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entirely unrelated various

I’m offline much of the week, traveling for business and pleasure. Here are a few unrelated items to fill part of the gap until I get back:

  1. So the Pew Forum published a report on religious knowledge in the United States, and there was much discussion. The Immanent Frame got a bunch of people who are scholars in the field of the study of religion (primarily religion as a social phenomenon; there’s arguably at most one theologian in the bunch, and no pastors or other religious professionals) to comment on the report and (mostly) what it signifies [link]. There are some insightful comments and predictions here, but this sort of thing causes me to wonder if postmodernism is an inevitable result of modernism, or whether modernism itself is fundamentally incoherent.
  2. Author Sara Zarr recommends a writing workshop and talks about what it means to be a Christian author but not a “Christian author” [link], in much the same way e.g. David Bazan is (was?) a Christian-not-Christian-rock singer. I really have no idea what it means to be a Christian in the arts community but not involved in “Christian art,” and my field of study isn’t even on the radar of most religious professionals, so I can’t relate to or identify with what Zarr occasionally describes as being her experience, but her comments give me pause for thought.
  3. James White celebrates Reformation Day on The Dividing Line [link]. As someone who is not Reformed I tend to be put off by the unreflective self-congratulation that happens once a year in Reformed circles, and most of this episode is exactly that. It’s just plain dry and dull and awful. In the last ten minutes, however, White talks about the historical elements that were in place (printing, nationalism, etc. He doesn’t mention capitalism.) at the time of the Renaissance and made conditions right for the birth and survival of the Reformation. Fascinating and fact-filled if a bit overwrought; it’s hard to find a better example of “good James White” and “bad James White” side by side. He doesn’t deal with the obvious question of why all the ingredients of the Reformation would be merely of historical interest and not the Reformation itself.
  4. A long debate on the premise “Resolved: that Islam is a religion of peace” [link]. I don’t really know anything about Islam, but I think I learned more in this hour-plus than I could learn from many hours of listening to oh say Ergun Caner. The fundamental question in the debate boils down to this: Which is more appropriate: to judge a religion by its teachings, or by the behavior of its adherents? By the best of each or the worst of each? Also, Martin Luther makes a surprise appearance as a foil for an argument from one side; I won’t say which one.
  5. Marvin Olasky resigns his position as provost at The King’s College after Dinesh D’Souza’s appointment as president [link]. Are there really no Protestant evangelicals of sufficient stature to hold high-profile at this Protestant evangelical school?

That’s it. Please enjoy with my humble blessing. It’s not much: there are better Linkathons elsewhere.

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