Random Blog Posts and Stuff

New research over at Ed Stetzer’s blog suggests that the Young, check Restless and Reformed movement of Calvinism isn’t growing among mainline or non-mainline churches. I find this fascinating given how how prolific their blog/web presence seems to be:

Some highlights of the research:

• 29% are strongly neither – strongly disagree with both the Calvinist and Arminian labels
• 12% are strongly Arminian – strongly agree to being theologically Arminian and strongly disagree to being Calvinist
• 10% are strongly Calvinist – strongly agree to being theologically Calvinist and strongly disagree to being Arminian
• 4% are strongly confused – strongly agree to being both theologically Calvinist and Arminian
• Pastors under age 45 are more likely than other age groups to strongly disagree they are Arminian

Lots of questions remain. There is an assumption out there that Calvinism is growing (hence the books we discussed in the video), but we do not see it nationally through this study. Both people who like and those who dislike Calvinism see such growth, but we do not see it in the survey– and, for that matter, we cannot tell if the 2006 SBC graduate trend continued.


Daniel Kirk dons a hoodie:

And, so, in solidarity with black Americans, who apparently must continue to live in fear that merely the color of their skin will make them objects of violence, I am taking up the theme of the “million hoodie march” and changing my online profile pictures to this…I cannot be in New York or Philadelphia for a million hoodie march, but I can show my little corner of the world that I stand against the evil of racial hatred and the violence that comes from profiling.

Has anyone been compiling a list of the Christian websites or blogs that have been addressing the tragic death of Trayvon Martin? I know that John Piper has written about it. Who else?

Leslie writes A Blogger Remind Other Bloggers Why We Blog:

Some bloggers are, first and foremost, writers. But some are pastors, or professors, or students, or techies, or lawyers, or booksellers, or members of a small band of revolutionaries trying to change the world. Yes, blogs need to be easy to locate, navigate and read. And like anyone to whom God gives even a small platform, bloggers should be committed to becoming better communicators by listening to the people who can help them do it. But rankings, hits, subscribers, and blogrolls are not why we write.

And if they are, we become susceptible to the temptation of saying to God that the voice He has given us isn’t the one we want.

When it happens (and it is a “when,” not an “if”) that a blogger begins to give in to the siren song of thinking that maybe the voice that God has given them should start sounding more like all the other voices (1 Corinthians 12 comes to mind here), it’s time stop writing, at least for a little while, and spend some time in silence listening.

Adam Nigh asks did Jesus’ death satisfy God’s wrath?:

Does God need the death of Christ in order to love us? No! We do! Does his sense of justice stand in his way of him loving us until Christ satisfies it, only then leaving him free to love us? No! It was because God loved us that he sent his only Son (John 3:16)! It is us that need justice to be satisfied. It is us that need the law in order to know that we are sinners (Romans 7:7) and us that need the demands of the law fulfilled on our behalf.


And it is all Eric‘s fault that I want to reactivate my World of Warcraft account. Either that or have a Big Bang Theory marathon. Oh, or both at the same time! All because he sent me this clip on Facebook:

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Christianity Today has an excerpt from Mark Galli’s new book Chaos and Grace: Discovering the Liberating Work of the Holy Spirit. Given the reading I’ve been doing for class, find this might be a book to add to the pile at some point.

Patheos is doing a symposium on The Future of Seminary Education. There’s lots to read!

Thomas Jay Oord offers ten reasons why men should not be pastors:

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers

Read the other five reasons here.


In gaming news: is this a joke? The new expansion for World of Warcraft is Kung Fu Panda meets Pokemon? I think it’s a good thing I’ve unplugged from the world of WOW.

Life and Death

It was a really strange day in the news yesterday. In the U.S., unhealthy two men on death row were executed. And yet the majority of the news outlets, and the overwhelming discussion in my Twitter feed was only about one of them. For the most part, the discussions on the net were about how Troy Davis’ execution should be a reminder of how wrong the death penalty is. But no one seemed to be saying the same thing about James Byrd.

Is there a double-standard? If we’re going to be pro-life and anti-death penalty, should that apply not only to the case with cries of innocence, circumstantial evidence and recanting witnesses, but also to the case where the guy really truly did it?

Adding to the strangeness of the day, the Canadian news outlets were reporting that Canadian serial killer Clifford Olson is dying. Quoting the families of the victims, the report says that there is a feeling that once Olson is dead, justice will finally be served.

“I’ve waited 30 years for this,” said mother Terry Bizeau, whose daughter Terri Lyn Carson, 15, was strangled by the notorious child killer during his reign of terror across southern British Columbia three decades ago. “Once he is dead, justice will be done.”
Other families of the 11 slain children expressed similar sentiments after learning earlier this week from corrections officials that Olson is on his deathbed.
Dee Johnston, whose 13-year-old step-daughter Colleen Daignault was also killed added: “You raise (children) believing that you don’t wish him any harm, you don’t wish him dead, but deep down in our guts we do want him dead.”

Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976, so I have lived my entire life in a country without the death penalty. And I know that that influences my opinion on the subject. Before I was a Christian, my main reason for opposing the death penalty was because of the ‘what if’ cases, the wrongful prosecutions, the possibility of executing a person for a crime they did not commit. (The Guy Paul Morin case is a perfect example of this.)

But as I mature as a Christian, I find that my opposition to the death penalty is evolving to reflect my pro-life ethic. I look south of the border and think, “The U.S. should abolish the death penalty.” Life is life and we should protect all life.

And yet, despite my macro-level belief that the death penalty is wrong, there is still a micro-level where I wish Canada had the death penalty.

This micro-level exception is Paul Bernardo. Anyone who grew up in Southern Ontario knows of Paul Bernardo. In the 90’s, Paul and his wife Karla, abducted three women and did horrible, horrible things to them. And this was on the heels of Bernardo’s late eighties run as the Scarborough Rapist.

Whenever Bernardo appears in the news, there is overwhelming gut reaction that makes me want to scream, “die you scumbag.” For all of my maturing, and all of my beliefs that life is valuable, I don’t want Paul Bernardo to be a recipient of that. He doesn’t deserve it. All life is valuable, except his. And even worse, I don’t want him to die by the relatively painless lethal injection. No, I want to see him fried on the electric chair. Or hung in the public square. Or executed by a firing squad. He needs to die painfully and publicly.

So much for my Christian, pro-life, anti-death penalty ideals. Just one exception and my ethics fly out the window. I honestly don’t know what to do about that.

College and the Entitlement Generation

From the Globe and Mail:

But don’t take his word for it. Many students openly admit their goal is to succeed with the least amount of effort. And many universities make this easy for them. It isn’t hard to find courses where you can get good marks even if you don’t show up. Professors say it’s not uncommon for 30 per cent or 40 per cent of their students to skip any given class. And students strenuously object if they don’t get the marks they feel entitled to. “They got 80 per cent in high school and, diagnosis when they get 62 per cent, they’re mad,” says Prof. Coates. “They bring assignments in late and think we’ll mark them without penalty.”

Just thought I’d post this BEFORE the mid-terms and papers start rolling in for all my professor friends.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

John Stackhouse talks about his contribution in the new book, case The Spectrum of Evangelicalism:

Immediately, cialis of course, buy the problem surfaces that we four can’t possibly represent the wide, wide range of evangelical varieties, even if you narrow the field to middle-aged, white, North American, baptistic, male, middle-class, Anglophone theological professionals. (You noticed that that does narrow the field a bit, did you?) It doesn’t even begin to represent the variety of theological approaches, let alone the varieties of evangelicalism along other axes (e.g., liturgy, social action, ecclesiology, ad infinitum).

What would Jesus hack?:

“The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” Jesus said of little children. But computer hackers might give the kids some competition, according to Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit priest. In an article published earlier this year in La Civiltà Cattolica, a fortnightly magazine backed by the Vatican, entitled “Hacker ethics and Christian vision”, he did not merely praise hackers, but held up their approach to life as in some ways divine. Mr Spadaro argued that hacking is a form of participation in God’s work of creation.

Roger Olson clarifies what he means by “against Calvinism”:

Tenth, and finally, I am “against Calvinism” that is unreflective which is the case with many of the “young, restless, Reformed” young people. They are being swept up in a movement without seeing its weaknesses or flaws and without knowing there are good reasons equally committed Christians don’t adopt Calvinism and without knowing there are other theological options that are biblically sound, traditional (in terms of the ancient churches before Augustine), reasonable and that are consistent with evangelical spirituality (e.g., petitionary prayer).

Is there less religious tolerance in Canada post 9/11?

A majority of Canadians say society has become less tolerant of various ethnicities and faiths since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a new study shows.
Over half of Canadians surveyed in an Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia News and Global TV said that Muslims are discriminated against more now than they were 10 years ago. However, Canadian Muslim groups say the impact of 9/11 was good and bad on the Muslim community.


Guess what? Technology in the classroom isn’t an absolute success.

And whatever you do, don’t just throw up all your notes and lectures online, because students won’t bother showing up, he said. In fact, the students in the survey said they were more likely to skip class if the materials were posted on the Internet.


Game of Thrones — A Final Review

I had previously posted my initial thoughts on the HBO series Game of Thrones. In particular, clinic I was a little uncomfortable with the “HBO”ing of several scenes, look particularly when it came to nudity and sex.

I ended up watching the entire series, purchase to see if things got better after the pilot episode. What I discovered is that the “HBO”ing of the sex and nudity was really inconsistent. Some episodes there was very little, and other episodes it was even more gratuitous than the pilot episode. Interestingly, the times when the sex and nudity were the most galling were in scenes that were not actually in the book (e.g., the monologue of Petyr Baelish).

What watching the series encouraged me to do was to read the books. By about the third episode, after having to ask Chuck every five seconds what was going on, I caved and started reading the books. Oh. My. Goodness. If you haven’t read the books, but caught the pilot episode of GoT and were turned off, my suggestion is skip the show and read the books. The books are fantastic. I polished off GoT in three days and then read the second book ‘A Clash of Kings’ in less than a week. I have started the third book, ‘A Storm of Swords’ but have had to get Chuck to hide the book so that I can get work done on my papers which are due in 23 days (eek!).

What the show fails to do is explain things. Indeed, it leaves a lot out. It leaves out character development. Heck, half the time, the show doesn’t even identify which character is which. The vastness of the universe created by Martin is lost in the adaptation to the small screen. The show fails to present the nuances of the rules of honour and chivalry of the world, which means that for a modern audience watching the show, the actions of certain characters seem barbaric instead of justifiable or even noble.

On a positive note, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is fantastic. The fanboys are right, Dinklage deserves an Emmy for his performance (This picture posted to the discussion threads sums it up so well, even if they had to resort to colourful language). If I were to decide to watch season two, I would watch it solely to see Dinklage. Otherwise, I’m sticking with the books.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Peggy Orenstein takes a look at female characters in the various Pixar movies (Toy Story, seek Cars, cheap etc). The movie that comes out the best in terms of female characters: The Incredibles.

In Pixar’s films, maleness has consistently been presented as “universal” as neutral. while femaleness is singular, and–even when a character is “strong”–she is inevitably imbued with those particular stereotypically female characteristics: she is a love interest or a helper. She is caring. She checks out her butt in the mirror. It has never once been HER experience, HER feelings, HER complexity or crisis that drives the narrative. If it were the opposite and Pixar had NEVER made a film in which a male character’s quest drove the story wouldn’t you find that a smidge odd?


J.R. Daniel Kirk gets into a discussion about what is the purpose of prayer, in light of a quote that has been floating around Twitter.

If I may put it provocatively: the quote is a cop out. It transforms prayer from a dangerous act in which we summon the God of all the earth to act now upon the earth over which God is sovereign into something that’s just for shaping our little hearts. This is the worst sort of existentialism working itself out in a theology of prayer. The real thing isn’t that God would be intimately involved in the real world, acting on behalf of those upon whom God has set God’s name. No, the real thing would be getting ourselves aligned with some transhistorical God who won’t be bothered to engage the lives of God’s people.


A refugee claimant from China was denied status in Canada because of how he answered the board’s question: What was Jesus like as a person?

In assessing Mr. Wang’s refugee claim, board adjudicator Daniel McSweeney asked Mr. Wang: “So tell me about Jesus as a person. What was he like?
“Jesus is son of God,” Mr. Wang said.
“I am not asking who he was or what he did. I am asking what is he like as a person,” Mr. McSweeney said.
“Jesus was conceived through the holy ghost and was born in this world,” Mr. Wang replied.
The answer did not satisfy the board member. “Anybody could memorize a creed and recite the creed. I want to know what you believe and what you know of Jesus as a person.”
“In my heart he is my saviour,” Mr. Wang answered.
“That is not . . . again, tell me what Jesus is as a person and this is the last time I am going to ask you.”
“I am sorry I really do not know how to answer.”

I guess the guy should have read some JD Crossan before his interview. Maybe that’s what the board was looking for?


Derek Ouellette points us to a new Blog with Integrity website.

Though it is not a Christian pledge specifically, the principles are adequate. Here is the Blog with Integrity pledge:

By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.

I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.

I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.

I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.

When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.

I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.

I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

N.T. Wright, Stephen Hawking and Heaven

So supposedly Stephen Hawking made a comment earlier this week that heaven is a fairytale. N.T. Wright has written a response over at the Washington Post:

Hawking is working with a very low-grade and sub-biblical view of ‘going to heaven.’ Of course, rx if faced with the fully Christian two-stage view of what happens after death — first, diagnosis a time ‘with Christ’ in ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise,’and then, when God renews the whole creation, bodily resurrection — he would no doubt dismiss that as incredible. But I wonder if he has ever even stopped to look properly, with his high-octane intellect, at the evidence for Jesus and the resurrection? I doubt it — most people in England haven’t. Until he has, his opinion about all this is worth about the same as mine on nuclear physics, i.e. not much.

Also, check out the conversation about Stephen Hawking’s comments over at First Thoughts.