Weekend Reading: June 3, 2017

Happy weekend to everyone – and Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter Chloe!  Let’s get into what was news and what was interesting this week (and maybe last, since I held over a few stories from before the holiday).  I’ll warn you in advance that there are some big topics here, and maybe you won’t agree with me on every conclusion – that’s fine!  Send me your articles and your ideas, I’m always learning, and appreciate your input!

Of course, the big deal politically was the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.  I’ve got a few very helpful articles that frame this for you. First and foremost is Marc Theissen’s rundown on why this is a good thing. 

But perhaps even more helpful is a piece written by  from back in December that the American Enterprise Institute linked to this week by way of reminder. This is the one great backgrounder on Trump’s thinking that you need to read this week.

…excerpt to get the flavor:

The grand total (from what would come from the Paris agreement): about half a degree, to be achieved at a cost of about 1 percent to 2 percent of global GDP every year, inflicted disproportionately upon the world’s poor. And so Mr. Trump is correct to conclude that climate policy is preposterous as a matter of the efficient allocation of scarce resources, and that the provision of clean water and the eradication of terrible diseases in the Third World are far more important priorities.

You can find Al Mohler’s take on the Paris story here. Mohler is helpful because he addresses both the economic and Christian worldview implications.

Tech peeps, keep an eye on this: Google could face a $9bn EU fine for rigging search results in its favour (U.K. Spelling, not mine!)

Perhaps this isn’t surprising….but some interesting perspective here: Here’s how chronic conditions drive up health spending

BREAKING: Enlightened ‘Minecraft’ Character Denies Existence Of Game Designer

Couple of personal productivity-type of articles hit my radar this week. The first is from those blind squirrels over at Quartz, who write about Kanban (which is actually a really helpful way of thinking through your daily checklist) who explore the myth of multitasking. The second come from my buddy Matt R and pertains to reading more in the coming year and how to do it/think of it.  Those are always helpful stories!

HOLIDAY WEEKEND RECAP: This was packed full of great information about Memorial Day. They talk about how Memorial Day started as a Civil War holiday, and gradually expanded after the first and second world wars. Check it out and bookmark it for the future.

WORDS MATTER: Something from last week that ought to be revisited, from WaPo: ‘Evil losers’: Trump joins world leaders in condemning Manchester terrorist attack.  I wanted to bring some attention to the reaction of the President to the most recent terror attacks. Of course, he condemns them. And of course, he is right to. But let me just opine….because it’s in these moments when I really miss the leader who can speak eloquently, accurately, and powerfully about the events of our world and what they mean. To call terrorists “losers” really misses the mark, and I can’t fathom how the President and his team couldn’t come up with anything more to the point. Life isn’t a game of winners and losers, and terrorism isn’t one side of that game while the Western World is full of “winners” on the other side. Words matter, and when the President chooses words that don’t live up to the solemnity and import of the moment or fail to accurately depict what is actually going on, he fails at one of the central aspects of his job – to powerfully verbalize the pillars, the principles, and the foundations of the United States of America in matters of policy, be they foreign or domestic.  Where is Reagan?  Where is Thatcher?  Where is the Churchill of our age?!!

Words matter. And it isn’t simply the way in which the President’s words are being delivered, it’s also the fact that many of the things he has been saying and doing in the first few months on the job are the exact same things he ruthlessly criticized Obama and Hillary for on the campaign trailas the Washington Post detailed here.  What is frustrating about articles like this is that as you read them, if you’re like me, you’re agreeing with the policy positions and the budget ideas that the Post is sneering at. In fact, this is the first President in modern history to seriously go after entitlement spending – something we should all be happy about, even if we don’t agree with every specific cut or idea.

BUT because the President waged a campaign of sarcastic and sneering rhetoric (often at a 3rd-grade level) that now comes into diametric opposition to his actions as President, it makes it difficult to take him seriously. Words matter. Remember the 2004 Presidential campaign??  I do because it was the first major campaign I worked on upon graduating from college. Republicans (like myself) mercilessly branded John Kerry as a “flip-flopper” – that was a centerpiece of the attack campaign – and here we have a Republican President making John Kerry’s flip-flopping look like amateur hour.  As much as I really want him to succeed, I just gotta shake my head at this guy sometimes…

Well…to help balance things out a bit, I was encouraged by Wall Street Journal editor and columnist Kimberley Strassel’s piece about ‘the news you didn’t hear’ this week.  Strassel goes into some detail about how the Trump administration has gotten some good stuff done in the past week or so which affects everyday Americans. This is the kind of thing you don’t hear reported, and yet it really is real news.

On to other things…

Here’s a helpful post from R.C. Sproul: What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

Tech and Morality: A few weeks back I read this thoughtful blog post by someone named Samuel James called ‘The Parable of Anthony Weiner’s iPhone’.  He dives into whether or not the unfortunately (though perhaps appropriately) named Weiner would have carried on inappropriate relationships and communications if he was not so tempted by the ease with which technology allowed him these liberties. Well reasoned and worth the read.

In a similar context, Tim Charlie’s blogged about the intersection of humanity and technology and explores whether artificial intelligence designers and technology wizards really desire to “eliminate the human”, even when they never implicitly say as much.  What do they have against humanity, anyway?   If you read this and ALSO listen to the Mohler podcast I posted here, you’ll notice a theme. Mohler even recommends historian Paul Johnson’s book ‘Intellectuals’, which explores this idea that many intellectuals (who are mostly liberals) who call themselves “humanitarians” actually hold to policies which are anything BUT humanitarian.  In fact, the intellectual elites usually prize pretty much any part of nature above the value of humanity. Yet this religion is not often rigorously observed in their lives.  The point is that these stories get us thinking about whether we are consistent in our use of technology (talking about more than simply your iPhones here) and our holding to certain beliefs and worldviews???

Good Culture Story:  Here’s One of the Scenes That Probably Got Tim Allen’s Show Canceled

This is wacky, you gotta check it out: Nancy Lee Carlson Bought a Piece of the Moon—NASA Really Wants It Back

In Case You Missed It: Ben & Jerry’s Bans Same-Flavored Scoops to Support Same-Sex Marriage in Australia

Video of the Week: God Made You Believe in God  EXCERPT:

Grace is not God’s response to our initiative: “first, I will believe, and then you will make me alive.” Are you kidding me? After all of this, you will claim that you will defeat the course of this world, you will defeat the prince of the power of the air, you will defeat the spirit that now is at work, you will defeat the passions of your flesh, you will defeat what’s at work in your body and your mind, you will overcome the nature to be a child of wrath, you will overcome the nature to be a son of disobedience, and you will produce the glorious reality of faith, to which God will say, “Well done: you’re alive — I make you now alive” (see Ephesians 2:1–3)?

Let me conclude with an interesting read from ten years agoLIVING WITH ISLAMISM: A call for Christians to understand the Islamist narrative, and to adopt a Christian response…..Excerpt:

How should we respond to this radical, worldwide movement with millions of adherents whose programme it is to unite Muslims worldwide into one people, with one divinely sanctioned leader, governed by a reactionary version of Islamic law, and organized to wage a permanent war on the rest of the world—a war that from its perspective can only end in the annihilation, conquest or conversion of all non-Muslims?

AND…

As the late Lesslie Newbigin insisted, Christianity is public truth. Islamism makes public claims for the truth of Islam. Christians must counter with public claims for the truth of the teachings of the Bible. The gospel is not proclaimed in vain, and the present and next generations must proclaim it in every sphere of human life and every geographical area of the earth with both humility and courage.

Finally…

Military action is not the ultimate answer to the challenge of Islamist terror, but it is a political responsibility that we must acknowledge and bear, even as its consequences for affected civilians must break our hearts.

That conclusion is right on point. The challenge to my fellow Christians is this: do you cheer the death of Muslims? If so, what separates you from those Muslims cheering the death of Christians in Egypt?  We fundamentally need a change in attitude toward Islam, in my opinion. A more detailed understanding of its origins would be a helpful start. After all, from the first, Islam was really just seen as another Christian heresy (which is basically is), and not a whole other religion. There are many things we hold in common with these folks – namely our belief in monotheism, and our humanity (we are all created in the image of God). But we mostly need a heart that doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked.

So yes, let’s defend our nation. Yes, let’s support our country as it kills terrorists who threaten our citizens and wage war on our people. But let’s do so not with rejoicing, but with heavy hearts, knowing that these are people made by the hand of God in the image of God, who need the truth of God as much as we do. Simply killing terrorists will not transform the Middle East or the world. You cannot do battle on those terms alone while neglecting the deeper driving motives of these warriors (the faith elements). So while the state is concerned to keep us safe (and thank God they are doing a great job of it), the church is charged with saving souls by courageously proclaiming the truth of the gospel to Muslims who have distorted scripture for over 1000 years, yet who need these truths as much as we do.

That’s it!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

PJW

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