A word-based management style

Nervous Washington Post employees are wondering what life will be like under their new boss, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com.  So some of the newspaper’s reporters did a bit of investigative journalism on what Bezos is like to work for.  The article is worth reading for his exploration of the distinctive management style of the man Warren Buffett calls “the ablest CEO in America.”

After discussing such things as Bezos’ long-term thinking, his willingness to experiment, his disdain for bureaucracy, his demand for efficiency, and his high standards for performance (which allow for productive failures), reporters Craig Timberg and Jia Lynn Yang tell about this ultimate book-seller’s  belief in the “power of words.”

They warm the cockles of this English professor’s heart when they describe how Bezos doesn’t allow PowerPoint, thinking the bullet-point approach leads to simplistic thinking, making his workers write papers instead, since the very act of writing forces them to focus their thinking and to explore their ideas. [Read more…]

Is God different than we are?: The ontological controversy

Consider this quote from Timothy George, in our recent Christianity without the Atonement post:

The problem comes when we use an anthropopathic term like “wrath” and apply it univocally to the God of eternity. Before long, we have constructed “a god who looks like me,” to use the title of a recent book of feminist theology.  Then caricatures of divine wrath proliferate:  God having a temper tantrum or acting like a big bully who needs to be “appeased” before he can forgive or, as is often alleged with reference to the atonement, practicing cosmic child abuse.

Note the word “univocally.”  This alludes to a historically important theological issue having to do with ontology, or the nature of being, as it applies to God.  The “univocal” position is that God is a being in the same way we are beings.  The “analogy of being” position is that only God has being in its fullness, while we and the whole creation exist in a related but qualitatively lesser way than He does.

Now this may seem like an arcane issue, but–as I will try to explain,with some help, after the jump–it is extraordinarily important, having to do with the Catholic critique of Protestantism, the nature of the Sacraments, the relationship between Christianity and science, the rise of secularism, and the very way we think about God.  [Read more…]

Drugs and sports

Major league baseball suspended 13 players, including superstar Alex Rodriguez and three All Stars, for using performance-enhancing drugs.  Sportswriter Julian Linden worries that this may be the tip of the iceberg, not only in baseball but also in other sports.

This is because none of the suspended players failed a drug test.  The cutting edge of doping has to do with masking agents and undetectible drugs.  The players were only caught because of records discovered from a lab called Biogenesis, and who knows how many similar labs are out there? [Read more…]

Mazeppa and Teddy Jack Eddy

I told you about the Tulsa mini-renaissance of my college days in the 1970s, mentioning specifically the Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting, the late night bad-movie and skit-comedy festival featuring Mazeppa Pompazoidi  (Gailard Sartain) and Teddy Jack Eddy (Gary Busey). Well, hat tip to my brother Jimmy for pointing out that you can find some of that stuff on YouTube.  He cited  this example, which has the further value of being a pitch-perfect satire of the high school football culture of those days (and probably still).  We all had coaches like “Coach Chuck.”  And you can understand why high schoolers of a particular mindset would stay up late for this.  See the video after the jump. [Read more…]

Christianity without the Atonement

The committee preparing a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA) has thrown out a popular praise song, “In Christ Alone,” not just because it refers to the “wrath” of God, as originally reported, but because of the word “satisfied.”  That is, because it says the wrath of God was satisfied in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  What was objectionable is the doctrine of the atonement.  (See Abby Stocker, writing for Christianity Today, and follow her links, which show how this bedrock teaching of the Christian faith has become controversial lately, even among many ostensible “evangelicals.”)

What is the point of Christianity without the atonement?  It becomes turned into another religion.  I suppose the attraction is that it gives us another religion of law, which people somehow prefer to a religion that says they are sinners in need of forgiveness and, yes, atonement.  Jesus becomes the example we have to emulate, though surely those who are honest will have to admit that this is an even higher standard that they fail to live up to.

At any rate, after the jump I quote Timothy George on the controversy, who, though he focuses on “wrath” rather than “satisfaction,” makes some excellent points as he puts the controversy in the context of church history.  I also appreciate his account of how hymns have been tinkered with.  See, for example, the Mormon Tabernacle choir version of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and what the Unitarians have done to “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” [Read more…]

Be careful what you google

The anti-terrorism surveillance, we are told, involves just aggregate data and in any event wouldn’t be a bother to ordinary law-abiding citizens.  But a Long Island woman happened to be researching pressure cookers while her husband was shopping for backpacks.  Whereupon six men from an anti-terrorism task force showed up at their home and subjected them to interrogation. [Read more…]