Weekly Meanderings

Our President moonwalking amongst the big hat fellas

Nice piece by D.B. Hart. And another nice piece by Bryan Marvel.

Mark Roberts spotted a Painted Bunting. Man, Mark, I’m so envious. Our only bunting, the indigo bunting, has the color of that head all over. Next bird for you to spot: the red-whiskered bulbul.

Excellent advice from Allan. And Dan Kimball’s church, Vintage, has internships. At the core of leadership with Bill Donahue. And Ted reminds us that we know only in part — and that’s OK.

Loving deeds. Christine Scheller on being left behind.

Pete Enns is investigating various Christian traditions and science-faith issues at BioLogos.

Patrick Mitchel is doing a very good series on identity changes in Ireland. Part one, two, three. Patrick and the fine team at IBI are serving in Dublin and our prayers are with them.

Elizabeth Smart has what Casey Anthony needs.

On the David Crowder Band: “What I appreciate about David Crowder Band’s exit is that it happens on the time of their calling, not on the failure to sell recordings or pack out arenas. I would almost say it is on their time, but their point is to say that it is on God’s time that they depart. Their statement cites new horizons of personal growth and exploration, a change of scenery in the past ten years, and new families which have come into their midst. In other words, there is life to be lived which is more abundant than this band. Sadly, most believers won’t understand this decision. Based on a few statements which I have caught over the past couple of years of following DCB, I have figured that they were intentionally on a journey that had a set completion to it. So I was not surprised by the news. However, it is still a bit sad for their voice to become still for a season.”

LaVonne‘s instruction on how to speak King James English (I’ll tell you, grow up fifty years ago). And Roger Olson tells us why he’s hanging on to “evangelical.” Robin Parry, a universalist, pondering Piper.

My friend, Mike Glenn, is writing about winter — but what does someone in Nashville (ahem, Brentwood) say to a Chicagoan about winter?!

Some fun: proxy marriage in Montana.

Meanderings in the News

1. Adam Nagourney on Lewis Brown: “At 56, Mr. Brown’s life is an arc of triumph and defeat, of lost opportunities and wasted potential. In his view, he is here — one amid the thousands in this city’s churning sea of homeless — because of coaches who could not understand his emotional turmoil, who never appreciated his talent. Conversations with him are long flights of anecdotes and self-congratulatory statistics that, if impressive in detail, are scarred by bitter recollection of endless slights.”

2. Samuel G. Freedman, on Catholics losing faith in college: “For all that, perhaps because of all that, Ms. Leya has also become part of a nationwide pilot program designed to keep actively Catholic college students just as actively Catholic after the last mortarboard has tumbled to earth. The program, Esteem, has operated from the contrarian premise that a college graduate who is suddenly reduced to being the young stranger in a new parish may well grow distant or even alienated from Catholicism. “I can’t imagine shirking my faith,” Ms. Leya said in an interview this week at St. Thomas More, the Catholic chapel and center at Yale, “but how do you keep it important around all the chaos of med school? How do I become a meaningful member of a new parish? How do I allow the kind of experiences I’ve had here to continue?” For Ms. Leya, like about 70 other students on six campuses, Esteem has provided intensive education in the Catholic practice, especially the role of laity, and a handpicked mentor who combines professional success with religious devotion. In Ms. Leya’s case, he is Dr. Leo M. Cooney Jr., a professor of geriatric medicine in Yale’s medical school, and, as important, a veteran of his own spiritual walkabout.”

3. Andrew McCarthy on Obama’s speech about Israel’s borders: “The president stumbled into a bracing truth when he compared the change achieved by the people in the region, on the one hand, and by terrorists on the other. The change both are seeking is the same: the creation of sharia societies. Obama and Democracy Project promoters like to frame the Arab Spring as the ultimate rejection of al-Qaeda. But it is, at most, a discovery that there are better tactical routes to the promised land than al-Qaeda’s crude brutality. That promised land is not Western liberalism; it is Islam in all its repression of free speech, religious liberty, and equality — American principles the president spoke of his boundless determination to promote, while avoiding a single mention of Islam or sharia, which make achieving those principles a pipedream in this region.”

4. Kathleen Parker on childhood obesity: “Personally, I wouldn’t touch a trans fat if you wrapped it in gold and sprinkled it with diamonds, but this is because I can read, comprehend, digest, recall and act on the free will allotted to all sentient adults. In the absence of willpower among some, should trans fats be forbidden to all? Where exactly does one stop drawing that little line? The questions of when and whether the government should intervene in matters of personal taste are not harmless. As government becomes more involved in health decisions, as inevitably will be the case under the Affordable Care Act, government necessarily will become more involved in personal nutrition issues. The same strategy that created pariahs out of smokers now is being aimed at people who eat unattractively. It isn’t only that you’re hurting yourself by eating too much of the wrong foods; you’re hurting the rest of us by willfully contributing to your own poor health and therefore to the cost of public health. Fat is the new nicotine. Once the numbers crunchers start quantifying the cost to society incurred by people who eat too much ($100 billion a year, according to one estimate), you can be sure that not-such-good-things are coming your way soon. Think Nurse Ratched in an apron. The stats are alarming, to be sure, especially regarding children. The rate of childhood obesity has doubled for preschool children in the past three decades. About 9 million children over age 6 are considered obese. The issue isn’t only about potatoes in school lunches, though overconsumption of high glycemic carbohydrates has to be factored into any calculation about obesity. At least as significant, if not utterly crucial, are poverty and shattered families, which often go hand in hand. Also significant are the high cost of healthy food (rent “Food Inc.” for an overview) vs. cheap, fast food. Our drive-through culture, which applies to relationships as well as mealtimes, is the real enemy of fitness and health.”

5. Gallup’s poll on same-sex marriage approval ratings: “PRINCETON, NJ — For the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans’ views did not change.”

6. From The Economist on the neglected border between India and Pakistan: “THE late Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, had many virtues as a diplomat, but tact was not among them. His description of his theatre of operations as “AfPak” infuriated the Pakistanis, who wanted the Americans to regard their country as a sophisticated, powerful ally worthy of attention in itself, not just as a suffix to the feuding tribesmen next door. But that was not the only reason the coinage was unwise. It encouraged the understandable American tendency—shaped by the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the war against the Taliban and now the death of Osama bin Laden—to see Pakistan in the context of the fighting on its north-west frontier, and thus to ignore the source of most of the country’s problems, including terrorism: the troubled state of relations to its east. The border between India and Pakistan has seen a bloody partition in 1947 that killed hundreds of thousands; more than 15,000 dead in three wars and 25 years spent fighting over a glacier; 40,000-100,000 dead (depending on whom you believe) in the insurgency in the disputed province of Kashmir. And now both countries are armed with nuclear weapons.”

7. Martha Irvine: “CHICAGO — Look around a waiting room at a university counseling center and you’ll see students wrestling with all sorts of issues: The one who’s failing because of binge drinking. Another who’s struggling with a roommate conflict, or a recent break-up. Yet another who’s stressed out and suicidal. Many centers are more swamped than ever, college therapists say, particularly at this time of year, in the frenzy of final exams and job searches. Though there’s debate about why there are more students seeking services, there is agreement on this: The increase in demand, those therapists say, has made it even more crucial to zero in on the students who are in the most distress. “We used to worry about there being a stigma about coming in for counseling,” says Ian Birky, director of counseling and psychological services at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Now, he says, they’re “overwhelmed” with students seeking help. To help deal with the demand, more campus counseling centers are using computerized questionnaires, some that generate color-coded charts, to help them flag a serious problem more quickly than traditional paper-and-pencil evaluations.”

8. Something’s eating up the stars? “The apparent development of a large void of some billion light-years in diameter in the Constellation Eridanus appears to be improbable given current cosmological models. A radical and controversial theory proposes that it is a “universe-in-mass black hole” rather than hypothetical dark matter responsible for the phenomenon described as the expanding-accelerating universe. This radical theory of cosmology suggests that stars at the edge of the Hubble length universe are being consumed by a universe-in-mass black hole.” For the image to the left, see this.

9. Mark Goulston and Doc Barham: “Why do so many rich and famous men stray? Could it be about being hooked on adrenaline, feeling entitled to the adoration and admiration of the masses, feeling unduly carped/nagged/criticized at home and then being seduced by power into developing secondary Asperger’s Syndrome?”

10. Benedict Carey: “Researchers began tracking the “feminization” of mental health care more than a generation ago, when women started to outnumber men in fields like psychology and counseling. Today the takeover is almost complete. Men earn only one in five of all master’s degrees awarded in psychology, down from half in the 1970s. They account for less than 10 percent of social workers under the age of 34, according to a recent survey. And their numbers have dwindled among professional counselors — to 10 percent of the American Counseling Association’s membership today from 30 percent in 1982 — and appear to be declining among marriage and family therapists. Some college psychology programs cannot even attract male applicants, much less students. And at many therapists’ conferences, attendees with salt-and-pepper beards wander the hallways as lonely as peaceniks at a gun fair. The result, many therapists argue, is that the profession is at risk of losing its appeal for a large group of sufferers — most of them men — who would like to receive therapy but prefer to start with a male therapist. “There’s a way in which a guy grows up that he knows some things that women don’t know, and vice versa,” said David Moultrup, a psychotherapist in Belmont, Mass. “But that male viewpoint has been so devalued in the course of empowering little girls for the past 40 or 50 years that it is now all but lost in talk therapy. Society needs to have the choice, and the choice is being taken away.”

Meanderings in Sports

Randy Macho Man Savage, a really good piece.

Lance Armstrong by Michael Specter: “Lance does say it ain’t so, but I can’t help feeling a bit like that credulous (and perhaps apocryphal) kid standing on the courthouse steps in Chicago on the day in 1920 when Shoeless Joe Jackson was forever damned by the Black Sox scandal. Lance Armstrong has always denied accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs in pursuit of his astonishing streak of seven straight victories in the Tour de France. I have always wanted to believe him. But after watching Scott Pelley interview Lance’s former teammate (and admitted cheater) Tyler Hamilton on “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, my support is starting to seem a little silly, even to me.”

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  • rjs

    The article about losing faith in college (or not) is interesting – especially the follow through clip that you’ve included.

    With respect to Parry’s quote of Piper. A doctrine of strict election has real problems for me on several counts. Not only is it impossible to know if one’s children are among the elect, but it is also impossible to know if one’s self is among the elect. You can live as if it is so – in fact you must live as if it is so. But there is no way to know. Not about anyone or anything.

  • Susan N.

    Ted, at the end of the day, that it’s O:K to affirm this truth, “For now I know in part,” because always, always, I have been fully known (and loved) by my Creator and Savior, brings me peace and the courage to keep on keepin’ on in faith.

    The piece by Peter Enns on Wesleyanism at Biologos was interesting to me. The quadrilateral describes the approach to theology that is more natural and intuitive, imo. Dialogue, and openness to diversity — elements which are very conducive to healthy spiritual growth and community.

    Casey Anthony — scary… At a recent Church & Society presentation on our local Mental Health Recovery Court, the clinical psychologist on the panel was asked if there was any type of mental illness beyond rehabilitation. He cited the sociopath, because of their lack of conscience. He did go on to say that *some* sociopaths will respond to the threat of unpleasant consequences to their actions, out of selfish desire to avoid pain and punishment…not out of a moral sense of wrongdoing or concern for others. This made me wonder about leaning heavily on the doctrine of hell and ECT in preaching the Gospel. Are there people who will *only* respond to Jesus by way of the threat of painful and unpleasant consequences? Can this type learn to love God and others from that entry point into salvation? And what about the sociopath who has no love for God or others (only self). If this is a mental illness and not a choice, will God condemn these individuals forever (hold them accountable) for the way they very possibly might have been born? “Father, forgive them…they know not what they do.” Sad, and scary, all at the same time!

  • Josh T.

    Wow, Susan. Very interesting questions to ponder!

  • beakerj

    When will I ever learn that clicking on anything about John Piper is never profitable for me, spiritually, mentally or emotionally? What a truly horrible quote from him.

  • Fred

    Good point, rjs. I wonder how strict Calvinists would view these:

    Luke – “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

    Paul – “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,…”

    John – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

  • Daniel

    beakerj, I really like the Piper quote. Which part of the quote so repulsed you? The part about him praying for his sons?

    The more I read from folks who visit here the more more I don’t understand how people think.

  • cas

    Scot, You’re too kind with the link love. Thank you.

    I liked Roger Olson’s post, though I don’t really know what post-conservative or progressive mean any more than I know what evangelical means.

    Karen’s too. And the one about Randy Savage.

    Thanks for the meander : )

  • beakerj

    Hey Daniel – it’s the bit about not railing against the Almighty if one of his sons was lost, in the context of the hardcore Calvinism he believes. I know what he says is ‘righteous’& all that, but there’s something about a Father bringing children into the world that he can’t be certain would be wanted by God….something about that causes me deep grief. Who wants to be loved that way?

    I don’t know if I’m articulating myself right, I would want a Father who would contend for me in the face of the Almighty if need be. It may be the recent loss of my Mother that makes me feel this…

  • beakerj

    Daniel, I also meant to say of course it wasn’t the picture of a Father praying for his sons, or saying he’d give his salvation for theirs. Of course not. Please don’t misunderstand me. I just felt unutterably sad at the idea of any Father looking at his sleeping children & not being sure that, in this dark & difficult world, God wnats them, totally & indisputably.That’s where his beliefs take him. It’s so sad.

  • Dennis J

    Parry’s post is very interesting. a lot of people seem to appeal to a Neo-calvinist’s consistency as a laudable trait. most of the young calvinists i talk to think that broadening your perspective is somehow a betrayal of one’s faith (or convictions); as if what you believe initially is “right” or ‘a priori’ without any further investigation into the matter. i call broadening one’s views maturity.

  • tim e

    Isn’t Piper and the neo-calvinists saying basically the same thing as Bell’s Love Wins: God gets what God wants and if God doesn’t want Piper’s kids in heaven, then so be it??