Monday, December 9, 2013

All Around the Web - December 2, 2013

Open Culture - See The First “Selfie” In History Taken by Robert Cornelius, a Philadelphia Chemist, in 1839

Albert Mohler - Nelson Mandela and the Ironies of History

When you think of Nelson Mandela and reflect on his life, and now on his death, there are many worldview issues that are immediately implicated. One of them has to do with the fact that Nelson Mandela was, by any honest analysis, a terrorist. That immediately raises a deep moral issue. How can someone be so honored who had at any point resorted to terrorism in order to achieve a political objective?

Well, while we’re thinking about that question, let’s reflect upon some less convenient facts of history. For instance, we should look at Menachem Begin, who became one of the most powerful prime ministers of Israel, and who signed the Camp David peace agreement with then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat during the American presidency of Jimmy Carter. Like Nelson Mandela, Menachem Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize, but he was also a terrorist as a young man—a Zionist terrorist. He was directly implicated in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 that led to the deaths of at least 91 people. He was known as a terrorist; he was wanted as a terrorist. And yet, he later became the Prime Minister of Israel and also shared the Nobel Peace Prize. Likewise, Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Menachem Begin, also began his political career as a terrorist against the British.

While we’re thinking about terrorism, we probably also ought to think about someone from our own nation’s history, like George Washington. Had the American Revolution turned out differently, George Washington would in all likelihood have been hung as a traitor. He would also have been accused of being what we now call a terrorist.

All this is not to give moral absolution to terrorists, so long as they win and eventually have political victory. It is, however, to remind ourselves that in the process of politics in a fallen world, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Thom Rainer - Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years
  1. Thirty years ago, most people in the community held the pastor in high esteem. Today most people don’t know who the pastor is, nor does the pastor hold any position of prominence in most communities.
  2. Thirty years ago, most people in the congregation held the pastor in high esteem. Though I cannot offer precise numbers, there is little doubt that church members as a rule don’t view pastors with the same esteem as they did thirty years ago. That is one major reason serving as a pastor is becoming increasingly difficult.
  3. Leadership skills are required more today than thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, I could preach sermons well and care for the congregation, and I would be deemed at least an adequate pastor. The demands and the expectations of the pastor are much higher today. Many of those demands can only be met with at least decent leadership skills.
  4. Interpersonal skills are required more today than thirty years ago.  Pastors thirty years ago could get away with some personality quirks because they were generally held in such high esteem. No more. Pastors are supposed to relate near perfectly to everyone.
  5. Outreach was accomplished by getting people to come to church services thirty years ago. That is not so today.  I remember some of the classic outreach ministries I led thirty years ago. They were all designed to get people to visit church services as a first step. Today, many barriers must be addressed in order for someone to be receptive to come to our churches.
  6. Thirty years ago, there were very few “nones.” The  2012 Pew Research project that identified 20 percent of all American adults as non-religiously affiliated has become a marker of change. Almost all people claimed some type of religious affiliation thirty years ago whether they were believers or not. It was not culturally accepted to be a “none” thirty years ago; there is no cultural stigma attached today.
  7. The Internet and social media have made pastoring much more challenging than it was thirty years ago. In many ways, it has been healthy that the pastors and their ministries are more transparent. For example, sex abuse of children in churches became a national concern when many priests and pastors were named as sexual predators. But there is no rule that someone must speak truthfully on the Internet and, specifically, in social media. Pastors today must deal with issues about them that travel fast on the Internet, even if a church member or someone else tells a complete lie.

Mark Driscoll - 6 simple ways to write better blog posts
1. Write a compelling title
2. Chop your article into bites
3. Grab attention with your lead
4. Remember social media
5. Call readers to action
6. Show and tell

Thomas Kidd - Why Homeschool?
I also realized recently that homeschool (done the right way) can help kids see learning as a normal part of life, not something that happens only during government-mandated school hours. A friend was asking about our trip to London earlier this year, and how our kids did with the National Gallery and the British Museum. Were they bored? I realized that our kids would rarely think to complain about “boredom” because going to museums and art galleries just seems normal to them. Going to these museums was not a field trip, or something mom and dad dragged them along to do. Not that they LOVED being there the way they might LOVE “Legoland” or some such thing, but they just see learning as normal and woven into the fabric of family life. They’re content to go to museums; they do not seem to know that it is not “cool.”

Homeschooling is a stellar example of why variety in schooling is essential to strong schools. Kids of different personalities, from different families and different places, have different needs and different learning styles. Contrary to the Federal Department of Education, a one-size fits all education system is crazy. (This is why so many western countries besides the U.S. directly fund public secular AND religious schools, by the way.)

Yes, of course religion is an essential factor in our homeschooling decision, and we love that faith is integrated into their learning in a seamless way. But the flexibility and responsiveness of homeschooling should make sense to parents of all kinds, whether they’re people of faith or not. It’s just good education.

Business Insider - TV Is Dying, And Here Are The Stats That Prove It
The TV business is having its worst year ever.

Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.

Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, "The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever." All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn't sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.

Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn't.

Free speech is better than the alternative

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