This Week’s Good Reads

morning paperEvery weekend I compile an annotated list of interesting articles from around the web. You won’t agree with all of them, I don’t agree with all of them, but they are worth a read.

1. “FlappyBird’s Windfall and Downfall” by Richard Clark

Clark looks at a particular Apple App store game and discusses the reality of video game obsession and the importance for careful Christian reflection on the tendencies we might have with any single piece of media. What makes this piece great is that it is written by one who is a strong advocate of video games and writes often about their potential for great good. To get this kind of balanced and thoughtful reflection within the same body of work is a gift. So read this piece in light of his others and see what it looks like to be genuinely discerning about our cultural consumption.

2. “Discipline in a Pornified Society” by Darrin Patrick

This is a great post on the important role of discipline in the cultivation of deep satisfaction. The term “pornified” here has more to do with the concept of instant gratification, quick and easy titillation. It’s not necessarily tied directly to porn, thought that is a manifestation of the impulse. Rather, Patrick’s interest here is in the larger cultivation of “freedom from oneself.” It’s an encouraging look at a simple subject, and invites us to learn more from his new book The Dude’s Guide to Manhood.

3. “NBC’s Heroes to Return in 2015” by Kristen Hill

So I loved season one of this show! Everything after that pretty much got awful, but season one was great. I’ll be interested to see if the writers and producers can recover some of its power and punch in this series rebirth.

4. “100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.” released this study based on “cities with a population of 25,000 or more people, and based on the number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents.” Detroit was #6 and Flint, MI was #2.

5. “5 Ingredients to Being A Good Theologian” by Derek Rishmawy

Derek has been on a role lately with his blogs. This one discusses five characteristics of good theologians. These five ingredients are drawn from the work of Thomas Weinandy with citation from him. For all my young theological students I commend this to you that together we all might work on our theological composition for the sake of better clarity and communication of the truths of God’s Word.

6. “CAPC’s Approach to Culture: The Whole, Glorious Truth” by Richard Clark

Another great piece from my dear friend Rich. With the launch of Christ and Pop Culture’s new independent website Rich wrote this piece to discuss how the site approaches matters of culture. In it he calls Christians to consider that they have no choice but to engage in pop culture because, after all, the live in it. He reminds us that Christians are called to “an almost paradoxical embrace of vigilance and rest,” reminding us that we are neither to love all, nor hate all of the culture that surrounds us. In terms of helping the modern church develop a theology of culture, I can think of no site that is doing a better job at it than CAPC. I recommend this article to you as a starting place for developing your own theology of culture.

7. “Walking with the Dead: The Greatest Good” by Dave Dunham

My weekly column at CAPC on the television show The Walking Dead. Who knew that the zombie apocalypse would afford us so many opportunities to reflect on ethics, faith, and philosophy. In this week’s column I explore the balance between utilitarian ethics and moral proximity and the reality that because of our finitude our love will never save the world.

8. “Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter” by Miroslav Volf

This is fascinating piece on the socio-ethical and theological setting of 1 Peter, but with particular interest in thinking through the relationship of the church to the world. I will be chewing on what Volf writes about here for a while, I am sure of it, but in particular he calls the Christian community for respectful, inviting, and soft interaction with the world. He contrasts this with a fearful, controlling, and hard interaction with the world. There’s much to appreciate about this older piece of writing from the Yale scholar.

9. “Selfies, Self-Deception, and Self-Worship” by Josh Philpot

For some strange reasons Christians have associated all the worst possible baggage to “selfies”. Here’s a prime example of parroting the worst rhetoric on a subject. Is the selfie a profound creation of the modern era? Not exactly. But it is the worst possible thing to participate in? Certainly not. As my friend Seth has been known to say: I love your selfies because they are expressions of your self, and I love your self. I, for my part, love my friend’s selfies far more than I love this annoying piece from TGC.

10. “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience” by Michael Schulson

This cat has it out for The Creation Museum and Whole Foods. He says there’s a similarity between the two in that they both use pseudoscientific research to support their claims, but he argues, for some reason liberals tolerate the pseudoscience of Whole Foods while being outraged by Ken Ham and his compatriots. I confess to be far less familiar with the science (or “science”) behind Whole Foods, so I can’t lay support to his thesis, but it’s an interesting read. I especially liked this point, and find it often to be true of myself and of others: whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.

11. “Platform” by Erik Wolgemuth

Wolgemuth does a great job here of helping those of us who are writers to think carefully, Biblically, and humbly about the reality of having a platform. Self-promotion is a soul quenching danger, one that our world often demands from those who would have any level of influence. How do we as Christians think through the realities of the marketplace, social influence, and attention in ways that are unique, and which promote a different set of values. Wolgemuth starts us on the path to a good, healthy, conversation about this subject.

12. “Running Hard After Christ” by Dena McGoldrick

For those struggling with loss this is a beautiful testimony of one dear sister who is pressing on. Her story continues to inspire many, evidence God’s goodness, and remind us that follow Jesus isn’t about ease and comfort.

13. “For Moms Stuck Inside” by Alasdair Groves

Biblical Counselor Alasdair Groves offers some helpful encouragement to moms struggling with taking care of kids inside all winter.

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