Weekly Meanderings

Thom Rainer has plotted the typical life of a pastor (if there is such a thing). Alongside Thom Rainer, read Theo’s ponderings on a “calling.”

Late prayers for a tragic situation at ACU — so sad.

Preaching is way too sacred for this. Brad’s using “plagiarize” in a way I wouldn’t, I think sermons ought to be fresh and personal, but the use the work of others entirely acceptable — and communicated clearly.

Thomas Kidd chides strident approaches: “Stephens and Giberson’s New York Times piece generated indignation in the conservative blogosphere, revealing the perils of their approach. I suspect that nearly all evangelicals in academia, and many rank-and-file Christians, would sympathize with at least some of Stephens and Giberson’s concerns. (For full disclosure, note that I am a friend of Randall Stephens, and I am credited in The Anointed for helping with their chapter on evangelical history). But I am concerned that Stephens and Giberson’s tone seems so hostile toward their adversaries, and toward “fundamentalists” generally, that they will reach few beyond the already convinced…. [And then this:] Giberson and Stephens don’t give evangelical readers much guidance on how to draw the line between wisely appropriating mainstream scholarship and abandoning essentials of the faith.” [Another cheer for the fine work by the folks at Patheos for all the fine bloggers they have now collected.]

Liturgy for evangelical newbies.

Roger Olson regarding JI Packer’s representations of Arminianism: “Today I received an e-mail from a reader who asked why I didn’t mention J. I. Packer in either Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities or Against Calvinism. That’s a good question. I didn’t, so now I will. To the best of my knowledge, the only lengthy, detailed treatment of Arminianism in print by Packer was his Introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ in A Quest for Godliness. It may be found at this web address:http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/packer_intro.html. There Packer, a Calvinist, completely misrepresents Arminianism. It’s truly shocking how distorted his understanding of Arminianism was then. I don’t know if it’s improved since then or not.” And then Roger gives kudos to Packer for another study.

Allan Bevere on Joe Paterno: we see again that legal and moral are not the same.

A good graph.

Meanderings in the News

Memory is fascinating, and many of us first became intrigued with memory in reading Augustine’s Confessions. Recent developments in memory research show fascinating new insights, like this one that connects memory to space as reported by Christian Jarrett: “Like information in a book, unfolding events are stored in human memory in successive chapters or episodes. One consequence is that information in the current episode is easier to recall than information in a previous episode. An obvious question then is how the mind divides experience up into these discrete episodes? A new study led by Gabriel Radvansky shows that the simple act of walking through a doorway creates a new memory episode, thereby making it more difficult to recall information pertaining to an experience in the room that’s just been left behind.”

Baby wooly mammoths: “The new results “complicate our view of mammoth development” and suggests that there may be more variability in developmental timing than previously thought, remarks team member Daniel Fisher of the University of Michigan. The differences between the two female baby mammoths could indicate that they belonged to different species. Alternatively, woolly mammoth anatomy may have varied through time and from region to region.”

Rise of entrepreneurship among college students: “Similar scenes are playing out on college campuses across the country, where an explosion of new pitch sessions, business plan competitions and entrepreneurship courses are catering to a new kind of student entrepreneur. Driven by a desire to find personal fulfillment along with a paycheck, and by a sour economy that makes traditional employment seem just as risky as starting a business, members of the so-called millennial generation — the 20-something children of the baby boomers — are increasingly forgoing traditional career paths and are hatching business plans based on social responsibility and their own passions, interests and ideals. “The down economy has made students realize that there may not be a cushy job at the end of this rainbow,” says Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center. “So they’re taking their destiny into their own hands.”

If you are interested in the neoconservative view of OWS, Mark Steyn says it well: “I don’t “stand with the 99%,” and certainly not downwind of them. But I’m all for their “occupation” continuing on its merry way. It usefully clarifies the stakes. At first glance, an alliance of anarchists and government might appear to be somewhat paradoxical. But the formal convergence in Oakland makes explicit the movement’s aims: They’re anarchists for statism, wild free-spirited youth demanding more and more total government control of every aspect of life — just so long as it respects the fundamental human right to sloth. What’s happening in Oakland is a logical exercise in class solidarity: The government class enthusiastically backing the breakdown of civil order is making common cause with the leisured varsity class, the thuggish union class, and the criminal class in order to stick it to what’s left of the beleaguered productive class. It’s a grand alliance of all those societal interests that wish to enjoy in perpetuity a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. Only the criminal class is reasonably upfront about this. The rest — the lifetime legislators, the unions defending lavish and unsustainable benefits, the “scholars” whiling away a somnolent half decade at Complacency U — are obliged to dress it up a little with some hooey about “social justice” and whatnot.”

But this libertarian apologizes for his swipes at the Left.

Those Irish. “VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Catholic Ireland’s stunning decision to close its embassy to the Vatican is a huge blow to the Holy See’s prestige and may be followed by other countries which feel the missions are too expensive, diplomatic sources said on Friday. The closure brought relations between Ireland and the Vatican, once ironclad allies, to an all-time low following the row earlier this year over the Irish Church’s handling of sex abuse cases and accusations that the Vatican had encouraged secrecy. Ireland will now be the only major country of ancient Catholic tradition without an embassy to the Vatican.”

Amy Sullivan on Michigan’s anti-bullying legislation: “As a transplanted Michigander, I’ve always maintained pride in my home state. I’ve only owned American cars. I believed in the Lions even during the really dismal years. I still point to my hand to show people which part of the state I’m from. But the Michigan legislature is doing its best to make me hang my head in shame. On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state senate passed an anti-bullying bill that manages to protect school bullies instead of those they victimize. It accomplishes this impressive feat by allowing students, teachers, and other school employees to claim that “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” justifies their harassment.”

The budget is important for retirees, with Tom Lauricella: “The first step in building a budget is to understand where your money goes. Mint.com provides a free online-based service that makes it easy to track spending. Then comes the hard part. Most people equate belt-tightening with giving up those $4 coffees. But that kind of savings will only go so far. “The main area where a lot of retirees can make a substantial difference is by looking at their housing,” says Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. With housing, it’s important to be practical. Selling a house in which children were raised and memories linger can be emotionally challenging. Even after deciding to sell a house, it can be hard to avoid the temptation to get a home or apartment with more bedrooms than you really still need. It’s also easy to want to put downsizing off into the future. But the sooner money can be saved, the bigger the impact on a long-term budget.”

Eric Jaffe on the negatives of a long commute: “Their finding, reported earlier this week in the journal. Broadly speaking, a long commute corresponded with several negative health outcomes. Poor sleep quality, exhaustion, and low general health were linked most strongly with lengthy commutes, though stress was apparent as well. The only negative health connection the researchers failed to confirm was long commutes and low mental health.”

Naomi Wolf on the Occupy movement and what can be learned. “Finally, we should understand that it is not a “list of demands” that is so profound about any of these protest movements; it is the very infrastructure of a common humanity that is being created. For decades, the global family has been told to keep its head down and leave leadership to the elites; in wealthy countries, to zone out in front of TV or at the mall; in the rest of the world, to submit to poverty and drudgery. What is transformative about the protest movement is that people are emerging and encountering one another face to face and remembering the habits of freedom: face to face, they build new institutions, new relationships and new organisations. And, I hope, pass laws sooner rather than later to demilitarise the police; ban Tasers and rubber bullets; criminalise police and politician violence against free speech activities; demand prosecutions for financial fraud; compel the corporate books that unaccountably swallow billions in tax revenue to be audited; investigate torturers; bring home soldiers from corporate wars of choice – and rebuild society, this time from the grassroots up, accountably, lawfully and democratically.”

Meanderings in Sports

Very sad in my view that nothing was done to Steve Williams for his incendiary racist remark: “It says a lot about golf that in the wake of Williams’s [racist, vulgar] comment the sport’s firmament has offered almost no critique. The HSBC is part of the PGA Tour’s attempt to colonize Asia, and in the 24 hours after the Williams story broke there was not a peep about it on pgatour.com, nor did any Tour official weigh in. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European tour chief executive George O’Grady have since issued a statement. The takeaway is that Williams will go unpunished, spared even a symbolic slap on the wrist. (If he worked for a large corporation, Williams would have already been fired.) The messiness of real life doesn’t fit with the Stepford image the PGA Tour tries to peddle to sponsors. Players like Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter refused to comment, while Adam Scott mouthed a version of the company line in saying, “I think everything in that room was all in good spirits and for a bit of fun. And I think [what Williams said] probably got taken out of that room in the wrong context.”

There are two reasons: (1) many players despise Woods and (2) racism is alive and well in golf. But the PGA should be ashamed of itself for not issuing an immediate denunciation and discipline of Williams.

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  • Diane

    I am saddened that Steyn would stereotype an entire group of citizens as “lazy.” It smacks of calling all women bimbos or all blacks … well, lazy. Most of the OWS people I know work very hard–on some level, you have to be coherent, organized and have some idea of the issues to be meaningfully involved in a protest. Some of the laziest people I ever met–truly, beyond any doubt– were when I worked in private industry for a for-profit company–the people who dragged themselves in at 8 every morning, proceeded to do as little as possible, stirred up trouble playing politics to protect themselves and collected big pay checks while being carried by other workers. They are the main reason I left. I am glad of Naomi Wolf’s observations. 🙂

  • Susan N.

    Mark Steyn – he’s quite the Angry South Pole Elf, eh?

    It’s too bad that violence has occurred in Oakland among the OWS protestors. This just validates the contemptuous propaganda of neocons in the media.

    We had a group of OWS protestors camped out here for a while on one of our college campuses. They were non-violent and, from what I observed in passing through their “camp” and in the local news, fairly well-ordered. They had a spokesperson who addressed the media to communicate the purpose of their occupation.

    I keep thinking about the OWS movement that it does in many ways mirror the hippie movement of the 60’s. People — many of them youth — disillusioned about the state of our country/world, and rejecting the values of the previous generation. I think in many ways, they were right to do that. Unfortunately, for lack of being presented with a “better way” forward, the hippies chose some even worse alternatives (sex, drugs, general anarchy). They ended up caring for nothing, really. I was thinking, too, as Steyn glorified the businessman who worked for his success and comfort, how many Americans, past and present, have followed that plan and come to middle age and realized that their life is empty of real meaning?

    At its heart, I think the OWS movement has been mobilized by a sense of systemic injustice that is largely true. Those active in the protests know that change is needed. I pray that God would fill the empty places in our collective soul and redeem our messes (politically and otherwise).

  • Joe Canner

    Thanks for posting Amy Sullivan’s article on the Michigan “anti”-bullying law. When I first heard about this from a gay friend who lives in Michigan, I assumed the rhetoric decrying the law was overblown (not because my friend is gay, but because he is often given to hyperbole). It is truly sad that Christians (who I assume are behind this) think it is appropriate to justify bullying on the basis of a belief that homosexuality is a sin.

  • rjs

    Regarding the various columns and excerpts from the book by Giberson and Stephens, Kidd has some good insights here. Tone is a real problem. It is somewhat better in the book itself than in the NY Times piece, the Huffington Post piece or other publicity pieces. In fact there are parts of the book that are very good.

    I also think that they do a bit more than Kidd suggests that can give evangelical readers guidance “on how to draw the line between wisely appropriating mainstream scholarship and abandoning essentials of the faith.”

    But because of tone and hype I think that the book will be read primarily by those who already agree and dismiss or ridicule evangelicalism. I will continue my read through the book here. We should be able to get some good conversation on some of these topics.

  • Kyle J

    My reaction to Steyn’s piece is actually quite similar to Steyn’s reaction to the OWS protestors: I disagree vehemently with it, but believe it serves an important clarifying purpose.

    It illustrates the degree to which many commentators on the right have adopted a worldview pulled directly, and without nuance, from an Ayn Rand novel–a view that assumes the upper class is unassailable in its virtuousness and the lower classes are mere parasites to be torn off and discarded.

  • American idol-style preaching? Are you sure this isn’t a tongue-in-cheek, humorous article? Thanks again for all the links, Scot.
    Peace, Brian

  • Rick


    “Tone is a real problem. It is somewhat better in the book itself than in the NY Times piece, the Huffington Post piece or other publicity pieces.”

    And having them appear at those sites does not help either. It immediately causes further distrust for many on each side.

    Glad you are dealing with the book here.

  • Scot McKnight


    I’ve not known Driscoll for writing satire, so if it is I’d like to know that.

  • rjs


    Actually the tone is quite a bit better in the book. The book itself isn’t nearly as strident as the op-ed pieces. There are still places where tone will be troublesome however – especially for those who find that the premise challenges some accepted convictions. (We are all more likely to overlook overstatements when we agree with the underlying premise.)

  • LFDS

    If only it were true that Driscoll’s post was satire. Good gravy this makes me cringe.

  • DRT

    Unfortunately Driscol’s post was satire. I saw him buffing his mic before beefing up on his Simon Cowell impression and he said that these baby preachers need to man-up, and if they didn’t he would start the old west technique of shooting at their feet to make them dance like the good old days.

  • Scot McKnight

    DRT, how can we know it was satire?

  • DRT

    hmmmm, you may be right…. I can’t imagine…. yikes…

  • DRT

    Check out the comments at the bottom under reply to Matox Schuler, Brandt zeigler seems to indicate this is real.


  • why does mark steyn get the “neocon” label and naomi wolf isn’t tagged as a leftist or feminist or lib, etc???

  • Christine

    Umm . . . which link connects with Driscoll’s writing??

  • Gloria

    Isn’t it sad that we don’t know if Driscoll is being satirical or not??? Unfortunaely, I think he is really having a preaching contest.

  • JRS

    Kevin Chez, #15

    Excellent question. Civility should expect consistency. If we label some, we should label all.

  • DRT
  • DRT

    To be devils advocate, is a preaching contest worse than casting lots?

  • Fred


    It is telling that, in those 16 things he looks for, the word “learning” never once appears.

  • Rog

    Really, now. I think some here are agonizing too much with Mark Driscoll’s obviously fun (albeit not satirical) piece. The mention of Idol is a huge tip-off, no? Would love to have heard reactions to the piece if it were attributed (for fun) to a lesser lightning rod.

    Anyway, how about a better list of criteria for a pastor?

  • Rog

    DRT 21
    No mention of learning? How about “bring me along theologically?”

  • DRT

    Rog and Fred seem to have nailed the best critique. No learning, only entertainment.

    But, to devil’s advocate further, Mark would assuredly believe that entertainment is a means toward learning.

  • Fred


    It was Fred at 21, not DRT. Gathering information through hearing is fraught with as many potential problems as reading (sight).


    You may be right. The creators of Sesame Street probably had a better grasp of the learning process than most homiletics professors.

  • Christine

    Thanks, DRT. (okay, system said my comment was too short, so this is my extraneous fluff).

  • Brian

    I’m betting there’s another side to the bullying story in Michigan than the one given by a pro-homosexual writer from TIME.

  • Fish

    What is “pro-homosexual?” Is that like “pro-blond” or “pro-tall?”

  • DRT

    Could it be the opposite of amateur homosexual?

  • Fish

    Good one!

    Not that there aren’t pro-women and other groups that are pro-[genetically determined factor]. But mostly we don’t hear a lot about the “female agenda” or the “African-American agenda.”

    Although as I type this, it strikes me that during the times of suffrage and civil rights we probably would have. So in actuality my initial comment was meaningless and a waste of the internets.

  • Fred


    I love it.

    We do hear a lot about the “feminist agenda,” or a least we used to.

  • Rick


    Interesting point, but is there new evidence of a genetic connection?

    In fact, Ben Witherinton just wrote this week something that goes againt that idea:

    “…I am unpersuaded by the arguments that people are born gay or lesbian. There is no known scientific evidence of a genetic predisposition to gay behavior. I recently wrote the folks at the human genome project and asked if there was any evidence whatsoever of a gay gene. The answer is in fact negative. There is no such evidence, despite the popular myth in our culture that there are people ‘born this way’.”