POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

POC Bundle 06.11.2009

The Church

  • Sojourn Music is about to pop out Over the Grave Vol 1 - their new arrangements of Issac Watts’ hymnology.
  • How Tim Keller found Manhattan - good story on the beginnings of Redeemer Pres, NYC.

Gospel and Culture

Two new books on God/secular/Atheism type stuff are floating around and getting some interesting discussion…

Theological Reflection

Technology

POC Bundle - 4.22.2009

Theological Reflection

  • Josh Patterson, one of the pastors at the Village Church outside of Dallas, TX is doing a short blog series on biblical sexuality.  I like the tone and approach he will be taking - you may want to read in. Our little deal on this subject is online here
  • Jeff Vanderstelt has some good words when discussing the establishing of the gospel in new places - I think Jeff's voice is needed in the "church planting" world that can get so dominated by marketing, buzz, spin and "doing church" the right way so big churches can happen.

Technology

  • Interesting little article entitled "The Case Against Cloud Computing" over at PC Mag online. I for one use several cloud services (Gmail, share some Google docage with some JW people) but still have everything local just in case Google goes the way of the earth or the way of Darth Vader. In another post, which is somewhat revealing, Matthew D. Sarrel, writes the following about "the cloud" - We've been hearing about "computing in the cloud" for some time now. Sounds fluffy... peaceful... idyllic... effortless. Wake up, people! Cloud computing is just another term for outside your control.  Finally, some reporting on positive advice on Clouds from Google - hey, how kind of them.
  • Hopefully I can connect to my cloud services through some Palm Pre Newness - hopefully coming in Mid May on SPRINT.  We have been on Sprint for about five years now - the customer support is actually better now, the prices very good and the network fast and reliable. I would actually recommend Sprint to you today - and with the new Pre coming - you really should make the move and save some cash.  AT&T and Verizon plans are too expensive.
  • Speaking of Pre, here is what one developer had to say: Tom Conrad, Pandora's CTO, says, "It's the combination of these kinds of capabilities that excites developers. Palm started with a clean sheet of paper. Everything about the Pre feels like it's 'future-oriented,' not an iPhone-inspired knockoff." The mobile phone OS space is much more interesting today.

Just for Fun

  • Where can you have 4/20 (aka weed smoker day), earth day, Ben and Jerry's free scoop day (related to the aforementioned earth day I believe) and Easter all within a couple of weeks.  The good ole US of A.  

Philosophical Reflection

  • It is Earth Day you know - thank God for the earth. It is true that the main cause and raison d'etre for some people today is saving the planet.  Ironically, this reason for existing only exists because of the optimism of a past era.  We would bring utopia through industry...now they say we will bring hell through much of the same. So we humans have a reason to live today - to save the planet, but we only have this reason because others junked it up (again, this is the argument, it is not accepted by all) Now, I have said I am all for Greeness...I just find it ironic this is the only purpose we seem to have today. A bit sad really - but the worldview of secularism is sad on the whole - we have the Watchman comic as proof.

POC Bundle 4.04.2009

Philosophy

First, the classic 1948 BBC Radio debate between the Jesuit philosopher Frederick Copleston and the atheist philosopher Betrand Russel is online in transcript form. These few lines have been memorable to me ever since I heard a summary of them in the early 90s...

C: Yes, but what's your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?

R: I don't have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.

C: Well, that is an excellent justification, I agree. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty?

R: By my feelings.

C: By your feelings. Well, that's what I was asking. You think that good and evil have reference simply to feeling?

Here is the link to the transcript.

Second, apparently postmodernism does not work in economics...just a few other insights.  Postmodern thought does not work epistemologically or metaphysically either. Just saying...

 

The Church - Sad ridiculous logic of Episcopalean "preaching" continues - Whoa...is right. 

General News - Check out the cool pictures of Earth Hour 2009 - when everybody (apparently not everybody from looking at the pictures) turned out the lights.

POC Bundle 3.25.2009

A few nuggets for the road mid week.
  • The Church - The Wall Street Journal has an interesting short article on church planting in my home state of Virginia 
  • Apologetics - Yes, Peter Singer teaches at Princeton University - just down the road from my house. He is a very consistent atheist as Dinesh D'Souza makes very clear.
  • Technology - Palm Pre appararently has some in the software community a bit excited. See article in Business Week. Now I just hope it has decent battery life and a less than ridiculous price (for the phone and touchstone).  Some have been whispering that Dell might be interested as well.  I don't know about Michael, but I am interested and already a Sprint customer.  Also, the inevitable comparisons with the Apple phone are continuing. Fear not Apple phone users - you are still the coolest!
  • Technology/The Church - How to move a Logos install to a new computer - moving to a new laptop for a couple of weeks because mine is having screen issues.
  • Philosophy - Society of Christian Philosophers - new web site is an improvement
  • Theological Reflection - hoping to write an essay this week on Christians and government - pray that I can get that done...thanks guys.

POC Bundle 11.26.2008

Philosophical Musings

  • William Lane Craig answers a question, asked on separate equations by an atheist and a believer, about the nastiness and "uncivil tone that predominates among popular level atheists today." A very interesting read that can be found here.
  • Interesting new work is being done by philosophy professor Bradley Monton of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Dr. Monton is not a theist (he refers to himself as an atheist) but still finds some of the arguments for intelligent design interesting if not persuasive.  This manuscript looks very interesting.

Theological Reflection

  • An Eastern orthodox theologian's reflection on God and evil (HT - Ben Vastine)

Technology

  • Apparently there has been a steep and recent decline in the percentage of women majoring in computer science in Universities.   The Times has an interesting article about the phenomena entitled What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science? The title I find a bit odd as it seems to assume something or someone is "driving" people out. I agreed with the sentiment expressed by Ellen Spertus - “Women choosing not to go into computer science is fine,” she said, “if there aren’t artificial barriers keeping them out.”

Just for Fun

  • How did the financial crisis happen? Now this may be a little simplistic and not take into account all factors...but I found it quite amusing. A visual guide to the financial crisis.

POC Bundle 10.27.2008

On Science

On Philosophy

  • I am very sad that this book is 95 dollars.  I am even more sad that I really want to buy it.  Just say no, Just say no...Consciousness and the Existence of God A Theistic Argument
  • An interesting British piece on a return to virtue ethics rather than mere assertions of rights and individual volition.  Yet one problem remains for the virtuoso of virtue ethics - how do you ground goodness?  Aristotle grounded it in "the good man" - but there seems to be a circle he runs into there...unless the "good man" really exists.  Jesus and virtue ethics do go hand in hand.  Virtue is grounded in the being of God who became incarnate and demonstrated true virtue in Jesus Christ. Yes?  Interestingly enough this essay ends with describing environmentalism as a religion - I agree with such an assessment - worship of creation rather than creator has indeed become the case for many.
  • More "brave atheism" stuff over at the NY Review of Books.  You know that it is a virtue to some to believe in meaninglessness...if only you can be "brave" about it. The end of this article has this good news offered to us all: Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature, of the sort imagined by philosophers from Anaximander and Plato to Emerson. We even learn that the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair.  What a great worldview that offers wishful thinking and despair as two great options! Wonderful news...the gospel solution offered? Well just try and laugh a bit, look at pretty flowers and go to the ballet!  OK, I feel better now.  
Gospel and Culture

The Church

Technology

  • Sprint may be getting better with customer support.  If you are like our family, and stuck as a Sprint customer, there may be hope for us yet. 
  • If you are young...the Internet may be turning your brain to mush.  Short attention spans, lack of ability to focus...etc.  Yet for older people - it may help out old brains...

POC Bundle 9.24.2008

History and Biography

It seems that George Marsden's excellent (and massive) biography of Jonathan Edwards has now been abridged into a shorter version.  From now on call this one Lil Edwards (160 pages) and the former award winning volume Big Edwards (640 pages)

On Science

Almost three years ago I preached a message entitled "Space" at the Inversion Fellowship.  It was a fun night contemplating the vast creativity of God as seen in the universe.  We showed a video clip that night...and had some massive technical difficulties.  The video was a special feature from the DVD The Privileged Planet.  Looks like someone has embedded it online in flash.  It is an awesome video which displays the biblical understatement: As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him - Psalm 103:11 - You can watch the video on this blog here.

The Church

Matt Chandler is now blogging and will no longer be mocking bloggers...here were his reasons for not entering the blog world:

  • I have plenty to do already and don’t want any new tasks.
  • I am not sure that writing is a strength of mine.
  • I don’t want to debate with a hyper fundamentalist from Idaho who thinks that because I don’t use the King James I am leading people to hell. (If I got a letter from that guy you know he’ll find me online.)
  • Last but not least, I desperately want to continue to make fun of blogs and bloggers. If I enter the blogosphere then it would be hypocritical to continually mock them.
Chandler is a pastor in the great nation of Texas, a passionate preacher and on the board of the church planting network with which we roll...he has also shown fine taste in naming his son...you'll do well to check out his stuff.

POC Bundle 9.19.2008

On Science

  • The new humanist takes on a book about Intelligent Design (again...yawn) 
  • Mini-me Cows are catching on - little, yellow (well maybe not yellow), different.
  • Daniel Dennett - anti-God crusader is interviewed by Search Magazine.  In case you didn't know Dennett can explain all things...and you don't have any choice in any matter.  If you cannot recognize Dennett's "God" - you are not alone.  It is a scrawny little deity that is a figment of his meat machine (brain).

Islamic Watch

The Church

  • Now someone may want to be a playa, and their wheels ain't fly...yeah, hit em up and get a pimped out ride.  But I highly suggest that it is not a good idea to "pimp my church" - this is what happens when you try too hard to be cool. If you are saying "huh" - there is a page for you to read -really, go here: huh? My favorite line: The church is as "fly" (translation - cool or hip) as we dream it and create it to be. To the brothers and sisters of this church - I'm not a hata (translation - I am for you...but this ain't fly)

General News

  • Interesting article about the intellectual acumen of today's university students. Check out On Stupidity over at the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Mr. Benton and I obviously do not share the same worldview...but I feel some common concern for the state of learning in our nation.

POC Bundle 9.09.2008

General News

Technology


POC Bundle 8.07.2008

The Church 

Technology

  • I heart Windows Vista...now don't start mouthin off if you have not used it and watch Mac commercials. I have used it for 8 months and love it.  Also, Microsoft has a fun project they launched called the Mojave Experiment - check it out
  • Looking for affordable online back-up for your PC or MAC?  Check out Jungle Disk.  It is an interface for Amazon's S3 Storage solution.  Your data is stored online with Amazon's servers and the monthly fee is ridiculously small. 
  • Practice Surgery on the Wii - Why not? Surgeons Hone Skill with the Wii
  • Finally, John Mark Reynolds asks the question - Are We Distracting Ourselves to Death? and offers five practical tips for techno-sanity in our age.

Peripateo - My Walk

  • A touching story of a man who is wrestling away from a drug addiction.  ESPN Outside the Lines Feature - Getting Off the Mat.
  • John Crace from the Guardian (UK) does a sort of parody review of William Young's The Shack. Just a look at how someone from the outside views things...here is a sampling: "

    The snow lay thick and the shack was deserted when Mack arrived, but he blinked and suddenly it was spring and the forest was covered with verdant greens. "Hello, Mack," said a black woman.

    "I wasn't expecting God to be a black woman," Mack gasped.

    "That's because you've never read any quasi-liberal, religious crap like this before," God laughed. "But don't panic. I am American."

    "I'm Jesus," said Jesus. "I've got a wacky sense of humour."

    "And because I'm eastern, I've been given the job of being the Holy Spirit," Sarayu murmured, "so forgive me if I sound like a stoned hippie when I burble some meaningless mystical bollocks."

Gender Issues
  • Interesting Review of Wendy Shalit's book Girls Gone Mild - Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good in the Weekly Standard. 

 

 

POC Bundle 7.18.2008

The Church

  • I guess Frank Beckwith has gone activist as he went to Rome.  Some of you know that Beckwith was the recent president of the Evangelical Theological Society that returned to the Roman Catholic Church - the church of his youth. He has a new book coming out from Baker entitled Return to Rome - Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.  My guess is the title "Evangelical Catholic" may be one of interest to both Catholics who want to be more Protestants and Protestants who find Rome a bit alluring. Beckwith is a first rate philosopher and I commend his work in that arena...I do not find agreement with his recent theological reconciliations.

Technology

  • Apple says "I'm Sorry to all those Me's who are Mobile" - Apple's much hyped and oddly named cloud computing system MobileMe had a tough time getting off the ground.  Word is it is still a bit troubled.  Apple has graciously responded by giving 30 days free. But hey, no Mac person will say a word like "MobileMe is terrible" - such would be sacrilege. What we can say is this - "MobileMe is way better than .Mac!" - for we all know about the glories of .Mac. In all honesty - MobileMe (despite the name) looks pretty cool - should be free though.
  • Engadget dares to suggest that iPhone is less than the most perfect device ever created by human kind.  Does your iPhone suck? OK, don't answer that - of course not.  But are you having any of these cool issues?

History and Biography

Just for Fun

POC Bundle 6.6.2008

Technology

  • I still heart Ray Kurzweil - this week he is being interviewed on the New York Times.  To be honest I hope some of his predictions in this article come true...but the others, well, I hope don't work out. I still have a hard time with the idea that we should "become computers." Interesting enough, the new comphuman Cylons of the modern Battle Star Gallactica have recently declared that mortality (the ability to die) is part of what made life meaningful.  This is half true...our mortality in this life does point to its fuller meaning but is not the complete story which gives meaning...the true good news is that death can be overcome and life can rise in a new world. Life forever in a fallen world would create perpetual suffering and meaninglessness...life in a redeemed world will be beyond what any eye has seen or ear has heard...it will be better than we can imagine. 
  • This is just weird - smiley weird.

The Church

  • Mark Dever does not want video in church...I'm not persuaded, but I do think he makes a good case for why we should give care to such things. It seems Dever would say "abstain from video" on Sunday morning.  I might say "use moderation" - I would also say that the church would do well to welcome videographers and their craft in service of the Kingdom...I'll copy in the comment I left on the blog here as well:
Dr. Dever,

I think your concern is helpful but would want to know what you mean "in church" - I am assuming you mean showing videos as part of sermons. I for one would show your 9 Marks Video (just to the right here) in a church service. I also like using video thematically to transition in a service to the sermon - See these for a few small examples: 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxPcX6m1_oo 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__94uoHdZGo

I understand the concern you have and believe it is needed. I am thankful that you push on these things in the direction you do. When the message people come away with is "great visual" or "great video clip in that sermon" or "that illustration was awesome" rather than - I love God more, I see him more clearly, I am thankful for the gospel or I understand the Scripture which was preached...I too have concern.

Ravi Zacharias once said "The Scriptures do not say, in the beginning was...video" We must stay word centered, yet I do think video can be used in service of the word while never replacing it. In fact, I would say a good missionary to our culture would want to use technology to the glory of God - to redeem its use in God's service rather than 1)despising it or 2) making it an idol.

Thankful for IX Marks...and nice promo video btw.

POC Bundle - 3.25.2008

A smallish POC Bundle today... 

Reviews

  • Tim Challies reviews John Eldridge's new book Walking with God - though I am more charismatic (continuationist) than Challies, I think this review makes some very important points.  
  • I just started reading a book out of the UK called Total Church.  So far the thesis of the book is great.  Churches should be centered on the gospel word, gospel mission and the community.  The community is where life is lived and the fruit of the gospel is observed.  So far, so good.  It seems to want to avoid the ditch of Emergent by focusing on community and loosing the biblical gospel.  At the same time it seems to want to reject the hyper-individualism preached in some conservative churches. I'll try to review it some day here on the POCBlog. 

Theological Reflection

  • Mars Hill Seattle has a cushy, seeker friendly Good Friday video which begins their message on atonement.  Who said the mega church has to water down the message of the cross...now I do know that this would offend the sensibilities of many church folks - but God on a tree - humiliated, brutalized, suffering shame, crucified and raised for sinners is our message.   Strong stuff.

Just for Fun

  • If God made you a hairy person, wookie-like even, and you like technology...this little device may be for you.  Silk'n - the light based, hair removal system - FDA approved and coming to a hairy back near you.  

POC Bundle 3.16.2008

Pop Culture

  • There is a fascinating site/java application which consistently scourers the blogosphere for people talking about the way they "feel."  Apparently it looks for the word "feel" and pulls that data.  It then uses a cool Java applet to aggregate the data with some fun visualizations.  I watched the "murmers" screen as it scrolled down how people feel in our world - made me pray for people.  Very cool - here is the link - http://wefeelfine.org - The creator of the site gave a speech about it at TEDS which can be viewed here at the TED conference site.

On Science

  • There are two interesting posts up over at Uncommon Descent.  The first is a quote by Thomas Jefferson...though no fan of "Jesus, Jesus, we love Jesus" stuff he was certainly a proponent of design in the universe.  Great quote found here
  • Second, did you know you are 70% acorn...or visa versa...and you thought you were mostly chimpanzee.

POC Bundle 3.12.2008

Some fun links flying around in today's POC Bundle

Bible Translations

  • A new format for the ESV. Also, I hear the official ESV Study Bible is slated for the fall...I know many have been waiting for that one.

Technology

  • Looks like someone is creating the Matrix...well, at least for a pendulum.  Researchers are creating a virtual pendulum that mimics the properties of a real world counterpart.   See the link here. Very cool - you might just get to be Neo after all...then again, probably not.  Although the artificial intelligence posse wants you to believe that a human being is just software running on a brain...I think there is a fundamental flaw in this thinking.  Even so, for a programmer to keep the "state" of a human being in code so that it can be mimicked seems to be infinitely complex. There are optimists and pessiments of course.
  • Some researchers are saying that we are afraid of being disconnected from technology and our interactions...interesting pdf.

The Church

  • Lots of audio/video up now from the recent Text and Context conference put on by the Resurgence.  I have heard "best conference ever" many times so I will likely try and pick a few of these to listen. Here is the link to the stuff.
  • Praying about going to this Band of Bloggers thing.  I like some young guys I met through blogs - but not sure I have the time...Should I go?

POC Bundle 3.4.2008

General News

  • TED - Everyone's favorite group for cultural elites and world changers just finished up. Business Week explains TED for all us small people out there...they also provide a summary of the 08 conference.  A fun quote: Some, even BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy, accuse TED of being a self-satisfied meeting of the rich and successful, who meet to pat each other on the back, hear some thought-provoking ideas, and then zoom off in their hybrid vehicles or private jets (both equally objectionable to the naysayers) to count money at their hedge-fund headquarters or map the future in their ivory towers. Personally, I like geniuses, elites, futurists and uber creatives - they make me realize how cool Jesus is.
Islamic Watch
  • Oh No He Didn't - Apparently a member of the Dutch Parliament has put together a unflattering film about the Koran.  Cartoons had people calling for death threats upon Dutch cartoonists...I can only imagine the peaceful response coming from the religion of peace. Here is the opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
Technology
  • Free Centros from Amazon - really, this looks legit. After rebates of course.

The Church

  • This article's title just shows me how sideways the Anglican communion can be in some places - Diocese Threatens to Suspend J.I. Packer - For those who do not know JI Packer is a very old scholar highly respected in many circles. He is the author of the book Knowing God which some already consider a classic.

POC Bundle 2.28.2008

General News

Apologetics

  • Chuck Colson says I Heart PETA - well, sort of.  For those unfamiliar, PETA stands for People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. 

The Church

  • The Pew Research Center has an excellent study on religions in American.  Summary available here
  • Interesting response by Os Guinness to Frank Schaeffer's book "Crazy for God" - CT Online here

Technology


 

POC Tech Bundle - 02.19.2008

Technology

  • iPod Shuffles are now only 49 bucks - a good deal for an MP3 player of that quality
  • Palm's Centro is not out on AT&T - in my opinion, AT&T has the suckiest data network out of the big three...but just in case you don't want to spend the loot for an iPhone and want to use AT&T. It is white with a greenish key pad.
  • Most of you probably know this but HD DVD is going to the deep technological grave which once consumed Sony's Betamax video cassette recorder.  This time Sony wins - Blu Ray Disc is going to be the defacto standard for High Def optical media.  Word is Sony just paid everyone better to win the day.  Once Warner went with it for movies the dominoes all fell.  Netflix, BestBuy and then the killer - Walmart.  If you can't do Walmart in consumer tech, movies, etc. You just can't win.  All the Walmart haters now tear thy cloths.

 

POC Bundle - 1.16.2008

Reviews and/or Theological Reflections

Tim Challies reviews The Shack...interesting as this is the "hot book" right now in NashVegas among church folk. It is #42 on Amazon right now and #1 in spirituality and Christian segments as well  I found the theology discussion on the Shack Forums here to be quite revealing.  I am going to read it soon - I know one girl on our church staff that thinks it is not biblical in its depiction of God - Challies seems to agree.  Yet I am convinced that many do not even care whether it is "biblical" or not and will simply be taken by the book.  Those who might question its presentation of God will be called "religious" or "legalists" or people that don't get it...people of an "old way" of seeing God that holds people in shame.  We like views of god that match our sentiments rather than the God of the Bible.  Heck, lots of Christians do not even know the contents of the Bible or the historical doctrines of the church.  We prefer books by Joel Osteen.

Just for Fun

Well, it turns out that monkeys and men are still distinct - in Austria that is.  See the following news story - It's official: In Austria, a chimp is not a person. For those of you who were unaware, there are people that think primates are deserving of human rights - free the chimps!  On a less humorous note, this in an actual paragraph is from the Great Ape Project:

The idea is founded upon undeniable scientific proof that non-human great apes share more than genetically similar DNA with their human counterparts. They enjoy a rich emotional and cultural existence in which they experience emotions such as fear, anxiety and happiness. They share the intellectual capacity to create and use tools, learn and teach other languages. They remember their past and plan for their future. It is in recognition of these and other morally significant qualities that the Great Ape Project was founded. The Great Ape Project seeks to end the unconscionable treatment of our nearest living relatives by obtaining for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture.

So for all those zoo keepers out there - feel very ashamed of yourselves for depriving the apes of their freedom and dignity.  

General News

Though receiving a 83-82 scare from Ga Tech this evening, the UNC Tarheel Basketball team is still #1 - In basketball season I cheer for my alma matta. In football season I pull for the Hokies - we served in ministry for six years at VT. 
 

POC Bundle 11.04.2007

The Church

The folks at Stand to Reason have some interesting comments on the "gospel" being "Jesus as means to healing the planet" which is being put forth by some Intervarsity staff.  Remember, if we leave out the central focus of the "good news" we have presented a half truth.  Half truths fall short of communicating the rich reality that the gospel is about God saving sinners through Jesus AND send them on mission in the world.  That mission includes proclaiming the Jesus that died for sinners and forgives them AND sends the church into the world with good works for the common good as well. 

Pop Culture 

The gospel of Mark highlights that Jesus was seen as a different teacher for he taught as one with authority.  Our culture does not like to speak with any sort of conviction - one comedian has picked up on this and unpacks this cultural reality well. 

(HT - A-Team Blog) 

Gospel and Culture

Last Thursday we had a discussion entitled "Green and the Gospel - Christianity and the Environment. The wrap up from the evening is here.