Archive - June, 2010

Christopher Hitchens Has Cancer

Pray for Christopher Hitchens, that the God whose truth he suppresses would save him. Hitchens released this statement through his publisher, noting the suspension of his Hitch-22: A Memoir book tour:

I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.

The LA Times writes that this chemotherapy treatment is due to a diagnosis of esophageal cancer.
HT: @Hunterbaker

John Wooden – A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court

I read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court shortly after the Coach passed away. While there is every indication that John Wooden was a serious and devout Christian, the first thing I noticed about the book is that the author (Steve Jamison) and/or the publisher (McGraw-Hill) seemed to downplay this, as should perhaps not be unexpected. Consequently, the moral aphorisms that fill the book come across as somewhat detached from the gospel of grace. That said, the book (as promised) was full of the wisdom of John Wooden. It wasn’t really a biography, but a compendium of thoughts from John Wooden on matters ranging from family, to friendships, to basketball, to the importance of perseverance in adversity.
Wooden was strongly influenced by his father, from whom he gained these maxims: Never lie, never cheat, never steal. Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses. John was born in 1910 in the town of Hall, Indiana and at the age of 8 moved with his family to a small farm in Centerton in 1918. After graduating in 1928, he attended Purdue University, where he helped lead the Boilermakers to the 1932 National Championship, as determined by a panel vote rather than the NCAA tournament, which did not begin until 1939. Graduating with a degree in English, John was named All-Big Ten and All-Midwestern (1930–32) while at Purdue, and he was the first player ever to be named a three-time All-American.
After college, Mr. Wooden balanced professional basketball while teaching high school English. He also began to coach at the high school level. In 1942, he joined the Navy in the midst of World War II, leaving three years later as a lieutenant. In 1961, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
After WWII, Wooden coached at Indiana Teacher’s College (now named Indiana State University) for a few years, during which time they also made him the baseball coach and the athletic director. He did this while teaching and earning a masters degree in education. This from Wikipedia is fascinating:

In 1947, Wooden’s basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) National Tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB’s policy banning African American players. One of Wooden’s players was Clarence Walker, an African-American from East Chicago, Indiana.

After the 1947–48 season, Wooden became the head coach at UCLA, a position he held for 27 years, winning 10 national championships during his last 12 years and becoming (arguably) the most successful coach in the history of college basketball. After retiring from UCLA, he fulfilled a variety of public speaking engagements but lived a relatively modest life until passing away earlier this summer just four months shy of his 100th birthday.
Here are some of my favorite Wooden quotes, which I culled from Jamison’s book. Most of them deal with success:
1. Don’t try to be better than someone else. But never stop trying to the best you can be. The latter is under your control. The former is not.
2. The outcome is the by-product of the level of preparation. Don’t make the by-product the main product. Focus on being excellent in the process and the outcome will take care of itself. To do anything else is to work below your level of competency.
3. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
4. When you blame others you are trying to excuse yourself. When you make excuses you can’t properly evaluate yourself. Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.
5. Think positively, but don’t think “anything is possible.”
6. It is best not to drink too deeply from a cup full of fame.
7. The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.
8. Don’t measure yourself by what you’ve accomplished, but rather by what you should have accomplished with your abilities.
9. Failure waits for all who stay with some success made yesterday.
10. Leadership is the ability to get individuals to work together for the common good and the best possible results while at the same time letting them know they did it themselves.
11. Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn’t mean treating everyone alike. That’s unfair, because everyone doesn’t earn the same treatment.
12. Leaders are interested in finding the best way rather than having their own way.
13. If you get caught up in things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect those things over which you have control.
14. Talent is God-given: be humble. Fame is man-given: be thankful. Conceit is self-given: be careful.
15. You are just as important as anyone else, but you are no more important than anyone else.

John Wooden strikes me as having been a great man in every sense of the word. It is said by those who met him that he was enormously humble, making them feel important regardless of who they were. His strength and competitiveness was tempered with tenderness and love, and his optimism was balanced by realism.
My only disappointment with the book is I would have liked to know more about his personal practice of the Christian faith. He is said to have read the Bible daily, regularly attended church, and been a friend of Billy Graham. I recommend this book as an entertaining and easy read, but would caution against the “moralistic therapeutic deism” with which it might leave the reader.

Liberty University and Ergun Caner

Justin Taylor has posted helpful background on the recent demotion of Ergun Caner, whose service as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary will end on June 30, 2010, after which Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor:

Here’s a quick recap of what we know. There are many more details than this, but the following highlights some of the salient facts, especially as they touch on the issue of whether or not Caner was trained as a jidhadist in Turkey. (For a fuller timeline, go here.)
Caner has said that he was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and grew up near the Turkish-Iraqi border, where he was trained in Islamic Youth Jihad until the age of 15. He came to America, he has claimed, in 1978. He was converted to Christianity in 1982.
Actually, he was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in November 1966. In 1969 the Caners moved to Columbus, Ohio, before Ergun’s fourth birthday. In 1975 his parents separated, with his Swedish mother being awarded custody of the children, and in 1978 they were divorced. The boys lived primarily with their mother in Columbus—at least 75% of the year, spending 25% of the year with their Turkish-Muslim father in the U.S. The divorce agreement prohibited the boys from traveling outside the Continental U.S. while they were still minors.
No one doubts that he was converted to Christianity in 1982. But all of the evidence suggests he was was reared in the U.S., and no evidence exists that he was trained as jihadist in Turkey.

Also, Pastor Tom Chantry has posted a very balanced, pastoral response to the situation.

Manute Bol’s Radical Christianity

Manute Bol’s life and death (at the age of 47) exemplified true greatness. Jon Shields writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Bol’s life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption. In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior “humiliation” by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.
Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.
It is of little surprise, then, that the sort of radical Christianity exemplified by Bol is rarely understood by sports journalists. For all its interest in the intimate details of players’ lives, the media has long been tone deaf to the way devout Christianity profoundly shapes some of them.
Obituary titles for Bol, for example, described him as a humanitarian rather than a Christian. The remarkable charity and personal character of other NBA players, including David Robinson, A. C. Green and Dwight Howard, are almost never explicitly connected to their own intense Christian faith. They are simply good guys.

Read the whole thing.
HT: Denny Burk

A Primer on Limited (or Definite) Atonement

Check out this post for a good primer on why limited (or definite) atonement is both theologically, logically, and exegetically satisfying.

THINK Conference: Oct 1-3, 2010, Minneapolis, MN

Theme: “Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God
Date: October 1-3
Venue: Minneapolis Convention Center
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Speakers: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., R. C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile, Francis Chan, Rick Warren, John Piper
Breakout Sessions: Randy Alcorn, Kevin DeYoung, Tullian Tchividjian, Matt Perman, N.D. Wilson
Price: $135 through the end of June
A pretty slick promo video, if you ask me:

Matt Chandler Seminar on Homosexuality

Beginning with an (accurate) acknowledgment that the Jennifer Knapp – Larry King Live interaction was not particularly profitable, Matt Chandler explains (in the first video) why he wanted to address the issue of homosexuality, even though it runs the risk of seeming to elevate one particular sin above others. In the first video, Chandler traces the creation-fall storyline in Genesis 2 and Romans 1, showing that heterosexual marriage was God’s design and that homosexuality is an aspect of God “giving us over” to our idolatries.
In the second presentation, Chalder gives six cogent, brief responses to some of the classic street-level objections to the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality.
1. If you’re not hurting anyone else, what’s wrong with it?
2. Since you’re a sinner, too, who are you to call out others?
3. Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality.
4. Some animals have same-sex relations, so if it’s in nature it must natural.
5. The homosexuality condemned by Paul is a different type of homosexuality than we see today.
6. Revisionist arguments from modern scholarship.
In the third message, Chandler addresses practical questions (submitted via Twitter) on things like how to handle your gay child wanting to visit with his partner, how to guide teenagers struggling with same-sex attraction, and does becoming a Christian out of a homosexual lifestyle inevitably lead to heterosexual attraction.
In my view, this discourse was incredibly biblical, redemptive, and balanced. I highly commend it. The entire, three-part session can be viewed below or the audio can be downloaded.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Part 1 from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Part 2 from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Q&A from The Village Church on Vimeo.


The Societal Decline of Men (And Why It Matters)

Albert Mohler weighs in on Hanna Rosin’s cover story in The Atlantic, which is boldly entitled The End of Men. Rosin’s article poses the question: Is our postmodern, postindustrial society simply better suited to women than to men?
Consider the following:
1. Sex-selection technologies in the West are now more often used to select a preference for girls than for boys.
2. The current global recession has disproportionally impacted men. In the United States, 75% of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men. Moreover, many of these jobs will probably not return, given the rapidly changing economic landscape. The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with “macho”: construction, manufacturing, and high finance.
3. On a whole, women outnumber men in the work force.
4. Of the fifteen job classifications marked for future growth, men dominate only two, janitorial services and computer engineering.
5. Rosin writes:

…..[women] make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast. A white-collar economy values raw intellectual horsepower, which men and women have in equal amounts. It also requires communication skills and social intelligence, areas in which women, according to many studies, have a slight edge. Perhaps most important—for better or worse—it increasingly requires formal education credentials, which women are more prone to acquire, particularly early in adulthood.

6. Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s.
7. Women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees—the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life in our modern economy. This trend is acceleration: For every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same.
8. [Other studies show that girls are more likely to graduate high school than boys. Girls also outperform boys in virtually every subject from junior high on.]
There is no problem with intelligent, hard-working, accomplished women. The issue is the under-performance of men. As Dr. Mohler writes: “This pattern has vast implications for marital prospects, since women express a strong preference to marry a man of equal or greater educational and professional potential.” The problem is compounded for women who want to someday be the primary caregivers for their children.
Rosin’s argument is articulate, well documented, and persuasive. All who have an interest in the next generation would do well to challenge young men to be studious, hard working, decisive, commitment-oriented, delayed gratification-minded, mature, responsible, self-controlled, self-starting, industrious servant leaders. [Such qualities are not mutually exclusive with emotional intelligence, tenderness, and people skills.] Men like this will make good employees, good managers, good entrepreneurs, good leaders, good husbands, and good fathers.

Generation Porn

Walt Mueller:
Because the dark world of Internet pornography is growing minute-by-minute, accurate up-to-date statistics are hard to find. But consider these facts on Internet pornography that were recently released by OnlineMBA:

• 12% of all Internet websites are pornographic. That’s 24,644,172 sites.
• Every second, almost 30,000 Internet users are viewing pornography.
• 70% of all men ages 18 to 24 visit porn sites in a typical month.
• 1 in 3 porn viewers are women, and that number is steadily rising.
• 68 million daily search engine requests (that’s 25%) are pornography related.
• 34% of all Internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornography.
• The average age at which a child first sees pornography online is 11.
• The most popular day of the week for viewing pornography is Sunday.
• The overwhelming majority of children (90%) ages 11 to 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet.

That last stat is particularly shocking. See Walt’s post for more on the repercussions for children and for society as a whole.
HT: Vitamin Z via Thirsty Theologian

What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

The Pre-Conference panel at the Ligonier Ministries Conference mentioned this new book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, the author of the much-discussed article Is Google Making Us Stupid?
Here’s Donna Seaman’s review:

Carr—author of The Big Switch (2007) and the much-discussed Atlantic Monthly story “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”—is an astute critic of the information technology revolution. Here he looks to neurological science to gauge the organic impact of computers, citing fascinating experiments that contrast the neural pathways built by reading books versus those forged by surfing the hypnotic Internet, where portals lead us on from one text, image, or video to another while we’re being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds. This glimmering realm of interruption and distraction impedes the sort of comprehension and retention “deep reading” engenders, Carr explains. And not only are we reconfiguring our brains, we are also forging a “new intellectual ethic,” an arresting observation Carr expands on while discussing Google’s gargantuan book digitization project. What are the consequences of new habits of mind that abandon sustained immersion and concentration for darting about, snagging bits of information? What is gained and what is lost? Carr’s fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory.

Page 1 of3123»