Weekly Meanderings

What do you have for me?, asks the penguin.

Joel Willitts has a good post reflecting discussions of leaders on what to teach youth.

There’s more to it than this, inasmuch as “peer review” means not self-publishing, but the elitism danah points out in the academy is obvious.

Rachel Held Evans offers a bold call for women to practice Pentecost: “The breaking in of the new creation after Christ’s resurrection unleashed a cacophony of new prophetic voices, and apparently, prophesying among women was such a common activity in the early church that Paul had to remind women to cover their heads when they did it.  While some may try to downplay biblical examples of female disciples, deacons, preachers, leaders and apostles, no one can deny the Bible’s long tradition of prophetic feminine vision. I believe that right now, we need that prophetic vision more than ever.”

Tim Keller’s piece seeing common ground on the Christian and the State discussions, but I see significant differences between those whom he sees taking middle ground: Carson, Hunter, Strange and Volf. In particular, Hunter’s proposal of a “faithful witness” strikes me as a form of anabaptism (not the neo-anabaptism that is more caustic about empire) … and so I’d like to suggest that there is another philosophical view that is much more ecclesially-shaped (church as politic) and that forms an important alternative to the transformation, two kingdoms and common ground approaches he mentions.

I liked this article on the world’s 25 most beautiful college libraries, but they forgot St Mary of the Lake in Mundelein IL, just as gorgeous as some of the libraries in this post.

Mike Bird, down in Australia, reposts 10 suggestions for better preaching. Hanukkah, messianic style.

Gary Gutting’s good piece on college education: “First of all, they are not simply for the education of students.  This is an essential function, but the raison d’être of a college is to nourish a world of intellectual culture; that is, a world of ideas, dedicated to what we can know scientifically, understand humanistically, or express artistically.  In our society, this world is mainly populated by members of college faculties: scientists, humanists, social scientists (who straddle the humanities and the sciences properly speaking), and those who study the fine arts….Students, in turn, need to recognize that their college education is above all a matter of opening themselves up to new dimensions of knowledge and understanding.  Teaching is not a matter of (as we too often say) “making a subject (poetry, physics, philosophy) interesting” to students but of students coming to see how such subjects are intrinsically interesting.  It is more a matter of students moving beyond their interests than of teachers fitting their subjects to interests that students already have.   Good teaching does not make a course’s subject more interesting; it gives the students more interests — and so makes them more interesting.”

I will be reading and blogging about Hans Boersma’s new book. Here’s a taste: “Christianity was not Hellenized, according to Boersma (and countless other scholars of rank); rather, Hellenism was Christianized. Early Christians such as Clement of Alexandria, in the words of Peter Brown, “cut twigs from the rank, dried-back and brittle bushes of pagan literature, and graft[ed] them on the succulent root-stock of Christ’s truth.”[3] It is in fact the thinner strands of evangelicalism, which instinctually refuse the sacramental perspective, that border on Gnosticism.”

Meanderings in the News

RJ Snell’s review of the over-hyped AC Graying’s The Good Book: “The book is better than the cover. While the marketing presents the author as provocateur, one finds instead the reflections of a decent, middle-aged man with a thorough education, now thinking about his loves and aspirations in light of the erosive power of time. Grayling ignores religion more than he attacks it. Rarely, and lamely, he swipes at the ignorant who should “go to the illusionists, then, and leave philosophers in peace.” And while at times he mocks the fear of sex supposedly endemic to the religious, he does not make the heart race with anger or lust: “Why do you blush to hear the praise of pleasure, when you do not blush to indulge its temptations under cover of night?” Wild stuff, that. All in all, Grayling seems less like a Daedalus and more like an amiable chap who prefers Cicero to St. Paul but who would be good to have over for dinner or a round of golf.” And then this: “Grayling dares his readers to lead the examined life but refuses to converse with many who have examined it deeply, and consequently he overlooks insights allowing us to escape our bonds of dirt and reach for the heavens. He says he dares to know, but he does not dare to know the world as it is. Instead, he settles himself timidly into a world where death is not gruesome and love not divine, and all because he refuses to ask, or be asked by others, if there is, in fact, a God.”

Girls and boys in math: “There’s a longstanding myth of a gender gap between boys’ and girls’ math performance, suggesting some basic biological difference in how the two genders approach math. It’s deeply controversial and widely discredited. And now, a new study has completely debunked it.”

Switzerland, the new Catholic Bishop and evangelism: “Rome, Italy, Dec 13, 2011 / 02:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Charles Morerod, the newest bishop in the Catholic Church, is ready to evangelize Switzerland, despite the size of the challenge.”

This was an interesting piece at The Economist on how hominids made beds and took care of their caves … ages ago: “SETTING up home in the modern world means acquiring some furniture—particularly a bed. And things were not so different 77,000 years ago, according to the latest research on the behaviour of early man in South Africa. Caves in that country have yielded a lot of discoveries about how Homo sapiens made the transition to modernity. That he liked to sleep on a comfortable mattress is the latest.”

Kris and I both have iPads, and both of us have keyboards to convert them into typing machines if we need to type something longer. I wrote an Introduction and also a few Forewords recently on airplanes. I use a Clamcase, Kris uses the Logitech keyboard. Here’s a story of someone who’s geeky about using the iPad instead of a (traditional) computer.

Sugar, sleepy; protein, energy: “The reason the orexin system is so important is that it links the needs of the body to the desires of the mind. Several studies have demonstrated that the intake of sugar can decrease the activity of orexin cells, which is probably why we want to nap after a carb heavy lunch. This phenomenon also begins to explain the downward spiral of obesity triggered by our warped modern diet. Because we eat lots of refined sugars, washing down Twinkies with cans of Coke, we continually reduce levels of orexin in the brain, which then reduces levels of physical activity. In other words, we get fat and sleepy simultaneously.”

Supermassive black holes.

This bridge could be a bigger and bigger issue: “Officials in Jerusalem are set to close a footbridge connecting the region’s most sensitive Jewish and Muslim sites, inflaming religious tensions. Engineers working for the city claim the Mughrabi bridge, a wooden walkway that climbs up the Western Wall to the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount, is structurally unsound and a fire hazard. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, responsible for the bridge sinceIsrael annexed Jerusalem 1967, has been given seven days to raise any reasonable objection. The walkway will then be closed completely, except to Israeli security forces, with a view to replacing it with a stronger structure. The unilateral decision by the city’s authorities has angered Waqf, a body that represents the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem. It said any decision about the bridge was its to make as the Temple Mount is a Muslim sanctuary under Palestinian control. Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, delayed the closure at the end of October after warnings from leaders in Jordan and Egypt that it could provoke anti-Israeli sentiment across the Muslim world.”

Copts are worried in Egypt: “A caretaker sweeps the stones, a woman slips into a pew. But these days Egypt’s minority Coptic Christians are finding little serenity. Islamist political candidates, including puritanical Salafis, are dominating parliamentary elections. Sectarianism is intensifying and the patriotic veneer that unified Egyptians in overthrowing longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak is threatened by ultraconservative Muslim clerics whose divisive voices had been suppressed by the state for decades. “Our goal is to achieve an Islamic caliphate with Islamic shariarules,” Mohamed Zoghbi, a hard-line Salafi preacher, said this year on TV. “If Egypt becomes a caliphate, then the Middle East and Arab countries will follow our path. All Muslim youth should strive and die to build this caliphate even over their own bodies.”

Jordan Weissmann: “Think of the ingredients that make for a good school. Small classes. Well-educated teachers. Plenty of funding. Combine, mix well, then bake. Turns out, your recipe would be horribly wrong, at least according to a new working paper out of Harvard. Its take away: Schools shouldn’t focus on resources. They should focus on culture.”

Richard Dawkins gives an earful to David Cameron about religion: “In his leading article in the 19 December issue of the New Statesman, which he has guest-edited, the evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins launches a scathing attack on David Cameron and his government’s imposition of religious tradition on society in the form of faith schools. Dawkins’s open letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, leads with a warning that we must not be distracted “from the real domination of our culture and politics that religion gets away with in (tax-free) spades”; indeed, these religious traditions are “enforced by government edict”. In a direct rebuke to David Cameron’s “government, [which,] like its predecessors, does force religion on our society, in ways whose very familiarity disarms us”, Dawkins lists examples, from bishops in the House of Lords and the fast-tracking of “faith-based charities to tax-free status” to the “most obvious and serious” case of government-imposed religion: faith schools. “Faith schools don’t so much teach about religion as indoctrinate in the particular region that runs the school,” Dawkins writes. Telling a child that he or she belongs to one particular faith “pav[es] the way . . . for a lifetime of discrimination and prejudice”.”

Meanderings in Sports

The top fifty sports pictures of the year. (HT: LKKM)

Joe Posnanski‘s a bit of a gasbag, but this is a good piece on Pujols.

MLB has decided there is now a dress code for reporters and Charles Pierce calls it what it is: sexism. “I don’t care how many female reporters MLB consulted before instituting this new policy. It’s still a sex-discrimination suit waiting to happen. Who, precisely, is going to determine what an “excessively short skirt” is? Some assistant media coordinator who dresses like an assistant golf pro from Arizona? Are they going to do what the nuns used to do and make female reporters kneel down and measure the distance between the hemline and the floor with a ruler? Are we all now supposed to “make room for the Holy Ghost” when we sit together at dinner? If they can do this, what, precisely, can’t they do? Can they regulate what is discussed in the press box? (They already regulate the volume, as I discovered that day in Fenway.) I know people with Amnesty International stickers on their laptops. Can MLB make a rule on exactly which mute political statements can be made within the confines of the ballpark? And, as is almost always the case these days, the essential question comes down to precisely how much of your soul your employer — or, in this case, your employer manqué — owns. And the essential answer, alas, is almost all of it.”

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.

  • Susan N.

    Tim Keller’s ‘Coming Together on Culture’ – Lately, I have really struggled to sort out what, exactly, I think about kingdom, empire, and politics. Over the past four years, especially, I have felt increasingly pessimistic about corruption in gov’t. The premise of the Church as a faithful witness in the world, embodying the presence of Christ, certainly resonates with me. I guess I just dread the inevitable escalation of political rhetoric that will be taking place over the next several months. Because I have read enough of your previously published work, I am open to hear and consider your view of “church as politic.” Would you be elaborating on that in a future post?

  • Susan N.

    Girls and boys in math – “All of these findings argue strongly that the apparent gender gaps are really just disparities in education and cultural expectations, not evidence of some deeper biological mechanism.”

    That’s affirming (but not surprising to me) news for my daughter! You would be amazed how many seem to really believe that boys are better at math and science. Not to mention the cultural undercurrent in certain circles that girls should not outperform a boy (the audacity!). I tell my daughter all the time, don’t ever dumb yourself down for anyone else’s benefit. Be humble and gracious, but never fake-helpless. Of my two children (older girl and younger boy), my daughter is more gifted in math and science. My son is more verbally and socially gifted!

    Recipe for a great school – There’s really no magic formula to a solid education. Time and hard work on both the student’s and teacher’s part. And yes, hopefully, instilling a sense of learning a subject simply because it is intrinsically interesting :-)

  • Kyle J

    I will read as many words as Joe Posnanski is willing to write.

  • Henry

    I think if Rachel would like to seriously interact with the other side then she must realise that there is not a single person who is arguing that women can’t prophesy at all.

    The question is in what setting did they exercise their gift? Historically the church has concluded that they did not do so in public Christian assemblies (i.e. church). See these articles for an overview:

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/women-prophesying.html

    http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=16

    Are you really confident that you can establish that women with prophetic gifts in the Bible exercised them in a public preaching ministries like the OT male prophets and to public assemblies of men? Or whether they did so in more private settings like we see Priscilla and Huldah doing?

    Then there is the question of whether there are really any women today who are ‘prophets’ in the biblical sense of hearing direct supernatural revelation from God.

    I think we can learn a lot from these quotes by Charles Spurgeon:

    “Women are best when they are quiet. I share the apostle Paul’s feelings when he bade women to be silent in the assembly. Yet there is work for holy women, and we read of Peter’s wife’s mother that she arose and ministered to Christ. She did what she could and what she should. She arose and ministered to him. Some people can do nothing that they are allowed to do, but waste their energies in lamenting that they are not called on to do other people’s work…”

    “In like manner, you Christian people who cannot talk,—the women especially,—I mean that you cannot preach, you are not allowed to preach,—I want you to shine.

  • Susan N.

    Please forgive the multiple comments from me today… As I thought about the “pessimistic neo-Anabaptist” view of engaging in culture, I found this related article, which I think speaks well to what I have been wrestling with internally:

    http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/tim-keller%E2%80%99s-gospel-ecosystem-3-dangers-in-a-noble-idea/

    What do you all think of David Fitch’s analysis of the situation?

  • scotmcknight

    Henry,
    There is no such thing as anything other than public prophesying. It is impossible to prophesy privately; all prophetic communication is a mode of speaking on behalf of God to humans and to the people of God. Priscilla is not a prophet in private; her gift is apparently teaching. This entire debate about private prophesying for women is driven by other issues and not ancient categories.

    On modern prophets, that’s another question — it has to do with cessationism, and there are some who believe that theologically, many who practice it, but there is plenty of sound scholarship and genuine giftedness of the gifts today. The Spurgeon quote begs the question entirely …

  • Fish

    I am sitting here thinking how bad it would be if my daughter married a Calvinist, and how an atheist might likely make a better husband than a complementarian. Is that not sad?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Fish, I swim with you.

  • AHH

    Fish, please remember that there are many Calvinists (maybe less noisy than others) who affirm the full participation of women in ministry. Like the biggest Presbyterian denomination, for example. I think excluding women correlates more strongly with very “conservative” views of Scripture than it does with Calvinism.

  • Henry

    Scot,

    There is no such thing as anything other than public prophesying.

    By private I do not mean prophesying to oneself. I simply draw a contrast between addressing formal/gathered assemblies versus engaging in personal conversations. There is a big difference. Paul clearly allows, for example, for women to talk about theology at home with their husbands (see 1Cor 14), but not so in church. There is a clear and necessary difference in context. That is the issue, and commentators have made the distinction for centuries upon centuries, as one of the articles I previously linked to shows.

    Do you not find it noteworthy that where we see women exercising their oratory gifts in scripture we see them doing so in personal conversations (e.g. Priscilla or Anna) or private consultations (e.g Huldah) or in the one instance when it is clearly a gathered assembly it is stated that it was only women (Miriam)? This harmonises very nicely with the public/private distinction we see in some of Paul’s letters. Even with Deborah, it is hard to establish that she conducted public preaching/teaching ministries like some of the other OT male prophets.

    I remember reading in RBMW somewhere about a story of lady from the early centuries of the church who had a prophetic gift. History records that she would relay her prophecies to the elders after the church service had concluded, rather than address the gathered congregation. So even from the earliest times there was this understanding.

  • Henry

    Fish,

    you are basically saying that any of the great men down through church history up until the 20th century would make terrible husbands. Do you think that was the case? They loved their wives and daughters dearly and would be willing to lay down their lives for them, should it be required.

  • Scot McKnight

    Henry,

    A prophet speaks on behalf of God to God’s people and there is no restriction in texts. Instead you have read that into the Bible in order to suppress women.

    Show me a text that says female prophets are restricted, which your view requires.

    Huldah was consulted because she was already a prophet. Miriam’s words become for all Israel. I could go on.

  • Soren

    Scot@12, is it not a possible conclusion that the silence required of women in 1 Corinthians 14:33, when linked with the assumption that women would verbally pray and prophesy publicly (1 Cor 11), would necessitate women not being engaged in audible prayer and prophecy in the public assembly? To me, that is a strong argument that female prophets would not be exercising their gift in the assembly. You may say it is cultural and not applicable for today, but nonetheless, to me, it seems like there is a restriction on female prophecy made by the apostle. What am I missing?

  • Fish

    I apologize for offending anyone, but the notion of my teenage daughter, an intelligent, social, ambitious and mature young woman, being categorized and refused the opportunities given men simply because of her gender is upsetting to me.

    I do not believe that God told her to be silent; I believe men did and called it the Word.

    I would not want her marrying a man who believes God placed him as the head of their household, or who is a member of a church that would not allow her to take the pulpit on Sunday morning regardless of her qualifications or spiritual gifts.

    Of course, she will marry who she will marry and I will have no say, but I have raised her to be the equal of any man and to never take a back seat to one. In Christ there is neither man nor woman.

    OK, vent over. That Spurgeon quote just blew my mind.

  • Scot McKnight

    Soren, I don’t buy into your view of silence in 1 Cor 14, so I am led to different options, but let me make this clear one more time:

    By definition, prophecy is communication from God to a prophet who is charged to communicate that message to God’s people. Thus, it is by definition ecclesial if is Christian prophecy.

  • Luke Allison

    Okay, sure, maybe a dress code of this sort is “sexist”. But isn’t wearing short skirts terrible for female progress in our society anyway?

    I’m a little flabbergasted when I see women so deceived by culture’s lies that they fight for the right to be objectified. And then we fight for that right as well. This is prickly, obviously.
    But is sex not a reality of our life and culture? Is clothing which speaks loudly to sexuality and sensuality not a distraction to professionalism? For crying out loud….

  • Diane

    Fish,

    That Spurgeon quote chilled me to the bone. I do wonder at the energy expended to keep women in “their” place when the NT message eradicates such notions of place–Jesus is taught by and helps the SyroPhoenician woman, expanding his idea of who is being sent to serve. In Acts, the apostles realize the HS is poured out on all people, not just Jews … why not just let women do what they are called to do instead of telling them, a priori, that they’re not called?

    Luke,

    I don’t like the objectifying, sexualizing clothes either. However, no matter what clothes you put women in–look at the conservative Muslim world–we are still going to be “sex objects” if men look at us in that way and not as soul mates and coworkers. I sympathize–it’s a struggle that won’t go entirely away, but you know the drill–if skirts go below the knee, the woman whose knee shows is a hussy, if skirts go below the ankle, then the woman who shows an ankle is sexually distracting the men, if women’s hair is covered with a scarf, then the woman who has a curl of hair fall out is trying to entice men to sex …as someone famously said, women are always naked under their clothes …

  • Luke Allison

    Diane,

    All true, and well said.


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