New evangelical blog at First Things

My friend Joe Carter, web editor for First Things, has begun a new evangelical group blog to which I’ve graciously been invited to participate. Besides being a razor-sharp thinker and writer, Joe has a unique gift for coalescing Christians in the internet “world.” His latest effort, Evangel, a group blog launching today written by a gaggle of evangelicals with whom I’m honored to be in the same company.

It launches today, so head on over. My first post can be found here, but you’ll want to be sure to read all the other takes on the topic of just what “evangelicals” are.

Now hiring

If you’re web-savvy, politically pro-family, and looking for a job in the Washington, D.C. area, Family Research Council is now hiring for the position of Web Editor:

The Web Editor serves as the editing and preparation channel through which all publications, papers, and communications from all FRC departments are funneled for the most effective presentation on FRC website. With assistance and expertise of information technology staff, insures posting, revision, and arrangement of material on website. The incumbent works to enhance FRC’s Internet presence and image as a public policy research, education, and advocacy organization.

See here for more details, and please pass along if you know of anyone else who might be interested.

Three things before we get started…

Before regular posting here resumes tomorrow (really–no foolin’!), there are two items I highly recommend reading:

  • Colby Willen’s 2-part (of a promised 3) series on the “Call to Ministry.” It’s a seldom seen perspective within the church on a phenomenon that’s too often abused. Part one, and part two. Read them now.
  • Eaten Alive: An article by Ronald F. Marshall in the latest edtion of Touchstone on the biblical story of Jonah is so much more than the subtitle—In Removing the Fear from the Story of Jonah, Children’s Versions Remove the Gospel, Too—suggests. It’s an unsanitized look at the biblical tale which rightly reflects how the Gospel doesn’t always take us down the easy path in life. One of the best things I’ve read in a long time.

Back tomorrow…

Best of 2007

Continuing the tradition this blog from 2004, 2005, and 2006, I give you my best from the seventh year of this millennium:

Best Novel (read in 2007): Walker Percy’s The Second Coming. As I’ve described him before, Percy is like Dostoevsky with wit. The Second Coming is a novel about a rich, middle-aged man (who may or may not be going crazy) and his encounter with an escaped mental patient who has already been down the crazy road for quite awhile. All of this craziness leads up to, in typical Percian fashion, unparalleled sanity.

Best Nonfiction Book (read in 2007): Dick Keyes’ Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the power of Suspicion. Cynical that this is the best? Read my review.

Best Misguided Book (read in 2007): Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz is funny, well-written, and Miller makes many valid, salient points. However, the author’s constant brooding and elevation of doubt to the status of virtue transforms a potentially groundbreaking book into little more than faddish whimsy.

Best Movie: Like last year, I only made it to one in-cinema movie. My favorite DVDs of the year were Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Apocalypto and Amazing Grace, which is comparable to Chariots of Fire for those of us who work in the political realm.

Best TV Show: 2007 will be known as the “Year In Which Television Went Down the Drain.” With striking writers having to take real jobs just to make ends meet, it’s been a pretty lousy year in the television industry. So, my best of this year is a toss-up. The Office is hilarious — when the episodes aren’t an hour long. I’m a fan of Lost, but episodes of the show seem to be living up to its name — only eight episodes will appear in 2008. The Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild is thoroughly entertaining, if not all that good for the appetite. House continues to be one of the smartest (read sarcastic) show on the air, and is unafraid to venture into difficult subject matter. These are all, of course, shows I mentioned last year, which must mean that 2007 was so 2006.

Best Science News: The research of Dr. Shinya Yamanaka which shows how induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can behave like embryonic stem cells should put an end to embyro destructive stem cell research. It’s monumental news, and politicians who supported destructive research should see this as a way out of the unethical research battles.

Best Underappreciated Web App: The Google Browser Sync is handy little tool which syncs your Firefox bookmarks across multiple computers. The days of having to compile separate bookmarks for all the different computers I use are history.

Best Software: My friend Joe Carter introduced me to Lifehackers’ Texter application, and now I can hardly do without this boilerplate text macro. Check it out for yourself if you do any html coding.

Best Quote (campaign 2008): Howard Dean: “and we’re going to California and Texas and New York. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaghhh!” — Howard Dean. Nevermind, that was 2004.

Best Quote (overall): When visiting a church while traveling, the lively pastor began a loud, boisterous rant during the sermon. My three year-old son, who is new to listening to preachers, looked at the preacher, then turned to me and remarked (aloud): “He’s silly!” I don’t know if his comment or my subsequent laughter caused more trouble.

Joyeux Noel

Let’s not forget this Christmas that the babe in the manger now sits on a throne, that the gentle child is a warrior king who commands vast armies, and that he fights that we may rest in him. The God who is incarnate is making and will make all things new. As he told the serpent in the garden:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
[Genesis 3:15, ESV]

May that Enmity indeed deliver us. Merry Christmas!

Religion & Politics at American University

Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in “Table Talk Luncheon” at American University’s Kay Spiritual Life Center. The topic was “Religion & Politics in the US: Young Evangelicals in National Politics.” My worthy counterpart on the panel was Tim Kumfer from Sojourners, with whom I even found a few points of agreement (you’ll have to listen to the audio to find out exactly which points).

Before a packed room of American University students, we discussed “hot button” issues like same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and the nation’s “right-left divide” and evangelicals’ involvement in politics. Although most of the audience seemed to lean left, they were gracious hosts, and I had a great time. Thanks to all the students who attended, and to the chaplains who organized the event.

I’ll post a link to the audio of the event here whenever it becomes available.

UPDATE (9/19): Here’s a link to the write-up on the event — it looks as if technical difficulties has kept the podcast from being made available.

Blogs for Fred Gear

Over at Blogs for Fred, we’ve partnered with The Fred Store for a new promotion for bloggers who support Fred Thompson for president. If you add your blog to the Blogs for Fred blogroll, The Fred Store will send you a free coffee mug and bumper sticker that says “I Blog for Fred.”

If you’re a blogger and you’re thinking Fred, follow this link for more information.

Thumos in Washington

We had the privilege tonight of attending the National Endowment for the Humanities’ 2007 Jefferson Lecture, given this year by the inestimable Harvey C. Mansfield. Mansfield spoke at the historic Warner Theater in downtown D.C. on the topic, “How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science.”

Mansfield did a great job of showing how the concept of thumos, ever-lacking in science, rears its head in the various disciplines of the humanities. If that sounds complicated, believe me, Mansfield makes it work.

One of the best lines of the night was, “The demand for more civility in politics today should be directed toward improving the quality of our insults, seeking civility in wit rather than blandness.”

I’ll say more on the lecture later, but if you’re in Washington next spring, I highly recommend it. Previous lecturers include Walker Percy, David McCullough, and Tom Wolfe.

UPDATE: I updated my memory of the quote from the text of the lecture, which is now online.

Four years and seven minutes ago…

…this blog exhibited its very first posting. That’s right, today marks my four-year “blogiversary.” Since that time, there have been wars and rumors of wars, and well, we’re still here. Only four years seems a lifetime away. I’ve since obtained a graduate degree, two wonderful children (whom I’ll cite unashamedly as the cause of decreased posting here in the past two years), a new job (thanks in part to this blog), and many new friends.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If you’re in the mood to reminisce, take a stroll through the archives. If you’re not, I’ll still be around in another four years, Lord willing.