#1 “9 Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty” by Joe Carter – I rarely appreciate what is known as “reality” TV. I may have caught an episode of the Real World back in my MTV days, but have been completely oblivious to the likes of Survivor, the Bachelor, Jersey Shore, and whatever show is associated with Honey Boo Boo. For some reason, though, I am an absolute fanboy of Duck Dynasty. We’ve been DVRing it since its inception and are still loving the antics of the fantastically bearded Robertson men. Si and Jase may be two of the craziest dudes on the planet, I find myself somehow resonating with Willie quite often, and good old Phil is the father figure that Clint Eastwood has been trying to pull off in film for a decade. And I love the fact that these fellas love the Lord and are passionate about sharing the Gospel with all. Check out this article, pray for this family, and give the show a viewing if you’re one of the few who haven’t yet.
#2 “The Heretic” by Andrew Ferguson – I’m not sure one can make a smooth transition from Duck Dynasty to a long-form essay on philosopher Thomas Nagel. Nagel, a former Princeton professor who is now at NYU, is one of America’s foremost philosophers…well at least he used to be. Once the darling of academia, he has recently begun to question the validity of the materialist Neo-Darwinian conception of nature. If such a concept is unfamiliar, here’s a quick aside:
Ferguson gives this quote by Francis Crick, “‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.” As someone who dabbles in writings of Dawkins, Dennett, and crew, this article was not completely shocking, but a needed reminder of what is at the heart of such a conception of nature and life. If you haven’t engaged much with the philosophical and scientific understandings of such intellectuals of academic renown, this article might be quite eye-opening.
The heart of the article deals with Nagel’s ousting from his once high-standing position among the academic elite, due mostly to his recent book Mind and Cosmos. This piece, though lengthy, is an important read not only in order to understand the materialist conception of the world at its roots, but also to see how those who question this view are treated in the world of the academy, and finally, to read some beginning reasoning against such an understanding of the world. Here’s one such quote from the article: “The neo-Darwinian materialist account offers a picture of the world that is unrecognizable to us—a world without color or sound, and also a world without free will or consciousness or good and evil or selves or, when it comes to that, selflessness. “It flies in the face of common sense,” Nagel says. Materialism is an explanation for a world we don’t live in.” Seriously, find the time to read this essay.
#3 “Google Glass Video” – Looks like my dream of becoming Iron Man might be taking a few steps closer to becoming a reality. This video is unreal. Check it.
#4 Faithmapping by Daniel Montgomery & Mike Cosper – The two guys who wrote this book are pastors of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, which is both our old church and the church we hope to be a part of again when we move back to the Ville this summer. We absolutely loved Sojourn and this book is a great introduction into why. They are truly seeking to grasp the depths of the good news of Jesus Christ and how this good news informs everything we do as a people. The first section of the book is an engaging and helpful way of thinking about the gospel, by looking at the kingdom of God, the cross of Christ, and the radical grace of God. So often we as Christians, to our detriment, either overemphasize or neglect one of these essential aspects of what Christ has done. Our lives and our witness must be shaped by an understanding of the gospel “that God welcomed us into life in his kingdom, through his Son’s cross and with scandalous grace.” (102) The second half of the book deals with how this good news of Jesus shapes our entire lives. Montgomery and Cosper write, “The gospel invites us into a different way of living and being, not to prove or to earn, but to enjoy. It’s truly a better way and a richer kind of life, and the Bible gives us many clues as to what that life looks like. What we do as believers will always flow from who we are, and in Christ, we’ve been given a radical new sense of identity.” (103) The way they describe this life is by discussing how the gospel makes us worshipers, family, servants, disciples, and witnesses. In some ways this book is not incredibly original, but rather it gives its readers a simple and helpful way to understand the Christian life, while being written in a style that is both fresh and engaging.