Weekend Reading: April 2, 2016

Welcome to the weekend!  I read a lot of articles, see a lot of videos and news reports on everything from theology to politics. Because I work in politics and study theology, two years ago friends have asked me to compile what it is exactly that I read throughout the week…here’s your weekend reading…

Front and center in the Wall Street Journal land weekend was gigantic article called ‘ The Challenge of Easter’.  The fact that these kinds of articles can still be written in major newspapers these days is really encouraging.

Speaking of the WSJ, they had an interesting article called ‘It’s Time to Rethink the Bucket List Retirement.’  What they’ve stumbled on here is that humans were never designed for the kind of retirement Americans often picture. Now hundreds of interviews with retired couples have led to the same conclusions that could have come by simply reading the Bible a little more closely…and perhaps listening to some Piper. 

I was interested to see that Tesla’s new ‘Model 3’ will be half the price of its last design.  I have conflicted feelings about the company – they basically subsist on government tax credits (otherwise they’d go belly up) – but I’m intrigued by the concept, and love their designs.

Tim Challies linked to this discouraging little item: Andy Stanley’s Problem with the Bible. For those who have not read much about Andy Stanley, or maybe read a book of his in passing, the sum of his situation is this: some of his earlier stuff is find, but the more he’s done ministry, the less he’s relied on the Bible for his “preaching” and teaching. Sad situation.

Viral Video of the Week: SAD BEN!  I haven’t yet seen the Batman v. Superman movie, but some of you might recall that Snyder’s Superman (to which this is a sequel), had many a pastor lapping up the Hollywood produced Sunday School curriculum – no, I’m not kidding.  On its own merits that movie was, okay.  It was a lot of action, and not a lot of character development. When I saw SAD BEN was going to be cast in the role of Batman, well, let me just say I wasn’t surprised that critics have been harsh.

Top article that I didn’t get to read this week: Has Ken Ham embraced Evolution? 

And I LOVED this article from the Journal on how to tame ‘The Email Beast’ – I’m all about finding ways to be more productive!

On to politics…

The President met with the  Frenchy Prez this week, and the White House must have been taking its editing queues from SAD BEN because they hacked up what that foreign dignitary had to say….oh ya, the topic? Radical Islamic extremely bad terrible terrorists and their terrorism.  Did you ever read 1984? Because….

On the Presidential front, when I evaluated all that I had read this week, I realized that the candidates talked about very little that was substantive.  Here’s a summary: Trump’s Campaign Manager was arrested for battery, Kasich incorrectly ate NY Pizza with a fork – then explained it was scalding hot, Trump said that women should be punished for having abortions – in an imaginary world in which abortion was illegal, even Ann Coulter his biggest superfan was aghast, then he walked it back, then got crucified on local Wisconsin radio (Trump had a bad week). Cruz spent the week talking about how Kasich won’t be eligible at the convention, but RNC rules committee peeps tell a different story saying they’re likely to scrap the 8-state rule, and the shadow campaign for delegates continues which prompted the RNC to put up a little website explaining the convention process, which might be helpful for those of you scratching your heads at all this process-oriented news.

Its been a long time since our President was truly picked at a convention – but this is the kind of thing that used to happen more frequently. There have been presidents who were picked without even showing up to the convention. So Americans need to start getting a better handle on how the process works. As things continue forward, you’re going to see more scintillating stories like this one: ‘Unbound Republican Delegates Could Decide Trump Nomination.’

A side note to my friends: Most of you know that I’m working for Kasich. But I know and see his flaws – my close friends understand this. If you know me well, then you also know I’m not the biggest fan of Ted Cruz and I feel strongly that Donald Trump is Nikabrik’s Candidate. That said, I have tried to be fair in my conveying of information to you, though I am not going to be unbiased and have zero obligation to be so.  My non-political friends always want to know my thoughts on politics, and my political friends often want good recommendations on theological/Christian reading. I appreciate the emails and the engaging notes and phone calls I’ve gotten on the Presidential race, and appreciate the correction and guidance of good friends!

In case you missed it, there’s a big battle going on in GA right now over religious liberty.  The battle lines are Corporations (and now the GOP governor) vs. the conservative statehouse and the people they represent. Here’s the NYT story. Here’s a poll my firm produced on that matter. Sort of a classic case of the evil corporations versus the will of the American people.

Straying away from politics now, you might have heard that Mother Teresa is on her way to sainthood.  What does that mean exactly? Tim Challies explains the interesting process here. 

Lastly, what books have I read/finished in the last week or so, and were there any worth recommending?  Here’s the list:

  1. Carry on Mr. Bowditch – Jean Lee Latham – I read this with my kids, and really enjoyed it. It’s the true story of Nat Bowditch, often considered one of the founders of modern sea navigation. I especially liked how it instills a positive outlook on Math for the kids.
  2. Humility: True Greatness – C.J. Mahaney – I read this with some good friends and truly enjoyed it. One of the best sections of the book was how Mahaney described sleep. Interesting stuff – you’ll have to pick it up for yourself!
  3. Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson – I’m trying to read more classics, and this was one of my favorites from childhood. It was equally enjoyable as an adult. I loved all the Scottish isms!
  4. Homer’s The Odyssey: Christian Guides to the Classics – Leland Ryken – My daughter Chloe had been putting a report together on The Odyssey, so I picked this slender book up as a trial run of sorts. Ryken has a wonderful gift for showing how classical literature interacts with Biblical principles. It reminded me of how Tolkien always said that every good story reminds us of the Great Story. I would definitely recommend any resource from Ryken on literature.
  5. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume III – Edward Gibbon – this was volume three in my quest to read through Gibbon’s legendary 6 volume history of Rome’s fall. This one was interesting because it included a lot of interaction between the famed Bishop Ambrose, and Justinian (the mother of the western emperor at the time). This is doctorate (or higher) level reading though. Every sentence is so chalked full of million dollar words that I find myself enjoying the reading simply for the language!
  6. Beowulf – Tolkien translation – I must admit that this was tough sledding. There are easier english translations out there, but the great thing about this edition was the commentary Tolkien provides in the back. Very helpful.
  7. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship – Colin Duriez – This book took me WAY too long to read, but that’s because I didn’t want to finish it too quickly!  For a nerd like me, it was like savoring a rich coffee or fine brandy – you don’t want to gulp it down. You want to let the flavors dance on your tongue a little. I found the writing here pretty good, and the interactions between Tolkien and Lewis helpful in understanding their literary worlds.

That’s it!  Have a great weekend!

PJW

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