Saturday, July 12, 2014

All Around the Web - July 12, 2014

Philip Yancey - Farewell to the Golden Age
I have lived through the golden age of publishing, first with magazines and then with books.  I began my career at Campus Life in 1971, and in ten years saw our circulation leap from 50,000 to 250,000.  Like many magazines, Campus Life eventually bit the dust as advertising dollars migrated to flashier (and cheaper) online sources and consumers no longer responded to direct mail offers and renewal letters.

For almost four decades (yikes!) I’ve worked as a freelance writer, feeling enormously blessed to make a good living by writing about issues of faith that I would want to explore even if no one bought my books.  Every year my royalties go down, though with more than 20 books in print I can still pay bills and find publishers willing to sponsor new books.

The changes in publishing, especially Christian publishing, stood out sharply to me when I stopped in at the largest annual Christian book convention in June.  At one time 15,000 attended that trade show, a convention so large that only a handful of cities could accommodate it.  Now less than 4,000 attend, and in Atlanta it occupied a corner of the huge convention center.  A couple hundred delegates attended a luncheon in which I participated on a panel with Ravi Zacharias and Ryan Dobson; ten years ago the same luncheon would have filled a thousand-seat banquet hall.  Though name authors had book signings, the only lines I saw were for two stars of Duck Dynasty.

The Federalists - Media Ignorance Is Becoming A Serious Problem
Last week, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Zach Carter, who is The Huffington Post‘s senior political economy reporter. The interview’s purpose was to discuss Carter’s negative response to Hewitt’s previous interview of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The interview was lively and interesting but it did not go well for Carter, who was forced to admit his ignorance of the historical context of the situation in Iraq.
Looked at one way, the interview might almost seem like pointless point-scoring. In response to Hewitt’s questions, Carter admitted he didn’t know who Alger Hiss was and that he hadn’t read The Looming Tower. Those two questions are standard questions for Hewitt’s interviews.

But then Carter said he hadn’t read various other books, such as Bernard Lewis’ Crisis of Islam, Robin Wright’s Dreams and Shadows, or Thomas P. M. Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map. He said he hadn’t read Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War but that he’d “read a lot of the stuff that he’s written for The New Yorker.” Filkins joined The New Yorker in 2011. He said he does not read politician’s memoirs, including Cheney’s or George W. Bush’s. That he was unaware that Bill Clinton had bombed Iraq in 1998 or that Gadhafi had reportedly disarmed in 2003. He admitted he doesn’t know who A. Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistan bomb and godfather of Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, is. 

Books at a Glance - Interview with Albert Mohler on his book God and the Gay Christian
It is no secret that our society shares less and less the values of “Christendom,” but in such a world the Christian still must be faithful to give voice to God. The range of issues that Christians must address, it seems, becomes wider daily. And inevitably this clash of cultures and values affects the thinking of some within the professing church.

As the first in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Conversant series – a series of e-books “that engage the current evangelical conversation with the full wealth of Christian conviction” – God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines addresses the issue of homosexuality in light of Scripture. Specifically in view is Matthew Vine’s God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, a professedly Evangelical argument that Scripture not only does not condemn but actually supports loving, monogamous, homosexual relationships. Only a few years ago few could have imagined such a thing, but here we are.

Al Mohler has teamed up with colleagues James Hamilton, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and Heath Lambert to provide a simple, clear, 62-page e-book response, and he is here to talk with us about it all today.

Thom Rainer - Nine Questions You Should Ask Before Leading a Church Revitalization
  1. Will I pray daily for my church and my leadership? I know. The question seems so obvious. But many leaders get so busy doing the work, they fail to take time to pray for God’s strength and wisdom to do the work.
  2. Will I see this opportunity as a mission field? In the recent past, leading an established church was typically leading a culture that aligned well with the leader. No more. Many churches in need of revitalization are acting like they live in the culture of 1985. Moving them to present realities is a culture shock to many of the congregants. Thus both the church and the community are mission fields. We need to approach these opportunities much like an international missionary in his or her new culture.
  3. Will I make a commitment for the long haul? While we can’t presume upon God’s timing in our lives, we do not need to enter the leadership of church revitalization as a stepping stone assignment. Change is often painfully slow, three steps forward and two steps backward. Some of the fruit of change often does not manifest until after the leader has been on the field for five years or more.
  4. Will I love my critics? Genuine leaders of churches in need of revitalization will have their critics. Let me say it again: you will be criticized. But how will you respond to those critics? Will you respond with the love of Christ? Will you pray for your critics?
  5. Will I be persistent? Leading a church to revitalization is difficult work. Sometimes, the only thing you know to do is to get out of bed and go to work each day. Because progress is not always noticeable on a day-by-day basis, it is easy to get discouraged. Stay with it. Stay the course. Be faithful.
  6. Will I be an incarnational example in my community? Will I be present and involved in the community where the church is located? Will I show my love to those in the community? Will I demonstrate Christ in deed and words in my community? Will I be an example for the church members to follow?
  7. Will I be a continuous learner about church revitalization? I am so encouraged about the new information coming forth about church revitalization every month. It reminds me of earlier years when we were getting good data and case studies of new church plants. You now have an opportunity to be a continuous learner in this field. Though I am certainly not the only source of information, I am committed to providing you ongoing information on church revitalization at this site.
  8. Will I be content? The Apostle Paul learned to be content in all situations, including shipwrecks and prisons. Will you be content in the Lord to move forward with church revitalization?
  9. Will I be a positive example and encourager for my family? If you are taking a family with you on this journey, they will need your support and encouragement too. Will you be there for them?

Washington Times - California Gov. Brown signs bill deleting ‘husband,’ ‘wife’ from marriage law
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday a bill that deletes the terms “husband” and “wife” from the state’s marriage law and replaces it with “spouse” in order to accommodate same-sex marriages.

The bill, put forth by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, takes a provision of the California Constitution that recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman and replaces it with more gender-neutral language.

The legislation takes effect Jan. 1 and reflects the legality of gay marriage in California after a decade of litigation. The law also removes limits on recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state, the Associated Press reported.

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