Weekend Reading: May 13, 2018

Welcome to the weekend!  It’s a beautiful day in Columbus, OH and I’m going to spend most of my day shuttling around kids from birthday parties to soccer games, but before I turn on the meter, I wanted to pass along some stories and books I found enjoyable this week.  Here we go…

The big News Item this morning: Dozens of countries hit by huge cyberextortion attack

The attack infected computers with what is known as “ransomware” — software that locks up the user’s data and flashes a message demanding payment to release it. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.

I’m not sure there are any words that do this justice, but here’s a story you need to be aware of: The Horror of Human Embryo Jewelry. There are many times when I read a story about IVF, or surrogacy, (or something in the field of fertilization for parents hoping to have kids) and I really hesitate to write anything at all. Sometimes I think science goes too far.  Other times I think parents go too far.  Still, many times I’m awed by the breakthroughs that have saved lives and helped improve pregnancies and opportunities. So much is left to discernment, and often I hesitate to hoist my opinion on anyone else who may have a more intimate understanding of things.  That said, this isn’t one of those stories where you’re left wondering if they’ve gone too far. It’s the most sinister thing I’ve read about all week – and that includes a pretty wide patch of content.

The biggest political story of the week was the firing of James Comey.  I try not to litter my these posts with news you already know. But the fallout and commentary have been interesting.  After the firing, the White House put together their defense, which pretty much made sense, even if the optics weren’t awesome.  BUT then, the President decided that he couldn’t let it go. I have to agree with Erick Erickson that it would have been better to simply not say anything:

He does himself and those around him absolutely no favors. He has done more harm than good. And the kicker is I think he is lying to boot. Donald Trump has an overwhelming need to make it all about himself. And if he fired Comey based on someone else’s advice, it would not be about him and his brilliant skills.

Then, President Trump decided to get on Twitter and threaten Comey:

So there is some critique from the left, from the right, and here’s one from the center-right: Trump Gets Himself in Hot Water‐‐Again (Fred Barnes).  Barnes isn’t as harsh in his commentary and reminds us the facts as they are available, and the rights and prerogatives of the President.

Now, add in this one that flew under the radar (no pun intended): Our Luddite-in-Chief Wants ‘G-D Steam’ Not Technology For The Navy.

What do we get when we put all this together? Comey probably needed sacking (see this: Comey called Trump ‘crazy’ after Obama wiretapping claims: report) – even the Democrats wanted him gone. But our President, in speaking quickly and with such bravado, has shown himself amazingly adept in stepping in it. I don’t question the heart of the man, or that his intentions are good – we all want him to succeed!  But his mouth and his ego have continually gotten him in trouble. If I were advising the President, I would have him read Proverbs every day before signing into Twitter or giving interviews. Proverbs tells us that “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (15:2), that “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (18:7), and of course (and perhaps most famous), “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (17:28).

Why do I even bring this to your attention? Not really for policy reasons, which we might agree with the President on, but for the purposes of increasing discernment.  There have been some who have asked, “Do you think that Dobson was right and that Trump is really a Christian?”  No one can judge a man’s soul but God, but I do know that the words of our Savior, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16).  Zero fruit here, only nasty tweets…errr…thorns.  Here’s the point:  It’s crucial to be praying for the President, and it’s wonderful to politically engage your mind and support, defend etc good policies he promotes.  Yet don’t be fooled and don’t think he is something he is not. If indeed he were a Christian, my words would be even harsher, for then I could judge him as a brother in Christ, and chastisement would be more appropriate. Yet, I see him for what he likely is and provide him the grace of knowing his motives, his mind, and his words will not look like our Lord’s.

Here’s a good example of some policies the President ought to be praised for: China to allow US beef exports after deal on trade issues with US

The latest in the sexual revolution: Knox County judge grants woman rights of ‘husband’ in Tennessee’s first same-sex divorce

And since controversy seems to be the order of the day here in this post, why not continue? ha!  Here’s a thoughtful blog re: Jen Hatmaker.  She and her allies have been decrying all the “character assassination” taking place out there due to her taking an un-biblcal stand on gay marriage.  Good summary here:

The church has failed to love those who identify as gay and lesbian and transgender in a great many ways. As Rosaria Butterfield said, the Gospel is on a collision course with these issues. More and more, those who claim Christ and have large platforms, like Hatmaker, are falling in step with our culture’s failing moral compass and are willing to compromise the truth of the Gospel on the Altar of Nice. I can see how it may be tempting to do the easy thing, but lying is sinful. Lying about the Law of God is shameful. To encourage those in their sin is abhorrent. It is the opposite of love.

For you golf fanatics out there, Phil Mickleson’s caddy “bones” has 10 tips for us for reading greens (h/t Alex W.)

Crazy Video: Cabin Swept Away in Rain (by the way…what is the deal with the Weather Channel and all their videos? It’s like they have nothing else going on, so why not just post up a bunch of videos…or what?)

This was helpful this week: You Can Defeat Distraction

Talk about a controversy, this is one that has wracked the church for eons: If God is good, how could he command a holy war? 

TECH: The Future of Trucking When Machines Take the Wheel (from Wired) 

Foreign Policy…from the Economist: Emmanuel Macron has a history buff’s view of Islam and religious strife

Books: This week I read Sinclair Ferguson’s short profile on John Owen, which was really enjoyable and helpful. He summarized the theology and the focus of Owen, and give a snapshot of the man himself – a man I didn’t know much about.  Owen was politically connected and was a spiritual advisor to Oliver Cromwell. A fascinating time in England’s history to play a prominent role in public life!  Owen, so it seems, was a very good-natured man, and his theology was intensely focused on the Trinity.  I also downed J. Gresham Machin’s classic ‘Christianity and Liberalism‘ – amazing how prescient he was…scary.  Additionally, I’ve been working through the complete Sherlock Holmes collection, which means that I’ve been going through 5-7 short stories and novels of his a week.  My favorite from this week was ‘The Valley of Fear’, which is a two-part story spanning several continents, and is very creative!   I’m slowly nibbling my way through Roger Christian’s ‘Cinema Alchemist’.  It’s really insightful and holds all manner of little-known information about set dressing for movies, and how the original Start Wars movie got made. That said, it’s one of the most poorly written books I’ve ever read!  It’s like the guy didn’t bother to do any editing…at all. Yet for the Star Wars junkie, it’s a must-read.

That’s it!  Enjoy your weekend.

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