Weekend Reading: February 11, 2017

Welcome to your weekend!  As you may have noticed, I didn’t get to send out a blog posting last week – sometimes life just gets a bit too hectic.  So I have some stories and blogs that may be a bit older than one week.  I hope you enjoy!

First on the list is a compelling story in the Federalist by Bre Payton which wins the award for longest headline: A Disabled Lawmaker Speaks Out About Abortion: ‘People Like Me’ Are Facing Extinction. I like the points being made here, and am glad that there is some pushback across the pond to the almost continual devaluation of life by society and political elites.

Next…the big to-do in the news this week was how the courts have blocked (for now) the travel ban that President Trump put in place. In his Briefing from Friday, Al Mohler talks about what’s going on here, and helpfully focuses on the separation of powers. This is part of what makes our country so unique – we aren’t a pure democracy, and we aren’t a pure dictatorship, we are a republic. Along similar lines, Mohler also discusses how liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren was rebuked for her breach of decorum on the U.S. Senate floor. Warren, who might be labeled one of the most liberal politicians in American, was criticizing Senator (now Attorney General) Jeff Sessions in remarks that were too personal to find a place within the Senate’s standards of debate. Mohler ties this story into his larger discourse on the nature of our republic, and how the Senate was put in place as a check on the democratic passions of the House. So when Warren started behaving in such a way that reflected the worst sensibilities of the mob, she was silenced by the leadership of that institution which she (unforunately) belongs. Not because what she was saying was just an attack on decorum, but because it represented a type of discourse that didn’t belong in the Upper Chamber. Certainly this was an interesting week to watch the American political system at work.

On the travel ban...I found an interesting opinion piece over at the Washington Examiner this morning, which is more well-rounded (or at least more civil) in its appeal than I’d heard out of either side recently.  The piece starts from the assumption that as Americans one of the ways we like to keep the peace and promote that peace throughout the world is to spread our ideas around the world, and give deserving people a chance to enjoy our ideas and values here on these shores. In the end, the author argues for some tweaks to the travel ban (no specifics here though), and spends significant time giving examples of those worthy folks making their way to our shores.

FUNNY: Alex Trebek makes fun of Jeopardy contestant’s music preference

Quick Theology Hit: What is the most important factor in your life? Steve Lawson gives a short answer here.

And…since its almost Valentines Day: The Rude, Cruel, and Insulting ‘Vinegar Valentines’ of the Victorian Era

valentines

NOT THE ONION:  Bibi Netanyahu on meeting with Chuck Norris: ‘Israel is strong but it’s indestructible now’

NOT THE ONION…but close enough…this one is for my friend Rob L:  Family Exiting Church Unable To Find Minivan In Sea Of Identical Minivans

“Squirrel!!”  Trump Supports Ex-Im Bank, Democrats Say After White House Visit. (requires WSJ subscription…i.e. pony up if you want to read)…sneak peak:

Conservative Republicans have waged a battle over the past two years to close the agency, which finances exports by companies based in the U.S., because they say it is an example of the government picking winners and losers. The bank’s backers say the agency allows U.S. firms to compete on equal footing against foreign rivals that receive similar support from their governments.

Top Story I will be reading today: The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding

As you know, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the next Secretary of Education earlier in the week. Beth Green from Christian (Canadian) think tank Cardus has a blog entitled, ‘Advice for Betsy DeVos From Canada’.  If you like to nerd it out a bit on the policy front, then Cardus is a good place to peak at.

On to Foreign Policy: Nicholas Eberstadt writing for Fox News Opinion discusses ‘How to really deal with the North Korean nuclear threat’.  Excerpt:

As bizarre and satire-prone as the North Korean regime’s buffoonish-looking Kim Jong-Un and his servile courtiers may be, Pyongyang’s leadership is neither irrational nor suicidal. The rationale behind this confrontation would actually be to achieve a maximum of strategic gain with a minimum of actual destruction and violence.

The basic idea is to force Washington to blink in an escalating crisis on the Korean peninsula—a crisis of Pyongyang’s own making, at a time and under circumstances of Pyongyang’s own choosing.

TECH: Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Cars

TECH: WHY HOLLYWOOD AS WE KNOW IT IS ALREADY OVER (h/t Lisa W.) This was really a great read – highly recommend!

Funny! From Aimee Byrd:  ‘How John Owen Proposed to His Wife’ (h/t my Kate)…”That he who possesses a happy wife doth, as spake some philosopher, possess also a happy life.”

Popular in my Facebook feed this week, from National Geographic: Why All the Cool Kids Love Columbus, Ohio.  Oh ya!  I love me some CBUS bragging!

Fascinating stuff from Atlas Obscura: Watch a Massive Swirling Tornado of Tuna.

SCOTUS Watch…from Ramesh Ponnuru writing for National Review: Neil Gorsuch: A Worthy Heir to Scalia 

From Jon Bloom over at Desiring God: Your Weakness is Not Meaningless…excerpt: “What do our limitations have to do with love? Just about everything. Because the way God made us, we always experience love most in the places where grace is most needed. This is true both in how we receive love (from God and others), and in how we give love.”

In Case You Missed it: A good Q&A with R.C. Sproul from January has been posted up on Ligonier’s website here. 

Literature Alert: A Tale of Two Tolkiens. This is about the grandson of the famed novelist who has come out with a new novel himself. The novel is somewhat inspired by the real life events of his grandfather.

John Piper addresses the Old Testament’s relevance: Which Old-Testament Promises Apply to Me?   SAMPLE TASTING re: 2 Chronicles 7:14…

Therefore, the application we make of this verse is not that if Christians will repent God will heal America. We have no such promise in the Bible. Rather, if Christians repent, turn from their wicked ways, humble themselves, and pray to God, he will do a mighty work in and through the church however he please.

Christians – please soak that in.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Christians preach, pray and claim 2 Chron. 7:14 in a way that pertained to America, then I would have paid for my kids’ college by now. However, Piper goes wider than this, and looks at more examples, so it worth considering what he is saying here, and thoughtfully applying it to other such passages.

Books…Here’s where you can find the books I’ve read and/or am reading right now. This week I read several short stories adapted from Shakespeare with my kiddos, and also finished Paul Tripp’s ‘Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands’ as well as Bauer’s ‘The History of the Ancient World’. I’m half way through two biographies, one on Elon Musk, and one on Michael Jordan. Both have been very enjoyable thus far!  I’m also about a third of the way through Roger Christian’s book on industrial art and set creation for Star Wars, which has been insightful, but really poorly written. Speaking of poorly written, after 40 or so pages in ‘We Two’, a biography looking at the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I had to put it down. It was so scatter-brained and poorly executed that I couldn’t take anymore assault on my senses.  Short stories from the week included Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’ and Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Tapestried Chamber’, both of which were interesting – Wilde’s short book was pretty amusing but ended in a disappointed fashion – it almost seemed Wodehouse-like in its humor.

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

PJW

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