What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week

What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week.

DigitalLibraryAs the traditional library continues to take a beating in modern technology’s world of ideas, there are those who continue to rise to her defense. This article by S.E.Smith for “The Daily Dot” is a case in point (posted August 18, 2014). Again, though written from a secular perspective, the article points out well the significance of libraries throughout the history of the world.

And I hope in the light of this significance that you will continue to make use of the tremendous resources found in your local libraries. And maybe even the PRC Seminary’s. :)

Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wants us to close public libraries and buy everyone an Amazon Kindle with an unlimited subscription. “Why wouldn’t we simply junk the physical libraries and purchase an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for the entire country?” he asks. Worstall points to substantial savings on public funds, arguing that people would have access to a much larger collection of books through a Kindle Unlimited subscription than they could get through any public library and that the government would spend far less on a bulk subscription for all residents than it ever would on funding libraries.

Is he right? Are libraries obsolete? He might be correct — but only if libraries were just about books, which they are not. Libraries are actually an invaluable public and social resource that provide so much more than simple shelves of books (or, for those in rural areas, a Bookmobile like the one this author grew up with). A world without public libraries is a grim one indeed, and the assault on public libraries should be viewed as alarming.

The Fifty Best Books of the 20th Century | Intercollegiate Review

The Fifty Best Books of the 20th Century | Intercollegiate Review.

By now you know I like lists such as these. They help me (and, I trust, you too) to see the bigger bigger of significant literature in our time and in times past. This post was recently made on the Intercollegiate Review website (July 14, 2014), a conservative publication for students. I found this list to be worth noting here. This is how “IR” introduced the post:

On the eve of the new millennium, the Intercollegiate Review published a list of the fifty worst and fifty best books of the 20th century.  Although now approaching fifteen years since publication, this list tells us much about our recent historical inheritance, and provides a valuable reminder of the vitality of conservatism and the errors of liberalism.

Abolition of man-CS lewisSo which are these books? Here is “IR’s” introduction to the top non-fiction titles of the previous century, and the first five on that list. For the rest, visit the link above.

I might add, that this list would make a good place to start if you are interested in reading broadly – and the Reformed Christian ought to do this. You will also notice several titles of significance to the Christian faith on this list.

Prominent on the “Best” list, on the other hand, are many volumes of extraordinary reflection and creativity in a traditional form, which heartens us with the knowledge that fine writing and clear-mindedness are perennially possible.


1. Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907)

Pessimism and nostalgia at the bright dawn of the twentieth century must have seemed bizarre to contemporaries. After a century of war, mass murder, and fanaticism, we know that Adams’s insight was keen indeed.

2. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1947)

Preferable to Lewis’s other remarkable books simply because of the title, which reveals the true intent of liberalism.

3. Whittaker Chambers, Witness (1952)

The haunting, lyrical testament to truth and humanity in a century of lies (and worse). Chambers achieves immortality recounting his spiritual journey from the dark side (Soviet Communism) to the—in his eyes—doomed West. One of the great autobiographies of the millennium.

4. T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays, 1917–1932 (1932, 1950)

Here, one of the century’s foremost literary innovators insists that innovation is only possible through an intense engagement of tradition. Every line of Eliot’s prose bristles with intelligence and extreme deliberation.

5. Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History (1934–61)

Made the possibility of a divine role in history respectable among serious historians. Though ignored by academic careerists, Toynbee is still read by those whose intellectual horizons extend beyond present fashions.

You’ll Be Shocked At How Much Time Young People Spend Reading Each Day

You’ll Be Shocked At How Much Time Young People Spend Reading Each Day – Mic.

SofareadingHere is another alarming report on the reading habits of young people in general (posted June 20, 2014). I try not to be an alarmist, but you also know that I share the concern that our young people are not reading as much as they ought. And the same applies to all of us, though, as you will see from the report, time spent reading does increase with age.

I would like to think that Christian young people do better, and that PRC young people do even better. But I also do not want to have my proverbial head in the sand.

What can we do to encourage greater and better reading among our teens and young adults? We have looked at and proposed lots of ideas here. What do you find profitable and effective?

Here is the dismal news in brief; for the rest, visit the link above – complete with graphs and charts.

Love Game of Thrones but worry about spoilers from those who have read the books? Your fears may be overblown — chances are your friends don’t read enough to ruin any plot twists for you.

A new study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average American reads only 19 minutes a day (a rate at which the George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series would take more than a year for most readers).

Young people spend even less time with the written word, according to the study. Americans ages 25 to 34 spend about eight minutes a day on weekends and holidays reading, while ages 20 to 24 spend about 10. Teenagers, meanwhile, spend just four minutes a day reading on their days off. (The overall average is bumped up by older folks — Americans over 75 spend more than an hour a day reading over weekends and holidays, the study found.)

Screens instead: When it comes to leisure times, the big winner is television. The average American watches for almost three hours a day, according to the study. That’s more than three times longer than the next highest activity, socializing (which makes us all sound a little pathetic).

Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay Marriage – Kevin DeYoung

Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay Marriage | TGC.

marriagepic-2Also this week, pastor Kevin DeYoung posted these vital questions for those in the Christian camp who support homosexual marriage (June 17, 2014). They are compelling and help define the stand we must make on the basis of God’s Word.

Here is his introduction; visit the link above to read his five questions:

So you’ve become convinced that the Bible supports gay marriage. You’ve studied the issue, read some books, looked at the relevant Bible passages and concluded that Scripture does not prohibit same-sex intercourse so long as it takes place in the context of a loving, monogamous, lifelong covenanted relationship. You still love Jesus. You still believe the Bible. In fact, you would argue that it’s because you love Jesus and because you believe the Bible that you now embrace gay marriage as a God-sanctioned good.

As far as you are concerned, you haven’t rejected your evangelical faith. You haven’t turned your back on God. You haven’t become a moral relativist. You’ve never suggested anything goes when it comes to sexual behavior. In most things, you tend to be quite conservative. You affirm the family, and you believe in the permanence of marriage. But now you’ve simply come to the conclusion that two men or two women should be able to enter into the institution of marriage–both as a legal right and as a biblically faithful expression of one’s sexuality.

Setting aside the issue of biblical interpretation for the moment, let me ask five questions.


Nine statements by Obama made a mockery of God’s Word

Nine statements by Obama yesterday made a mockery of God’ ….

On Wednesday of this week I received this notice from the American Family Association. It points out how our president in a speech the day before openly defied the teaching of God’s Word on marriage and godly sexuality by boasting about the homosexual agenda he has promoted since becoming our nation’s leader. And this from a professing Christian who claims to be following holy Scripture and representing our Lord! He may mock but God is not mocked!

As we continue to watch the rapid anti-Christian moral decline in this land, we need to be courageous in defending and teaching the truth of God’s Word and we need to be mighty in prayer for the church, as well as for our leaders.

Here is the first part of the AFA post; find the rest at the link above.

June 18, 2014

Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke at an LGBT fundraiser in New York City. You can watch or read the entire speech here.

I thought you might like to know what he said, so here are a few excerpts from the transcript of his speech:

- The day that the Supreme Court issued its ruling, United States v. Windsor, was a great day for America.

- So Pride Month is a time for celebration, and this year we’ve got a lot to celebrate.  If you think about everything that’s happened in the last 12 months, it is remarkable.  In nine more states you’re now free to marry the person you love – that includes my two home states of Hawaii and Illinois. The NFL drafted its first openly gay player. The U.S. Postal Service made history by putting an openly gay person on a stamp – the late, great Harvey Milk smiling from ear to ear.

- When I took office, only two states had marriage equality.  Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia do.

- But because of your help, we’ve been able to do more to protect the rights of lesbian and gay, and bisexual and transgender Americans than any administration in history.

Four Modern Versions of the Bible that Are Ruining the Bible | OnFaith

Four Modern Versions of the Bible that Are Ruining the Bible | OnFaith.

BiblestudypicI was hoping to post this article last Saturday but ran out of time, so I do it today. It was first posted June 2, 2014 by Ben Irwin, who worked in the Bible publishing industry and saw firsthand what was being done to the Bible. His conclusion? All the new Bibles being produced were not increasing people’s reading and knowledge of the Bible.

His thoughts and criticisms are important for us to hear and ponder too, even if we are not inclined to the latest commercialized Bible product.

What are we doing with our own favorite study Bible? Are we also losing our commitment to faithful reading and study of God’s Word? Think about it. And then do something about it.

Here are some of Irwin’s opening comments; find the rest at the link above.

At synagogues in and around Galilee, young Jewish children would memorize large chunks of scripture. We’re not talking about your average memory verse; we’re talking whole books. In truly exceptional cases, a student might memorize the entire Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Each Sabbath, the community would gather for worship. They would celebrate as whatever scroll they had in their possession was carefully unfurled to show everyone that the words were still on the page. God was still speaking to them.

They had nothing like our access to the Bible. No one dreamed of owning his own personal copy of the scriptures. Most rural synagogues were lucky to have one or two scrolls, and whatever they did have was likely shared on a rotating basis with other nearby synagogues.

Yet they loved the text. They couldn’t get enough of it — literally.

Standing in that synagogue, it occurred to me that we have the opposite problem today. We have more Bibles than ever. I had never stopped to ask whether this was a good thing. I just assumed more was better. Yet for all the Bibles out there, one thing we don’t have is more Bible reading.

What if that’s not just coincidence?

What if the proliferation of Bibles is part of the reason we’re reading scripture less?

What if familiarity and abundance breed indifference?

I’m not convinced commercial Bible publishing is a bad thing in itself. There have been too many positive effects, not least of which is the publication of many genuinely high-quality Bibles. Yet the commercialization of scripture has also given us four iterations of the modern Bible — which I believe are causing us to value the Bible less and read it less.


Same-Sex Relationships: In Churches, Change Is Coming, But Slowly

Same-Sex Relationships: In Churches, Change Is Coming, But Slowly.

Want to know another way in which homosexual rights advocates are pushing their agenda (full acceptance in society and in the church) in our present culture? Pay attention to what is being published – by the major publishing houses (secular) and, more noteworthy, by Christian/evangelical publishing houses.

Bibles Yes to Same-SexPublisher’s Weekly has a religious book news edition, and it recently referenced some significant publications in the church world on this issue. We ought to be aware of the continued compromise by the church on this matter, and we ought to commend those who continue to hold to the Bible’s unchanging standards (God’s Word!) on sexuality – including Dr.A.Mohler (see below).

I quote from a portion of the news item below. You will find all of it at the link provided above.

Just as attitudes toward homosexuality have shifted greatly in the wider culture, change is coming in Christian churches too, though at a relative snail’s pace. Churches worry today about stemming the tide of young refugees from the pews, and intolerance toward gays is a key issue: a 2011 survey by the Barna Group found that 59% of young Christians say they leave churches in part because of sexual intolerance; polls by both the Pew Research Center and the Public Religion Research Institute found almost two-thirds saying homosexuality should be accepted by society and the church.

David Maxwell, executive editor at Westminster John Knox Press (of the liberal Presbyterian Church U.S.A. denomination), says those who have grown up in more conservative churches are looking to liberal Christian and general interest publishers for books that reflect their evolving views, citing their June book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart by Mark Achtemeier (see Reviews, May 12).

More disturbing for conservative Christians are books supportive of same-sex relationships from evangelical publishers. In May, Convergent—an imprint of the Christian publishing division of Penguin Random House—published Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, in which he explores the Bible in its historical context and concludes that the few scriptural passages referring to homosexuality have been wrongly and selectively interpreted. That drew impassioned responses: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Press quickly published God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, the first in its new Conversant e-book series.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary and editor of the essay collection, deplored Vines’ assertion that Christians can maintain a “high view” of the authority of scripture while rejecting traditional interpretations of its teachings. Mohler also called it “distressing” that an evangelical house published the book, and other groups and organizations have piled on; in May the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) also denounced the book and the publisher. Stephen Cobb, chief publishing executive for the Christian imprints of Penguin Random House, notes that the four imprints he oversees—WaterBrook, Multnomah, Convergent, and Image—have distinct editorial identities and do not all fit under the conservative “evangelical” umbrella.

Why Aren’t Teens Reading Like They Used To? -NPR

Why Aren’t Teens Reading Like They Used To? : NPR.

YAReaders-1The results of yet another study on teen reading carried in this story by NPR are not all that surprising (posted May 12, 2014). And the reasons for the decline in teen reading are not surprising. The digital age with its visual stimulation has seriously distracted young people from reading. If it does adults (including me!), it most certainly will distract them.

Harry Potter and The Hunger Games haven’t been big hits for nothing. Lots of teens and adolescents still read quite a lot.

But a roundup of studies, put together by the nonprofit Common Sense Media, shows a clear decline over time. Nearly half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year — if that.

That’s way down from a decade ago.

The digital revolution means there are more platforms than ever to read on. And yet, the number of American teens reading for pleasure has dropped dramatically. Researchers are asking if there’s a link.

Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, is one of them. He’s been studying the impact of technology on children, and he finds the results striking — though not entirely shocking.

Yet there is something parents can do too:

Despite those distractions, Jim Steyer of Common Sense Media says, parents can do a lot to promote reading.

“Kids with parents who read, who buy or take books out of the library for their kids, and who then set time aside in their kids’ daily schedule for reading, tend to read the most,” he says — whether it’s on a book, an e-book or some other gadget.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it is. We have to lead our children by example and provide good opportunities for them to read. Telling them to turn off the video games and other devices for 30 minutes a day goes a long way too :) Let’s keep encouraging our teens to read! And they can do much better than Harry Potter and The Hunger Games as well. Help your teen choose good things to read.

Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books – Forbes

Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books – Forbes.

FamilyReadingLast week (posted May 13, 2014) Forbes magazine online carried this article which contains an important perspective on why kids are not reading as they used to – it’s not all because of technology! Much has to do with what parents are doing. And what they are doing in our day is not reading books as in times past!

And if the world is concerned about this, how much more ought we as Christians to be concerned! What about us? What message are we sending to our children, younger or older, by our own reading habits?

Here is a portion of the article; find the rest at the link above.

It seems to me that we currently live in a culture that is more heavily text based than any other time in history. People read all day long. Google, Twitter, and Facebook deliver words. People can’t peel their eyes from the smartphone–essentially a text and information distribution mechanism. We actually have trouble NOT reading. Folks are always checking their email and their text messages. Sometimes it is hard to pull away from this matrix of letters.

Still, what are people reading? It seems like they don’t read many books. I’m not talking about kids, but rather adults. Even the technophobes don’t read books.

I’ve met highly educated elite individuals who have told me they just don’t have time to read books. They skim the NY Times book review so they can participate in cocktail party conversations. They buy executive summaries from the back of in-flight magazines. I’m shocked by the number of people who ask me if there are audio versions of my books available.

Living — and then dying — by the economic sword – Reformation21 Blog

Living — and then dying — by the economic sword – Reformation21 Blog.

CTrueman-1For our Saturday “culture watch” and “Reformed worldview” post today, we turn to this brief post by Dr. Carl Trueman, as he made comments on the recent actions of World Vision and Mozilla (developers of the Firefox browser) on the issue of homosexuality (posted on “Ref21″) on April 3, 2014).

Here are a few of his thoughts; find the rest at the link above.

Given the instructive chronological juxtaposition, how should Christians react? A few thoughts come to mind. First, both Christians and their opponents have the right under the First Amendment to express their disagreement with the actions of World Vision and Mozilla without government interference. That does not seem to be in jeopardy at this point and we should be grateful for that freedom.

Second, we should understand that to live in a free society means that all have, among other things, the right to withdraw economic support from a group with which they disagree. As a result, Christians should accept that those who live by the sword of legitimate economic sanctions in one context might well find themselves dying by the same legitimate economic sword in another. That is the price, or the risk, of freedom.

Third, given the above, the pastoral response is surely to start now to strengthen Christian people for the hardship and marginalization that is likely to come, as it would seem that these kinds of events are set to become more frequent. Yes, we should lament the moral malaise of society; we should use our freedoms to try to reverse that; but we should also acknowledge that the methods we use to gain influence ourselves are also open to our enemies. And thus we should think twice about crying foul on that particular point when the results are not to our liking.


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