Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: Trevin Wax gave an address on competing worldviews that was turned into an essay in Broadcast Talks by the C.S. Lewis Institute. In “Richard Dawkins, Lady Gaga, Amazon.com and the Bible: Why Understanding These Rival Stories Is Important for Our Present Time,” Trevin outlines how our culture has turned concepts of societal progress, sexual freedom, and consumer goods into idols.
In a few short pages, he explains several of the competing worldviews in our culture and why each one is deficient and how the gospel of Jesus actually meets the desires present in each of those false ideas.
For a quick introduction to the topics and help in understanding how Christians can discuss these broad cultural ideas and point out their failings, give Trevin’s piece a few minutes of your day.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: The past two weeks, the world has watched its top athletes compete for Olympic gold. We’ve watched them go faster, stronger, higher and marveled at their performances. It’s been exciting to watch! Another group I’ve been blown away by are the professional photographers who are covering the Olympic Games in Rio.
The Associated Press alone sent 61 photographers who are filing 3,500 photos a day. Getty Images photographers have shot more than a million images so far. These photographers and others covering the games are at the top of their field and are capturing amazing images.
I’ve enjoyed clicking through AP’s “Ten Crazy Moments” captured on each day of competition. These photographers have captured everything from Usain Bolt turning to smile at his competitors during a semifinal to Simone Biles sailing through the air during her floor routine. These moments fly by so fast when you’re watching them live that it’s easy to miss the subtle details. But the photographers in Rio are capturing almost every second.
AP’s deputy director of photography Denis Paquin explains here that they have more than 50,000 feet of cabling connecting the Olympic venues. “Every camera is tethered, and an editor can select an image and send to our network within minutes of the photo being shot,” Paquin writes. They’re also using robotic cameras to capture all the angles of a sporting event you can imagine—even underwater.
I wish we could give these men and women gold medals for their work at the Olympics. They definitely deserve kudos for their skill and artistry.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: I thought I’d be on a plane to Albuquerque this morning. I already had our boarding passes when my husband called with unwelcome news from his doctor: Going on vacation was out of the question. Instead of flying out West, we drove to the hospital this morning so he could undergo an urgent medical procedure.
For months we’d planned our itinerary — driving through New Mexico into Colorado, riding a train from Durango to Silverton, climbing into the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, visiting the Grand Canyon, watching the sunset in Sedona. I’m sorry to miss the trip, but I’m also grateful.
I’m glad his health issue was discovered in time for treatment. I’m thankful he didn’t experience a medical emergency at some remote spot in the Arizona desert. I’m grateful we were offered refunds for non-refundable tickets and allowed to cancel reservations. I even appreciate not having to get up quite so early this morning.
And I’m glad to be reminded of who’s in control. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite this week: The music of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Audrey Assad, especially her recent album “Inheritance”—a collection of some of favorite hymns. Among them: “How Can I Keep from Singing,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and a lovely version of “Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” set to the tune of “Morning Has Broken.” (I was skeptical of that last one but it works, trust me.)
Along with being a songwriter, Assad also describes herself as “the proud daughter of a Syrian refugee who taught me to dream, believe, do, repeat.” She paid tribute to her family earlier this year, in an essay for National Refugees Sunday.
Her father was raised by a single mom in Syria and Lebanon in the 1950s. His dad was an alcoholic and compulsive gambler and was unable to support the family. They were saved from destitution by a local church, which let them stay in the basement, and the generosity of a Christian charity.
Her grandmother was eventually granted refugee status—though not without a struggle.
“According to my father, however, she was persistent to the point of annoyance in her quest, which culminated in her knocking on the door of a U.S. ambassador’s home,” Assad wrote. “He finally agreed to listen to her, and eventually granted them the refugee status she so desired. My grandmother prayed and she willed and she worked until they could all come to America—and that’s exactly what they did.”
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: If you are a swimmer and not Michael Phelps, it’s probably hard to get attention. It’s that way for a lot of Olympic athletes, particularly for those competing in sports that get very little TV time.
My daughter thinks she could compete in power-walking. I was surprised to realize there even was power-walking. As the Olympics wrap up, here’s a page that pays tribute to the “forgotten sports.”
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?