This Week’s Good Reads

morning-paper2Here’s my collection of interesting articles from around the web. Check it out, there’s bound to be something that interests you here:

1. “X-Men’s Iceman Comes Out in New Comic” by Andrea Towers

Uncanny X-Men #600 reveals Bobby Drake is gay. Increasing numbers of comic book characters are coming out of the closet, so to speak. It’s a new world even for superheroes. As a comic book nerd I don’t usually think much about this fact. Comics are simply following the pattern of our culture at large. Iceman, however, was one of the original X-Men, first debuting back in 1963. It’s no small thing to make a character of that stature openly gay. At one level I can appreciate both how Marvel is trying to embrace diversity in a bold way, and I can appreciate how many of my gay friends would be proud to have an established comic book character that reflects and represents them, so to speak. At another level I wish that the writers would have left Bobby’s sexuality alone.

2. “Republicans are getting very real when it comes to substance abuse” by Amber Phillips

Phillips notes, in this piece from the Washington Post, that some of the major GOP candidates are speaking out publically about their families’ struggles with drug addiction. She moves from there to consider the opiate epidemic that is sweeping our country, particularly New England, and suggests that “when politicians at the highest level are out in front of the issue, there’s a chance that Washington just might come together to do something about it.” I hope so. This is such a passion of mine and we need to rethink both our understanding of addiction and especially out treatment of it.

3. “Hating Queerness Without Hating the Queer” by Emma Green

This is a beautiful piece in The Atlantic discussing Mohler’s new book on sexuality and the more humble gracious attitude of the Evangelical community towards those in the LGBT community with whom they disagree. I am grateful for such a big picture look at Mohler’s efforts to speak and think with more nuance and compassion and I am grateful for Green’s kind and honest interaction with his book.

4. “Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults” by Christena Cleveland

Cleveland presents a compelling reminder that a large percentage of our churches are composed of single people, while the vast majority of leaders are married. As a result most men and women in leadership within the church do not know how to be sensitive to and proactive for single people in their congregations. She recommends, then, 6 tips on how married Christians can embrace single adults.

5. “Five Essential Elements of Transformational Small Groups” by Ed Stetzer

Drawn from his book on transformational small groups, Stetzer gives readers a quick view of some of the key elements for making the most of your small group. I enjoyed his book on the subject, and appreciate this article. The “multiplication mindset” remains one of our biggest challenges at CBC, but I am hopeful to see us grow in that area.

6. “10 Reasons Not To Read American Books on Leadership” by AM

This is a great list full of important critiques of our modern leadership movements. The author asserts that the majority of these works assume “tacit values that may have been contextually true in the place of writing, but are definitely not true in many other places.” The books have zero cross-cultural value and often conflict with key Biblical ideas. I highly recommend checking out this article, especially if you are involved in church leadership.

7. “Pastor’s Wife on Ventilator After Shooting” by Michael Anthony Adams

This is such a sad story. A robbery gone critical resulted in the death of this woman. Please be in prayer for this family as they no doubt grieve.

8. “Matt Chandler: You Create Your Own Treadmills” by Drew Dyck

An interview with Chandler from the folks over at Leadership Journal, on applying grace to yourself. I love Chandler and this is a great interview for anyone, but especially powerful those in pastoral ministry. Best paragraph in the article: You create your own treadmills. I mean you want to build a super creative church, go ahead, go get it. Just know you’re going to have to keep getting more and more creative because you’ve drawn people with creativity. You don’t want them to get bored. And you’re competing with a trillion dollar industry. There’s nothing wrong with being entertaining. I’m just saying be aware: you create your own treadmills. Eventually you can’t outdo your Christmas Eve service from last year. You just can’t outdo your last performance. So you go, oh Gosh, do we need to hire more people? We need more money. You start to enslave yourself.

9. “Rending the Rainbow Veil: How to Make Your Church a Safe Space for Christians with Same-Sex Attraction” by Jean Lloyd

This is a beautiful article in which the author shares her own personal story with same-sex attraction and how the honest, humble, truth spoken boldly to her was what she needed to break free from bondage. She describes a church that cared well for her and gives good counsel to pastors on what they can do to be a “safe space” for those struggling with SSA.

10. “God Can Restore Your Lost Years” by Colin Smith

A great reflection and meditation on the “years the locusts have eaten.” Smith offers both explanations of why a person might have “lost years,” and how God might be able to restore those lost years. This was a beautiful meditation and one that I am certain I will use in counseling down the road.

11. “Dinner Invitations, Yes, but also Sharing Houses” by Wesley Hill

This is a wonderful reflection by Hill on the need to expand our sense of community by breaking through the walls we create that keep us apart, particularly the idea of “home.” Hill reflects on his own experience here and on the experience of Matthew Loftus, an acquaintance of mine for whom I have a great deal of respect. Matt has opened his home to long-term house guests, and Wesley has been a long-term house guest and so both are able to share some of the good that comes from this kind of friendship. I continue to think highly about this idea, its need, and place in the church, so this was a good article.

12. “With ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ The De-Objectification of Lara Croft is Complete” by Paul Tassi

I am not a “gamer,” as they say. I rarely play video games, and don’t generally care about what games are released. I did, however, play the last Tomb Raider reboot. It was phenomenal game play and a fascinating origin story for a familiar character. This piece from Forbes, however, is very interesting to me as it speaks to the ways in which women are generally treated within video game culture, and how the new Tomb Raider game seeks to do better. I was already interested in playing this game, as it builds of the pervious series re-launch, but the idea of a de-objectified Croft makes it even more interesting!

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