The Missing Links — May 15, 2011

Opening logo to the Star Wars films

Image via Wikipedia

  • Audio of the 2010 debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza at Notre Dame.  The video is here.
  • The blog of the recently formed Christian Apologetics Alliance is up and running.  You can follow us on Twitter as well.  If you’re on Facebook and a student of apologetics, you can search for our name and request to join the Facebook group.
  • Alvin Plantinga’s recent Bellingham Lectures on the topics of  God and Evolution:  Where the Conflict Really Liesand “Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen” can be viewed online here.  It’s not clear whether both lectures are included on the video or only one, but the running time of two hours, 22 minutes seems long for a single talk.
  • I love this video.  Your favorite characters from Star Wars quoting Jean-Paul Sartre. : )
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Book Giveaway – Moral Choices by Scott Rae

I used Scott Rae’s book Moral Choices in two different ethics classes in seminary and benefitted from it a great deal.  It’s now in it’s third edition, and thanks to the generous folks at Zondervan (@Zondervan on Twitter, Facebook here), I’m giving away a copy at Cloud of Witnesses.

As the subtitle says, the book is an introduction to (Christian) ethics.  In the first four chapters, Rae lays out some theoretical groundwork by pointing to various elements of a Christian approach to ethics, and then surveys various ethical systems such as utilitarianism, deontological approaches, and virtue ethics.  Chapter 4 provides a general framework for making ethical decisions.

Chapters 5 through 12 take up a variety of ethical issues and treat them from a Christian viewpoint.  These timely topics include abortion, cloning, euthanasia, sexual ethics, war, and economics.  Each chapter includes review questions, case studies for discussion, suggestions for further reading, and helpful sidebars.

If you’re looking for a concise but comprehensive survey of Christian ethics from an evangelical perspective, Moral Choices is one of the best in print in my opinion.

Giveaway Details:

To enter the giveaway, comment on this post and tell me the best book you’ve read recently.  (Please include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you win.)  Also, please share this post on the social media site of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  I’ll announce the winner this weekend.


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Interview with Yours Truly at Faith Interface

Roger Morris, author of the top-notch Faith Interface blog, was kind enough to interview me recently, and asked some thought-provoking questions relating to theology, philosophy, and apologetics.  Roger also maintains an active Facebook fan page where debate and discussion on these topics is welcome and ongoing.


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“Jedi” 10th Most Popular Religion on Facebook

Paul Asay comments on a fascinating Washington Post article on how people struggle to answer the Religious Views question when creating a Facebook profile.

[William] Wan says the box gives us insight how the religious landscape has changed in the Internet age. “Christian” — or a Christian denomination or sect — is still by far the most popular way to fill in the box, followed by “Islam” and “atheist.” But, as Wan points out, people describe themselves  in a myriad of ways: “Jedi” is actually the 10th most popular “denomination” on Facebook. More than 2,000 people list “Heavy Metal” in the box. Many typed in “beer.”

And then there are the cryptic or witty one-liners, including my favorite: “Agnostic, but accepting offers.”

All of this makes these Facebook theologians sound rather light and trite. But for many, wrestling with how to fill in the box was a very serious matter. Some, according to Wan, wrestled with the question for days or weeks. For a few, considering “the box” led them to a line of thought they’d long ignored. Some eventually type in favorite Bible verses or an obscure line of poetry. Others gave up and simply wrote, “it’s complicated.” Religious descriptors on Facebook are almost as numerous and varied as the faithful themselves. (Continue)

It’s good to see that Facebook is acting as the catalyst for some soul searching.


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Tapping Facebook and Twitter for Writing Help

If you’d like to tap your friends on Facebook and Twitter to collaborate on your writing project, the new FastPencil may be for you.  GalleyCat reports:

Today the self-publishing platform FastPencil announced the addition of new social networking tools, plugging Twitter and Facebook straight into the writing process.

Earlier this week, The Huffington Post linked up with Facebook Connect to create a socially-networked news-sharing platform. Now FastPencil is using the same technology to create a socially-networked writing site. With the new “scribble, tweet or share” tool, writers can instantly interact with Facebook and Twitter friends while writing–giving lonely authors a chance to share (or perhaps over-share) their process.

Here’s a statement from FastPencil CEO Steve Wilson, from the release: “FastPencil strips out the complexity of the publishing process allowing anyone to write a book, have it published and delivered to their doorstep for under $10. By integrating with Facebook and Twitter we are making it easier for you to work with your established network of friends, colleagues and followers.”


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Does Twitter Make You Evil?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ll bet you were just asking yourself that. : )

Here are some opposing opinions shared by The Week.

Okay, it’s official, said Owen Thomas in Valleywag. Twitter makes you evil, according to a University of Southern California study. Or, more precisely, people caught up in the rapid flow of information in some online social spaces, such as Twitter, don’t have enough time to process the moral implications of their exchanges. But that’s by design, because Twitter was meant to be “empty of values except for the cultish worship of the now.”

Come on, said Sarah Perez in Read Write Web. Yesterday we heard about a bogus study saying Facebook users get bad grades in school, and now we’re getting another updating of the “TV rots your brain” mantra of the last century. Maybe it’s true that people aren’t as compassionate as they could be while monitoring a string of tweets, but “we do, in fact, still feel things.”

Of course, said Samantha Rose Hunt in TG Daily, but our ability to rapidly sort information erodes our capacity to sense the needs or pain of others, according to the study, to be published next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. So if you try to process your friends’ tweets too quickly, you could miss what they’re really trying to say.

These caveats do have the ring of truth.  I guess the lesson is, think before you tweet.

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