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Two pieces that complement each other. Carl Trueman is spot-on about Christians trying to fit into today’s world, and well, my dad is also spot-on about “the new normal” we find ourselves living in. Same point, well-made from two different angles.

This paragraph is brilliant from Trueman:

You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.

My dad:

What we desperately need is not a “new normal.”  We need an unashamed return to the biblical values that helped to shape this country long ago.  We need a return to God as Redeemer – the God who can take a renegade, broken-down culture and heal it, put it back together, and restore a God-designed normalcy.  We need a return to the truth that actually sets people free – free from the tyranny of sin whether that sin is pride, selfishness, greed or homosexuality.

Amen and amen.

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LOTD: Acting Human

– Great advice from James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, for Mitt Romney on how to improve his image — how to “act human.” Anyone who watches Romney for any length of time knows that he just doesn’t look comfortable a lot of the time. Probably because he’s trying not to look like he’s worth billions while he really has no idea how to pull that off. So what to do?

As worthy as the real Romney may be, he is not, has never been, and never will be the common man, and when he assumes the role in a crowd, his evident discomfort tells us that this guy doesn’t fly coach, much less go Greyhound, and, without the demands of “running for office,” wouldn’t be spending much time with these people who do …

So, for what it’s worth, my advice to Mr. Romney is this: Since the evidence indicates that you lack the skills to simulate what you’re not, you should stick to typecasting and go with what you’ve got and who you are. It’s not just your best option, sir, it’s your only one.

– This is from a couple of months ago, but these are fantastic photos of Alaska’s Iditarod sled race from The Big Picture.

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Kowloon Walled City

In my world, KWC usually stands for Kentucky Wesleyan College, where I went to school and now work. Because I’m responsible for online communications, I get Google alerts every day for KWC. You’d be surprised at the number of groups who use KWC as an acronym: Karoake World Championships, Kids With Candy, etc.

One such group is the band Kowloon Walled City. Apparently, there really was a Kowloon Walled City — a series of more than 300 interconnected high rise buildings in Hong Kong. Once thought to be the most densely populated place on earth (50,000 people in a few blocks), it was demolished in the early ’90s.

Photos of the place are absolutely fascinating. A couple of photographers spent five years there, capturing the crowded life of more than 33,000 families and businesses. A couple photos below, but check out the link for much more detail — it’s remarkable how these people lived.

Get the full story and more photos here.

LOTD: Catching Up

Been a while. Adding two kids to your household will do that. But here’s some good stuff from the last little while:

– Why do I love Twitter, you ask? Here’s just one of many reasons: where else is a starting MLB pitcher going to find a random cancer survivor to play catch with on his off day? Seriously. It happened.

– John Calvin on providence and impatience. Need to remember this more. (HT: Kevin DeYoung):

If there is no more effective remedy for anger and impatience, he has surely benefited greatly who has so learned to meditate upon God’s providence that he can always recall his mind to this point: the Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient.

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation. (Institutes1.17.8)

– Now a quote from Kevin DeYoung himself. Need more of this too — I tend to linger too long over decisions. Sometimes you just gotta make a choice and go:

Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live because showing us the future is not God’s way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing of our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom. We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God-His character and His promises-and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake. – from Just Do Something

Interesting story on the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy last January. Author gets some good behind-the-scenes details.

How the NFL schedule gets made. It’s more complicated than you might think.

Long story (I have yet to read it all) by Chris Jones about Robert Caro, who has spend most of his life writing a biography of LBJ (that’s President Lyndon Baines Johnson, not LeBron James). Gets into great details about his writing process. If you’ve never read him, Chris Jones is really good, btw.

– One more quote, this one from Nancy Pearcey, who I got to sit under for a few lectures in 2003 at WJI. I want to raise my kids to be able to think like this:

Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ears to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh and judgmental. Only people who understand that Christianity is true to the real world are capable of the relaxed confidence that allows them to be open, patient, and loving toward those who differ from them.

LOTD:

–  Great, great writing from Steve Rushin, best known for his work at SI, in this profile of the man in charge of the Boston Marathon. Rushin has a way with words, and the lead alone is worth the price of admission. Fantastic opening.

– Huh. Who would have guessed that living together first actually hurts couples who later get married? People are starting to get the idea that cohabiting doesn’t work. (Are you really going to enjoy marriage more if you’ve already had all the benefits with none of the commitment?)

– More great writing from new Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Sanders on the bravest woman in Seattle.

Top Ten Table Tennis Shots of 2011. Unbelievable.

– And since I keep talking about great writing, here are seven tips on how to write well. My favorite is number five:

The meaning of life is all in verbs. If you emphasize verbs, you emphasize action. If you emphasize action, you have to emphasize people. If you emphasize people, you will have drama. If you have drama, you’ll have interest. And if you have interest, you’ll have the reader.

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LOTD: Manning/Tebow, being careful and yeah, space is pretty big

– Not always a big Rick Reilly fan, but he’s pretty good in this column on Manning/Tebow. He’s from Denver, so he’s got a good handle on the Broncos organization. Love this line:

It’s sad that the city of Denver will be losing a man as giving and selfless as Tebow, who spent more time in Denver hospitals than the Vicodin rep. Then again, Denver is getting a man who has a children’s hospital in Indianapolis named after him.

A couple thoughts on Manning/Tebow while I’m at it. Elway never seemed to like Tebow all that much, even when the team was winning and the fans were falling in love. Tebow was just so different than he was — how could that possibly be good? Wanted to tell Elway, “Dude, just support your quarterback and your team. It’s not that hard.”

Signing Peyton  Manning was really the only way he could plausibly get rid of Tebow, and that’s what happened. Really, how can anyone blame him for going after one of the best quarterbacks of all time?

Here’s the thing, though: why does he have to get rid of Tebow? Isn’t having both of them the ideal situation? Manning comes in for a couple years, plays well, teaches Tebow everything he knows, sets the stage for Tebow to take over. Plus, you’ve got insurance if Manning gets hurt again, which is a distinct possibility.

But Elway won’t keep Tebow because he doesn’t want him. Seems crazy to get rid of a guy who inspires so much loyalty and passion, but who’d have thought Indy would tell Manning goodbye?

– Switching topics entirely, this is from World’s website on how an affair begins. It starts by not being careful, but ignoring the check in your spirit that God puts there for a reason. Good reminder.

– Always blows my mind how impossibly vast space is and how small we are. And then how incredible it is that God should set his mind upon us. Check it out here.

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Links of the Day

Used to do this fairly often. I see too much good stuff to not post it, so I’m going to try to do this regularly. We’ll see how it goes.

Are we raising a generation of helpless kids?
Good perspective on today’s culture of helicopter parents who are so afraid to let their kids fail that the kids never learn how to do anything on their own. Couple money quotes:

“We need to let our kids fail at 12 – which is far better than at 42,” Tim Elmore says. “We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”

“We need to become velvet bricks,” Elmore says, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”

Love the “velvet bricks” idea. As always, it’s a balance.

Looking for a job or interviewing someone for a job? There are really only three true job interview questions:

1.  Can you do the job?
2.  Will you love the job?
3.  Can we tolerate working with you?