Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

Wise words from Michael Horton:

Death puts life in perspective. It reminds of the things that matter most. In the prime of our life, we want to change the world. Too often, we lose big dreams and the zest for life precisely because we’ve figured out that we can’t change it. But freed up from impossible dreams and demands, we can finally love and serve our neighbors—not as abstract objects for our life project or instruments of our self-identity-creation, but as God’s gifts.

Godly wisdom is to be found in realizing that faithfulness is not ultimately about how well we’re doing, but how well our neighbor is doing—and what we can do to help. It’s not about changing the world—or even loving the world—but about changing the way we relate to actual people today and loving specific neighbors with whom we live, work, and whose paths we cross each day. More deeply—radically, even—it’s about accepting God’s condemnation and justification in Christ and being renewed each day by his Word. As we’re shaped by his gospel and guided by his law, we discover that godly wisdom is not finally about the sprint but about finishing the race. Death has a practical way of putting all of this in perspective.

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Jonathan BlanchardI have written you much less than I intended and hoped when I left home. The farther we get into life the faster flows the current of events, and the less we control our own motions, but crowd along carrying and being carried toward the ocean.  When I was a boy, I did ten thousand things just because I wanted to; now, I do almost all things simply because I must. Still there is nothing tyrannous in that “must”—but I do my life duties with more satisfaction because my mind is schooled to duty, and suffer far less from disappointment because I serve a blessed Master who takes all the responsibility himself.

– Jonathan Blanchard, “Letter to the Students of Wheaton College at Morning Exercises,” June 18, 1861 (Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections)

ImageExposure to chosen media streams can give us a false perception of being permanently in the present tense, depriving us of the sober sense of time passing and creating a feeling that our options are perpetually open, when in fact time is passing us by the minute.  There is a sense in which the very fact that physical activity requires us to consciously move our bodies through space and time creates a healthy awareness of the passing of time, while the physical inactivity of virtual life allows us to inhabit a place where the rules of time seem simply not to apply.  The effect of this is that we spend time without consciously reckoning with the cost and value of what is slipping through our fingers.  Thus, wasting time seems more effortless than ever.  Cultural engagement, civic participation, voter turnout, and other markers all show signs of decreasing interest.

– Read Mercer Schuchardt, “Social Media and the Loss of Embodied Communication,” in Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, edited by Jeffry C. David & Philip G. Ryken (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 243-244.

Al Mohler calls this a “tragic announcement“:

Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. announced Tuesday that it would no longer offer its venerable reference set in a printed edition. Western Civilization just took another hard blow to the chin.

Mohler bemoans the fact that the experience of reading a physical book will soon be relegated to the sidelines of twenty-first century life.

But reading a physical book, with words printed on paper, is a different experience than reading on a screen. The experience of reading Britannica with a barfing brother in the back of the car is about to go the way of the station wagon—into the mists of history.

Besides the fact that I think there is good reason to believe that the digital reading experience will continue to evolve into something more and more similar to the experience of reading a paper book, what exactly does this comment even mean?  What is so important/valuable about this undefined “experience” that should be preserved?  Mohler never gives any details (though he hints at something when he notes that the experience of reading paper books is devoid of “digital sound and fury,” whatever that means).  He continues,

I also believe that the experience of reading the Bible on an iPhone is radically different from the experience of reading the Bible in printed form, feeling the texture of the book as our eyes take in the inspired text.

Radically different?  Really?

Sometimes I wonder if similar laments were heard with the advent of the printing press.  How many wise and learned men bemoaned the fact that no longer would the Word of God be meticulously written by hand, instead printed en masse on Gutenburg’s new-fangled machine?  In the midst of their sad dirges, how many missed the incalculable advantages of the printing press, an advancement over the written word that would make possible the unprecedented dissemination of information and ideas?  More specifically, how many common men and women were finally able to gain direct access to the written Word of God, now drastically cheaper to produce and distribute?  How many similar advantages, exponentially amplified through the use of digital technology, are now being neglected for the sake of the mysteriously-important “experience” of reading a physical book?

For an interesting review of a few historical “crises” related to new information technologies, check out this article published at Slate.com.  For more of my thoughts on this interesting topic, see “5 Reasons E-Books Don’t Beat Paper Books (Yet).”

China’s Abandoned Disney World

Posted: December 23, 2011 in misc, video

Slightly creepy:

HT: National Geographic

Check out Reformed Theological Seminary’s iPhone app for memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism in 90 days!  It’s simple to use and, best of all, free!

HT: Justin Taylor

Stats on Christianity

Posted: December 21, 2011 in christianity, islam, misc

CNN:

Christians are by far the largest religious group on the planet, and the religion has gone truly global over the past century, according to a new report out Monday, which finds some of the world’s biggest Christian communities in surprising places.

Europe was the clear center of world Christianity one hundred years ago, but today the Americas are home to more than a third of all Christians. In fact, the United States has the world’s largest Christian population, of more than 247 million, followed by Brazil and Mexico.

China also appears on the list of top 10 largest Christian populations – with an estimated 67 million Christians, it has more followers of the faith than any western European country.

There are nearly 2.2 billion Christians around the world, making up about one-third of the world’s population – the same percentage as a century ago, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Islam is the world’s second largest religion, with about 1.6 billion followers worldwide, the Washington-based organization calculates. That’s just under one-quarter of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the biggest explosion in its Christian population in the past century, going from about 9 million Christians in 1910 to about 516 million today – nearly a quarter of all the world’s Christians. Three of the world’s ten largest Christian populations are in Africa: Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.