Weekly Meanderings

Barnabas Piper on his dad and Kirby Puckett’s example: ““Kirby Puckett NEVER jogs to first base!” 20 years ago a father yelled this encouragement to his chubby, baseball-loving son on a baked, dirt infield at Elliot Park near downtown Minneapolis. That chubby kid never forgot that piece of advice. For some reason my dad’s encouragement at that patchy, scrubby baseball field has resonated in my head a lot recently. I am not really sure why. Anyone who’s read John Piper’s books or has listened to him preach knows that he has made some profound, challenging, mind-blowing, tongue-twisting, soul-wrenching statements. But what I remember most is that “Kirby Puckett NEVER jogs to first base!” Speaking of John Piper, here’s a nice set of thoughts about more than thirty years of ministry.

As long as we don’t surrender eternity, we need to embolden our embodiment in theology.

On the end of postmodernity: “At some point, however, it stopped working. It stopped being relevant. Or maybe people just got tired of it. At some point the response to the postmodern itself became “Whatever…” Maybe we saw that everyone could do it, or because we felt at some level it was superficial semiotic play. Postmodern works became almost self-deconstructing, and appreciation of culture devolved into nothing more than solving puzzles by following clues left deliberately by authors. Or maybe it was a heightened sense of reality after 9-11, or maybe the Great Recession makes the cultural pastiche central to postmodern culture seem trite. Or maybe it’s simply exhausted. …  The best way I can describe what I think comes next, in light of postmodernism, is the death of cool. The detachment and aloofness that defined cool are no longer palatable to younger generations. “Whatever,” followed by some glib deconstruction of motives, intent, and meaning, is no longer an acceptable response to an idea or question. Deconstruction is no longer an excuse for inaction or withdrawal. Now the preferred response seems to be “I know you can’t trust it, I know you can’t be sure, but still…

Here are Kris and I at Berry Farm near Margaret River feeding Honey Eaters.

Wisdom on alcohol from Brad.

Faithful to (and beyond) the end.

Good personal story by Chaplain Mike.

Rachel Stone interviews Bill Webb, a patient and kind Bible professor, on Bible reading and feminism. Here’s a good clip: “Many complementarians believe that an egalitarian reading of the Bible owes more to our own cultural prejudices than to a faithful reading of Scripture. What’s your answer to them? I think this question betrays two incorrect assumptions. First, it wrongly assumes that hierarchicalists or patriarchalists do not have their own cultural and subcultural prejudices that impact their reading of Scripture. Second, it wrongly assumes that Scripture itself has not been impacted in its own formation with cultural components and a fallen-world context that shapes its social ethics. One would do well to read Mark Noll’s The Civil War as a Theological Crisis to see how communities dominate how we read Scripture (many preachers used Scripture to defend slavery). Did ancient culture impact the biblical ethics of slavery but not that of women? ”

She also interviewed Russell Moore, one of the finest Christian gentleman I’ve met, who speaks from the angle of the complementarian: “What complementarianism contributes to this discussion is to say that where there is a loss of self-sacrificial, other-protective male leadership, the result is not equality but the worst form of patriarchy. In the Bible, headship is not dictatorship, but instead the responsibility to sacrifice oneself for another (Eph. 5:25-30). In a Christian view of reality, women’s value is not determined by her sexual attractiveness or availability to men. A truly complementarian Christianity will value the full spectrum of gifts, and the cooperative economy that God brings about through the distinctions between women and men as well as through their commonalities.”

Jesus was right to elevate this theme from the margins to the center, and we’d do ourselves a favor by listening to him.

One possible consequence of blogging, yowzers!

Dean Curry, at Patheos, on an ethic of civility explaining what he sees as drift among evangelicals: “Apart from his prescience in this area, Hunter’s analysis is perhaps most useful in helping us understand the reasons for change within evangelicalism. Of particular note is Hunter’s insightful parsing of the dimensions of “civility,” one of modernity’s unassailable innovations. The essence of civility is tolerance, arguably the primordial concept of our post-modern age, and a habit now widely embraced by evangelicals. But there is another dimension to civility that Hunter identifies as the inversion of tolerance, namely tolerability, and it is this side of civility that Hunter argues is key to understanding the dynamics of transformation that have taken place within American evangelicalism.The ethic of civility requires not only that individuals be tolerant of others; it also requires that they must be tolerable to others.” And if you read the site, check also John Sanders’ comment.

Meanderings in the News

Eric Rignot, on the melting of Antartica’s rivers. “The first-ever map of how Antarctica’s ice is moving across that continent has been created by researchers at the University of California, Irvine.  The map, along with an associated animation developed by NASA, reveals that ice is flowing fastest in coastal ice shelves and their tributaries, shown in this illustration in bright purple and blue. Though it’s ice that’s moving, not water, “you can imagine it like a river system,” says Bernd Scheuchl, one of the map’s creators. The fastest ice flows out to sea at a rate of a few kilometers a year. Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers on the west coast are the most active.”

Marc Andreesen, on how software is eating the world: “This week, Hewlett-Packard (where I am on the board) announced that it is exploring jettisoning its PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software, where it sees better potential for growth. Meanwhile, Google plans to buy up the cellphone handset maker Motorola Mobility. Both moves surprised the tech world. But both moves are also in line with a trend I’ve observed, one that makes me optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies, despite the recent turmoil in the stock market. In short, software is eating the world. More than 10 years after the peak of the 1990s dot-com bubble, a dozen or so new Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter are sparking controversy in Silicon Valley, due to their rapidly growing private market valuations, and even the occasional successful IPO. With scars from the heyday of Webvan and Pets.com still fresh in the investor psyche, people are asking, “Isn’t this just a dangerous new bubble?”

Napp Nazworth: “A new study of K-12 Christian schools shows that Protestant Christian schools do a better job of developing their students’ spiritual formation while Catholic Christian schools do a better job developing their students’ intellect. … Catholic school students have better academic outcomes, are more likely to attend prestigious colleges, more likely to achieve an advanced degree and have higher income levels as a result. This is consistent with the goals of Catholic schools. Catholic school administrators place much emphasis on academic achievement and Catholic schools have more rigorous course requirements than Protestant schools…. Protestant school graduates, on the other hand, lagged in academic development compared to Catholic school graduates, but were more likely to live out the social teaching of their schools. They show more commitment to their families, church and communities than those who graduated from Catholic, non-religious private, and public schools.”

What not to say to the depressed: nine things.

Don Peck, on the economy: “In fact, they said, America was composed of two distinct groups: the rich and the rest. And for the purposes of investment decisions, the second group didn’t matter; tracking its spending habits or worrying over its savings rate was a waste of time. All the action in the American economy was at the top: the richest 1 percent of households earned as much each year as the bottom 60 percent put together; they possessed as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; and with each passing year, a greater share of the nation’s treasure was flowing through their hands and into their pockets. It was this segment of the population, almost exclusively, that held the key to future growth and future returns. The analysts, Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, and Narendra Singh, had coined a term for this state of affairs: plutonomy…. According to Gallup, from May 2009 to May 2011, daily consumer spending rose by 16 percent among Americans earning more than $90,000 a year; among all other Americans, spending was completely flat. The consumer recovery, such as it is, appears to be driven by the affluent, not by the masses. Three years after the crash of 2008, the rich and well educated are putting the recession behind them. The rest of America is stuck in neutral or reverse…”. this is quite the lengthy and informative article.

Is sleep a kind of “defragmentation”?

The “stayover” trend. “WHEN social critics are not busy lamenting the fact that young people no longer marry in great numbers, they worry about where young people are living, especially if it’s on other people’s sofas. Now, a new study unites these two fears about the nation’s youth. According to “We’re Not Living Together,” by Tyler B. Jamison, a researcher in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri, along with hookups, friends with benefits and shacking up, we can add the “stayover” to the pantheon of youthful romantic endeavors. It seems that emerging adults age 18 to 29 often spend three or four nights a week at the home of their partners on a long-term basis rather than move in together.”

Gorbachev writes for WaPo.

Wow, this is really cool. “We spend loads on all sorts of cleaning, health, and other household products at the store every week, but quite often you can get the same jobs done with less obvious products already in your house. Here are ten of our favorite household stand-ins. In a lot of cases, it might not necessarily becheaper to use something you already have in the house, but if you’re in a bind, any of these will work well—no trip to the store required. Plus, a lot of them get the job done without harsh chemicals or other annoyances, which is a big plus.” [The scene to the right is cool, too, and it’s the southwestern coast of Australia.]

Will Windows Phone 7 be the iPhone killer?

Lexington, at The Economist, on Michelle Bachmann: “Her liberal critics make rich fun of all this. But exaggeration, inexactitude and mendacity are the currency of politics. The voter who grumbles about these things is like the farmer who grumbles about the weather. If Mrs Bachmann is guilty of such sins, she is hardly alone. Indeed, her most potent weapon might, paradoxically, be the fundamental honesty that undergirds her positions. That is to say, people can tell that, unlike most candidates, what you see is what you would get: a strongly religious person; a moraliser; a diminutive figure who really does appear to have, as she boasts, a “titanium spine”; a conviction politician in an age when many convictions are feigned. A Midwestern Margaret Thatcher with added divinity, she stands primed to reverse the monstrous growth of the entitlement state, convinced that whatever short-term suffering this causes will nonetheless restore the moral fibre of America. Many Americans would no doubt vote for her if she made it through the primaries. But far more are likely to be frightened, which is why she probably won’t.”

The mystery of Greek yogurt: “The mystery of Greek yogurt’s sudden ubiquity isn’t much of a mystery to me, as I glance from my computer to the recently discarded FAGEcarton in my trash can. I know I’m not alone. Greek yogurt is a $1.5 billion business in the U.S. Indeed, asking why Americans enjoy a pleasantly sweet and sourish yogurt with an avocado’s consistency and health benefits to boot seems to be an exercise in answering your own question. The mystery isn’t “why greek yogurt,” but why now?”

Meanderings in Sports (Newscasting)

From ESPN:

ESPN personalities (that means everyone except Chris Berman) will have to think twice before sending out that next tweet.

The network rolled out their revamped policy when it comes to social media. Some highlights:

• Think before your tweet. …

• Do not break news on Twitter….

• Prior to engaging in any form of social networking dealing with sports, you must receive permission from your supervisor. Personal Web sites and blogs that contain sports content or ESPN marks are not permitted.

• At all times, exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for colleagues, business associates and fans.

Don’t break news? I get there’s no “I” in team, but that seems a bit extreme, no? Good luck with that, ESPN peeps. “Big Brother” is watching.

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  • I used to enjoy John Piper’s ministry. I never got into his books, but I enjoyed reading his blog and watching podcasts of his sermons on a regular basis. Many times they were quite thought-provoking and insightful. However, I lost respect for him and many others of the Reformed tradition over the past year with the “I am right and everyone else is wrong” mentality. This became most prevalent during the Rob Bell “Love Wins” debacle with the excessive arguing and divisive nature of their conversations. This not to mention Piper’s Tweet that rattled some people’s nerves, “Farewell Rob Bell”. I don’t recall Piper apologizing for this unnecessary statement, and maybe he doesn’t feel he has to. But, I know I concluded with the notion that I don’t ever want to become like these men. And, I hope and pray this is NOT the Christianity the world sees. It is because of statements like Pipers and others like him, that I have said farewell to men like them who are not open to fair discussion and conversation with grace and unity.

  • Gloria

    Amen to FiveDills.

  • DJ


    I’m disappointed that you, as someone who has such passion for youth ministry, offered so few comments on the passion (and shear numbers) of the youth at World Youth Day Madrid. Over the past two weeks, I think I only saw you point to 1 or 2 marginal posts about the event. I’d like you to consider some of the more positive and dare I say, evangelical flavored posts/news that came out of the event. Here is just one for your review.




  • Susan N.

    Nice assortment of news to meander…

    Julie Clawson’s “Embodied Theology” – so well-said, I almost linked the article to share on my FB page. Then I read the comments and thought better of it. Undoubtedly, more than a few of my FB friends would be angered by the thesis of the article, feel compelled to defend truth, and have their blood pressure raised as a result. Hence, I decided to just be grateful inwardly for the affirmation of my personal convictions. 🙂

    “What Not to Say to a Depressed Mate” – Very helpful and important to know. When someone with whom we are in relationship — whether it be at home, work, or church — is suffering with depression, however well-meaning our intentions, often our cliche words can make them feel worse. There are better ways to offer help and healing. Good advice in this article!

  • Karen Spears Zacharias

    Love the bird photos.

  • Jason Lee

    Rodney Stark and Byron Johnson call Barna Group on the carpet (and the journalists who gobble up Barna’s stuff) at WSJ:


  • A different Dan

    Interesting first two responses to the posts today. It might be enlightening for them to read the post by Dean Curry on JD Hunter.

    The article notes, “Convictions are to be tempered by ‘good taste’ and sensibility. It is an ethic which pleads ‘no offense.’ The greatest breach of these norms is belligerence and divisiveness; the greatest atrocity is to be offensive and thus intolerable.”

    One wonders if the absolutist stances adopted by many in Scripture would be welcome in modern blog discussions. Where is truth or orthodoxy? Who knows and who cares as long as one gives no offense.

  • TSG

    Zarathustra admonishes his audience to ignore those who promise other worldly hopes. Zarathustra declares Christianity required the invention of an eternal soul. Zarathustra mistrusts all self-made fantasies of the beyond.
    Embodied means to give a tangible form. Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel shouldn’t even hint at Christianity as being nihilistic. She says “a theology of embodiment mistrusts all self-made fantasies of the beyond which are engaged in at the expense of healing people here….” This might be mis-interpreted from the German. But come-on…..I did not make it, but it is making me. And the tangible form of this is for me to be healing people? I’m not even close to capable.

  • Not long ago, the ballpark was a place where C.E.O.’s and mailroom clerks sat side by side, and everyone got wet when it rained. Today, most stadiums have corporate skyboxes, which cosset the privileged in air-conditioned suites, far removed from the crowd below. Something similar has happened throughout our society. The affluent retreat from public schools, the military, and other public institutions, leaving fewer and fewer class-mixing places. ~Michael Sandel

  • SFG

    While Kirby Puckett may have never jogged to first base, the rest of his life was not one to emulate.

  • SFG

    Before believing that Michelle Bachmann has a “titanium spine” you should read the profile of her in the New Yorker:

  • rjs

    Great pictures. (Well not Chicago or Antarctica – but the other three)

  • Scot, you´r like St. Fracis – feeding the animals. Do you speak to them also? 😉

  • Scot McKnight

    I did speak to them, Jacob, but they didn’t talk back.

  • A different Dan

    SFG @11, an interesting take on the fairness of the Ryan Lizza piece in the New Yorker about Michele Bachmann can be found right here at Patheos by Doug Groothuis. Lizza should be able to do better.


  • Thank you for linking Julie Clawson’s Sojo blog and Rachel Stone’s interview of Dr. Webb, Scot. I’d read & appreciated both this week. ISTM that the redemptive hermeneutic of Webb’s and the need for embodied theology are intertwined. Without the perspective & promise of life & love in eternity, our journeys could all seem like so few drops in an ocean.

    Did the birds tickle when they are perched on your hands? They’re so delicate & beautiful!

  • TSG #8, does Clawson’s quote of Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel not speak of both-and, rather than either-or? I don’t hear that quote as being nihilistic, but rather as countering escapist tendencies and focus which tend to overwhelm God’s words to love our neighbors. By the Spirit, we participate in God’s healing others when we love them tangibly – serve them, listen to them, feed them, visit them, extend mercy and care for them regardless of where they are.

  • Christine

    FiveDills, is there a different standard whereby you can say “farewell to men like them,” but John Piper cannot? I never quite understood why the huge dust-up over Piper’s tweet anyway.

  • # 17 Beakerj – Thank you. You answered as I would have answered.

  • #20 Christine – If Piper does not wish to engage in fruitful dialog with others, only resorting to personal criticism and quarrels, I wish not to have anything to do with them. The standard for which I measure this decision with?

    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23)

  • Taylor

    to be fair, i believe the terms ‘misguided’ and ‘toxic’ came up in Rob Bells critique of pastors (and lay evangelists) who believe the same message as Piper.

  • I find myself rooting for the scientist, René Najera, who had the pharma-entrepreneur seek to do him professional harm for his scientific based blogging. We need to protect truthful forums in which to speak w/out fear & repercussions. ISTM that FiveDills is expressing similar concerns over Piper’s interactions. Najera’s story hits too close to home, geographically & more.