Weekly Meanderings

Chicago’s Bean


Larry Hurtado‘s fine sketch of a hermeneutics of love.

A good report about Rowan Williams and his new book on C.S. Lewis: “These are surely questions the head of the established church must ponder. His interventions in live controversies – saying that aspects of Islamic sharia would inevitably become part of British law, or describing the Big Society as “aspirational waffle” – show he is unafraid of disturbing the mainstream. But I wonder whether his statements on the temporal issues of the day may have drowned out his spiritual message. His role might be in part a political one, but he is more provocative when he tackles the deeper questions. He leaves his position as Archbishop at the end of this year to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge – C S Lewis’s old college. Doubtless he will return to his academic interests, but it would be a shame if he retreated to speaking only to other theologians. In The Lion’s World his sometimes knotty prose style relaxes into an inspiring clarity. The ideas stay with you long after you finish the book, and his parting words on Lewis could apply equally to him. Great writers, he tells me, provoke you into looking beyond yourself. They seem to say: “Do you recognise that? Does that ring a bell? Something is moving in on you – well, getting its claws into you.”

TSK on taking time: “The two brothers from The Holy Transfiguration Monastery just left us. Its been a great three days. This morning we had our final breakfast and chat with them and we all shared what we learned. As for me, I was impressed with their perspective on time, their patience to wait for God’s timing, their reluctance to hurry or conform to the world’s rushed schedule that caters to the idolatry of NOW and the cult of youth. One example: They talked with Brother Roger from Taize about opening up to new people and he suggested they wait twenty years. Which they did. It gave them time to develop a deeper spirituality and core rhythms.  A lot of new church plants wait until they can run a good worship service before they open up to the public. There is little talk about whether the community has the spiritual depth to receive and disciple newcomers.  It reminded me of some other voices in my life…”

Excellent set of observations about pastoring by John Frye, at Jesus the Radical Pastor: “I believe these affinities are deeply and relationally transformative when the person who preaches/teaches the Word of God to a congregation is the one who visits them in their homes, in the hospitals, in the nursing home facilities; when the person who faithfully broadcasts the King Jesus Gospel Story also holds the baby in baptism, who prays and weeps at the grave side, who pronounces the husband and wife union; who walks in the shadow of death with the weary and confused. I wouldn’t trade being a pastor for being the mega-church communicator who by all measurements doesn’t know but a small percentage of the stories and characters of the attendees of a massive crowd. When pastoring is reduced to primarily preaching which is what happens to “lead” pastors by necessity in mega-churches, in my opinion something very significant is lost. I could be wrong, but I think there are subterranean relational trade-offs in the mega-church pastor model.”

Scott Holland, on how they decided to become parents: “I don’t recall how the subject of having children came up, but I am sure of a few things. One: We were still in Minnesota. Two: She started it. Three: I was taken completely by surprise. Like a lot of big topics in the course of our time together, Kristie had been thinking about the subject for at least a few days, if not longer, before actually saying something. I, conversely, was busy wondering if the Cubs would make the playoffs. Jumping ship on the five-year plan was no more on my radar than matching tattoos or skydiving lessons. This from the half of the couple who, even in the first six months of dating, was adamant about one day being a dad. Emphasis, though, on one day. As in five years after the wedding, not 13 months.”

Ira Brent Diggers reviews Tom Wright’s book How God Became King: “There is indeed a sense in which, methodologically speaking, Wright himself has “started with Scripture” (conceding this oversimplification for the moment), and there is no doubting that this approach has yielded some insights into the Jesus of the Gospels. I would contend, however, that the severing of Scripture from creedal tradition, for the purposes of setting Scripture above (or “before”) that tradition—as a normative hermeneutical hierarchy—is the more recent move in the history of scriptural exegesis. It establishes a kind of unidirectional approach that is, despite its great popularity in much of modern Christianity, simply untrue, both in intention and practice, to the ancient church that formulated the creeds. Irenaeus of Lyons exemplifies the ancient logic in his insistence that we read Scripture in accordance with the “Rule of Faith,” the Rule being a scripturally-derived “deposit” of the apostolic tradition, on the one hand, but the necessary hypothesis for the unveiling of Scripture’s overall unity, on the other. This sounds very much like the “creedal hermeneutic” that Wright disparages as altogether innovative. In reality, however, the ancient church followed this kind of logic as the Rule evolved into more linguistically-fixed creeds.

Good post by Jon Acuff:“Over and over again, these first disciples witness Jesus doing some absolutely wild things. Having witnessed these things first hand, it only makes sense that in Mark 4, when a storm threatens their boat, they immediately proclaim “No problem! We’ve got Jesus with us! Any boat he is on is like a Carnival Cruise!” Actually, they freak out. They wake Jesus up and instead of just saying, “Help, we’re going to drown!” they go with the far whinier, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” They manage to actually sound selfish in their cry for help, which is a difficult thing to do.”

Meanderings in the News

Caffeine levels in the ocean.

Merriam-Webster’s code of silence: “The office of Merriam-Webster has existed in essentially the same spot, in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1831. While the building has changed both inside and out in the many decades following George and Charles Merriam’s establishment of their “printing and bookselling operation,” the location—and much of how the editors work—has not. When I arranged to speak by phone to Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster editor-at-large, for this piece, he emailed that he needed to move to a conference room for our call. “We work in a silent office,” he wrote. “A silent office?” I marvel, when we speak. According to Sokolowski, there was at one point an official code of silence in place, though it may have only been held as “law” in the ’50s and ’60s, when the staff was larger and worked without cubicle walls between them. There remains, however, “a powerful culture of silence in the office,” he explains. “Before email, communication was encouraged through a 3×5 pink piece of paper that would be carried from desk to desk (with the recipient designated by initials in the upper right-hand corner) by the secretarial staff.” While such quaint traditions have gone away with the advent of email, in-person meetings are held behind closed doors, and the overall atmosphere is “very library-like. All you hear are keystrokes on computers, or very hushed conversations,” among the 40-some editors who work there, Sokolowski tells me. This is practical as well as traditional, as “writing a dictionary is like taking the SAT.” Sokolowski, who joined the company in 1994 when there was just one computer on the editorial floor, has essentially taken the SAT multiple times weekly for 18 years.

Joyce Carol Oates’ review of Claire Tomalin’s new biography of Dickens. “The vicissitudes of Dickens’s visits to the United States are tracked in detail in Tomalin’s biography, suggesting a curious admixture of innocent authorly vanity, a shrewd desire to make as much money as possible, and what comes to seem to the reader a malignant, ever-metastasizing desire for self- destruction. Dickens’s delight in his large and uncritical audiences shifts by degrees to an addiction to public performing; like Mark Twain, he quickly came to see that public performance paid more than writing, and was much easier, at least in the short run. Dickens’s need for the immediate gratification of public performing is both tonic and masochistic; consumed by vanity, the celebrated writer is consuming his very self.”

7 Annoying Body Problems.

From The Environment Blog at The Guardian: “It’s time to come clean: climate change is a hoax. And the moon landings were faked, 9/11 was an inside job, and the CIA is hiding the identity of the gunman on the grassy knoll. It might seem odd to lump climate change – a scientific theory supported by thousands of peer-reviewed papers and hundreds of independent lines of evidence – with conspiracy theories like these. But new researchto be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found a link between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of established facts about climate science.”

The French are trying to reduce rudeness: “Such rituals of rudeness have long been accepted by visitors as part of the price of enjoying such a beautiful city as Paris. But it seems the French themselves, who over centuries have turned rudeness into an art form, have become fed up with their own incivility, according to recent polls and publicity campaigns. There’s a fabled history of French rudeness from Napoleon, who called the English a “nation of shopkeepers,” to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who infamously snarled at a voter: “Get lost, poor jerk.” Now, bad manners and aggressive behavior top the list of causes of stress for the French, even higher than unemployment or the debt crisis, says pollster IPSOS. A total of 60 percent cited rudeness as their number one source of stress in a survey last year on social trends. “We’re so rude,” admits 34-year-old French teacher Stephane Gomez, as he comes out of a Paris metro station. “France lacks the civic sense that you find in Anglo-Saxon countries.” “It’s so easy to be polite, but we don’t do it,” says 30-year-old Zahia Sebahi. “I never see someone give up their seat for an elderly person.” But Paris’s public transport authority is leading the fight-back in a summer-long publicity campaign against rudeness.” Not a problem in either Iceland or Denmark, who are high on the list of both civility and hospitality.

Lobster is cheap this year: “A combination of warm weather and good conservation techniques has led to what could end up being a record lobster harvest across Maine waters. The glut is particularly noticeable here in Stonington, a fishing village on an archipelago by the Atlantic Ocean that has more lobster “landings,” or catches, than anywhere in the state. But the bounty has come with a downside for fishermen. A relatively warm winter prompted soft-shell lobsters to appear in June, about a month early, and their abundance turned into an overabundance. That caused a huge backup in the sea-to-table supply chain. And for the fishermen, the law of supply and demand has forced the price down to a 40-year low. At one lobster cooperative here, the price that fishermen received for lobster last week fell to $1.35 per pound (plus a 70-cent dividend per pound, to be paid later in the year), down from about $3.80, and in some cases $4, at the same time last year.”

Exoplanets: “Finally, astronomers studying a star known as Kepler-30 have found something that looks reassuringly familiar: one, two, three exoplanets, orbiting in a plane, just like we do. And as reported in the current issue of Nature, it’s not only the discovery itself that’s cool, it’s the way the researchers went about making it. Exoplanets are typically discovered in one of two ways — and neither involving simply pointing a telescope in the right direction and looking. At solar distances, the planets are just too tiny and often too washed-out by the light of their suns to be spotted visually. Instead, astronomers look for wobbles in the star itself, indicating that something nearby is tugging on it gravitationally. More recently — especially since the 2009 launch of the Kepler Space Telescope — they have relied on the slight dimming in luminosity that occurs as a planet passes in front of its star, blocking a bit of its light. Even that wasn’t terribly easy with Kepler-30, a relatively faint star 10,000 light-years distant. Says Joshua Winn, a co-author of the Nature paper and a professor of astrophysics at MIT: “We don’t have a [good] picture of this star.”

Are you into Heidegger? Read this.

Meanderings in Sports

One name, one story: Gabby! “Douglas not only joined Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin as the only American women to capture the all-around gold, but she also became the first African-American woman to win the title. “Oh, my gosh, I forgot about that,” she said. “It’s definitely an amazing feeling and great honor to be the first African-American to win. I hope I can inspire people. My mother told me that I can inspire a nation.” As a minority in a predominantly white sport, Douglas has experienced her share of awkwardness, like when she moved to Des Moine, Iowa, two years ago to train with Johnson’s former coach, Liang Chow. “Sometimes I’d play rap music and I’d say [to the other gymnasts], ‘You don’t know this song?’ ” she said. “Then they would play some country and I’d be clueless. It was like, awkward.”

"I'm not a Catholic so probably not Douthat's target audience. But this all sounds like ..."

Douthat And Pope Francis
"I understand the Lord's death as a ransom and redemption in connection with the Parable ..."

The Evangelical Preaching Of The Cross: ..."
"Flawed indeed, as we all are. The three dire errors that you mention are issues ..."

Why Are So Many (Young) Evangelicals ..."
"Yes, thanks for jumping in. I definitely agree. The penal substitution view focuses on redemption ..."

The Evangelical Preaching Of The Cross: ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment