Worth Reading - 3/11

1. One of the biggest differences between Eastern and Western cultures has been the emphasis on guilt vs. shame as a mechanism for social correction. Andy Crouch notes we are moving toward a shame culture and provides some thoughts on how to deal with that:

The beauty of the gospel is that it acknowledges guilt and shame, covering both with the shame- and guilt-bearing representative Son. What honor–shame cultures are offering to missionaries, our own fame–shame culture may offer as well: a chance, in the depth of both our guilt and our shame, to discover just how completely good that news can be.

2. With all the emphasis on vocational training and being prepared for the workforce, you would think Americans would be near the top of the heap, but a recent study shows otherwise:

There was this test. And it was daunting. It was like the SAT or ACT — which many American millennials are no doubt familiar with, as they are on track to be the best educated generation in history — except this test was not about getting into college. This exam, given in 23 countries, assessed the thinking abilities and workplace skills of adults. It focused on literacy, math and technological problem-solving. The goal was to figure out how prepared people are to work in a complex, modern society.

And U.S. millennials performed horribly.

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

3. David Brooks on the cost of relavtivism:

One of America’s leading political scientists, Robert Putnam, has just come out with a book called “Our Kids” about the growing chasm between those who live in college-educated America and those who live in high-school-educated America. It’s got a definitive collection of data about this divide.

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.

4. One Pastor/Blogger shares how he reads so much:

The other day I was eating with another pastor and we were talking about books and reading. I had mentioned several books I had finished recently and he said something like this, “Tim, you’re a husband, father of five young children, and a busy solo pastor. How do you find time to read so much?” The question literally surprised me and struck me as a bit odd, since I really don’t consider myself a true book-devourer. I recently heard Don Carson at a conference and he mentioned that he typically reads somewhere between 300 and 500 books a year (gad-zooks!!!). If you take those numbers and lop off a zero from each, that’s about how many books I typically read annually. I consider myself very much a person of average intelligence with probably a slightly below average reading speed who needs around eight hours of sleep a night.

I have gathered, however, that many pastors hardly read at all. Not including what’s absolutely necessary for sermon and lesson prep, I get the impression that many pastors might read three or four books a year, none of which are serious academic books. I believe this is unfortunate and likely a contributing factor in the overall weakness and ineffectiveness of the evangelical church in America today (especially since we have such easy access to so much good stuff).

I want to help remedy this situation. So today and in the next two posts I’ll be giving you nine recommendations for reading more and better in pastoral ministry.