Weekend Reading: October 21, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  I’m writing from Charleston, S.C., a beautiful history-rich part of our country.  I didn’t send an email out last week, so there are a few items from last week I wanted to pass along as well. That said, I’m also really under the weather, so not as much commentary as you’re probably used to.

Hard to believe this isn’t fake news!  Man resided in woods for 10 years because wife nagged him too much.

Fascinating stuff here: China Uses ‘Digital Leninism’ to Manage Economy and Monitor Citizens.

They survived six hours in a pool as a wildfire burned their neighborhood to the ground. “Jan watched the moon for clues about time passing. It didn’t move.”

Everyone saw this right? North Korea says ‘a nuclear war may break out any moment’.

This got a lot of attention this week: Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress. This is a story that got the attention of President Trump, and for good reason. If you look at anything this week, this is the link to examine.

This may have been missed, but it shows that there’s at least something right going on in Washington: Scalias All the Way Down: While the press goes wild over tweets, Trump is remaking the federal judiciary.

Crazy story from southern OH here. Very sad. 

More of the same from the Boy Scouts of America: First came acceptance of gay and transgender Scouts. Now girls can be Boy Scouts

Similarly…Anger as Oxford college bans Christian group from freshers’ fair

This is ridiculous.  Glad to see my friend Aaron standing up to evil in this world!

Here’s something worth looking at: Vanishing Adulthood and the American Moment: A Conversation with Senator Ben Sasse. The interview is a bit meandering, but the book was good.

Wait…what?  White House Watch: Did Donald Trump Really Shoot a 73 at Trump National?

This was amusingly written. I haven’t finished it yet but enjoyed what I read thus far, some thought-provoking stuff about chain restaurants and their role in American life: Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks.

That’s it for today. I really hope you enjoy the weekend!

PJW

 

 

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Weekend Reading: October 7, 2017

Good morning folks, I hope the week was a good one. Here are the books, news items, and articles I found most interesting.

First, the shooting in Las Vegas is on everyone’s mind, so I want to link here to a column written by Al Mohler on the subject of “evil” in light of the shooting.  One excerpt especially caught my attention:

Evil is a fact, too. And evil is a theologicalcategory. The secular worldview cannot use the word with coherence or sense. The acknowledgement of evil requires the affirmation of a moral judgment and a moral reality above human judgment. If we are just accidental beings in an accidental universe, nothing can really be evil. Evil points to a necessary moral judgment made by a moral authority greater than we are — a transcendent and supernatural moral authority: God.

Mohler also mentions that one of the characteristics of evil is that it often seems random, and nonsensical. But because we are moral creatures, we necessarily think in those terms – as we should. Lots to ponder and pray about here. One thing I’ve noticed recently though: Our reaction to natural disasters and terrible shootings showcases humanity at its best and worst – but what we notice and how people react is very basically human. Hollywood and liberals in our college classrooms may try to rewrite what it means to be human and may claim there are no real moral categories, but in the wake of a disaster, we don’t find anyone claiming anything of the sort. That is because to do so would be to assert something so insensitive and ridiculous that they’d be booed down and shamed by the media.

It would be wise to use what we learn in the wake of the evils of disaster to combat the evils of mis/disinformation flooding our televisions and classrooms today. 

Moving on…I don’t think I got to link to this last week but it is excellent: Using Scripture to Pray Over Your Children. 

Oddly enough, the Village Voice had a fascinating article this week called, ‘Keepers of the Secrets’ …excerpt:

I was told that the most interesting man in the world works in the archives division of the New York Public Library, and so I went there, one morning this summer, to meet him.

NOTE: ChristianAudio.com has Sinclair Ferguson’s ‘The Whole Christ’ audiobook for free this month.

This was excellent as well: God Is with You in Your Panic Attack (h/t Derek S.)

Also, I wanted to link to this story from Politico called, ‘How We Found Tom Price’s Private Jets’. Not because it’s such a fascinating read, but because every day I get newsletter compilations from Politico (and others) and I continue to be shocked at how often they make the news about themselves. Here’s a note to my friends in the media: you are violating one of the most basic rules of journalism!  The news isn’t about you!  This may not seem like a particularly egregious example but for me, it’s just the latest in a serious of nausea-inducing headlines that make my head involuntarily shake with dismay…of course, I grew up the son of a journalist (a real one) – we watched movies like Broadcast News, where Aaron Alman invariably would have sarcastically derided these showboats by yelling at the TV or the Paper with a witty, yet stinging, comment (A lot of alliterations from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!).  End Rant.

Speaking of journalistic obsessions, this week all the rage was “bump-stocks” and I’m not linking to any of their “investigative” articles, but I am linking to a press release from Cong. Adam Kingsinger that talks about efforts to tighten restrictions on them in the wake of Las Vegas. I will just note that a good friend of mine who has helped train me for self-defense shooting, says that he is baffled why these things are still legal at all (and that’s coming from a huge 2nd Amendment guy).

Major News Item: Jimmy Kimmel Produces Official Document Confirming He Is Nation’s Moral Authority.  I knew it!  ….was only a matter of time!

Actually – here is a real news item that I’m thankful for: Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama Rule on Birth-Control Coverage

Also, don’t miss this…END OF AN ERA 

More nonsense: Farewell, Valedictorian: High Schools Drop Tradition of Naming Top Student …. not even sure you need to read the article…just shake your head and move along!

I can’t believe I’m linking to scummy Slate…but this is cool: The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See. (h/t my Kate)

Intriguing: Musk: Tesla can rebuild Puerto Rico power grid

I read a few interesting books this week.  First, I read the latest book by Blake White called ‘God’s Chosen People: Promised to Israel, Fulfilled in the Church’, and for those who’ve never thought much about the nature of the OT and NT and God’s people across the ages, this is a good introductory volume. Blake is definitely becoming a better writer (I laughed out loud a few times), and while he I wish he would have slowed down a few times and been a little more thorough, the book definitely moved quickly apace and was an easy read (something of a virtue for theologians). 

I also finished Zack Eswine’s book The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus. Really good book here. Worth reading for all church leaders – and for those who aren’t, its an interesting and thought-provoking look inside the mind and life of a young pastor. Eswine is a bit of a rambler, I was lost at times structurally, but the content was excellent.

Lastly, I read Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides.  It was thoughtful but too short; a good discussion starter, and probably required reading for anyone thinking about talking politics around the office water cooler.

Currently working through (among others):  Heroes: From Alexander the Great & Julius Caesar to Churchill & de Gaulle, The Vanishing American Adult, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, Henry V,  and David Copperfield. 

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

PJW

Weekend Reading: September 30, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend reading!  Just a few things for you to consider this weekend as you catch up on what might have been missed in the past few days…

This looks pretty cool – DesiringGod.com is doing a month-long daily reformation tid-bit or historical dive in celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation.

And, in case you missed it: Trump-backed candidate Luther Strange loses Alabama GOP Senate runoff to Roy Moore

It was a bad week for POTUS: NFL players, managers defy Trump on anthem protests as feud ramps up.  

SIDE NOTE: I’m hearing a lot of noise from my conservative friends about these obnoxious protests by overpaid (often immoral and misbehaving) NFL players.  And while I think that they could certainly find something better to protest, I’d like to observe that 1. The President has inflamed this situation – ironically at the same time, his healthcare efforts were failing on the Hill and 2. The President changed the nature of the debate. No longer has the discussion been about police brutality, but rather about the freedom to protest, and what is appropriate in that realm. But what do I hear from friends and those on Twitter?  I hear one side saying “stand up for the vets who died for the flag (insert expletive)” and on the other side I hear “in America we don’t need our leaders limiting our freedom of expression.”  Both sides are talking past each other here – neither one addressing the real substance of the issue.

Ironic thought: The man holding the office that symbolizes the might and power of America is using profanity to condemn athletes for not respecting another symbol of our country.

Concluding Thought: Let’s not be reacting in such a knee-jerk way to everything we think is going on in situations like this. A perfect example of this came when every conservative online and on the radio praised a Steelers football player for taking a lone stand for the Pledge while his team was in the tunnel. Turns out that the whole team was going to come out together but he accidentally got separated from the team. It wasn’t a statement at all – but how quick we are to jump on these things!

Recommended Reading here by Jonah Goldberg, and if you don’t follow Ben Sasse on Twitter, you should. He dealt with this really nicely I thought.

Also…there was this little missive floating around the interwebs this week…

Here is a little follow-up item in terms of the way in which the prosperity gospel is ruining ‘merica…not everyone is buying in: Benny Hinn Is My Uncle, but Prosperity Preaching Isn’t for Me

This was so encouraging that I ordered the book, and tweaked the time I spent with my own kids in the Bible a bit. Sort of gave me some new ideas as a dad.

This is really important to get your head around: Letter From North Korea: What Life Looks Like as Nuclear Crisis Mounts. The reason this is so important is that the people of NK have been indoctrinated with this nuclear idea/mission.  So the likelihood of them giving it up is…low…its now embedded in their culture.

Hilarious: ESPN Launches Fantasy Preaching Software.

So good: Godliness is not your Personality

And…don’t miss this: We Are Not Germs: The Case for Human Dignity

Another good-humored article for your weekend: Can a $300 Cooler Unite America?

And that’s really it for now.  In the book world, I’ve just finished a book on John Newton by Tony Reinke that I thought very impactful. He really just goes through Newton’s letters and shows how he would live the Christian life. Some of the things he said aren’t going to leave me very soon, and I’m glad for that.  I also just finished the Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein – this time reading it with my kids, who seemed to enjoy it.  Tolkein is a master of the english language, and whether or not the kids understood every verb tense is less important that we’re bathing them in good literature – because they definitely enjoyed the adventure!

Have a great weekend!

PJ

Weekend Reading: September 16, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading, my collection of most interesting videos, blogs, news stories, books and more from the past week or two…

Science: As a reminder, I traditionally only post the most obvious news stories here if they are something I’d like to comment on. Usually, I like to post stuff that you may have missed, and here is one such story: Mathematicians Measure Infinities and Find They’re Equal.  I mean, why not geek it out and learn about a big math breakthrough.  I can’t say as I completely understand this, but it is definitely interesting.

Shocker: North Korea Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapon to ‘Sink’ Japan.  Now, I don’t know about you, but Kim is starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. I don’t know what the end game for him is, but it may simply be consolidating his own internal power. That said, regardless of whether he’s just saber rattling, we effectively have another country threatening to annihilate us – which means we’re in a de facto state of war with that country – and everything those guys do deserves our attention.

There’s a video out that explains more about the missiles: Why North Korea Can’t Build An ICBM (yet).

On the political front, the big news this week was on immigration. And to call it “news” is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, because nothing really (substantially) happened. Trump had a bunch of Democrat leaders over for dinner, and at that dinner, he supposedly told them he would cave on the DACA program, without getting his southern border wall. This infuriated his supporters, and caused the conservatives at RedState blog to write a post called ‘Amnesty!!’.  Breitbart even called him “Amnesty Don”.  Now, what is getting lost in all of this is the actual policy ramifications of rescinding DACA and not getting better border security. Can the United States be both merciful and wise at the same time?  Can we deal kindly with these children and also secure our border so that we stem the tide of illegal immigration? I highly doubt it given the type of people who inhabit the leadership of our government (on both sides of the aisle). But I do think that is what the President seems to be aiming for.

What is more of a mystery to me is how anyone can be surprised by the President’s actions. This is a man whose supporters trumpet his credentials as a dealmaker. Although some (on the right and left) might characterize his life as closer to that of a serial liar who has a track record of infidelity to both people and ideas. Regardless of how you frame it, the President is a man who makes deals – and unlike our Senate President has done that pretty successfully in years past.

For the first six months of his Presidency, he was clearly out of his depth, making one gaffe after another, compounding those mistakes by a series of uninhibited rants on social media which (I think) tarnished the office and embarrassed his supporters. But I think it’s too early to judge this latest series of policy maneuvers – including the prospect that the southern wall might get addressed later. Those on the right (of which I am one) can’t have it both ways – we can’t complain about the impotence of the GOP leadership in the Congress and then blame the President for wanting to bring Democrats along to make a deal to get things done. Because if the GOP leadership in the House and Senate doesn’t have the requisite leadership skills to get even a budget passed or Obamacare rescinded, what makes us think they can pass meaningful tax or immigration reform?

As far as I can tell, the President is simply tired of counting on House and Senate leadership to get anything done, and so he’s trying something else. Sure it means he might be going back on his word from the campaign – but when has that ever stopped a politician in the past?  Maybe that’s what we’re seeing…Donald Trump is becoming a politician…

Moving on…

Tech + Environmentalism + Liberals + Hollywood Types: Does anyone know what the heck Burning Man is really all about?  For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the point is.  All I know from past news stories over the years is that it’s where a bunch of libs and tech CEOs gather to free themselves from the conveniences of modern technology…of course, that idea died years ago.  So I’m not sure what the point is these days, but I do know that this is ridiculous: Thousands of bikes abandoned at ‘leave no trace’ Burning Man. 

Religion and America….Good writing from John MacArthur here: Can God Bless America?

Gays + Tech = ?  Some off-the-wall technology stuff here…Researchers use facial recognition tools to predict sexual orientation. LGBT groups aren’t happy.

‘Sin in America’, or ‘More stuff on Gay People’: Along similar lines, I thought it would be helpful to link to the Nashville Statement here. This statement was signed by hundreds of prominent evangelicals, along with some conservative media types and many others. If you haven’t been able to read it, go ahead and do so because it’s likely to be a reference point for years to come in the discussion about the sin of homosexuality, and how the church interacts with the issue (was just thinking how after typing “the sin of…” could land me in some hot water before too long…).

Tech: This was buried in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago: Facebook Is Willing to Spend Big in Video Push

Hurricanes: Insightful stuff here:  Best intentions: When disaster relief brings anything but relief

Sociology: This is really fascinating stuff here: From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones.  Of course, I am all for Harvard or any other institution having the freedom to reject or admit whomever they’d like. That is part of what makes this country great. Yet, there are some really interesting things to explore in this article. There are questions to ask – like whether they rejected Jones on academic grounds (it doesn’t seem so), or whether those who are outraged are outraged for the right reasons.  A bigger question is whether we believe rehabilitation is possible in the prison system.  Lot’s to chew on here, and I’d encourage you to read the article and discuss it with someone to flesh out a bit what is going on here and why.  NOTE: the three reasons I think I detect from Harvard as to their rejection are: 1. Jones might be uncomfortable in the high-pressure academic situation, 2. Jones seemed unwilling to dive into the crime she committed 20 years ago in the optional section of her application, 3. Allowing Jones’ into the program would bring fire upon the University politically from the right (Fox News is cited) by promoting a supposed trope that Harvard is P.C. through and through (the double irony of this is mind-blowing…it might be a truism that those who don’t have principles moored in eternal truths find themselves in ironic situations more than they’d like).

Religion in America: I know I just linked to the NY Times, and that may have been hard to stomach for some of my fellow conservative friends, but this won’t help much because I’m now going to link to the pseudo-journalism of Buzzfeed. The article is called, ‘The Joel Osteen Fiasco Says A Lot About American Christianity’.  I find it interesting to view the church through the eyes of the world every now and again, just as it’s interesting to see the world through a kaleidoscope (distortions are often amusing, and more often noteworthy).

More of the same??? Maybe…Perhaps the best title for this article is ‘Whoops……..’

In case you missed it: Dianne Feinstein Attacks Judicial Nominee’s Catholic Faith. Apparently, there is no longer freedom of religion when it comes to serving in the public arena.  This is an extremely important story, with chilling repercussions.  So much could be said, but one thing is that it underscores the importance of elections in America. Elections have consequences. So next time you hear people complaining about how much money is spent on them, or how many ads or calls you’re getting or seeing, remember that the stakes are high, and that’s the reason why so much attention is placed on who wins and who loses.  It goes without saying that to have several U.S. Senators of any variety attacking a judge in this way is egregious, and an example of how liberals in America are desirous to reshape the values by which this country is governed and judged. Feinstein complained of this nominee that “the dogma lives loud” inside her. Feinstein too has a dogma roaring within her, and its ugly sound was heard across the political spectrum with acute clarity. We ignore the roar of this lion at our own peril. 

Freedom, Liberty, and Science: Canada these days!  Jeez! from the Toronto Sun: Canada now investigates ‘climate denial’. Of course, I say that tongue in cheek because we Americans know how close to this America is as well. In fact, we’ve already seen it at the IRS in recent years.

Rando: This is just odd…yet funny: Elvis Karate Fight Plaque.

That’s it for now – I hope you enjoy your weekend!

PJ

Weekend Reading: September 2, 2017

Welcome to the weekend, and another edition of the Weekend Reading.  Here are a few items I found interesting from the last few weeks…

Before I start with other stories, let’s remember the folks in Houston and the surrounding environs. They’ve received over 9 trillion gallons of water (CA residents may be slightly jealous) and once this all stops, the rebuilding of lives will take place. Like others I’ve heard about those who scam the government, again and again, to “rebuild” but never do. But those are the minority (so please don’t send me more stories on those degenerates), and the vast majority will need prayers, money, and donations.

Side note: one friend of mine, Rick, pointed out this week that when we see people helping people in Houston – regardless of ethnic or racial background, it sort of destroys the narrative that America is being torn apart by these divisions. It’s a great point. We often shake our fists in the sky and wonder why God would allow this kind of devastation. But we have to ask: how many lives will be transformed, how many enduring relationships built, and how much good is done through this mess? Homes can be knocked down and then rebuilt, but I’m betting that much of what is being forged in the rain will endure for a generation or even eternity. From a more global perspective, in many ways, these sites on our television have had a healing effect on many who only weeks before were wondering if we are close to civil war in some parts of the country.

Amazing picture of the week from twitter showing white caps on interstate 10 in Houston.

This past week we had the Powerball lottery winner announced, and it led Arthur Brooks to pen a column for the Wall Street Journal about how the government preys on the poorest of its’ people with this kind of game.  There are some very interesting points he makes, but if you want to skip the story and get the summary, here’s a good one:

It might strike you as bizarre that the government spends billions on nutrition and housing programs for the poor while simultaneously encouraging poor people to move their own money away from these necessities and toward the state’s gambling monopoly. In fact, that $70 billion in annual lottery revenues is strikingly close to what the government spends on food stamps. Is there any set of policies more contradictory than pushing lotto tickets on poor people, and then signing them up for welfare programs that make them financially dependent on the government?

Did you see this?  Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant. It’s an interesting story because what you see is the hypocrisy of the liberal elite specifically in the way Google overtly uses gobs of money to buy influence. One telling sentence:

“Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,” Mr. Lynn said. “People are so afraid of Google now.”

This is the stuff of Clancy novels. Google, Amazon, Apple etc. are increasingly powerful and increasingly pushing/buying their way around the capitals of the world in order to get their way. The ironic (I mentioned hypocrisy before) thing about this is that liberals are the ones supposedly fighting for the working class.  But a short survey of liberal intellectuals and businessmen will reveal they are greedy hypocritical people who generally think the rules don’t apply to them (of course this could be said of many in corporate America regardless of party).

If you want a short eye-opening look at the history of how these folks think and whether their thoughts mirror their actions, I highly recommend reading Intellectuals by Paul Johnson. 

Adventure.com has an interesting piece worth checking out called ‘How 43 president heads ended up abandoned on Virginia farmland’. I’d never even heard of this before! (h/t my Kate).

After the “big fight” from last week, I saw this interesting story pop up: Floyd Mayweather will join billionaire athletes club. Mayweather is not exactly the model citizen or role model that you would want your kiddos to emulate. Yet here he is, making billions (yes, with a “b”) of dollars. There’s so much to say about this, and perhaps you could say he “earned” it. But there comes a time when we have to ask ourselves how complicit we are in the building up of an industry/person who would revile you if you were to meet up with him for coffee (at his strip club, for instance). Ah, the way of the world…

This was a harrowing story: THE DAY I FOUND OUT MY LIFE WAS HANGING BY A THREAD.  When you read an account like this, it brings the mortality of one’s life to the forefront. Here is this hugely successful startup entrepreneur just living his life, enjoying a bit of success, working hard etc. and BOOM he finds out that he’s dying. I think he wrote this is such an exceptionally honest way that it’s hard to stop reading, and it is a great reminder of life’s brevity. Then…questions arise…Do we hold on to what matters most? Do we fuel our days with ultimate truth? Or do we march like lemmings through life with inattentive minds; minds bent on all the small things with no thought to ultimate issues? Do we say “I will deal with those questions when the time comes.”? Like poor field generals, we focus entirely on tactics and completely ignore the strategy.

More tech – and this one is particularly of interest to me because it’s something my own firm has been preaching for almost two years now:  Google Issuing Refunds to Advertisers Over Fake Traffic, Plans New Safeguard.  Over half of the ad traffic that most agencies purchase is fake. Billions in wasted money on internet traffic/page loads that are not generated by real human beings is stunning. (h/t Alex W.)

An interesting societal story from the pages of the liberal Atlantic: America, Home of the Transactional Marriage.

David French for National Review: Journalists Overreach in Their Quest to Purge ‘Hate’ from the Web

Fascinating little history from Martin Luther’s most famous hymn: What “One Little Word” Will Fell Satan?

Ligonier’s Tabletalk Magazine has a new home. It’s certainly a pretty site, though I’m still learning to navigate it.  If you’ve never read much from these guys,  you may not know that the beauty of Tabletalk’s art matches the quality of content between its covers.

Tim Challies has a thoughtful article titled ‘The Rise of Digital Technologies and the Decline of Reading’

Which leads to a roundup of what I’ve been reading in the way of books. Here’s the link to what I’ve read this year.  As I mentioned above, Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals was really good and worth checking out. The Silk Roads was certainly interesting, and while I don’t agree with everything he says, there’s some good perspective to be gained here. I enjoyed the Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill and thought Star Wars Aftermath III was just okay. I laughed a bit at P.G. Wodehouse’s Service with a Smile. A couple of books I gave up because after the first few chapters it was like “okay, I get it” were Moore’s Onward and Wilson’s Unparalleled. I might go back to Moore’s book later…I’m in the middle of a lot right now. I think perhaps I bit off more than I could chew in some ways, but after reading Intellectuals, I bought a stack of Johnson’s other books, and am reading ‘Heroes’ and ‘The Birth of the Modern’.

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

PJ

Weekend Reading: August 19, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend!  Here are the stories, videos, and books I found most interesting this week…

Let’s start out with Barcelona. Here’s the most updated video/news site I found with the very latest, in case you haven’t been able to catch up on the terrorist attack that happened on Thursday.

With the solar eclipse coming up on Monday, Atlas Obscura has put together a story with answers to a lot of the most interesting questions about the eclipse. 

In case you missed it, Steve Bannon resigned from the White House yesterday. In recent interviews, he’d been contradicting the President on the Korean situation and no-doubt that his influence post-Charlottesville was less helpful than ever. Bannon had always been a bit of a boogieman for the left. And it seems like he’s not super happy about his departure.  Very practically speaking, I think there will be good and bad from this. The bad will be that he likely balanced out the more liberal voices in the administration (Kushner and Ivanka) on domestic policy, and the more internationalist approach of some of the generals on the staff (by the way, I dispute that General McMaster is a globalist – anyone who has actually read his book on Vietnam will see that he seems to detest politicians jumping into conflicts overseas when they’re unnecessary).

On the other side of things, the positive side, I see Bannon’s leaving as a positive for the integrity of the White House and the office of President. He was probably responsible for many of the leaks to Breitbart (a site he used to run and will once again take the helm of) and other news outlets. Additionally, for a staffer to come out and directly contradict the President in public (which he did in several interviews this week) on Korea or any other matter, is grounds for dismissal. I’m not saying it’s wrong to contradict Trump, but if you’re on his staff, then you need to sing from the same sheet of music – he’s the boss.  Bannon must have felt as though he was smarter than Trump, and could say whatever he wanted with complete impunity. He was wrong.

A few items on Charlottesville…

Someone asked me this week if I think that it was fair for the President to receive so much criticism about his remarks after the terror attack.  I think the question is a bit of a loaded one because we know that editors and anchors and journalists in the media lean left, and had been hammering the President from day one of his administration (and before).

That said, if you look through the Washington Post’s whining here, there emerges a good point, namely that past Presidents have used terror attacks as a stage to magnify their leadership, and remind Americans of what makes this country great. There are two sides to how you respond to these kinds of things, the first is the negative and the condemning, and the other side of it is the casting of a vision for what America is all about.  There is no way that any President should be taking a polling hit after something like this, and yet this President seems most adept at shooting himself in the foot. This man who manipulated the media into giving him billions of dollars in free coverage throughout the election cycle (to the detriment of far superior candidates), cannot be said to be ignorant of how to turn these events into public relations gold.  But instead what we’ve seen is the opposite. I have a few theories on why that is, but it’s worth pondering…

SIDEBAR: In case you had forgotten what thoughtful leadership looks like, outside the circus, both former Presidents Bush released a joint statement on the matter.  I applaud their leadership and their positive vision of the country – however flawed it may be. Indeed, critical thinkers will recognize that those men’s statement isn’t free from critique. They conclude by saying, “We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.” What does that even mean? For two men who are governed by Christian faith, this is an inane and fallacious way to conclude such an important statement. They state that Americans are all created with “certain inalienable rights” (quoting Jefferson), and then say they know these are everlasting – how do they know these rights are everlasting? They say it is “because” they’ve witnessed the “decency and greatness of our country.” WRONG.  You cannot base a statement of men’s rights being everlasting upon the waxing and waning behavior of citizens. If you were to say that men are “sinful and in need of salvation from the One who created them to have equal rights” because of what they’ve seen in lives of men, then I’d be on board. But you cannot base a supposed eternal/everlasting truth upon the fleeting behaviors of the masses. In fact, this is exactly what our founders were trying to avoid, having witnessed the horrors of the French Revolution! No, no, no. These inalienable rights are not based on any decency we have witnessed in our fellow man, or in the power of one country, but rather they are grounded in the “everlasting” nature of our God who created us all in His image.

Eternal truth must be grounded in the eternal Being, not in the whims of society, or the “greatness” of a country.

Here’s another opinion piece for critical thinkers. It’s by conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru who says Bury the Confederacy for Good’.  My southern friends will probably hate this one – but I think my southern friends probably need a bit of a wake up as well. Ponnuru seems to want to get at some of the historical issues underlying the racial issues from last week. He makes some really good points, reminding us that while Robert E. Lee fought “long and valiantly” (to quote General Grant), still he had committed treason against our country. There’s more here than can be discussed in my post because as a man intensely interested in history, I’m concerned that tearing down historical markers may erase that history. That said, why would we ever memorialize men who committed treason. Lee made the wrong choice, and he lost – praise God, he lost.  Are we mature enough to honor the fallen and accurately remember the history without celebrating the wrong ideas for which they fought?  

Moving on to tech and other good things…

I thought this was pretty interesting:  Hyundai unveils new fuel cell SUV with longer travel range

And, I missed this a few months back, but appreciate my brother digging it up:  What does the new ISP data-sharing roll back actually change?

From the NY Times: Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain

Popular Mechanics: The Remarkable, War-Torn, Spacefaring History of the Slinky

A few stories on Elvis Presley this week. The first comes from the Opinion Page of the Wall Street Journal, and is a first hand account of what it was like at Presley’s viewing the day after he died.  The second is a vintage column from R.C. Sproul from that same year, talking about Elvis, and the national phenomenon that had sprung up around him. Fascinating stuff.

LASTLY, I want to point you to an article by Jon Bloom that plays off of the moxie of Winston Churchill and is called ‘Never Give In, Never Make Peace’.  It’s a brilliantly timed article in the wake of the last week of tumult.  I will leave you with the best excerpt:

A year before his speech at Harrow, in even darker (sterner) days, immediately following the heroic deliverance of 335,000 British and French troops from German capture in the Battle of Dunkirk, Churchill encouraged the British Parliament and people, as well as the world, with these words of resolve:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

This is what encouragement sounds like. Encouragement is not just tender consolation for the suffering, it is strong exhortation to the fainthearted. This is how we should speak to each other in wartime, especially when the shadow of evil is cast over us. This is not a time to give in to fear. It is not a time for despair. This is a time for resolve. It is a time, not for posturing and swagger, but for a humble, Jesus-trusting, Word-grounded, Spirit-filled determination. It is a time for holy Christian moxie.

That’s it!  I hope you have a great weekend.

PJW

Weekend Reading: August 12, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading!  My summer Saturdays have been crammed full of travel and family fun, and so it’s been hard to get out this blog post/email.

I’d like to dedicate this short post to my friend David DiSilvestro, a fellow weekend-reader who unexpectedly passed away this week. During his funeral service, Pastor Flemming aptly said that David was “a truth seeker.”  That he was!  He was always asking good questions, and often sent me thoughts, stories, ideas about politics, medicine, and tech.  More than that, he was a good husband and father, and a devoted follower of Jesus. May he rest in peace.

Let’s start with TECH…

From the BBC: Hyperloop One: Passenger pod tested successfully (h/t to my friend Josiah who saw this and passed it on!)

PAGING HYPOCRISY: Al Gore used over 20 times more energy to power his home for a year than the average American: Report.  I know I shouldn’t be shocked by stuff like this, but wow.  I’m all for people having big homes and enjoying the fruit of their labors. But the labor of this man has been to scare everyone about global warming (now “inconveniently” called climate change) and using the profits from his movies and books to do the very things he preaches against!  I guess we’re all hypocrites at some level, but he’s making himself a pretty easy target.

If you read one thing: There Is No App for That: Are We Trading Our Present for Pictures?

Keep an eye on this oneToyota claims a leap that would vastly increase electric-car range

I feel like this was the biggest tech news of the week: Disney to leave Netflix, launch online-only ESPN service.  Whilst I am all for competition, the consumer side of me sighed a heavy sigh for how painful it’s becoming to get to all the content I’d want to watch.  Instead of being easier, it’s all getting harder because the content is in different places and requiring different subscriptions. Nevertheless, it’s good to have competition, and it will be interesting to see how Disney does with this…

A Matter of Faith…This was good reading/meditation material this week: Twelve Gospel Passages to Soak In

Politics…

Not enough has been made of this: Russia’s Putin orders 755 US diplomatic staff to be cut.  The funny thing is that for a while the President really said nothing. Then he ended up (sarcastically?) thanking Putin for saving us so much money!  (he’s probably right on that one).

Everyone by now knows about this one: Intelligence Agencies Say North Korean Missile Could Reach U.S. in a Year

But I thought that some might have missed this oneIf Missiles Are Headed to Guam, Here Is What Could Stop Them.  I found that run down pretty helpful (even if it is from the NY Times!).  It talks about the three different stages of the missile flight, and what we would do in each stage to stop the missile from coming near Guam.

And…what in the world is this all about: U.S. expelled two Cuban diplomats after embassy employees in Cuba developed unexplained ailments…This is one of those headlines you see and have to wonder what kind of spy-like stuff is going on behind the scenes.  Not to be a super conspiracy-theorist or anything…

Society…and random other stuff…

This is just…odd: Is Justin Bieber Sabotaging His Career for Jesus? 

Seven filthy food habits and how dirty they really are.

 I know most people saw and discussed and probably already ranted about this, but in case you missed it: Google Fires Employee Who Dared Challenge its Ideological Echo Chamber
This was a few weeks back and was pretty hilarious: Manhunt for wanted felon delays member-guest golf tournament in Ohio.
What I’m Reading this Weekend: Knowing the Truth: An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer.
Books…
I just finished up seminary for the summer, so I am back on the book trail!  Here’s my updated Goodreads account that lists what I’ve read thus far this year. 
The book I most recently finished was called ‘The Silk Roads’ and I found it really interesting. It’s providing a non-western perspective on the history of the world, with the idea that the silk roads area (Asia and Asia Minor etc) have always been the fulcrum upon which the world’s events have shifted.  This may or may not truly be the case, but I found it interesting nonetheless. It’s well written, and it will deliver on many interesting facts that you may not have known – especially interesting to me was some of the detailing of the economic events going on behind the scenes of world wars and other political upheavals throughout the last few hundred years.
That’s it for today!  I hope you enjoy a great weekend!
PJW