Weekly Meanderings

I looked through my Google Reader and observed that over half had not updated their blog this week; well, it’s summertime and it’s time to vacation, but the Jesus Creed blog’s Weekly Meanderings (this is the #271 edition!) relentlessly keeps on, thanks to all you bloggers. Enjoy these links today, and I hope when you are the ballpark you get to do this (–>).

Our prayers today are with Norway and Norwegians.

The one stop blog, iMonk’s site, has an exceptional post on Driscoll by Chaplain Mike. Karen’s summer reads, and poke around her blog to see what else is going on in her life (yikes).

Guy Chmieleski‘s observations on the decline of youth participation in small groups. Dan Reid has a post for mountain climbers. Mark Roberts — a must-read post, setting up a series, on discerning the Spirit’s guidance.

Hey, Tony, one summer I coached 85 games! Loved it. Many of us know the experience of coaching kids teams, but there’s nothing like those summer baseball games.

My friend, Allan Bevere, has a great quotation from CS Lewis and he also notices his new book just out. Another friend :mic asks a good one: Does being missional mean being “post pastor”? Speaking of missional, Skye is at it again wondering if we’ve overdone “missional.” Part one, part two. The final destiny of the people of God is to be indwellt by God — for God to be with us and we with God, as Rev 21-22 clearly reveals. Shouldn’t being the dwelling place of God be the ultimate mission?

JR Briggs, if I don’t say “friend” someone will ask, so yes, he’s a friend, on his biggest church planting regret. Speaking of books recently published, I see that Michael Kruse has posted about Brad Wright’s newest book, and I’m hoping the Kruse Kronicle will share it’s review with our site.

Good for Chicago. Ted ponders that culture war problem.

I don’t want to give those Brits too many kudos but this post on Americanisms, which I found through the every-trusty Geeding (that’s what HT means), is fun, and I’m in agreement with that first one: Why do people, in ordering, ask “Can I get…” [My response, "I don't know if you can, which speaks of your ability, but you sure may." And I'd like to add, "Friend, you've got the money, I'm at your service."] Which ones are your pet peeves? #10, awful. #16 reveals that person needs an English (or American) lesson. #24 ought just to stop, now. And if your day has some slack, read the comments, which were at 1295 when I read the post.

Meanderings in the News

1. On grade inflation: “A new Economix blog post by Catherine Rampell of the New York Times discusses a recent study on grade inflation at U.S. colleges since the 1940s. Apparently, college professors have been handing out A’s and B’s willy-nilly in recent decades, with a substantial increase in overly generous grading in the past decade. By the end of last decade, A’s and B’s accounted for 73% of all grades at public institutions, and 86% of all grades awarded at private institutions, a huge increase over past decades.”

2. On Monasterboice, Ireland, and those who look after the places: “But the majestic Round Tower at Monasterboice, rising well above 100ft – Ireland’s unique architectural contribution to medieval Europe – proclaims this place to have once been of great importance. These – and so many other Irish medieval ruins – are known not only to specialist scholars, but to discerning tourists from across the world, as once having been key centres in the nurturing and development of that phenomenon we call European civilisation. To Irish people like me, and others of Irish descent around the globe, these places mean more. They are the ancient work of our forefathers’ hands – a priceless inheritance that lend dignity and substance to our treasured Irish descent.”

3. Mark Twain’s advice to little girls, by Vladimir Radunsky: “It is difficult for us to imagine what a strange impression Advice to Little Girls, a children’s story by Mark Twain, must have had on its audience when it was written in 1865 and eventually published as part of The 30,000 Dollar Bequest and Other Stories. American children’s literature in those days was mostly didactic, addressed to some imaginary reader—an ideal girl or boy, upon reading the story, would immediately adopt its heroes as role models. He did not squat down to be heard and understood by children, but asked them to stand on their tiptoes—to absorb the kind of language and humor suitable for adults.”

4. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, on Harry Potter and Christians, and I’m a bit late on this one: “After praising the “Harry Potter” books in 2001, author Connie Neal said that she opened her inbox to see death threats scattered among the reactions from fellow Christians. The one time the California-based writer found her book, “What’s a Christian Got to Do with Harry Potter?,” at a Christian bookstore, it was on the occult/New Age shelf. In its early years, “Harry Potter” was a litmus test of orthodoxy for some conservative Christians, who expressed concern over its portrayal of witchcraft. A Christian lawyer sued a public library for encouraging young readers to check out the series. Texas Pastor John Hagee called the books a “precursor to witchcraft.” In 2005 a Canadian website published a letter opposing the books written by Pope Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. (In 2009, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published a favorable review, seeming to reverse course on the series.) The hysteria has largely died down, and not many religious leaders asked their flocks to avoid the final movie, which opens today. Potter observers cite a few possible reasons for the waning concern, including a natural desire to move on to other entertainment issues, but also an interest in the themes that unfolded.”

5. This guy can stand in line with the many who’ve said the same thing, and it’s been going on for two centuries: “The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people’s daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.”

6. Sean Carroll on free will and cosmic variance. “We talk about the world using different levels of description, appropriate to the question of interest. Some levels might be thought of as “fundamental” and others as “emergent,” but they are all there. Does baseball exist? It’s nowhere to be found in the Standard Model of particle physics. But any definition of “exist” that can’t find room for baseball seems overly narrow to me. It’s true that we could take any particular example of a baseball game and choose to describe it by listing the exact quantum state of each elementary particle contained in the players and the bat and ball and the field etc. But why in the world would anyone think that is a good idea? The concept of baseball is emergent rather than fundamental, but it’s no less real for all of that. Likewise for free will. We can be perfectly orthodox materialists and yet believe in free will, if what we mean by that is that there is a level of description that is useful in certain contexts and that includes “autonomous agents with free will” as crucial ingredients. That’s the “variety of free will worth having,” a Daniel Dennett would put it. I’m not saying anything original — this is a well-known position, probably the majority view among contemporary philosophers. It’s a school of thought called compatibilism: see Wikipedia, or (better) theStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Free will as an emergent phenomenon can be perfectly compatible with an underlying materialist view of the world.”

7. The Shomrim of NYC: “Hasidic areas like Borough Park, where a Shomrim-organized search party looked for little Leiby Kletzky, are worlds unto themselves. Their members are identifiable by their distinctive appearance — wigs and modest dresses for the women, beards and side curls for the men. Community members send their children to Jewish schools, speak Yiddish as a first language and shun modern distractions like television. Yet another distinction is the patrols, which residents turn to first because “they know the community, they speak the language, they have the trust of the entire community,” said Isaac Abraham, a leader of the ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section.”

8. George (No X.) Will: “The Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee will run against Alibi Ike. Lardner, a Chicago sportswriter, created that character (“His right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for ‘Excuse me.’ ”), who resembles Chicagoan Barack Obama. After blaming his predecessor for this and that, and after firing all the arrows in liberalism’s quiver — the stimulus, cash for clunkers, etc. — Obama seems poised to blame the recovery’s anemia on Republican resistance to simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and taxes.”

9. And then comes Ross Douthat: “For months, Republican leaders used all the tools at their disposal — the anti-spending intensity of their base, the White House’s desire for a deal, the specter of dire consequences if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised — to leverage their way into a favorable position. Despite controlling just one house of Congress, they spent the spring and summer setting the agenda for the country: not whether to cut spending, but how deeply and how fast. But last week, the Republican offensive suddenly collapsed in disarray. In the space of a few days, a party that once looked capable of pressing the White House into a deal that would have left liberals fuming found itself falling back on two less-palatable options instead: either a procedural gimmick that would try to pin the responsibility for raising the ceiling on President Obama, or a stand on principle that would risk plunging the American economy back into recession. What went wrong? It turns out that Republicans didn’t have a plan for transitioning from the early phase of a high-stakes political negotiation, when the goal is to draw stark lines and force the other side to move your way, to the late phase, in which the public relations battle becomes crucial and the goal is to make the other side seem unreasonable, intransigent and even a little bit insane.”

And then this: “Their inability to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into a losing one. A majority of Americans want to close the deficit primarily with spending cuts — which is to say, they’re primed to side with conservatives in the debt-ceiling debate. But in trying to turn that “primarily” into a “completely,” the right has squandered this advantage. By 48 percent to 34 percent, a Quinnipiac poll found last week, Americans will blame Republicans if debt-ceiling gridlock precipitates an economic crisis.”

10. Juan Cole: “I like bookstores. I savor being in a place with book-lined walls. I love the covers, the titles, the blurbs. Some bookstores have jazz playing in the background. Some have coffeeshops. I like reading some pages of a magazine I don’t usually read, and deciding whether to buy it or even to subscribe. I like author signings and readings. I am therefore distressed at the closing of Borders Books.. There are ironies in this story, since Borders (based in my home, Ann Arbor), pioneered the concept of the book superstore, putting many independent bookstores out of business. It in turn was driven into bankruptcy in part by the rise of the digital book, and its inability to adapt to the new technology in the way that Amazon and Barnes and Noble have.”

Meanderings in Sports

Joe Posnanski meanders into thoughts on the women’s world cup final.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Holly

    It is always interesting to me that some of the same people who say we have to contexualize Mark Driscoll, also insist that we can not contextualize Paul. :)

    There is such a better way to build up the Christian male than the Driscoll way. It doesn’t have to be that men are either WWF wannabees or girly girls. I can not support the line of thinking that says “Well, Mark does some good, we just have to understand him.” Nope. It’s not either/or. Choose a different way.

    Mark Driscoll is abrasive and abusive with his language and delivery – AND – his some of his advice from the pulpit regarding marriage and sexuality is downright frightening (and opens the door to abuse, even though he says he stands strongly against it, all imho, of course.)

    Also – the thought that his preaching/teaching is localized so “that’s okay” and understandable is rather nullified by the fact of technology that instantly shares his teaching/preaching with the world. I think that a pastor who makes himself available in that venue (and seems to enjoy it immensely) has to be ready to be responsible for that and adjust his methodology/delivery (if not his direct message) accordingly.

    Driscoll needs to be reined in by his peers, I think, since it seems that he does not allow for strong accountability within his own church. He SAYS that he does….but there is evidence that he does not truly allow for it. He seems to shun from leadership those who disagree with him.

  • Pat Pope

    I just read Juan Cole’s excerpt and could it be that the death of the bookstore will send people back to libraries? At my local library, there’s actually an area of the library in which food is allowed and areas all throughout where you can sit and browse through books and magazines, computer labs, a room where you can copy and fax, etc. This whole revolution may revitalize libraries. Another service that my local library system just introduced is the downloading of music for free.

  • rjs

    We have to find a way to be a church where the positive of reaching young men doesn’t require a disrespectful attitude toward others in the process. Where the building up of self-esteem does not require superiority over others. This is the root of Driscoll’s message and the problem with Driscoll’s approach.

  • rjs

    The article on grades is interesting. In my Winter class I gave 18% A’s (ranging from A+ to A-). I currently have a student who filed an official grievance against me because she worked too hard to get B+ so it must be my fault.

    This is a real pain.

  • Holly

    Also? The linked article has a large quote from Driscoll and in part of it he tells how he finally realized the Gospel because he found a pastor who “killed things.”

    I come from a long line of securely masculine guys. They’ve always hunted/trapped/fished. Men have done so for…forever, I guess…..to provide for their families. There is a huge difference between killing animals to feed a family and killing as a sport, just because it is seen and felt to be a manly thing to do. Good hunters know the difference. They have a deep respect, actually, for animal life and for what they are doing. Driscoll’s linkage of manliness to grabbing a gun and killing something (and enjoying the act of killing something) is psychopathic in my view. I know that I sound harsh – but I believe that he has a very skewed concept of what masculinity is.

  • http://www.missionalchurchnetwork.com Brad Brisco

    Posnanski is the best. If you like sports and good writing then do yourself a favor and subscribe to his blog. Also looking forward to future posts from Mark Robert’s series, very good thoughts.

  • Gloria

    Holly, I agree with you. My family has secure males who would not at all relate to the joy of killing things. In fact, if they heard that sort of language from the pulpit they would likely not return.

  • Daniel

    Holly & Gloria, relax. Can’t you recognize hyperbole when you see it? Some of us guys (at least this one) can relate to what Driscoll is describing. It is not about killing for the sake of killing. But if that is how you read him then I doubt there is much else he is going to say that you will want to hear.

    And, No, I am not a big Driscoll fan. I am only going by what I read at the IM post. To me his description of looking for a church mirrors my own. I grew up in the country and had my time of hunting (though I do go out much any more). I went to a lot of urban and suburban churches that seem to be embarrassed that a couple of us liked to hunt. The music was a lot like Driscoll described with love songs to Jesus as we go to the prom.

    From what I read on the responses to the description of Driscoll, he does not sound like my kind of pastor. If he is crude and abusive he needs to stop. It sounds like he might have other issues you guys reject but judging from the IM post and your responses it sounds like just another reason to disagree with him.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    I can’t speak for Holly nor Gloria, but as to the question “can’t you recognize hyperbole when you see it?” I’d posit that the realities of certain church leaders have made it VERY hard to tell when one is being hyperbolic and when one is being serious, so it’s hard for me to fault them.

  • Gloria

    No, this is not hyperbole to me, and you sound rather patronizing to me.

  • Fish

    Coming from a culture where the schools close for deer season and where the second amendment is the only right that matters, I completely understand the point about hunting, but I will say there is also a lot of killing for the sheer sake of killing.

    Like a crow tournament, where people use a distressed rabbit call to draw the crows in and then compete to see who can kill the most.

    And even deer hunting. It’s more of a traditional social event than an actual food-gathering expedition. Many of the harvested deer are given away to feed the poor, which is OK, but people don’t hunt to feed the least of these, they hunt for the fun of the hunt.

  • fledge

    Holly, isn’t Driscoll’s background in street gangs? I think he’s simply baptized the masculinity-views of the street into some reworking of Scripture. Most of today’s masculine movements do this.

    There are a few taking a stand against it, knowing that the real liberation of women will take place when men are finally liberated.

  • Amos Paul

    Hunting for the sake of hunting and intending to use any spoils of the activity wisely is very different than hunting for the sake of killing. Hunting and killing are not the same thing.

  • Daniel

    Gloria, I don’t see where I was patronizing. I am sorry if you were offended. In fact, the more I think about it I am getting offended that you think I offended you.

    I am not going to argue with you about hyperbole. It seems fairly clear that when Driscoll says something along the line of “if a guy killed things – he could be my pastor.”

  • Holly

    Well, yes Daniel. He’s all about hyperbole, none about nuance. :) That seems to be the problem.

    It that were the only quote – no big deal! I do have problems with his expressed thoughts on women “letting themselves go,” (Quote below)

    “At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”

    And also, his advice to married people – which I’m not going to link to – because I have children around me. Ha Ha. Mars Hill has lots of videos on the topic, though, and I’m sure you can find them if you want to. He’s pretty baldly graphic, and basically says that if the guy wants it, the lady’d better give it, because God commands it.

    Those are my primary issues. I did think that his connection of his pastor as a guy who could kill things to be a bit odd, particularly in conjunction with his other over-the top issues. Like, that’s all we need to make the world a better place: guys who like to kill things. I’m not a bleeding heart, really. I filet my own fish. :) So I get the point – I just find/found him troubling.

  • Holly

    (Correction:) “If” that were the only quote…

    And, Gloria, thank you! I missed your note earlier.

  • Daniel

    Holly, I guess I missed those quotes on the IM site Scot linked.

  • http://www.psalms4thesinner.blogspot.com lawrence

    The Twain book looks like a better choice than Getthe *** to bed.

  • http://Krusekronicle.com Michael W. Kruse

    I’ll get you a review of Wright’s new book eventually. I’m waiting on the Amazon fairies.

  • Dennis J

    i only know about Driscoll through word of mouth. havn’t looked into his ministry at all, really. also, my Christian – and church – experience does not include any effeminization of Christianity. however, i am well aware of its existence. when some friends of mine attended a home group that studies “wild at heart” i looked into the book and was awestruck that someone would ever feel the need to write something like that. it’s as if the term “boys will be boys” is looked at as demonic among some christian groups. it seems to me that many streams of Christianity are poorly influenced by that 80′s ethos of weak, womenly men. it’s just another bad example of how the church is ignorantly conditioned by secular ideas and fail to recognize their passing, even decades after the fact.
    i guess i’m not suprised to see a person like Driscoll, who encountered this as a new Christian and was repelled by it, creating a lasting impression that has affected his ministry.

  • Holly

    True, Daniel, those quotes weren’t in the linked article. I interacted with the intent of the article in my first comment, however, when I said that I did not think contextualizing Driscoll either by background nor locale was the proper response. We all have backgrounds, we all have to grow up – particularly if we assume responsibility for many, many followers in a global reality. (It does strike me as ironic that a big, beefy guy wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt lectures other men on how to be a man. Hmmm. Apparently it is wrong for a man to have gentle, possibly feminine or bookish traits, but okay for him to be childish.)

    You responded by saying that you did not know much about Driscoll, but you could relate to the hyperbolic quote on killing things. I responded by implying that I react to Driscoll not simply on one quote, but on other systemic differences of approach and beliefs.

    Sorry – no more time to play mind games. Wishing you well-

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    The ethically challenged George Will conjuring up 1980, and proclaiming Barack Obama a sissy and that the Tea Party is the answer…