Links for Friday | 15th May 2015

Every Friday I’m posting links to things I’ve read this week that I think you might find interesting too,

Travel

In the next week I’ll hopefully post my full review of the Tom Bihn Bag I wrote about a few weeks back, but for now feel free to check out some pictures of our current trip to India here, my photoblog is http://LIAMBYRN.ES.

I’m thinking of starting a “1 minute somewhere” series, where I record a minute of sound somewhere so you can close your eyes and imagine somewhere else for a whole minute. For now here is 1 minute in an india cafe playing some indian music, a generator buzzing and cars honking outside;

Technology

BitTorrent, a popular software for sharing file between computers (p2p) have come up with an iOs app that is server-less called Bleep. Now why does that matter? I hear you ask, well, serverless means that your message are not stored anywhere other than your phone and the recipients phone. This is particularly useful is you are invested in your messages not being intercepted by governments and other interested parties. Obviously privacy-enabled software can be used for good and bad, but this is quite useful for me to talk to friends who are in nations that have an interest in monitoring conversations about sensitive topics.

I’ve loved the increasing emergence of drone videos, especially of big wave surfing. A new drone released recently called “Lila” (HT: Brett Jordan/PetaPixel. You throw the drone into the air, it has battery to fly for 20mins, is water proof, but the most interesting part of it is that it uses a GPS beacon that you attach and it autonously keeps it in the centre of frame;

Using the Lily involves keeping a tracking device on the subject you’d like Lily to follow, throwing the Lily high into the air, and then going about your activity while Lily flies and shoots all by itself. Lily will use GPS and computer vision to follow you at up to 25mph and keep you in the center of the frame.

Theology

  • I’m slowly reading and savouring the only Marilynne Robinson novel I have never read while I am in India, called “Home”, Many people I have recommended her writing to find it too slow but admit the prose is otherworldy in it’s beauty and observance of the ordinary. A young daughter finds herself back in her home town caring for her widowed Father who was a pastor for the town, here’s a great quote from a section I just read;

“There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding.”

  • Apart from my (not entirely righteous) disdain for apologising at the best of times, I have never been particularly at home with the idea of ‘christian apologetics’, I know there are sharper minds who engage it with gusto, but Think Theology’s latest post quoting Jamie Smith 1 on Charles taylor encourages my confirmation bias. Theodicy, or the problem of evil, is always a sticky subject, and one I’m increasingly unwillingly content to leave in the realm of mystery. There is little more wounding that in a time of grief or loss, someones pithy attempt to make sense of it on your behalf with God.

In practical and pastoral terms, this approach to the question of suffering and evil cashes out in Tim Keller’s excellent Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, especially the first major section. For me, sitting several steps down Schaeffer’s staircase from Taylor, it simply involves admitting that the answer to the question “why?” is, and should always be, “we don’t know.”

Worth a read over at Think Theology

  • One of the most refreshing voices I have been reading in the last year is Dallas Willard, who has (posthumously) released the book “The allure of gentleness: defending the faith in the manner of Jesus”, as said on Jesus Creed;

    An argument can be made that the best apologists often don’t do apologetics.

He gives this account of apologetics;

Although apologetics is really the reasoned defense of any position, a Christian apologetic is the only kind I’m interested in. And a Christian apologetic is one that would be done the way Jesus would do it. Apologetics is not a contest of any kind, with winners and losers. It is a loving service. It is the finding of answers to strengthen faith. It should be done in the spirit of Christ and with his kind of intelligence, which, by the way, is made available to us (Phil 2:5) (pp17).

  • I’ve been having plenty of conversations and thoughts around the idea of Hell in the last week. Not a savoury topic by any means, some I’ve met feel like it should almost be gloried in, as if God’s justice is illumined by it’s existence. This is not a feeling I hold. CS Lewis famously states that “All that are in Hell, choose it”. As it is clear that God’s desire is that all be saved 2, I think it is reasonable to believe that God mourns the loss of any of his creation. Heaven is not glorious because of big houses, golden streets or spiky grass 3, but beacuse of God’s own presence. Equally the horror of hell is the absense of God.

Tides and turning post a quote from Ralph Venning;

What is sin but a departure from God? And what is the doom of sinners but departure from God? It is as if God should say to them, You liked departing while you lived; now depart from me. You would none of me while you lived; now I will none of you or yours.



  1. who has been a personal favourite in the last year. 
  2. 1 Tim 2:4 
  3. See the Great Divorce by CS Lewis


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