Weekly Meanderings

Very good post on pastoring by Mark Roberts: “Third, we who pastor need to imitate Paul and his colleagues by choosing to be gentle with those we serve, like a nursing mother. Moreover, we should choose to share with them, not only the gospel, but also our own lives. Gospel-shaped ministry is not just preaching and teaching and leading and praying from a safe distance. It’s opening our lives and our hearts to people. It’s choosing to embody the good news of a God who saved us, not by sending a message, but by becoming a human messenger. It’s deciding imitate the Son of Man, who came, not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for others.”

David Fitch and the Luke 10 Project (must read).

Roger Olson has an excellent post and discussion about whether the Churches of Christ are evangelical: “Today I received an e-mail from a Church of Christ member chiding me for saying (in the book Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicals) that I do not consider Churches of Christ “evangelical.” There I mentioned that, by and large, they seem to have a theology of salvation that borders on legalism or works-righteousness. The e-mailer disagreed and said he grew up in and was educated in a Church of Christ context. This is one claim I have made about which I would be very glad to be corrected. As anyone knows who has read me, I want a “big tent” view of evangelicalism, but not one that is so flexible as to be meaningless. Many people want now to claim the label “evangelical” as it is enjoying something of a surge of popularity (at least in certain religious circles).  I am often asked whether I think a certain person or organization is really evangelical.  My tendency is to say yes, IF he/she/it CLAIMS to be evangelical and fits the traditional broad profile of evangelicalism. However, I can’t always be so generous.”

April and Brian Diaz … the journey continues.

Bono and Eugene Peterson: “In the summer of 2010, the rock band U2 was joined on tour by a retired pastor from Montana who, until not long before, had never heard of Bono and his fellow Dubliners. For most of his adult life, Eugene Peterson had worked as the pastor of a small church in Maryland and writer of Christian discipleship books that had many admirers but few readers. Then, in the early 1990s, Peterson began writing a paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, that would go on to sell multiple millions of copies. In 2001, Bono told Rolling Stone that The Message was among his favorite books, a fact which fans already knew from Bono’s onstage quoting of the text. He also began telling friends of his deep admiration for Peterson’s Run With the Horses, a reflection on the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. Eventually, some of those friends were mutual friends of Eugene Peterson. A backstage meeting in Dallas’ Cowboys Stadium was arranged, and the world’s most famous rock singer and his favorite writer—a flattered and slightly flummoxed 78 year-old man—were united for a couple cities on the U2 360 tour.”

Excellent sketch of the Trinity (immanent, economic) and this subordination discussion by Roger Olson.

Susan Isaacs on what “evangelical” now means.

I don’t know the numbers, but I’m not surprised: “According to a decade-long study of enrollment by the Association of Theological Schools released in 2009, the fastest-growing group of seminarians include those older than 50. In 1995, baby boomers made up 12% of seminarians, while today they are 20%. “I think I was always looking for something else in a lot of ways and always felt the call to do something else,” Guest said. He spent time in government and Pennsylvania politics before settling into a career in law. He had a three-bedroom home near the Jersey Shore with a meaningful job as an attorney helping the poor. Though successful by any measure with a job that made a difference, he kept looking. “Helping people with domestic violence, you know suffering from domestic violence or immigrants who were being deported … I just saw their brokenness. In so many different ways, they were broken. And I know they needed to be touched by the love of God,” he said. The feeling that something was missing led Guest to Theological College to study to become a parish priest in Camden, New Jersey.”

Meanderings in the News

I’ll say it again: Bring back shop classes! Mike Tobin: “Anyone who tells you the jobs just aren’t out there, has not spoken with the employers at Excel Foundry and machine in Pekin, Illinois. That company is trying to expand but is having difficulty. Excel says the reason for this is because recruiters cannot fill the job vacancies. Yes, you read that right, they can not fill the vacancies. “We’re absolutely frustrated, we’re doing everything we can to attract employees we desperately need right now,” says Doug Parsons with Excel. The catch is that Excel, like many U.S. manufacturers, is looking to hire skilled workers. That means tradesmen with training like welders, pipe fitters and machinists. That is where the problem lies. For most Americans while in their high school years, the pressure was on to go to college and get a degree. Trade schools were looked at as a back up plan for those who did not excel.”

Those Neanderthals were apparently overwhelmed: “As the heavy-browed species ventured farther and farther to cope with climate change, they increasingly mated with our own species, giving rise to mixed-species humans, researchers suggest. Over generations of genetic mixing, the Neanderthal genome would have dissolved, absorbed into the Homo sapiens population, which was much larger. (Get the basics on genetics.)”If you increase the mobility of the groups in the places where they live, you end up increasing the gene flow between the two different populations, until eventually one population disappears as a clearly defined group,” said study co-author C. Michael Barton, an archaeologst at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.”

Speaking of Neanderthals… what about cloning of the wooly mammoth? “Japan’s Kyodo News reports that Russian and Japanese scientists will start a project early next year to clone the woolly mammoth. The researchers also confirmed that a well-preserved mammoth thigh bone found in August contains remarkably well-preserved marrow cells.The team, including researchers from a Siberian mammoth museum and Japan’s Kinki University, plan to extract an undamaged nucleus from the extinct animal’s bone marrow and insert it into the egg of an African elephant, a related animal; if all goes well the elephant could then give birth to a baby mammoth. The team has worked toward cloning the beast for more than a decade but until August, hadn’t found a sufficiently intact source of mammoth DNA (although they did create a copy of mammoth hemoglobin).”

Not sure where she got that quote from me, but it sure sounds like something I have said. Anyway… [HT: KKNM]

Good graphic and report on the aging brain. (HT: LNMM)

On killing adverbs, I recommend listening to Lilly Rothman (it’s the adjectives we need to keep our eyes on, so said Hemingway): “I am gladly, fully, openly in support of adverbs. Despite our democratic ideals, schoolchildren throughout America learn that not all words are created equal: Nouns and verbs make sense of the world, but adverbs only muck it up. The end of November—National Novel Writing Month—means that hundreds of thousands of people who took a crack at writing a work of fiction in 30 days will soon be drawing on that advice. They’ve caught their breaths and now it’s time to polish their prose. If my own writing experience is any indication, they will make the easiest edit earliest: If it ends in -ly, kill it. The best writing guides support that technique. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is the first resource for many writers who care about quality; adverbs, the authors say, can be “cluttery” and “annoying.” In On Writing Well by William Zinsser, the reader learns again that “most adverbs are unnecessary” and that they “clutter” and “annoy.” Stephen King’s On Writing cautions that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” The fourth of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing is an admonition against modifying the verb to say. “To use an adverb this way (or almost any way),” Leonard writes, “is a mortal sin.” As is fitting for the authors of the best writing guides, these anti-adverb crusaders make a good, nuanced point. Good dialogue doesn’t need anything beyond “he said” and the right verb can likewise speak for itself. Such rules also make it easy to teach writing, even as the debate rages over whether it’s a skill that can be taught or an innate gift. Writing isn’t math. It has no Pythagorean theorem, but it’s simple to ban adverbs. In many cases, doing so can improve the work in question, as it encourages writers—children, adults, newbies, veterans—to think about structure and diction. The no-adverbs rule only becomes problematic when students don’t learn—just like how there are many words where “e” comes before “i”—that there are times when the rule is meant to be broken.”

Young entrepeneurs: “Mehdi Farsi, Reza Farsi and Eric Ferguson didn’t send out resumes seeking a corporate job after they graduated from Arizona State University a few years ago. Instead, the longtime friends and avid cyclists turned their hobby into a business, launching State Bicycle Co., a maker of fixed-gear bicycles in Tempe, Ariz. Since its start in late 2009, sales have more than tripled, it has opened three retail stores and it employs nearly 25 people. Now the three owners are part of a national movement to drive the Millennial Generation to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses — rather than wait for more jobs to open up in today’s rough economy.”

Elvis and Barbara Hearn Smith: “For Presley aficionados, the name Barbara Hearn is as historic as that of Martha Washington or Betsy Ross or Mary Todd Lincoln. She was Elvis’s hometown girlfriend in Memphis at the beginning of 1956, just before his career hit the stratosphere. That was the year everything changed; by the time it was over, Presley’s old life was in the rear-view mirror. And part of that old life, presumably, was Barbara Hearn. But now, in the dwindling weeks of 2011, in the BrickTop’s men’s room, here was Elvis singing, and here was Barbara Hearn’s autograph. A closer inspection of the handwriting revealed that she was saying she had dined at another BrickTop’s, in Nashville, Tennessee.”


Is this a typical number for countries in the West? Children, books and the UK: “Almost 4 million children in Britain – one in three – do not own a book, a poll has found. The National Literacy Trust charity, which carried out the survey, said the proportion had risen from one in 10 in 2005. The charity said the findings were very worrying because book ownership was linked to children’s future success in life. Children who read well can often overcome other hurdles that lock their peers into a cycle of disadvantage, it said.”

Meanderings in Sports

Great news for Pat Summitt, and I’d mention the name of the Duke men’s coach but his name is too hard to spell — I’ll just call him Scrabble.

This guy tries to scorch Pujols. There’s got to be a story behind this.

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  • Susan N.

    Susan Isaacs on ‘What is an evangelical?’ I think she accurately and humorously chronicled the morphing of that term in America over the past several decades… If asked, “Are you an evangelical,” I now have a simple and direct response: “How do you define the term ‘evangelical’?”

    Interesting article on ‘The aging brain.’ I was just having a conversation with a friend about older folks struggling with varying degrees of dementia. The debate revolved around whether a person is consciously aware of “prickly” behavior and able to control such impulsive words/actions. For whatever reason(s), I have a special affection for the elderly, and an enormous capacity to be patient and compassionate with this segment of society. When an elderly person in the nursing home (or any setting, really) speaks or acts belligerently, I assume that they can’t help it (aging brain / dementia).

    As one who is inching toward the half-century mark, I hope I can hang on to the neural connections that I have, through good self-care, but if I do “lose it” at some point (or gradually over time), I hope that others will be patient with me 🙂

    Lilly Rothman – a well-written book, article, or phrase is a thing of beauty…a work of art. I derive so much pleasure from reading, and when I discover an author whose words flow like poetry, I feel such gratitude for the gift of their writing!

  • It’s spelled “Krzyzewski.” Duke basketball fans can spell that name as easily as Mississippians can spell the name of their state.

  • Norman

    In regard to Roger Olsons article and discussion concerning churches of Christ.

    As one who comes from many generations of churches of Christ I can attest to an exhaustive and long pedigree back to at least the Civil War.

    However I want to mention what sometimes gets overlooked in the Baptismal discussion, is whether it was considered as part of the signs and gifts accompanying the Holy Spirit. The time after Pentecost comprised the period of the Apostles and the laying on of hands which often bequeathed the signs of the miraculous to the early church. This era of the apostles may be equated with a period of a New Exodus in which was a time of trials and tribulations until the word became fully established and able to stand on its own without the miraculous signs and gifts. If Baptism can be demonstrated as having pertained to that apostolic era, then its original function and purpose may have ended with the Apostles and the miraculous gifts as well. We in the churches of Christ use this very argument against the Pentecostals regarding their present day tongue speaking.

    The churches of Christ are well documented to have recognized the ending of the miraculous such as tongues speaking but perhaps we may have missed the same implication for the purpose within the infant church for baptism as a temporary expression. This discussion though will not find traction within church of Christ circles because we have invested much in the appropriation and distinctiveness that Baptism has historically given us. However it would be interesting to understand how evangelical churches have arrived at their lesser application of baptism, especially in light of its strongly held application within NT scripture and evangelicals adherence strongly to patterns found within . I personally tend toward the evangelical model but that is my own personal opinion from my studies and yet I’m not concerned with being approved as a card carrying evangelical. 😉

    I consider Christ as the Head of the church worldwide and within it are many members whom bring a diversity of gifts and opinions. Some positions are weak, some strong but God only judges His servants and lifts us all up through our faith in Christ our redeemer.


  • Joe Canner

    Scot, that quote from you has been repeated widely on the web (without attribution) but seems to originate from the following New York Times piece in 2007 (see page 5 of 10): http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/magazine/28Evangelicals-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ex=1351224000

    Ring any bells?

  • Chris Miller

    Re Pujols, I will now watch for sequels. The author is biting but if he is anywhere near the truth (and why wouldn’t he be), then I watch and wait. And hopefully Albert will not stain his Lord in the process.

  • Amos Paul

    As per David Fitch saying:

    “…lets stop funding church plants (has anyone noticed it ain’t working?) and fund missionaries here in North America. We need to seed fresh expressions of the gospel that engage those outside the faith with the gospel and create the space for God work to bring people to Himself.”

    What does David think that church plants *are*? While I *admit* that his criticisms of church plants reaching *too far* at only existing Christians–I do not agree that this is an accurate portrayal overall of all (any?) church plants I’ve heard of. To at least some extent, all church plants aim to reach the unchurched or de-churched as a goal… even if they get around to doing that in different ways and at different times.

    But I really think Fitch begs the question in his article. His proposal is basically just another type of church plant. It aims to primarily start by funding ‘leaders’ in the workplace to help get them invested in the community a certain way… which is fine. But it’s just another sort of church plant model which, if successful, will almost necessarily attract some existing Christians when they start ‘doing church’ activities. What are they gonna’ do with ’em? Turn ’em away?

  • Joe Canner

    Amos #6: I wondered the same thing. His point about cannibalizing is well-taken, but what if it is a side effect of the church plant and not an intended focus? It would, however, be an interesting model if church leaders (gently, of course) told newcomers from other churches that they are not welcome.