Weekly Meanderings

The winter rolls in

Father Rob on relationships in our culture. A good reminder.

Good news — 42K young adults vow to end slavery.

Skye moves from Tim Tebow into issues about hypocrisy. Daniel Kirk on Neo-Orthodoxy’s view of history and the Bible’s depiction and the more conservative inerrantist view. (Makes me wonder if “aspectual” theory in Greek grammar/syntax is Neo-Orthodox!) The Evangelists’ depiction vs. what happened in reality are not the only options — depiction, yes; but are they are also reliable accounts?

Some thoughts on Heschel’s God. Speaking of whom, here is chab123’s thoughts on sharing the gospel with Jewish folks.

For professors.

Good for Luke Norman (our nephew).

Well, we have to link to this by Giles Fraser: “It’s become something of a Christmas tradition: the annual ecclesiastical punch-up at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This year the Palestinian riot police had to be called in after it all kicked off again, with a hundred or so Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks bashing seven bells out of each other with brooms. Apparently one monk was provocatively brushing somewhere that was supposed to be the responsibility of someone else. In this feverishly contested space, if you clean it then you are maintaining it, and if you maintain it then you are making a claim to owning it: that is the logic, such as it is.”

Meanderings in the News

I don’t know about this, but it’s happening:  “Facebook is a place to catch up with friends, share articles and information, and now find kidneys. According to Seattle news station KHOU, 36-year-old Dan Garrett recently received a new kidney after his wife put up a message on Facebook looking for a donor. Although the couple couldn’t find a match among friends and family, Facebook member Aly Carr, 26, offered up hers. Acts of generosity like this have been popping up more and more on social networking sites. In fact, according to the French Tribune, organ donation groups are becoming more common on Facebook, with about dozens of pages available under the search term “need kidney.” Facebook isn’t the only site people are using to help find kidney matches. In fact, in 2011, a Twitter member with kidney disease tweeted that he needed a kidney and 19 people offered to find out if they might be a match — and when the match came back positive for one of his acquaintances, he received the kidney.”

America’s healthiest metros. Speaking of which, did you see this? Work-life balance. “What constitutes a balance between work and life? The OECD settled on three chief variables: (1) The share of the labor force that works extreme hours; (2) leisure time; and (3) employment rates for women who have children. The United States, which leads most of the world in share of mothers who are working, lagged in leisure time and share of overworked employees.”

Job disparity?: “In a wrinkle that puzzles economists, one important driver of the trend is that hundreds of thousands of men are showing up in the once mostly female world of retailing. Nearly 1.28 million men gained jobs in the 12 months that ended in November, compared with 600,000 women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Though men have returned to work in greater numbers in goods-producing jobs and service-related businesses, they’re not returning to still-stagnant construction industries. Instead, retailers have added 216,900 men — about five times as many as have been added by traditionally male financial services companies — vs. about 9,000 women. Also, manufacturers have added more than 250,000 men and cut 33,000 women.”

Happiness stats: “The results are interesting. The biggest personal factor in determining happiness is health. Healthy people are about 20 per cent happier than average while unhealthy people are about 8.25 per cent more unhappy. Next comes marriage. Married individuals are about 10 per cent happier than people who have never been married. Personal income plays a smaller role. In general, however, people with higher incomes are happier, with the people in the highest income bracket about 3.5 per cent happier than average. This may help to explain one of the analysis’ more curious findings: that having children reduce happiness. On average, each child reduces happiness by about 0.24 per cent. Guo and Hu say this is probably because the survey is biased towards poorer families with less disposable income. Children eat up spending money and this increases hardship. By contrast, the links with macreconomics factors are much harder to spot, say Guo and Hu. For example, they find it hard to identify a link between happiness and GDP or change in GDP. In fact they say the data indicates there is “no noteworthy connection between the two variables statistically.”

Good brief article on elections and media.

The (perhaps) ignored dimensions of Finland’s educational promise: “When President Kennedy was making his appeal for advancing American science and technology by putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s, many said it couldn’t be done,” Sahlberg said during his visit to New York. “But he had a dream. Just like Martin Luther King a few years later had a dream. Those dreams came true. Finland’s dream was that we want to have a good public education for every child regardless of where they go to school or what kind of families they come from, and many even in Finland said it couldn’t be done.” Clearly, many were wrong. It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important — as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform — Finland’s experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity. The problem facing education in America isn’t the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.” (HT: LNMM)

The Incas — a fascinating people.

On lecturing (or not): “The test has now been given to tens of thousands of students around the world and the results are virtually the same everywhere. The traditional lecture-based physics course produces little or no change in most students’ fundamental understanding of how the physical world works. “The classes only seem to be really working for about 10 percent of the students,” Arizona State’s Hestenes says. “And I maintain, I think all the evidence indicates, that these 10 percent are the students that would learn it even without the instructor. They essentially learn it on their own.” He says that listening to someone talk is not an effective way to learn any subject. “Students have to be active in developing their knowledge,” he says. “They can’t passively assimilate it.” This is something many people have known intuitively for a long time — the physicists just came up with the hard data. Their work, along with research by cognitive scientists, provides a compelling case against lecturing. But with budgets shrinking and enrollments booming, large classes aren’t going away. You don’t have to lecture in a lecture hall though.

For the left-handed: “Throughout history, Western history that is … there has always been a sort of negative whiff around left-handedness, because it was different, and therefore a bit, well, suspect,” Smits says. But, he adds, most people didn’t really care that much about it. Even the witch-hunters of the Middle Ages didn’t consider left-handedness evil. “Now that’s strange,” Smits says, “because everything they could lay their hands on was used to condemn people in those days.” No, it took the invention of modern psychology to really give lefties a bad rap. “That’s when you find these very stern people who really think that we left-handers are really bad and maladjusted and sick,” Smits says. He says that if you look outside Western history and science, you will find places where lefties aren’t as stigmatized.

Should we erase painful memories? Julie Beck on homes, houses and who we are: “I can’t possibly live everywhere I once labeled home, but I can frame these places on my walls. My decorations can serve as a reminder of the more adventurous person I was in New York, the more carefree person I was in Paris, and the more ambitious person I was in Michigan. I can’t be connected with my home in the intense way South Asians are in Sax’s book, but neither do I presume my personality to be context-free. No one is ever free from their social or physical environment. And whether or not we are always aware of it, a home is a home because it blurs the line between the self and the surroundings, and challenges the line we try to draw between who we are and where we are.”

Sugar, friends, and life style, by David Frum: “If you as an individual want to change your weight, you must change your whole life. Likewise, to reduce obesity in modern society, we will have to alter the way society is organized. Weight gain is driven by two trends: increases in calories consumed and decrease in calories expended. Modern America induces both.”

Meanderings in Sports

Joe Posnanski on Hall of Fame committee attitudes: “You may have noticed this, too: Often, it seems to me, people will lose their minds when they are given a little area to protect. You will see it best, perhaps, in the parking lots of sporting events, especially the biggest ones. Every single year at events like the Indianapolis 500 or the Super Bowl or the World Series (but also at particularly busy high school football game) you see people in orange vests running around the parking lots — people who, just the day before, were as friendly and generous as anyone else — only they have suddenly and temporarily turned into mini-tyrants. Hey, watch it buddy. You can’t go there. You’ve got to turn around. I don’t care who you know. You are not allowed in here. That’s not my problem. Your parking pass isn’t being displayed properly. You are not welcome here. And so on. They say power corrupts — well, I suspect that even a tiny jolt of power can do it. That, I think, is how some writers get when it comes to the Hall of Fame — they may not see themselves exactly as part of a fun process to celebrate the greatest players in the history of the game. Instead, they may see themselves as the GUARDIANS of the Hall, the orange vests who make sure that the unworthy and unclean, the players without the proper parking passes, are kept out. I know this is true, because I have often felt those emotions bubbling inside, too often thought, “Jack Morris? He’s not a Hall of Famer. Jim Rice? He’s not a Hall of Famer.” And so on.”

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  • Susan N.

    DaddyRob and Skyebox – these links bring up some points that have been troubling me. In being a regular reader and commenter here at Jesus Creed blog for at least a year (I’ve lost track of time), I did not suspect that key individuals might be posting under alternate aliases, or, interacting in such a way to bait or entrap a response. Seeing comments from others alluding to false aliases recently has got me wondering. I sincerely hope that it is not true. For my part, my name is really Susan. My comments are about as real (honest) as I can get. I am feeling sad this morning. Maybe I will read the rest of Meanderings later.

  • RJS

    Good stuff as usual.

    The link “For Professors” is … interesting. Overstated, but intentionally as most caricatures are, and catching truth.

    The article on lecturing or not is interesting. Typical stuff from Mazur, he’s been pushing this for quite awhile. It is a hard trek.

  • RJS


    What do you mean by posting under alternate aliases or bait and entrap a response?

  • DRT

    Jeff Doles and I are really the same person. I just have a bit of a split personality 😉

  • Phillip

    I appreciate the article on left handers. As one who is both left-handed and tall (6’5″) I often feel the weight of society’s predjudices. Even the Bible has a bias against lefties and tall people. I am comtemplating starting my own branch of liberation theology for those like myself.

    On lecturing in teaching, I keep hearing how awful it is. But in a teaching college, where a teacher can have four classes of 40-plus students, what is the solution. Regular written work creates more than the teacher can handle. Group work may help, but I have found many students hate it, and it tends to favor the extroverts. It is also difficult to pull off in classrooms with fixed seating. I am very interested in learning more effective means, but what I usually hear are suggestions from those with lighter class loads or fewer students, or those who talk about the ideal rather than the real. Does anyone know of good resources for teaching large and mulitple classes effectively? I should note, that I am not convinced that lecture is as bad as is often suggested and think it often depends on the teacher.

  • Philip #5

    I no longer lecture for the entire class time. I haven’t for years. I do agree that interactive learning is in general better. Having said that, I agree that lecture in itself is not the problem. The lecture will be interesting if the one giving it is interesting.

    From one fellow left hander to another.

  • tom k

    Good article from The Economist on elections. Our elections, especially for the Presidency, are driven by compelling personal narratives that too often produces a Chief Executive who is obscure in terms of political achievement, lacking the political skills to produce tangible results.

  • Ben Wheaton

    Philip #5

    The Bible with a bias against left-handers? Have you forgotten Ehud?

  • Found it interesting that Frum a conservative thinks that obesity problem would be solved like reducing highway deaths.
    Quote:much more like the generation-long campaign against highway fatalities, which required the redesign of cars, the redesign of highways, and changes in personal behavior like seat-belt use and drunk driving.

    Didn’t require federal legislation something lazy-faire conservatives abhor?

    Minor quibble: kidney pos0– TV station KHOU is in Houston TX

  • Phillip

    Ben # 8,

    No. I know about Ehud, that trickster, an ironic play on an undesirable quality. But the right hand is the hand of favor or superiority in blessing (Gen 48:14). The priest’s left hand holds the oil (passive), while the right had applies it (active). In Proverbs 3:16 wisdom has riches in her left hand, but life in her right. And we know from the larger canon that riches pose dangers to full life and eternal life. And, of course, when the sheep and goats are divided, the sheep go on Jesus right and the goats on his left. Alas. 🙂

  • Diane


    I am curious about what you mean about people posting under different aliases. I wasn’t aware this was going on. Scot’s blog initially took off because it was a safe haven in which people could discuss sensitive issues without insults or tag-teaming to run a person down with relentless ridicule. From this blog, I entered into some cyber friendships with people like Ted Gossard and Peggy Brown who have no tricks up their sleeves. I imagine there could be ways to make identity more transparent. Trust is compromised when you find out someone has been devious in some way about their identity–at best it becomes harder to have a civil conversation because of the distaste dishonesty, even if inadvertent, always causes.

  • Susan N.

    RJS, DRT, and Diane — the worries I had have proven to be unwarranted. I am sorry for the confusion. I do value this as a safe space to discuss many deep and often controversial topics, and more than that, being a part of this community.

    DRT – you crack me up!

    Diane — a question of trust, after reading about Internet social media in the DaddyRo and Skyebox links, was at the heart of my reaction. My “radar” was experiencing technical difficulties! My fault…begging all of your forgiveness.