After the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, most rational people have found themselves sickened by the overt displays of white supremacy that we all observed. But I wonder how many people have thought very carefully about precisely why white supremacy is wrong.
Much has been written lately about the potential negative effects of smart phone use and social media. To me, one of the most pressing concerns is that, in our anxious scramble to always keep up with what is new on Twitter and Facebook, we neglect the value of what is old. In particular, I am thinking of the benefit of reading books from the distant past.
During the week of June 13, I was blessed to be able to attend the General Assembly (GA) of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), in Greensboro, NC. It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with pastor friends (from Maine, Illinois, Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania!) and seminary classmates, and personally I always find it rewarding to participate in the work of the body of Christ at the highest court level.
Back in 2011, New Life released a strategic plan in which the elders of the church proposed a plan for planting our first daughter congregation, as part of an overall movement of church planting taking place in our denomination and in our local presbytery. By God’s grace and as a display of his faithful provision, we are now on the cusp of getting this first church plant started.
Some people I meet say “The Shack” is one of the most powerful and spiritually helpful books they’ve ever read. Others say it is one of the most dangerous deceptions of the last 200 years. Personally I have not read the book, but I did see the movie, so based on the film adaptation of the book, I offer three good things and three bad things about “The Shack.”
As we begin a new year, we have been inundated with countless retrospectives of the year past (in sports, politics, movies, music, deaths), along with various predictions for the year coming (some positive, some ominous). In any case, whenever a new year begins, we all become acutely aware of the passing of time.
The other day I received an email from Goodreads, telling me about my “year in books” — so far in 2016, I’ve read 7,834 pages, with my shortest book being 80 pages, and my longest being 672 pages. There is no way I would have been able to read this much if I didn’t respond to Goodreads’ “reading challenge” at the start of this year, which motivated me to set a goal of reading 40 books in the year. As of today, Dec. 15, I have read 36, with one about half way done, and another recently started, so hope still abides that I can reach my lofty ambition by Dec. 31.
I have been out of the country recently so I realize I’m late to the game on this, but I couldn’t let this contentious and unusual election season pass without some commentary from a pastoral perspective. Donald Trump has been elected to serve as president of the United States, which has left some Americans elated, and others despondent. What is unique about this election is that the divide that exists in the nation seems to exist within the church also. Secular media have been talking about “evangelical rifts,” “what is a Christian?” and “fractures” in the evangelical community — all because of different perspectives held on the new president.
It is curious to me that we are not hearing more about abortion in this election season, especially after Chris Wallace presented the issue to presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the candidates’ debate last month. Immigration, the economy, ISIS, gun control laws, lewd comments and private servers have been widely discussed, but not abortion so much. Has the culture become so complacent and hardened that abortion no longer gets our attention? Or has the issue simply taken a back seat to other issues that are rightfully getting attention, such as racism and sexism?
R.C. Sproul said we live in what “may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization.” J.P. Moreland said “the contemporary Christian mind is starved, and as a result we have small, impoverished souls.” C.S. Lewis said “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.” (See “5 Theses on Anti-Intellectualism” here).