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Posted on November 21, 2015
Well as you may have noticed the link list which used to be promised at least, on Fridays have been shy of turning up lately. Well, here’s a bumper one for you. As ever, As I flick through reading things in a given week, I’ll save the good ones and share them with you dear reader – enjoy a cup of coffee and pick a few of these articles to inhabit and enliven your weekend!
…If you read something you think should be featured submit it here, starting your message LINK LIST SUGGESTION.
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I was recently featured on The Sweet Setup blog for my tech setup, you can read that here
and since the last link list post here are a few longer articles you may have missed here on the blog;
- The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 | An (exhaustive) review
- Why Colour blindness and kingdom culture are not God’s ideas
- Money is to the west what witchcraft is to Africa
- Hearing God with Dallas Willard
If you ever want to look back through posts, you can in the archives section here
Also, I recommend you check out my friend Brandon Jones‘ similar (but far more succint) link list posts here
The Grace of Grit – Skye Jethani – It seems like na’er a blog post goes by from Skye that isn’t worth linking to. This one is about the lack of ‘stick with it’ that has become a part of western culture.
“Research is showing that hard-fought grit is a critical component of a flourishing life and society. Intelligence, opportunity, and even material resources offer limited value when uncoupled from a high tolerance for pain and perseverance
But it’s a quality that seems to dilute a little more with each generation. Perhaps we are too far removed from the trials of the frontier and too pampered by memory foam mattresses and “On Demand” everything. My maternal grandparents fought the Nazis in World War II; my grandfather was shot down in a B17 and my grandmother was a nurse in General Patton’s army. My paternal grandparents escaped from Pakistan during the partition of India in 1947 in the largest mass migration in human history. Half a million people were killed in the violence. My children collect participation trophies.” (Emphasis mine)
Interestingly I think this may be one of the reasons the Lord is growing the church in the global south. Dare I say, the reason he may be allowing many of them to find ways into the global north, both through physical immigration and their voices being heard on globalised platform such as the internet.
Faith and Theology’s Ben Myers posted a tweet for every volume of Karl Barth’s church dogmatic, which not only showcases his extraordinary knowledge of Barth’s magnus opus, but pulls out some great barthian thinking in theological breath mint form! Here’s a few of my favourites;
I/2: God’s mighty Word is humbly hidden in the human flesh of Jesus, the human words of scripture, and the boredom of the Sunday sermon.
III/1: We were summoned into being by God’s freely loving Word. From that day on, God has spared no expense in trying to befriend us.
III/2: Our nature fits God like a glove: God wore it first then let us try it on, and Jesus shows us how to wear it right.
III/4: How good it is to be a creature! To be freely ourselves, never more or less, within the constraints that God has lovingly set for us.
IV/1: When I saw how Jesus used his deity to become small and humble for my sake, it took my breath away (and then my pride).
IV/2: When I saw Jesus triumphant in his humanity, it roused me from a deadly boredom: I became freely and fully human, almost a god.
And of course;
V: And the rest, my friends, is Mozart.
For the uninitiated, Barth died before writing his 5th volume…
I found an old friend from my university days Phil Laver writing some great stuff on his blog over at If Yes, Do not least his recent post on Jesus’ baptism
“Remember this was the start of Jesus’ ministry. Nobody knew who he was, except John the Baptist. Jesus was just joining the queue along with everyone else, to get dunked by that ranting prophet in animal furs. Can you ever cease to be amazed at the humility of Jesus?! The great messiah (God made flesh), whose public ministry started by going up to another local preacher and saying “I basically agree with what he says”.”
Your crooked heart – Literary study and Spiritual formation This post was a great encouragement to lectio divina literature not just scripture. There are so many elucidating narratives and characters in literature that help us navigate and observe our own inner depths.
“O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.
O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.”
To which the writer comments; “Auden’s poem, like most good literature, reminds us that life is less about affirmation than surrender and that true flourishing can only happen once we take the fancy-dress off, as Lewis famously said, and face the storm with full knowledge of our crooked hearts.”
Looking to literature and christian formation again The scriptorium’s feature on the life and work of Roger Lundin shared similarly interesting observation on the intersection of the inner life and art;
That phrase calls me back to a lesson in writing. “Look for the metaphors naturally embedded in your writing,” Roger said. He did look, he found, and he made the most of what he unearthed. Consider that phrase again: “sound the depths of our unfathomable lives.” Perhaps he typed the first bit “sound the depths” and saw the opportunity to make the most of it. Or maybe, mindful of the “unfathomable” mystery of life, he spotted the paradox of an art that can take life’s measure without plucking out its mystery.
Regent College shot a video to promote his class on modern literature this past summer, and his final words seem almost prescient:
“In human life, our goal can’t be to go back to the innocence that was lost. The way back is barred. The Christian life is about the way forward—but the way forward is the way forward through the cross, and the empty tomb. The older I get the less nostalgic I become, and the more I become oriented towards the future. T. S. Eliot says it in Four Quarters. He says, ‘Old men ought to be explorers…’”
Lord have mercy on this explorer, and on those who loved him.
This post from Adam Johnson on the Theodicy of woodworking makes a brilliantly theological point through a painful yet concise story of renovating an old house;
By the time we left that home after only two short years, it shone with joy and beauty, for we had brought it to life, giving it a share of the joy we had through our creative work.
The more we gave to that home, the more we wove our joy into it (and vice-versa), the more pain we have in leaving it.
We weave our character into objects because we, like our God, are creators, and it is right to do this—but it brings us pain.
Despite the ongoing terrors of life in the middle and near east, something about the Paris attacks this week caught the globe and news cycle’s imagination. Rather than belittle the loss of those in Paris by complaining that similar loss (on a grander scale even) in the near east is often abstracted into a political debate, rather than the humanised reporting from Paris, it is right to stop and consider.
Malcolm Guite posted a sonnet which reflects the double knowledge of these moments, I don’t think he posted it as a direct response to the events in Paris, but it is both the glory and the pain of Jesus’ words in John 11:25 that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Pain because it feels like we see so little of this resurrection power in the lives of loved ones in pain, suffering and death and yet glory because somehow the light of hope is still ignited in our hearts;
How can you be the final resurrection?
That resurrection hasn’t happened yet.
Our broken world is still bent on destruction,
No sun can rise before that sun has set.
Our faith looks back to father Abraham
And toward to the one who is to come
How can you speak as though he knew your name?
How can you say: before he was I am?
Begin in me and I will read your riddle
And teach you truths my Spirit will defend
I am the End who meets you in the middle,
The new Beginning hidden in the End.
I am the victory, the end of strife
I am the resurrection and the life.
A few years ago I sat down to read GK Chesterton’s orthodoxy, maybe I was in the wrong state of mind because I was underwhelmed. Chesterton’s intellect is beyond doubt, but I didn’t walk away with a clear perspective of what he was trying to say. That being said everytime someone quotes Chesterton I am captivated by his incisive reflections. Think Theology posted this Chesterton quote (read it in full here) –
Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. That objection, which men of this school used to make to the act of marriage, is really an objection to every act. Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion. Just as when you marry one woman you give up all the others, so when you take one course of action you give up all the other courses.
It seems this truth is an important part of christian maturity but one distinctly lacking from society (and therefore from the church due to our lack of curated ‘otherness’). We must choose (and this is certainly a much broader point than related to marriage but our choices in general), and then having chosen make a home in our choices, not spend wasted lives wishing for other choices. In our overly-saturated consumerist mindset, the lack of ability to live with our choices and to make peace with them is a cancer that continues to break down our ability to live well.
18 Christian leaders answer questions of the mission of Jesus today (HT: Brandon Jones’ linked list )
Hirsch emphasized the importance of Jesus’ relationship to the Kingdom of God, and was the only one who said a kingdom emphasis should be reflected through a wholehearted commitment to the Great Commission that has discipleship at its core.
Surprisingly, only nine of the eighteen leaders identified the Great Commission and the making of disciples as the essence or heart of the mission of Christ.
5 Things You Need To Know About 21st Century Small Group Ministry by Mark Howell via Floyd McClung
1.Biblical literacy is a distant memory in almost every setting.
2. The expectation that the Church provides something essential is rapidly decreasing.
3. “I am a spiritual person” is growing; “I am a Christian” is declining.
4. A Christian worldview is not held by the majority.
5. Cause has the greatest potential to connect.
Now for another list, Allan Bevere on 10 situations in which the silence of the pastor (read discipler/friend) is golden;
- When a healthy discussion breaks out in Bible study.
- During a meeting when members of the committee are having a vigorous and lively debate on what is best for the church.
- When someone in great pain is expressing it.
- In certain situations when someone expresses a view with which the pastor vigorously disagrees.
- When the pastor speaking will cause more harm than being silent.
- When a tear speaks more clearly than a word.
- When someone simply feels the need “to vent.”
- In accepting unfair criticism, when it deflects away from someone else, who has also been treated unfairly.
- When what the pastor is hearing is also painful from personal experience.
- In any situation when the presence of the pastor is more significant than his or her profound words.
This is a heart-breaking and at times difficult read about a tech reporter who’s father died while at an AirBnb stay and the implications of tech platforms that bring people together in a wholly unregulated manner. I am one of the last people to advocate for more laws/rules etc. But this story clearly shows the need for greater responsiblity and engagement from companies who profit from creating seemingly neutral platforms with unintended consequences.
Startups that redefine social and economic relations pop up in an instant. Lawsuits and regulations lag behind. While my family may be the first guests to speak out about a wrongful death at an Airbnb rental, it shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. Staying with a stranger or inviting one into your home is an inherently dicey proposition. Hotel rooms are standardized for safety, monitored by staff, and often quite expensive. Airbnb rentals, on the other hand, are unregulated, eclectic, and affordable, and the safety standards are only slowly materializing.
Flickr posted a beautiful selection of images of classic bikes in vintage scenes, worth a day dream or two;
The Oatmeal posted an incredible and short non-fiction comic strip detailing the life altering experience of a Pan-Am co-pilot involved in an air crash that led him to become Gene Roddenberry the creator of star trek. (He was also a decorated WWII pilot, a plane crash investigator and an LA cop, He survived three plane crashes!)
A nearby roaster “Cape Coffee Beans”, who is based on/right next to a local vineyard (a more perfect intersection there is not), just posted on how to make a single aeropess stretch into two cups (spoiler: you make concentrate) – I think their logic is pretty sound, read more here
Fernandos Gros on what he learned from Derek Sivers on creating boundaries, saying yes and pre-empting No’s through running a “NOW” page which states the themes and ventures that you are saying “Yes” to in order to give passive awareness to those wanting to approach you with a request. I can’t say I live with as much focus now as this represents, but a few years ago I felt like we had a season where we knew what we were giving our time to, and where we were to say No to. During that time a few friends commented that I said “No” more than anyone else they knew, while Im not entirely sure that was a compliment, We’re in a season where our capacity and scope is being re-broadened, but I do miss the level of laser focus this “NOW” page idea gestures towards.
Due to a friendship we have created over a few years now with some buddhist monks living in India I am especially captivated by the scene in tibet and with the aesthetic that surrounds tibetan buddhism. Check out The Big Picture’s Story on the bliss dharam assembly for some extraordinary images.
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