Worth Reading - 1/29

1. One way that folks often try to stifle debate is by rejecting labels. Labels represent categories imperfectly, but without making some generalizations, it is nearly impossible to make a case that doesn't die a death of a thousand qualifications. While we'd all like to think we are one of a kind unique, the reality is that our thought processes generally fall into consistent patterns. Here is someone making the case for the usefulness of labels.

We seem to be living in times where wider culture finds it increasing difficult to handle difference. We are happy as long as everyone signs up to (some rather nebulous) British values, which of course includes the idea of being ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’. But tolerance appears, all too often, to involve eliminating differences of view rather than recognizing that people have genuinely different views, often for very good reasons. It is only when we recognize these differences that we can offer genuine respect, genuine interest, and a genuine willingness to listen and learn from others.
This is why I find particularly odd the idea that I need to disown my label or my tradition in order to be ‘here for everyone’. Is it really not possible to respect, value, even encourage someone in their own tradition without leaving go of mine? Is it not possible to empathise and support someone else with whom I have genuine differences? It could be argued that I can only exercise empathy when I recognize how different the ‘other’ is from me. Empathy is about entering into the different and distinct world of the ‘other’, not imagining that we inhabit the same world as each other.

2. My wife wrote a Lenten devotional. I'm obviously partial, but I think it's pretty good. So did Katie King, who reviewed it and is giving away copies at her blog, Adopted by the King:

With the beginning of Lent fast approaching on February 10, you might be starting to think about how your family will progress through this season of preparation for Easter. Or you might not! Either way, I have a fantastic new resource to share with you.
My wonderful friend, Jennifer Spencer, has written a devotional for families entitled Forty Names of Jesus. I started using this with my kids back in November as part of Jennifer's test audience. Slowly but surely, we have worked our way through it. I can tell you that each day's reading encouraged me to know Jesus more deeply and to love Him more.

3. The debate between taking notes by hand and taking notes via computer will continue, but an article on Business Insider makes a solid case for why slowing down to take notes by hand is better for retention:

Earlier studies have argued that laptops make for poor note-taking because of the litany of distractions available on the internet, but their experiments yielded a counterintuitive conclusion: Handwriting is better because it slows the learner down. 
By slowing down the process of taking notes, you accelerate learning. 

4. I'm not a big fan of the Downton Abbey series, but here the Dowager Duchess makes a case that opposes big government.

5. Watch the story of the man who discovered a material that would encourage the regrowth of skin in burn victims and how a scientific failure led to a medical technology advance:

6. In case you didn't catch it in number 2 above, my wife has written a series of devotions for kids and families for the Lenten season. I am going to promote it on my blog, but I'll shamelessly plug it here, too. It's really good and it meets a market need.

Below the Fold

Some folks are tired of getting bombarded with political stuff, but I wanted to share a few posts that I found interesting without clogging everyone's feed. So, here you go:

1. Alan Noble wrote one of the thinkier think pieces on Trump and how we got to this stage of political machinations.

If we can’t understand this appeal then we cannot begin to offer an alternative; no matter how revolting we find Trump’s candidacy, many of his supporters are responding to deeply felt concerns, some of which are valid. The modern world is terrifying. We do feel impotent in the face of the global evil and suffering that modern media makes us hyperaware of. Maybe being helpless was okay for medieval serfs, but for individualist Americans living in a democracy where we define ourselves by our power to choose, powerlessness is terrifying. We need to know that we can do something.

And that’s what Trump promises to do: something. Specifically, something for white, middle and lower class Americans. He even recently went so far as to promise to give Christians “power” if he gets elected. In this way, his campaign is mirroring the identity politics of the left. People don’t support Trump because he would be good for the country; they support him because he’d be good for me and my people.

This kind of self-interested power shouldn’t be tempting to evangelicals. Our hope is in a sovereign God who overcomes the chaos and evil of our world, and our model is Christ, who denied Satan’s offer of power in exchange for submission. But just like the rest of society, we can get overwhelmed with fear, and the promise of secured power becomes more attractive when we are afraid.

2. Nikabrik's Candidate is an article on First Things that connects the Narnian character Nikabrik ("The dwarves are for the dwarves.") to Trump. It's an interesting connection.

Through the character of Nikabrik, Lewis explored the depths to which we can fall through fear. The first time Caspian meets Nikabrik, he is waking up after an accident and hears the dwarf’s voice near him, saying, “Kill it. . . . We can’t let it live. It would betray us.” There is absolutely no room in Nikabrik’s mind for the idea that a Telmarine could be good. And at first we can sympathize; his people have suffered greatly under the Telmarines, and he is fiercely loyal to his people—a good quality. But as Lewis frequently warned us, good qualities can be twisted and used for evil purposes.

3. A video that does a linguistic analysis of how Donald Trump answers a question. Even if you like the man, this is fascinating:

4. This is a satire, but it is really too close not to be funny. The Federalist published an imaginary conversation where Donald Trump talks about Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit.

Let me tell you about Smaug. Now, I knew the guy a long time, a good friend, he worked with me on the Laketown deal and told me he learned a lot from watching me. You could say I invented him. By the way, people do tell me that all the time, that I am one of the great teachers. They tell me that on my hit show The Apprentice, they tell me that in life.
But Smaug, if he learned anything, he didn’t learn enough. He turned out to be a terrible investor, a real dummy, just sat on his gold. He literally sat on it! No deals, no moves. I said Smaug, you dummy, you gotta be out there making deals, negotiating, sitting down at the table, incinerating people with fire. You’re not going to make any money sitting there like a big lazy dumb rock! You’ll be small potatoes forever! But he didn’t listen and he stayed in that backwater and he got so lazy, he was such a slow moving target – I mean, come on, an illiterate redneck takes one shot at you and boom, done, gone, dead. At a Trump property, we are always on the move, we are cutting deals, the best deals, and we use gold the way it was meant to be used, on fountains, escalators, walls – all the best, and very classy, people say.