Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Owen Strachan begins exploring a theology of ambition:

Christians have always struggled with the tendency to pit prayer and meditation on Scripture against action. Those who do so always lose. If we emphasize prayer to the detriment of action, we overspiritualize life and become passive. If we emphasize action to the detriment of prayer, we live as practical atheists. Neither option is sound, and both will lead to a damaged way of life. Far better to couple prayer with action, to bathe action in prayer, and so to live in a combination of trust and dependence.
Christmas Roundup:
Here's a fascinating, well-written article about the worrisome decline of reading and the accompanying deterioration of the civilized mind. In addition to the disturbing social implications involved, I think the problem carries spiritual significance as well, given Christianity's emphasis on the Word and its legacy of ancient writings. The article missed this aspect, due to its evolutionary perspective, but it's very much worth reading anyway.

An excellent post from Ben Witherington, prompted by the Colorado shooting, about gun control and violence:

When you are afraid, it is 'shoot first, ask questions later', and behind all of this is the attitude that my life is more important than the life of the other person, especially the maniac with the gun. I disagree with this whole premise. Every person is a person of sacred worth, and every person is someone for whom Jesus died. Period.

Have a care and read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Greg Boyd weighs in.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The iMonk on the problem with real Christians:

So it is with being a Christian. I am one. I want to be one. I’m deeply aware of how often I’m not one. Simul justus et peccator and several other things.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

VOM, Turkmenistan:

Baptist pastor Vyacheslav Kalataevsky has been denied permission to remain in his native town of Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. According to Forum 18 News, "Kakataevsky's visa application to remain with his wife and family was rejected by the Migration Service and he will have to leave the country. He is due to leave on a flight to Moscow on December 11." Officials have refused to explain the reason for denying the visa, Pastor Kalataevsky explained to Forum, "But of course it is linked to my activity as a believer. Everything that has happened to me since 2001 is related to that." Pastor Kalataevsky was released in November after eight months in prison. Pray for his family during this difficult time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just in from MercatorNet: two Australian intellectuals are proposing a "carbon tax" for newborns! Where will the madness end?

At the heart of this disdain for new human life is a lack of faith in our capacity to solve our problems.

Or an unwillingness to acknowledge the one who can.
Uganda is currently dealing with an outbreak of Ebola, and local Christians have set aside Wednesday to fast and seek the Lord. We received the news several days from a Ugandan brother who we met when he visited the states earlier this year. Pray for Uganda.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

From A&LD: An interview with Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass Trilogy. Though Pullman is essentially an atheist, (why is it that atheists always look like that?) the interview is interesting as an inside perspective on the story, and sheds some light on Pullman's inspirations and worldview. Obviously, his rejection of God is disturbing. Also, I really don't understand how he can say this:

The Lord of the Rings is essentially trivial. Narnia is essentially serious, though I don't like the answer Lewis comes up with. If I was doing it at all, I was arguing with Narnia. Tolkien is not worth arguing with.

I think he has grossly underestimated Tolkien's work. 'Trivial' is the last adjective I ever thought I'd hear applied to The Lord of the Rings.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Brant Hansen of Kamp Krusty recently posted about the complex spiritual and psychological issues involved in taking antidepressants, and soon followed up with a second post. Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) weighed in and added some links of his own. Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Keeping tabs on Google Books:

In July 2004, Google began quietly scanning and digitizing Michigan's library. Five months later, in December 2004, the company officially announced the "Google Print for Libraries" project. (After the effort hit snags and received some bad press, it was rebranded "Google Book Search.") Google partnered with five major libraries--Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, Oxford's Bodleian, and the New York Public Library--in an attempt to scan the pages of 15 million volumes. These digital books would be kept and indexed in a Google database, which would be made available, for free, to the public.

The scope has changed in the intervening years. Initially Google planned to scan the 15 million books in six years. That projection was revised upwards to more than 20 million books, and the New Yorker recently reported that Google is now aiming to scan at least 32 million books, besting the number of titles in the largest bibliographic database, WorldCat. It hopes to finish within ten years. As one Googlehead told the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin, "I think of Google Books as our moon shot."

The whole thing is quite similar to what is happening to the music industry, right down to the copyright lawsuits.