Weekly Random Links

random cubes thumb


  • 20 years, Jesus Freak.
  • Spectators or Participants? (RJS)
  • How Much Social Capital do you have at Church? (by Michelle Van Loon)
  • Tablets and Tables (by Sean Palmer)
  • Forget the Fish Already! (RJS)
  • Follow/Don’t Follow the Leader (by Michelle Van Loon)
  • 6 Reasons You Seriously Need to Slow Down
  • What happens when good men stop doing nothing?
  • Here Is a Really Easy Way to Identify a Narcissist
  • Bernie Sanders & the Christian Pressure to Disagree
  • What the Massive Appeal of Taylor Swift Says About the Church

20 years, Jesus Freak.

Spectators or Participants? (RJS)

Are we fans or players? The following was making its way around Facebook. It is not new, however. There was a similar list on the door of the bathroom (where it has a captive audience) at my parents’ summer cabin for several years. I am not sure who wrote it, or when these lists began to be passed around. This list raises a number of interesting issues worth some thought and some discussion.

How Much Social Capital do you have at Church? (by Michelle Van Loon)

How do you spend your social capital in your church? Have you ever stopped to take stock of your relationships and influence? I’ve found few with positional or social authority in a church ever consider what they possess. Instead, we count what we lack. I’ve known pastors who believe they’re outsiders in their own church. I’ve known members of cliques in a congregation who are tone-deaf to the way in which their closed circle excludes others. Too many of us measure our network of relationships at church using the scales of our own insecurities.

Tablets and Tables (by Sean Palmer)

Tablets & Tables: Why You Need To Rethink Who You Follow (Sean Palmer) Your pastor is not as edgy and provocative as your favorite blogger or writer, and that’s a good thing. I’m the first guy to advocate Christian preachers and teachers have thoughtful, bold, and worthwhile words to say. I bristle when I hear speakers hunt and peck around important, yet touchy, topics for the sake of their own advancement, brand, pedigree, or future opportunities. I believe it a form of cowardice. It’s not worthy of the gospel. There is great benefit to Christian leaders and teachers being slow to speak. Here’s what I mean…

Forget the Fish Already! (RJS)

Forget the fish! God can work the miraculous. This is assumed in Jonah, but it isn’t the point of the story. The fish has only a bit swim on part. Focus instead on divine mercy and compassion. Sennacherib as Prisoners from Lachish are broughtA while back I wrote a post Satire or History exploring the genre of the book of Jonah. The point isn’t to dismiss the book or to identify “error” in the Bible, but to correctly identify the genre and purpose of the book. In the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary John Walton has some interesting observations on the book of Jonah in its ancient Near Eastern context.

Follow/Don’t Follow the Leader (by Michelle Van Loon)

In the last week alone, a fairly well-known Bible teacher in the Messianic community, Ligonier Ministries head RC Sproul, Jr., and the President of Southern Baptist-affiliated North Greenville University each stepped down from their leadership positions after violating their marriage vows. In the case of at least two of them, they were forced to confess after they were caught via Ashley Madison or irrefutable video evidence. Let’s face it – when you confess only after you’ve been caught, your confession has the ring of “I’m sorry I got caught” (channeling second-term Bill Clinton), more than it does “I have sinned against God and humanity”.

6 Reasons You Seriously Need to Slow Down

In 1967, experts on time management delivered a report to the U. S. Senate. These experts believed the speed of technology, satellites and robotics would present a big problem for the American workplace in the years to come. The problem? People would have too much free time. They concluded that “By 1985, people might have to choose between working 22 hours a week, 27 weeks a year, or retiring at 38.” Good call, “experts.” If I had a time machine, I would fire all of you.

What happens when good men stop doing nothing?

My biggest fear going into Spotlight, the historical drama which reenacts the Boston Globe’s exposé of clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, was that auteur Tom McCarthy would find some way—probably through lionizing the journalists—to recast this horrific chapter of our history into a feel-good story. In America, we don’t mind movies that ask us to pity victims. But we sure seem to hate anyone or anything that asks us to not feel quite so good about ourselves. I had nothing to worry about. If anything…

Here Is a Really Easy Way to Identify a Narcissist

So maybe you have a friend who regularly blabs on and on about himself but never gets around to asking about you, or perhaps you’ve got a co-worker who likes to mention that he should really be the one running this company. Annoying, yes. But is it narcissism? As it turns out, there is an incredibly easy — and quick — way to find out.

Watch the latest Science of Us animated video to find out more on that, and you can also check out our last episode, on whether you are a “head” or a “heart” person (and why it matters). Or take a gander at our growing archive of science-y cartoons. And, as ever, come back next Thursday for our next episode.

Bernie Sanders & the Christian Pressure to Disagree

Yesterday I watched the self-proclaimed not-particularly-religious Bernie Sanders address thousands of evangelical students at Liberty University, my alma mater (class of 2005). His appeal was to a “common ground” of justice, even quoting Amos as evidence of their common goal.Bernie Sanders at Liberty For every moment of applause there were just as many moments of silence, or worse, the claps of the 10 people in a sea of thousands. And in those moments of near silence, I kept thinking of the immense social pressure so many evangelicals are under not to be associated with someone like Sanders, not to be seen agreeing with much of anything he might have to say even if he’s quoting the Bible.

What the Massive Appeal of Taylor Swift Says About the Church

Taylor Swift is having a moment. Ever since the release of her pop crossover album 1989, the country-phenom turned top-40 dominator has become an inescapable cultural fixture. The album is one of the most commercially successfully LPs in decades, selling nearly 9 million copies globally, topping charts around the world and garnering hundreds of millions of plays on YouTube. Even user-made mash-ups have become hits.