Saturday, July 28, 2012

Articles of the Week - July 28

The two articles I starred from Christianity Today this week both have to do with the same-sex marriage debate. On a broader level, the editorial board offers just that - a broad, "big picture" perspective on the issue, and suggests how the church might change its own approach. With regard to a particular story related to this issue, Jasmine Young reports on Billy Graham's support for Chick-fil-A as its senior leadership stands against same-sex marriage.

Further to the recent news about Chick-fil-A, the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune comments on the legal and political nuances behind recent opposition by Chicago leaders to a new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Chicago. Also in the Tribune is the editors' challenge to Illinois schools to adopt a new kind of teacher evaluations, a tribute to heroism in the face of fire, and some "what might have been" musings Chicagoans have as the 2012 Olympic Games open in London.

Speaking of the Olympics, Kristin McGunnigle of World Vision lists five little-known facts about the Games, and on a couple of sports-related subjects, Cash Kuth describes the Wrigley Field bleacher experience, and Ray Pritchard describes his skydiving experience.

Getting back to World Vision, I starred three other articles from them this week. Laura Reinhardt reports on all the good done by the teacher resource center, American immigrant and Team USA member Lopez Lomong reflects on his experiences being in American on 9/11, and one of WV's child sponsors tells her miraculous story.

In arts and entertainment, Zachary Lewis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer lauds the unsung heroes of concert halls, and James Oestreich reports for The New York Times on trends of spirituality in classical music, both compositions and concert programs.

For The Foundry this week, James Gattuso compliments the U.S. House of Representatives on recent anti-regulatory action (watch the video in this post) and James Carafano outlines the core problems of current fiscal policy debate. Also in political commentary this week, The Economist wishes for the current presidential campaign to realize its potential to inspire an important discussion on the role of government.

And in theological and devotional commentary this week (aside from the CT article above), author and pastor Gerald Hiestand describes the biblical antidote to culture's depersonalization of the body, Michael Gungor identifies the tendency for shallow faith, and Andree Seu Peterson challenges readers to sit in the front row.

And lastly, I am not tweeting! Follow me @therubioroom.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Articles of the Week - July 21

With the exception of articles and columns about Wheaton College's recent lawsuit, here are the other pieces I starred this week.

In Christianity Today this week, David Fitch writes that the church is too ideological, which leads to defensiveness and other anti-gospel dispositions, and should instead humbly focus, as Jesus so often did while traveling the countryside, on the here and now of their communities ("bloom where planted" and "faithful presence," as this idea is also described). Similarly, Alan Chambers of Exodus International challenges readers to put aside the never-ending "great gay Christian debate" and submit to Christ's lordship. Nick Olson notes the nugget of truth about the human experience behind the film works of Christopher Nolan, Andrew Root offers a compelling spiritual-ontological analysis of divorce (and offers a solution the church could take), and Ken Walker comments on shifting trends in adoption by American evangelical couples.

In the Heritage Foundation's "The Foundry" blog, Amy Payne traces the past and present state of welfare reform (particularly, how current Obama Administration policies threaten to undo the progress of past decades), Lindsey Burke identifies the limited effects of the proposed "Master Teacher Corps" program, and Rich Tucker outlines the tenets of American exceptionalism and why they are worth including in school history curricula.

The WorldVision blog also had two pieces about education, this one by Laura Reinhardt about providing school supplies to children in need right here in America, and this video about sponsoring education, which builds communities, in poor countries.

The Chicago Tribune also had some things to say about education, in this editorial piece reminding Chicago educators that 405,000 children's education and future is at stake. Speaking of the future, Patrick Reardon offers words of encouragement and advice to young adults, and (looking to the nearer future) the editorial board demands that Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney stop insulting each other and start inspiring America.

In arts and entertainment, Prospero writes for The Economist that the Nolan Batman trilogy is not really about Batman, and praises the "cultural smorgasbord" of the Latitude Festival, and the Cureator proposes that the arts are not just a preservative for civilization, but offer hope and healing as well.

Finally, The Economist pokes some holes in estimates of the London Games' benefits to London, and my friend Rebecca muses on the "Perils of Dressing."

This is Rubio, over and out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wheaton College Takes the Lead

This morning, the news broke (for me, via Christianity Today, Facebook, and my own email inbox) that the Trustees of Wheaton College have filed a lawsuit over the employer-covered contraceptives mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, citing violations of the institution’s freedoms under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States for the practice of religion. The mandate in question would require the College to cover the costs of abortion-inducing contraceptives in the medical insurance plans it offers to employees and students and their spouses and dependents. Wheaton College, a Christian institution, has a high regard for the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, and as such to fund these forms of contraceptives would be to contradict its stance on that issue.

Dr. Philip Ryken, the president of Wheaton College, was in Washington today, offering some remarks and speaking to the press about both Wheaton’s action as well as the broader issue of religious liberty. The audio of the morning news conference can be found here, and his interview today with Christianity Today can be found here. Also, note the column he wrote for The Daily Herald this spring outlining Wheaton’s position, for context.

The news has made its way around the various outlets today, including the Chicago Tribune, CNN, NBC News, Christianity Today, and The Foundry (main blog of the Heritage Foundation). The most notable point of this news is that Wheaton, a strongly evangelical Protestant institution, is partnering with Roman Catholic institutions to bring this suit (with the legal assistance of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty). Formal collaborations between Wheaton and Catholic organizations are understandably rare, but as Dr. Ryken commented in his interviews today, this action was a prime opportunity for such a partnership, and I predict will magnify its effect.

I have never, ever been prouder to be an alumnus of Wheaton College, and I continue to be grateful for God’s provision of Philip Graham Ryken as its president. A friend of mine and fellow Wheaton alumnus who works for a United States Senator said to me today in a text message, “It’s sad that it’s come to this but we’re doing the right thing.” Those were my sentiments exactly. If there is anyone I trust to lead this new phase of the battle for defense of religious freedom, it’s Wheaton College and President Ryken.

Needless to say, today was only the beginning of this story. I would ask all friends of Wheaton to join me in praying for God’s hand over this legal battle and His grace for the leaders of Wheaton and other schools and the team at the Becket Fund.

This is Rubio, over and out.

ADDENDUM, 7/20: Please also see these answers to frequently asked questions about Wheaton's suit.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Articles of the Week - July 14

I'm going to try something different this week - summarizing my reading in prose!

In the Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov writes that children are naturally pro-life, Audrey Barrick summarizes Tim Keller's response to frequent challenges that the Bible is inconsistent and Ted Cunningham's proposal that Christians get married early (if I may editorialize, I disagreed strongly with Cunningham's reasoning), and Thom Rainer offers seven helpful questions to help leaders avoid committing sins of omission.

In Christianity Today, Jake Meador writes a review on the new book Making Peace with the Land by Fred Bahnson, in which the author argues that Christians have a responsibility to consider the environment, Alister McGrath describes how the Resurrection is the key to understanding Christ, and was thus central to his conversion, and Michael Horton discusses at length why homosexuality is anything but a simplistic issue for the Church and the Christian, and to think otherwise is to limit Christ's redemptive power.

In The Foundry blog of the Heritage Foundation this week, Lindsey Burke chides Congress for its ineffective anti-bullying agenda (not that it is not a good idea, but Congress is ill-equipped to do it directly), Dominique Ludvigson reports that the Supreme Court will likely review the Defense of Marriage Act in its next term, and Amy Payne lists five top reasons to repeal the Affordable Care Act and, on a related subject, traces the negative effects on job creation of Obama's current fiscal policies.

The editors of the Chicago Tribune, in parallel with Payne, gave excerpts Rep. Dan Linpinski's speech on that need to repeal the ACA and are frustrated with the lack of substance regarding fiscal policy in the current presidential campaign, though Ron Grossman reminds Chicagoans that regardless of our uncertain political and economic climate, there is free music three times a week at the Grant Park Music Festival.

Speaking of music, there are some concerns about the London Olympic Committee's asking musicians to perform at the Games for free, as reported by Ivan Hewett in The Telegraph. A third of the way around the world, Brett Campbell muses in San Francisco Classical Voice about the movement classical musicians are making to alternative venues with alternative ensembles - and doing it independently. By the way, the Wheaton College Artist Series regularly features such alternative and innovative acts, and individual tickets go on sale next week!

Finally, I found two interesting pieces in The Economist, one about the unique four-dimensional works of artist Tino Sehgal and a the other welcome call for American private sector to do what it does best and reinvent itself to bring the economy back, and Ray Pritchard offers the Thirty-Day Prayer Challenge.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Young Kingdom Servants

My office for the week
This week is Vacation Bible School at Calvary Memorial Church. It constitutes my one annual foray into the world of children’s ministry. For the second year, I have served as technical director, managing the audiovisual needs for the opening and closing sessions as well as the music sessions, where the kids learn new songs (with hand motions, of course) that relate to that day’s Bible verse. It is a fun job that is something I only do once a year, because my normal professional duties usually involve being the people for whom AV technicians are working.

All the kids singing one of the songs
This week has thus far been immensely refreshing. We have over 150 kids, and I think a dozen or so decisions for Christ. How exciting to be present when these children, whose future kingdom service only God can foresee, begin their journey of faith! And it is always exciting to see the kids, gathered together at the close of each morning, wildly singing about God’s love. To be sure, I hope that they all grow to appreciate music with greater artistic substance, but, much more importantly, through these songs they are singing about the core truths of what it means to follow Christ (helped by the fact the songs texts are based directly on Bible verses). “God is our refuge and our strength” … “God will meet all your needs in Christ Jesus” … “we needed a Savior; He made a way, no matter the cost” … just some excerpts.

It is a great week. My duties in music ministry normally prevent me from giving time to children’s ministry, but I am always happy to be a part of this very exciting week where the gospel takes hold of these young kingdom servants.

This is Rubio, over and out.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Articles of the Week - July 7

I was surprised when I finally looked back at my list of starred articles and columns this week and saw so many. But they all contribute to important debates.

Anne Midgette: "Music and Art: Questions of Intrusion" (The Washington Post, June 29)
Does music in a museum ruin the music - and the art?

Steve Chapman: "The Surprising Obamacare Verdict" (Chicago Tribune, July 1)
From the sound of conservatives, Thursday was a day that will live in infamy.

Richard Garnett: "Constitutional Basics After the Ruling" (Chicago Tribune, July 1)
Federal power over states and individuals alike is limited.

Thom S. Rainer: "What They See When They Come to Your Church" (Christian Post, July 1)
If we understand that a returning guest has more opportunities to hear the gospel...we might take the issue a bit more seriously.

Sarah Torre: "Local Churches and Charities Help Victims of Colorado Fires" (The Foundry, July 1)

Carolyn Arends: "In on the Joke of the Bible" (Wrestling with Angels, July 2)
Why we can't get the New Testament without the Old.

Greg Stier: "Drop to J Bomb" (Christian Post, July 2)
This Name above all names creates controversy and conversation which can lead to salvation and transformation.

Sarah Torre: "Religious Liberty Victories for NYC Churches" (The Foundry, July 2)

Lara Barger: "Faith: Part of the American Spirit" (The Foundry, July 4)

Kevin DeYoung: "The Idea of America" (Christian Post, July 4)
The ideals remain. The ideas persist.

Lindsey Minerva: "Hunger at Home: Five Surprising Facts on Child Hunger in America" (World Vision Blog, July 4)
Children are some of the most vulnerable victims, even here in the United States.

Julia Shaw: "Celebrating Self-Government" (The Foundry, July 4)

Lindsey Burke and Teresa Shumay: "Governor Walker Breaks New Ground in Higher Ed" (The Foundry, July 5)

John Keilman: "Power Outages Zap Sanity" (Chicago Tribune, July 5)
Summer storms, ComEd's response spawn 5 stages of power loss

Prospero: "Classical Music: A Grand Vision" (The Economist, July 5)

Timothy Samuel Shah: "Do the Church Fathers, Founding Fathers, and Catholic Saints Really Go Together?" (Christianity Today, July 5)
Thoughts on the origins of religious liberty.

W. David O. Taylor: "On the Vocation of an Artist: Part II" (Diary of an Arts Pastor, July 5)

Village Green: "Should Churches Display the American Flag in their Sanctuaries?" (Christianity Today, July 5)
Observers weigh in on patriotic piety.

Jonah Goldberg: "Symptoms of a Sick Culture" (Chicago Tribune, July 6)

Alex Murashko: "Is Paradise with Jesus Like a Never-Ending Summer Vacation?" (Christian Post, July 6)

Stephen Pepper: "10 Types of VBS Volunteers" (Stuff Christians Like, July 6)

Prospero: "Lessons in Charisma" (The Economist, July 6)

Staff Editorial: "The Evolution of the Debate: Divided on Origins" (Christianity Today, July 6)
We haven't always been this way.

George Will: "The Battle Over Chicago Schools' Future" (Chicago Tribune, July 6)

"Education: A 20-Year Lesson" (The Economist, July 7)