K. Rex Butts on a Bible reading motto: “The motto was “speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent.” Its has a long history in my church tradition. It became a rule for interpreting the New Testament which was viewed as though it was a legislative law establishing a once-for-all fixed pattern for the way the church was to worship and be organized. I don’t know about you but I find it a bit ironic that this motto–which can be found no where in scripture and yet calls for silence where the Bible is silent–has held such sway over the way the Bible was read.”
Robert Crosby’s three trends in Pentecostalism: “Ministry practitioners, denominational leaders, and scholars whom I have talked to have noted three prominent trends in North American Pentecostalism: a marked decrease in speaking in tongues in public worship; fresh developments in Pentecostal eschatology; and a broader engagement in compassionate ministry and social concern.”
I tire of Bart Ehrman’s relentless attempts to live down his past, but one person who tirelessly examines Ehrman’s manifestos is Dan Wallace. And Jeremy Bouma tackles universalism in Romans 5. The Virtual Abbess takes a look at M. Scott Peck.
Tim Dalrymple: “So make no mistake: the Budget Control Act doesn’t put a dent in the mountain of debt our government has accrued. If the commitments of the BCA are fulfilled, then we will add to that mountain at a slightly-less-manic pace than before, but the very purpose of the act was to enable the big Beltway spenders to make the mountain bigger. Worse, the BCA leaves completely unchanged the social and political dynamics that have led to this debt in the first place. Our political elite are addicted to spending. It’s how they curry favor, it’s how they win elections, and it’s how they exercise and enjoy their power. They’re perfectly willing to borrow money to feed the addiction, because they have a credit card. The name on the credit card is: You and Your Children.”
I came upon a few pieces about education and bundle them together here. Matt Damon made waves when he complained about how low public school teachers are, and that led Nick Gillespie into some research with this: “According to Department of Education statistics for 2007-2008 (the most recent year listed), the average public school teacher brought in a bit over $53,000 in “total school-year and summer earned income.” That figure, which is about $13,000 more than what the average private-school teacher gets in straight salary, does not include health and retirement benefits, places where teachers almost always get better deals and bigger employer contributions than the typical private-sector worker. For more on teacher compensation, go here. An average salary of $53,000 may not be much for a movie star such as Damon, but it’s a pretty good wage when compared to U.S. averages. Indeed, the Census Bureau reports that median householdincome in 2008 was $52,000. Teaching in most public schools requires a bachelor’s degree and here teachers fare less well on first glance, though still not awful. The median income for a man with a B.A. was $82,000; for a woman, it was $54,000. About three-quarters of teachers are women, so the average salaries when gender comes into play hew closely to one another.
And Virginia Postel asks if teachers are not as smart as they used to be: “PUBLIC-SCHOOL teachers just aren’t as smart as they used to be. After all, women have more job opportunities. Bright women who once would have taught school today become doctors and lawyers. The gain for individual women is a loss for education.Or so many people believe. The story is plausible, but is it true?”
From Murtaza, with some serious computerese: “Are students’ teaching evaluations influenced by instructors’ looks? ggplot2 may help find the answer.”
And by Liz Dwyer: “Another sign that the college lecture might be dying: Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur is championing the “flipped classroom,” a model where information traditionally transferred during lectures is learned on a student’s own time, and classroom time is spent discussing and applying knowledge to real-world situations. To make it easy for professors to transition out of lecture mode, Mazur has developedLearning Catalytics, an interactive software that enables them to make the most of student interactions and maximize the retention of knowledge.”
Meanderings in the News
C. Christine Fair is pushing back hard against The New Yorker’s “report” by Nicholas Schmidle about the bin Laden attack: “Whether Americans and our allies like it or not, Pakistan and Pakistan’s populations are critical to U.S. interests. This will be true for the foreseeable future. Journalists have an important function: informing our publics. Journalists’ reportage shapes how Americans see their country abroad and understand the countries with which the United States engages. It shapes our support for war, for foreign aid, for particular bilateral relations. The U.S. experience with the Iraq war illustrates the extreme limits of how a supine and incompetent press became the vehicle to mobilize an angry public for an ill-conceived and unjustifiable war of choice. The United States will long pay the price for strategic error. Journalists have an equally important, if less appreciated, role in shaping how the outside world sees us. With the internet, the entire world reads our press, watches our television and hears our radio broadcasts. Media hype and hysteria, xenophobia, Islamophobia and more quotidian issues of inaccuracy and incaution with handling sensitive pieces of information are for the whole world to see and to judge us. With stakes this high, should not the standards of journalistic integrity be even higher? I should think yes. The New Yorker should immediately right this wrong by publishing an editor’s note disclosing the simple fact that he never interviewed the SEALS in involved in the raid.”
1. A good story on the Amish witness to Gelassenheit: “WOODHULL, N.Y. — Between hashing out funeral arrangements in a hushed Pennsylvania German dialect and relaying messages hundreds of miles away to family in Ohio through “English” couriers, eight elders of the Jasper-Woodhull Amish settlement paused to ponder a question from an outsider: Is there anger or resentment in the community over the traffic accident that killed five of its members and injured seven others? Standing in long sleeves and slacks, their broad-brimmed hats providing the only respite from the blazing sun, the men folded their arms and tugged their beards as they contemplated an answer. Then the oldest among them spoke up. “That’s not the way we were brought up,” said the man, who, like the others, asked that his name not be published. “God’s ways are not our ways.”
3. Internet rage and deindividuation: “The psychologists call it “deindividuation”. It’s what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed…. Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it’s why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don’t like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt.”
4. Paul Boghossian contends it’s either moral absolutes or nihilism (not moral relativism), a piece that makes quite the admission: “Is it plausible to respond to the rejection of absolute moral facts with a relativistic view of morality? Why should our response not be a more extreme, nihilistic one, according to which we stop using normative terms like “right” and “wrong” altogether, be it in their absolutist or relativist guises?”
5. OK, I’ll say it then: this one sounds fishy! “VANCOUVER — Top bureaucrats in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off the B.C. coast, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News.”
6. Good piece on teaching writing: “Trouble is, no matter how detailed and incisive the feedback, by the time it gets back to you it’s already too late — and, in a way, too early. Too late because your paper has already been written, and what you really needed help with was its composition, with the micromechanics of style, with all the small decisions that led you to say whatever it is you said. And too early because even if the professor’s ex post pointers make every bit of sense, a whole month might go by before you next get to use them….Professors will sometimes gesture toward a better approach — they’ll share an example of good writing in class and walk through the specific reasons it works; they’ll hold office hours or encourage one-on-one sessions to work on drafts — but still that leaves the central problem: that their guidance, however individuated, isn’t fast enough. That it’s too much of a loping catechism, not enough the snappy dialogue of master and apprentice. Or as John Whittier-Ferguson puts it, “It’s moving at a pace that’s not at all like the pace of someone actually working on a piece of writing…. But then came electronic mail. The instant transmission of text. With e-mail, Whittier-Ferguson didn’t have to so much invent a wonderfully responsive critical machine as become one: sit at his computer; encourage students to send him work in progress; respond to it quickly. That’s all it had to be. And yet that simple practice would incubate “a whole new order of engagement and exchange with their writing that just wasn’t there” when he started teaching in the late seventies.”
7. Speaking of writing, Wendy Warris on the LA Times cut of freelancers: “In a move as significant for its breadth as its implications for the future of book coverage, the Los Angeles Times book review laid off all of its freelance book reviewers and columnists on July 21. Susan Salter Reynolds was with the Times for 23 years as both a staffer and freelancer and wrote the “Discoveries” column that appeared each week in the Sunday book review. She was told that her column was cancelled and will not be replaced by another writer. “I don’t know where these layoffs fit into the long-storied failure at the Times,” she said yesterday, “but these are not smart business decisions. This is shabby treatment.”
8. Christie Aschwanden on coffee and health: “Coffee is one of those things that make curmudgeons like Andy Rooney throw up their hands. They used to tell us coffee is bad for us, he complains. Now they say it’s good. Why should we believe any of it?”
9. William Pannapacker: “I can only recommend graduate school in the humanities—and, increasingly, the social sciences and sciences—if you are independently wealthy, well-connected in the field you plan to enter (e.g., your mom is the president of an Ivy League university), or earning a credential to advance in a position you already hold, such as a high-school teacher, and even then, a master’s degree is enough. But this is not the place to remind undergraduates that most of them are out of their freaking minds if they are considering graduate school. I’ve done that elsewhere, and so have severalothers in the last few years. Now I’d like to suggest a plan for reforming higher education in the humanities that could, someday, make graduate education a responsible, ethical option for the students I advise, and students everywhere.”
10. Good point.
Meanderings in Sports