A Morning Peacock of Links (8/4)

If prayer is such a good thing, why does it seem so hard?

Something to think about if you’re struggling in your prayer life. It might not quite be what you expected to read.

Image is Everything: Andre Agassi, Wigs, and the Gospel

Lessons we can take away from Andre Agassi’s hair issues.

Rethinking That One Chronicles Passage

C Michael Patton expounds on 2 Chronicles 16:9 and highlights what we can learn from the brief mentioning of Hanani the Prophet. Great read:

What does this mean for us? Quite a bit. There are those of you out there who have done what Hanani did. You have taken the risk and followed the Lord. You have stayed in a hard marriage, kept your integrity in a business deal, took a step of faith and went to seminary, started a Sunday Schoo classl, or said what is difficult to hear a dear friend. You expected the Lord to bless you. However, you find yourself in prison. Your marriage is worse than ever, you lost your business due to the deal, no churches will hire you after seminsry, no one showed up to your Sunday School class, or you lost your best friend forever. What is up with that?

The Lord is here to strengthen and encourage those whose hearts are completely devoted to him. He is under no obligation to make things “work out” the way we often want. He is under no obligation to keep us from pain and suffering. His eyes move to and fro about the earth look to see if you are completely devoted to him so that he may be able to take you through these difficulties and know that you will not jump ship.

So, I guess the question is whether or not you want your heart to be completely his. Beware. Do you really? Chew on it for a bit.

A Cry for Tolerance or Apathy?

And at the core of this is the gospel:

They don’t want tolerance, they want apathy.

When people demand that Christians be tolerant, what they are really saying is “stop caring.” Why do you care what people do in their bedrooms? Why do you care if people are Atheist or Mormon or Hindu? Why do you care? Why do you care? Why. Do. You. Care?

I would say ultimately because God cares and we being His people have been given hearts that reflect His own. And within those hearts is love and concern for all humanity. Yet we are being asked to do what is impossible. We are being asked not to care about the state of the lost world around us…

The Case for Early Marriage

Mark Regnerus (Ph.D., author, and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin) talks about abstinence, marriage and makes his case for early marriage. Growing up during this “delayed marriage” generation, I found his thoughts on the delaying and “cheapening” of marriage compelling. Especially interesting was his point that, among other things, delaying marriage increasingly intensifies the battle against the biological urge for sexual relations to the point that many people just have to give in and settle down, which in itself harms the institution of marriage. He also shares interesting thoughts on how, on the quest to be overly intentional, people end up casting marriage more like a necessary evil (hmm, maybe task is the better WC here?) to be figured out about later, rather than a natural and beautiful covenant to be entered into, even if the timing seems less than ideal. In reading this, I am tempted to do two things. The first is to look at the fact that Regnerus speaks in black-and-white-terms, and dismiss it by noting things are rarely that straightforward these days. The second thing is in response to the first in noting that things CAN be straightforward but it’s just that the issues and shortcomings of our day have muddled things up:

Still, the data from nearly every survey suggest that young Americans want to get married. Eventually. That makes sense. Our Creator clearly intended for male and female to be knit together in covenantal relationship. An increasing number of men and women, however, aren’t marrying. They want to. But it’s not happening. And yet in surveying this scene, many Christians continue to perceive a sexual crisis, not a marital one. We buy, read, and pass along books about battling our sexual urges, when in fact we are battling them far longer than we were meant to. How did we misdiagnose this?

The answer is pretty straightforward: While our sexual ideals have remained biblical and thus rooted in marriage, our ideas about marriage have changed significantly. For all the heated talk and contested referendums about defending marriage against attempts to legally redefine it, the church has already ceded plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness. Christian practical ethics about marriage—not the ones expounded on in books, but the ones we actually exhibit—have become a nebulous hodgepodge of pragmatic norms and romantic imperatives, few of which resemble anything biblical.

The Courage to Put Away Our Cameras

That all too familiar struggle:

Take all the pictures you want. They’ll only serve to instruct you in the truth that none of your clips or still images managed to capture what was really happening in the moment. Go ahead. Watch this pretty awesome video of the 2012 San Diego fireworks and you’ll know, as amazing as it is, that you’re not seeing anything close to what those who gathered there in the bay that night actually experienced.

Life is filled with wonder and beauty. Tonight’s sunset is a gift we cannot preserve for tomorrow. But tomorrow, we’ll get a new one. And another the night after that. It’s okay to put away our cameras.

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A Morning Peacock of Links (8/2)

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Something to chew on regarding the importance of having worship services on Sundays, and what people should take into account when deciding to change service times in one way or another. At my own church (although I’ll have moved across country for graduate school by then), we are moving our Sunday afternoon service to 9:00 AM, a decision I fully support:

The move away from Sunday worship can have many motivations, and some of them are honorable and even Spirit-guided. But I sense some congregations opt for non-Sunday worship without considering these deeper realities. In other words, the merely utilitarian reasons on which which we abandon Sunday may be another sign of how theologically, historically, and biblically ignorant we have become. We view our gatherings as a time of self-improvement, therapeutic enrichment, social connection, or artistic expression–and it can be these things. So we make human-centered, self-centered decisions about when these functions can happen most conveniently during the week.

Men, Abortion, and Hemingway

A pro-life look at the profound ways abortion affects men:

Mattes is onto something deep here. A longtime counselor of post-abortive men, he draws the connection between a man’s post-abortion distress and certain traits unique to the male psyche. “Instinct drives men to achieve success in five key areas of their lives. Men are often defined by their ability to: [experience] pleasure, procreate, provide, protect and perform.” Abortion represents a failure on his part to protect his child and its mother. It undermines his very manhood—of course he will go into distress. Furthermore, the loss reverberates and magnifies over time because the abortion forever extinguished his opportunity to protect, provide for, and take pleasure in that child. Abortion loss encompasses more than just the loss of the child. Abortion exacts a loss of manhood.

The Bad Habits You Learn in School

There is an ongoing debate about whether leadership can be taught, and whether business schools,in particular, are teaching it. There are fair arguments on both sides, but I would broaden the discussion. Our entire education system, from elementary school to graduate school, is poorly constructed to teach young people leadership. Schools do many things well, but they often cultivate habits that can be detrimental to future leaders. Given that most of us spend 13-20 years in educational institutions, those habits can be hard to break.

Forging of the Mandarin Mermaid

A sad, disturbing story on “how Chinese children are taken away from their families and brutalised into future Olympians”.

Which 90’s Nickelodeon Character Are You?

I’m Olmec.

Awesomely Creative Business Cards

The Edible cookie, Fitness Trainer, Psychologist, and Yoga business cards were my favorite haha.

‘Half Drag’

The first one surprised me haha:

Never have we seen this complexity depicted so elegantly as in Leland Bobbé‘s Half Drag (or I mezzi drag di) series. It captures drag queens’ simultaneously male and female existences in photos that show the left side of their faces done up to the nines in glitter, big hair, and baubles, but leave the right side clean and stubbly. Click through to see some of our favorite photos from Half Drag, which we discovered via Design Taxi, then visit Vogue Italy for the entire set (so far).

Cardboard Bicycles

When Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni first came up with the idea of creating a bicycle out of recycled cardboard, his engineer friends told him that it would be impossible. But he continued to work on the personal project in his free time. “My first prototypes looked like delivery boxes on wheels,” he has said. “They were hefty and it didn’t take much imagination to see that they were made of cardboard.” Today, it’s almost impossible to tell that his two-wheelers — which are waterproof and can hold up to 485 pounds — are built entirely from the recycled material using a process that he likens to folding origami. Gafni is currently working with investors to have his bikes ready for worldwide distribution as early as next year; while they cost about $9 a piece to produce, you can expect the finished version to retail for somewhere between $60 and $90. Click through to watch a short documentary about the project, and let us know in the comments if you’d like to take one for a spin!

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/1)

Some Basic Thoughts on Manhood: Worship

Our enemy is the most subtle beast in the field, and he’s been wreaking havoc on men and manhood since Adam.  So, we shouldn’t be surprised that we spend so much time debating what is “feminine” or “masculine” worship or what practices belong to “manhood” rather than actually worshiping the Lord in the freedom He gives.  We’re too often preoccupied with the idea of manhood and masculinity and too seldom preoccupied withe the privilegeand joy of actually being men–in all the diverse splendor with which God has fashioned men.  Isn’t it a curious thing that we read about manhood more than we apply ourselves to living it out?  We think carefully about the latest books on the subject while we barely think about the latest opportunity to praise God for real.  It’s a demonic diversion for far too many of us.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that reading good books on the subject is unnecessary or unhelpful.  Reading is fundamental.  In fact, prayerful reading is an act of worship.  But I am suggesting that one quality peculiar to adolescent living is a lot of talking and information gathering and not a lot of application and consistent  habit of life.  Manhood is about worship, and worship is not a Sunday morning exercise only.  It’s what you do with your entire life.  Manhood and worship are a consistent Godward orientation, a life consecrated to His will and purpose, a life of glory seeking–His, not ours.

An Aurora Survivor Tackles the Question “So, you still think God is a merciful God?!”

A powerful post written by one of the survivors in the aftermath of the shooting incident.

My Daughter’s Beauty

How do I raise my daughter to know the true definition of beauty in a culture such as ours? How do I cultivate an image in her that is rooted in the beauty of Jesus and not the allure of a distorted sexuality?

Here are three points that I have found helpful in my journey…

20 Gore Vidal Zingers

20. “The usual question everybody asks now is: What are you proudest of, Mr. Vidal, of all your great achievements? To which I answer: ‘Despite intense provocations over the course of what is becoming a rather long life, I have never killed anybody. That is my greatest achievement.’ A little negative maybe, but that’s it.” – from Vanity Fair, 2009

Chins and Foreheads

Simple, funny, and effective, Thorsten Schmidtkord’s Head on Top series flips the traditional portrait upside down — part of it anyway. Swapping chins for foreheads, the German artist has created his own humanoid species where mouths have been eliminated, but the eyes and other facial features express each subject’s innermost feelings. Schmidtkord’s work inspires compelling thoughts about individuality in a digital age that airbrushes the living daylights out of everyone and everything it can. However, we’re still glad we can enjoy them as strange, giggle-worthy photos depicting the bearded characters in some weird, alternate universe. Click through for more.

Cool Attic, Bro

Pretty cool. It’s just too bad I can’t afford any of them.

A Morning Peacock of Links (7/30)

Field Guide for Volatile Topics

Darryl Dash with a list of things to consider when approaching sensitive/volatile topics. In his words, this post was inspired in part by recent events online, as well as by ministry as a church planter in a post-Christian culture.

The Chick-fi-Asco: Why Boycotts are Awful

An excellent article in which Alan Noble takes a deeper look into some of the misconceptions and under-explored facets of the Chick-fil-A controversy:

In addition, these kinds of public statements get drastically diluted by regular commerce. Will the boycott of Chick-fil-A communicate to Cathy or the world that same-sex marriage is a right? Maybe, but probably not. That’s the problem with proxy cultural battles: political statements lose their force by being mixed in with non-political messages like, “I just want a chicken sandwich” or (in my case) “I think Chick-fil-A is kinda meh.” On the other hand, actual voting, or writing letters to editors, or talking to your neighbors about same-sex marriage directly addresses the subject.

So please, wherever you stand on same-sex marriage, don’t boycott or support Chick-fil-A for their marginal political stance. Give a few quarters directly to a charity. Talk with your neighbors about the issue and why you believe the way you do. If you spend a fraction of the time and money you would have spent boycotting, you will accomplish a lot more and help cultivate a healthier public square.

An Open Letter to Homo sapiens

Dear Homo sapiens,

This has been a rather unfortunate week for you. Since the world’s attention will turn to London next week with the Summer Olympics, I decided a voice must speak up to make next week more civilized.

A vile disease spread through your species this week. I don’t see it as frequently as in prior times and prior places but for some reason it struck twice this week. Please heed immediate caution. If you desire the Olympic games to go smoothly, do your best to eradicate the spread of this disease. If honesty continues to spread there will be no limit to its brutality…

On Controversy

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:

If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

5 Friends Take the Same Picture Every 5 Years

This is pretty cool, though it seems like the 5 years between 2007 and 2012 were the longest 5 years ever hahaha.

25 Interesting Behind the Scenes Movie Photos

Haha to Marie Antoinette and Nightmare on Elm Street.

 

Pretty Girls

I can’t help but feel that it must be difficult to be a pretty girl (PG). To be sure, I think there are plenty of benefits that come with being a PG. Yet, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve come to believe that the cons outweigh the pros. To be fair, the conundrum that PGs face, which I’ll outline in the ensuing paragraphs, are not unique to them – the rich and the famous suffer similar difficulties. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to narrow the scope of this post to PGs because I’m surrounded by a lot more of them than I am by the rich/famous (note: this was not meant to be some tongue-in-cheek compliment to myself).

Let’s discuss the pros. First, the most obvious benefit that comes with being a PG is that you are constantly center stage and one of the main attractions, if not THE attraction, of any given room. Second, once you have people’s attention, it won’t be long before waves of guys try to gun you down with flattery and compliments about this or that. Finally, if guys have made it this far, they’ll usually thank you for your time by offering to buy you a drink, a meal, or in certain cases, cars and houses.

With that said, let’s move onto the cons – after all, my point was that it seems like it’s DIFFICULT (not easy) to be a pretty girl. Indeed, it wasn’t long before the list of cons grew longer than the list of pros. First, just as it is a benefit, I think attention is also a downside of being a PG. As PGs drown under constant attention and flattery, they simultaneously gain both an inflated sense of self as well as a cheapened sense of self. With the former, you’re used to attention and flattery. You’ve taken for granted glances from guys like you’ve taken for granted oxygen. At the same time, having become used to all the attention and flattery, it becomes harder and harder to anchor your sense of worth in anything beyond your looks. As a result, your sense of self only goes skin deep and you start believing you’re nothing more than your looks. Moreover, you might start questioning who’s really there for you, and whether they’re only there because of the attention and status your looks can garner for them. Surrounded by approving eyes and appeasing words, you don’t know who to trust.

At the same time, the plight of PGs also seems to harm those around them. Constrained by a hunger for affirmation, not knowing who’s really there for you, etc., all these things probably twist the way you socialize and relate with people. For example, this is probably a major reason why you’ve either dated an entire carousel of guys and/or the dating relationships you’ve had were turbulent. You want attention and he sells it in bulk like he’s CostCo, thus forming a flimsy and turbulent arrangement. What’s more is that the way PGs relate to regular, straightforward guys (yes, they exist) also becomes profoundly screwed up. Forced to be guarded and only used to a certain brand of interactions with guys, there is no “just a lunch” or “just a hangout” with PGs. Not used to straightforward, non-shadiness, PGs will react by “playing hard-to-get”, even if a normal Joe Schmo really wants nothing more than a simple meal or coffee to get to know the person behind the looks. There will be artificial significance placed where there shouldn’t be any and, as a result, the PG’s isolation only intensifies as she continues to “accept” only a certain brand of guys. I’m sure the fact that she may feel (or impose) a certain sense of competition with every girl she meets doesn’t help things one bit. Worst of all, I’m not even sure if this pattern of behavior is intentional. In fact, if this way of socializing and relating is all she knows, how can you blame her?

I’m neither pretty nor a girl (though some people have said otherwise). These are just my guesses about how tough it seems to be a pretty girl, and I’ll be the first to admit I could be wrong about everything – I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. I should clarify by noting that I’m not trying to generalize or stereotype here. Though the proverbial line/ice is thin, these are just my personal observations and thoughts on a world I’ll never fully understand. This is not a facetious post, but if you want to take it that way, be my guest.

A Morning Peacock of Links (7/26)

Why Is Love So Stupid?

Ed Welch discusses how to “combat” and “tackle” stupid love and fickle “chemistry”:

My pleas were powerless. I resorted to rudeness, then begging. I think I inserted a few prayers for pre-wedding catastrophe—things like global flooding—that would keep them from getting to the church. All to no avail. They were married a few months later, separated within a year, divorced within two. Somehow, the stupidity lasted until the wedding ceremony and maybe a few hours after, which is the natural progression of stupid love. Something happened while they were driving away from the reception that cured her disease. Then all she could think was, “What have I done?”

Love, of course, is not stupid.

Chemistry, masquerading as love, is stupid.

How the Gospel Changes our Apologetics, Part 2

Which brings us to the final point, the solution to our problem. At some point you need tell the Christian story in a way that addresses the things that people most want for their own lives, the things that they are trying to find outside of Christianity, and show how Christianity can give it to them. Alasdair MacIntyre said this about narratival apologetics: “That narrative prevails over its rivals which is able to include its rivals within it, not only to retell their stories as episodes within its story, but to tell the story of the telling of their stories as such episodes.” Read that sentence again.

There is a way of telling the gospel that makes people say, “I don’t believe it’s true, but I wish it were.” You have to get to the beauty of it, and then go back to the reasons for it. Only then, when you show that it takes more faith to doubt it than to believe it; when the things you see out there in the world are better explained by the Christian account of things than the secular account of things; and when they experience a community in which they actually do see Christianity embodied, in healthy Christian lives and solid Christian community, that many will believe.

Jesus Knows I Robbed a Bank

An awesome testimony of a bank robber and soon-to-be lawyer who was saved by grace. You can read a more detailed account about how the law library in prison transformed his life here.

Assumptions & Presumptions

On the one hand, to opt out of the HPV vaccination programs, as a few Christian schools have done, makes sense based on 1) the belief that proper education and maturity in their faith can do far more than a vaccine can for these girls and 2) the risk that opting in would take away one obstacle from these girls diving into promiscuity. On the other hand, I don’t know if opting-in is necessarily mutually exclusive with properly educating and anchoring these students in their faith. If anything, it might be a case of “better to be safe than sorry”. In any case, that there are divided thoughts not only between these schools and non-religious schools, but also within the Christian community, is no surprise at all:

It was reported last week that some schools have opted out of the HPV vaccination programme on the grounds of Christian principles and this has, predictably, caused outrage among a certain type of commentator.

In The Guardian for instance, Reni Eddo-Lodge asserts that “It’s absurd [or “an absolute scandal”] for schools to opt out because of ‘Christian values’.”

[…]

Having said that, which is more presumptuous: to tell girls they have the right, the freedom and the intelligence to make informed choices about their lives and actions, or that they’re so prone to promiscuity that they must take drugs to obviate the consequences?

Miniature People Living in a World of Giant Food

Haha, I really like the crime scene one.

Big Appetites is a series of fine art photographs by artist Christopher Boffoli. The series presents tiny, meticulously detailed figures posed in real food environments, referencing both a cultural fascination with tiny things as well as an American enthusiasm for excess, especially in the realm of food.

The photographs have been published in more than 90 countries around the world.

Upsetting Knit Sculptures of Childhood Heroes Fallen on Hard Times

Yikes hahaha:

If you have a strong connection to your stuffed Pooh bear, you’d better look away now. In knitwork artist Patricia Waller’s Broken Heroes series, now up at Berlin’s Galerie Deschler, which we recently spotted over at We Heart, your childhood heroes have fallen on some hard times — Bert is scruff-faced on the street and Ernie-less, Superman has made a serious miscalculation in his navigation, and we’re not even sure how Spider-Man got into that position. Waller’s witty pieces range from lighthearted to incredibly dark, but they’re all imbued with a twisted commentary on the one-dimensional personas of pop culture standbys. Click through to be shocked by how far cartoons can really fall, and then if you haven’t had enough, head over to Waller’s website to see more of her work.

Potent Quotables (7/24)

Benjamin Franklin:

I have generally found that the man who is good at an excuse is good for nothing else.

 

Matthew R. Olson:

Self-righteousness is like bad breath: Everyone notices it but you.

 

G.K. Chesterton:

I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.

 

Another one from Chesterton:

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.

 

Gerhard Forde on the dangers of a theology of glory:

A theology of glory … operates on the assumption that what we need is optimistic encouragement, some flattery, some positive thinking, some support to build our self-esteem. Theologically speaking it operates on the assumption that we are not seriously addicted to sin, and that our improvement is both necessary and possible. We need a little boost in our desire to do good works…. But the hallmark of a theology of glory is that it will always consider grace as something of a supplement to whatever is left of human will and power.

 

Philip Henry:

Adam lost a rib, but he got a better thing out of it, even a help meet for him. Thus God uses [is accustomed] to deal with his children: they lose sometimes some of their creature-comforts; but then perhaps they get more of the Creator’s comforts, and that’s a blessed exchange. This bone was taken out of Adam’s side, fitly noting the woman’s place; not out of his head, to be above him; not out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; nor from before him, as his better; nor from behind him, as his servant;—but out of his side, to be equal with him; near his heart, for he owes her love; under his arm, for he owes her protection. Surely they forget from whence the woman was taken, that carry themselves haughtily and abusively towards their wives.

 

Dame Edna Everage:

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. After all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.