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Owl Post 5-1-2012

Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships:

This is a follow-up to last week’s article about the loneliness that Social Media is supposedly creating. “A few years ago I had an interview for a job at one of the leading academic departments in my field. Maybe because I knew that I wasn’t likely to be offered the job, I saw the day as a relaxed opportunity to meet people carrying out interesting research.  My comfort with the day was shaken, however,  when a faculty member showed me ongoing research on avatars — bots — designed to interact with (and provide therapy for) human children with autism. I squirmed. I squinted.  I tried to voice my discomfort. I lost my voice. I turned away. I was shaken for the rest of the day and on my way back. That flickering image of the bot we’d one day turn our children over to still haunts me.”

The Ugly American — Sex Trafficking and Our National Humiliation:

The sexual revolution of the last several decades has transformed any public conversation about sex and sexuality. The revolutionaries directed their attention to the dismantling of an entire edifice of sexual morality that had been basically intact for well over 2,000 years.

Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?

Daylight Saving came out in the U.K. in February, and in the months leading up to its release, the publisher used a novel strategy to generate interest in the teen novel: It placed a ticker at the bottom of the digital cover, counting down to the launch date. (It’s still counting, now into a negative number.) In addition to the digital jacket’s embedded clock, an underwater design ripples with the drag of a cursor, as if your finger could make waves through the screen. The interactive blue splashes (gimmicky, maybe) are nonetheless entrancing for the few minutes spent toying with the cover. And with that, the book has caught the eye of a potential buyer. Once purchased, of course, the water transforms into a static image, its graceful motion unsupported by the media formats in which it is ultimately consumed (print or the standard digital forms). The cover is seductive, but its spell is broken. Which brings to mind the tagline of Daylight Saving: “Can you save someone from something that’s already happened?”

My Son Went to Heaven, and All I Got Was a No. 1 Best Seller:

At 3 years 10 months, Colton Burpo was a sunny child, a preacher’s son certain of his faith and his eternal fate. Then his appendix burst, and as doctors failed to figure out what was wrong with him, he lay in a hospital bed until his father, Todd, saw “the shadow of death” cross his face. “I recognized it instantly,” Todd, a pastor, recalls. With Colton’s face “covered in death,” Todd and his wife, Sonja, took the boy to another hospital, where he was wheeled into surgery. “He’s not in good shape,” the surgeon said. As Colton screamed for his father, Todd fled, locked himself in a room and railed at God.

Marilynne Robinson on Christmas, Easter and Religious Dread:

From Marilynne Robinson’s essay “Wondrous Love”, one of several collected in When I Was a Child I Read Books, here are the quotes I referenced at this past weekend’s conference:

I have a theory that the churches fill on Christmas and Easter because it is on these days that the two most startling moments in the Christian narrative can be heard again…

Roqoo Depot’s Interview With James Arnold Taylor:

The Dark Knight Rises – New Trailer:

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Owl Post 4-20-2012

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.

Piper, Ryken, Reynolds, and Nielson Commend the Classics:

This week The Gospel Coalition welcomes you to join us in an exciting new series called Commending the Classics. We’re thrilled to welcome Wheaton College professor Leland Ryken as a sort of literature scholar in residence to guide us as we read classic books together. Every week he’ll lend us his decades of learning to help us understand why these works have come to be regarded as timeless treasures. Have you ever thought, I’ve heard that book is great, but I’m intimidated to read it myself without any help? Then we’ve designed this series precisely with you in mind. You get the benefits of a reading community who will help you along and a gifted professor who will answer your questions.

The Kindle Index: What City Buys the Most E-Readers?

Recently, a new form of reading elitism has come about: judgement against people who haven’t yet switched from paper books to digital ones. Even I will confess to patronizingly acting surprised when encountering someone who still reads using the “dead tree format.”

Why ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Won’t Save Christian Cinema:

What happens when you water down the message? “Religious people rarely get a fair shake at the movies. Mainstream films usually seem bent on portraying faithful people as joyless hypocrites: Think of the shrill Hilary Faye in Saved or the stern principal/nun inDoubt. Movies produced by overtly Christian companies are no more nuanced. Films like Courageous andFireproof show firemen and police officers in straightforward moral dilemmas with straightforward Biblical solutions, while the pro-life subgenre is filled with stories that distort and oversimplify the way a woman decides whether or not to keep an unwanted baby.”

Chase a dream, not a number:

There’s a bed they sell that let’s you set a “sleep number.” You get to determine the stiffness or softness you want with a dial and then enjoy a restful night of customized comfort. I forget the name of the manufacturer, but if they want to sponsor my blog, I would Google that on the quick and write it in bold. (The kids need new shoes! Keens specifically, because wow, those things stink after a season of backyard romping.)

Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex:

If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand, then you should listen to an expert on American sex trafficking I interviewed the other day.

“Ifs” Kill!

One of the problems in the current conversation regarding the relationship between law and gospel is that the term “law” is not always used to mean the same thing. This is understandable since in the Bible “law” does not always mean the same thing.