Are we ready for some school year?!
Matthew Milliner: “Consequently a modern feminist such as Elizabeth Johnson does not argue for Christ’s androgyny. “Let us be very clear: the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a male human being is not in question. His sex was a constitutive element of his historical person along with other particularities such as his Jewish racial identity…” And yet, by investigating Scripture, Johnson discovers that Christ’s totality indisputably includes the feminine. When, for example, Christ says, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5), the women referred to just beforehand (Acts 9:2) are explicitly included in Christ’s self-identification. “The heart of the problem is not that Jesus was male,” concludes Johnson, “but that more males have not been like Jesus” (311). There is much to criticize in certain strands of feminist theology – but can one really take issue with that?”
Tim Spivey on why church planting is all the rage today.
Jim Martin interview Trevor Hudson … very nice.
I have read and read stuff about John Stott, and what I keep reading about was his commitment to social justice. Well, yes, that’s very true and he caught some heat from the right-wingers for it. But let me speak as one who listened to him, who read him, and who followed him closely. What we knew Stott for was biblical exposition. Yes, he was committed to justice, and at Lausanne he had a famous point to make about the importance of justice, but if you ask folks who paid attention to Stott in the 60s, 70s and 80s, we knew him for his faithful biblical expositions and for his balanced approach to all things evangelical: he gave former fundamentalists a way to be evangelical without being fundamentalist. That, my friends, is why pockets of contemporary evangelicals have stopped appealing to Stott: he was third way. John Stott stood for charitable evangelicalism.
On religion and education: “The old wisdom: The more educated you are, the less likely you will be religious. But a new study says education doesn’t drive people away from God — it gives them a more liberal attitude about who’s going to heaven… For each additional year of education beyond seventh grade, Americans are: •15% more likely to have attended religious services in the past week. •14% more likely to say they believe in a “higher power” than in a personal God. “More than 90% believe in some sort of divinity,” Schwadel says. •13% more likely to switch to a mainline Protestant denomination that is “less strict, less likely to impose rules of behavior on your daily life” than their childhood religion. •13% less likely to say the Bible is the “actual word of God.” The educated, like most folks in general, tend to say the Bible is the “inspired word” of God, Schwadel says.”
Meanderings in the News
1. Andrea Kuszewski: “Not so many years ago, I was told by a professor of mine that you didn’t have much control over your intelligence. It was genetic—determined at birth. He explained that efforts made to raise the intelligence of children (through programs like Head Start, for example) had limited success while they were in practice, and furthermore, once the “training” stopped, they went right back to their previously low cognitive levels. Indeed, the data did show that [pdf], and he (along with many other intelligence researchers) concluded that intelligence could not be improved—at least not to create a lasting change. Well, I disagreed. … Now, while working memory is not synonymous with intelligence, working memory correlates with intelligence to a large degree. In order to generate successfully intelligent output, a good working memory is pretty important. So to make the most of your intelligence, improving your working memory will help this significantly—like using the very best and latest parts to help a machine to perform at its peak.
The take-home points from this research? This study is relevant because they discovered: 1. Fluid intelligence is trainable. 2. The training and subsequent gains are dose-dependent—meaning, the more you train, the more you gain. 3. Anyone can increase their cognitive ability, no matter what your starting point is. 4. The effect can be gained by training on tasks that don’t resemble the test questions.
These five primary principles are: 1. Seek Novelty 2. Challenge Yourself 3. Think Creatively 4. Do Things The Hard Way 5. Network.”
2. H. Allen Orr pushes David Brooks: “Science has a lot of uses. It can uncover laws of nature, cure disease, inspire awe, make bombs, and help bridges to stand up. Indeed science is so good at what it does that there’s a perpetual temptation to drag it into problems where it may add little or even distract from the real issues. David Brooks appears to be the latest in a long line of writers who, enamored of science, are bound and determined to import the stuff into their thinking….One certainly can’t fault Brooks’s attempt to master the science that he reports.The Social Animal canvases an enormous technical literature—indeed several literatures—and Brooks has plowed through a good amount of it. Despite this, Brooks never seems fully comfortable with all this science. He often appears ill at ease in a world of technical journals, disagreements among experts, and statistical measures of uncertainty. A working scientist knows, for example, that some findings are more secure than others, often because the former derive from studies that involved many subjects and the latter from studies that involved few. Brooks doesn’t seem to grasp this difference. To Brooks, science is science. It’s all equally sound and can be taken at face value. His lack of expertise also presumably accounts for his occasional reliance on popular scientific journalism. Thus we’re treated to conclusions from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Jonah Lehrer’s Proust Was a Neuroscientist, among others. Since these writers are also nonscientists, Brooks’s analysis sometimes leaves us two steps removed from the actual scientist and his facts, facts that are often accompanied in the scientific literature by caveats or exceptions.”
4. Kosher Pork brouhaha in NYC: “Congress is a catastrophe, the nation is on the brink of a self-induced default, the jobless recovery turns out to be all joblessness and no recovery, your retirement funds are circling the drain, our enemies in Afghanistan are on the attack, the Libyan rebel leaders we just recognized as their country’s only legitimate government appear to be assassinating each other, and right here in New York City, where it’s hotter than July and twice as humid, they’ve closed the beaches because they’re awash in raw sewage. So this is a week when we needed a miracle, and what we got was kosher pork.”
5. Seth Godin: “Now that everyone, every brand, every organization and just about every person is in a race to build trust or an online following or a reputation, the question of working for free in exchange for exposure confronts us all. Should you art direct a new ad for the local zoo, merely to build your cred? Should you give that speech for free, because people who pay speakers will be in the audience? Should you contribute code to the new kernel because people will see what you’ve done? Appear on a talk show, do a signing, call in to a radio show? Perhaps. Unsatisfying, but true. Exposure, the right kind of exposure, is good practice, an honest contribution and yes, a chance to build credibility. Make it a habit, though, and instead of exposure, you’ve set yourself up a new standard– that you work for free.”
7. A good story of forgiveness: “Tehran, Iran (CNN) — A man convicted of blinding a woman in an acid attack was spared an eye-for-an-eye punishment Sunday, minutes before the sentence was to be carried out, Iranian state media reported. The Fars News Agency reported that the victim had a sudden change of heart and decided to stop the punishment. A physician was to drop acid — under legal supervision — into the eyes of Majid Movahedi on Sunday, according to Fars News Agency, to punish him for throwing acid in the face of Ameneh Bahrami seven years ago. The act disfigured her face and blinded her. Bahrami had previously insisted on the vengeful punishment after her attacker’s conviction in 2008. “However in the last minute, Ameneh changed her mind and asked the proceeding to be halted,” the Islamic republic’s Fars state news agency reported. This week marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic world, and pardons and commuted sentences commonly occur as a show of compassion leading into the holiday.”
9. Charles Simic: “Here it is already August and I have received only one postcard this summer. It was sent to me by a European friend who was traveling in Mongolia (as far as I could deduce from the postage stamp) and who simply sent me his greetings and signed his name. The picture in color on the other side was of a desert broken up by some parched hills without any hint of vegetation or sign of life, the name of the place in characters I could not read. Even receiving such an enigmatic card pleased me immensely. This piece of snail mail, I thought, left at the reception desk of a hotel, dropped in a mailbox, or taken to the local post office, made its unknown and most likely arduous journey by truck, train, camel, donkey—or whatever it was— and finally by plane to where I live.”