Weekly Meanderings

For the Spring Breakers, ah…

Oh my, Jonathan Storment got himself into (almost) trouble.

John Koessler on gospeling during Lent: “This means that the gospel is for the believer as much as it is for the unbeliever. To marginalize the gospel by relegating it to the entry point of our faith and to ignore its application to the believer’s daily experience is spiritually deadly. The gospel offers hope for the present life as well as for the future. It is about living as much as it is about dying. It is true that the gospel promises a kingdom in the future, a time when those who know Christ “will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). Like Christ’s apostles, we too are waiting for the day to come when Jesus will “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). But we do not have to wait to be placed under new authority. We do not yet see everything subject to Jesus, but we do see the one who has “tasted death” on our behalf (Heb. 2:9). The Sundays of Lent and the important events that surround the Easter holiday provide preachers with a rich opportunity to unpack the gospel for believer and unbeliever alike.”

Tony on Why Pray?

Tom Smith, cardiac asthmatic: “But, I am more than my brokenness and labels. I am more than number 595400000040 who is a cardiac asthmatic. We are more than the labels that are ascribed to us. I am also husband, father, friend, pastor, joker, jogger and Lion’s rugby team supporter. One of the hardest things in life is to bring our fragmented lives with their shattered identities to the One who ultimately names us. Because Jesus loves us with all our stuff and invites us into a relationship with Father, Son and Spirit where we are named and offered the gift of healing. This does not mean that I can ignore all those other labels, even though some will have to be ignored. What it does mean is that I have to herd all those other labels under a Label that can bring wholeness and coherence to the rest of those ordinary labels. Like stray sheep we have to bring those labels into the sheep pen with a shepherd that can name us in a way that the other labels become secondary.”

Why pastors should blog. The Burner and Gabe.

Good for Syler: “As I walked back to my car, I was struck with a sense of wonder. I had just portrayed Jesus in a hit play, and had the opportunity to talk about significant matters of faith with a playwright from New York. How exactly did I get here? I wondered. What lessons did I learn? First, I realized that as a pastor I spend far too much time in the Christian ghetto. We attend meetings, send emails, and study books at the expense of investing time in the larger world. Our studies are safe; the world is risky. We must not “neglect the ministry of the word of God” (Acts 6) but we also can’t forget that Jesus came for the sick and not the healthy (Matthew 9). That’s a balance we must maintain. We lose our mission when our schedules only include people who share our faith.”

The MethoBlog.

Meanderings in the News

Anesthetics … and the brain: “Today anesthetics are considered as routine as a trip to the dentist. They have been around at least since the 18th century when a talented chemist named Humphry Davy discovered the mysterious effect of nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Davy, young and ambitious, set out to rigorously test the gas’s effect, inhaling nitrous oxide daily for several months. Under slightly less rigorous conditions, Davy shared the gas with a distinguished group of friends including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, James Watt, and Robert Southey—who wrote in a letter that “the atmosphere of the highest of all possible heavens must be composed of this gas.” These early trials laid the foundation for anesthesia’s emergence in medicine today. Yet in the modern era, despite tremendous advances in the quality and selectivity of anesthetics, we still have a poor understanding of how anesthetics work in the brain.”

Elizabeth Weil on the challenges of therapy with couples.

Box stores, criticism, and Detroit: “Criticism against big-box stores is well-researched and oft-repeated. For every two jobs a Walmart creates, one study found, it eliminates three more. Another concluded that just 16 percent of the money generated by a SuperTarget store stays in the local community. But those arguments may not hold in struggling Detroit, where there isn’t much competition to poach and many residents are desperate for any job. With a few retail behemoths planning to set up shop in Detroit in the next several months, the city will make an interesting test case for theories about the economic value of big-box stores. It’s easy to focus on labor policies or chains’ competitive advantage over the smaller guy in flourishing communities, but the story is different in areas where not much else exists. Detroit residents have largely embraced chains not only as a source of jobs, also an expression of confidence in their city, about which they remain fiercely proud.”

Colonialism and AIDS.

On Santorum’s faith: “Central to Mr. Santorum’s spiritual life is his wife, whom he calls “the rock which I stand upon.” Before marrying, the couple decided to recommit themselves to their Catholic faith — a turnabout for Karen Santorum, who had been romantically involved with a well-known abortion provider in Pittsburgh and had openly supported abortion rights, according to several people who knew her then. The Santorums went on to have eight children, including a son who died two hours after birth in 1996 and a daughter, now 3, who has a life-threatening genetic disorder. Unlike Catholics who believe that church doctrine should adapt to changing times and needs, the Santorums believe in a highly traditional Catholicism that adheres fully to what scholars call “the teaching authority” of the pope and his bishops. “He has a strong sense of that,” said George Weigel, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, where Mr. Santorum had a fellowship after losing his bid for re-election to the Senate in 2006. “He’s the first national figure of some significance who’s on that side of the Catholic conversation.”

I wonder if this guy will take my Brittanica?

William Johnson: “I AM a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. What’s more, these are high school students, so their disabilities are compounded by raging hormones and social pressure. As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult. Beyond the challenges posed by my students, budget cuts and changes to special-education policy have increased my workload drastically even over just the past 18 months. While my class sizes have grown, support staff members have been laid off. Students with increasingly severe disabilities are being pushed into more mainstream classrooms like mine, where they receive less individual attention and struggle to adapt to a curriculum driven by state-designed high-stakes tests. On top of all that, I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating.”

Meanderings in Sports

A sad story about Lenny Cooke, a potential NBA star who never made it.

Rory McIlroy, who grew up on Royal Portrush, a fabulous golf course on the tip of Northern Ireland, wins the Honda Classic, takes over the #1 ranked player in the world, and ushers us perhaps into a new era of young golfing stars. What a splendid display of control last Sunday.

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  • Scott Gay

    Today’s meanderings make me want to comment and comment….who could believe that William Johnson is a bad teacher more days than he is a good teacher?….Elizabeth Weil’s couples therapy made me laugh throughout(and think that K. McKnight might not think it’s that funny).

    Tony Jones honesty on prayer is deeply appreciated. There is an Anabaptist morning and evening devotional(Take Our Moments and Our Days) that is truly a portal and primer on prayer.

  • Susan N.

    Thanks, Scot and Kris. 🙂

    My leisure time is short this morning, but after a quick scan, two links converge to bring to a point some ideas my daughter and I were working through yesterday…

    DaddyRo, ‘Why Blog?’ and Tom Smith (Soul Gardeners <– I love that title!), 'Labels.'

    Chemistry (Gas Laws) has been giving my daughter fits. After spending hours working out a set of problems (PV = nRT) and using stoichiometry to calculate the mole ratios, 70% of the answers were wrong. My girl's a very bright, responsible, and driven individual, though also very pessimistic and hard on herself (I wonder where she gets that?!) Her standard reaction to such situations is, "Why bother? I can't. I'll never. I'm doomed. I'm not smart. I'll never get into college, or get a job, and my life is over."

    Before we could even get to the Chemistry problems, I had to correct all the lies my daughter was telling herself. "*You* are not a failure. Failing on this task can be looked at one of two ways: As an opportunity to learn, or as a cue to give up. Life will be filled with as many (if not more) failures than successes. Learn how to pick yourself up, take a deep breath, and try again. Seek and accept help if you need it."

    We worked together until we'd fixed the problem set, then put Chemistry aside for the night. In the evening, we were watching 'Larry Crowne' together (teen daughter hadn't watched it with me the first time, because she had read a not-so-good review of the movie that discouraged her from giving it a chance.)

    Afterward, we were talking about writing; namely, writing a book. Daughter shares with me a hilarious example of "worst writing ever" that she was inspired to create after reading some contest entries last year on the Net in competition for this dubious honor. She tells me, "You should write, Mom. Write a book, even." Her rationale is that every person should write a book. When I asked why, she explains, "So that you can feel like a success."

    "A success in what," I ask, "In stringing together a coherent series of words?"

    We both laughed at that, and then my sweet, smart girl (see why I love her?) continues, "I think everyone should write a book and bury it in a time capsule for someone to read a long time later in the future."

    So here's my point 😀 Writing helps us to sort out who we are and organize our "labels." That's the significant thing. Not what others think about it. My glass-half-empty child, in spite of herself, is already way ahead of the "game" in so many ways.

    Have a lovely, relaxing Saturday, all. ~Peace~

  • Speaking of Methoblogs, my Methodist pastor friend just tipped me off to Asbury Theological Seminary’s new blog. Looks pretty sharp: http://seedbed.com/