Stuff I’m Reading – April 2016

This is the best article that I read this month.

Unfriendly Climate

by Sonia Smith at Texas Monthly

“A co-author of the last two National Climate Assessments and a reviewer on the Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Hayhoe—the daughter of missionaries and the wife of a pastor—is herself an evangelical Christian. In her talks, she uses the Bible to explain to Christians why they should care about climate change and how it affects other people, from a poor family on the island nation of Kiribati who will be displaced by rising sea levels to an elderly couple in Beaumont who can’t afford to pay for air-conditioning in Texas’s increasingly sweltering summers. As she puts it, ‘The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue.'”


And here are some other good ones..

Why Christian Movies are so Painfully Bad

by Brandon Ambrosino | Vox

“It isn’t problematic that Christians “borrow ideas” from Hollywood and put their own spin on them. Every film genre does this. But given the Christian doctrine of creation, it is certainly surprising that so many Christian filmmakers — and artists in general — would choose to mimic someone else’s vision, rather than cultivate their own.”

I’m a Christian and I hate Christian Movies

by Alissa Wilkinson at Thrillist

“It’s a frustrating time to love movies and God. As a lifelong evangelical and a Christian film critic, I’m constantly alerted to the next faith-based movie. You know, your near-death experience drama, your Kirk Cameron vehicles, your God’s Not Dead franchise (see “part two” in theaters this week!) — “Christian films. Which, for someone who turns to movies for a dose of culture, often look like a pile of cheap cash-ins that make me break out in hives.”

Why Don’t We Punish Women Who Have Abortions

by Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition

“A consistent pro-life position can maintain that a woman who has an abortion may be morally culpable in the taking of an innocent life, and yet still recognize that in the interest of compassion and proximate justice (e.g., ensuring the conviction of abortionists) she should be treated solely as a second victim and not as a first accomplice.”

5 Ways “God’s Not Dead” Fails Christians

by Chris Williams at Patheos

“‘God’s Not Dead’ tells students that the threats to their faith will be external, and all they have to do is refuse to back down from their convictions. But what about when the threat is internal, and new thoughts and philosophies challenge what they believe? What about when they find their faith slipping? How can we encourage them not to run from doubt but enter into it, and learn that God meets and transforms us through that doubt and helps us make our faith our own? How do they deal with a world that is dangerous and dark after years of being in a warm Christian cocoon? How do they learn to befriend, live alongside and genuinely love people who don’t share their faith? These questions are all valid, inherently dramatic and worthy of tackling through cinema. Unfortunately, “God’s Not Dead” would rather traffic in fear and anger.”

Martin Luther on Vocation and Serving Our Neighbor

by Gene Edward Veith at Acton Institute

“For Martin Luther, vocation is nothing less than the locus of the Christian life. God works in and through vocation, but he does so by calling human beings to work in their vocations. In Jesus Christ, who bore our sins and gives us new life in his resurrection, God saves us for eternal life. But in the meantime he places us in our temporal life where we grow in faith and holiness. In our various callings—as spouse, parent, church member, citizen, and worker—we are to live out our faith.”

10 Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate

by Joe Carter at Acton Institute

“Most people who support or oppose minimum wage laws and/or increases share a common objective — helping the working poor. Because both sides have noble intentions, the merits of the debate over minimum wage laws and minimum wage increases should be based on empirical evidence that it will actually help, rather than harm, the poor.”

Five Things I Learned From Living With Depression for Ten Years

by Todd Pepperkorn at I Trust When Dark My Road

First, my story is not unusual. While it may seem strange or unusual because I’m a pastor, there are many, many people with stories much like mine. Sometimes they are darker, sometimes brighter, but in almost every case there are commonalities. A sickness that no one fully understands. A low point that no one could see coming. Friends and family, or even a stranger stepping in so that life may go on. At the time it felt like no one could possibly understand what I was going through. Today I am more amazed that someone doesn’t understand, at least a little bit. We all have darkness in our lives. It is either our own darkness or someone else’s. But it is there. I have come to recognize that as a part of our common humanity.”

The Rise of “Bias Response Teams” on Campus

by Jeffery Aaron Snyder and Anna Khalid at New Republic

“BRTs are rapidly becoming part of the institutional machinery of higher education, but have yet to face any real scrutiny. As Carleton College faculty members committed to “rigorous studies in the liberal arts disciplines” and the vitality of diverse campus communities, we believe that the proliferation of BRTs is a grave mistake. They degrade education by encouraging silence instead of dialogue, the fragmentation of campuses into groups of like-minded people, and the deliberate avoidance of many of the most important—and controversial—topics across all academic disciplines. They are inherently anti-intellectual enterprises, fundamentally at odds with the mission of higher education. And ultimately they will undermine a bedrock principle of the modern university: that more diversity leads to better learning.”

If you’re poor in another country, this is the scariest things Bernie Sanders has said

by Zach Beauchamp at Vox

‘”You have to have standards,’ the senator said. ‘And what fair trade means to say that it is fair. It is roughly equivalent to the wages and environmental standards in the United States.’

From Sanders’s point of view, this makes sense. He has recognized, correctly, that freer trade with countries like China has hurt a subset of American workers (while benefiting others).

But there’s one big problem, according to development economists I spoke to: Limiting trade with low-wage countries as severely as Sanders wants to would hurt the very poorest people on Earth. A lot.”

The White Messiah Complex

by A. J. Smith at Sacramental Trip

“There is a sad history of white Christians entering foreign contexts, imposing their culture on the indigenous people, and refusing to hand control over to them. This is often referred to as the “White Messiah Complex.”[1][2] It comes from the belief that, “we have all the answers and it’s our job to save these people.” This approach to ministry has caused serious damage to missionary efforts throughout the world, including the inner city. And it is no surprise that there is a mistrust of white people in virtually all minority contexts. Therefore, if you are white and you desire lasting relationships and effective ministry in the inner city, please don’t move forward unless you’ve first submitted to minority leadership.”

GE CEO: Bernie Sanders says we’re destroying the “moral fabric” of America. He’s wrong.

by Jeremy R. Immelt at The Washington Post

“Sanders says that he is upset about GE’s operations abroad — as though a company that has customers in more than 180 countries should have no presence in any of them. He never mentions that we are one of the United States’ prime exporters, annually selling in excess of $20 billion worth of American-made goods to the world. Nor does he mention that our sales around the world support our manufacturing base here at home, along with the thousands of U.S. companies in our supply chain. You want to cause big problems for our suppliers — many of whom are small and medium-size businesses — and their workers? The surest way would be to pull out of those countries and lose those customers.”

Talking Baseball With York Enemies

by Derek Rishmawy at The Gospel Coalition

“Why is this sort of small talk so important? On top of the emotional temperature, the mix of phatic and emphatic speech reminds us of our common humanity in concrete ways. It’s not just that your “enemy” is a Democrat, or a Fox News watcher, or a progressive, or a Calvinist, or whatever. This is also a person wise enough to agree Batman could definitely use his brilliance to beat Superman. What’s more, both of you have kids who, for some reason, can’t manage to eat anything that’s not a peanut butter sandwich. Or, again, this isn’t just a “marriage revisionist” I’m talking to, but someone who was also suffering last Tuesday when the dry weather was killing your sinuses.:

A photographer hung out with the KKK in Tennessee and Maryland. Here’s what he saw.

by Kenneth Dickerson at The Washington Post

“The Ku Klux Klan is the oldest and most well-known hate group in the United States. At one point, during its heyday, the Klan boasted a membership of around 4 million. That number has greatly dwindled, with the Southern Poverty Law Center putting current numbers between 8,000 and 10,000. Despite their fewer numbers, the KKK has seen some recent exposure in mainstream society, most notably during this campaign season.”

Teaching Neurosciences in Prison

by Sam Doenberg and Jim Dipetro at The Atlantic

“The students at Auburn Correctional Facility in upstate New York have much different backgrounds. They are not seasoned scholars. They are convicted felons, many of whom have never taken a biology class at any level. As such, when we signed up to teach Introduction to Neuroscience in Auburn, we initially set modest goals for these students. We expected that we would have to teach a rudimentary version of the demanding Cornell course.

We could not have been more wrong. This is the story of two neuroscience classes—one from Auburn and one from Cornell—and how the biggest differences between them had to do with how they approached the material, not how well they understood it.”

‘We don’t know why it came to this.”

The Washington Post

“White women between 25 and 55 have been dying at accelerating rates over the past decade, a spike in mortality not seen since the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. According to recent studies of death certificates, the trend is worse for women in the center of the United States, worse still in rural areas, and worst of all for those in the lower middle class. Drug and alcohol overdose rates for working-age white women have quadrupled. Suicides are up by as much as 50 percent.”

Making Good Art Can Shift Culture


“I’m a designer, and I want to be great at what I do. The philosophy I hold onto is that when you make good art, it gives you access to a wider industry. It gets you a seat at the table of conversation so you can shift cultures. It’s one thing to sit back and say, “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” but it’s another thing to be at that table with people who are leading those conversations. To sit with them as peers and say, “What if we take a different approach?” That starts by gaining the respect of those leading voices.”

Death Row’s Race Problem

by David Oshinsky at The Wall Street Journal

“But there is a deeper, more troubling racial dimension to such cases. According to data from the Death Penalty Information Center, 72% of the nation’s executions since 1976 have occurred in the 11 former slaveholding states of the Old Confederacy, where lynchings and executions were routinely employed as methods of racial control. Between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and 1976, 87% of those executed in Mississippi were African-Americans, a figure slightly above the overall Southern average of 80%. Most Southerners put to death for a nonlethal crime in those years were blacks accused of robbing or sexually assaulting a white. Historians of the era have found a long record of trumped-up rape cases, like the one portrayed in the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.'”

Evangelism is Not Enough to Change The World

by Hugh Whelchel at The Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics

“Evangelism and discipleship are vitally important. Nothing we build matters without a personal relationship with the One who built the universe. But once we know him, everything we do is filled with a special purpose, a calling to use our work to glorify him, serve the common good, and further his kingdom. In other words, to radically impact our surrounding culture through the work of our hands.”

Let’s Stop Conflating ‘Family-Friendly’ With ‘Christian’


“There’s nothing wrong with “family friendly” art. There’s nothing wrong with “family friendly” art that contains a Christian message. But, “Christian art” (or, art that contains deeper truths associated with the Christian message) shouldn’t be limited to a genre that’s primarily concerned with being watchable by both kids and adults.”

I Know Why Poor Whites Chant Trump, Trump, Trump

by Jonna Ivan at Stir

“People want to be heard. They want to believe their voices matter. A January 2016 survey by the Rand Corporation reported that Republican primary voters are 86.5 percent more likely to favor Donald Trump if they “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “People like me don’t have any say about what the government does.”

What is it about a flamboyant millionaire that appeals to poor white conservatives? Why do they believe a Trump presidency would amplify their voices? The answer may lie in America’s historical relationship between the wealthiest class and the army of poor whites who have loyally supported them.

From the time of slavery (yes, slavery) to the rise of Donald Trump, wealthy elites have relied on the allegiance of the white underclass to retain their affluence and political power. To understand this dynamic, to see through the eyes of poor and working class whites as they chant, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” let’s look back at a few unsavory slices of America’s capitalist pie.”

The Context of Love is the World: Liturgies of Incarceration

by David Dark at Comment

“As I see it, to pay deep attention to someone else’s story, meditating on experience, circumstance, and the little betrayals that lead to big catastrophes, isn’t to absolve anyone of their responsibilities, but it is a way of taking care, owning up to and mourning that which is common to us, and paying due reverence to the human tragedy. As I’ve tried to grieve and imagine with Bobby his story up till now, I’ve recalled a strange but worthy saying of Will Campbell’s: ‘One who understands the nature of tragedy can never take sides.'”

How Do You Think Of Your Heavenly Father

by Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition

” Because we love the doctrine of justification those in the Reformed camp are particularly susceptible to this temptation. Justification is the legal declaration of the sinner, by God the Father, as righteous based upon the doing and dying of Jesus and in spite of our persistent and pervasive depravity. How can you ever get over this? We can’t! It consumes so much of what we think about. We are walking around knowing that we sin and are sinners but God declares us righteous because of Christ! C’mon! But we can, if we are not careful, eclipse God’s Fatherly goodness by only focusing on him as judge. God is not less than a judge, but he is much, much more.:”

Monica Lewinsky: ‘The shame sticks to you like tar’

by Joe Ronson at The Guardian

“Lewinsky doesn’t like thinking about her past. It was hard to get her to agree to this interview. She rarely gives them and she nearly cancelled this one. I approached her on several previous occasions, when I was writing a book on public shaming, and she kept saying no.

It’s not because she’s difficult. She isn’t. She’s very likable and smart. But it feels as if I’m sitting with two Lewinskys. There’s the open, friendly one. This is, I suspect, the actual Lewinsky. In a parallel world where nothing cataclysmic happened in the 1990s, I imagine this would be the entire Lewinsky. But then there’s the nervy one who sometimes suddenly stops mid-sentence and says, ‘I’m hesitating because I have to think through the consequences of saying this. I still have to manage a lot of trauma to do what I’m doing, even to come here. Any time I put myself in the hands of other people.'”

For true penal reform work on the violent offenders

by John Pfaff at The Washington Post

“This claim, which is widely accepted by policymakers and the public, is simply wrong. It’s true that nearly half of all federal inmates have been sentenced for drug offenses, but the federal system holds only about 14 percent of all inmates. In the state prisons, which hold the remaining 86 percent, over half of prisoners are serving time for violent crimes, and since 1990, 60 percent of the growth in state prison populations has come from locking up violent offenders. Less than a fifth of state prisoners — 17 percent — are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.”

In Praise of Being Less Offended and Less Offensive

by Scott Sauls

“There are surely going to be times when we will disagree with others, sometimes in a passionate way. A follower of Jesus is by definition a person who carries certain convictions. Yet when we must disagree, being steadfast in our loyalty to Jesus demands that we not be disagreeable as people. When people assume a different viewpoint than ours, we are never to hold them in contempt. Scorn and disdain and a chip on the shoulder are not Christian virtues. Rather, they are Pharisaical vices. They may at times contribute to winning an argument, but they will never win a person. A disagreeable spirit is not the way that Jesus intends for his followers to engage in disagreements and debates.”

Drop The T From LGBT

by Matt Heyer at The Federalist

“Many transgenders are not homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual. Unlike people who identify as LGB, transgenders suffer from self-deception disorders (gender dysphoria). They are convinced that they are in the wrong body, and with the help of enablers and affirmers of their delusion, undergo drastic body-mutilating surgeries to enhance the deception and deny the plain and simple truth of their gender. While some LGB people may be transgender, too, the majority are not.”

Thoughts On The Rise And Fall Of Pastors

by Scott Sauls

“Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.


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