Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bits and Pieces -- June 21 2007

It's been a while since I've done a Bits and Pieces -- but here they are for today:

Our Music Director Phil Bishop just plain humbles me. Here he's forthright about a sin that troubles him -- a careless word. A single phrase that was uncharitable toward another. O that I would be so troubled by my own glib tongue....

The Inimitable John Schroeder comments on this challenging article from the Out of Ur Blog -- small churches are more difficult -- and make a deeper impact on the lives of those who attend. John's killer comment:

It seems like "Christianity" has become nothing more than a label and we
spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and intellect deciding who gets to wear
the label. There are all sorts of different criteria - institutional affiliation
-- theology -- saying the sinner's prayer -- but I cannot help but think all of
these things fall short of the marks that Christ Himself would use to decide who
can bear His name. I am also struck by how very similar the marks we discuss are
to those that the "Pharisees and hypocrites" Christ so forcefully denounced
used. Just because they are not behavioral does not rob them of being
legalistic.We are stuck in an age where growth is considered the only reasonable
sign of health. I agree, but I'll take growth in Christ any day.

The Wall Street journal gives this interesting article on a new website called has arrangements with many lecture societies, think tanks and big book stores. Members include the Brookings Institution, the Asia Society, the Hoover Institution and more than a dozen others. When one of them sponsors a speech or panel discussion, a crew -- usually, one person and a digital camera -- shows up and records it.

Back at the office, the speech is uploaded to a computer and then annotated by "chapters," much like DVDs divide up feature films. The file is then put online. You can either watch the whole speech or jump to any chapter. Some even have transcripts that appear in synch with the video.

Fora has hundreds of videos on scores of topics, in the arts, current events, business, science and more. There's a session on feminism and other topics with Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem; Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus discusses how microfinance can end poverty; and writer Ian Buruma talks about social tensions in modern Europe.

Brian Gruber, the founder of the site, says his goal is for Internet users to think of as the gathering place for those who want to experience for themselves a speech or panel discussion they may have read about in the paper.