Weekly Meanderings

Chicago, by Kyle Flubacker.

Steve Buttry turns around the criticism by journalists: “Dear Newsroom Curmudgeon, I sometimes share your anxiety and occasionally share your concerns about some of the changes in journalism. I learned journalism in the old school, same as you. I am steeped in the same values of accuracy, fairness, dogged reporting and good writing that you cherish. But I’m having as much fun as I’ve ever had in more than 40 years in journalism, I have as high regard for my colleagues’ work as ever and I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been about the future of journalism and the news business. If you would like work to be fun again, if you’d like to be optimistic again (or, if you never were, to finally be optimistic), I’m writing to tell you about the fun and optimism that I find in journalism. I wrote about you last fall, but you probably didn’t read that blog post. You’re probably not a regular reader of my blog or a regular user of Twitter, where a lot of journalists learned about that post. Maybe you’re reading this because a colleague emailed you a link or printed it out for you. That’s OK. I’m writing this because an editor asked me recently how to deal with curmudgeons who resist learning the skills, tools, techniques and principles of digital journalism. I gave him an answer off the cuff and sent him a link to that earlier blog post. But upon reflection, I think the best way to deal with a curmudgeon is to talk candidly and directly with him or her. So I’m doing that.”

My friend Ben Witherington’s reflections on the death of his daughter, and this is my favorite paragraph: “My hope is in nothing less than a dramatic reversal of death in the flesh. My hope is not even just in the Risen One, though that is true enough, but in his promise to raise from the dead those who are in Christ. Nothing less than this is my hope. So as I grieve for Christy, I do so in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection. I cannot wait to see her new resurrection form! If she is any more bright and beautiful than she is in the photo here, I will need strong sunglasses to view her.”

Wonderful video, after the ad, about Tony Jones’ parents… wonderful.

Evangelicals and “he descended into hell”: Last week, Daniel Burke wrote an article in the Washington Post called “What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?” in which he examines the line from the Apostles Creed: “He descended to hell”. Though Burke admits that what Jesus did after his death and before the resurrection has been a matter of disagreement and debate throughout the history of the Church, he also affirms that “Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and most mainline Protestant churches teach that Jesus descended to the realm of the dead on Holy Saturday to save righteous souls, such as the Hebrew patriarchs, who died before his crucifixion.” However, Burke reports that some prominent evangelical spokesmen [Grudem, Piper] are calling for the removal of this article from the Creed, asserting that there is no biblical evidence for Christ’s descent or the “harrowing of hell”.

Tourists visiting historic African American churches in Harlem NYC: “NEW YORK (AP) – The stern warning issued from the pulpit was directed at the tourists – most of whom had arrived late – a sea of white faces with guidebooks in hand. They outnumbered the congregation itself: a handful of elderly black men and women wearing suits and dresses and old-fashioned pillbox hats.  “We’re hoping that you will remain in place during the preaching of the Gospel,” a church member said over the microphone at this Harlem church on a recent Sunday morning. “But if you have to go, go now. Go before the preacher stands to preach.” No one left then. But halfway through the sermon, a group of French girls made their way toward the velvet ropes that blocked the exit. An usher shook his head firmly, but they ignored him and walked out. The clash between tourists and congregants plays out every Sunday at Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the oldest black church in New York state. It’s one of many Harlem churches that have become tourist attractions for visitors from all over the world who want to listen to soulful gospel music at a black church service. With a record number of tourists descending upon New York City last year, the crowds of foreigners are becoming a source of irritation among faithful churchgoers.”

Fender guitars, and we have an interest because Lukas, our son, had a couple at one time.

King Jesus Gospel reflection by Derek.

Meanderings in the News

On loud churches: “A gospel church was fined after neighbours complained about its noisy services, it was disclosed on Friday. Deacon Everton Lewis-Gordon and pastor Sean Samuel appeared before Nottingham magistrates charged with noise nuisance after residents complained to Nottingham city council about services at New Generation Church in Basford. Charges against the deacon were withdrawn but Samuel was fined £360 and ordered to pay £300 costs to the council, which brought the action after complaints about the noise of amplified singing, music and preaching coming from the church over the past four years.” I wonder what would happen if the soccer stadium neighbors complained about noise. [By the way, we live three doors from the local high school football field.]

Getout! There are people who don’t use MS Word? Really? So what else do folks use?

The Fox Mole: “In his first blog as Fox Mole, Muto labeled his employer’s website as the “seedy underbelly of the Fox News online empire.” He singled out one post on the site, illustrated with pictures of black celebrities who visited with the president on his 50th birthday last August, under the headline “Obama’s Hip Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs.” “The post neatly summed up everything that had been troubling me about my employer: Non sequitur, ad hominem attacks on the president; gleeful race baiting; a willful disregard for facts; and so on,” Muto wrote. The partygoers also included many Washington politicians and White House staffers, he said.”

Matthew Yglesias: “They say that Joe Kennedy knew it was time to sell all his stocks when he started hearing tips from the shoe-shine boy. Thus a fortune was spared from the ravages of the Great Depression and the groundwork laid for a modern political dynasty. The point is what whatever “everyone” is doing, you want to do the reverse. Today, with homeownership rates steadily declining (PDF) and magazines like Forbes and the Atlantic claiming that young people aren’t into homeownership anymore the time is right to do the reverse. If you have the means, run to the nearest for-sale property and buy, buy, buy. Of course, to many this is a song they’ve heard before, and they don’t want to listen to any bubble logic. Others are entranced by tales of “shadow inventory”—homes that are either bank-owned and held off the market or simply midway through the foreclosure process and waiting to be seized by lenders at the first sign of a rise in prices. According to this line of thought, house prices are basically immune to increases barring some much larger systematic resolution of the backlog of bad lending. Shadow homes are simply lurking out there, ready to join the supply pool as soon as buyers arrive, guaranteeing that sale prices will remain depressed. That may be right, but it’s irrelevant to the new case for homeownership, which has nothing to do with resale value and everything to do with rents.”

Even in Russia the church gets too close to power.”At the peak of street protests against Vladimir Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church pitched itself as a potential moderator. Three months later, its shift towards the president-elect has become so clear – and so divisive – that it has issued an unusually tough statement saying it is under threat from anti-Russian forces for backing him.”

What is your WalkScore?

Jim Robbins on the importance of trees: “We have underestimated the importance of trees. They are not merely pleasant sources of shade but a potentially major answer to some of our most pressing environmental problems. We take them for granted, but they are a near miracle. In a bit of natural alchemy called photosynthesis, for example, trees turn one of the seemingly most insubstantial things of all — sunlight — into food for insects, wildlife and people, and use it to create shade, beauty and wood for fuel, furniture and homes.”

Book e-publishing corruption.

Charles Krauthammer: “Three years ago, Obama promised universal health care that saves money. Today, he offers a capital gains tax hike that spurs economic growth. This is free-lunch egalitarianism. The Buffett Rule redistributes deck chairs on the Titanic, ostensibly to make more available for those in steerage. Nice idea, but the iceberg cometh. The enterprise is an exercise in misdirection — a distraction not just from Obama’s dismal record on growth and unemployment but, more important, from his dereliction of duty in failing to this day to address the utterly predictable and devastating debt crisis ahead.”

Meanderings in Sports

Bubba Golf! ““Bubba Golf” is what Bubba Watson calls it, and it’s some combination of aggressiveness and innocence. The guy boasts of never taking a lesson. He has no coach. He employs no sports psychologists. He does things he knows he shouldn’t, like hitting driver when control is of the essence, or imagining some weaving, looping wedge shot out of the woods and into history.”

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  • My walk score is 97. I lovvvve my neighborhood.

  • About eBooks, Amazon, and the big 6 publishers… The big 6 played a dirty game, completely missed the eBook business model, and ripped off authors at the same time (usually paying 20% or less to authors for eBooks even though there is zero development cost). Amazon did the right thing. Authors who bypassed the big 6 and listed their own eBooks get 70% of the proceeds. And Amazon encourages low pricing for eBooks (which should cost less than half of a trade hardcover). Amazon has done everything right, been friendly to authors, and rightfully has made the big 6 look stupid. The Passive Voice blog and also Kristine Kathryn Rusch blog for authors about the crazy things happening in publishing right now.

  • Nice video on Doug and Sarah Jones. Worth watching.

  • Joe Canner

    I use Open Office on my Mac, partly because MS Office doesn’t work as well on a Mac as is does on Windows, but mostly because it’s free. It has a few quirks but is fine for most needs.

  • Scott Gay

    Obama care is talked about today in terms of the Supreme Court striking down the individual mandate as unconstitutional, but leaving the rest intact. This compounds the problem. The idea of confronting our health care problems-uninsured, agent controlled, pre-existing conditions, lifestyle, costs, malpractice, an aging population- by the former system is short sighted and demeaning. Sustainability(designing healthy communities) and honoring people(paradigm shifting all involved in health care) has to be the foundation. The democratic system has the creative capacity to face and solve health care problems. The free enterprise/socialized conundrum is not the way foward. The way is distributive in the sense of putting health in the lives of as many people as possible(yes, unhealthy choices can be called out as such-we did it with cigarettes and we can do it with other choices). Individually we need to stand up and say that putting band-aids on the old system is wrong headed and financially imprudent. You can look around and notice that many, many individuals are investing in health. So lets stand up together and denounce any attempt at fixing a broken system, and be bold in designing new healthy/honorable communities.

  • Kyle

    I’m offering a free full-size digital file of the skyline shot to interested Jesus Creed readers. Contact me at kflubacker@gmail.com and share your email address best suited to handle the rather large file.

  • Pat Pope

    That too was my favorite paragraph from Ben’s story, Scot, particularly this sentence: “My hope is not even just in the Risen One, though that is true enough, but in his promise to raise from the dead those who are in Christ.”

    As for noisy neighbors, here in Ohio, my mother attended a church in a local suburb where neighbors complained about all the parked cars on the street. I also know of churches that have had noise complaints from residents, so it does happen here in the States too. But we also have people who complain about noise from school stadiums or who protest the addition of new sports fields.

    As for the churches, I can understand their consternation. After all, they probably don’t see their worship as an opportunity for gawkers and it probably is a distraction having people coming and going. I wonder if they can restrict tourists during worship times and just have them come visit when they’re not worshipping and just show a video of a worship service? But now that I think about it, when I was in Israel, we visited a church that was having service while we walked about but we were asked to be respectful.

  • I loathe MS Word.

    WYSIWYG is a faulty mechanism, WYSIWYM (M=”mean”) is my preferred method, which is why I use a text editor, and write either in raw HTML or use Markdown, a wiki-like textual method where the text reigns supreme, and I do not fret over auto-transformation into proprietary goo.

    See also Richard Stallman’s rant on the evil of MS Word.

  • Wow. It seems rather cheeky to reject Christ’s descent to hell on the basis of Christ’s words on the cross. Do you think this fits into the broader discussion of afterlife, parousia, heaven in terms of what we are aware of and to what extent it is linear and what extent it transcends time?

    On a separate but related note, the TIME article that quoted Tom Wright seemed to conflate his view of heaven as “remade earth” with those who seem to say heaven is a state of mind right here right now without a future transformation taking place.

  • “However, Burke reports that some prominent evangelical spokesmen [Grudem, Piper] are calling for the removal of this article from the Creed, asserting that there is no biblical evidence for Christ’s descent or the “harrowing of hell”.”

    I can’t be the only one who, in the aftermath of the Rob Bell debates, finds this ironic.

    Not that I disagree with Grudem and Piper on that particular point (lack of biblical evidence), but given how vociferously Piper (I don’t recall if Grudem weighed in) attacked Bell for merely suggesting a “universalist” possibility, the irony is strong.

  • wordperfect was ten times easier to manage when writing in turabian style… word is impossible to properly format for turabian… i don’t think that wordperfect even exists anymore…

  • RJS


    WordPerfect still exists – I don’t know how popular it is. I used it exclusively for years – until the mid 2000’s and found it much better than Word. Then they decided their fonts were proprietary and would not allow them to be easily embedded into pdf files. As I have many odd characters and equations in my material this was disastrous and I had to switch to something else. Word was used by most colleagues and supplied by my employer, so this is now what I use. Given the amount of effort it took to move over, the barrier to change is quite large.

  • Diane

    As a former newsroom print journalist, I wanted to respond to Steve Buttry’s remarks about journalists’ objections to digital media, because I believe he misses some of the chief concerns to dwell on peripheral issues. I also–this is more important– felt he was concerned to create a sense of lack or anxiety in his readers (through creating a strawman) so he could sell his services –this piece read like an advertisement masquerading as an editorial–and thus exemplifies what worries journalists about digital media.

    I have mastered most of the digital media he speaks of, as have many JesusCreeders, but I see the losses that come with these media, as well as the gains. Buttry dismisses the ethical concerns that arise when everyone wears a journalist hat, whether trained or not. Yes, the newspaper industry was periodically–and continues to be–rocked by scandal–but how does a person who has never been trained as a journalist understand the ethical standards of the trade? How much unethical journalism is now floating out there, disproportionate to what was once the case? It can actually be very healthy to open up dialogue and make space for multiple voices–but the caution has to remain that the web does not have the same across-the-board standards as the newspaper industry.

    One of the attributes of newsroom journalism is and was the ability to specialize–journalists, except at very small papers, do journalism. They write articles. If I wanted to “make it” economically with, say, a blog, that is doable, but a great deal of my time would be spent on marketing and finding advertising–and I would at least potentially be under pressure to please advertisers, which would tend to lead to moral bending … at a good newspaper the editorial/advertiser division is sharp–you can’t buy press. When, once in a while, a reporter such as yours truly would be dragged into to see the publisher to explain why he or she hadn’t included a big advertiser in an article, it became a teachable moment: “Excuse me, did the advertiser buy the column inches where my article appeared?, Was I writing advertising copy and nobody told me?, Are advertisers now allowed to dictate to editorial?” etc.

    Everyone working independently on his or her own blog can produce good journalism but such a work life lacks the day-to-day culture of a newsroom, in which every reporter is constantly bumping up against other reporters and editors, and where ethical issues are a constant source of conversation since people have to work these problems out quickly in real time. To me–and I can only speak of the high integrity of the newspapers where I worked–the loss of that day-to-day culture is immeasurable. You can’t replicate it with a weekly Skype conversation. Maybe a robust Twitter could fill some of the gap–but the commitment and sense of community would have to be preexist.
    Everything changes … and with change comes loss.

  • Dan

    Interesting dust-up about Christ’s harrowing of hell. Grudem wrote an article on this in JETS a number of years ago (March 91) and was challenged in the following year by David Scaer.

    The Washington Post article by Burke, along with the responses, is quite interesting. While the article on the Internet Monk site was informative the responses about Grudem and Piper was “impressive.” What a sad witness on how to disagree with other Christians.

  • DRT

    I find myself using notepad, notepad+ and open office as much as I can to avoid Word. Those doggone bullet lists that automatically pop up are driving me nuts!

  • I thought the rant on MSWord was right on and well-said. I left Windows behind in 2004, but when Pages for Mac was released (2005) I started to make the transition out of Office. I have never looked back and, while I can interact with Word documents without MSOffice installed, still find it overloaded and cumbersome to deal with. Most of what I need to do (church work and personal production) is done on Pages – which has greatly improved with every version – but for my academic research and writing I have been using (since @2006) a program called Mellel. Some like it, some don’t. I think it is a good writing program that gets out of the way and allows for meta- stylistic and formatting changes.

    (following a friend of mine, I now have NO MS products dirtying up my beautiful MAC !!!)