ornament 22 September 2011 ornament

Names: they are a changin’

“…And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”
(Genesis 1:19, ESV)

Over at First Things, read my latest musings on a culture that changes its names:

This week, the Southern Baptist Convention announced it is launching yet another committee to examine changing its name. The goal is to better reflect the fact that, aside from folks who live at the North Pole, they’re not necessarily always geographically “Southern” anymore.  Whether or not the name change will go through is up in the air — this is the eighth attempt at renaming the organization.

But it isn’t just the Southern Baptists. Name change fever is in the water. The interwebs are abuzz with the announcement by Netflix this week that it’s changing the name of its DVD service to Qwikster — a name that conjures up images of oil changes and bunnies with chocolate milk. Campus Crusade for Christ, in a move which resulted in a public relations nightmare, recently announced it was changing its name to Cru (rowing teams or short haircuts, anyone?).

Read the rest here, before they change my name to a pseudonym.

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ornament 12 June 2006 ornament

Around the Sphere

~ Volume XVIII ~

Away from the web I have been for a while;
Yet fear not my dear friends, cease not to smile;
While words around here have been waning in style;
I’ve returned to you now, with links by the pile!

At his insightful Crunchy Con blog, Rod Dreher recounts a telling experience from a recent sonogram session, where he discovered that his soon-to-be-born child is a girl. Apparently, some are not so happy at the news of a female offspring:

The sonogram technician told us that you’d be surprised at how many women burst into tears upon hearing the news, and apologize on the spot to their husbands or male partners.

“You are kidding me!” I said, shocked.

“Oh no,” the technician replied. “I’ve had boyfriends go sit right there in that chair when they find out, and put their heads in their hands.” Like it’s the end of the world.

In a world where children have become like fashion accessories to some, this is not all too surprising. Still, it pains the heart to think that some are so callous as to act like a child who didn’t get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

One who is definitely not so callous is Russell Moore. He doesn’t have daughters, but as he poignantly wrote a couple of weeks ago, fatherhood often teaches us more about God than any amount of schooling could do. Moore movingly tells of why he was not there when two of his sons were born, and how God’s glory is seen through that fact.

Colby Willen apparently fell asleep while reading my blog, and is now exploring ways to wake himself up. Actually, his thoughts are a little more serious than that and are worthy of reflection, even for a habitual “snoozer” like me.It is, however, a good thing that his alarm is not set to go off when a new post at TruePravda appears — he’d never wake up!

How far should one travel to go to church? The inestimable Jollyblogger tackles this issue with not just one, but two recent posts. This is a good subject to ponder, as I have been members of churches that were both near (5–minute drive) and far (25–minute drive) away. The distance does make a difference, and the effect it has should not remain unexamined.

That’s all for tonight, but shed not a tear;
There are more words pending, have ye no fear;
Come once and then often, do please appear;
Confusion be closed, and cloudy be clear.

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ornament 4 December 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

~ Volume XVII ~

Are you swimming in a sea of objectivity? That might not be such a good thing when it comes to scholarship. Charles Halton, who is quite the scholar in his own right, contends that bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

I want to be a biased scholar. Furthermore, I want to read works from biased authors. Throw objectivity out the window, I have no use for it because it’s bad for research.

Personally, I’m biased toward Halton’s work, so read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

Another scholar, one Albert Mohler, has posted about the decline in people playing musical instruments, both in the culture at large and in the church. He cites a Charles Rosen article that examines the replacement of performed music with pre-recorded tunes. The rise of recorded music has had a dramatic effect on the amount of music people perform themselves when compared to times before 1900. Mohler observes:

An even greater problem is the effect of all this on congregational singing. Church members, especially the young (and especially young males), have so little experience singing or participating in the production of music in any form that they know only how to listen, not to sing. In one sense, churches that buy into the culture of canned music are setting themselves up for silence in the future. Who will be left to sing?

About the only places I know of where non-professional musicians sing are churches, karaoke bars, and baseball games. Even the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings edited out almost all of the countless songs and singing of the hobbits. Singing has become counter-culture for those without a recording contract.

I hereby resolve to sing more. Don’t worry, earplugs are on the house.

If you’re like me, and the perennial “let’s boycott stores that say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas'” talk has left you weary, you’ll appreciate Tom Ascol’s post on the matter:

Isn’t it interesting where we evangelicals often choose to draw battle lines with the world? We take personal offense when retailers make marketing decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with biblical standards of morality and yet heartily support them when they blatantly violate biblical standards. The Bible says nothing about Christmas–either as a special day to be observed or a term to be included in marketing (for the record, I do celebrate Christmas, but not because I think I am biblically obliged to do so). So, why should Christians be exercised when retailers don’t advertize “Christmas” specials?

Interesting indeed. Read it all.

The Rough Woodsman‘s “Swamphopper” tells of an encounter with novelist John Grisham where he picked up some good advice for disciplined writing:

Among the many comments, most notable was his advice to budding authors: nothing replaces discipline. Even when he was still working full-time as an attorney, Grisham committed to writing at least one page a day. He continued the discipline through his second novel as well. Most writers he knows give the same advice. Find a time and place that becomes your daily routine for consistently completing a page a day. Sometimes it may mean twenty minutes of writing; other times, it may mean two hours. If one commits the time, he’ll have a book full of writing at the end of each year.

Sounds like good advice, but right now I have a hard time averaging one blog post per week. How elusive is discipline!

Technically, this last item has little to do with the blogosphere, but technically this is my blog, so I’ll write about it here anyway. It’s called Pandora, and it’s a new, free, internet radio application that chooses songs automatically for you based on the style of and artist or song you choose. For example, I chose “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” selected the Mannheim Steamroller version, and Pandora picked a wide selection of instrumental Christmas songs and played them to me.

I know, I know, recorded music…

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ornament 13 November 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

~ Volume XVI ~


It’s morning again in the blogosphere, as blogging has now resumed at Le Sabot Post-Moderne! Discoshaman has hit the ground running, with ruminatinos on the viability of multiculturalism, and rumblings of a new sub-blog focusing on War on Terror news.


Terry Mattingly writes about the upcoming Johnny Cash biopic and notes that the movie apparently misses his spiritual conversion due to the brief period covered by the film.

Mattingly also reminds me that I really need to pay a visit to the Carter Fold when I visit my hometown sometime in the near future. It’s a shame to have lived so close for most of my life but never went.


If you’ve ever worked in an office, you undoubtedly can relate to the cartoon Dilbert. Now, its creator, Scott Adams, is now blogging at The Dilbert Blog.

I’ve often wondered if there were anyone else in the world who had thoughts go through their head that were as wacky as mine. After reading Scott Adams, I wonder no more. Check it out for some hilarious refreshment.


You’ve heard of metrosexuals, but Matt Hall identifies a new group on the rise he dubs “metrospirituals.” Read his post for a good discussion on a surprising new face of consumerism.


One of the best new English translations of the Bible is the English Standard Version (ESV). Their website is hands-down the best internet-friendly bible resource, as it is quite blog-developer friendly. On their blog, they point to new, likewise wonderful resource for biblical study, zhubert.com.

Zack Hubert’s site has a number of original-language resources, including both Greek and Hebrew searchable texts, all for free. Could something like this put Bibleworks and other programs out of business? Not immediately for sure, but it will be tough for them to compete against the free stuff in the future.


Finally, a technical note: if you’re a blogger and you use WordPress, be sure to check out the new Akismet anti-comment spam plugin. I’ve used it for a couple of weeks now as my sole anti-spam measure, and it’s reduced my spam by 80% versus the other measures I was using.

It’s a bit of trouble due to the fact that you have to get a WordPress.com blog to get the API key, but it’s well worth the hassle.

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ornament 24 September 2005 ornament

Around the ’Sphere

~ Volume XV ~


For all you extroverts out there, Jason Kottke revives a link to Jonathan Rauch’s hilarious article from The Atlantic in March 2003 entitled, “Caring for Your Introvert.” If you’re an unabashed introvert like me, be sure to share it with all those outgoing people around you.


Be sure to check out Jason Doty’s new blog, Dr. Bare Minimum. An occasional commenter here at TruePravda, Jason is a student at SBTS and hails from my hometown of Kingsport, TN. His new blog is worth a look.


My old friend Charles Halton is back to blogging. Charles’ former blog, Marduk’s Terror, had gaps of up to a year between posts. He looks to be updating his new awilum.com more frequently, with lots of interesting insights from the ancient Near East and the Bible. I guess Charles is now a bona fide biblical scholar, as he is now referring to himself as “J.C. Halton.”


Christian missions are of great interest to me, and Colby Willen’s articulation of a local church vision for doing missions is spot-on in step with my own view. If you’re part of a church that’s interested in reaching out (as all churches should be), you’d be wise to consider some of the points in Colby’s post.

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ornament 21 August 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

Off we go…

Congratulations to Scott and Beth Slayton on the birth of their daughter Hannah last week. May the Sandman frequent your house.


Russell Moore offers an alternate way of thinking about porn stars.


I’ve always been interested in cultural anthropology (I once took a 400-level class in college as free elective…), so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the blog of Grant McKracken. He’s an anthropologist who studies such mundane things as why people order smaller drinks in the drive-thru at McDonald’s than they do if they order inside. Call me crazy, but that sort of stuff facsinates me — as does McCracken’s blog.


John Rabe offers a a review of Moneyball, an interesting-looking book on baseball statistics and challenging long-held paradigms of thought.


And finally, in a rare side-splitting post, Albert Mohler confesses an to an addictive behavior that I share as well. This is a definite must-read.

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ornament 19 July 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

A few “must-reads” for your reading as you travel the blogosphere:

Phillip Johnson has nailed some theses to the door of evangelicalism, noting that the rampant money-grubbing, superstition, and pragmatism present today is often worse than that of medieval Catholicism. Johnson has more than enough valid points here to make him an evangelical porcupine. Also noteworthy is Tim Challies insightful response to Johnson.


Douglas LeBlanc laments the emergence of “office-like” church buildings, where the number one concern is making people feel comfortable in worship. He observes, “In an age when the exteriors of community centers and banks aspire to the same grand statements that churches once used, there’s a certain symmetry in having churches look like those soulless buildings straight out of Office Space.”


In “Television Termination at the Christian ‘Booksellers’ Convention,” Douglas Groothius describes his trip to the CBA amongst the Christian kitsch with his TV-B-Gone, where he managed thirteen TV kills in one day. I really have to get me one of those things…
(Hat tip: Joshua Sowin)


S.M. Hutchens has a thoughtful post on “Lying in Church,” where he grapples with the truth of what we say in many of our worship songs. No matter where you come down on the issue of contemporary v. traditional worship, Hutchens’ honesty is worth examination. He also has a follow-up post.


And on a lighter note, Colby Willen, still locked in his basement after five years, wonders if there are any Y2K updates. We’ll let you know if we hear anything, Colby. In the meantime, don’t eat all the Oatmeal Creme Pies in your stash—you may need them if the power grid fails…

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ornament 9 June 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

Off we go…

New to blogging, but certainly no stranger to sound thought and practice, is my good friend Tom Hicks. Tom is a Ph.D. student at SBTS whom I’ve told repeatedly that he should be blogging. It seems he’s finally listened. His blog, Foedus Gratiae, aptly begins with a stirring post on joy.


I’ll have to admit I’m a bit rusty on my Latin, so when I was looking up the Foedus part of Tom’s blog title, I stumbled upon a wonderful new website: The Ancient Library. It’s a collection of online resources on the ancient world, including scans and transcriptions of classical dictionaries and other works. If your course of personal or academic study ever takes you to the ancient world (and it should!), be sure to bookmark this site.


I’m unsure if he would remember me—I’ve only met him once—but Steve McCoy has a relatively new blog that’s become quite active. Lots of thought-provoking fodder there.


Finally, the Discoshaman has ended the posting drought at Le Sabot Post-Moderne, and balance has been restored to the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Through a bit of savvy technorati sniffing, I’ve found that another old friend (a friend even though he’s an staunch Auburn fan!) has begun blogging. So, Mr. Slayton, whether you’re ready to public or not, here you go all Scattered and Covered.

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ornament 5 May 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

And around the blogosphere we go…

The blogosphere needs more savvy theologians blogging, and blogging they are. If the prolific Albert Mohler and the all-too-infrequent Russell Moore aren’t good enough for you, intelligent design expert William Dembski has joined the ranks of the pajamahadeen with his blog, Uncommon Descent. New Testament scholar Scot McKnight is also churning out pixels at the Jesus Creed blog, where he has lengthy, but interesting-looking (I haven’t read it all yet) post on reading habits.

The Spring issue of The New Pantagruel is out—there’s always interesting and provocative reading there.

The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty’s new Power Blog, is quickly on its way to becoming one of my favorite daily stops—good stuff all around.

And finally, having nothing to do with the blogosphere, is my pick for the Kentucky Derby this weekend. Based on horse name alone, and on whom I will bet no money (he’s 30-1 odds), I pick Closing Argument to win the roses on Saturday.

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ornament 10 April 2005 ornament

Around the ‘Sphere

Just a few things I’m looking at in the blogosphere and elsewhere:

Colby Willen takes on church marketing strategies, observing a local church’s tagline (“Big Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Care”) that matches at least four other business slogans found on the web. He writes:

Okay, even if you haven’t thought through what the church is supposed to be, surely some alarms go off in your head when a church is advertising with the same slogan as equipment, painting, and HR companies

I guess this blows my idea of incorporating the McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” campaign into our church’s missions strategy…

Joe Carter is resuming the Evangelical Outpost Blog Symposium for the 2nd quarter of the year. The deadline is April 15 (sounds familiar…), and the topic is broad—Judeo-Christian morality in an ethically pluralistic society. I’d best get to thinking and writing.

Even though Technorati says there are 8,635,175 weblogs, I can still count the number of bloggers I’ve met personally on one hand (I’ve got lots of fingers…). I met another one this weekend—blogger Nikki Tatom, who self describes her blog as “A Random Site About Random Stuff.” It’s random indeed, but good enough for me to add it to my “They Maketh Me Smile” category. Check it out.

Since Amazon.com is an integral resource of the blogosphere, here’s what’s in my latest order:

Can’t wait to jump into those. But alas: “of making many books there is no end…”

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