Sundry Dinner for December 14


Chinese daredevil plunged to his death while attempting to do pullups off a skyscraper. In an editorial, the China Daily News said the death of Wu Yongning was driven in part by the affirmation he received after he posted videos of himself in precarious situations.


There’s an alien world beneath our feet. What could it teach us about life?


Sermon Illustration Alert: The Indian man who changed his name to Regret


Former Facebook exec: Social media is ripping apart society


What’s a Christian voter to do when faced with a choice between a candidate who supports gross immorality (abortion) and a candidate who participated in gross immorality (un-remediated sexual assault)? Joe Carter says the answer is convictional inaction.


Convictional Inaction on Display: The big story from Alabama’s senatorial election is the absence of evangelical voters


Opinion: Hey, GOP: If We Could Get Some Republican Politicians Who Have Not Been Accused Of Sexual Predation, That Would Be Really Great. Babylon Bee


The Progressive Roots of the Pro-Life Movement


“Anthony Kennedy…has a chance to rule like a good emperor in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, to balance his Obergefell decision with a panic-defusing counterpoint.” Ross Douthat


“The Gospels, the epistles, Acts, Revelation—all of them are relentless torrents of exorbitance and extremism: commands to become as perfect as God in his heaven and to live as insouciantly as lilies in their field; condemnations of a roving eye as equivalent to adultery and of evil thoughts toward another as equivalent to murder; injunctions to sell all one’s possessions and to give the proceeds to the poor, and demands that one hate one’s parents for the Kingdom’s sake and leave the dead to bury the dead. This extremism is not merely an occasional hyperbolic presence in the texts; it is their entire cultural and spiritual atmosphere. The New Testament emerges from a cosmos ruled by malign celestial principalities (conquered by Christ but powerful to the end) and torn between spirit and flesh (the one, according to Paul, longing for God, the other opposing him utterly). There are no comfortable medians in these latitudes, no areas of shade. Everything is cast in the harsh light of final judgment, and that judgment is absolute. In regard to all these texts, the qualified, moderate, common-sense interpretation is always false.” David Bentley Hart


“Petitionary prayer is the hope that life can be otherwise”

David Wells:

What then, is the nature of petitionary prayer? It is, in essence, rebellion— rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is…the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God….Or, to put it the other way around, to come to an acceptance of life “as it is,” to accept it on its own terms—which means acknowledging the inevitability of the way it is—is to surrender a Christian view of God. This resignation to what is abnormal has within it the hidden and unrecognized assumption that the power of God to change the world, to overcome Evil by Good, will not be actualized….Petitionary prayer, therefore, is the expression of the hope that life as we meet it, on the one hand, can be otherwise and, on the other hand, that it ought to be otherwise. It is therefore impossible to seek to live in God’s world on His terms, doing His work in a way that is consistent with who He is, without engaging in regular prayer.

Sundry Dinner for December 7

You should read Mollie Hemingway’s “This Year’s Starbucks Christmas Cup Controversy Is The Most Fake Yet.” Every Christmas for the last few years, some news outlet gins up a story that Christians are outraged about Starbucks holiday cups. No, really. This year, the NYT bases its “Christian outrage” story on a tweet from a Twitter account with 16 followers.


No Matter Who Takes the Cake, What Christians Should Do Next Is Clear. Wondering what to think about the Supreme Court case of the Christian baker opting out of celebrating a same-sex wedding? Some good advice from Ed Stelzer.


The 55 Best Questions To Ask To Break the Ice and Really Get To Know Someone


A Comprehensive List of How Texans Mispronounce Places with Spanish Names


Sermon Illustration Alert: How to Build an Orchestra from Broken Instruments


Geek couple uses whiteboard to solve marital disputes


Ross Douthat: “The social goods associated with faith flow almost exclusively from religious participation, not from affiliation or nominal belief. And where practice ceases or diminishes [such as in the South and rural America] the remaining residue of religion can be socially damaging instead.” Why? Because “certain religious expectations endure without support networks for people struggling to live up to them.” He calls this the “Christian penumbra.”


This LA Times opinion piece by UT professor Zac Crippen suggests that porn is a big contributor to the culture of sexual harassment: “Each new revelation since the first reports of the Harvey Weinstein scandal adds to the discussion about how to deal with sexual harassment and sexual violence in American society. And yet nobody is talking about what could be one of the most effective ways to attack the problem: Recognizing that pornography consumption is a public health crisis.

Sundry Dinner for November 23

Wired: Why Is Gratitude So Difficult, Yet Outrage So Easy?


Thanksgiving Guidance from the Thanksgiving Psalms. Maybe you need some help kick-starting a grateful life. The “Thanksgiving Psalms” can help.


London’s buses are going to be powered by used coffee grounds


Reading Books Will Help You Build These 7 Habits


Top 10 Misquoted Lines from C. S. Lewis


After Two Brief Decades Of Deliberation, Democrats Bravely Call For Bill Clinton’s Resignation


“Right and wrong shouldn’t be determined by whether there’s an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ after someone’s name.” Russell Moore in WaPo


“The patriotic commitment of America’s great corporations has dramatically declined in recent decades. And that decline represents a betrayal of the social contract and the logic that underlies the corporate form itself.” National Affairs


Bearing up and bearing witness in Sutherland Springs this Thanksgiving:

Sundry Dinner for November 16

Ed Stetzer, on the Roy Moore matter: “It needs to be said—a host of people are letting their disgust towards evangelicals frame their interpretation of the fallout from allegations against Moore and they are simply treating the information unfairly….There is enough for which evangelicals need to repent and work to repair without fabricating new levels of self-loathing. But the response of many people to this data says more about them—and the state of our discourse—than it does about the evangelicals that disgust them.”


Related: In “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning,” in The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan said the defense of Bill Clinton made feminism “a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party.” This is a good warning from history to evangelicals on the “other side” now, willing to minimize accusations against their favored candidate for the sake of politics. She concludes: “The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton. The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles.”


On gun violence, blaming mental illness may only deepen stigma. The documented mental issues of Devin Kelley, who perpetrated the Sutherland Springs church shooting, are the exception rather than the rule. Only 14.8 percent of mass shooters in the US have been diagnosed as psychotic.


How to Hire Fake Friends and Family. In Japan, you can pay an actor to impersonate your relative, spouse, coworker, or any kind of acquaintance.


Fight over Bible verse on forgiveness leaves student dead


Jesus won’t save you — President Xi Jinping will, Chinese Christians told


“The painting was telling me what I needed to know about myself.” Fascinating short on Jim Carrey as painter:


About Tom

ANCHOR COURSE LOGO Tom Goodman is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and he holds a doctorate from New Orleans Seminary. He has served as pastor in Louisiana, north Texas, and overseas in Grand Cayman before becoming the pastor of Hillcrest Church in Austin, Texas. Diane and Tom have been married since their days at Baylor University, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Tom enjoys scuba diving, watching the latest Netflix DVD with Diane, and chasing mis-hit golf balls.