Worth Reading - 1/22

Ask my four children what their father loves and ranking high on the list after “Jesus, our mom, baseball, and the Georgia Bulldogs,” might just be “dead people.” Why? The fact that I teach church history notwithstanding, I think it is important that my children—beginning at a tender age—understand the richness of the faith I am commending to them from Scripture. (And yes, they know the hero of that book is back from the dead.)

Presuming they have been listening, my kids can tell you something about Luther, 95 Theses, and a church door in Wittenburg. (They even pronounce the “W” as a “V” because they think it sounds like an insect). They can tell you all about Calvin and his nasty confrontation with William Farel. They can tell you that William Carey is the father of modern missions (and they’ll likely remind you he was a Baptist). They can tell you that Spurgeon smoked an occasional stogie and that a man with the funny name of Athanasius won the day at a meeting called the Council of Nicaea (they’ll probably get the date right too—that’s AD 325).They know an important battle took place at a bridge called Milvian (or as my 6-year-old son calls it, “Melvin”). They have even learned that those folks who show up on our porch on select Saturdays with their Watchtower magazines in hand are modern-day Arians. I was 30 before I knew that much.

By no means should church history supplant teaching your family the Bible. Family worship and God’s Word must come first in your home. But the benefits of teaching them something about the key figures and movements from the rich heritage of the church are myriad. Here are seven reasons why we should teach our children church history.
I have many thoughts about Pope Francis’ comments about family size, birth control, and rabbits, made yesterday during an interview with reporters as the Holy Father returned to Rome from his trip to the Philippines. But a couple things in particular stick out now that the virtual ink has begun to flow and Francis’ words are being taken apart and reassembled all over the Internet to fit various agendas and narratives.

It is true that the Pope’s comments have been (predictably) mangled in much of the media coverage of them. He didn’t use the word “breed”; he didn’t say that having three children “is about right.” My mantra after one of these papal interviews is usually: read what he actually said. Many times the shock (and, in some quarters, horror) stirred by sensational headlines dissipates when folks read what he actually said.

3. At the Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Sobran discusses the reading of old books:

When I was young, I bought the whole set of Mortimer Adler’s Great Books of the Western World, intending to read them all. But somehow I never got around to more than a few of them. Ditto the works of Dickens and Balzac.

I’m a voracious reader, but most of what I read is the most perishable kind of literature, journalism. After all, journalism is my racket, and that means keeping up with things that will soon be forgotten. So I start the day with several newspapers, but seldom finish it with a classic I haven’t read before.

In Mark Twain’s famous definition, a classic is a book everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read. Gulp! But those daunting all-time must-reading lists are a little misleading. It can take years to master a single great author. Much of what we “know” about the classics is what we’ve heard about them in advance, and we may not get beyond their reputations until we’ve read them several times.

4. My own post on three vital relationships for every seminarian, here at Ethics and Culture:

This is always an exciting time on campus. The energy level that the students bring to campus can be sensed as we sing together in chapel, see people in the library, and interact on the walkways.

At the same time, when new members are introduced into a community, there are always periods of adjustment as the new faces (and sometimes the returning ones) try to figure out how to relate to people around them. What does it look like to be a seminary student?

I think there are (at least) three categories that need to be discussed along these lines for beginning students. There are three basic, and new, relationships that an incoming seminary student needs to develop.

5. The importance of prayer in the workplace, from the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics:

Fluorescent lights flicker on as bright chunks of sunlight slip through cracks in the blinds. The aroma of brewing coffee wafts though the air amidst quiet conversations between co-workers serenaded by the chirps of awakening computer monitors.

It’s morning in corporate America.

What are your morning office rituals? Perhaps you check your inbox, chat with coworkers, or head straight to the coffee pot. Maybe you choose to spend a few minutes alone in the quiet of your office or cubicle.

These still moments are a precious commodity to savor before the onslaught of the workday.

We all have rituals and routines in the office. These rhythms shape the outcome of our days. Think about the last time you missed your morning cup of coffee. Most likely the quality of your workday suffered!

Rituals and routines matter and yet Christians often disregard what should be the most important workplace habit: prayer.