Sundry Dinner for Thursday, August 17

Some are wondering if conditions are ripe for another American civil war:


Robin Wright of the New Yorker: “Keith Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years….Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.”

Ross Douthat thinks the more likely scenario before us is the civil conflicts of the 1960s, not the civil war of the 1860s.


“The wildness was what we prized about Treasure Island, what we instinctively knew to be a rare and fragile thing, all too easily destroyed. If our island was also our opponent, busily undoing our efforts to impose on it an order of our own, this was how we needed life there to be. Our labors might appear self-defeating or perverse, but they were also something else: the exertions of virtue.” Life on an island utopia


“While we are overwhelmed by digital technologies these days, there’s a striking lack of social technologies to assist people in asking for help, talking about their experiences, or sharing the methods they use to deal with the darkness. Facebook offered me the chance to ask for help, but any recovering I’ve been fortunate enough to do has been social in the original sense of the word: person-to-person, with friends, family, therapists, study groups, recovery fellowships, sympathetic employers and colleagues, with people I met randomly on trains or in rooms, always in collaboration with others. Recovery is a social exercise that can be assisted but never replaced by digital technologies.” Man down: why do so many suffer depression in silence?



Is this unearthed fishing village the birthplace of three of Jesus’ apostles?

Sundry Dinner for Thursday, August 10

A solar eclipse is coming to America Monday August 21. At this website, type in your ZIP Code and you’ll see what the eclipse will look like where you live.

“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.” Annie Dillard’s Classic Essay: ‘Total Eclipse’. “You have seen photographs of the sun taken during a total eclipse. The corona fills the print. All of those photographs were taken through telescopes. The lenses of telescopes and cameras can no more cover the breadth and scale of the visual array than language can cover the breadth and simultaneity of internal experience. Lenses enlarge the sight, omit its context, and make of it a pretty and sensible picture, like something on a Christmas card. I assure you, if you send any shepherds a Christmas card on which is printed a three-by-three photograph of the angel of the Lord, the glory of the Lord, and a multitude of the heavenly host, they will not be sore afraid….We had all died in our boots on the hilltops of Yakima, and were alone in eternity.”

Media Falsely Claim DNA Evidence Refutes Scripture

“God has used this crisis in our family to catalyze a significant shift in my own thinking. In all honesty, I used to view mentally ill homeless men asking for money on street corners as scary—but now I envision my husband standing in their place. Now I get how a person can end up bedraggled, smelly, penniless, and confused. I get the trauma of needing help but scaring the people you approach in search of it. I now see the image-bearing dignity of mentally ill people in a way I did not see before. My previous lack of understanding was born out of my own privilege—and it is a severe mercy that I’ve come to understand it now.” When Your Spouse Is Mentally Ill

Is “heresy” the right word to use when a Christian teacher affirms same-sex sexual relationships? This may be the best post to-date on one of the most important issues facing Western churches.

“Since the usual way to reintegrate the sexes is to have them marry one another and raise kids, what Silicon Valley probably needs right now more than either workplace anti-microaggression training or an alt-right underground is a basic friendliness to family, pregnancy and child rearing.” Ross Douthat. This is a good article reflecting on that infamous Google memo.


Sundry Dinner for Thursday, August 3, 2017

“A study published in The Academy of Management Review found that hospital janitors who cleaned bedpans and mopped floors derived more meaning from their work when it was framed as helping patients heal.” Source


Scientists Say These Words Are the Funniest


More Americans Than Ever Say Polygamy Is Morally Acceptable. Remember when people were mocked who warned the redefinition of marriage would lead to this?


In the Washington Post, Arlington’s Dwight McKissic explains why he’s staying in the Southern Baptist Convention. “The SBC needs pastors like me and multicultural congregations like the one I pastor to accomplish our shared mission to evangelize the entire world for Christ.”


Raiders’ Carr says tithing tops priority list


Diving in to Faith Conversations


“What do you do for a living?” she asked. Eight of us were waiting on shore for the dive boat to pick us up for a two-tank dive during my visit to Grand Cayman. The boat was late.

“I’m a pastor back in the States,” I replied.

“I’m an agnostic myself. But I find value in all faiths.”

“It sounds like you’ve had several friendships with people of various faiths?”

And we were off. Delayed in diving into the Caribbean Sea, we dove into conversation about religion. I talked about what Christians have in common with other faiths, and a few important ways the Christian message is unique.

The experience reinforced some long-held convictions about faith conversations.

First: You don’t have to invent ways to talk about faith. Just be ready to engage with the interest people show in the topic.

Second: When having a conversation on faith, don’t forget to actually make it a “conversation.” Christians sometimes perceive evangelism as a sales pitch you make in duty to God. But there’s no “evangel” in that kind of “evangelism.” The word “evangel” means “good news.” How has your faith been “good” for your life? Answer that, with the give and take that’s natural to any good conversation, and you’ll be doing it right.

Third: Show the beauty of your faith and then the logic, in that order. Don’t think of evangelism as gearing up for an apologetics argument. Instead, start with why you personally find it so beautiful. As I talked with my dive partner on that sandy beach, that’s what I did. I mentioned that while all religions have certain things in common, the unique Christian claim is that God entered our world in Jesus. I told her that such a claim told me the lengths God was willing to go to make himself know to us. “Make it attractive,” Pascal wrote about the faith. He was a 17th century mathematician and physicist, so he certainly had enough intellectual firepower demolish intellectual arguments against Christianity. But he advised, “Make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.”


(The Anchor Course can be a useful tool in ongoing conversations about faith. Click through the menu items at the top of this page to find out more about The Anchor Course)

“It seems unwise not to make inquiries”


Imagine if you got a letter from some bank saying that some wealthy person–and here a name is given that you have never heard–has left you money. Even if you were of a skeptical nature and you had no evidence that this could be true, it would be unwise not to make inquiries. If a man has come into history claiming to have the gift of eternal life and the key to the meaning of things, and if he has not passed into obscurity like other claimants but has convinced many people that he is right, it seems unwise not to make inquiries.”

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, page 238

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.