CultureWhy 'The Shack' Is So Controversial
New movie, renewed theological debate.
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Scientists reported that the Earth's temperature in 2016 is the highest on record. The second highest? 2015, which beat 2014's record.

This is the first time that three consecutive years are the warmest ones on record, adding to concern among scientists and some of the general population about how rising global temperatures will affect the way people exist on the planet.

This finding comes right before President-elect Trump takes office. He has previously promised to give global warming and climate change less weight, even having a climate change denier head his EPA transition team.

Scientists say the fact that the years are all consecutive points to the bigger problem.

“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” said Deke Arndt, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief of global climate monitoring told the Times. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.

The biggest effects of the warming can be seen in places like the Arctic, where temperatures were 20 to 30 degrees higher than normal in several places and ice has been visibly melting. And on the other end of the spectrum, India experienced its hottest day in its recorded history in May: 123.8 degrees.

According to NASA, the planet's temperature increased by more than half a degree between 2013 and 2016, which may sound innocuous, but is drastic and the largest change in NASA's recorded history. Discuss

Tomorrow, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president (as you've probably heard). As part of the ceremony, he'll swear on the Bible—in this case, two Bibles. The president-elect announced earlier this week that he plans to use his own Bible in addition to the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln during his first inauguration in March of 1861.

The significance of Lincoln's Bible speaks for itself. As for Trump's own Bible, it's a Revised Standard Version he says his mother gave him when he graduated from Sunday school back in 1955.

Swearing on a Bible is a presidential inauguration tradition that goes back to George Washington. But not all presidents have chosen to swear on the Bible: Theodore Roosevelt, John Quincy Adams and Lydon B. Johnson are among those who didn't use a Bible in their inauguration ceremonies. Trump will be the fifth president, including Barack Obama, to swear on two Bibles.

Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts will conduct the ceremony. Discuss

The faculty of two esteemed divinity schools have been asked to use more inclusive language to talk about God in their classrooms.

Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have both separately made the request through different methods.

At Vanderbilt, the divinity school's course catalog talks about its commitment to taking "account of the religious pluralism in our world." It goes on to say, "The Vanderbilt Divinity School commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism in the Divinity School's curricula ... This includes consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine."

The school's associate dean for academic affairs, Melissa Snarr, told Heatstreet that this new request has actually been part of the school's policy since 1999. The pertinent part of that document said “masculine titles, pronouns, and imagery for God have served as a cornerstone for the patriarchy,” and pointed out that God is not always referred to with a gendered name or pronoun. That 1999 document goes on to recommend the faculty's "exploration of fresh language for God."

Snarr also told Heatstreet that these aren't mandates, but suggestions that are up for interpretation.

At Duke, their request for more inclusive language is for a program where students are already working in Methodist churches. The Duke guidelines were more detailed, but still described as a suggestion based on the times we're in.

Today we are more acutely aware that our use of language is gendered, and that use of exclusively gendered language ... can be harmful and exclusionary. "Man" is now viewed as what we call an "exclusive" use of language; that is, it is seen as excluding women. Therefore, we recommend that you find other ways to refer to humankind in general and use terms that are inclusive.

The four-page guide includes suggestions for pronouns, occupations, collective nouns, ways to address people and God, suggesting "Godself" as a substitute for "Him."

Referring to God in gender-neutral language can sound clumsy, but this is largely due to the fact that we are in a transitional period with our use of language. Imagination, patience and diligence are required in order to use language that expands and enriches our understanding of God.

Similarly, in the Harvard Theological Review's guidelines for prospective writers, it says to avoid speaking about humankind by using words like "man" or gendered pronouns. It also goes on to say, "The editors are aware that it is not always appropriate to employ inclusive language when referring to God or divine beings. In such cases, authors should adjust their usage to the historical character of the material studied." Discuss

This year’s breakout drama This Is Us has been renewed for two more seasons, in an effort to keep you in a state of constant tears through at least 2019.

The show—which at looks the lives of several individuals and families experiencing a series of emotional plot-lines—was a critical and audience favorite for NBC. It’s also featured some underlying, deeper messages about love, family and consequences. From our piece “The Biblical Truths at the Heart of ‘This Is Us’”:

More than just giving us an hour of weekly entertainment, This Is Us powerfully reminds us that where we come from matters. What happened in the lives of those who raised us has the potential to significantly impact the people we become. We can try to downplay this with cries of “I’m never going to be like my parents,” but the powers of both nature and nurture are hard to fully escape.

A few years back writer and RELEVANT contributor Jon Negroni caused a stir online when he outlined a theory in detail of how all Pixar film are connected and exist in the same universe—some, at the same time. It’s a compelling read, especially if you’re a fan of the movies.

Now, the studio has released a short film, showing some of the many connections hidden throughout the movies.

Prepare to have your mind blown:

Discuss