Web Roundup — June 10, 2018

NY Times: We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are.

Barry Pearman: Stumbling in on God’s Party Going On. Also, this TED Talk: What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study of Happiness.

Eric Geiger: One Thing Two-Thirds of Parents Will Bring Their Kids to Church For. (VBS, believe it or not!)

Ed Stetzer: Moving Our Congregations to More Effective Evangelism.

Carey Nieuwhof: 7 Signs Your Church Is (Finally) Reaching Unchurched People.

Some people do come to church during the summer. How can we welcome them? Five Summer Tips from a Secret Church Shopper (Greg Atkinson).

Scot McKnight’s blog: Talking Science as Christians.


Web Roundup — May 27, 2018

Bible Gateway is one of my go-to tools for studying the Bible. (Some others: BibleHub and Accordance; if I ran Windows I’d probably use Logos. And there’s always CCEL for people who can’t get enough.)  I didn’t know this, but they have a blog. Here are some blog posts I found interesting:

Relevant: Why Andy Stanley Thinks His Critics Should Be More Curious.

Greg Atkinson: Pet Peeves of a Church Secret-Shopper

Pew: Religiously, nonwhite Democrats are more similar to Republicans than to white Democrats

But not Sundays, surely? Sleeping in on weekends is good for you (WaPo)

Al Mohler: the Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Lewis Center: Reasons Churches Suffer Management Chaos. There’s something in here for every church. I’m especially concerned about #4 and #5, but I think we do #2 so well, it’s a whole new type of problem.

Inc.: Why Jeff Bezos Banned Powerpoint

And finally, welcome to Las Vegas on the Cook Inlet: Bringing the Wild West Back to Alaska (ADN). Because this worked so well for Atlantic City.




Web Roundup for May 20

Beth Moore: a Letter to My Brothers.

NPR: Americans Are A Lonely Lot, And Young People Bear The Heaviest Burden. Plus this, via USA Today: “Loneliness actually has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which makes it even more dangerous than obesity.” (USA Today)

Sometimes it’s hard to be happy. Like, in your 40’s. Miserable and Middle-Aged: review of Jon Rauch’s The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50. (Psychology Today)

ADN: Ecstasy as PTSD relief for Soldiers.

Which is better for your brain: city living, or country? In search of features that constitute an “enriched environment” in humans (Nature) “We conclude that forests may have salutogenic effects on the integrity of the amygdala.” Or, as Mr. Douglas might say, “Keep Manhattan, just gimme that countryside.”

Speaking of countryside: Hippos poop so much the fish all die (the Atlantic). Forget the fish, how’d you like to be a hippo wading around in that?



Web Roundup – April 22

Who are the persons of the Trinity? Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer: The New Trinity? (Scot McKnight). I think I heard a preacher say something about this not long ago.

Leadership #EpicFail. 51% of Churchgoers Don’t Know About the Great Commission. (Barna)

Why (or maybe How) the Spiritual Disciplines Work: The Liturgical Brain by Daniel Dorman. “Because our brains are wired for habits, it should come as no surprise that transformative spiritual practices result in measurable changes in the brain.”

Still relevant: Bible Tribalism by Scot McKnight. As I always say, the best translation is the one you’ll read.

Ross Douthat on God and Jordan Peterson (nytimes).

An extinction level event that can’t happen soon enough: ‘Amazing’ News About The Awful Guinea Worm. (NPR) Seriously, good for Jimmy Carter.

Can you clickbait-ify that headline for me? The shocking truth about the universe. (Morning Ticker) Neutrinos may explain why there’s more matter than antimatter, i.e., why we exist.

This is just cool. All Disk Galaxies Rotate Once Every Billion Years. (Astronomy)



Web Roundup for February 9

The Future of American religion? Some brief thoughts I had reading James K.A. Smith’s review of the Rise of Network Christianity in the LA Review of Books.

Also: my thoughts on Groundhog Day and Crime in Alaska.

Here I am, thinking about video. The importance of churches having audio resources. (Thom Rainer)

Just. Don’t. Customized caskets. (WSJ via Gayle Trotter on Twitter.)

Wow. Quotes from “Sergeant” Alvin York.

Why have zoning, if it doesn’t say what is and isn’t permitted? A fight between Anchorage neighbors over chicken noise leads city officials to re-examine laws. (ADN) I know of an even more egregious case, but I can’t comment on it now.

It’s a mixed bag. Tech Adoption climbs among older adults. (Pew) (This article reminds me of Silicon Pines, which is at least 18 years old.)

Theology: Social Justice and the American Prophet. (iFAQtheology)

Is that his job? Trump Can’t Save American Christianity. (Rod Dreher in the NY Times)

The hollowing-out of the middle. Increasing Political Polarization. (Pew) I blame the press. (Kidding, not kidding.)

Like a jigsaw puzzle that’s missing most of its pieces: An encrypted 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scroll has been deciphered. (Times of Israel)

A whole lot of “poor immigrants” are super-generous, sending money to people who are worse off back home: Personal remittances as % of GDP. (Our World in Data)

Another chart full of good news. Mass killings of civilians by their own governments. (Human Progress) And don’t miss their Your Life in Numbers.

blue-eyed dark-skinned Briton from 10,000 years ago. (ABC News)

Why are humans such good social animals? Dopamine may have given humans our social edge over other apes. (Science Magazine)

Independent Network Christianity

The future of religion in America? James K.A. Smith reviews The Rise of Network Christianity. (LA Review of Books)

Christerson and Flory offer two different economic metaphors to describe this organizational innovation. On the one hand, INC Christianity is “a sort of multilevel marketing strategy” that offers “spiritual covering” to those who ally themselves with an apostle. On the other hand, INC is the Amazon of American Christianity, a model with advantages over the traditional “brick-and-mortar church,” which is “a high-overhead, low-revenue stream model for a religious ‘firm.’” In either case, INC is a disrupter of traditional religious organizations. Tell me what you think of Amazon, and I’ll tell you what you think of INC Christianity.

(That last sentence illustrates why I find it harder and harder to appreciate Smith. People who appreciate Amazon probably don’t subscribe to the idea that the Church can be compared to a retail business, much less run like one. On the other hand, the Reformed stream of Christianity, in which I stand, as does Calvin College, where Smith is employed as a professor, understands humans to be so tainted by sin that the Church always needs to be reformed. That sounds almost like a “disrupter of traditional [religion].”)

Web Roundup for February 1

Hart v. Wright: An interesting Argument about New Testament Translations. (Christianity Today)

Numerical Lists. A lot of people writing about church organize their thoughts with numerical lists. I don’t like that, since it reminds me of clickbait, but these articles are worth a glance. (And the content for each one is on a single page.)

Let’s Talk About Me. Finally, I’ll be rude and link to myself, or rather, two blog entries I wrote:

  • My (brief) thoughts about the Way Forward, occasions by an update the UMC published on the ongoing work of its Commission on that name.
  • What I can say (so far) about Jordan Peterson. It’s been fascinating, and I hope to post more before too long. (What I should do is be like Paul Vander Klay and start a series of YouTube posts commenting on things. Blog articles like this are so 2005.)



UMC Way Forward Prognosticating

The UMC’s Way Forward Commission is fleshing out three proposals. It’s too early to be sure, but the middle option (“contextualization”) smells a lot like current PC(USA) governance, which is too bad.

I’m underwhelmed by contextualization not because contextualization is bad—it’s not. But it undercuts the rationale for being part of a connectional system. Why have bishops and Discipline and apportionments if you can do whatever you want, if you think it’s important? (Or “trendy.”)

Note: this second option also purports to allow local churches and pastors to freely exercise their scruples. I’m dubious. What that probably means in reality is that it exposes churches and pastors to prosecution under local ordinances that make exceptions for things that a church requires, but not things that are optional (“contextual”).

Jordan B. Peterson

Late last year, I discovered a psychologist named Jordan Peterson. (Thanks, Paul Vander Klay.) Peterson has a book out recently that has made something of a splash around the internet. Here’s a review of his book in the Guardian (and an interview) and another article on Scott McKnight’s blog. Plus this one from David Brooks in the NY Times.

If you’re interested, here’s Peterson’s (first) series of lectures on the Psychological Significance of the Bible, and here’s the lectures from his his 2017 Maps of Meaning course.