Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (7/23/16)

Photo Credit: Will Montague
Here are some interesting stories from around the web during this past week:

Are We Distracting Ourselves to Death? by Karen Swallow Prior
"Surely, distractions have been around since shepherds have been taking their eyes off sheep to chase butterflies, but such accidents point to the way technology can help us lose our sense of reality and its inherent dangers. When a reality that exists only inside our head—or our handheld devices—collides with the material, tangible world, we are entering the hyperreal."
Tips on Beginning a First Conversation on Racism in a Church by Christena Cleveland

Noted social psychologist and racial reconciliation leader Christena Cleveland was recently asked by a black pastor on staff at a multi-ethnic church about how to address issues of racism and equity within his church. This is her advice.

Why Democrats and Republicans Literally Speak Different Languages by Derek Thompson
"For several decades now, Republicans and Democrats have become more polarized. There are plenty of reasons for that, including the demise of the Southern Dixiecrats and the geographic sorting of the country into ideologically homogenous neighborhoods. But the two major parties are now divided by a common language: Democrats discuss “comprehensive health reform,” “estate taxes,” “undocumented workers,” and “tax breaks for the wealthy,” while Republicans insist on a “Washington takeover of health care,” “death taxes,” “illegal aliens,” and “tax reform.” When did the two major political parties create their own vocabularies? Around 1990. That’s according to a fascinating new paper by the economists Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro and Microsoft Research’s Matt Taddy."
The Story of Making a Murderer Isn't Over Yet

Netflix announced they'll be making more episodes of the popular documentary series, Making a Murderer. New episodes will focus on the post-conviction process and its emotional toll on those involved.

Fans Play Star Wars Theme for John Williams Outside His House

This is what happened when two guys with horns made a spontaneous decision to set up and play the Star Wars theme in front of John Williams' house. Watch the video to find out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here Are 9 Of My Favorite Podcasts

Photo Credit:
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
It has only been in the last year or two that I have regularly listened to podcasts but I've found a lot of benefits to them. Whether I'm driving in my car, going for a walk, doing chores in the yard or working at my desk, I've appreciated the opportunity to learn in the midst of my normal everyday activities.

If you're not familiar with what a podcast is, they are essentially similar to a talk radio program but they are available on the Internet. They can be accessed through any digital device like a computer, iPhone, MP3 player, etc. Listeners can subscribe and new episodes are automatically available as they are produced.

If you'd like to explore a few podcasts to listen to, here are nine of my favorites:

Pass the Mic
This is the premier podcast from the Reformed African American Network. Co-hosts Jemar Tisby and Tyler Burns discuss current issues that affect the Black community and do so from a Christian worldview. A great model for how meaningful engagement with cultural issues can take place.
Signposts with Russell Moore
Dr. Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He talks about the latest books, cultural conversations and pressing ethical questions that point us toward the kingdom of Christ. He brings a thoughtful Christian perspective to the sensitive topics of today.
Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
On each episode, Gladwell seeks to go back and reinterpret something from the past. He points out that which is overlooked or underrepresented. He's fascinating.
Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast by Gospel in Life
Dr. Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and a NY Times best-selling author. In my opinion he's one of the best contemporary minds in explaining the gospel in an understandable manner.
The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast
Pastor Nieuwhof offers compelling insights on life, ministry and leadership as he hosts a number of guests. I particularly appreciate the practical perspective and suggestions he offers.
 Code Switch By NPR
We live in a racially charged society and often can be uncertain how to engage dialogue around potentially combustible topics related to race and culture. Code Switch involves a variety of NPR journalists who engage these topics in a helpful way.

Jalen & Jacoby By ESPN
Former Michigan and NBA star Jalen Rose and David Jacoby examine (often humorously) the world of sports and pop culture. With a little mix of old school hip-hop thrown in here and there, this is a fun diversion.
Serial By This American Life
Host Sarah Koenig looks at a true story over the course of a whole season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. The wildly popular first season of Serial was absolutely riveting. 
LBC Podcast - Lake Baldwin Church
These are the sermon messages from my church in Orlando, Florida. Although I'm in church most Sundays and have the privilege of listening to these messages live, I enjoy catching up on messages I miss due to teaching Sunday School or travel. Senior Pastor Mike Tilley and Assistant Pastor Joe White do the bulk of our preaching and they both teach the Bible in a way that helps timeless truths come to life.
So those are some of my suggested podcasts. Do you have favorites that you recommend checking out?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (7/16/16)

Photo Credit: F.Pamplona
Here are some interesting stories from around the web during this past week:

The Pastors Out to Save Millennials’ Souls by Amanda Abrams
"Ask church planters themselves why they’ve decided to focus on gentrifying cities and they’re likely to mention “the nations”—as in “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” from Matthew 28:19—who can be found in spades there. Or they might talk about wanting to get “upstream,” to the places where culture is created. Or perhaps it’s simply an obvious strategy, because the return of young professionals to central cities has been one of the biggest urban movements of the past half century."
The Diversity Dance by Megan Fowler
"Like any good dance, the diversity dance requires a large helping of grace, as there are times when members accidentally step on others’ toes. Latino and Hispanic congregants sometimes instinctively feel as though they are second-class members of Granada, and the church leadership must assure them that they are equal with their Anglo counterparts. And since members of Granada come from more than 40 countries, there are countless cultural differences that must be overcome to forge meaningful cross-cultural relationships."
Reflections by a Dallas Police Officer by Max Geron
"So I need more sleep, I need to grieve, I need to do my job and I need to lead officers of whom I am extremely proud to serve along-side. These are truly men and women who are guardians of the City of Dallas. We can improve how we deal with conflict and deescalate tense situations and we can also support a police department with a history of reaching out and inclusivity with its citizenry."
Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no. by Wesley Lowery
"According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers."
Cabrera took a classy step to help boost Hosmer's All-Star MVP case from FOX Sports Kansas City
"While Perez's swing proved the game winner, Hosmer's rocket single off Jose Fernandez in the third inning put him in position to win MVP. It wasn't lost on his teammates. Miguel Cabrera, the two-time MVP whose Detroit Tigers are almost even with the Royals in the AL Central, went up to Yost and told him he didn't want to come into the game until after Hosmer's third at-bat because it might seal the MVP award. Even though Hosmer grounded out to start the sixth inning, it didn't lessen Cabrera's gesture." ~ Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More Blog Posts Coming Soon

When I first started this blog nearly eleven years ago, it was merely to get some of my thoughts out so a few other people could see them. I had a couple friends that encouraged me to start engaging others through social media, a fairly new phenomenon to me at the time. This was before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a slew of other sites that are now in vogue.

Over the past few years, though, my posts have decreased to the point that I've only written a handful of times in 2016, down from a peak of a few peer week back in 2009. There are a couple reasons for this:

1. Time

As an introverted thinker, thoughts are constantly swimmng around in my head. But there's a big difference between thinking about things and writing them down in a way that others would want to read.

I often write about controversial topics related to race and culture so I seek to be careful to choose my words wisely in a way that would "comfort the challenged" and "challenge the comfortable." This takes time, emotional energy and effort that I don't always have in light of family and ministry responsibilities.

2. Other Social Media

With the advent of other social media platforms of which I'm active, like Facebook and Twitter, I've found it much easier to share interesting articles through those forums and occasionally share a few words of my own along with it. To copy and past a link on Twitter might take me a minute or two. To write a thorough blog post of my own words, it typically takes me 45 minutes to an hour (or more).

But as I've considered this platform of blogging, I do realize that there are people that have found my writing through this outlet helpful to them. Though the Internet can be a nasty place, I've received far more words of encouragement than attacks from others. It's been gratifying when I've met people that tell me they read my stuff and appreciate it.

I'd like to be intentional about posting more regularly. I don't think I'm ready to give this up yet. I'm even writing about this because I hope that those of you that read this will hold me accountable if I don't start writing more frequently.

So here's the plan: I'm hoping to begin posting at least twice a week. Once on Saturday/Sunday with a "Weekly Roundup" of interesting things I've read on the web that previous week and another post with a topic that I write about sometime mid-week. I may not always hold to this but I hope to begin with a schedule fairly close to this.

Thanks to those of you that have been along for the ride for awhile and for those that are just joining. If you happen to have something you'd like to hear my thoughts on, please let me know and I can put it in the queue for a future post. Blessings.