Eureka Video Widget

Monday, June 30, 2008

Blogging and Christian Ethics #4

When I first started this series, BryanL suggested the topic of the role of the blog owner. It was a good idea and the topic of this post.

I have experienced blogs, where the owner pays little attention. A topic is thrown out, people discuss, and little or no moderation is encountered. (One Christian blogger I occasionally read has little interaction with the commentators until someone pays a compliment. Then a positive reply usually shows up.) I have experienced blogs where the blog owner approves every comment before it appears on the blog. And I have experienced blogs where there is a balance. The comment may appear quickly, but the owner remains involved.

Probably the most disappointing experience came from a Christian blog where profanity was used by commentators to describe a prominent Christian scholar. It was not removed for a very long time. I suspect it was only removed after complaints.

While I am the novice blogger, this would be my suggestion regarding comments:
  • If the owner does not have time to oversee the comments, do not allow commenting.
  • Regarding profanity: either have a filter, delete comments, or remind commentators that such language is not allowed.
  • When dialog becomes inappropriate, call people on it either on the blog or via email.
  • If you want an anything goes, mudslinging environment, place a disclaimer on the site. While this would not be the path I would prefer, there are those who find this "fun."
Ultimately, I think as Christians we should strive to maintain the same Christ-like discourse on the blogosphere as we would in church. Unfortunately, there seems to be this dichotomous mindset between what we say and what we type. While Scripture does not offer direct commands regarding our blogging comments, it seems fairly logical that the same principles regarding our conversations be applied to blogging.

I will close with an example of an excellent blog owner. Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed is a blogger extraordinaire. He blogs often, and he keeps track of the blog. I believe he removes comments that are inappropriate, but I know he reminds people when the conversation is getting out of hand. When he is writing on a particularly volatile subject, he asks people to not be negative, rude, or engage in personal attack. Jesus Creed has created a community where people share their views, learn from each, and sometimes disagree with one another. But when there is disagreement, sarcasm and bitterness are usually left at the door. Two thumbs up to Scot McKnight and the Jesus Creed community.

So Sad

Sometimes I worry about the younger generations. BryanL had a post recently about his daughter dancing to "Man Eater" by Nelly Furtado. I had no idea who she was, and my first thought was Hall and Oats. After mentioning it in the comments, Bryan said he did not know what the song is. I am thankful his wife knows the song. So, this one is for BryanL and any other young person who was not fortunate enough to grow up to 80s music.

Long Live the 80s!

The Work We Have To Do

First, I have to confess: If there were a Mark Noll fan club, I'd join in a heartbeat. With that confession out of the way, allow me to share about a book I read last night.

Mark Noll's The Work We Have to Do, A History of Protestants in America was fabulous. Noll shows the vast diversity of Protestants in America and briefly looks at three noteworthy figures: William Bradford, Jonathan Edwards, and Phyllis Wheatley. Noll moves on to provide the beginnings of Protestantism in a concise background of the Reformation. He then explores the history of Protestants in America by exploring Protestants in Colonial America, 1607-1789 (ch. 3), Protestants in Charge(ch. 4), 17901-1865, Times of Trial and Renewal, 1866-1918 (ch. 5), Protestants in Modern America (ch. 6) , and he concludes with an epilogue(ch. 7) .

This book is well worth the purchase for the above reasons as well as two others. Noll's chronology and his further reading list following the appendix, a breakdown of Protestant denominations, are phenomenal. The reading list is broken down by topics and the time frames that guide the book.

I bought this book at Half-Price books for $4.98, but it would have been well worth it at list price ($12.95).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Einstein Quote of the Day

On my Google home page one of the features I have is the Einstein Quote of the Day. Today's was too priceless not to share:
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

They Like Jesus But Not the Church

I just finished Dan Kimball's They Like Jesus but not the Church.* I liked it so much more than I thought I would. It was very well-written, accessible, reasonable, and Scriptural.

My confession is that I spend entirely too much time around Christians. With the exception of the health club where I work out, I'm not regularly engaged with non-Christians. When I am at the club, I go in, put on my headphones, and work out. Then I go home. So, I'm not engaging too many people there either. I live in a cul desac, and most of my neighbors are Christians. All I can say is that this book was a good smack upside my head.

Kimball shares the encounters he has with people who like Jesus but not the church, and he quotes them. The main issues covered that people don't like about the church are:
The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
The church is judgmental and negative.
The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
The church is homophobic.
The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
With a glance at these issues, if we are honest we have to say, "I can see where that would be their perspective." What made this book so valuable was that Kimball is not trying to bash the church. He is not trying to compromise Scripture, and he challenges Christians to take theological thought seriously. He also offers solutions. To each of these views above we can strive to be:
The church is an organized community with a heart to serve others.
The church is a positive agent of change loving others as Jesus would.
The church holds women in the highest respect and includes them in the leadership of the church.
The church is a loving and welcoming community.
The church is respectful of other people's belief and faiths.
The church holds beliefs with humility and strives to be thoughtful theologians.
Through his encounters, Kimball discusses how the world is studying the Bible in context and historically often to a greater degree than Christians are. He challenges us to study and have answers available in a respectful dialog that goes beyond "the Bible says it, that settles it."

I highly recommend buying or borrowing this book, especially for those in ministry whose engagement with non-Christians has diminished. Even sitting at a book store and skimming it will be of value.

*Picture taken from the web site.

On Pascal

When I first received On Pascal by Douglas Groothuis in the mail I was slightly disappointed. The list price was $15.95 and the Amazon price was the same. I was not diligent enough to scroll down and see the book was 104 pages. $15.95 for 104 pages, with the main content being 95 pages, seemed kind of pricey to me. But the subject of the book is Pascal, so I would have probably purchased it anyway. I'm glad I did.

Last night I read On Pascal. This little book packs a lot of punch. For an introduction to Pascal it is quite impressive. Somehow Groothuis manages, in 95 pages, to provide a biography and overview of Pascal's perspectives. Although it is a short work, it is very thorough. I had moments when I was reading and I would wonder if he was going to cover something, and he did. Groothuis offers enough nuggets from the Pensees to give insight into this great thinker and inspire the Pascal newbie to read the scientist/theologian's works.

Groothuis does not presume knowledge of scientific or theological terms and backgrounds from the reader. He manages to clarify things in short parenthetical statements. He also explains some items using modern examples. The pithiness of the explanations was impressive.

I love Pascal, and I get kind of warm and fuzzy just thinking about him. I even named my cat Pascal. (My cat is female, so her name is actually Sophia Pascal. She goes by Pascal.) I am not the highly emotive type; Mr. Spock is my favorite "Star Trek" character. Pascal is someone I truly consider a friend. When I read his writings the connection is almost unexplainable. It is like talking to a friend. That being said, I found moments reading this book where I got kind of misty. I could imagine what Pascal was doing. This amazing mind had such passion.

I get quite sad when I think about Pascal dying before he finished his work. It would have been great to have the completed project. I also wonder if it would have taken the mystery and some of the fun out of reading him. I cannot wait to meet him some day. Well, I can wait, but you know what I mean.

On a minor note, I was personally pleased that Groothuis used the A. J. Krailsheimer edition of the Pensees.

If you are interested in an introduction to Pascal, I'd highly recommend this work along with a couple of others: Making Sense of It All by Thomas V. Morris and Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft. And of course, you need your own copy of the Pensees.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging and Christian Ethics #3

Sorry, but I have not been consistent on this series. For the previous posts see here and here. Today's topics covers disagreements and anger.

BryanL has recently posted on the frustration of interacting on blogs with people of a different theological framework. In it, he notes angry tones, name calling, and the polarization breaking down to the point of no communication. That does not sound like the path God has set for us in His Word.

Unfortunately on blogs we generally do not know the people with whom we interact. We are not going to see them at church or work, so the tones we take get ignored. We get angry with someone, write with an angry attitude, click "submit," and go on with our day. We have a negative mindset, but there is no intention or thought given to the fact that reconciliation is probably in need with our brother/sister blogger. (I am operating under the assumption that Christians are on Christian blogs. I know...BIG assumption.)

Is that the way we are told to handle our differences? Of course not. We read how Paul pleaded with Euodia and Syntyche to make up. We know the process prescribed to us on how to handle it when someone sins against us. I think it is safe to say that the attitudes in blogging are often sinful. How we treat fellow believers in the blogosphere may be just as important as how we treat each other when we gather at church. For when we gather at church, we are generally with other believers. Yet, with blogging communities there is no way to know when non-Christians are watching our behavior. If you were not a Christian, would you want to be part of a group that treated each other horribly? Probably not.

What should we do? First, I think it is important that we take the humble road. In a disagreement, we should do all we can to keep our conversation cool and reasonable. Second, when there is name-calling, we should remind Christian bloggers that such discourse in not advancing God's Kingdom or bringing glory to God. Third, and this is might be the hardest one, seek forgiveness or extend forgiveness. Finally, if we cannot go to a blog without getting in a blog-fight, I think it would be wise to stay away from it. To modify Paul: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, BLOG at peace with everyone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Whew! I feel so much better. Last week I put myself on a form of book restriction. Until I make some dents in my "to read" bookshelves, I will only allow myself to buy a book after I have read five. Soon I will lower it to four and then to three, but not until I have made some progress. I am relieved to report that I have finished five books:

Spiritual Theology
by Diogenes Allen
The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias
Proclamation and Theology by William Willimon
How to be Evangelical Without Being Conservative by Roger Olson
Jesus by Chuck Swindoll

My next stack of "to reads" includes the following:

Defending Life by Francis Beckwith
On Pascal by Douglas Groothuis
The Work We Have to Do by Mark Noll
The Joy of Repentance by Dr. Kerry Skinner
They Like Jesus but Not the Church by Dan Kimball

Because of the weight of the Beckwith book, odds are good that it will not be finished in this stack of five. I'll probably have started and finished other books before I am done with this.

I am also thinking of giving myself "two book credits" for books that are more than 500 pages. I fear putting those on hold too long if I don't give myself such motivation. One such book that I am quite excited about is Mark Noll's A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada.

Now I can buy a book, which means I can go into a book store without anxiety. I went into a Christian bookstore to buy some DVDs, and it caused great interior tension. I will be doing really well if I can finish five more without buying a book, for then I would have a two book credit.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pork Invaders

Have some fun playing Pork Invaders.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Confession and a Challenge

My confession is this: I buy far more books than I read. I see a book and go, "Oooh, that looks good." Kind of like Homer Simpson's reaction to a strawberry frosted donut with sprinkles. Unlike Homer, who immediately devours the tasty delight, I buy the book, it sits on my table or bookshelf, and I take forever to get around to reading it. I'm getting frustrated with the amount of unread books I have. There are two small bookcases and two medium bookcases of books "to be read."

Now the challenge. I am thinking of putting myself on book restriction. I cannot buy anymore books until I read five from my shelves. That's not counting the books already ordered from Amazon (Defending Life by Francis Beckwith and On Pascal by Douglas Groothuis).

Do you think this is a good idea or a bad one? Do you think I can pull it off? How long until I fall off the literary wagon? Should I have a special dispensation category such as a new book on Pascal or something I am studying for church?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Check out this story at Fox News:

A mother who decided to abort her son because he may have inherited a

life-threatening kidney condition is overjoyed that he survived the procedure.

Jodie Percival of Nottinghamshire, England, said she and her fiancee made the decision to abort baby Finley when she was eight weeks pregnant.

Percival's first son Thane died of multicystic dysplastic kidneys — which causes cysts to grow on the kidneys of an unborn baby — and her second child Lewis was born with serious kidney damage and currently has just one kidney, the Daily Mail reported.

"I was on the (birth control pill) when I became pregnant," Percival, 25, said. "Deciding to terminate at eight weeks was just utterly horrible but I couldn't cope with the anguish of losing another baby."

A short time after the abortion, Percival felt a fluttering in her stomach. She went to the doctor for a scan and discovered she was 19 weeks pregnant.

"I couldn't believe it,' Percival said. "This was the baby I thought I'd terminated. At first I was angry that this was happening to us, that the procedure had failed. I wrote to the hospital, I couldn't believe that they had let me down like this.

"They wrote back and apologized and said it was very rare," she added.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor for, said Percival's situation is actually quite common.

"Women that have early terminations in weeks six, seven and eight, many times the pregnancy is so small that doctors miss removing the baby," Alvarez said. "The danger is that the failed attempt can damage the baby. That is why these patients who get early terminations need follow-ups."

Another scan a week later confirmed the baby also had kidney problems, but doctors told the couple the baby was likely to survive, so they decided he deserved another chance at life.

In November, Finley was born three weeks premature. He had minor kidney damage but is expected to lead a normal life.

HT: Quixote

Friday, June 6, 2008

High School Educaiton

This story from Fox News is funny and scary in one swoop:

WESTLAKE, Ohio — A Cleveland-area principal says he is embarrassed his students got proof of their "educaiton" on their high school diploma.

Westlake High School officials misspelled "education" on the diplomas distributed this weekend. It's been the subject of mockery on local radio.

Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent the diplomas back once to correct another error. When the corrected diplomas came back, no one bothered to check the things they thought were right the first time.

Publisher Jostens has reprinted the new diplomas — a third attempt — and sent them to the 330 graduates.

Tahts all I gonna say bout my laerning.