Worth Reading - 5/14

We live in the most blessed generation ever when it comes to accessibility to the Word of God. I’m incredibly grateful. I’m also thankful for a special gift God has lavished on the church—teachers like Peter Williams. The CEO of Tyndale House in Cambridge is the kind of guy who loves languages. I have it on good authority that he’s actually eaten his morning porridge while reading a Coptic version of the Bible for his quiet time. He writes books like Studies in the Syntax of the Peshitta of 1 Kings and serves as a member of the translation committee of the English Standard Version.

Williams has given his life to helping people understand the original languages and to instilling confidence in God’s holy Word. His training and his heart made him the ideal candidate for serving 300 people from the Phoenix area earlier this year. At a regional conference hosted by TGC Arizona, Williams joined Wayne Grudem, John Meade, and John DelHousaye of Phoenix Seminary to help us consider the human agent’s role in writing, collecting, protecting, and disseminating the Scriptures
The rent is too damn high, charges Matthew Yglesias in his recent book bearing that title, and he knows why: government regulations, including zoning, which amount to “draconian central planning.” “High rent is not a fact of nature,” he contends. “It’s the result of bad public policy.” Government red tape limits new supply, drives up rents on the inadequate number of apartments available, and makes building new housing uneconomical for developers. “It all goes back to the question of return on investment,” Yglesias reminds us.

Yglesias wants to see a major rollback of regulation to create a freer market in land use. He admits that “any change is bound to be somewhat discomfiting to some people,” but neighborhood complaints over new construction should be overridden in the name of the greater good of lowering costs. “If people have strong feelings about not wanting to live on the same block as a tall building, they can move,” he says—or pay up to buy out their neighbors’ right to build.
You might assume that humans buy products because of what they are, but the truth is that we often buy things because of where they are. For example, items on store shelves that are at eye level tend to be purchased more than items on less visible shelves.

In the best-selling book Nudge (Kindle | Audiobook), authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein explain a variety of ways that our everyday decisions are shaped by the world around us. The effect that eye-level shelves have on our purchase habits is just one example.
In my ongoing Jesus vs. Netflix battle, it seems like Netflix is winning my time and attention.

Ironically, when television arrived back in the 1950s, a lot of respected pastors dramatically called it the Devil’s Box. Yet, 60 years later a study conducted by the Barna Group proved that Christians who practice their faith watch more TV than non-Christians.

Personally, I love to be entertained. I watch anything and everything. I love the news, stupid videos on YouTube, three hours of ESPN and Facebook. I love romantic comedies, superhero movies, sci-fi epics and artsy independent cinema (even when it seems to make no sense whatsoever).

I can spend a full hour browsing through the Netflix gallery just to see what’s available. I can watch full seasons of a show in a matter of days (even with two kids, a wife and a full-time job to maintain). There have even been times I’ve started a show, not really liked the beginning, but kept watching, as if to force myself to get into it—just so I could have another show to watch and be entertained by.

If I would invest that much effort into my time with God, my face would probably radiate with the manifest glory from heaven. (Or, at the very least, I would have a couple more Bible verses memorized.)

Netflix seems to be winning the battle. And I feel like I’m not alone.