Monthly Archives: December 2008

Keller on the Systemic Nature of Poverty

All conservatives should chew on this Tim Keller quotation from the latest issue of Themelios:

“Inner-city children, through no fault of their own, may grow up with vastly inferior schooling and with an overall environment extremely detrimental to learning. Conservatives may argue that this is the parents’ fault or the “culture’s” fault while liberals see it as a failure of government and/or the fruit of systemic racism. But no one argues that it is the children’s fault! Of course, it is possible for youth born into poverty to break out of it, but it takes many times more fortitude, independence, creativity, and courage simply to go to college and get a job than it does for any child born into a middle-class world. In short, some children grow up with about a two-hundred-times better opportunity for academic and economic success than others do. (You can’t ask an illiterate eight-year-old–soon to be an illiterate seventeen-year-old–to “pull himself up by his bootstraps”!) Why does this situation exist? It is part of the deep injustice of our world. The problem is simply an unjust distribution of opportunity and resources.”

This kicked me in the stomach when I first read it.  It’s easy for conservatives to avoid looking closely into urban poverty and generally systemic cycles of inequality and pain.  We need to do so, however.  These are great words from Keller.

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Hilarious 9Marks Video

Click this link to watch a hilarious video featuring Andrew Sherwood of 9Marks Ministries and, briefly, Mark Dever.  Also, if you’ve got a little loose change, consider contributing to 9Marks, an excellent ministry that exists to help the local church and bring health to it.

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Changes On This Blog

After some thinking, praying and conversation, I’ve decided to step back from blogging a bit.

This doesn’t mean that this blog will no longer exist.  I am going to continue to blog at this address.  In addition, I’m going to continue to try to blog with excellence.  I want to continue to engage the culture, apply the gospel to all of life, and do what little I can on this site to advance the kingdom.  I would encourage you, then, to stay with me, and to sign up for my RSS feed (look up a little bit and to the right on this page–see the “Subscribe to RSS Feed”?  Click that).  All that’s involved with an RSS feed is this: you sign up, and whenever I blog, you’ll get my blog sent to your email inbox.  That means you won’t constantly have to check this site to see when I blog.  If you don’t want to do this, simply check back 2-4 times a month and you’ll catch the content I put up.

I started blogging to get writing experience.  I wasn’t getting enough practice at writing, and so I started a blog.  I didn’t really try to follow anyone else’s blogging model, but merely tried to write my thoughts on a given topic each day and see what people thought.  It was a very helpful exercise, and I’m glad I did it.

Now, though, with lots of commitments and responsibilities, I need to step back.  I need to focus more on permanent things.  Blogs can be immensely helpful, valuable, and edifying, but so can other things, and certain other things may last longer.  Blogging is a great intellectual and spiritual discipline, but as other venues of edification open up, one may have to focus less on blogging and more on family, church, classes, projects, and other things.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I love blogging, support it, and will continue to do so.  I am finding in my own personal experience, though, that as I get older, other commitments and responsibilities press on me.  While fun and meaningful, blogging can at times be something of a chore.  In my case, I think the benefits of day-to-day blogging have made themselves clear.  In this season, it’s time to reap in other fields.

I may at some point jump back into my blog on a full-time basis, and I’m thus being careful not to close any doors unnecessarily.  When I don’t have other writing commitments, I could definitely see myself picking this back up.  Perhaps that will happen next summer; I’m not sure.  For now, though, I’m going to keep blogging but on a limited basis.

I do hope that the posts I turn out in coming days will be well thought-through and rich.  Perhaps blogging less will increase the quality of my posting.  We’ll see.  At any rate, I do hope that readers will stick with me and not abandon me.  I’ve seen less-regular blogs like theologian Paul Helm’s blog Helm’s Deep or Russ Moore’s Moore to the Point (when he gets busy) remain immensely stimulating and edifying.  I’ll try for the same on this site.

In conclusion, thanks to those who regularly read this blog and those who comment.  It’s a joy to keep this site going, and I look forward to further interaction and edification in the future.  Starting now, I’ll be posting a little less, but I will continue to do what I can, and I hope you’ll stick around.

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The State of Men: The Tribune Takes a Look

Jessica Reaves, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune (that most endangered of vocations), recently listed the following books as recent contributions to the contemporary discussion of the state of men.  I’m not sure I would agree with all of her assessments, but I thought the list worthy of passing on:

“1. The Trouble With Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre, Crown, 320 pages, $24.95

Tyre, a Newsweek reporter, takes on a controversial theory—that boys are ill-served by prevailing educational practices—and defuses it with meticulous research and a candid tone. The result is a thoughtful, invaluable investigation into how boys learn. Hint: It’s not by sitting quietly with a good book.

parker32. Save the Males: Why Men Matter and Why Women Should Care by Kathleen Parker, Random House, 215 pages, $26

Fans of Parker’s syndicated newspaper column will relish this sharp-tongued examination of how men (and masculinity) have suffered at the hands of feminists, television writers and lowered expectations. And feminists. Did we mention those horrible, mean feminists?

3. The Decline of Men: How the American Male is Tuning Out, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future by Guy Garcia, Harper, 325 pages, $24.95

Have video games, 24-hour sports channels and fantasy football reduced America’s men to a pack of little boys? Journalist Guy Garcia thinks so, and he makes a compelling argument in this unsettling treatise on modern manhood (which, as far as Garcia is concerned, is basically indistinguishable from kindergarten).

4. Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men: Understanding the Critical Years Between 16 and 26, by Michael Kimmel, Harper, 332 pages, $25.95

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a teenage boy and wondered what on earth was going on behind the blank stare and slightly open mouth, this book will serve you well. Kimmel, a gender studies expert at SUNY Stony Brook, is the godfather of the “Why Boys Behave Like Boys” genre, and his latest work exposes the gamut of male post-adolescent experiences (from sex to housework) with humor and empathy.”

Here’s another book not listed by Reaves: Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity by Gary Cross.  Also looks interesting.

As I’ve said a few times before, the Christian church can’t avoid questions of gender, because the Bible has already staked a claim on men and women for the advancement of the kingdom.  Those who can read a book or two from this list will help themselves to figure out the current state of the gender debate and to assist their churches in whatever capacity in developing a thoroughly biblical view of masculinity.

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