Science

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       When Life Gets Tough Self-Esteem Is Not the Answer: Shelby Abbott reminds us of a simple but important truth: " When we’re able to have a proper view of ourselves along with an honest view about the sinful state of the world, the solution to our rampant anxiety becomes more and more clear—it is not more self-esteem, self-trust, or self-love. The solution is God Almighty made known to us in the person of Jesus Christ."

2.      Surprisingly, Millennials are the Generation Most Likely to Attend Church: Aaron Earls reports on this surprising study: " A study commissioned by Dunham+Company found more than half of self-identified evangelicals say they attend church once a week or more. Among millennials, however, that number climbs to 61%—more than Gen Xers (44%) and Boomers (54%)."

3.      How we Can be Selfless without Being Needless: Caroline Saunders makes a helpful distinction in this article about the difference between being selfless and being needless. She suggests we ought to be the first but not the second. " Our neediness is also an instrument for God’s work through us. Our personal neediness can train us to see neediness in others. The surprising result? Selflessness!"

4.      10 Ways to Spoil an Apology: Emma Scrivener reminds us of just how easy it is to blow an apology. 

5.      The Problem With Banning Plastic Bags: Everyone knows plastic bags are bad for the environment. But what if banning them is worse?

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     The Way We Prepare For Marriages is All WrongAaron Earls considers cultural trends that undermine marriage and the data that undoes those trends: "In recent decades, however, new advice began to take root. It argued you will be most ready for marriage if you delay marriage into the 30s or later, “sow wild oats” before you’re ready to settle down, find someone with whom you share “sexual chemistry,” and live together with potential spouses to determine if the relationship is ready for the marital commitment. At the Institute for Family Studies, professor and researcher Jason Carroll analyzed data that confronts each of these points of accepted cultural wisdom."

2.     6 Ways Watching Pornography Affects Your Mental Health: Among those issues, Brad Hambrick points out is, "Mindfulness – the ability to willfully focus one’s attention during adverse circumstances – is a significant contributor to mental health. Pornography is nearly the complete opposite of mindfulness. Pornography uses sound, site, and tactile sensation to pull an individual from their actual world into an artificial, fantasy world. Combining multiple senses with an enticing narrative makes it increasingly difficult for less stimulating activities (which is most of life) to hold an individual’s attention."

3.     The Sabbath as a Radical ActThis is as good an article as I've read in some time. William Black argues that, "There was a reason the fourth commandment came where it did, bridging the commandments on how humans should relate to God with the commandments on how humans should relate to one another. As the Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann points out in his book Sabbath as Resistance (2014), a pharaonic economy driven by anxiety begets violence, dishonesty, jealousy, theft, the commodification of sex and familial alienation. None of these had a place in the Torahic economy, which was driven not by anxiety but by wholeness, enoughness."

4.     Watching Rain: Need a stress reliever? Click on this simple and relaxing website and play around a little.

5.     The Science Behind Why Walking on Legos Hurts More Than Walking on Fire or Glass: Parents everywhere will feel validated reading this article from Smithsonian. 

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      The Lie of "Happy Wife, Happy Life" Greg Morse picks apart this oft-told piece of advice, "In the end, a nearsighted “happy wife, happy life” mentality throws the toys in the closet to go outside and play. Happy wife, easier life does not lead to happiness, but to a closet full of regret, bitterness, and selfishness, which we all must open eventually."

2.      Yale and Stanford Psychologists say, "Find Your Passion" is Bad Advice: Quartz reports, "The answer to these questions, it turns out, hinges on our approach to interests. Based on the latest findings, people who have a fixed mindset—the almost mystical belief that passions are revealed to us magically—seem to be less curious and motivated than those with a growth mindset, who understand interests unfold as a process."

3.      Her Name is Monroe Christine: Brandon McGinley reflects on the disgusting saga around the birth of a beautiful girl to a surrogate mom while her reality television star dads watch, "Her name is Monroe Christine. She is a little girl who was paid for by two men. Her mother was picked out of a catalogue; the woman who gave birth to her was a contractually obligated guest star on a television show who was publicly humiliated by her father."

4.      God Wants You to Ask Him Again: Marshall Segal encourages us to pray the prayers we've stopped praying, "But in Christ our trials are not trivial in his eyes. Our burdens are not small or irrelevant to him. His global purposes do not draw him away from us. Our prayers are not peripheral in his priorities, because our trials and prayers are deeply and intimately connected to his greatest burden as a good Father: his own glory."

5.      Revisionist History: All three series of Malcolm Gladwell's podcast have been excellent, but I think his most recent third season is best. His episodes on Elvis, Brian Williams, and Sammy Davis are particularly interesting.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Comparing Take-Home Pay Around the WorldSwitzerland tops this list by a substantial margin while Mexico comes in dead last. The US comes in at the edge of the top third. And goodness gracious, if you think American income taxes are bad, don't move to Denmark!

2.      God's Grace for Foster ParentsI resonate with James Williams's post, "Fostering is hard. A child comes into our home, alters the norm of our everyday lives for a number of weeks or months, and then by government order leaves as quickly as he or she came. Many find it difficult that we regularly let children we’ve grown attached to go back home, usually never to see them again. People often say to us, “I just don’t know how you do it.” That bewildered statement implies that we have some special gift or ability that others don’t have, but the truth is, we don’t."

3.      7 Things to Never Say at a FuneralIt's hard to comfort those who are have experienced a death. Aaron Earls tells us not to mess it up. Top on his list are, "They're an angel now," and "I know how you feel."

4.      What Generation Z Wants to Do Before Hitting 30Aaron Earls reports on Barna's recent findings: "Fewer Gen Zers say they want to enjoy life before having responsibilities of being an adult (38 percent), find out who they really are (31 percent), or travel to other countries (21 percent)."

5.  How Involved Should Your Church Be During Elections? Kevin DeYoung with sober and timely advice.

6.     Why Are Self-Driving Cars Taking So Long? Really interesting video by SciShow that considers why it has been so hard to put self-driving cars on the road.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Am I Addicted to My Smartphone? A sobering quiz for a pervasive issue.

2.      Death is a VaporBrian Sauve begins, "Nearly 60,000,000 people die every year on planet Earth. This is one of the things that makes human beings so bewildering. I'm not talking about the fact that people die, but the fact that they take so little time to consider death."

3.      Why Christians Shouldn't Cuss: Ben Archer, considers the reasons "The truth is that a particular word has no inherent sinfulness beyond that which a culture or community assigns to it, nor can it be intrinsically objectionable... This is why Christians don’t cuss: we cherish the purpose for which God gave words."

4.      How to Remember What You Read: David Qaoud's recommendations are great. I also would add that writing reviews on books is a huge aid in memory. His second point is: "I read actively, not passively. I have a highlighter and pen in hand. I highlight what sticks out to me. After reading something particularly inspiring, I’ll stop, close my eyes, and repeat what just inspired me."

5.      Why is Water Slippery? Kids ask the best questions and in this series scientists take on surprisingly complex answers to questions kids ask. Part of the surprise to this answer is how surprisingly strange water is, "How weird is water? Unlike most liquids, it is densest not at its freezing point, but at just a few degrees warmer... Water is safe for us to drink, but also so chemically reactive that it can’t be used to lubricate things like engines because of the damage it will cause inside the machine... Ball said that it’s even weird that water is liquid at all, considering that when the other elements most similar to oxygen link up with hydrogen what they form is a gas."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       An Open Letter to a Suffering Christian: David Powlison with simple, but powerful words, " Suffering must be walked through one step at a time. Be honest. Don’t take any shortcuts. Let each day’s trouble be sufficient for that day. Seek your Father. If you seek him, you will find him."

2.       Don't Settle for Artificial Intimacy: One of my favorite author on marriage, Gary Thomas, with an insightful look into artificial intimacy, "Every season of life tempts us to stop building our marriages. Rather than grow together in true intimacy, far too many couples exist only on what I call "artificial intimacy." They've never intentionally built intimacy but rather were trapped by an infatuation that felt like it fell from heaven. They never had to work at it; it just was. Once it died, their intimacy died with it. An artificial intimacy can be sustained for a time by the common events of life, but usually it comes to a huge crash..."

3.       Moms Have Always Worked: Hannah Nation's study of the Puritans reveals a deficiency in the way we typically think about work. I wholeheartedly agree with Nation's thesis, "Although these divides still haunt us to this day, our economy is changing once again. As more and more work goes online and we transition to an information economy, the options available to women are also changing, making the demarcation between “working mom” and “stay-at-home mom” less visible. Arguably, then, we are shifting (even if slowly) back toward the more holistic and unified world of Puritan New England."

4.       A Father's Memoir of Miscarriage: Powerful reflection by Eric Schumacher, "We discussed it and chose silence. We told no one. We feared drawing attention away from their loss onto ours. Others were suffering “worse” than we were. After all, how did the uncomplicated and almost unnoticed loss of an unexpected and unannounced pregnancy compare to their painful and public suffering? They “deserved” the sympathy and the support more than we did. And there it was, that first little fox in the vineyard of grief—comparison. A ruthless enemy, comparison is quick to use your family, your wife, your children, and your friends against you. Comparison sunk its teeth in deeper with each of the three subsequent miscarriages, further stifling my grief... The gospel speaks a better word than the bark of comparison. It speaks of a Father who notices and values the minutia of his world—even the parts that others deem worthless by comparison."

5.       It's Not You: How our Phones are Designed to Be Addicting:  The 3 design elements that make smartphones more like slot machines than tools, explained by Google’s former design ethicist.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations
  1. The 15th Most Influential Websites: Time honors the web's 27th birthday with this interesting list. I guarantee you haven't heard of a couple of these at least and The Drudge Report at #8 surprised me, but considering the imprint it has had on the bent of politics and today's news, I understand why.

  2. The Christianphobia of the Rich: Gene Veith reflects on the recent report that the demography of those who hold an anti-Christian bias is shifting, "Hostility against Christians among the general public has not increased over the last three decades. But who has hostility against Christians has changed. Today more anti-Christian bias is coming from the rich... Here is the profile of those who tend to be hostile to Christianity: white, male, politically progressive, irreligious, and wealthy... Do you see an exquisite irony here? “The rich” are the bête noir (the dark beast) of progressives. Add “white” and “male” and you have the ultimate villain, the cause of all our woes. It would seem that some of the biggest critics of rich white males are rich white males."

  3. Friendship is Not a Two-Way Street: Kim Barnes shares an important truth in the context of community, "When my husband was in seminary, he did a summer internship at a church in Bradenton, Florida. The young pastor and his wife were very encouraging to us and gave us some great marriage advice: “Remember that marriage is never 50/50. It’s always 90/10. Sometimes you’re the 90. Sometimes you’re the 10.” It turns out this isn’t only good marriage advice, but applies just as well to friendship."

  4. The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes: Zan Romanoff reports on the growing trend of gyms replacing church, "Exercise classes often function just as much like a church as they do like a gym: They gather people into a community, and give them a ritual to perform... You know who will be leading the evening; you can anticipate the general contours of its energy. You know you will recognize familiar faces among the participating crowd. As more Americans have moved away from organized religion (a 2015 Pew Center study found that 23 percent of the adult population identified as “religiously unaffiliated,” up from 16 percent in 2007) they have also moved toward new forms of community building, as well as new ways to seek mental clarity and spiritual experiences. The gym is a popular avenue for this kind of searching, in part because it mimics the form of traditional religious services."

  5. The Best Science Pictures of 2017: once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse, a hitch hiking octopus, and a creature that will give you nightmares.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Stanford Medicine Report on How Men and Women's Brains Are Actually Different: After nearly 20 years of data, it is clear that there are biological differences between men and women,  "The two hemispheres of a woman’s brain talk to each other more than a man’s do. In a 2014 study, University of Pennsylvania researchers...found that the females’ brains consistently showed more strongly coordinated activity between hemispheres, while the males’ brain activity was more tightly coordinated within local brain regions."

2.       6 Character Traits to Look for in a Potential Spouse Really good lists here. Thoughtful inclusions that ring true to unseen obstacles many couples face. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of "controls his passions" and "is in the process of becoming a leader" for a potential husband and "Knows how to admit she's wrong, ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and give grace when you fail her" for a potential wife.

3.       Just-Around-the-Corner-Spirituality: Mike Emlet reflects on the promises we tell ourselves about the next season of spiritual growth that will be just around the corner: "The blessed and contented life is not somewhere around the corner where we can imagine living in the perfect spiritual greenhouse to nurture growth. It’s right here, right now, as we learn to experience the sufficiency of Christ’s strength for us in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly."

4.       Your Sanctification is a Gift: I love this perspective that Tim Challies offers -- something I've never quite thought of this way before. "Your continual growth in holiness is not something you emphasize merely for your own benefit or your own assurance, but something you pursue for the benefit of others. This message cuts hard against the individualism of western society, so is one we need to hear again and again. A wife’s sanctification is a gift she gives her husband. A pastor’s sanctification is a gift he gives his congregation. A parent’s sanctification is a gift he gives his children." 

5.       Just How Big is the Universe? I love feeling my mind dwarfed by presentations like this.