Weekend Reading: January 20, 2018

Good afternoon!  I’ve mentioned before that sometimes its hard to find time to write a weekly post about the news and the books I’m reading, but recent encouragement has enforced the idea that this is a helpful thing to some of you – and personally I find it helps me review as well.  That said, I think that as a writer I feel this inward pressure to write something long and comprehensive, when in reality I don’t think that’s all that helpful.

With that in mind, here’s are few articles and books and such to consider!

Let’s start with the ridiculous and hope you don’t puke. NOTE: this is NOT a parody!

Gold Medalist Michael Phelps talks about his depression. It is a reminder that people – no matter what their social or economic status – are still people. They still have a need for purpose and find some of that outside of themselves.

Similarly: U.K. Appoints a Minister for Loneliness. My theory on why this is going on is that officials in the government are coming to the realization that decades of stamping out religion in the U.K. has its drawbacks.  Now, balance that parliamentary leadership decision with what you see going on over at Buckingham Palace, detailed in this important article: How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ – has made faith her message.  In fact, if you’re going to read one article, make it that one, because its very encouraging – and relevant as well, since millions are watching The Crown on Netflix.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this story, and talking to medical professionals in this line of work. It’s fascinating: Stem Cells for Knee Problems? U.S. Doctors Investigate.

I have to admit that I laughed pretty hard at this one: Trump Refuses To Let Jesus Into His Heart After Learning He’s From Nazareth.

You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed this one, but just in case: Apple, Capitalizing on New Tax Law, Plans to Bring Billions in Cash Back to U.S.

From The Wardrobe Door blog: Logan Paul and Our Embrace of Two Minutes Hate.  Good points to consider here.

Some wise words here from John Piper: Deep Bible Reading Strategies for the Tired and Busy

So I tried this new google app and didn’t find it all that awesome.  Anyone else find it better than me?

Saved and on-deck for this week: The Sacrifice of Faith. And Trust No One: Kim Philby and the hazards of mistrust.

Books: I saw that Susan Wise Bauer has finally released her new book ‘Rethinking School’.  I’ve read a lot of Bauer’s history books (as have my kids), so I’m really interested to hear her academic and personal take on how parents should approach schooling.

Similarly, this article by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was interesting. He’s writing about public service as a Christian, and what it means to take up your cross in the political arena. The book isn’t by him but by another (A Theology of Political Vocation: Christian Life and Public Office), but he expresses some of the ideas in hopeful terms. Probably one worth checking out once the ridiculous pricing changes.

Finally, a new book by Nancy Pearcey is looking very interesting: Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Some of the questions addressed by Pearcey (from the Amazon description): Are transgender people discovering their authentic self? Is the hookup culture really liberating? Does abortion lead to equality for women? Does homosexuality contradict our biological sex? 

This week I read (and didn’t finish) several disappointing books. Probably got 60% through Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, my Goodreads review was “A profane literary landscape dotted by tidbits of momentary interest. Sad story – even the funny parts were sad because of how demented they were.” I started listening to this book in the airport during a D.C. trip this week – I figured, hey why not? Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear some of Fisher’s background and struggles? And ya, its interesting, but its also overwhelmingly profane and sad, and really pretty random.

Our family finished George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind. I remembered enjoying this as a kid, but as an adult I found it a complete mess of literary nonsense. Almost completely devoid of plot for large swaths of the 330 pages, I would have quit after page 250 but was overruled. I guess I’ll disclaim that MacDonald was C.S. Lewis’ literary hero, and that I’ve read pretty widely in his prose and always found them wanting. His imagination is good, and sometimes he has brilliant turns of phrases, but his characters are not believable, and he meanders through a plot (if there is one) like a child lost in a cornrow.

Similarly disappointing was the new star wars compilation From a Certain Point of View. This mess is exasperating.  I probably made it through 20 or 30% of the book. It’s a compilation of 40 short stories from the point of view of lesser characters in the Star Wars saga. And by “lesser” I mean REALLY lesser.  We’re talking Jawas and droids you’ve never heard of and imperial henchmen who appear for less than 5 seconds on the screen in the movies. I thought this would be something I’d dig, but for whatever reason it just makes the whole thing seem so…trite…? Not sure if that’s the word…but its awfully boring.

There is hope though – several more good books I’m enjoying right now that I hope to report back on soon.

Until then, have a great weekend!

PJW

 

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Weekend Reading: January 13, 2018

Welcome to the weekend!  Some of you are buried in snow and others have escaped the tundra to warmer climes. Regardless of where you are, here are a few items you might enjoy catching up on this week.

Before I begin, I’ll just note that some of my reading habits are changing. I’m devoting more time to reading books in my schedule, and less to reading tons of news articles – that and my work is filling in all those gaps as well with a busy season coming on.  So I may be sending a more selective list of articles, and adding in more books here from time to time.

One thing that fascinated me was the closing of many Sam’s Clubs this week. It came on the heels of Walmart’s announcement of pay raises for many of its employees.  The reason I say “fascinated” is because of the dynamics involved.  The press jumped all over the irony of the situation, but aside from that irony I think other interesting decisions were at play – and the results affect many people. If you listen to Sam’s Club executives this was just part of a larger strategy that has been moving people toward online purchases (remember when Sam’s/Walmart purchased Jet.com – I didn’t even know such a site existed). But maybe there’s more to it – ya, they were probably going to do this anyway, but they probably thought that doing it during a week where there was some good news on the retail side at Walmart would help stem some of the blow-back…they thought wrong. They may have guessed right if the decisions were affecting similar groups of people, but that wasn’t the case.  One affected only the employees, while the other affected both employees and the consumer directly.

Furthermore, maybe you’ve noticed that there’s somewhat of a community rivalry between Sam’s and Costco that gets manifested in comments between shoppers/members. Personally I loved to point out the deficiencies of Sam’s (faithful Costco member here!), and enjoyed wooing friends over to Costco…not that it takes much wooing once they’ve seen things for themselves (I jest, I jest…sort of).  I’m curious what you think – is this a big deal, and how will it help Costco if at all?

Okay, switching gears a little here – I read this article, ‘Life coaches on Instagram break the first rule of therapy—that’s why it works’ and found it interesting because its coming from a completely different mindset than I normally come from.  I had zero idea about the Instagram coaching phenom, but its not surprising to me. I do a little mentoring myself, I suppose, but wouldn’t consider myself a “life coach” – which lead me to wonder how anyone could consider themselves a life coach…what are the steps involved?  If you believe this article, there aren’t any at all…

On to religion…there’s a guest article on Desiring God’s website called, ‘How Have Catholics Changed Since Luther?’ that is pretty interesting.  I’m always trying to understand the Catholic Church better because I have many friends who are Catholic.  And by “understand” I mean the life and mindset of the church, and not just the beliefs of the church (that’s a separate – and important – discussion for another day). For someone concerned with historic Christianity and the gospel message, I have often seen the disconnect between say, what Rome teaches historically, and what a certain Pope says, or what local Catholics believe, as important.

The same is true for what the Bible teaches and what an “evangelical” megachurch pastor says from the pulpit. Often there is a disconnect there, and most often it can be traced back to men who have sought to adapt the Bible’s teaching to their times in order for it to be relevant or to fit within their assumptions/worldview. Funny enough, those adaptations have a way of sticking around for hundreds of years until the average church attender just assumes they’re part of the historic faith.

So this article isn’t comprehensive but it get the mind turning. The question I think all Christians need to ask themselves is this: does what my priest/pastor/parson/elder say on Sunday morning match up with what I’m reading in the Bible?  I’m assuming this can be done by anyone – and that you don’t have to be a great scholar, just a good reader who reads for context and asks questions. And that is the key – are we asking the right questions (are we asking any questions at all??).  Good church leaders will directly answer or help sort through our questions using the Bible, and not just their opinion. Discerning adults should know the difference whether you’re Catholic or in an evangelical denomination.

Speaking of faux evangelical leaders: Trump’s “Spiritual Advisor” Wants to Grab Your Fruit. I cannot say strongly enough how disgusting this is. It also exposes a sad lack of discernment in our President – and in more mainstream men like James Dobson who prop up the idea that the President is a real Christian man etc. Nonsense. I support the President and many of his excellent policies, and I think that overall he’s doing a good job all things considered. But while politically it may be disgusting to listen to liberals in the media rant on (and in many cases completely fabricate) a daily basis about the evils of Donald Trump, let’s not lose our ability to be discerning. There’s been enough lack of discernment, and an abundance of foolishness, which has been exhibited on the record for Christians to be able to parse out the difference between the man’s character and, say, his economic or foreign policies.

Another semi-political story that finds its roots in the tech sector: How Do You Vote? 50 Million Google Images Give a Clue

Ho boy…We Know Almost Nothing About This Secret US Government Airline

Interesting: Flashback: Harvey Weinstein Accuser Says He Used Friendship With Oprah to Abuse His Targets

Books…here’s what I’ve read thus far.  Some really interesting reads thus far.  Liturgy of the Ordinary was really encouraging and totally different, a Night to Remember was very well written and insightful, Distilled Knowledge was fantastic, humorous and well researched. It offered a scientific look at drinking and alcohol that I enjoyed. The Kim Philby spy book was fascinating and annoying at the same time. No one likes the idea that their governments can be so inept. The Agatha Christie book was very well written – the literary aspect of it was its crowning accomplishment I think. Chernow’s Death of a Banker book was a nice summary/overview of finance in the past few hundred years, though I often found myself wanting more information. Seeking Allah Finding Jesus was a fast-paced read with great insight into the average life of a Muslim who loves his faith. I found Ferguson’s The Whole Christ littered with good theology (though I disagreed with him on the covenant of redemption assertions), though it was an odd sort of book (something he might agree with) – or at least an odd approach to the topic. Yet it is likely a good thing for pastors to read through; it certainly seemed geared to them. The Pre-Suassion book was insightful, and helpful, though you could see how it could have 1. been done in a shorter volume and 2. cited more studies to backup its ideas. Mixed in there was  volume of Christian poetry, which was also very enjoyable.

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy your weekend – stay safe on those roads!

PJW

Weekend Reading: December 23, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend – Christmas Weekend!

I thought about not sending anything out, but why not? I mean, you’ll have time to sit and read a few articles while visiting with the in-laws right?

So just a few for your consideration…

Let me start with one called The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’ which was sent to me by David B. This is a great story – the intersection of history and redemption, which is especially pertinent during the season of Christmas.

Okay, I haven’t read this one yet, but I as it is from the New York Times, I sort of just reveled in the guilty pleasure of their downcast headline: E.P.A. Officials, Disheartened by Agency’s Direction, Are Leaving in Drove…can you blame me?

There are a few stories out there about how Apple is being sued for intentionally slowing down their phones...I think this is something most everyone suspected or complained about, but apparently, it has less to do with merely the computer processing demand of new apps/software, and more to do with the limited lifespan of lithium-ion batteries. Basically, in sum: Apple put crappy batteries in their phones, to cover this up they put governing software code into said phones that would slow the speed of said phones down after only a year in order to cover up *cough*, oh, sorry, “account for and facilitate” battery life demands.  The whole thing was almost enough to send me running into the arms of another major technological giant.

This was both fascinating and infuriating: Saipan: The Island Where Chinese Mothers Deliver American Babies.  Question for you: How many American mothers are crossing oceans to have their babies in China in order to gain Chinese citizenship (not that it works that way over there…I don’t think at least)?  Okay, this is obviously ironic, right?  Okay good.

This is so painful: Good News! You Are a Bitcoin Millionaire. Bad News! You Forgot Your Password.  Excerpt:

James Howells, an IT worker in Newport, Wales, lost 7,500 bitcoin he mined in 2009 after a hard drive with his private key was accidentally thrown away during an office cleanup. His story went viral this month as the value of the hard drive’s contents rocketed to more than $100 million. Now he’s attempting to excavate the landfill and dig through four years’ worth of trash to find it.

This is really, really, really long…but you need to scan it, or at least try and find the key takeaways: The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.  Here’s a taste test:

Soon afterward, Kelly said, he ran into one of the unit’s top prosecutors and asked if there was “something going on with the White House that explains why we can’t get a criminal filing.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” the prosecutor replied, according to Kelly. “Right now, we have 50 FBI agents not doing anything because they know their Iran cases aren’t going anywhere,” including investigations around the U.S. into allegedly complicit used-car dealers.

And, this was just weird coming from someone that normally disgusts me: What if Ken Starr was Right? (Ross Douthat).

Tim Challies takes on the Love Languages…burn! 

This is fascinating stuff here: Could Crispr Help to Knock Out Superbugs? (their subtitle: A combination of gene editing and viruses that attack bacteria could help scientists fight antibiotic resistance).

Okay, so I know that I just posted a lot of articles from the Wall Street Journal.  It doesn’t always happen like that, but when it does I feel a special nagging sense of guilt. I know not everyone has a subscription to the Journal, but I’d recommend that you consider it. Also, you might be able to get access through your local library (I don’t know for sure, that’s just a random thought).  It’s worth it!

That’s it for now – have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

PJW

Weekend Reading: December 16, 2017 – The Passing of a Titan

It seems Saturdays have been filled with kids basketball these past three weeks, and I’ve hardly had time to sit and compose a Weekend Reading.  However, after this week’s events, I felt it impossible not to pen something regarding the passing of theologian R.C. Sproul.

If you were to google his name today, the search would be populated with obituaries and laudatory remarks and tributes from famous men and women – I especially identified with John Piper’s tribute, which rightly expressed a profound sense of gratitude for Dr. Sproul’s teaching focus on the holiness of God, and the special way in which he could so clearly convey the complex ideas of theology to people who never attended seminary.

Joni Eareckson Tada wrote a tribute that displayed how Dr. Sproul’s teaching on the sovereignty of God was immensely comforting and helpful at a time when despair and confusion would wreck even the most spiritually wise Christian.

Dr. Sproul’s ministry, Ligonier, has posted something from Dr. Stephen Nichols, a man Kate and I greatly admire and enjoy listening to and interacting with during Ligonier events.

Now it hits me all at once how hard this is going to be to write more.  One of my heroes has died. Great people have written well. What shall I say?  I didn’t know him well personally. We were not close. Our interactions were limited to some time I had in service to his ministry a few years ago, and though my relationship to the ministry remains very close, my interaction with Dr. Sproul was never frequent. Rather, I am like the millions of others who read his books and was changed by God because of them.

It is with tears now that I recall that powerful moment seven or so years ago when, so overcome with the weight of my sin and pride, I repented on my knees in my living room in the middle of the night.  Earlier in the evening, I had been determined to finish Sproul’s book, Chosen by God. But at around 2am I’d had enough. I couldn’t take anymore. The man had leveled an all-out assault on my pride as he described a God whose Word spoke of gracious and sovereign salvation in terms I’d never before contemplated.  I’d been a Christian for years, but as a busy young father and husband, building my first business in the cutthroat realm of politics, these truths were the last thing on my mind.

What a world of change God has wrought since those formative days!

I suppose this is what God does with godly men and women: He uses them to transform others and get their attention – not so that they can focus on the messenger, but so that their gaze is more continually heaven-bound than it was before.

That is what Dr. Sproul did through his writing and teaching.

One thing that he especially did for me was to connect me with the beauty and excitement of the Bible and show me a God who was so magnificent and so holy, that gazing upon the mercy of His Son’s cross became automatically more precious to me.

Aside from being a great teacher, he was also a great man of character and personal faith. And though, as I mentioned before, I didn’t have a lot of personal interaction with him, one moment is especially and indelibly seared upon my mind. My friend and former business partner Matt and I were down in Florida to help set up and conduct a large telephone town hall conference call event for Ligonier, with Dr. Sproul as the main speaker on the program.

As we completed setup of the software and phone system, Dr. Sproul and his wife Vesta entered the large ex-mansion that is now Ligonier ministries headquarters in Sanford. Their gait was slow and sober, marked with heavy expressions they traversed the long corridor that lead into Sproul’s office where we were setting up. They had just come from the hospital where they’d visited Denise Sproul, their daughter-in-law who was fighting cancer and had a very negative prognosis for recovery.  She would die a short time later in December of 2011 – the day before my son Ollie was born.  That night, the weight of the world looked to be upon their shoulders, and I began to wonder if we could continue on with this event.

Still, Dr. Sproul rallied and even made some wisecracks at the expense of my friend Matt. And so we got the event started. Eventually, the time came to take questions from callers, and when one man called from a Pitsburg hospital where his wife was dying, I looked up from my laptop to see his wife Vesta had reached out and grabbed R.C.’s hand, conveying strength and affirmation to see him through the poignant and painful moment. She reached toward his bible, perched an arm’s length away on the desk, but he waved her off – perhaps already knowing what passages he would require (as it turned out), or perhaps just focused on listening as the man from Pitsburg expressed grief and frustration at his wife’s pain: ‘Why would God allow this? What could be done?’

“What would he say? What could he say?”, thought I.

Of course, the man from Pittsburgh couldn’t know that minutes earlier Dr. Sproul had come from the bedside of his daughter-in-law. To most any other man the situation would have either obliterated their resolve or perhaps caused them to revert coldly to some automatic reply engrained from years of rote memorization.  Instead, with the compassion, wisdom, and clear Biblical communication that marked his entire ministry, Dr. Sproul expanded on the grace and sovereignty of God in sickness and death and, indeed all of life.

This titan of theology had been tested before my very eyes. What I witnessed that day was what happens when right theology is lived out righteously, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

May the Lord continue to bless the memory and ministry of R.C. Sproul.  We will miss him greatly.

 

Weekend Reading: November 18, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend.  Normally I would have curated a few stories and updates about books for you to peruse.  But this morning I simply want to share some thoughts about the last few weeks of news.

I’ve been thinking about all the allegations of sexual harassment that we’re hearing/reading/watching in our news streams and how to react and deal with these in a way that makes sense.  It seems to me that what is missing amongst the outrage and the venom is a careful inspection of the facts, an offer of grace for those who have sinned, and a differentiation between each case (they aren’t all the same). But the main thing that is missing is a way forward that is not complete tyranny. 

This reality drove home to me the difference between how the world works, and how God in His grace works. The world wants to sensationalize sin and then wonders why people are exploited. The world wants to marginalize and tyrannize one group to the exclusion of others as a response to marginalization and exploitation. In other words, the world’s (with the media being the expression of this) reaction to sin is to douse us with even more sin. In one very important respect, it is good for victims to be able to tell the truth, though from its outset America has been a comparatively open society for those desiring to tell the truth. So that is healthy – freedom begets both lux et veritas.

The problem we now face is environmental. An environment of liberation without diligence for truth can, and indeed has, very quickly turned into toxic tyranny. This is manifested in the oppression of accusation and finger pointing in response to the tyranny of exploitation and sexual misconduct. Generalizations flying, battle lines forming, slander spoken faster than anyone has the ability to refute or clarify. It is becoming harder for truth to be found, and this actually works against victims – though it works for ratings.

Watching the media over the last few weeks has been like pulling up a front row seat at Madame DeFarge’s knitting exhibition. We are on dangerous ground, stray but a little to the right or left and our society will be in great peril.

Don’t mistake me for siding with or against someone – I am perfectly horrified by what these elected officials have done. Even friends of mine, people I thought I knew, have resigned in disgrace this week – all the while putting a happy face on the thing or not completely even admitting their sin, and thus further enabling rumors and slander to run rampant.

But the main question I want to put to you in the midst of this is: what is the way forward?  The world is not going to offer a viable way forward. There will be no end to the toxicity – it will only get more rank.  The way forward isn’t simply codifying behavioral ethics in an H.R. document and forcing people to go through “training” – this behavior is so obviously wrong that no one ought to need such training! The fact that this is so is manifested in the well-warranted outrange of horrified Americans who are watching their elected leaders being outed as perverts.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out the gross irony in these stories. Perhaps this week’s allegations against Sen. Al Franken best typify that irony, for if he had behaved the way he did in real life during an on-screen performance, it would have been called “art” or “just another movie.”  In short, Hollywood has trained Americans to think sexual depravity is normal. We have swallowed these lies hook, line, and sinker. And so, in a round about way, we celebrate exploitation as we chuckle at perversion in our living rooms. And now the world is outraged when people (actors like Franken, for example) behave this way in real life…where do you think they got all the perverse ideas for their on-screen behavior?

I believe that the world as typified by those in the media writing the stories, those in Hollywood and people in the Halls of Power around the country, cannot adequately deal with these issues because they lack both the moral authority to do so, and the power of grace to rebuild the brokenness that remains. They will either descend into injudicious accusatory and sensational anarchy, or they will normalize the disgusting and exploitive behavior.  In fact, they may end up doing both simultaneously.

Only (yes an exclusive claim) Jesus Christ has both the grace to say “neither do I condemn you” and “go and sin no more.”  Only Christ can justly say “this is wrong” and “you are forgiven.” There is a balance to the message of Christianity – not because WE bring balance to it, but because our darkness, our sinfulness is both exposed by His light and washed clean and forgiven by Christ’s mercy and God’s justice which Christ bore.

In one respect, it is times like these that expose the utter sinfulness of sin. You don’t think men and women need Christ’s death? You think He paid an awful cost for no reason? These are the reasons. This is the sickness that drove Him to that hill and which nailed those spikes in His hands. I defy you to turn on the news and then tell me men don’t need a Savior and that victims don’t need a Redeemer.  

While we all rightly find ourselves disgusted by the sin we see in these news stories (apparently Hollywood has not so desensitized us yet that we can still find some sense of outrage over sin), let us not be so quick to forget our own sin. Let us not be so quick to forget that for victims and for their violators there is a way forward that doesn’t involve slander and bitterness and secretiveness.

I would encourage you to read an old column from Jon Bloom to help clarify these thoughts some more. Not every Biblical example is going to be a perfect one-to-one correspondence with what we’re seeing in today’s news cycle. But the principles are there.

This isn’t a soapbox plea. It’s a reminder to all those who claim to be Christian that we hold truths so powerful that lives truly can be mended, reputations rebuilt, and, most importantly, souls redeemed and minds and hearts renewed. We can come to the aid of the victims without being surprised by the sinful natures of men that made these things possible, and the culture that elevated the sin as entertainment in another setting.  We can offer healing to the broken, and grace to those who wish to repent of their wrong. And we can do this all without forgetting who we are, and where we would be without Christ’s sacrifice.

That’s it for today, I hope you have a great weekend.

PJW

Weekend Reading: November 11, 2017

Welcome to the weekend, the weekend reading is below, but first, happy birthday to my darling wife Kate!

Just a few articles for you to consider…

There are some shifts going on in the culture, and not always in a good way.  This past week the lead pastor of Hillsong Church appeared on The View – that’s the first hint that there may be trouble – and appeared ambivalent about whether or not abortion was murder. Think about that for a minute. The lead pastor of one of the most well-known churches in the evangelical world can’t even come down on what is normally considered a softball for anyone serving in ministry. Heck, millions upon millions of people who aren’t followers of Christ consider abortion murder. I am not naive enough to think that this guy is some theological dynamo, but he is admired by many younger Christians and has a significant following internationally.  Why do I point this out? Because 1. its good to know where leaders stand on key issues, as it helps to explain what their followers/admirers think and 2. as an offshoot of 1, its helpful in explaining microtrends among groups of people. When their leaders shift one way, they might shift that way as well.

This was pretty sad stuff. I didn’t know that Halladay was one of only two men to have pitched a perfect game in the post-season…ever.  Amazingly talented guy.

Interesting: Why Does the Season Before Winter Have Two Names?

Another thing to take a look at.  This is a powerpoint put together by some ex-Bush administration politicos who are positing the idea that we’re living in the midst of a new gilded age. I don’t doubt that they are on to something.  Over at Axios, Mike Allen has been pushing this idea for quite some time. This PPT is a bit dated – to a few months back – because I hadn’t reviewed it yet, and I was curious as to how it was standing up to the test of the fall elections.  In some ways, they were off, and in others, they were spot on.  We see all kinds of evidence of this, and they seem anecdotal – stories like this one pop up in our news feeds: The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever Sold Is a $350,000 California Cabernet Sauvignon.  I am not making a moral conclusion to this data, but simply musing on it, and think it’s worth considering for future conversation.

This is a must-read: Sean Parker: Facebook was designed to exploit human “vulnerability”. I think it makes a ton of sense to say that people are getting addicted to FB and other social streams – many people wouldn’t deny that its possible – but what’s so revolutionary about this article is that these guys who created FB are now saying “ya, we want it to be like that…” (so to speak).  They want you to spend all your time there. But what we might see in the future are more scientific studies showing that the lack of attention span and other brain malfunctions are a direct result of the “Feedback loop” we put ourselves in online.

Of course, the other consequence of this feedback loop is that we created worlds online in which everyone agrees with us, and everyone who doesn’t is labeled as spewing hate speech.

To that end, check out this New York Times article: What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz.  The irony of this is not in the quiz itself but in the fact that there exists a feedback loop of sorts between the liberal media writers at the Times and the liberal corporate execs at Facebook. Note especially near the end of the story this paragraph:

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

So the New York Times got their liberal readership to pay attention to this ageism gap in the FB hate speech quiz, and in response, Facebook altered their policies.  Now to give this context, can you imagine if The Weekly Standard, or Red State, or even the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal posted a quiz online and had Facebook change its policies based on that quiz or writing from its conservative readership?  NO WAY!  That would never happen.  That is because the NY Times is inside the feedback loop, it’s inside the liberal echo chamber. I’m not saying that conservatives (and I think particularly communities inside evangelicalism) don’t have this same phenomenon.  But the difference is that liberals are now running corporate America, and major social and communications platforms. What are the consequences of this?  That free speech is going to be regulated more and more by the left, and with the left in America moving more and more TO the left, we’re going to see ripple effects in the way in which people talk, what they say, and how they say it.

I somehow missed this until I stumbled on it at Target…pretty cool.

More tech – did anyone else notice how frustrating typing the word “I” has been on your iPhone this past week or so??? The Wall Street Journal talks about it here. 

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Tim Challies asked if Christians need to be considering more closely their relationship to Hollywood.  The crux of what he’s saying could be more bluntly paraphrased: “Why are you surprised? We’ve seen this kind of behavior on the silver screen for years now…where did you think these ideas came from? They came from sexual predators who wrote the scripts!”

Which leads me to post this article by John Piper which I thought spot on: Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?  Spoiler Alert: yes, yes they do.

I hadn’t heard much about this story until someone at the National Review wrote about it. Apparently, there were two men who chased down the killer of those folks down in the Texas church massacre. I heard something obliquely spoken of on the radio, but I was distracted with driving (some irony there) and didn’t know the full story until I read this piece: In Texas, Two Very American Heroes.

That’s all I really have time for today. I hope you enjoy your Saturday – happy reading!

PJW

Weekend Reading: November 4, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  I hope you are all doing well. I am traveling today so have just a few moments to share some reading for your weekend. Weekend Reading lightening edition!   (:

First, I’m going to have to say there was a lot of stupidity out there this week. Let’s start where stupidy reigns: The New York Times.  Modern liberal Catholic (despite himself) writer Ross Douthat who is widely read asked ‘Who Won the Protestant Reformation’ and his reflection tends toward the answer being “modern western liberalism” (although it’s hard to sort through his snide jumbled prose).  I am posting this here because its valuable to know what these kinds of people think. This is the cream of liberal elite thinking, so it is instructive. Douthat doesn’t address the arguments or the real reasoning behind the need for religious reformation, but looks instead at the flow of history with all its bloody excesses and sin and concludes that while we got modernity out of it eventually, there are many “unremembered dead” as well. He assumes that many of the dead died for nothing – as if in ignorance they fought for something small minded and trite. Quite the opposite was the truth when it comes to the days of reformation in the 16th century – and even so with those a priori forerunners who translated the Bible into the common vernacular in order that men may not be ignorant, exploited by the church, and might have joy and eternal life. Sounds worthwhile to me…but heck, I don’t have a Times column so what do I know!

Next, let’s look at stupidity across the pond from another bastion of liberal elitism. The headline is revealing: Prince William warns that there are too many people in the world. There aren’t enough trees and lakes and puppies in the world because we’re overrunning them with human babies. Nevermind that the aforementioned William is producing babies faster than any known man alive. There are two reasons I want to point this nonsense out. First, because wherever liberal elites’ actual views are allowed to surface – are actually admitted in the open – they are shocking and appalling and ALWAYS hypocritical. Second, when played out to their fullest, they often lead to mass killing and genocide (I’m looking at you communism). They are also fraught with irony. Secular Liberals like William who know very little about the average life of an average man, imagine their views would solve the problems of said man, and create a life on this earth that was a little less crowded and a little more enjoyable. Let’s pray for the sake of the lives of Europeans yet unborn that the monarchy in England never again gains any real power and that William rides out his days as he’s done thus far – in utter impotence.

Well…maybe he deserved it: Canadian man fined for singing ’90s dance tune in car

This is crazy:  Pakistani bride kills 17 in botched plot to kill husband

Multiple people sent me this article this week, AND I saw Mohler posted it, and I think Challies posted it…must have struck a nerve: The Politicization of Motherhood. It fits nicely right after the story by modernist liberal Douthat.

I stumbled on this video which I found amusing: The Surprisingly Mysterious Life of Famed Artist Bob Ross

Funny story here: Add Sugar to the List of Halloween Horrors (subtitle: Experts at the American Chemical Society determined the lethal dose for so-called fun-size treats).

Interesting: The U.S. Senate Has Been Using the Same Ivory Gavels for Over 200 Years

In case you missed it: Amazon Turns a Financial Report Into a Marketing Event.

This was enjoyable and interesting: Time Travel in Fiction Rundown.

That is it on the articles side – can you believe that I had something absolutely nuts from all over the globe!? haha!

Books….I finished David Copperfield this week and immensely enjoyed it. Kate and I had been reading it together for months. Kate’s favorite character was Agnus. My favorite characters were David’s eccentric Aunt, and his “friend of his youth” Mr. Wilkens Micawber.  Micawber uses (abuses?) the English language with such flourish that every time he would digress I would split my sides. The phrase “pecuniary emolument” was jestingly in frequent use in our house over the past weeks, much to my enjoyment!

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

PJW