers on the deafening silence from U.S. pews and pulpits:  A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America’s Churches Stay Silent

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Far from a ‘ridiculous pursuit’, philosophy underpins reading, writing and arithmatic. It should be taught as a basic skill, says Emma Worley:  The first R: why we need to teach philosophy in the classroom. 

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There are now more administrators in the CSU system than there are full-time faculty.  A must read from Victor Davis Hanson:  The Decline of College

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There can be no doubt (according to Telegraph writer and atheist Matthew Norman), after his latest outburst, that the arch-atheist (Richard Dawkins) is doing the Lord’s work:  Come In, Agent Dawkins, Your Job Is Done.

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Every Sci-Fi Starship Ever*, In One Mindblowing Comparison Chart.

Every Sci-Fi Starship Ever, In One Mindblowing Comparison Chart 

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An open letter from a game store owner to parents:  I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V To Parents Who Didn’t Give a Damn.

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Peter Enns provides an interesting perspective that most evangelicals will disagree with, but should take seriously:  Rob Bell, Oprah, and N. T. Wright. Yeah, you heard me.

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What is the most screwed up thing about your state?  Check this chart

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If You’ve Ever Wondered What Happens To Kids After They’re Rescued From Sex Trafficking, Watch This.

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This week Senator Ted Cruz gave a 21 hour, 19 minute speech on the Senate floor, in which he layed out the case against the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare).  According to Politico, regardless of the immediate outcome of the Senate bill, after talking the talk, Ted Cruz wins

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Biola University recently launched the Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts.  In honor of this acheivement, Biola’s President, Dr. Barry Corey, reflects on Art in the Now and the Not Yet.

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Pictures of space are usually stunning and beautiful.  Here are the winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year for 2013

Love and Knowledge: Why ditching theology isn’t the answer

“Theology is ok for some people, but for me, I think it’s a lot better just to love people, you know?”

At least, that’s what a growing chunk of evangelicals are saying. But does it hold up? Does it actually work? Does it even make any sense?

This sentiment gets part of it right, at least. The Church is supposed to love people as Christ loves people. That is, we are supposed to desire the good of others and to act for that good, even when that requires sacrifice. To love, in the Christian sense, is to be selflessly committed to the capital-G “Good” of the beloved (which, for the Christian, is everyone).

So far, so good. But here’s where it gets tricky: that desire and commitment for the good of the beloved is actually fairly useless without a corresponding knowledge of both the beloved and the Good. Because while it might be fairly easy to affect happiness in the beloved, Good is often a lot trickier.

This is easiest to see in areas like parenting, where working towards the Good of your children is often uncomfortable and even counter-intuitive. Making your children happy, without caring for any other consequences, is easy: working towards their actual Good is difficult. That’s why it’s possible for parents to genuinely love their children, to genuinely desire their Good, yet spoil them rotten. Some parents believe that the best way to achieve the Good of the child is to make them happy, to give them whatever they want, to appease them at all costs. This kind of “love” takes the form of limitless candy, unending indulgence, and an utter lack of discipline: a course of action sure to produce a happy child. Unfortunately, that child will also likely be insufferable, malnourished, and utterly unprepared for the larger world. In this case, genuinely loving actions on the part of the parents actually work against the Good of the child, due to a lack of knowledge regarding both children and their Good.

Even actions motivated by true, unselfish love can have disastrous consequences, if not based on true knowledge. Love alone is insufficient, because working towards the Good of the beloved requires a real knowledge both of the beloved and the Good. And this especially applies to the Church’s relationship to people.

We are to love people, as Christ loved us. On this the Bible is very clear, and on this, at least, all of the varied claimants to the title of Christians can agree. “God so loved the world,” John 3:16 tells us, and one of Jesus’ last commands to the disciples before his death is “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” That is, indeed, the mark of the Christian, and 1 John emphasizes that God himself is love, and that loving is the mark of a true Christian.

And, to a certain extent, we can love well thanks to common grace and general revelation, gifts given by God to all people. Paul tells us in Romans that the Law, intended to guide humanity towards God, is written on the hearts of men. To some extent, we know what is Good for people. We know that parents should feed and protect their children, we know that some things are good and some things are bad. As far as this knowledge takes us, we can love rightly, we can know what is Good and act towards it.

Again: so far, so good.

Unfortunately, that knowledge of the Good is fundamentally broken and insufficient. Whatever true knowledge we retain, we have lost much more, and we’re even worse off when it comes to acting on it.   Jeremiah 17 states our situation clearly: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick: Who can understand it?” It is actively deceitful, pushing us towards what we know is evil; it is also constantly sick, an utterly insufficient guide. If you rely solely on your heart to make decisions, you’re gonna have a bad time. You might be acting out of love, but you will not be acting for the Good of your beloved.

So where do we get this knowledge? Where are we to find this knowledge of humanity, if our heart is so deceitful? Who will tell us how to love, if we are so desperately sick? For the Church, there is only one answer: God. The one who knows what we are for, because he is the one who made us that way to begin with. True knowledge of humanity, and humanity’s Good,  can only come from true knowledge of God and what he created us for.

And unfortunately for some denominations, it does not work backwards: you cannot look to your own heart and try to find God with that, because you will only end up with an even larger lie, consumed by an even more desperate sickness. We cannot make God in our own image, for our image is already disfigured. Nor can we look to our own selves for the good of humanity, because we are fundamentally broken, barely even human ourselves.

We are left with only one solution: theology. What we as people are, what we were created for, how we best pursue our Good and the Good of others…the ultimate guide to all of that must be God, and God alone.

So no, blog writers and internet commenters that so irritate me, you cannot leave the theology and “just get on with the business of love.” You cannot learn to love well without theology. If you want to love people well, to genuinely work towards their Good, you cannot afford to leave the theology behind. It is theology that tells us about God, and in turn tells us about people. The two go hand-in-hand.

One last thing: I do understand where this desire to step away from theology comes from. There’s also a problem at the opposite end of the spectrum, where people have theology that is technically correct, but do not use it to love well (or worse still, use faulty theology as a weapon to harm people). But throwing out theology entirely (or separating it from our day-to-day lives) cannot be the solution.

Weekly Roundup

UPDATE:  In case you missed it, Vladimir Putin recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he offers counsel to the United States.  Yesterday “President Obama” responded with his own op-ed for the Huffington Post

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Katelyn Beaty writes at Christianity Today about our Hunger for Outrage (specifically on the internet):

Outrage begins to eat us alive when it is not channeled into creative love. It does not produce the righteousness we rightly seek (James 1:20). And there is only so much love you can demonstrate in 140 characters on a glowing screen.

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Wednesday was the twelfth anniversary of 9/11.  Here are 9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath.

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From National Journal:  Syria Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Barack Obama.

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Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal on Syria and Why America is Saying ‘No’:  “There is something going on here, a new distance between DC and America that the Syria debate has forced into focus.”

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Our fearless leader James Arnold has written an article for Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts on Giving Grace to “Crossover” Artists.

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John Mark Reynolds responds to a friend’s question about Vocation and Money.

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Digital Times argues that Part 2 of the Hobbit trilogy will be better than part 1 (but not by much).  The article is short, snarky and repetitive, so here’s the only paragraph you really need to read:

No, seriously. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is going to be the best part because hello, all the best stuff happens in it. “The Hobbit” Part Three-ie (out on December 17, 2014) is going to be the worst snooze cruise since Helm’s Deep. That’s because certain dragons are going to get whacked in the first of many hours and the rest is just going to be a big battle and then a long walk home.

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Speaking of The Hobbit, here is JRR Tolkien singing “Chip The Glasses And Crack The Plates”:

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One should always be careful about giving too much weight to “scientific journalism.”  Still, these developments are worth noting:  Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists.

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Love it or hate it, the very colorful (and very plastic) new iPhone 5c is probably here to stay:  Forget “Cheap”, The iPhone 5c Is Clearly The iPhone Jony Ive Wanted For iOS 7.

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Book nerds, time to geek out!  “Harry Potter” Gets Seven New Illustrated Covers.

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From The Atlantic:  Why Sequels Will Never Die: Hollywood’s Summer of ‘Flops’ Was Actually Its Best Year Ever.

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Mali, Syria, Obamacare, Detroit;  2013 has seen many debacles…all of which Mitt Romney warned us about during his 2012 presidential campaign.  This recently prompted Buzzfeed to ask:  Was Mitt Romney Right About Everything?  (The truth, of course, is that this is not about Romney.  He was not a visionary or a genius.  He was just saying what conservatives have been saying since long before 2012).

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If World War One Was a Bar Fight…

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Help Kickstart World War III!  Why?  Because Obama:

Weekly Roundup

A good friend of the EO and Biola graduate Renee Bolinger was recently featured on The Huffington Post’s website for her fantastic series of paintings that depict famous philosophers in the style of a famous artist (let’s hope all the fame and riches don’t go to her head):  10 Unexpected Philosopher Portraits In The Styles Of Famous Artists.

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If you’re having trouble following all the debate surrounding a possible US military strike against the Assad regime in Syria, the always dependable wordsmith Doug Wilson has described the whole situation in a single sentence.

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College Crunch recently put together a list of 20 brilliant college professors.  Among the ranks are distinguished, award-winning, internationally recognized scientists, lawyers, writers and philosophers.  The one common factor?  They are all Christians.

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From Christianity Today:  “Many forces can prevent outsiders from seeing what God is doing in New York. The city’s booming media industry, from television to film, to fashion and music, has reinforced for many non–New Yorkers an image of sophistication on one hand or urban grit on the other. But rarely does pop culture capture the religious ferment going on underneath.”  Continue reading Christ in the Capitol of the World.

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In honor of Labor Day:  Disagreeing with Bill Watterson, illustrated in the style of Bill Watterson.

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 Also from Christianity Today:  Why Intelligent People Are Less Likely to Be Religious.

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If you were the CEO of Nintendo, how would you respond to the rapidly shifting landscape of gaming?  The Death Of Nintendo Has Been Greatly Under-Exaggerated.

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If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, sue it. Here’s a story from WSJ about an entrepreneurship-killing new precedent being established by big government bureaucrats.  The bigger the government, the smaller the people.

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 Dr. John Mark Reynolds On Your Little Pony.

“I am told that there may be as many as twelve million adult males who watch the animated children’s show “My Little Pony.”

Really?”

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Kimberly Hall, director of a women’s ministry at a PCA church in Texas, recently posted a blog entitled FYI (if you’re a teenage girl), in which she calls on young women who post provocative pictures of themselves on Facebook and other social networking sites to consider the impact they are having on friends and family (especially boys).  Her post has elicited a lot of reaction, much of it negative.    A few noteworthy responses can be found here, here, and here.

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The Map That Lincoln Used to See the Reach of Slavery.

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What If I Told You that “Flat Earth” Was A Myth of Secularism? 

“It’s taught in school textbooks, it’s a favorite citation of New Atheism, and it’s been referenced by no less than the President himself — Medieval Europe believed the Earth was Flat.  And so it’s fact!  –  Except that they believed no such thing.”

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This Guinness commercial might just melt your heart:

The Uncertain Horizon: Trusting God with the Future

My husband and I recently moved across the country to Massachusetts where he is about to start graduate school. The transition has been sad, exciting, scary, fun, exhausting, and wonderful all at once. Now that we’re starting to get settled, I’m experiencing some of the paradoxes of beginning a new chapter in life: we are making new friends while missing our old ones; we are learning to navigate unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods while longing for the comfort of familiar roads; and we are discovering new places, restaurants, and local treasures while reminiscing about our favorites back home.

We come from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment” (as our license plates will tell you), as well as the land of green chile, Breaking Bad, breathtaking sunsets, and endless horizons. That last one is the one I miss the most right nowendless, sweeping landscapes that stretch out as far as you can see with virtually nothing between your gaze and the horizon. From most parts of the city, you can see all the way to where the earth meets the sky. I’ve heard other people talk about feeling claustrophobic in areas that are surrounded by tall trees. “I just wish I could see the sky!” they bemoaned. I never fully understood this sentiment until we made our move. I took for granted the grand openness and big, wide sky of the desert. While driving on the freeway the other day, I started to get that claustrophobic feeling. I couldn’t see very far in any direction due to all of the trees, and after winding around a bit I was completely disoriented. It’s unsettling, not being able to see the horizon.

This same feeling seems to accompany many major life choices and changes, or sometimes just life in general. We can’t always see the end of the path we’re on, or where it leads, or which direction it will take us. Not being able to see exactly where we’re headed is scary. While my husband and I are starting to get comfortable in our new home, and while the next few years are more or less planned out, I can’t know for sure what our lives will look like once my husband is finished with school and it’s time for the next move. We don’t know where we’ll be in five or ten years, although I suppose that’s true for anyone at any stage in life, in a sense. No matter what our plans are, life teaches us that plans are subject to change, sometimes at the mercy of forces beyond our control.

That can be the scariest part: not being in control. Don’t we wish, at least sometimes, that we could know our future? I know I do. Sometimes I think that if I could know the outcome of each decision I face I’d be able to make the best decision every time. I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life, and the worst bouts have come when I’ve faced major life decisions (choosing a college, getting married). Often I’ve wished that I could see ahead into my life to know the results of each decision so I’d know what the “right” choice is.

But none of us can know what the next decade, or year, or day holds in store. That’s alright, though, because even if we aren’t always in control, we have a loving God who is. Perhaps it’s better this way, because we can spend more energy focusing on the present moment and more trusting God with the future. Christ tells us that the Father knows our needs before we even ask him (Matthew 6:8), so we can rest assured that our God continually cares for us and knows how to provide for us.

Of course, we have to make plans in order to live our lives, and we have to make choices in order to move forward. But in every plan and decision we make, we must remember to trust in God’s guidance for and control over our lives. In everything we do, we must do so prayerfully, always thanking God for the blessings he has already given us and for those that are to come.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phillippians 4:4-7

Weekly Roundup

From Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast: The Muslim Brotherhood’s War on Coptic Christians.

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And from First Things: The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians.

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Doug Wilson has been engaged in some friendly sparring with Carl Trueman over the issues of “Transformationalism” and “Christian Worldview.”  Here’s the latest entry

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And here’s Anthony Bradley’s take:  Much Ado About a ‘Transformationalist’ Nothing.

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Matthew Barrett at The Gospel Coalition suggests that there may be unintended negative consequences when Pastors ditch their physical, paper Bibles in favor of iPads in the pulpit:  Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church

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Think the above article is a bit of stretch?  Here’s a friendly parody:  Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church.

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From Time Magazine: School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys.

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Are you turned off by the insufferable, condescending tone and aggressively hostile attitude of Richard Dawkins and his “new atheist” followers?  This atheist agrees with you:   How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet.

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From Salon: What if the President Lied to Us?

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As the wise Queen Amidala once put it, let’s bring sanity and compassion back to the Senate: Mark Steyn for Senate.

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Do you support Conservative economics but sympathize with Liberal social values?  That probably makes you a “Libertarian populist.”  Ross Douthat opines on Libertarian Populism and Its Critics.

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From Christianity Today: Why We Call God Father.

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U2’s Bono has come out in support of Capitalism as the best means for helping the poor, rather than direct aid:  Pro Bono Capitalism.

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Warner Brothers announced this week that they are determined to turn their new Superman/Batman film into a disaster of Green Lantern proportions, ensuring Marvel’s continued box office domination over DC.

…Well, ok, they didn’t put it quite like that.  Here’s what they actually said: Ben Affleck is the New Batman.

UPDATE:  I’m not happy about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, but this is just ridiculous:  Petition Filed On White House Website to Recast Batman.

 

Mixing and Matching: Do It for Your Own Good, Not for Mine

Christianity does not exist apart from being expressed in specific people at specific times. There is no version of Christianity so “above” culture that it can be pulled down and plugged into a new setting without adapters. With that, mixing and matching Christian teachings and traditions is very healthy for the life of any given denomination or tradition. Investigating other Christian traditions gives a good idea of the essence of “mere” Christianity, saves theologians from intellectual inbreeding, and restores atrophied parts of a Christian’s own tradition. Continue reading Mixing and Matching: Do It for Your Own Good, Not for Mine

Weekly Roundup: Millennials And The Church

Rachel Held Evans has inspired some great insights on “Millennials” and their relationship to the church this week.

Her own thoughts, in her recent CNN piece on the subject, were mostly the same tired assertions of the liberal Christians of previous generations.  However, they prompted some excellent responses from around the web, the best of which came from Brett McCracken at the Washington Post.  Anthony Bradley makes an insightful observation at The Acton Institute, and Jake Meador takes the prize for best one-liner with his response at Mere Orthodoxy:

14 years ago John Shelby Spong said “Christianity must change or die.” Episcopalians have been doing both ever since.

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Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead has breaking news on the Benghazi scandal:  Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack.

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What is the greatest food in human history?  Find out here.

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Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents?  (I bet you didn’t know!)

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What English Sounds Like to People Who Don’t Speak It:

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According to “Science!” I’m smarter than you because I stay up way too late writing blog posts.  Or something like that.

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The United States Marine Corps Officially Declares ‘Lack of Spiritual Faith’ as a Sign of Instability.

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Was Jesus a Pacifist? (Part 1)

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What Would Satan Think About Restricting Internet Porn?

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Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say.  This statement is absolutely true, and you might think that the pro-life movement would be excited to see such a headline.  Unfortunately, it represents a new level of unashamed, utterly damnable evil.  In some corners of Western Academia, Molech lives.

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Beautiful poem gives hopeful voice to post-abortive suffering and shame.

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The Disgusting Side of Space: What Happens to Dead Skin in Microgravity

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Batman and Superman discuss possible titles for their new movie (as well as how it will end):