Weekly Meanderings

Kris and I have been in Perth Australia for two weeks, and I was glad to get all the posts up before we left for that time period. But we didn’t get home until Wednesday evening and so our links this weekend are not as fulsome as I would like. But, do enjoy what’s here. I begin with a picture (swiped from internet) of a Rainbow Lorikeet, and we saw these in abundance along the Swan River in downtown Perth. Perth and the Margaret River area give us the most spectacular birds.

I’ll be posting about our time in Perth at Vose Seminary in the future…

Dan Kimball announcement: “Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church and the forthcoming Adventures in Churchland, will join George Fox University in a part-time capacity this fall as professor of missional leadership and as leader of a new center focused on the future faith of young Americans. He also will teach at the university’s seminary.”

The Renovare Apprentis Institute is starting to fill up … hope to see you there.

Roger Olson sketches the emerging movement.

Peggy reflecting three more times on M. Scott Peck: one, two, three. [Actually these are posts two, three and four.]

Hugh Macleod: “Earlier today I told everybody on Twitter and Facebook, that I’m leaving Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because Facebook and Twitter are too easy. Keeping up a decent blog that people actually want to take the time to read, that’s much harder. And it’s the hard stuff that pays off in the end. Besides, even if they’re very good at hiding the fact, over on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not your content, it’s their content. The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.”

Maybe you’ve seen this, but I have two pieces in the new Missio Dei Journal — both on James.

Al Hsu on John Stott on singleness.

JR Woodward does good sets of posts on big topics, and this one on the social trinity and church is a good example of his work.

Galilee vs. Judea. Paul and the Law.

The Catholics have taken a beating in the media this week for the papal decision to permit priests to absolve the sin of abortion and to release those who have had abortions from excommunication, and few have read deeply enough to know what was actually declared by the Pope. Whatever you think of the absolution graces in Catholicism, we are obligated to understand what is actually happening. And Kathryn Jean Lopez explains it.

Meanderings in the News

Church in Washington goes to court: “An Olympia church is considering its legal options after the state of Washington denied its request to hold a baptism ceremony at a park on the grounds of the Capitol. Officials at Reality Church had wanted to hold a barbecue and baptism last Sunday at Heritage Park. The park, located on the grounds of the state Capitol, includes a 260-acre man-made lake. Church members had wanted to use a portable baptistery, not the lake. The Department of General Administration, the state agency that oversees the park, turned down their request stating that the proposed baptism service was a violation of the state constitution.”

Michael Grabell’s seven myths about the economy.

Thomas Sowell on the bunkum of the intelligentsia’s theories of systemics: “The orgies of violent attacks on strangers in the streets — in both England and the United States — are not necessarily just passing episodes. They should be wake-up calls, warning of the continuing degeneration of Western society. As British doctor and author Theodore Dalrymple said, long before these riots broke out, “The good are afraid of the bad, and the bad are afraid of nothing.” “Nevertheless, our own politically correct elites are pointing us in the same direction. A headline in the New York Times shows the identical mindset in the United States: “London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain.” There is not a speck of evidence that the rioters and looters are troubled — unless you engage in circular reasoning and say that they must have been troubled to do the things they did.” The NYTimes sees it differently: “Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents. Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest. What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.”

On the University of Miami scandal: “College athletics is killing itself whole, one hypocritical scandal at a time, yet any honest reform is almost impossible to envision. We’re not talking about the too-little, too-late band-aids sprouting from last week’s vaunted NCAA retreat, one that featured no less than Shalala. The whole system needs to go. The whole concept needs to be redone. The problem is that the same rulebook that causes so many of these humbling hangovers also makes so much cash for the people that write and supposedly enforce it. Until the shame outbalances the revenue, what’s the motivation to change?” [There are two dimensions that have to change: disconnect sports from education, pay the athletes.” (Here is the first Yahoo Sports article.)

Maslow’s theory of happiness: “The theory in question is the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” a staple of Psychology 101 courses that was famously articulated in 1954. It breaks down the path to happiness in an easy-to-digest list: Earthly needs, such as food and safety, are considered essential, since they act as the groundwork that makes it possible to pursue loftier desires, such as love, respect, and self-actualization (the realization of one’s full potential).”

Narcissists are not good leaders: “Although they are generally perceived as arrogant and overly dominant, narcissistic individuals are particularly skilled at radiating an image of a prototypically effective leader. As a result, they tend to emerge as leaders in group settings. Despite people’s positive perceptions of narcissists as leaders, it was thus far unknown if and how leaders’ narcissism is related to the actual performance of those they lead. In the current paper we used a hidden profile paradigm to provide evidence for a discord between the positive image of narcissists as leaders and the reality in terms of group performance. We proposed and found that although narcissistic leaders are perceived as effective due to their displays of authority, leaders’ narcissism actually inhibits information exchange between group members and thereby negatively affects group performance. Our findings thus indicate that perceptions and reality can be at odds, which has important practical and theoretical implications.”

Pennebaker on pronouns and what they tell us: “Take this little test. Who uses the following words more, women or men?

> 1st person singular (I, me, my)
> 1st person plural (we, us our)
> articles (a, an, the)
> emotion words (e.g., happy, sad, love, hate)
> cognitive words (e.g., because, reason, think, believe)
> social words (e.g., he, she, friend, cousin)

Most people assume that men use I-words and cognitive words more than women and that women use we-words, emotions, and social words more than men. Bad news. You were right if you guessed that women use social words more. However, women use I-words and cognitive words at far higher rates than men. There are no reliable differences between men and women for use of we-words or emotion words (OK, those were trick questions). And men use articles more than women, when you might guess there’d be no difference.”

Rock-bottom, yes, but still not affordable: “The rock-bottom rates have made it even more enticing for those who are looking to buy a home to act now. Housing affordability the percentage of homes sold during a quarter that are within the reach of people earning the median family income had already been trending near record levels before mortgage rates started to plunge, according to a report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo released Thursday. The organization said that when a family spends 28% or less of its gross income on housing expenses it qualifies as affordable. Yet, despite the extremely favorable conditions, most housing markets remain depressed.”At a time when homeownership is within reach of more households than it has been for more than two decades and interest rates are at historically low levels, the sluggish economy and the extremely tight credit conditions confronting home buyers and builders remain significant obstacles to many potential home sales,” said Bob Nielsen, NAHB’s chairman and a home builder from Reno, Nev.”

On the growth of the economy in Texas, by WASHINGTON: “There are a lot of ways of looking at the Texas miracle, and I don’t think one can or should write off structural factors entirely, whether tax policy, regulatory burden, housing costs, or oil and gas. But the dynamic above is an example of a virtuous cycle of self-fulfilling expectations. People come because Texas is where the jobs are, and because people come Texas is where the jobs are. Firms anticipate that growth will continue, and they hire accordingly, which ensures that growth continues. And migration ensures steady, stabilising growth in labour-intensive government, education, and health jobs. There’s a lot of talk about whether the Texas model is generalisable. It is, and not just because America as a whole should allow in more immigrants from abroad (which it should). The Texas model is generalisable because the Federal Reserve has the ability to change the prevailing economic equilibrium from the low-growth, low-employment state to the high-growth, high-employment state. The simplest way to do that, of course, would be to set a nominal growth target. Any policy change that convinces markets it is ready to push the economy to trend growth and keep it there, at least until inflation looks uncomfortably high, would do the trick.”

Meanderings in Sports

Yes! “Earlier this month the Indians were in Boston and Hannahan’s agent Joe Speed got a call from Hannahan’s mother that his wife was having contractions and my go into labor in a matter of hours.

Jenny Hannahan had been regulated to bed rest for nearly a month at this point, despite being barely in her third trimester of pregnancy. With Jack Hannahan and the Indians in Boston, it was apparent that the night was near.

So even while Hannahan was at bat in the game, Speed booked the first flight in the morning out of Logan airport in Boston back to Cleveland, even knowing that would likely be too late. His next step was calling about private planes. They were available, but they cost $35,000. Even though Hannahan has a contract for $500,000 this year, $35,000 is still seven percent of his annual salary — that’s a lot of money on a gamble that it would be the night Jenny gave birth.

After Hannahan was notified after the game of what was going on, he considered that, because it was the only way he’d be getting back to Cleveland before the morning. However, the price tag was just too high for the fiscally conservative Hannahan.

At some point after the game, teammate Justin Masterson asked Hannahan what was happening and as soon as Hannahan told him, Masterson told him get the private jet.

“Book it,” Masterson told Hannahan, according to Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press. When Hannahan balked, Masterson insisted.

At that point, Masterson passed around a hat, getting donations from teammates. And pretty quickly, they had the $35,000 covered — call it a baby shower gift from his teammates.

Hannahan booked the plane and once it landed in Cleveland, there was a limo waiting for him at the airport to take him to the hospital. Hannahan finally got to his wife at 3 a.m. and just 15 minutes later, John Joseph Hannahan V was born.

Although the youngest Hannahan was born prematurely and weighed just two pounds, 11 ounces at birth, Speed said son, mother and father are all doing well now, even though Hannahan’s son has yet to come home.”

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.

  • rjs

    Good stuff Scot, especially the two (long) articles in the Missio Dei Journal. Although they are not really on James, it seems to me … more on your upcoming book on the gospel, the future commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and James all mixed together. Fascinating articles – I hope they get a lot of traffic – and some careful reading.

  • Rick

    That is exciting news about Kimball. I am hopeful the research will be very beneficial.

    In regards to the Miami scandal- the NCAA needs to update the rules so that its investigators just need to focus on the major violations. But athletes are getting paid, with an education. We downplay the importance of education when we act like student-athletes are not getting a huge, lifelong benefit from it.

  • Jorge L

    Even the article by Kathryn Jean Lopez, good as it is, fails to clarify. At issue is not forgiveness for the sin of abortion (and that applies not just to women who have abortions but to medical people who carry them out). That is forgiven, like any other sin, when it is confessed sorrowfully.

    The issue was the censure, namely, automatic excommunication, that some sins carry. One always has been able to confess the sin of abortion and receive absolution for that sin–to any priest who hears confessions.

    But that priest could not remove the excommunication unless he had had authority to do so delegated to him by the bishop. As Lopez points out, many if not most priests in the US already have had that authority given them by their bishop.

    All that was done in Madrid was that the Archbishop of Madrid (not the pope) authorized all the priest-confessors at World Youth Day to do what most priests already are authorized to do–remove the excommunication (the “censure” to use the big word Lopez should not have tossed around so easily, without explanation).

    Forgiveness of the sin was always dealt with, like any other sin, in “normal” sacramental confession.

  • Scot McKnight

    Jorge L,

    Beside the fact that you seem intent on correcting everything said by Prots about RCs, I can’t say anything in your comment improved what I had already learned from Lopez. While maybe she didn’t clarify censure as much as you would have liked, what she said made it clear to me this was about forgiveness and restoration back into the Church.

  • Patrick

    Question here: Does the Catholic doctrine of ex communication mean you would die outside the Body of Christ or does it just have a temporal negativity associated with it?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Goodness Scot, did you take those bird pics?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    ….er, I obviously read the post from bottom to top…..

  • DLS

    Thomas Sowell is one of America’s greatest minds, and we’ll miss him when he’s gone. The NYT piece makes my head hurt. To call those measures “draconian”, then admitting in the same piece that 1 in 6 live in publicly supported housing is insultingly silly, even for the NYT. If you need answers as to why Europe is in decline (and the U.S. will be not far behind them), look to this piece.

  • Karen Spears Zacharias

    Welcome Home!Those birds are beautiful. I’m envious.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Those articles are surely lectures, Scot! Well worth the time and effort I should add. And the series by JR Woodward I really liked. Heartwarming story about the baseball player getting back home to witness the birth of his son.

  • Terry

    As a George Fox alumnus, I’m very glad to hear of Dan’s latest undertaking. This is a really good thing.

  • alison

    Scot, looking forward to seeing you in Wichita. My daughter and I both signed up!

  • Dennis J

    after the recent emphasis on married ministers being “normative”, it is really great to hear about Stott and singleness, even if he wasn’t a pastor. i wonder if any of the propagators would have denied Stott a senior pastorate at their church.

  • Scot McKnight

    Dennis J, what do you mean by “even if he wasn’t a pastor”? Stott was a pastor.

  • http://rhymeswithplague.blogspot.com Bob Brague

    I don’t know, Scot, you had plenty of meanderings this weekend. But surely you do not want them to be fulsome:

    ful·some [fool-suhm, fuhl-], adjective
    1. offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross: fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome décor.
    2. disgusting; sickening; repulsive: a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods.
    3. excessively or insincerely lavish: fulsome admiration.
    4. encompassing all aspects; comprehensive: a fulsome survey of the political situation in Central America.
    5. abundant or copious.

    Here’s a little-known fact: Dictionary definitions are in chronological order from original to latest. My guess is that the latest meaning of fulsome (#5) has come about mainly because people were not using the word correctly in the first place.

  • EricW

    Re: the article about Carholic forgiveness for abortion:

    “The life of Mary Madgalene is a reminder that God is always merciful — even if we are not,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.

    It’s sad that this idea that Mary Magdalene was the sinner who cried on and kissed Jesus’ feet and/or the woman caught in adultery (which pericope Daniel Wallace says should not be in the canonical text nor taught as canonical Scripture) has become so entrenched in some peoples’ and churches’ minds and doctrines. Jesus was said to have cast 7 demons out of her, but the popular image of Mary Magdalene as a harlot or adulteress is not taught in the NT, nor does the Eastern Church hold that view AFAIK; instead they call her ” Equal to the Apostles” for having been the first (according to John) to proclaim the resurrection.

  • Susan N.

    Before heading out on the road to O’Hare Airport early yesterday morning, I only had time to skim the link headings and intros. ‘Maslow’s Theory’ caught my attention. His hierarchy of needs made a deep impression on my 20-something self in Psy class. During the drive up and back yesterday, I reflected on it, and had planned to post a comment. When we got home and took the mail from the box, a correspondence from World Vision re: our sponsored child in Ethiopia was there.

    Kebede was in poor health when we sponsored him. Beyond that, we didn’t know details. Boset area is hard-hit by HIV/AIDS, so I thought that might be a possibility. Included in this latest correspondence, an updated full body photo of our boy. As it turns out, Kebede has a physical disability, severe enough to prevent him from attending the elementary school which was built by World Vision. He is now 12yo. A new shady shelter has been erected in the center of the village, enabling the children to gather, play, learn, socialize. I wonder if my Kebede can often (ever?) join the community? I know that Kebede has access to health care and medicine now, through World Vision sponsorship, and his family (mother and siblings — no father) receive needed supplies. At least his most pressing physiological needs are being met.

    When I first saw Kebede’s photo and bio on World Vision’s child sponsorship site, and read “poor health”, I chose him because I felt he needed help the most, and because if his condition was grave, he should know that there is a God who loves him, that he is loved, and he/his life has value and worth. Now, knowing about the disability, I am feeling sad and worried for Kebede. In a harsh land such as Ethiopia, what are his prospects, with a crippling disability and no education? When World Vision’s Area Development Project in Boset is completed, what will become of Kebede? I’m thankful for the communal improvements that World Vision has put in place there (school, shelter, latrines, etc.), but I pray that World Vision will be successful, most of all, in building a sense of community “ubuntu” among the people…a sense of loving and belonging, responsibility to one another; so that the weak and vulnerable among them, like Kebede, will be loved and taken care of. So that Kebede can find his place in Boset, and in the world, and know his unique purpose for being created.

    On the other hand, considering all those hundreds of thousands in the Horn of Africa who are on the verge of death by starvation, I think in their case Maslow’s Theory works. Children who are too weak to continue are being left on the side of the road to die, while the stronger family members walk on to the refugee center in Kenya. Love and belonging become secondary if basic survival is at stake. Imagine a mother’s decision to choose to leave a child to die. Can you imagine???

    Those of us who are not in such dire circumstances, who have the luxury of enjoying a sense of love and belonging, with physiological needs met and a safe environment to live in, have an obligation to care for those who are most vulnerable, imho. In doing that, we realize our worth (and the worth of every human being) and fulfill our calling/purpose (self-actualization). The theory might need a little tweaking and nuanced interpretation, but I still think it is a good working theory.

    I also think about my elderly friends in the nursing home. The institution takes care of the physiological and safety rungs, and attempt to create a sense of community through social activities and staff who care for the residents lovingly. There is certainly a deep need, generally, among the elderly in nursing homes for love and encouragement; for a connection to the “outside” world.

    As a society, we are all better (“ubuntu”) when we care for one another, and do not throw the weak and vulnerable (be they children, the elderly, or the poor in general) under the bus.

    If God has blessed us, it is intended for us to bless others.

    It took me a long time to stop crying for Kebede last night. I found myself praying, “Jesus, come into Kebede’s life,” and in my mind’s eye I see Jesus meeting and healing the lame, the blind, the sick, restoring the marginalized to community. I find myself asking for God to use his bigness to affect a positive outcome for Kebede. It’s not happiness (such a cheap word) that I want for him. I want “shalom” — wholeness and peace for him and his community.

  • Dennis J

    sorry Scot, i had no idea that Stott was a pastor. with all the other things that he was involved with i just assumed he wasn’t. bad assumption.

  • alison

    Susan, thank you for writing about Kebede, and bless you for caring so deeply for him. Sometimes we don’t know how to pray. When I pray for someone who is in an unbearable situation, I pray that they will not experience fear.

  • Chuck

    About the University of Miami scandal, it is high time that athletics be disconnected from the colleges. All we have been doing for decades now is using our colleges as farm leagues for professional sports. Consequently, the mission of higher education has been sorely compromised and an underworld of corruption has emerged. Now is the time.