Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Newsweek just did a story on Rick Warren.  Not the most unbiased article I’ve seen, but interesting… at least from the way the reporter views Rick and his work. Here’s the opening line… I think it shows some bias… and the ‘coterie of aides’ is a little bit of an overstatement, I believe.  🙂

He was once the hottest evangelical in America. Now, 10 years after the book that made him a star, the pastor wants the spotlight again. This time, it may not be so easy.

More from the article: Without waiting for an answer or even an introduction, Rick Warren, megachurch minister and bestselling author, crosses his Manhattan hotel suite and swallows me up in a teddy-bearish embrace. A coterie of aides and handlers look on in amusement but not surprise. Warren is all about the agape, and he is a fierce and frequent hugger. This seems only fitting. Since exploding onto the global stage in 2002 with his phenomenally successful book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren has been the warm and friendly face of ­evangelicalism—a welcoming, avuncular alternative to hellfire-and-brimstone finger waggers such as Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. With his goatee and dressed-down aesthetic (for our meeting he’s sporting jeans, a bright blue and ­robin’s-egg plaid oxford, and black slip-ons), 58-year-old “Pastor Rick” cultivates the casual, cool-dad aura of the boomer generation to which he belongs. (He has the Korean rap phenomenon “Gangnam Style” as his ringtone and, in classic ­SoCal fashion, shuns socks unless visiting wintery climes such as New York in late November). Warren’s ministry, similarly, presents Christianity in a relatable, user-friendly package, much in keeping with his book’s uplifting promise that every one of our lives has meaning. These days, however, the aggressively upbeat Warren is increasingly disheartened by what he sees as a “malaise” afoot in the land. “I feel America is in the emotional doldrums,” he says sadly. The economy is sluggish, the political system is a disaster, and citizens are at each other’s throats. He observes, “I think America is more divided today—and it’s sad—than at any time since the Civil War.” Warren voices special concern for younger generations. “There’s a lot of people in their 20s and even early 30s still waiting for their lives to start,” he observes. They can’t find jobs. They’re moving back in with their parents. “They’re like, where’s the American Dream for me?” Bottom line, says Warren: “This nation is in desperate need of some direction and purpose and meaning. Somebody’s got to speak up now. And I thought, OK. If nobody else volunteers, I’ll step up.” Which is precisely how the good reverend plans to spend the coming year. This holiday season, a 10th-anniversary edition of The Purpose Driven Life hits stores, updated with two new chapters and scads of links to video and audio 
extras designed for the age of social media. Next month Warren will launch a nationwide church “campaign” (as he did with the first edition) that enables ministers to order DIY teaching kits to help spread the purpose-driven message within their own congregations. With this reboot, Warren aims to introduce a new generation to the Good News—perhaps even spark a “Great Awakening” among the grassroots, he notes hopefully. It is a tall order—and one that s ome in the evangelical community doubt Warren still has the juice to pull off. In the past couple of years, Warren’s star has unquestionably dimmed a bit. His profile outside evangelical circles has dropped—most notably in the political realm, where he cast a long shadow in the 2008 campaign but was largely invisible this time around. Even within the evangelical community, Warren is no longer a central focus of the movement’s energy, as fresher, feistier players have risen up in his wake. Read more here… Here’s a video interview Rick did with the Daily Beast: Thoughts? Todd
0

Billy Graham writes: All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern. Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1–3). We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV). Only the gospel, God’s Good News, has the power to change lives, heal hearts, and restore a nation. More here…
2

This is from a post I wrote on January 4 of this year about Pat Robertson and his annual predictions he gets from his direct revelation from God. God told Pat who our next president should be… but told him not to talk about THAT. Here are some of the better/worse points of the 2012 revelation.  (And I do love how God speaks to Pat the first week of January each year… I think it’s kinda cool that God’s on our calendar.) Your country will be torn apart by internal stress. Expect chaos and paralysis. There must be an urgent call to prayer. A time of maximum stress and peril… this country will begin desinigrating.  God said it will be worse than it has ever been since CBN was started (around 1960). The good news is, the world will not end because of the Mayan calendar. Nor because of Iran or North Korea’s nuclear threat.  And not from earthquakes or volcanoes or massive power failures. The stress and peril will be caused by economic collapse. Ok… today I ask Pat for some clarification. Clarify for us, Pat:  Did the election result confirm what God told you?  (A simple yes or no would be great there). Also… as you read these predictions after the election, does it change YOUR view of them? (There are many that actually think that the election may very well bring on, or at least add to the probability that, there will be an economic collapse.) Of course, we should call people to pray. And the internal stress part sure feels right today. But why… oh why… Pat, did God not allow you to talk about this before the election?  And will he let you tell us more now? Inquiring minds want to know. Todd  
1

Trends
Many Christians have an impending sense of doom about our country and the world. But are their fears based on reality or myth? In this book Wright examines issues of concern to Christians, including poverty, sickness, sexual morality, the environment, and the global church. Did you know that global poverty has been cut in half over the last several decades? That infant deaths have decreased dramatically in recent years? That Christianity is a growing and influential force in Asia and Africa? Maybe the world isn’t in a downward spiral after all. In an age of pessimism, this book offers good news to Christian readers looking for glimpses of hope. It’s easy to get discouraged or feel paralyzed by what you hear about the terrible state of the world. But what if the media and other prophets of doom have misled us? Could the world actually be getting better? In Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World, sociologist Brad Wright uses the best available data to uncover the truth about the world’s most important issues, including poverty, sickness, education, morality, and the environment. While admitting there is still work to be done, he shines a light on why so many things are improving and why no one is talking about it.  

Read an Excerpt…

Upside:  Surprising Good News About the State of Our World – Chapter 1:  Pessimism About our Nation and World  

About the Author…

Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. After receiving tenure, he switched his academic focus from crime to religion in order to research American Christianity. Brad received his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, the top-ranked sociology graduate program in the United States. He has a popular blog (brewight.com) based on his research. His first book, Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Toldreceived the 2011 Christianity Today Book Award. He’s appeared on numerous national media outlets including USAToday.com, Foxnews.com, Moody’s Chris Fabry Live!, and the Drew Marshall Show. Brad is married with two children and lives in Storrs, Connecticut.  

Videos…

Author Video:  Upside Author Video:  Upside  

Buzz…

SeekingExcellence says:
The author’s goal is to separate fact and fiction, and he does that well, so that we can recognize and celebrate the genuine progress and successes on this earth. I recommend this book. It is worth reading for an accurate assessment of the state of the world, especially our country, and an appreciation of how far we’ve gone in the past century… [more]
Fundamentally Reformed says:
Reading Upside, was like inhaling a deep breath of fresh air. On so many fronts, there has been remarkable progress in the world. Life expectancy, health and disease, poverty and access to clean water, air pollution, crime, financial well-being, literacy — all these areas and more have seen astounding improvement in the last 200 years… [more]
Gently Mad says:
In his book “Upside” he takes on the challenge to prove that the world is not getting worse but mostly getting better. Using studies and graphs, Wright shows, statistically, people’s perception about the state of our world and if these perceptions match up to the concrete math of the graph.
Wright breaks down these perceptions in each chapter, covering finances, intelligence and education, health, crime, war, religion, marriage and the environment. He looks at what studies say people believe about these different topics and how our perceptions actually measure up… [more]
Kruse Kronicle says:
Wright is not saying that everything in the world is getting better (think things like obesity and environmental challenges) but it is hardly a planet on the verge disaster. In fact, there are reasons for considerable optimism. Following Matt Ridley’s lead, he sees the coming to fruition of specialization and exchange as a key to the recent rise in human welfare. One area where I would like to have heard more, is why pessimism is so pervasive. He offers some insights. For one, our modern society is highly adaptive due to the rise of specialization and exchange. But it is incomprehensibly complex. Because of our inability to grasp complexity, we are prone to simply extrapolate present trends … particularly negative ones … indefinitely into the future. There is a radical underestimation of our adaptive ability. Furthermore, we seem programmed not to see incremental improvements in life. Once an improvement arrives it quickly becomes the new normal. But we easily fixate on negative news and trends that we experience as threats. And, of course, news sources are aware of the fixation and they highlight such news to attract readers. That is how we create a society where are large majority think there life is good or getting better but also think other people’s lives are going downhill… [more]
Portland Book Review says:
This book takes a look at many of the most important topics of our day: health, crime, the environment, and war to name a few, and then takes a moment to explain, in real world and measurable terms how things have improved, or are improving. An optimist, he says that most of the problems we face are fixable, and that in a real sense, our lives today are measurably better than those of generations past… [more]
 

Get this book at Amazon.com…

PAPERBACK: Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World KINDLE EDITION: Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World  
0

Trends
Take a look at this video… As I watched this video, I thought that this is how some church’s approach preaching the gospel. I’ve heard quite a few sermons over my lifetime that start out just like this photographer.  It goes something like this. The world is horrible. Sex is on the rise.  (Pick what kind of sex you want to talk about… adultery/divorce; homosexual/gay marriage; illegitimate births/abortion). The family is falling apart.  (divorce, young people living together, pre-marital sex, homosexuality/activism, broken families). Culture is corrupt (look at the movies, music, tv, computer porn, facebook) Society is collapsing (anything that can show just how terrible it is; and how much worse it is now than 20 years ago). That’s the introduction. Then the main point:  Jesus came to save us from all this crap. The truth is… Jesus did come to save us from all this… but by the time you get to the good news, your portrayal of the bad news has lost people lost. The seasoned saints are all saying ‘amen, great sermon’. But you lost the people who need to hear the good news way back at the beginning of your message. Preaching about sin is primary… we have to be saved from something.  And we are all sinners.  But opening with everything that’s wrong with society and individuals is taking the easy way out. Most of the time, it’s much easier to preach against ‘things’ than to love ‘people’. People are messy.  People sin.  But it’s the people who need to hear the good news.  Many of them already feel bad about their life. I see a growing divide between how generations of pastors in our church share the good news. Are you seeing the same divide?
7