the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyWell, hello. How are you? How have you been? How you be? How is your present state of being? How’s your week been? Ups? Downs? In-betweens? What’s the dilly, yo? The haps? The lowdown? The upside? The downlow? How’s your soul?

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

R.I.P. Jimmy Bain, Bassist for Dio and Rainbow.

R.I.P. Barney Miller’s Abe Vigoda.

R.I.P. Concepcion Picciotto, the woman who kept a peace vigil going for 30 years.

R.I.P. Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner.

Read as Iggy Pop remembers David Bowie.

Read as “Relevant” wonders “Why Are So Many Christians Scared of Nonviolence?”

Browse So Bad So Good‘s list of “The 15 Most Expensive Artwork’s Ever Purchased”.

Have you ever wondered “Why We Picture Bombs As Round Black Balls With A Burning Wick”?

Browse “Relevant”‘s picks for “5 Movies that Should Have Been Nominated for Best Picture”.

Read/Listen as The Frame interviews “Mavis Staples on her famous family, her new album, and her former suitor, Bob Dylan“.

Read Autre‘s interview with Daniel Lanois.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Wu-Tang Clan Martin Shkreli considering destroying one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album”.

  • Watch as Martin Shkreli disses, threatens to erase Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang album.

Read Paste‘s interview with Tortoise‘s Doug McCombs.

Read as The Washington Post wonders: “Are smarter people actually less racist?”

Read at Brain Pickings: “Are Writers Born or Made? Jack Kerouac on the Crucial Difference Between Talent and Genius”.

Read comicbook.com‘s report that the Delorean is going back in to production.

Read as CNN offers “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump”.

Read as Paste tastes Dave Matthews‘ wine.

Read as Henry Rollins says “‘Our species is a ruinous pain in the ass’.

Read about the advice columnist who fell for a Seinfeld plot.

Relive Bob Dylan’s Legendary Rolling Thunder Revue With Rare Photos” at Rolling Stone.

Browse a “Photographic Love Letter” to libraries, “Humanity’s Greatest Sanctuary of Knowledge, Freedom, and Democracy”.

Watch a robot solve a Rubik’s Cube in 1 second.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report on the rise of heavy metal’s popularity in Africa.

Read comicbook.com‘s report: “DC Comics To Reboot Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, & More Hanna-Barbera Characters”

Browse NME‘s list of 22 “one album wonders”.

Browse Quartz‘ list of “the books students at the top US colleges are required to read”.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Napoleon Dynamite director to unite Rugrats, Doug, Ren & Stimpy in NickToons crossover film”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Circuit City is returning.

See “How The Iowa Democratic Caucus Works, Featuring Legos”.

Read about the “Phoenix-area bar” facing “$90K suit for illegally playing music”.

Read as The New York Times argues: “Touring Can’t Save Musicians in the Age of Spotify”.

Read about people “Retrofitting Old iPods to Keep the Perfect MP3 Player Alive”.

Read AV Club‘s report: ““Weird Al” Yankovic joins Comedy Bang! Bang! as bandleader and co-host”.

Read Washington Post‘s report: “People keep going to this home looking for their lost phones — and nobody knows why”.

Read as Science Friday wonders: “Does Apple Deserve Its Reputation for Good Design?”.

Read about “The Secret to Carrie Brownstein’s Creativity”.

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Fairy Tales Could Be Older Than You Ever Imagined”.

Browse as Newsweek considers “Five Reasons Apple Is Ditching The Headphone Jack For the iPhone 7.”

Read/Listen to Aquarium Drunkard‘s piece: “Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks – The New York Sessions”.

Read as PRI argues: “Why you should savor the under-appreciated beauty of the American short story”.

Read as Quartz considers: “It’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backwards, say scientists”.

See one artist’s recreation of Ferris Bueller‘s room.

Read Newsweek‘s report: “Streaming Is Killing Great Music In Favor of Familiar Formulas”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Larry David will host Saturday Night Live.

See NME‘s piece: “It Turns Out Adele’s Face Fits Perfectly Onto Every Album Cover Ever”.

Read as Ars Technica compares Apple’s Carplay against Android Auto.

Read Fast Company‘s report: “Google Is Offering A Free Online Class About Deep Learning”.

Read Flavorwire‘s report that David Bowie planned the release of several anthology albums, still to be released after his death.

ReadMaurice Sendak on Storytelling, Creativity, and the Eternal Child in Each of Us” at Brain Pickings.

Browse “21 of the Most Tragic and Cringeworthy Christian Music Covers You’ll Ever See”.

Read Brain Picking‘s piece: “Kandinsky on the Spiritual Element in Art and the Three Responsibilities of Artists”.

Read as Zygmunt Bauman says: “Social media are a trap”.

Trumpeters And Gospel Deficiency

12342869_10153827861846450_6195041571918097602_nMuch to my dismay, it’s a mixed bag that the ol’ Donald, who, if you have not heard, is running for President, has been in the press lately in the context of American Evangelicalism, of which I am loosely a part.

I say “much to my dismay” because it pains my heart that some self-professing Christians seem to support Donald Trump as, not only a viable presidential candidate but have come out in support of him. As you may have heard, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. recently endorsed Donald Trump for President.

I say “it’s a mixed bag” because at least this has caused toe “mainstream media” to try and understand Evangelicalism, even if it’s just to say: “Are some of you people really considering voting for this guy who so openly and adamantly opposes so many of your views?!” For example, CNN recently posted “3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump“. Have we really come to this point where the American Church is being told by CNN why a potential presidential candidate is simply not sympatico with our stated beliefs?

Even with all of this, there may yet to be some good to come of this socio-political fiasco identity crisis. Rightly or wrongly, Christianity has long held a special place at the table of American culture. It has been the assumed religion. So much so that many claim this to be a “Christian nation”. This is dangerous for Christianity because it implies that following Jesus is somehow equatable with the “American Dream”. It is not and it seems that there is a growing number of people coming to believe that the predominant version of Christianity practiced in America is not “Christianity” at all but something called “moralistic therapeutic deism” (oh look, I wrote about this very thing!).

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As a church planting pastor, I do think it’s worth seriously considering the fact that some people who claim to be Christians have publicly come out in support of Donald Trump’s bid for the White House. What, if anything does this say about the version of Christianity adopted by many in the United States? We are left with some serious questions regarding the heart of of how Christianity is or is not practiced.

Trump clearly plays on a competitive spirit. What does the Bible say about trying to get ahead at the possible expense of others? Trump talks tough with threats of violence to adversaries. What does the Bible say about how we should treat others, even our enemies? Trump brags that he has never asked forgiveness. Not even from God. What does the Bible say . . . do I really even have to finish this one? Trump says that he will deport the refugees and build a wall around our suburb. What does the Bible say about how we should treat the foreigner? Those less fortunate? Those seeking safety and security?Trump has repeatedly left his current wife for his next. What does the Bible say about the importance of marriage? Trump has repeatedly denigrated women. What does the Bible say about equality? Trump has repeated denigrated anyone he disagrees with. What does the Bible say about how we use our words? What does the Bible say about the relationship between our words and what’s in our hearts? I could keep going but I’ve even exhausted myself.

What I do want to consider is the saddening fact that those people who do claim to be Christians and express support for Donald Trump may, in fact, suffer from what I have dubbed “gospel deficiency”. We don’t have time (or the patience right now) to address every question raised in the previous paragraph, but I would like us to consider some generalities when it comes to the outlook on life assumed by the Bible for those brought to life by the Gospel (the good news of who Jesus is and what He’s done).

Consider just a few verses in light of Trump’s campaign and public persona:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)

How can people who claim to love Jesus consider supporting a candidate like Trump? I believe that the answer is not political but theological. If you support Trump it’s because you don’t fully understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for life and how we should live. In fact, it is likely that you suffer from Gospel Deficiency. I’m not saying that you can’t be saved and support Donald Trump. Far be it from me to judge someone’s heart. But it does seem that in order to support Donald Trump, you must turn a blind eye to many of the things God says to describe His people.

You can be alive but be iron deficient. I suppose you can be a Christian and suffer from Gospel Deficiency as well. You believe enough to put your faith in Jesus  for salvation but not enough to know that Jesus tells us that our hearts should not focus not found in this world (Matthew 6:21) and to be anxious for nothing (Matthew 6:25:-34). Paul tells us to consider others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-11). You can identify as a Christian but the truth is that if the Truth has set you free, you will reject principles based on fear, prejudice and anger while Donald Trump openly accepts the “mantle of anger“. When the Gospel takes root, we begin to flower with kindness, meekness, self-control, (Galatians 5:22-23) all things conspicuously absent from Trump’s public persona.

I suppose the real issue I’m wrestling with is this: I just don’t see how you can understand biblical teaching and then support someone like Donald Trump for anything other than class clown.

Can you help me understand?

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes I just don’t know, man. I mean it all just seems like so much already, doesn’t it? I know that it weighs you down. I know it can feel like a beatdown. Some days it feels like the clouds will never lift.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

Read as Noisey considers “Why Fugazi‘s Politics Are As Frighteningly Relevant Today As They Were In 1988″.

Read as The Guardian considers David Bowie‘s literary influences.

  • Read FACT Magazine‘s report that Bowie is being honored with a constellation.
  • Read as Noisey considers Bowie’s influence on Hip Hop.
  • Read Billboard‘s report that Blackstar is Bowie’s first Number one album.
  • Watch Fred Armisen pay tribute to David Bowie on Saturday Night Live.
  • Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that a Labyrinth reboot is in the works.

Read Okay Player’s report: “Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Arrested In Cape Town”.

Read as Brain Pickings considers “The Psychology of What Makes a Great Story”.

Read as George Orwell considers “the Four Questions a Great Writer Must Ask Herself”.

Read reports that “Target Will Soon Let You Drink Alcohol While You Shop”.

Read one music fan’s account of why they protested a Viet Cong concert over the band’s name.

Read as The Atlantic considers “How Sleep Deprivation Decays the Mind and Body”.

HearWendell Berry on How to Be a Poet”.

R.I.P. Glenn Frey of the Eagles.

R.I.P. drummer for Mott the Hoople, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin.

Read as The Daily Beast considers the rise and fall of Eddie Murphy: “In the ’80s the Beverly Hills Cop star was as hot as it got in Hollywood, and somehow everything went sour.”

See photographs of early Apple prototypes.

Read as Ars Technica spent one week with Apples CarPlay.

Watch Arcade Fire & Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Second Line For David Bowie” at Stereogum.

Hear as “Ray Bradbury Reads His Poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” in a Rare 1971 Recording”.

Read AV Club‘s report that Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who.

Read Newsweek‘s report that Elon Musk’s “hyperloop” could be ready by 2018.

Hear David Foster Wallace‘s famous Kenyon College address.

Read as Amin Maalouf considers “How to Disagree”.

BrowseHenry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing and Daily Creative Routine”.

Read as The Atlantic considers “The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard”.

Read as The Daily Beast wonders “Can Whiskey Cure Your Common Cold?”

Read this report that half of all money spent on music in 2015 went to live concerts.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Neil Patrick Harris to star in Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events“.

Read as Salon argues: We spend more time and money on parenting than ever — but we are getting worse”.

Read as Jim Wallis argues: “White Christians need to act more Christian than white: White evangelicals need to repent for how we’ve enabled racism.”

Read Stereogum‘s report that HBO’s new series Vinyl features new songs from Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell and a theme song written by Sturgill Simpson.

Read People Magazine’s report that Girl Meets World‘s Rowan Blanchard has self-identified as “queer”.

Browse the list for the 2016 Penderyn Music Book Prize.

Buy a Drake coloring book.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report: “Netflix is developing a new animated series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening.”

Read Smithsonian‘s report: “The Odds in a Coin Flip Aren’t Quite 50/50”.

Read PRI‘s report: “Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing”.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Why the Church Should Support #BlackLivesMatter”.

Read as the New York Times considers “The Eight-Second Attention Span”.

Read as SciTechNow wonders if there really is such a thing as Introversion.

He Shines In All That’s Fair (A Three-Volume Music Mix)

He Shines3

Who else could bring together this kind of who’s who of musicians?I mean, come on. Think about some of the artists included in this mix:

And that just scratches the surface. As I’ve said, I’m not trying to read anything in to the heart-motivation of any of these artists. But I will say that each song here has meant something important to me in the years of my own faith journey. I hope you enjoy.

  • Read about the background to the mixes here.

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (01)

  1. Something Beautiful by Sinead O’Connor
  2. Nobody Knows My Name by Rickie Lee Jones
  3. ’40’ by U2
  4. Amazing Grace by Ani DiFranco
  5. The Truth Is A Cave by the Oh Hellos
  6. Thank You by Glen Phillips
  7. His Truth Is Marching On by Mike Doughty
  8. Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home by John Davis
  9. Please Come Home by Dustin Kensrue
  10. Whiskey & Jesus by Owl Parliament
  11. Jesus Shot Me In The Head by Hiss Golden Messenger
  12. You Give It All Your Heart (Live Parable Version) by Vigilantes of Love

 

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (02)

  1. On My Knees by Seryn
  2. Amazing Grace by Daniel Lanois
  3. Walking With Jesus by Spacemen 3
  4. 100th Psalm by All Saved Freak Band
  5. Jesus Is Just Alright by Doobie Brothers
  6. I Was Healed By The Wounds In His Side by Sister Gertrude Morgan
  7. Jesus Gonna Be Here by Tom Waits
  8. Saved by Bob Dylan
  9. To Make A Ring by Wovenhand
  10. Higher Power by Ramsay Midwood
  11. Tree of Life by Wilson McKinley
  12. Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum
  13. Brazos by Matthew E. White

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He Shines In All That’s Fair (03)

  1. People Get Ready by Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers
  2. Jaya Dev by Aradhna
  3. Though I Have Wronged You by J. Tillman
  4. King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3 by Neutral Milk Hotel
  5. After Forever by Black Sabbath
  6. Amazing Grace by Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
  7. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down by Uncle Tupelo
  8. Jesus Walking On The Water by Violent Femmes
  9. God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash
  10. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by Doug Burr
  11. I Still Believe (Great Designby The Call
  12. The Transfiguration  by Sufjan Stevens
  13. Every Grain of Sand by Emmylou Harris
  14. Doxology by Kelly Joe Phelps

 

He Shines In All That’s Fair: Thoughts On Common Grace, Creativity and Introducing My Music Mix

He Shines3The doctrine of common grace, like many doctrines, can be a contentious one. The basic issue centers around whether or not God is “pleased” by the actions and creations of those not numbered among His people? Because, Christians are in the continual process of aligning themselves, including what we do/can and can not take pleasure in consuming.

While the issue at hand may not seem immediately apparent to those unconcerned with pleasing God in everyday life, the issue may be summarized as something like this:

Christians understand sin to be the heart of idolatry and includes anything antithetical to God’s character. It is, by definition opposed to God since we believe that He is the sole source of all our hearts seek. So to look for fulfillment, security, joy, etc. outside of Him is in fact, opposing Him. It is a question of the posture of one’s heart.

Christians are thus left in the perpexing situation of what to do with anything not done from a heart’s posture to bring glory to God since it is thusly, in some way opposed to God?

Or is it?

What about things that in and of themselves might be benign? Moreso, what about things that somehow point to God’s character, even if they creator doesn’t know it or intend it? Music? Art? movies? Books? Poems? The very creative process remind us of a God who brings order from the chaos and flowers from the ashes. But what if the creator isn’t thinking of this or might even be opposed to such a worldview? Can Christians take pleasure in art made by n0n-or-even-anti-Christians?

As Richard Mouw summarizes the situation in his book He Shines In All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace:

How do we take with utmost seriousness the need to be clear about the lines between belief and unbelief, between those who live within the boundaries of saving grace and those who do not, while at the same time maintaining an openness to – even an active appreciation for – all that is good and beautiful and true that takes place outside of those boundaries?

While some in my own past theological streams argue that the doctrine of “common grace” is not appropriate, Mouw and others have come to believe that it is not only acceptable but appropriate for Christians to celebrate beauty and cultivate creativity. Wondering at a painting, being swept up in a piece of music, moved by a string of words or ideas, marveling at a sunset, hiking a mountain, smelling hops, tasting coffee, laughing, singing, crying, these are glimpses of God’s grace. They remind us of His goodness, of His character.

For many well-intentioned Christians, the fact that such glimpses are not sufficient to bring someone to salvation, they are not worth our while at all. Or more severely, they should be condemned. How else could someone come to believe that burning music albums brings glory to God more the creative process they contain?

I’m not making light of the struggle many Christians face as they try to align their consciences with God’s character as they choose what to watch, read or listen to. I’m simply trying to make sense of how we’ve come to a place where “American Christianity” rejects so much artistic expression without creating anything worthwhile of our own?

Do we believe that the terrific painting by a non-Christian somehow less valued by God than the horrible painting by a Christian simply because of the intent of the heart? Is there not inherent value in both? The value may be perceived differently by the eyes of faith but the eyes of most people would rather look at a great painting than a bad one (now is not the time to enter into the subjective nature of much art).

This may seem like a rather nebulous rambling (even for me), especially since I’m not here today to really look for answers to many of these questions. I’m simply giving you a context for the three-volume mix album that I’ve come up with. All of these questions and more have been rattling around my head for years, especially as I listen to music. Which I do. A lot. So over the years, I have kept various private playlists of songs which have presented me with an unexpected glimpse of God. A bit of grace in the everyday. Not every song explicitly mentions Jesus.

Some songs are by Christians. Some songs are meant as worship. Some songs are meant as evangelism. Some songs are by more skilled musicians than others. But, not every song here is even by someone who would claim to be a Christian. Some have said these songs are not even about Jesus (though they don’t mind them interpreted as such.). Not every song is to be understood as a theological statement or even representative of my own personal beliefs regarding God (specifically Jesus). And, please be forewarned, there is at least one “F-Bomb” for those sensitive to such things.

But over the years, every song here has, at some point, reminded me of, encouraged me on or challenged me in my own journey of following Jesus.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copySometimes you have to make choices in life. Sometimes you even have to make difficult choices. Like what to do with your time. I mean, come on, there’s only so much time in the day and you have to be careful how you spend it

That’s where the Weekly Town Crier comes in. There’s no longer any reason for you wander aimlessly through the nameless paths of the Interwebs. I collect links of varying degrees of interest and you show your interest by clicking on them and reading them and thinking about them and then next week we do it all over again.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

Ever wonder how to read more books?

Read as The Atlantic considers “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories”.

Read about the push to rename a Jack and Coke to a “Lemmy”.

Read about the recent study finding that $9.99 is too much for most people to pay for streaming music.

R.I.P. country music legend Red Simpson.

R.I.P. David Bowie.

  • Read Pitchfork‘s report that Bowie was planning another album.
  • Read as Gregory Alan Thornbury wonders “What do we learn from the complicated legacy of a beloved icon?” for Christianity Today.
  • Read as Iggy Pop shares his Bowie memories.

R.I.P. Alan Rickman.

Read as “Relevant” argues that people should stop expecting churches to “feed” them.

Read as Time explores rumors that Apple will include wireless earbuds with the next iPhone.

Read as Flavorwire considers rumors that the next season of Arrested Development will be a serialized murder mystery.

Read as Quartz reports: “Philosophers want to know why physicists believe theories they can’t prove”.

Read as Outside magazine considers our “Chris McCandless Obsession Problem”.

Read about Metallica apologizing to a Metallica cover band about the “Cease and Desist” letter they received from an “overzealous attorney”.

See “what America would look like without gerrymandering” at The Washington Post.

Meet the “Super 8″ Camera Designed for Internet Kids” at the Creators Project.

Read/watch as CNN considers “Why Adult Coloring Books Are So Good For You”.

Read Paste magazines report of an all-star Blind Willie Johnson tribute including Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and others.

Browse the complete Netflix genre list.

Read Salon‘s report: “Donald Trump talks at a fourth-grade level.”

Read about the recent study conducted by Spotify about Spotify playlists finding that Blink-182 is the second-most “punk” band, after Green Day.

Hear “The Only Surviving Recording of Virginia Woolf’s Voice” from 1937.

Read “Galileo on Why We Read and How Books Give Us Superhuman Powers” at Brain Pickings.

Browse a collection of “Ridiculously Outdated Mobile Phones in Movies” at Flavorwire.

Read Comicbook.com‘s report: “Kevin Smith To Direct An Episode of The Flash“.

Read as “Dave Grohl, Slash, Metallica, more share their fondest memories of Lemmy at Motörhead frontman’s funeral”.

Read as “Relevant” considers what many Christians “Get Wrong About ‘In the World, Not of the World’.

SeeThe Raven: Lou Reed’s Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe, Illustrated by Italian Artist Lorenzo Mattotti” at Brain Pickings.

Read at the Atlantic about the 2016 Oscar nominations having been announced.

Read Stereogum‘s report that SoundCloud is launching a paid subscription service.

Read as The Creators Project considers how “Apple Wants to Teach You How to Get the Most Out of Your Phone”.

Hear A Song From Violent Femmes‘ First Album In 15 Years” at NPR.

Watch Adele sing, talk, and rap in a car ride with James Corden.

Read as The Federalist considers “Why Jaded Adults Are Buying Stacks of Coloring Books”.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyOh you know. Another year means another round of links. Every week. This week. Next week. The next. etc. etc. etc.

Just when you though that the new year couldn’t look up any more than it already was, here is the Weekly Town Crier! This is where I collect link of varying degrees of interest and pass them along to you. You click on the ones you find interesting, skip the ones you don’t. Come back and discuss what you’d like. Or don’t

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of the year.

Read Flavorwire‘s piece: “Let’s Talk About the One Bad Scene that Kept ‘Inside Out’ From Greatness.”

Read as Fast Company considers “The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth”.

Read as First Things considers why Blair Witch Project resonates with so many young people.

Read this piece about why you should do more things by yourself.

Read this piece considering: “Some Reasons You Should Think Twice before Drinking Milk”.

R.I.P. R&B singer Natalie Cole.

R.I.P. Wayne Rogers,  M.A.S.H.’s “Trapper John”.

R.I.P. Jazz pianist Paul Bley.

R.I.P. composer Pierre Boulez.

Read as Fast Company makes guesses as for what’s next in streaming music.

Read as The New York Times considers “How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity”.

Read Pitchfork‘s interview with Kamasi Washington.

Watch the Inside Out edit with all of the “inside” stuff removed.

Read as “Relevant” wonders why Marc Maron seems to always “toward spiritual conversations?”

Read as The New York Times considers “Bill Gates: The Billionaire Book Critic”.

Browse as Okay Player considers “The Top 6 Beat Tapes Of 2015”.

Read as The Atlantic wonders why all stories seem basically the same.

Read as Stereogum considers what we can make of this year’s Coachella poster.

Read as Brain Pickings considers what actually motivates us to work.

Read as Fact Magazine considers “The Beastie Boys and Bad Brains supergroup that was too good to last”.

Read reports that U2 are saying their next album is coming along nicely.

Read NME‘s report that HMV sold one turntable per minute this Christmas season.

Read AV Club‘s report that there is now a George Costanza-themed bar.

Read NPR‘s report that four new elements have been added to the periodic table.

See part of Kurt Vonnegut‘s “lost” NYU lecture animated by the fine Blank on Blank folks.

Read “Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for Aspiring Writers” at Brain Pickings.

Read as Slate considers rumors of Twitter raising its character limit.

Read as AV Club considers “How Avatar made $2.7 billion and garnered almost no fan base”.

Read as Insider Magazine considers “Why Millennials Are Abandoning Night Clubs”.

Read as The Guardian reports that Morrissey is no longer on Henry Rollins‘ “kill list”.

Read as Brain Pickings considers “Peanuts and the Quiet Pain of Childhood: How Charles Schulz Made an Art of Difficult Emotions”.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports that Billy Corgan is seeking peace with his former Smashing Pumpkins bandmates.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall is being reissued with an accompanying Spike Lee documentary.

Read Variety‘s report that Pee-Wee Herman‘s new movie will debut at SXSW.

Read AV Club‘s report that M. Night Shyamalan is resurrecting Tales From The Crypt.

Read Pitchfork‘s report that Radiohead have formed a new record label, prompting rumors of a new album.

Read Fast Company‘s claim that confirms Apple‘s move to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7.

Read GQ‘s Q&A with Sturgill Simpson.

Ever wonder how much “Your Text Messages Contribute To Global Warming?”

Read as The Houston Press argues: “Rock And Roll Is Dead, And Even Axl and Slash Can’t Save It”.

Read Brain Pickings piece: “Maurice Sendak, Teacher: Lessons on Art, Storytelling, and Life from the Beloved Artist’s 1971 Yale Course”.

Learn more about the “Y’allQaeda” Yahoos occupying a federal building in Oregon. They have forcibly taken over government property brandishing weapons and threatening violence and yet we won’t call them terrorists, why?

Browse Smartphone Etiquette propaganda posters for the digital age.

It’s OK If We Don’t Worship The Same God And It’s Not Intolerant To Say So (Right?)

coexistBy now you may have heard the tale of (former) Wheaton Professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins. Hawkins was recently let go from the college, not for wearing a hijab but for declaring that Christians and Muslims worship the “same God”.

This situation has stirred up the proverbial poop-storm of controversy with media outlets pretending that they understand (and can define) “Christianity” (and religion in general for that matter) better than its practitioners who themselves can’t seem to agree on definitions and boundaries. Miraslov Volf has tried to play with the meaning of the word “same” (as in “Muslims and Christians worship the same god”) while Scot McKnight and others have contradicted him.

For many, the controversy centers on the ideas of tolerance and intolerance. Some seem to believe that Hawkins’ firing was an act of intolerance by Wheaton College. Much of this, of course has to do with how we perceive the ideas of “tolerance” and “intolerance”. Tolerance used to mean something like we disagree and that’s OK, we can and probably should continue in dialogue and cooperation while still owning our distinct beliefs. But somewhere along the path to politically correct town, it has come to mean something more like: we disagree but you can’t say I’m wrong and you probably need to make room in your set of beliefs for mine. I paraphrase, of course.

The key issue at stake is not whether or not Hawkins wants to wear a hijab but her assertion that Christians and Muslims worship the “same God”. As an employee of a Christian institution of higher learning, Hawkins has committed herself to live and teach within certain parameters. The leadership of Wheaton has decided that her current beliefs are outside of those parameters.

Screen-Shot-2015-12-16-at-8.49.56-AMWe need to remember that every system of religious beliefs has boundaries. This is what makes them unique and distinct. This is the root of the idea of “Orthodoxy”, which every religious system of belief has. There are some beliefs within the bounds of orthodoxy for every religion and there are some beliefs that simply disqualify from walking that religious path.

If I reject the Koran en toto or the legitimacy of Muhammad, I am not a Muslim. If I reject the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the legitimacy of Joseph Smith, I am not a Mormon. If I reject the legitimacy of the Pope as a vehicle for God’s revelation, I am not a Catholic. If I believe that Jesus is God and the long-awaited Messiah, I am not a Jew.

If you do not worship the God who has revealed Himself as One God in Three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), each distinct yet fully God, then we do not worship the same God and you are not a Christian. In other words, if you do not believe in the Trinity or if you do not believe that Jesus is fully man AND fully God (along with the Father and Spirit), we do not worship the same God.

Jews are not Christians. Mormons are not Christians. Muslims are not Christians. And it’s not intolerant to say so. In fact, it does each religion a disservice to pretend otherwise.

Pretending that all religions are somehow the same or lead to the same place devalues all of them. While there are certainly areas of agreement, there are also most certainly differences in belief and practice. Tolerance dictates that we acknowledge those differences while seeking ways to work together for the common good. It is not intolerant to acknowledge and own our differences and it doesn’t help to try and change the commonly accepted definition of words like “same” as Volf has done. That’s akin to Bill Clinton trying to blur the definition of “is” to escape ownership of transgressions. It’s not only unhelpful, it is destructive.

It’s OK to acknowledge that we worship different gods and it’s OK for a professing “Christian” college to fire someone who holds different beliefs. In fact, this seems to me a better alternative than pretending that the distinctives of Christianity are no longer distinct.

I’m sure I’ll hear from you and I look forward to it.