Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, noted: “The Arabic word shamata has its own power. The closest approximation to it is the German schadenfreude—glee at another’s misfortune. And when the Twin Towers fell 10 years ago this week, there was plenty of glee in Arab lands—a sense of wonder, bordering on pride, that a band of young Arabs had brought soot and ruin onto American soil…Everywhere in that Arab world—among the Western-educated elite as among the Islamists—there was unmistakable satisfaction that the Americans had gotten their comeuppance.”
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 draws nigh, the media is saturated with reflections on this defining event of our generation. Watching or reading certain pundits can be a maddening experience, as they draw wrong conclusions or hype the tragedy. Other types of coverage can make your heart leap into your throat, such as the cover of one magazine I saw in the airport recently entitled “9/11 Children” featuring those who had lost parents on that fateful day. For reflective articles, I have benefited from the latest issues of WORLD and Tabletalk magazines.
I recall how horrified I was ten years ago, as events unfolded, by the evil forethought of the perpetrators.
Christians in this 21st century ought to be aware we are living through a media transformation on par with the invention of the printing press in 1440. The explosion of cell phones and social media sites like Facebook mean the communication possibilities on a given day are virtually limitless. In this new media environment “citizen journalists” are able to wield tremendous influence as they report on things happening in their sphere of influence.
But the Internet also creates another class of users. They fall into the same trap Paul warns about for young widows: “they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house [or chat to chat], and not only idlers but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (I Timothy 5:13). Such people consume drivel and produce nothing.
So my question to you is: are you a consumer or producer? Is the Internet facilitating your mission as a Christian, or fueling your lusts and pathologies? Are you leading others, or being led astray as slaves to various passions and pleasures (Titus 3:3)? In a word, are you a follower of others or a leader toward Grace in cyberspace?
D.A. Carson has written a timely article entitled “Generational Conflict in Ministry.” See if the first paragraph catches your attention:
“About five years after the Berlin wall came down and the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe had mostly fallen or been transmuted into something rather different, I had the privilege of speaking at a conference for pastors in one of those formerly eastern-bloc countries. The numbers were not large. Most interesting was the way this group of men reflected a natural breakdown. They were clearly divided into two groups. The older group—say, over forty or forty-five—had served their small congregations under the former communist government. Few of them had been allowed to pursue any tertiary education, let alone formal theological training. Most of them had served in considerable poverty, learning to trust God for the food they and their families needed to survive. Some had been incarcerated for the sake of the gospel; all had been harassed. The men in the younger group—say, under forty or so—without exception were university graduates. Several had pursued formal theological education; two or three were beginning their doctorates. They were interested in ideas and in the rapidly evolving cultural developments taking place […]
It seems at this point words can only fail. While I, along with the rest of the world, feel stunned breathless by your tragedy, surely your pain and anguish is and will become deeper than we can imagine. But if it is possible to communicate my grief and prayers in a short letter, I’d like to try.
Warning: Though I have sought to word carefully this post so as not to be explicit, the nature of the subject means certain references are unavoidable.
To my knowledge it was the only time I have been followed in a threatening way.
Apologetics 315 Interview with David Wood
Excellent interview exploring the subject of Islam. Instead of looking at the historical evidence, which is rarely what Muslims care to explore, David Wood very helpfully shows how one can and should use the Koran itself as a foil to the Muslim’s most common objections against Christianity. Good stuff.
Epistemology – Andrew Fellows
In one of the most helpful and concise sketches of the history of epistemology I’ve run across, Andrew Fellows of L’Abri ministries shows how nearly everything after Plato and Aristotle, in the history of philosophy, is but footnotes. Well worth the 90 minutes.
In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr makes this observation:
The intellectual ethic of a technology is rarely recognized by its inventors…Ultimately, it’s an invention’s intellectual ethic that has the most profound effect upon us.
How might you answer these questions?
Is God pleased with our owning things?
Is God pleased when we take materials from the earth and produce things?
Is God pleased when men employ others for work?
Is God pleased with commercial transaction?
Is God pleased with men making a profit?
Is God pleased with the idea of money?
Is God pleased with inequality of possessions?
Is God pleased with competition?
Is God pleased with borrowing and lending?
In answer to prayer and at the urgings of a young man in our congregation, last night our church began door-to-door visitation. We plan to do this throughout the summer. With two of my daughters in tow, I enjoyed the interactions with people. One encouragement was meeting a young family who had just moved into the area and seemed genuinely interested in the information. One humorous moment came when we met a door-to-door security salesman coming down the street from the other direction. We exchanged notes on houses (the people in the next house had just returned from Bible study at a faithful church in the community so we just passed it by!) and we continued on.