Weekend Reading: July 16, 2016

Good morning and welcome to this edition of the Weekend Reading!  As you may have noticed, I’m not as consistent with this post as usual being as it summer and their are additional travel demands on the weekends for me. That being said, I’ve got some good articles, videos, and books for you. Here’s what I found most interesting…

But first, let me just say a few words in response to the many questions about the recent state of affairs. It seems like over the last few weeks/months there have been a virtual explosion of terror incidents, race riots, paid protests, police shootings, and more. This is the world we live in right now, and as someone who works every day in politics, I know there isn’t going to be a political solution – especially not by the two standard bearers for the major parties in this country (how can lawless people speak out against lawlessness?).  I am reminded (and comforted) that there is only one solution to the mess, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel of peace. The whole world is at war with God, enemies of Him and how He wants us to live in this world. Our selfishness has led us to strive against Him and each other, and this is why Paul had this to say about the mission of the church on earth:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21 ESV)

Notice that he says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” This is the result of a new perspective on life. No longer were there Romans, or Galatians, or Asians for Paul. No more Democrats, Socialists, Whites, Blacks, etc. The whole world was full of people made in God’s image who needed to be reconciled to God and to each other.

Paul saw the strife in the world, and said that Christians were God’s agents of reconciliation. There are many C4 organizations, many good things that other religions do to help feed people – Christians do this and have led in this way globally for two millennia. BUT, the driving issue, the main need of our day is still the same as it was in Paul’s. People need to be reconciled to their Creator, and to each other.  If you’re a Christian reading this, then you have a response to the crazy times we live in. God’s own son stepped down into the midst of terrorism – into the midst of enemy occupied Jerusalem.  He stepped down into the midst of violence and bigotry and racism, and his message wasn’t just “let’s all get along.” His message was “repent” – be reconciled to God, and live as members of a kingdom that doesn’t share borders with Gaza, Turkey, Iraq or the U.S.   This is a message that transcended the politics of the day, as it does yet again in our day and age. If you’re a Christian, you are “an ambassador for Christ” and its up to you to share it.

On to a few news items…

One of the interesting technological sensations of the past few weeks has been the Pokemon Go app/game that thousands (millions?) are playing. The game caught fire so quickly that it has spawned some creative pols looking to capitalize. The Wall Street Journal gives the short summary: 

The craze that is Pokémon Go—a game played through mobile-phone cameras in which you hunt and capture tiny monsters that appear near where you are playing—has swept the U.S.,Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe since it was released last week. The game is being rolled out nation by nation.

The game actually caused a stampede in Central Park.

Due to the game’s system of drawing players into real world locations to catch the various kinds of Pokémon, there have been occasions where a crowd has formed to obtain a rare part of the Pokédex. A video released Friday, which you can see above, shows trainers rushing into Central Park late Thursday night to catch the rare Eevee evolution, Vaporeon.

The game presents a lot of neat opportunities for this generation of gamers to get out into reality while completely ignoring the people around them and instead interacting with small iconic pixelated creatures. What can go wrong?

The other thing that you might have already seen was how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made several derogatory comments about Donald Trump. The New York Times (!!!) had an extremely harsh slap down in response – and for the right reasons, I might add (h/t Mr. Clemenston).  Key graph…

There is no legal requirement that Supreme Court justices refrain from commenting on a presidential campaign. But Justice Ginsburg’s comments show why their tradition has been to keep silent.

It’s been bandied about a lot over the last few weeks, but I think that Americans were shocked at the result of James Comey’s press conference exonerating Hillary R. Clinton from any indictment.  I will give you the first (and most important) two graphs from the Wall Street Journal: 

For our money, the most revealing words in FBI Director James Comey’s statement Tuesday explaining his decision not to recommend prosecuting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information were these: “This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”

So there it is in the political raw: One standard exists for a Democratic candidate for President and another for the hoi polloi. We’re not sure if Mr. Comey, the erstwhile Eliot Ness, intended to be so obvious, but what a depressing moment this is for the American rule of law. No wonder so many voters think Washington is rigged for the powerful.

After this, John Piper responded by taking on several issues including this one.

Separately, and on an unrelated note, I enjoyed this post by R.C. Sproul called ‘What is the Will of God for my Life?’

Fascinating Stuff: The Grim Task Awaiting Theresa May: Preparing for Nuclear Armageddon

Speaking of world affairs, Turkey is under a military coup right now. As one NBC commentator put it, it strange to see a NATO nation going through a military coup! But Foreign Affairs.com is probably correct on this one: Erdogan Has Nobody to Blame for the Coup But Himself.

Also, this was an interesting Op-Ed from the New York Times: The Theology of Donald Trump.  Key Graph:

Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless. It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump.

On to books!

Tim Challies had this book review of ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’ which I found really interesting. My kids have loved this book for years!

And because I often have people asking me what I’m reading these days, I’ve created a Goodreads page here (you might have to search for my name) so you can see not only what I’ve read this year, but what I thought of it.  There hasn’t been time to review every single book (even the good ones), but you can always ping me if you have particular questions.  I’ve thought about starting a page for my daughter who is close to out-reading me this year! (proud dad moment there).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the beautiful weather and each other – get out into your community, and try to avoid the masses of stampeding Pokemon Go’ers.

PJW

 

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