Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for May 2010

Best Links of the Week

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Who bails out the bail outers:  The Sawyer-esque long con of the ever-so-Keynesian Obama administration amounts to a Ponzi Scheme, Barack Hussein Obubble.

Lifehacker explains how to use Facebook’s new privacy policies.

Apparently, those who make less than $13,000 a year spend an average of 9% of their annual income on lottery tickets.

I am not sure why this isn’t major news but a few weeks back North Korea sunk a South Korean ship and U.S. Intelligence has confirmed that Kim Jong Il gave the green light for the attack.  This is one more reason why proactive measures should be taken against Iran.  South Korea is stuck because Kim Jong Il is crazy and he may have the bomb.

Unfortunately, “dialogue” and hype only go so far, Syrian President Bashar Assad criticizes Obama administration, saying “Obama has failed in Peace Efforts and Lost Influence in Mideast.”  Ouch.

NY Times OP-ed mocking the ridiculous spelling of baby names in today’s world.  What is the worst you’ve seen?

Two Iranian Christian women finally released from prison.

Nonsense with the 2010 Census.

Scientist infects self with computer virus.

Apparently Hurley auditioned for the role of Sawyer and Ben Linus auditioned for the role of Hurely.  Video below.  Weird.

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Why the Final Episode of LOST was so Frustrating

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I feel like I’ve got to get this out of my system to justify spending 6 seasons watching a compelling narrative only to be severely disappointed.  WARNING, this will contain spoilers, read on at your own risk.

There were two things that were compelling about the LOST narrative:  it’s characters and it’s mythology.   I believe that humans are hard-wired for stories.  The most compelling stories are stories that illuminate some aspect of the Biblical storyline of creation-fall-redemption-re-creation.  LOST focused heavily on the brokenness, alienation, and self-destructive patterns of its characters/candidates.  We can empathize with the fallen condition of these characters – sons that didn’t measure up to their overly-expectant/deceptive/abusive fathers, addiction, purposelessness, and low self-esteem.  We can empathize with the arcing of their characters as they realize their brokenness is due to a lack of community and that when we ask for help, redemption comes.

My frustration with the LOST narrative is its re-creation (I am not prepared to speculate about whether the flash-sideways end state of most of the characters is purgatory, a kind of heaven, or some sort of eternal recurrence, so no comments there).   The fallen condition was redeemed through community and I was tracking with the arc of the storyline until the re-creation narrative (the final 10 minutes of the show).   One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout LOST has been its intelligence and inter-textuality, continually making reference to excellent works of literature and philosophy.  I share the same love for many of the authors referenced:  Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C.S. Lewis, and Søren Kierkegaard.  However, if the writers had even a cursory understanding of these writers (or philosophy in general), they would quickly dismiss the blatant syncretism of their own re-creation narrative.  Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, dismembers the ‘One God, Many Paths’ sentiment of our day, showing that it is reductionistic and dangerous to pretend we are all the same.  The quality of dialogue between Jack and his father was poor, the imagery was trite and reductionistic, and the final montage cliche.

My two cents, feel free to disagree with me…

Best Links of the Week

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Long-Exposure of Merry-Go-Round at Covent Garden in London

Some amazing long exposure photographs.

The never ending march of larger government, less privacy, and less freedom continues with the forthcoming 2,000 page bank bill.  As best I understand this article, under this bank bill the government would have an itemized list of all of your electronic purchases. This is highly problematic on several levels… at least cash is still anonymous.

Hilarious fake Yo-Yo expert dupes several TV stations across the Midwest.

“How Great is Our God” on iPhone instruments:

Written by Michael Graham

May 20, 2010 at 9:37 am

Suspect Trading Preceding “Fat Finger” Selloff

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The video below outlines suspect and timed institutional selloff of funds at BlackRock and Vanguard… 30 minutes before the alleged “Fat Finger” trade that ’caused’ the 1,000 point pullback on the DJIA:

Thoughts?  Any Day-Traders out there with any insight?

Written by Michael Graham

May 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

Best Links of the Week

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Joel Osteen or a Fortune Cookie?

Article on pay scales for different undergraduate degrees entitled:  Momma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Religious Study Majors… I guess my mom didn’t read that one.

Disturbing article from WIRED on Facebook’s out of control privacy policies.

Episcopal Church in Massachusetts creates worship service for dogs.  Service includes Eucharist for the pets.  Just when I think I have heard it all, something like this comes out of left field.  Fail.

TSA employee beats up and threatens to kill other TSA employee over comments regarding his full-body scan.

Tony Reinke takes a stab at answering the question, “Does God Delight in Non-Christian Art?” (HT: JT)

The Washington Times and Bloomberg have some helpful articles explaining derivatives as an investment product and outlining some of their dangers.

Large pyschologist study shows that babies know difference from good and evil at 6 months old.  I might add that they don’t need to be taught how to sin either.

If you like statistics and books, Tim Challies has a great analysis of the book-buying habits of the readers of his website.

There are No Post-Modernists in Electric Chairs

My Two Caveats for the Missional Church

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I recently attended the Advance 2010 conference on Contextualizing the Gospel in the New Urban South.  The content of the conference was excellent and the speakers were Gospel-centered and Christ-saturated.  In the interest of full self-disclosure, I would willfully self-identify as being a part of the missional church movement.  While steeping some of the teaching receieved, I am left with two potential pitfalls for the missional church movement.

I think the obituaries have already been written and the eulogies given for both the church growth movement and the emergent church.  Hence, my first concern for the missional church movement is that it will just be another fad within evangelicalism.  I’ve chronicled before the very fickle fadish-ness nature of American evangelicalism.  We have the strong inclination to let our pendulums swing wildly, rarely finding any semblance of balance.  If history is any predictor of the future, the missional church movement will gain steam, others will jump on the bandwagon, then the movement dies because many identified with the movement not for its intrinsic principles, but rather for its pragmatic ends.  Nothing will kill a movement like the evil trinity of inauthenticity, superficiality, and pragmatism.

My second concern for the missional church movement is actually legalism.  This may actually come as a surprise of anyone who saw/listened to any of the Advance 2010 material.  Rightly so, Tyler Jones, Tullian Tchvidjian, Ed Stetzer and others railed against the quaint moralism (or think of Michael Horton’s, moralistic therapeutic deism) of the South.  Here is how legalism could creep into the missional church movement… and it is really subtle and nasty.  In your call to missional movement and mindset, create an implicit caste system within your church.  In this caste system reward those who are ‘more on mission’ vs. those who are ‘less on mission.’  In this caste system the way to earn God’s favor is by doing the works of the mission of God.  I don’t know if this kind of legalism is better/worse than any other form of self-salvation.  Remember that legalism is one of those nasty sins like pride, that can literally manifest themselves in even the most counter-intuitive or even contradictory places (ie. one can be proud in one’s humility).  We must be careful to still remind ourselves and others that our standing with God is not changed by even our greatest Gospel efforts or lack thereof.

In my view, we must guard the missional church movement from those who would see it as the next “it” way to grow your church (after shaving their soul patch and ceased showing movie clips).   We must also guard against guilting people into being on mission.  They must desire to be the church because of the Gospel not because it is the new way to rise in the legalistic caste system in your church.

Your thoughts?

Best Links of the Week

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Al Mohler reflects on the life and death of former atheist turned theist, Anthony Flew.

Norway makes “Most Humane Prison.”  Flat screen TVs.  High end design…

22-week Italian baby survives abortion and lives for two days.

Christian preacher arrested for saying that homosexuality is a sin.

Inflation up 2% in March 2010.

Fascinating BBC reader write-in article on 40 ways people still use 3.5″ floppy disks (including the Mexican, Romanian, Panamanian, and British governments).

Ligon Duncan’s  6 exhortations to the pastors of the next generation. (HT: JT)

All of the audio from last weeks Advance 2010 conference.

The Supreme Court might be “Protestant-less” for the first time ever.

Dollar re-designed by a graphic designer… its pretty awesome.

How to Survive a 35,000 Foot Fall.”

Find out how wealthy you are compared to the rest of the world.

We are Wall Street and We are More Vicious Than Dinosaurs.”  Well-written, pardon the authors triumphalism.

Infographic about where all our tax dollars go.

MIT Unveils Solar Cells Printed on Paper

Iconic photos from the Vietnam War. (HT: Challies)

12 most awkward family photos Mother’s Day edition. 5, 6, 8, and 9 are particularly awkward… and what is that animal in #8?

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