Our favorite tree in Safety Harbor
Dave Dunbar, in his monthly entry to Missional Journal: “A sabbatical from politics–that’s what I proposed in the last Missional Journal. In light of what James Davison Hunter has termed the “politicization of nearly everything” it seems wise for the church to recalibrate its approach to cultural engagement. In spite of three decades of political activism, we have seen little return on investment. In fact, if we accept the basic assessment of sociologists like James Hunter and David Kinnaman, our enlistment in the culture wars has subverted the power of the gospel.”
In effect, Michelle invites us to take a sabbatical from “branding.” And then read this one too: “As I did, I heard the soft, lyrical lilt of an African accent. Then the British-tinged English of an Indian couple. The carefully-selected syllables of an Asian gentleman. The different colors of American English spoken by people who’d grown up in places other than Chicago. Ribboned throughout the book of Revelation, there arementions of multitudes from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before God. All see him for who he really is; all bow the knee; and a song of gratitude rises from those he is redeeming. When I pray with a group like the one I prayed with last night, it brings the unspeakable beauty of God into time and space.”
Jay Bakker’s interview at Patheos, and he pokes me … and himself in the same breath.
Rachel Held Evans on women speakers at conferences. Two suggestions: write to them and complain, and don’t attend such conferences.
Jim Martin: “There is nothing like receiving the sweet love of a child, no matter the age. Yet, the reverse is also true. There is sometimes no pain like what you can receive at the hand of a child.” And then they grow up, and we mentor them into the faith … Derek posts about what he’s teaching to the young adults of his congregation.
CAS, that one makes me dizzy.
Michael Hyatt’s post about writing a blog post. His approach varies a bit from ours — his focus on making it scannable isn’t high on our list at all.
Daniel Kirk sums up the Bible’s central narrative question: “Thus, the question the whole biblical narrative must answer: will God’s plan–God’s plan to have humans rule the world, enthroned as the kings over God’s kingdom–come to fruition, or will Satan, in the end, prove too powerful?” Yes, indeed, and a little more of Israel’s Story in that question.
Pete Enns, Jesus, Kierkegaard … and Allan. You’ll have to read it.
Rob, that’s my favorite bird. I’ve never seen a Bohemian, though.
We in the BTS Dept at NPU are proud of our BTS grad-musician Becky Johnson — listen to her music if you get a chance. Awesome. (And here’s Willow’s singers’ blog.) (OK, not a little proud of the number of North Parkers on our worship teams.)
How Chicagoans reserve parking spots on the snowy streets.
Don’t even think about moving one of those chairs!
Meanderings in the News
1. Tamar Lewin: “The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.” But … “The annual survey of freshmen is considered the most comprehensive because of its size and longevity. At the same time, the question asking students to rate their own emotional health compared with that of others is hard to assess, since it requires them to come up with their own definition of emotional health, and to make judgments of how they compare with their peers.” And this shifts everything: “While first-year students’ assessments of their emotional health were declining, their ratings of their own drive to achieve, and academic ability, have been going up, and reached a record high in 2010, with about three-quarters saying they were above average.”
2. Judge Vinson in Florida on our national health care plan: “In his 78-page opinion, Vinson, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, offered the most lengthy consideration to date of the legal questions at issue. Specifically, he agreed with the states’ argument that a person’s refusal to buy health insurance does not amount to economic activity and is therefore beyond Congress’s power to regulate under the Constitution’s commerce clause. Attorneys for the government have argued that since virtually everyone will need health care at some point and that, because hospitals cannot turn away patients who cannot pay for emergency care, people whodo not obtain insurance are effectively making an economic decision about how and when they will pay for that care. Instead of paying now through insurance premiums, they are choosing to pay later, either out of their own pocket, or by passing the cost on to hospitals, governments or paying patients. Because this decision, when taken in the aggregate, has enormous impact on the health-care and insurance markets, the government contends that Congress is entitled to regulate it.”
3. Science and Faith, narrowly defined: “A Pew Research Center poll on science offers some complex answers to these questions. On the one hand, scientists topped the list of professions who contribute to the well being of society (70% “a lot”), handily trumping clergy (40% “a lot”). More than 8-in-10 (84%) said science has had a mostly positive effect on society and has made life easier for people (83%). Moreover, 6-in-10 Americans, including majorities of all major religious groups, believe government investment in research is essential for scientific progress. Yet this same poll found that a majority (55%) of Americans say science and religion are often in conflict, and 36% say science sometimes conflicts with their own religious beliefs. A majority of white evangelicals (52%) and more than 4-in-10 (44%) Catholics agree that science sometimes conflict with their religious beliefs. But looking below the surface, it turns out that the conflicts are limited to specific terrain. Among Americans who acknowledge a conflict between their religious beliefs and science, one area of conflict stands out: evolution (41%). Americans’ views on this subject are telling. Roughly one-third (32%) believe living beings have evolved due to natural selection, 22% believe a supreme being guided the evolutionary process, and about one-third (31%) they have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. The data suggests that the new science initiatives should find strong general support among religious Americans as long as they steer clear of the issue of evolution.”
4. Ross Douthat: “In “The Looming Tower,” his history ofAl Qaeda, Lawrence Wright raises the possibility that “America’s tragedy on September 11 was born in the prisons of Egypt.” By visiting imprisonment, torture and exile upon Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak foreclosed any possibility of an Islamic revolution in his own country. But he also helped radicalize and internationalize his country’s Islamists, pushing men likeAyman Al-Zawahiri — Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, and arguably the real brains behind Al Qaeda — out of Egyptian politics and into the global jihad.” But as he goes on to say: “Unfortunately, Middle Eastern politics is never quite that easy. The United States supported Mubarak for so long because of two interrelated fears: the fear of another Khomeini and the fear of another Nasser. Both anxieties remain entirely legitimate today.” And then this: “Sooner or later, the theories always fail. The world is too complicated for them, and too tragic. History has its upward arcs, but most crises require weighing unknowns against unknowns, and choosing between competing evils. The only comfort, as we watch Egyptians struggle for their country’s future, is that some choices aren’t America’s to make.”
5. Mona Charen says it will get worse: “The men and women on the streets of Egypt’s cities have been inspired by the example of Tunisia and the hope of a better life. But the Muslim Brotherhood has been preparing for this day for decades. As Michael Ledeen’s grandmother warned: “Things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.”
6. Nick Kristof on standing with the people of Egypt: “All of this presents the White House with a conundrum. It’s difficult to abandon a longtime ally like Mr. Mubarak, even if he has been corrupt and oppressive. But our messaging isn’t working, and many Egyptian pro-democracy advocates said they feel betrayed that Americans are obsessing on what might go wrong for the price of oil, for Israel, for the Suez Canal — instead of focusing on the prospect of freedom and democracy for the Egyptian people. Maybe I’m too caught up in the giddiness of Tahrir Square, but I think the protesters have a point. Our equivocation isn’t working. It’s increasingly clear that stability will come to Egypt only after Mr. Mubarak steps down. It’s in our interest, as well as Egypt’s, that he resign and leave the country. And we also owe it to the brave men and women of Tahrir Square — and to our own history and values — to make one thing very clear: We stand with the peaceful throngs pleading for democracy, not with those who menace them.”
7. David Brooks: “The Obama administration’s reaction was tardy, but no worse than, say, the first Bush administration’s reaction to the uprisings in the Baltics and Ukraine. The point is, there’s no need to be continually wrong-footed. If you start with a healthy respect for the quest for dignity, if you see autocracies as fragile and democratic revolts as opportunities, then you’ll find it much easier to anticipate events.”
8. Mark Bittman: “Here are some ideas — frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented — that would make the growing, preparation and consumption of food healthier, saner, more productive, less damaging and more enduring. In no particular order:…”
9. Reuters: “Anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian politician behind the proposal said on Wednesday, a day after the deadline for nominations expired.”
10. Matthew Lee Anderson: “If Sanders accomplished only that, The Deep Things of God would be a notable contribution to the burgeoning literature aimed at helping evangelicals become more thoroughly Trinitarian. But he goes a step further, arguing not only that evangelicals need the Trinity to make sense of the gospel, but that we need it to make sense of ourselves as well. Our current evangelical milieu notwithstanding, Sanders writes that “evangelical Christians have been in reality the most thoroughly Trinitarian Christians in the history of the church.”
Meanderings in Sports
I’m going to cheer for the Packers tomorrow, and I hope you cheeseheads don’t forget that. (But if they lose, well, just sayin’.)