Monday, March 23, 2009

Ten Books

from Jesus Outside the Box:

"This can be a quick one! Don't take too long to think about it! Ten books you've read that will always stick with you! First ten you can recall in no more than 15 minutes! Then tag ten others!"

My 10 Books

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fallen Angel

This new film about Larry Norman, who passed away about a year ago, looks very interesting.

Jon Reid reviews the new movie here.

Michael Newnham has an interview with the Canadian documentary filmmaker David Di Sabatino behind the film here.

Related: Metapost - Larry Norman Goes Home

ht: Andrew Jones

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On Charles Taylor

For a couple of years now, Kenny has been encouraging me to read Charles Taylor. At his suggestion some time ago I purchased Taylor's A Secular Age. Publisher's Weekly summarizes Taylor's philosophical tome in this manner:

In his characteristically erudite yet engaging fashion, Taylor, winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize, takes up where he left off in his magnificent Sources of the Self (1989) as he brilliantly traces the emergence of secularity and the processes of secularization in the modern age.
In the first paragraph of A Secular Age's first chapter, Taylor himself asks,
One way to put the question that I want to answer here is this: why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?
Kenny's about to finish his course work at Johns Hopkins here in Charm City and if I don't finish the book soon, I'll lose my most valued interlocutor.

Towards the end of completing Secular Age, I've begun reading through this helpful overview that Kenny suggested.

The current nearly monolithic secular culture, when viewed from at least a prima facie perspective, is fascinating to me and I'm looking forward to learning Taylor's perspective on how this has come about.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Search of the Quinessential Baltimore Diner, Continued

I believe that this is Year 3 in which I have partnered with Kenny Sheppard (Prolegomena) in search of the Perfect Baltimore Diner. Since our first breakfast we've visited:

(Kenny, is this list complete?)

On Saturday, Kenny, who's working on his Ph.D at Johns Hopkins on atheism and the intellectual history of 17th century England, and I visited the Silver Moon Diner. It was great! The food was fantastic; Kenny's even become a Scrapple aficionado. But best of all was the great conversation with my good friend.

Kenny took the picture above and a few others which can be found here. (For reasons beyond my capacity to imagine, we have not taken pictures on every single visit).

Monday, March 09, 2009

Economic Recovery, Media Coverage, and Hope

Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize in economics a few years back for his work in Prospect Theory. One of Dr. Kahneman's revolutionary findings was that when individuals make economic decisions, those decisions are 70% emotional. Previous to Kahneman's discovery, economists would theorize that people make their decisions based on their best rational analysis as to what course of action will result in their keeping or acquiring the most money. But that's not the way it works most of the time.

I thought about Dr. Kahneman on Friday when I was having an interesting discussion with an economist about the troubled United States economy and media coverage. She agreed with me that negative media coverage does inhibit economic recovery. When I thought about Dr. Kahneman, I realized why.

We spend because we have a hope that our spending is a good decision. We invest on hope. If media coverage underlines the doom and gloom, then spending and investing will be suppressed.

This line of thinking reminded me of FDR and how optimism and hope was such a crucial aspect of his leadership. Through both the Depression and World War II, FDR always communicated that America would eventually triumph over all obstacles. Obama was communicating a similar optimism this past Saturday when he said, "We will get through this."

Colin Powell has said that optimism is a force multiplier. This is true for the economy and for many - if not all - areas of human endeavor. Dr. Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, details the positive results of optimism in his book Learned Optimism. Malcolm Gladwell, in his most recent book Outliers, similarly explains how individuals work longer and harder through difficulties when they believe that the result of their extra effort will be positive. Their hope then drives them to superior accomplishment.

Jesus followers have a firm basis for optimism in a God who loves us and has all power. He alone can give us a peace which "transcends all understanding" (Phil. 4:4-7). In the midst of financial tsunamies, health crises, relational heartbreak, etc., sometimes our only psychological basement - at times the only foundation for our peace - is our knowledge of the character of God.

Monday, March 02, 2009

ESV Study Bible Online Now Available to All

until the end of this month:


This is a very valuable resource that's worth checking out!