Saturday, January 07, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (1/7/17)

Photo Credit: Jaetographer
Here are some interesting items that I saw across the web over the past couple of weeks:

Seven Steps to Strengthen Prayer by Bonnie McKernan (Desiring God)
"Praying should be active. We cannot truly come into contact with God and not be a different person, at least in some small degree, by the time we say, “Amen.” Struggle in prayer, wrestle with it, and let the Spirit move. Answers to prayer are a blessing, but prayer in and of itself is meant to be a blessing. Sometimes it feels like the moaning of parched lips in the desert, and we should still persevere because prayer is not just the fruit of spiritual life, but the means of attaining it."
Why Are Americans Less Charitable Than They Used to Be? by Alexia Fernandez Campbell (The Atlantic)
"The results of their research suggest that Americans’ attitudes toward giving have changed, regardless how much money they have. There is some research suggesting that poor people—those would actually stand to benefit from charity themselves—are more likely to donate money (overall, wealthy Americans still contribute most of the country’s charitable dollars). An analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that wealthier Americans gave less of their income to charity during the Recession, while the poor gave more. Those who earned $200,000 or more gave nearly 5 percent less to charity in 2012 compared to 2006, while those who made less than $100,000 increased their giving by 5 percent between those same two years, the report found. The poorest Americans—those earning $25,000 or less—increased their giving the most, by 17 percent over the same period."
Study: Christians Were 2016’s Most Persecuted Religious Group by Faithfully Magazine Staff
"Nearly 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016, equivalent to one every six minutes, according to a new study by the Italy-based Center for Studies on New Religions (Censur). The annual study, which is set for release next month, also indicated that 500 to 600 million Christians were prevented from freely practicing their faith. The number has actually declined from 105,000 in 2015, but it still makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world, Massimo Introvigne, director of Censur, told Vatican Radio when announcing the findings on Monday. “Without wishing to forget or belittle the suffering of members of other religions, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world,” Introvigne said."
The Candy Diet by Seth Godin
"The economics seem to be that the only way to make a living is to reach a lot of people and the only way to reach a lot of people is to race to the bottom, seek out quick clicks, make it easy to swallow, reinforce existing beliefs, keep it short, make it sort of fun, or prurient, or urgent, and most of all, dumb it down. And that's the true danger of anti-intellectualism. While it's foolish to choose to be stupid, it's cultural suicide to decide that insights, theories and truth don't actually matter. If we don't care to learn more, we won't spend time or resources on knowledge. We can survive if we eat candy for an entire day, but if we put the greenmarkets out of business along the way, all that's left is candy. Give your kid a tablet, a game, and some chicken fingers for dinner. It's easier than talking to him. Read the short articles, the ones with pictures, it's simpler than digging deep. Clickbait works for a reason. Because people click on it."
In biblical lands of Iraq, Christianity in peril after ISIS by Moni Basu (CNN)
"Life in Bartella, as he knew it, stopped suddenly and brutally in the summer of 2014. ISIS blitzkrieged its way into northern Iraq, taking control of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest and once its most diverse city. ISIS marked Christian houses with the Arabic equivalent of the letter "N" for the derogatory term Nazarene. The militants blared ultimatums from the loudspeakers of Mosul mosques: Leave by July 19 to avoid death or forced conversion to Islam. The terror-driven exodus emptied the city of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. A decade ago, 35,000 Christians lived in Mosul. Now maybe 20 or 30 remain."
Election Reflections: Bridging the Gap by Philip Yancey
"Today, both parties push toward the extremes, in opposite directions.  And here is where Christians come in.  Oddly enough, we can mind the gap by withholding complete loyalty from either party. "Politics is the church’s worst problem," warned the French sociologist Jacques Ellul. "It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world." Christians have a divided loyalty, committed to helping our society thrive while giving ultimate loyalty to the kingdom of God. We are resident aliens, taking guidance not from a party platform but from the life Jesus modeled for us.  Sometimes that means crossing the gap, rather than widening it."
Polar bear mascot keeps slipping over on the ice

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