Too many evangelicals are anti-intellectual and demean doctrine. Allan Bevere on this problem: “We must avoid the two extremes of denigrating the significance of Christian doctrine as if it makes little to no difference for how Christians live. Neither should we so emphasize right belief that we lose sight of the importance of living faithful lives. Those who emphasize orthodoxy at the expense of orthopraxy do not understand either one. Those who highlight orthopraxy and depreciate the importance of orthodoxy do not understand either one.” This leads to Ted’s post on working together because orthodoxy and orthopraxy are forms of ortho-ecclesia.
Very few have taken issue with Rob Bell’s theology of continuity, so this is a good entrance into that subject by Patrick.
Father Pfleger is out: “But the issue of obedience has been at the center of the conflict between Pfleger and the church, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor of theology at the University of Chicago. At the core, he said, is the Roman Catholic belief that there is a link between the pope and Jesus Christ. “If a priest disobeys the cardinal, the highest representative up to the pope, they disobey a direct line back to Jesus Christ,” Hopkins said. “The cardinal is saying that Father Pfleger has removed himself from the Catholic Church because he refuses to obey.”
Stop the train: Milt Essenburg blogs! (About the Pillar Commentary series.)
I’ve said for many years that finishing a doctorate requires stamina … and sometimes that’s all that separates those who finish and those who don’t. Tony had stamina. Congrats.
Meanderings in the News
1. This is a tough time for many young teachers: “Pink-slipped teachers are scrambling to find jobs even as they wait to hear whether they might be rehired once financial projections and student enrollments firm up. Others survived layoffs but face the uncertainty over new assignments or schools. The pressure-cooker has become a fixture of spring for many Illinois educators who are let go in March and April, only to be hired back months later. But it shows no signs of abating as school districts confront another round of state funding delays and the end of federal stimulus money that was intended to stave off the worst of the school layoffs. A bill awaiting review by the state House could upend the long-standing practice by requiring that teacher specialties and classroom performance determine layoffs and rehires across Illinois, with seniority playing the role of tiebreaker rather than being the determining factor. Still, for educators caught in the cross hairs, the proposed changes offer little relief.”
2. David Sehat on five myths about church and state: “Liberals claim that the founding fathers separated church and state, while conservatives argue that the founders made faith a foundation of our government. Both sides argue that America once enjoyed a freedom to worship that they seek to preserve. Yet neither side gets it right.”
3. Clifford J. Levy: ” KIEV, Ukraine, EVERY Sunday, thousands of worshipers crowd into an arena here for a rollicking evangelical Christian service. A choir and rock band belt out gospel tunes in Russian. People sing along and clap and shimmy in the aisles. They dash up to the stage for a chance to grab the microphone and declare how their new faith has changed their lives. It is as if a Sunbelt megachurch had been transplanted to Kiev, birthplace of Slavic Orthodoxy, land of onion-domed cathedrals and incense-shrouded icons. But the preacher at the podium has little if any connection to the United States. Could there be a more unlikely success story in the former Soviet Union than the Rev. Sunday Adelaja, an immigrant from Nigeria who has developed an ardent — and enormous — following across Ukraine?”
4. Jonah Goldberg takes another shot at Obama: “He may sincerely have wished his awesome job came with a cooler phone (or a Bat Signal perhaps?), and he may honestly feel trapped in a bubble. But he’s also determined to pretend that he is running “against Washington” in 2012. And that is outrageous nonsense for a president who effectively owned the government for two years. Already his campaign’s messaging is all about recapturing the feeling of insurgency from the first time around. Finish the mission. Complete the work. Remember the feeling. That’s why he’s running his reelection campaign out of Chicago, as if people won’t notice he’s the incumbent. Obama has never run on a record. He’s always run almost literally on a hope and a prayer. Now he must defend what he has done — and what he has failed to do. If that makes him cranky, that’s just too bad.”
5. Anthony Roy on the meaning of “Easter”: “And there is, in fact, clear evidence that Christians celebrated an Easter/Passover festival by the second century, if not earlier. It follows that the Christian Easter/Passover celebration, which originated in the Mediterranean basin, was not influenced by any Germanic pagan festival.”
6. For the scientists among us: “A new framework for the universe’s formation suggests that it began as a single thready line, then evolved into a plane, and only then the three-dimensional space we now inhabit. This could simplify sticky cosmological questions, including dark matter and gravity waves.”
7. Spoiler Alert! Rich Lowry: “In March 1996, an Islamic terrorist group kidnapped seven French Trappist monks from their remote monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria. They were held for two months, then beheaded. At the heart of this atrocity is a tale of heroic faith, steadfastness, and love, captured in the sublime film Of Gods and Men. It is perhaps the best movie on Christian commitment ever made…. There’s no higher praise of Of Gods and Men than that it does justice to the faith of these men. In a scene near the end, the monks listen to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” laughing and crying together. A terrible fate awaits them. And it feels like victory.”
8. Wilfred M. McClay: “Whatever one finally thinks of Freud—and I count myself among the respectful unbelievers in his fanciful systems—this seems to me a very rich and insightful analysis, and a useful starting place for considering a subject largely neglected by historians: the steadily intensifying (though rarely visible) role played by guilt in determining the deep structure of our lives in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Such an analysis cannot, for obvious reasons, be reduced to quantifiable data; and it admittedly runs the risk of veering onto the circular path of the non-falsifiable, a Freudian spécialité de la maison. Yet it has a ring of truth to it, both as a diagnosis and as a symptom of the condition it diagnoses. It suggests that what W. H. Auden claimed for Freud over seventy years ago remains equally true today: Even if he was “wrong and at times absurd,” he stands for “a whole climate of opinion under whom we conduct our different lives.” And then this: “I don’t mean to disparage these writings in a blanket way or label them utterly wrong. There is a great deal to be said for any effort to release the soul from captivity to hateful emotions and encourage the more noble and expansive side of our natures. But the shift in emphasis is notable. In the new dispensation, forgiveness is all about the forgiver and his or her well-being. And the motivation sometimes borders on the suspect. As Luskin puts it, in arguing for the health-giving benefits of forgiving, “Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. . . . Forgiveness is about personal power.”
Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car—and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough. What has gone wrong with us?”
10. On drafting players for professional sports: “Could it really be true that these innocuous statements can help assess Cam Newton’s pro potential? That’s the assertion, mission, and business plan of an Ohio-based company calledAchievement Metrics. It analyzes the speech of star college players, looking for traits such as “conceptual complexity,” “need for power,” and “deliberativeness.” It compares similar players and correlates these traits with future performance. College wide receivers whose speech shows low levels of distrust, for example, have a greater probability of becoming Pro Bowlers than their less-trusting counterparts.”
Meanderings in Sports
On Tiger Woods: “But if there were ever a time to doubt Woods, this is it. In fact, let’s go all the way today and say he’s finished, at least in the old-Tiger, straw-that-stirs-the-drink kind of way. Woods announced Tuesday that he will miss next week’s Wells Fargo Championship because he hurt his left leg (yes, that left leg) while hitting his second shot from underneath the Eisenhower tree left of the 17th fairway in the third round of the Masters. “Woods suffered a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon,” said a statement on his web site.”