When heaven and earth meet,
by Fr Rob.
My friend Jim Martin‘s got three good prefaces that might influence your life: ““This may not be right, but . . .” “I don’t want to gossip, but . . .” “Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but . . .”
Rachel’s right: there are times when the complementarians fashion views of how men and women are to interact that fly in the face of how men and women interacted in the pages of the Bible, and she rightfully points to Deborah. Israel’s commander-in-chief and pope all bundled in a woman’s body, and blessed mightily by God — with some Schadenfreude to boot!
Ben Witherington offers the top ten reasons to be a Methodist: “10. No snake handling (a real sales feature in Kentucky). 9. You can believe in dinosaurs. 8. Male and female God created them, male and female we ordain them. 7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door. 6. Even cross and flame boxer shorts are not considered a tacky Christmas gift for clergy in the UMC. 5. The church year is color coded, to make it easier to follow. 4. No alcoholic has to worry about communion causing a relapse. 3. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized. 2. All are welcome to come as they are, but none are allowed to stay as they are— ‘you must be born again and justified’! 1. We have the best hymns— hands down, even if your hands are up while singing them.”
From my friend Allan Bevere: “In a recent post in the Juris Naturalist, Nathan Snow equates Protestant evangelicalism with the agenda of commending and passing its religious agenda through political legislation. In other words, evangelicalism = Christian legislation. He writes, ”Constantine married Christianity to Empire. Henry VIII married Christianity to Monarchy. Evangelicalism, it seems to me, is the attempt to marry Christianity to parliament.” Snow discusses William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. He observes, “I began by investigating the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. The story of Wilberforce is powerful and inspiring, if one believes that legislation is a legitimate means to reform. My paper “Abolishing Transitional Gains Traps” attempts to point out that while the abolitionist movement was successful at ending slavery, it was not a clean win. There were innocent losers as a consequence of Wilberforce’s victory. That, and Wilberforce was a winner, as were his colleagues, many of whom enjoyed approbation and power as a consequence of their success. Some of which was no doubt misapplied at times.”
By the way, that tart was made by my daughter, Laura.
Bob Gagnon responds to Alan Chambers and Exodus International.
Of the sociologists I read, Brad Wright is one of my favorites; when he stands with Mark Regnerus, I do too. “In academics there are a handful of political and cultural issues for which there are “acceptable” and “unacceptable” positions. If you agree with the majority of academics on these issues, great, but if not, you’re going to run into trouble. Mark Regnerus has taken one of these “unacceptable” positions. He conducted a study to compare “how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types.” To read his study, click here. To read an interview with him about this study, click here. I don’t study family demography, but my take is that his work is a worthwhile addition to the literature on this topic. The paper went through the peer-review process at a top journal and has been vetted by other sociologists of the family. (To read a letter in support of this research, click here). This paper has produced scholarly debate, which is fine, for reasonable people can disagree on some of its technical and interpretive aspects–this true with any sociological study.”
Tony Jones has a post taking Metaxas to task for his Bonhoeffer biography and he quotes eminent Bonhoeffer scholar Victoria Barnett, and I sense a growing admission that there’s distortion and colonizing at work in that biography. What I read in Barnett’s review, which I had heard about but not read until Tony linked to it, is the same sort of problems I had with Metaxas, not the least of which is his failure to mention that Bonhoeffer was on Bultmann’s side when it came to the historicity of the Gospels — both when Bonhoeffer was in Spain and then later when the conservative Lutheran pastors disputed Bultmann. A somewhat Bultmannian, a Heidegger-loving, Barthian Bonhoeffer is the real one. Read her review, it’s one of the best. I love Bonhoeffer, but the Bonhoeffer I love is the Finkenwalde Bonhoeffer, which is only part of that man’s story.
Meanderings in the News
Stonehenge has a new theory, and it is beginning to remind me of Newgrange in Ireland. “Professor Parker Pearson continued: “When we stumbled across this extraordinary natural arrangement of the sun’s path being marked in the land, we realized that prehistoric people selected this place to build Stonehenge because of its pre-ordained significance. This might explain why there are eight monuments in the Stonehenge area with solstitial alignments, a number unmatched anywhere else. Perhaps they saw this place as the centre of the world”.”
Electronically produced wiki-articles: “They look a bit like communally written Wikipedia pages. But these articles — concise profiles of people and organizations, complete with lists of connected organizations, people, and events — were in fact written by computers, in a new bid by the Pentagon to build machines that can follow global news events and provide intelligence analysts with useful summaries in close to real time. The prototype system is part of a nonpublic site built for intelligence agencies by Raytheon BBN in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and scheduled for delivery to the government later this year. It gathers information from 40 news websites written in English, Chinese, and Arabic, and eventually it will cover hundreds of news sites in all major languages. Ultimately the system will be linked with an existing TV broadcast monitoring network.”
David Leonhardt: “IN a partisan country locked in a polarizing campaign, there is no shortage of much discussed divisions: religious and secular, the 99 percent and the 1 percent, red America and blue America. But you can make a strong case that one dividing line has actually received too little attention. It’s the line between young and old. Draw it at the age of 65, 50 or 40. Wherever the line is, the people on either side of it end up looking very different, both economically and politically. The generation gap may not be a pop culture staple, as it was in the 1960s, but it is probably wider than it has been at any time since then.” And this important conclusion: “If there is a theme unifying these economic and political trends, in fact, it is that the young are generally losing out to the old. On a different subject, Warren E. Buffett, 81, has joked that there really is a class war in this country — and that his class is winning it. He could say the same about a generational war.”
The Ampleforth Abbey monks are now making beer. It is as good as the Belgian beers? Chimay, St Bernardus?
Mental development via meditation: “Now comes a new study, published online on June 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showing that a form of mindfulness meditation increases both the density of axons connecting neurons, and the myelin sheaths around those axons, within the anterior cingulate, an area of the brain important for attention and self regulation. The findings are the latest from a continuing collaboration between Michael Posner, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon’s department of psychology, and Yi-Yuan Tang, director of Texas Tech University’s Neuroimaging Institute and chair of neuroscience in its psychology department. Posner, who has conducted decades of research into attention and executive control, was intrigued by Tang’s desire to test the effects of a type of meditation called integrative body-mind training (IBMT), adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s. Under instruction by a coach who provides instruction on breathing, posture and mental imagery, IBMT encourages trainees to avoid controlling their thoughts, encouraging them instead to maintain a state of restful alertness while calming music plays in the background. In their first collaboration, published in 2007, Posner and Tang showed that just five days of IBMT training resulted in significantly improved attention and improved performance on the Raven’s progressive matrices, a measure of fluid intelligence, the ability to solve novel problems and identify patterns. Compared to a placebo group who received only relaxation training, the effect on fluid intelligence was small but statistically significant. Participants in the IBMT group also had a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol, and an increase in a measure of the immune system’s strength, secretory immunoglobulin A.”
There’s been some flap about Jonah Lehrer re-using his stuff.
Jacqueline Stevens says political scientists are bad predictors: “DESPERATE “Action Alerts” land in my in-box. They’re from the American Political Science Association and colleagues, many of whom fear grave “threats” to our discipline. As a defense, they’ve supplied “talking points” we can use to tell Congressional representatives that political science is a “critical part of our national science agenda.” Political scientists are defensive these days because in May the House passed an amendment to a bill eliminating National Science Foundation grants for political scientists. Soon the Senate may vote on similar legislation. Colleagues, especially those who have received N.S.F. grants, will loathe me for saying this, but just this once I’m sympathetic with the anti-intellectual Republicans behind this amendment. Why? The bill incited a national conversation about a subject that has troubled me for decades: the government — disproportionately — supports research that is amenable to statistical analyses and models even though everyone knows the clean equations mask messy realities that contrived data sets and assumptions don’t, and can’t, capture. It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money. The most obvious example may be political scientists’ insistence, during the cold war, that the Soviet Union would persist as a nuclear threat to the United States. In 1993, in the journal International Security, for example, the cold war historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote that the demise of the Soviet Union was “of such importance that no approach to the study of international relations claiming both foresight and competence should have failed to see it coming.” And yet, he noted, “None actually did so.” Careers were made, prizes awarded and millions of research dollars distributed to international relations experts, even though Nancy Reagan’s astrologer may have had superior forecasting skills.”
Meanderings in Sports
How do you tell a man from a woman — for the Olympics? “The International Olympic Committee’s new policy governing sex verification is expected to ban women with naturally high testosterone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, from women’s competitions, claiming they have an unfair advantage. I.O.C. officials portray this as a reasonable compromise in a difficult situation, arguing that the rules may be imperfect, but that sports are rule-based — and that the rules should be clear. We agree that sports need clear rules, but we also believe that the rules should be fair and as rational as possible. The new policy, if it is based on testosterone levels, is neither. So what is a better solution?”