This Week’s Good Reads

morning paperEvery week I try to compile a list of articles, from around the web, that interested me. Here’s this week’s list; check it out, there’s bound to be something of interest to you here:

1. “Science Confirms: The More Coffee You Drink, The Longer You Will Live” by Kris Gunnars

Gunnars is good to remind us that while the observational studies mentioned in this article cannot prove causation, it is nonetheless reassuring to my coffee-loving heart to read pieces like this. Gunnars notes, in particular, “Coffee, believe it or not, happens to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, out-ranking both fruits and vegetables… combined.” There it is, folks: science says coffee is awesome!

2. “The Philosophy of Roger Scruton” by Mervyn Bendle

Scruton is one of my favorite philosophers. I am especially fond of his writings on aesthetics and referenced him extensively in a recent journal article I wrote on a theology of beauty. In this piece from The Imaginative Conservative, readers are introduced to a brief survey of both the man, his academic career, and his contributions to philosophy. It’s a long piece, but it’s a ton of nerd-fun for someone like me.

3. “Before You Minister to a Same-Sex Couple” by Kevin Carson

I have had the privilege of sitting under Kevin when he taught on counseling those who struggle with a same-sex attraction. I have heard his heart and benefited from his wisdom. This piece explores the role of the counselors and his interactions with those he seeks to help. There’s a lot of good content here. Obviously far more can be said about counseling same-sex couples, but there are some good words here.

4. “The Funny Thing About Adversity” by David DeSteno

This is an interesting piece exploring the relationship between suffering and compassion. The author discusses some recent studies he did and relates that to another study by a colleague. He concludes that suffering does generate greater sympathy, except when the suffering of another parallels our own past experiences. In the latter case, we are often more calloused. This is interesting information, though ultimately I think it takes too determinist a perspective on the issue. There should be a closer examination of actual individuals and their motivations and beliefs. My own inclination is to suggest that compassion, arising out of suffering, is still very much a choice. So, researchers ought to consider the reasons that some make that choice and others don’t.

5. “How can I Help Women Struggling with Sexual Issues?” by Trillia Newbell

My friend Trillia is such a sweet, compassionate, and wise writer. I am grateful for all her work, but not least of all for articles like this. Sexual sin is a pervasive problem in the church, and it is most certainly not just a man’s issue. This winter we have our next Biblical Counseling Equipping Seminar, and we will discuss counseling those who struggle with pornography. As part of that seminar we will talk explicitly about helping women, since they are often left out of these conversations. This is a great article to start with, however, as it suggests some practical starting places for women who counsel women struggling with sexual sin.

6. “Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the Wrong People” by Megan Hill

This is a review for TGC of Nadia Bolz-Webber bestselling book. The review is expertly written, carefully stating the purpose of the review and sticking to it. But it also captures well the comprehensive weaknesses of the book by looking at it through this one lens. Hill gives readers a great angle on this work and invites us to see how the counterpoint of the gospel fulfills the books intended mission better.

7. “Two Underused Strategies for Addiction” by Ed Welch

I love Welch’s work on addiction counseling. We use his materials in the Cornerstone Counseling Ministry and I have regularly consulted his work for insight in particular challenging cases. In this piece he speaks to two strategies for helping addicts: (1) welcoming confessions (as a counter-point to their lying tendencies), and (2) addressing shame (by means of the shame-bearing Christ). His points about shame are particularly important to me as I think about the many men and women who live with an ongoing sense of shame.

8. “Ordinary Heroes: A Manhood Bestowed” by Nate Pyle

Far too many cultural ideals have permeated into the Biblical picture of manhood today. What many call “Biblical manhood” is really a baptized version of the cultural expectation. In this cleverly written piece from Christ and Pop Culture, Pyle explores particularly the concept of “conquering.” He explores how each cultural manifestation of “masculinity” (from superman to the computer nerd) has this ideal behind it. He also explains how this actually flies in the face of the gospel and undermines the masculinity that Jesus demonstrates and grants to men. We need so much more of this in the Evangelical church today. I highly recommend it.

9. “On My Struggle with Homosexuality” by Michael Salinas

A very honest and vulnerable piece by the author, in which he not only reveals his own struggle with same-sex attraction, but urges the church to compassionate consideration about the depths and hardships of resisting indwelling sin. In light of some remarks I made in my last sermon, I would highly recommend the folks of CBC to read this piece. It is gripping, convicting, and emotional.

10. “Ernest Hemingway and the Gospel” by Brian Douglas

I have often enjoyed Hemingway. His ability to write about both “truth and tragedy,” as Brian says it in this article, was impeccable. This is a great piece that both captures Hemingway’s world well and speaks to why Christians should be interested in his writing.

11. “Bedeviled by My Wife’s Dementia”  by Douglas Groothius

Groothius reflects on his own studies in philosophy and his wife’s chronic illness, and the relationship between the two. A beautiful and yet haunting piece from Christianity Today. A membership to CT is needed to read the full article.

12. “7 Ways Women Can Grow in Studying and Teaching Scripture Without Seminary” by Nancy Guthrie

These are great suggestions and I am so thrilled to see TGC encouraging women to study hard and become better theologians. It’s a passion of mine as well.

13. “Advocate Counseling Model” The Austin Stone Counseling Center

We just started implementing an Advocacy model at Cornerstone Counseling Ministries and I am thrilled with its potential and hopeful of its impact. The folks at Austin Stone have a page describing some of their rationale behind it, their thoughts echo many of our own.

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