Interesting thoughts on the coarsening of American culture from Dr. Albert Mohler:
The collapse of the barrier between popular culture and decadence has released a toxic mudslide of vulgarity into the nation’s family rooms—and just about everywhere else. There is almost no remote corner of this culture that is not marked by the toleration of vulgarity, or the outright celebration of depravity.
Lee Siegel has seen this reality, and he doesn’t like it. “When did the culture become so coarse?,” he asks, adding: “It’s a question that quickly gets you branded as either an unsophisticated rube or some angry culture warrior.”
Siegel wants us all to know that he is neither unsophisticated nor a culture warrior. In his recent feature essay in The Wall Street Journal, “America the Vulgar,” Siegel recites his cultural bona fides. As he relates, “I miss a time when there were powerful imprecations instead of mere obscenity—or at least when sexual innuendo, because it was innuendo, served as a delicious release of tension between our private and public lives.”
Dealing with the problem of legalism:
The “L” word. It’s one of the ugliest of all words: legalism. Defined as the idea that we can earn right standing with God, it does violence to the glorious gospel of Christ. It says, “No, sorry, it’s not enough,” to the substitutionary atoning work of Christ. It confuses the way to forgiveness, it tarnishes the gospel of grace, it lays up heavy burdens that no one can carry, it crushes hope, and fuels despair. It declares that man possesses finesse to propitiate the just wrath of God due our sin. For that, legalism is deadly and must be opposed at every level. Paul called it another gospel whose proponents are condemned (Gal 1:8-9).
Consequently, labeling something/one legalistic ought to be done with caution. To bring the charge is to say that this thing or person is in danger of propagating an unsavable system and trampling the cross of Christ. So if we label something legalistic, we better thoroughly understand the gospel, the definition of legalism, and what exactly is happening with what we are labeling as legalistic. Otherwise, we are sinning by erroneously labeling something in opposition to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Kevin DeYoung has some tough questions for those he refers to as the semi-churched:
This is one of those posts I've wanted to write for awhile, but I wasn't sure how to say what I think needs to be said. The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.
I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren't unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That's the scandal of the semi-churched. In fact,Thom Rainer argues that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that church members don't go to church as often as they used to.
We've had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we've had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I'm not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I'm talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.
I know we are the church and don't go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn't change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord's Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.
Matt Walsh has some observations on why guys don't listen and what we can do about it.
House plans from classic novels:
More novels featured at the link.
A collection of vintage ads for libraries and reading: