Weekend Reading: April 29, 2016

Welcome to the weekend campers!  I’m in a slightly good mood because I get to spend a few days in Tennessee with my family and some dear friends starting tomorrow. For those of you who are new (I think there are a few of you), I hope you enjoy this weekly email/blog.  So let’s get this weekend reading going – this should be a fun addition…

Let’s start with some music, shall we?  BEAUTIFUL rendition of ‘He Will Hold Me Fast‘ by my peeps at Southern (and…while you’re on youTube…keep worshiping).  PLUS…a weekend reading aficionado, (and published author!!) David C. sent me this totally old school punk rendition of the Doxology by 5-iron Frenzy. Just. Fun.

While we’re in the arts…two poems/video by John Piper. First – a brand new one called ‘Beautifully True’ and an old one, called ‘The Calvinist’ – the latter is just plain pure good awesomeness.

One of the unique things about the readership of this weekly compilation is that it spans the political and religious landscape pretty widely. If you’re reading this, its likely that you’re either involved in politics, or I’ve met you at church or seminary. But what I love is how many politicos send me pieces on faith, and how many friends from church send me stories on politics! Here is one such story from my good friend Gregg, and I think you’ll enjoy it as well: ‘The Spirituality of Snoopy’.  Coolest graph…

Schulz converted to Christianity shortly after returning from a deployment in World War II, and the experience sparked a love inside of him for sacred literature. He became a voracious reader of theological commentaries, and the margins of his personal Bible were filled with hand-written notes. He was a long-time Sunday School teacher at churches in the Midwest and California, even leading one group through a study of the entire Old Testament.

Do I really need to disclaim this? Okay I will – I’m not saying Schultz was some kind of theological hero, but the story is definitely interesting and worth the read.

One of the coolest stories of the week was that scientists have discovered bright flashes of light in human eggs when they are fertilized. As the story says, “An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.”  Of course scientists don’t use this new discovery to trumpet the sacredness of life,or the glory of the One who creates it, but rather they are celebrating a more refined capability of harvesting fertile eggs for IVF. It’s the kind of story you read with amazement and then a sort of disappointment (if that’s the right word). Hard to explain…check it out for yourself.

Let’s keep the controversy coming – the Atlantic (yes, a second article from them…I know, I know) has a fascinating story called ‘The Case Against Reality’.  For anyone who has ever studied any philosophy AT ALL, this will be fascinating. Let me just tell you that one of the first principles that must be present and foundational for all rational thought is the reliability of sense perception (and I am paraphrasing R.C. Sproul here).  This article and these scientists may seem groundbreaking, but from what I can tell, they’re rehashing Aristotle and Plato with their “forms” and “material” musings all over again. If you’re not a philosopher but need to start somewhere, start here and especially here.

Wonderful little post by Tim Challies this week: The Two Kinds of Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children. 

Put your thinking caps on: Should Christians Cremate Their Loved Ones? 

Now to politics…

It seems like this last week was a week of desperation, and dominance.  Kasich and Cruz formed an alliance, which Cruz then denied…sort of…and Kasich ignored…sort of. WaPo: RIP, Ted Cruz-John Kasich alliance.

Also, Ted Cruz announced that Carly Fiorina would be his VP/running mate. If you missed this, don’t worry because it won’t likely matter anyway.  But this story did peak my interest: The Mysterious Case of Ted Cruz PAC’s $1/2 Million ‘Donation’ to Help Carly Fiorina —- as the saying goes, follow the money!

Speaking of money (and this is depressing): AP: Rubio, Bush big donors shun Cruz and Kasich

One of the biggest races coming up is in Indiana. It’s a good bet that if Ted Cruz can’t pull out a win here, Trump will make it to 1237 (the magic number of delegates needed to win in Cleveland on the first ballot). So…here’s the insider scoop on Indiana politics (this is pretty inside baseball stuff).

Here’s a story on how PA really helped Trump…big time. The crux: Assuming Trump wins New Jersey’s winner-take-all primary (51 delegates) like he did in neighboring New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware over the last two weeks, he’d need 197 of the remaining states’ 451 delegates to hit 1,237.

A little human interest story here that was pretty interesting (whether you give a hoot about John Kasich or not), A Brother’s Mental Illness Influenced John Kasich’s Views

The other thing that happened this week was that Ted Cruz got in another kerfuffle with GOP leadership. WaPo headline: Cruz’s latest fight with fellow Republicans is a reminder: Many don’t like the guy.  Free from the restraint of office, former Speaker John Boehner lashed out at Cruz…BIG TIME. The headline: John Boehner : Ted Cruz is ‘Lucifer in the flesh’

There was even some word-art made to commemorate the quote…And of course the story wouldn’t be complete without this little gem: Satanists are furious that Boehner compared Ted Cruz to the Dark Lord (this is a real headline!!!)  I mean…wow…

I can’t believer this guy could be the GOP nominee: Trump asks Kasich to change spelling of his name…(no, this is not the Onion)

Speaking of (former) Speakers…this one is sad and stomach turning: Dennis Hastert gets 15 months in prison in hush money case.

FYI – the whole Olympics thing, it isn’t going super well: Bike lane falls in Brazil Olympic city, killing at least 2.  But, I do like the looks of this outreach opportunity! 

Back to more sanguine topics…this was good: What Does It Really Mean to Be #Blessed? Key graph:

One translation of the New Testament (ESV) has 112 references with the words bless, blessing, or blessed, none of which connect blessing to material prosperity.

And finally, the book list!  Here’s what I read/finished this week and what I thought about it…lots of poetry this week:

  1. Robert Frost – Collected Poems in the Everyman’s Library edition – I enjoyed this edition, and will come back to it again in the future. I’d give Frost 3.5 stars out of 5 maybe…
  2. The Songs of Jesus – Tim Keller (selected devotions) – Thanks to my friend Derek for this wonderful gift. These are really fantastic devotions through the Psalms.
  3. Best Thoughts – Henry Drummond – First, let me say that this collection of quotes has been some of the most influential of my Christian walk. I have an edition of Drummond that is over 100 years old and I couldn’t find that one to link to (my copy is falling apart). That being said, this should be the right link, and I would urge you to buy it, read it, and gain some perspective.
  4. Compass of Affection – Scott Cairns – in contrast to the Drummond, don’t buy this unless you’re in need of some poorly burning fire starter. What a disappointment this was. Weird theology, weird (non-existent?) meter. I don’t know…just stunk.
  5. Rudyard Kipling – Poetry from the Everyman’s Library Collection – I really really enjoyed this. I mean, what boy doesn’t like adventure stories? And this poetry distills those into rhyme. It’s more gritty than the short stories from Kipling you grew up reading, but its good. It’s real good.
  6. The History of the Medieval World – Susan Wise Bauer – Terrifically short and helpful book. It runs in the 650page range, so its not for the faint of heart. Would you think less of me if I told you I skipped or skimmed a lot of the Indian and Chinese history chapters? No? Good. Seriously though, this is a helpful companion for me as I have been reading through Edward Gibbon’s magisterial work on the fall of the Roman Empire (on Volume 4 right now and took a break to read Bauer). Her chapters are short, and great little summaries!
  7. The River of Doubt – Candace Millard – This one was fascinating. The only downside was the obsession Millard seemed to have with the Amazon’s “evolutionary” makeup, and its amazingly (accidental of course) symphonic complexity.  The rainforest seemed to be set against the protagonists, which in this book is Teddy Roosevelt. The story is worth reading, and especially so because of the wonderful character sketching the author details for us – thanks to my mother in law Trish for buying this one for me (sorry it took so long to finally read!).
  8. William Blake – Poetry from Everyman’s Library Collection – I have to admit that this one has been a challenge. I really like Blake one moment, and then the next I am baffled by him. He is undoubtedly a deep thinker, and if you’re reading poetry, you can’t go wrong to study his work. I’m looking forward to going back and re-reading him again.

That’s it! I hope you enjoy your weekend!

PJW

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