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Owl Post 9-27-12

Links for Reviews and News for J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy:

J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy: We’ve Read It, Here’s What We Thought:

It’s not really possible to open The Casual Vacancy without a lot of expectations both high and low at the same time crashing around in your brain and distorting your vision. I don’t know if it’s possible or even desirable to avoid them. I know I had a lot of, let’s call them feelings when I opened the book (which happened on Saturday morning; don’t ask; I work for the military-industrial-entertainment complex, let’s just leave it at that). I have spent many, many hours reading Rowling’s work. I am a known Harry Potter fan.

J.K. Rowling’s debut novel for adults is a hard story that’s worth a read:

If you’re looking for what makes J.K. Rowling magical — emotion, heart — you will.

“The Casual Vacancy” is the first novel written for adults from Rowling, the successful-beyond-belief author behind the “Harry Potter” series about the young boy who discovers he’s a wizard.

Poverty Informs J.K. Rowling’s New Novel For Adults:

J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She’s moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she’s written a novel for grown-ups called The Casual Vacancy, a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.

Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama:

Tell certain liberals and progressives that you can’t bring yourself to vote for a candidate who opposes gay rights, or who doesn’t believe in Darwinian evolution, and they’ll nod along. Say that you’d never vote for a politician caught using the ‘n’-word, even if you agreed with him on more policy issues than his opponent, and the vast majority of left-leaning Americans would understand. But these same people cannot conceive of how anyone can discern Mitt Romney’s flaws, which I’ve chronicled in the course of the campaign, and still not vote for Obama.

The Days I Need the Gospel Least:

Preach the gospel to yourself! Preach the gospel to yourself every day! I think we are all growing accustomed to being told that Christians need to center their lives upon the gospel and that one of the keys to doing this is to be continually reminded of what is true by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day. I’ve been hearing this for years now and to varying degrees have been practicing it. However, just last week I had a bit of a breakthrough in my thinking about it. (Though this is a breakthrough for me, it is may well be one of those things you have understood for years.)

Former Saviors Now Stumble:

At first glance, you might think they’ve done a fine job… look at an illustration by John Buscema realized in the form of James Purefoy, or a vintage Frank Frazetta drawing fleshed out by Taylor Kitsch. On a surface level, it might look like Solomon Kane and John Carter have been translated from their literary origins to the wonder of 21st century movie-making, characters created a little over or under a century ago finding new life in cinema. Problem is, whether you enjoyed, abhorred, or found yourself indifferent to the cinematic versions, these icons have nevertheless been significantly, and intentionally, tarnished.

A Free People’s Suicide:

Os Guinness has performed an act of social ecology. With A Free People’s Suicide, he questions whether the American way of life is sustainable. But when we talk about sustainability in this sense, the question is not whether America will keep its air clean, its water pure, or its forests lush. Guinness is interested in a deeper and more urgent question: Will American freedom continue to thrive, or will it unravel as a result of its abuses?

abortion · atheism · Google · Government · Marriage · Mars Hill · Politics · porn · Republican · sleep · stress · Texas A&M · The Gospel Coalition · Tim Challies · tolerance

Owl Post 3-1-2012

I know there are a lot of links here; I have not had the time to share them recently, but they are all worth the read.

60 Second Summary: After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

The Gist: Since it is currently permissible to kill prenatal children because they are only potential persons and do not have full moral status, then we should be able to kill postnatal children for the same reason. Link

Atheist Alain de Botton Insists Society Needs Guidance From Religion:

Famed atheist Alain de Botton, also a best-selling Swiss author and philosopher known for challenging Richard Dawkins and what he calls his “destructive” atheistic theology, has in a recent interview highlighted many ways in which religion is useful even for secularists. Link

The Hope Amidst Porn In A Marriage:

The sin of pornography is not just a male issue. In fact, recent studies show that one third of people who are looking at porn are women. But, men are still the ones who primarily struggle with this sin—and implicate their wives in doing so. Link

The myth of the eight-hour sleep:

We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural. Link

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant:

The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West’s plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways. Link

If Only:

Feeling inadequate and out of control of any number of life stresses, I feel small and weak. Instead of being humbled, I tend to reject the discomfort of my need, and become prideful. I demand control, believing that if I regain control, I will be restored. My wandering, grumbling heart searches for some end to my familiar fatigue. Link

There’s Lots of Yelling in Campaign to Break This Glass Ceiling:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—This week, a student-body vote at Texas A&M University could make Samantha Ketcham the first female cheerleader—make that yell leader—in school history. Link

Don’t Assume: 

As one of our society’s most popular verses, it is also one of the most misunderstood. Too many people, non-Christian and Christian, take Jesus’ words to be a blanket rejection of all moral evaluation. But given that Jesus alludes to his opponents as dogs and pigs five verses later, it’s safe to think Jesus wasn’t condemning every kind of judgment. We see from the rest of the Gospel that Matthew 7:1 is not inconsistent with strong criticisms, negative statements, church discipline, and warnings about hell. Judgmentalism is not the same as making ethical and doctrinal demands or believing others to be wrong. Link

The Reasons Google+ Is Still a Ghost Town:

The Wall Street Journal has boiled down the failure of Google+ to make a dent in the social network dominance of Facebook, which we have noted for months to two simple stats: users spend about three minutes per month on Google+ compared to six to seven hours a month on Facebook. After all the hype and hope of being the next “It” social network, what happened? Link

Five lessons learned from the Republican presidential race:

Eleven states have cast their votes in the Republican presidential nominating contest. Ten more will do so in six days time, the biggest single day of voting in the GOP race. Now then seems like as good a time as any to take three big steps back and look at what lessons the first two months of votes have taught us about the Republican race. Link

entitlement generation · Facebook · Selfishness · social media · Technology · Tim Challies · Twitter

A Selfish Post

I have to share something that happened to me today and it was kind of a big deal; I got my first famous person retweet. Now I know what you are think, “Seriously, you have over a thousand tweets and this is the first time that you have been retweeted by someone famous?” It is true though, today was the first time. What made this so interesting was that I have been thinking about social media and have read some things in the news recently about them. I was struck with how wrapped up I have gotten with getting myself heard, read, retweeted or followed. I was even complaining to a friend the other day about having a blog that no one reads. I write all this stuff and does it really just disappear into the digital void of Al Gore’s creation? I have been thinking all about me, social media has become another way to indulge in my proclivity for selfiness. In fact a new study about Facebook shows that we are more apt to be selfish on Facebook than giving (I know shocker).

The way this plays out is that the average user is more “liked” than they click “like” on other’s posts. They receive more friend requests than they send. On average, 63% of Facebook users studied received friend requests in the survey month while only 40 percent made a friend request.

The result? It feels good to be on Facebook. It might even feel better than life off Facebook. After all, there’s no dislike button, and friends are unlikely to post harsh comments on your page. Instead, people you might not have seen in years bombard you with positive affirmations day after day, year after year.

“You keep getting all these wonderful positive rewards,” said Keith Hampton, the study’s main author and a Rutgers University professor. “That’s pretty hard to give up.”

Getting more than you are giving, in terms of emotional support, “is kind of what you are looking for,” he added.

This might be the lure of Facebook, the reason it could be worth $100 billion and the reason it has 845 million users who are not leaving even if they’ve been on the site for years. The study found no evidence of “Facebook fatigue,” the idea that people get tired of Facebook after they’ve been on it for a long time.

In fact it was the opposite. The longer someone had been using Facebook, the more frequently they posted status updates, pressed “like” and commented on friends’ content. (Source)

I am finding this to be completely true. I want people to like my comments or read the articles I post and yet I am unwilling to engage them and their postings. So it’s not really social media because the social part is not happening; it’s more a affirmation hub where I can look for people to tell me that I am funny, witty and the like. This sense of entitlement that I have and that my earlier comments portray is dangerous and can be seen all over our world. I have this idea that I deserve to be heard that,

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it’s true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me. (Source)

This hit me today, I don’t have any right to be heard, read or liked. I am no different than the millions of other people that have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and all the other myriad ways that we have created to make ourselves heard. Tim Challies summed it up nicely the other day on his blog when he said;

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.

To summarize, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). (Source)