Check out

Evangelical Pullback/Retreat
Is it possible to be too nice?

6 Lessons of an Influence Seeker
If you’re a Christian with a message to communicate and limited opportunities to do so, Joe Carter has some encouragement for you.

7 Issues We Need To Talk About In Our Youth Groups
I’ll bet the least talked about in this list is #6.

America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide to the United State
West Virginia is the most neurotic state, Utah is the most agreeable and the folks of Wisconsin are the country’s most extroverted, a new study says. Take TIME’s test to find out which state most suits you.

The Christian Traveller
I enjoyed this piece by Jeremy Walker on how Christians can communicate Christian character in a way that might open doors for witness.

Are All Affairs Alike?
Tim Lane is writing a series on adultery in the church. In this one he describes six kinds of affair.

Five Christian Theologies Scarier Than Halloween

The mainstream media’s demonization of Christians continues apace. Over at The Washington Post, the Rev. (yes, the Rev.) Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argues that Christians have nothing to fear from Halloween. Instead, she says we should be afraid, very afraid, of evangelical Christians. Yes, it appears that the most frightening bogeyman, the foulest fiend is anyone who actually believes the Bible. She goes on to list the greatest ghouls and most petrifying zombies of our day:

1. Christian dominionism: I have no idea what the Reverend lady means by this, and it would appear neither does she. In a remarkable feat of logical gymnastics, she somehow manages to jump from praying “Thy Kingdom come” to support for restarting the Confederate war. Oh, and Christian dominionism is also to blame for the recent government shutdown! If only Christians realized how powerful they were.

2. Hell and damnation: The Rev. Thistlethwaite is terrified of hell and damnation, which is strange given that she says they don’t actually exist. But as such beliefs ”help to create and sustain ‘hell on earth’ for many and “contradict God’s love and mercy,” they have to go. And who are we to argue, especially given that her source is the esteemed and infallible Rob Bell.

3. Women should submit: OK, by this point, I’m laughing out loud. I quickly check that it’s October 31 and not April 1. Apparently, submission “is institutionalized violence” and largely to blame for domestic abuse. I didn’t realize but apparently I believe in “Just Battering” because I believe Ephesians 5:21-33. “The front door of such a ‘religious’ home becomes a doorway to violence.” Hope my wife doesn’t read this.

4. God versus Evolution: Poor Rev. Thistlethwaite has apparently led a rather sheltered life. Although a former President of Chicago Theological Seminary, the blood-soaked streets of Chicago don’t even compare with the horror of, wait for it, The Creation Museum. Reader Discretion Warning: Read on only if you are over 18 and have a strong nerve. You ready? OK, here it is. She says, “One of the scariest places I have ever been was the Creation Science Museum in Kentucky.” Now please, stop rolling in the aisles. And once your sides have stopped splitting get this, young-earthers are also to blame for global warming, or “global weirding” as the clever Rev. puts it.

5. God Doesn’t Love You If You’re Gay: You were waiting for this weren’t you. Only surprise is that it’s not #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5. Another spectacular leap here for the athletic Thistlethwaite, this time sensationally cavorting from the belief that homosexuality is a sin to killing gays by forcing them to swallow bottles of pills and jump into nooses.

I feel so sorry for this poor woman. She says that these things “really scare me, not only this week but all year through.” What a tragic, terrible, and terror-filled life. Thankfully, however, our trembling philosopher-theologian has a perfect solution to this terror-filled existence.


Because, as she argues, “There’s so much that’s really terrifying in our world, Halloween shouldn’t be scary any more.”

I try to make Halloween fun for my children and now my grandchildren.  Some candy (along with healthy snacks!), fun costumes and community events are a great way to have family fun.  I think Halloween should be fun because there are too many really scary things in our world for kids and the adults who care about them.

“Healthy snacks!” Bet her house will be popular tonight.

And whatever you do, don’t, don’t, don’t even think about dressing up as an evangelical Christian. Especially if you’re in the Chicago area. I wouldn’t want you to spoil the ridiculous Reverend’s night.

Check out

What Is Reformation Day All About?
Good summary.

Students, Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Andrew Hill’s advice to students, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s pretty depressing to spend 10 hours preparing a lecture and not get one comment or question at the end of it all!

Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children
John Piper: “I am writing this to plead with Christian parents to require obedience of their children. I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences.”

Those Who Sleep in The Dust Will Awake
Nancy Guthrie with a different and moving perspective on Halloween.

Basic Hermeneutical Principles
Sam Storms packed a ton into this piece.

Epic Flyover Video Shows Mars From Spacecraft’s Perspective
Strangely beautiful and mysteriously awesome.

Three Ideas To Help Boys Succeed at School

Why are boys doing so badly at schools? And why are girls doing so much better? Some, like Christina Hoff Sommers, believe that what and how teachers teach are tailored to suit female strengths and abilities. She has some good ideas for addressing this imbalance, and for helping boys catch up and compete. Here are three other suggestions from my own painful experience in public schools that I believe would revolutionize schools for many boys.

Male heroes
Teenage boys need men in their lives, and not just any men, but heroic men, men they admire and look up to, men they want to be like. Male teachers have a unique opportunity to be one of these male role models, not least because so many boys don’t have active fathers in their lives.

At least 90% of my school teachers were women. Few if any of them understood teenage boys. Most of them seemed to barely tolerate us and none of them had a clue about how to gain our respect or cooperation.

With one exception, the male teachers I had were very poor specimens of manhood. Some of them were just weird, others had horrific tempers, while others just hated what they were doing and hated most of us as well.

The one exception was my Physical Education teacher, Alec McVake. What a man! What a hero he was to us – and not just on the soccer pitch. Wherever he met us, even outside of school, he was always interested in us, always kind, always an inspiration. He was strict and tough when needed, but the vast majority of his interactions were positive and encouraging. I would do anything for him, and to this day I believe my character and conduct still bears his imprint.

Male encouragement
I touched on this in the last point, but boys love to be praised and encouraged by men. Some male teachers would do better as lawyers and prison guards. Of course we need rules and regulations, and discipline, and demerits, and lines, and detention, and privilege-denial, etc. But if that’s all boys expereince, they just give in and give up. Boys need authority, but they are utterly repulsed or crushed by bullying authoritarianism and constant criticism.

In contrast, they do well when surrounded by a general spirit of cheerful optimism, good humor, and individual encouragement. I can still remember the impact of being praised by Mr McVake for a few things I did on the soccer pitch. That’s 35 years ago and it’s still part of my psyche. It boosted my confidence, made me want to try even harder, and the positive vibes even spilled into other subjects too.

Male activities
Which brings me on to the need for much greater emphasis and respect for  “traditionally” male activities such as woodwork, mechanics, strenuous sports, business skills, etc.

I realize that sounds sexist, and I’m not suggesting girls shouldn’t or don’t do these things. But boys do thrive in these areas in their teenage years. They like making useful things, getting covered in grease, knocking lumps out of one another, and especially making  money. But in many schools there’s no recognition for these talents and skills. Everything is weighted towards the academics and the studious.

I’d love to see school prizes reflect the diversity of interests, talents, and abilities in the genders. Can someone please explain to me why Algebra and Geometry are prized so highly above technical skills, manual gifts, and business acumen?

If boys would get encouragement in areas they excel in, they would be motivated to improve in other areas too. At the moment, unless you can do Algebra or write a novel, you’re a nothing.

Be patient
Boys do develop later than girls, especially in academics. I flunked the most important exams in my High School (partly because I was bored out of my skull, but mainly because I was devising ways of making my first million when my parents thought I was studying). I left school one year early with the boast that I’d never read one book in the whole of my high school education. I went straight to work in a large city insurance company and had no thoughts of ever going to college, never mind eventually teaching in a seminary.

All I’m saying is, be patient with us guys. Some of us are slow starters. Don’t give up on us. In the meantime, let’s get more male heroes into our classrooms, let’s inspire and encourage the guys, and let’s recognize the full range of unique talents and gifts that God has blessed us with.

What do you think would help boys do better at school?

Check out

18 Weird Things that Authors Do
Way too close for comfort.

How to Read More – A Lot More
Three barriers and how to overcome them.

Don’t Make the Reformation History
Phillip Jensen: If “history is written by winners”, secularists are writing our history and materialistic governments, are setting the curriculum. Because such governments are concerned with national peace, harmony and unity, not even the multiculturalists will be able to save the Reformation from the dust and ashes of negligence and ignorance.”

18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Wife
A companion article to 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids.

The Perils Facing the Evangelical Church
R.C Sproul identifies three serious challenges.

Can a Christian Commit Suicide?
Sensitive, scriptural, and spiritual.