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:

America: Hope Of The Earth?

During election season you can count on candidates to vie for the “loves America most” moniker.  Being perceived as down on America, at home or abroad, is a path to a lost election.  We saw this in 2004, when the release of John Kerry’s testimony on the supposed atrocities committed by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam hurt him significantly in the polls.  We are seeing it again now.  In Monday night’s debate, Mitt Romney again accused President Obama of going on an “apology tour”, where the President supposedly took it upon himself to apologize for most of America’s foreign policy over the past decade (while slighting our closest ally, Israel).  The telling aspect of this exchange was not Governor Romney’s accusation, but President Obama’s response.  Rather than explaining his opposition to an American foreign policy that “dictates to other nations”, or talking about the evils of unjustified foreign wars or neo-colonialism, President Obama denied that he apologized for anything and affirmed his belief that America is absolutely indispensible as a force for good in the world.  Mr. Romney, for his part, said that America is the hope of the earth.

The rhetoric on both sides is strong here, and conservatives need to accept most of the blame for how indiscriminate and apparently inevitable this rhetoric is. We are fond of pointing out the “anti-American” rhetoric of many on the Left, yet we often seem unwilling to acknowledge that there is an opposite extreme.  I am certainly guilty of this.  

John Piper and Doug Wilson have already pointed out that this language amounts to a kind of soft idolatry, ascribing to American military and political power a role that once belonged to the Gospel.  Now instead of sending missionaries into foreign lands to convert the “heathen” to Christ, we send political pressure in its many forms to ensure that the heathen (whose own religious beliefs we refuse to interfere with in the name of pluralism) does what is in the American state’s best interests.

Now of course I have to clarify.  I am not speaking about the use of government per se.  America is no Theocracy, and the role of the state is not to spread the Gospel.  I am speaking to individual Conservative Christians and the policies they support most vocally.  Favoring a strong military to help ensure international harmony (or “peace through strength”) is not bad in itself.  But we need to be measured in our rhetoric.  We should push back when a Presidential candidate talks about America in unmistakably Christological terms.  At the risk of sounding utopian, our hope of world peace and universal redemption should be grounded in the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  This means we should be more concerned with saving souls under condemnation, not creating societies where “moderate” Muslims and Hindus will build McDonald’s and Starbucks.  Energies and resources should be spent putting a Bible in every hand, not an iPhone.

Lest I sound down on America, let me add an encouraging caveat.  First, it must be admitted that both candidates were only speaking in political terms, and there is no doubt that America has been, on the whole, a force for good in the world.  I only want to caution how we speak about America’s role in the world and what aspects of our foreign influence we choose to emphasize.  Our nation was once the greatest launching pad for missionaries before it was the greatest launching pad for F-22 fighters.

Second, the increase of America’s military and economic influence, while not the primary “hope of the earth”, should not be totally disparaged toward that end.  A strong American military presence throughout the world would aid the church’s missionary work, not to force conversions, but to protect missionaries from the retaliation and violence of intolerant states.  Moreover, the spread of some non-religious aspects of American society and influence is not all bad.  Putting an iPhone in the hand of every non-Westerner should not be confused with cultural salvation, but an iPhone would connect a new believer in Pakistan or China with a entire world’s worth of evangelistic and educational resources. 

In short, America can indeed be one hope of the earth in a very limited sense, only insofar as its influence is used to protect and aid those who go forth and proclaim the true hope of the earth.

Mitt Romney: Lesser Of Two Evils?

Since the Republican Presidential primaries I have heard many conservatives threatening to withhold their vote from Mitt Romney in the November election, either because he is not conservative enough or simply because he is not Ron Paul.  Such sentiments are typically based upon principle alone, or else sending some sort of message to the “establishment.”  I fear that this sentiment is, as the wise man once said, allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Continue reading Mitt Romney: Lesser Of Two Evils?

Outtakes
04.18.08

Blurb Meme — Ten years ago Rob Suggs wrote a humorous article for Christianity Today that mentions the (entirely fictional) book, “The Collected Blurbs of J. I. Packer. Any book worth reading has a short dust-jacket recommendation from J. I. Here are hundreds of the best cover endorsements from the ‘King of Blurbs’.” A decade later, the octogenarian theologian is still viewed as the most prolific blurber in Christendom. (Just today I received a book to review titled “Sex, Sushi, & Salvation” and prominently displayed on the cover was a recommendation from…J.I. Packer.)
Since I have hundreds of books in my library I thought I’d have a dozen titles endorsed by Packer. So I checked them all and to my surprise I found only nine books had his stamp of approval. In fact, Packer came in second to Chuck “Prince of Blurbs” Colson who had ten blurbs. Coming in a distant third and fourth was Dallas Willard with six and J.P. Moreland with five blurbs. Five other blurbers (James Sire, Jim Skillen, Mark Noll, Os Guinness, and Richard Mouw) tied for fifth place with four each. (The most unexpected blurb I found was seeing Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s name on Ron Sider’s Just Generosity.)
Who are the most prolific blurbers in your library? Any names in your library pop up more than ten times?

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Countdown to the ESVSB Launch — My friend Justin Taylor recently announced the launching of the website for the ESV Study Bible. The ESB doesn’t come out until October but it’s already getting rave reviews. And no, Packer didn’t blurb it–he’s the theological editor for the edition.
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Christian Rock Rocks — Daniel Radosh, author of “Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture” has compiled a list of “Ten great Christian rock songs”:

This is a list of 10 great Christian rock songs. Really. I know what you’re thinking. I’m a secular Jew who always took it for granted that Christian rock stinks. Indeed, until a couple of years ago I knew virtually nothing about Christian rock except that it stinks. But after spending time inside the “evangelical bubble” I had to admit I was mistaken. It turns out there’s Christian music that never gets played on those radio stations you accidentally stumble across on road trips — and that doesn’t reduce all expressions of faith to crass evangelism, anodyne praise, or crypto-romance.

On his website, Radosh even has audio versions of each of the songs on the list.

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Friendly Spam How to Deal with Hyperactive Friends on Facebook
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Mitt Romney, Comedian — At the recent Radio and Television Correspondent’s Dinner, Mitt Romney told the assembled crowd the top 10 reasons why he quit the race:

No. 10: There weren’t as many Osmonds as he thought.
No. 9: Got tired of the corkscrew landings of his campaign plane while under fire
No. 8: As a lifelong hunter, I didn’t want to miss the start of varmint season.
No. 7: There wasn’t room for two Christian leaders in the presidential race
No. 6: I was upset that no one bothered to search my passport files.
No. 5: I’d rather get fat, grow a beard and try for the Nobel prize.
No. 4: Got tired of wearing a dark suit and tie, and I wanted to kick back in a light colored suit and tie.
No. 3: When my wife realized I couldn’t win the GOP nomination, my fundraising dried up.
No. 2: I took a bad fall at a campaign rally and broke my hair.
And the No. 1 reason Romney dropped out: His campaign relied on a flawed campaign strategy that as Utah goes, so goes the nation.

Surprisingly funny. Looks like Romney got Huckabee to write his material. (HT: Holy Coast)