Weekly Meanderings

Thanks to Jennifer Hudson, helping kids get school supplies!

Post of the week about posting comments on blogs, by Sarah Geis.

Richard Beck, always thoughtful, on “your God is too big”: “Here’s what I think. I think too much focus on God’s awesomeness leaves us ill-equipped to see God’s smallness in the world. Perhaps we’d be better able to transition from worship to mission if we started focusing on God’s smallness rather than on God’s bigness. Isn’t it one of the purposes of worship to help us see aright? To see God more clearly? If so, perhaps we need to start worshiping God’s smallness. Our God has gotten too big.” (HT: BB)

Chris Rodda, challenging David Barton: “I’m not sure how much background I even need to give here. By now everybody knows that David Barton’s big best-seller The Jefferson Lies has been yanked by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and most people know that as part of trying to save his face, Barton seems to be relying on his radio co-host Rick Green. On Saturday, as part of his Barton face saving, Green posted a public challenge on his own website (rickgreen.com) for anyone to step up and prove that there are lies in Barton’s book. I immediately attempted to accept this challenge in a comment on Green’s post, but Green would not post my comment and acknowledge that I had accepted his challenge. Instead, after pressure from my “minions,” Green posted a second post on his website — a most un-Christian personal attack on me.” (HT: GM)

Jim Martin’s excellent article on image vs. reality. “Focusing on our image while we neglect our character is like having a manicured lawn around our home while we neglect the cracking foundation.  The house may look appealing at first glance but may be in serious trouble due to a neglected foundation.”

Pete Enns responds to the review of his Adam book by Hans Madueme: “To his credit, Madueme himself comes clean with his methodology, though he does so only at the very end of his review (section 6, “Concluding Thoughts”): I recognize the force of the mainstream evolutionary consensus, and I know that it raises tough questions for the viability of a historical Adam and the doctrine of the fall. But I am constrained by Scripture, tradition, and weighty theological considerations. I am a son of Adam. That is why I am a sinner. And it is why I need Christ. Madueme is to be commended for saying plainly what many others only think: “I know there is serious evidence to the contrary that calls into question what I believe, but, come what may, I’m going to stick with ‘the Bible’ as understood by my tradition and the theological conclusions required to maintain theological stabilty.”

Ben Witherington takes on emergingand anti-ecclesial rhetoric: “One of the things I have grown weary of in the last decade or so, is anti-ecclesial rhetoric. What I mean by this is the pitting of the ‘church’ over against Jesus, or ‘the established church’ over against more ‘organic’ models of Christianity (e.g. house churches, and the like). I suppose we all from time to time look for something or someone to blame our problems on, and the Christian church has become something of a punching bag, even for a goodly number of devout Christians. Sometimes this is because they have joined the ‘I’m spiritual, not religious’ movement, or the ‘I love Jesus, but the church…. not so much’ band wagon. Some of this frankly is caused by a profound misunderstanding of the word church/ ekklesia. Perhaps then, it would be wise to start this post with some basic definitions.” And Tony Jones takes on Ben Witherington: “I defy him to find one post or podcast by anyone with a link to the emerging church who has suggested a dumbing down of seminary or college curriculum, the dismissal of Greek and Hebrew from syllabi, or a diminishment of the teaching of literary, exegetical methods. In fact, emergents have been rabid autodidacts, studying alone and in groups to fill in the gaps in their own seminary education. I’d imagine that Ben would be thrilled if his former students were half as engaged in ongoing theological study as my emergent friends and I are. Of course, there’s not a single hyperlink in Ben’s post — not a scintilla of evidence of what he’s accusing us of. It’s all based on rumor, innuendo, and half-truths, something that is beneath a scholar of his stature.”

The internet and personality: “Consider two questions. First: Who are you? What makes you different from your peers, in terms of the things you buy, the clothes you wear, and the car you drive (or refuse to)? What makes you unique in terms of your basic psychological make-up—the part of you that makes you do the things you do, say the things you say, and feel the things you feel? And the second question: How do you use the internet?… It turns out that very specific patterns of internet use are reliably related to depressive tendencies. For example, peer-to-peer file sharing, heavy emailing and chatting online, and a tendency to quickly switch between multiple websites and other online resources all predict a greater propensity to experience symptoms of depression. Although the exact reasons that these behaviors predict depression is unknown, each behavior corresponds with previous research on depression. Quickly switching between websites may reflect anhedonia (a decreased ability to experience emotions), as people desperately seek for emotional stimulation. Similarly, excessive emailing and chatting may signify a relative lack of strong face-to-face relationships, as people strive to maintain contact either with faraway friends or new people met online.”

Why a doctorate in ecclesiology is practical – Andy Rowell.

One of the big news items of late is the fiasco around David Bartonand his claim to do good American history. “One of the nation’s premier historians, Martin Marty, wrote critically of Barton’s new book in May. “Barton is publishing ‘The Jefferson Lies,’ which most historians would title ‘Barton’s Lies about Jefferson,’” said Marty. A year earlier, Marty said that Barton cherry-picked material. Another preeminent historian and a Baptist, Richard Pierard, referred to Barton’s work as “pseudo-history.” Bruce Prescott, another Baptist scholar and leading advocate for the separation of church and state, wrote in 2010: “For more than two decades, David Barton has been deceiving many honest but naïve Christians with a revisionist history about our system of government that promotes the mythology of Christian nationalism.”

Meanderings in the News

David K. Randall: “The kicker was the scientific suggestion that sharing a bed with someone you care about is great for sex, but not much else. Stanley, a well-regarded sleep researcher at the University of Surrey whose gray-thinning hair hinted at his more than two decades in the field, told his listeners that he didn’t sleep in the same bed as his wife and that they should probably think about getting their own beds, too, if they knew what was good for them. As proof, he pointed to research he conducted with a colleague which showed that someone who shared a bed was 50 percent more likely to be disturbed during the night than a person who slept alone. “Sleep is a selfish thing to do,” he said. “No one can share your sleep.” [Note: Kris and I sleep in the same bed and have no plans ever to change. We wouldn't mind a King sized bed but our bedroom isn't big enough!]

Young folks in line to begin the process of immigration.

Big, big news: a floating golf course.

Eggs and cigarettes.

New kind of politics: “Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheists want your attention. They’re unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions. Today’s press conference revealed signs that call God “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior (his image is show as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is “simply reasonable.”

Michael Marshall reports on Neanderthal and homo sapiens interbreeding: “It was the discovery that challenged what it is to be human. The Neanderthal genome revealed that our extinct cousin’s genes live on in many modern humans, implying that the two species interbred. But a controversial new study casts doubt on those claims of interspecies hanky-panky. In 2010, Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues sequenced the Neanderthal genome. Their analysis concluded that many modern humans carry a few Neanderthal genes. Only native Africans lack the Neanderthal genes, because Neanderthals did not live in Africa.Right from the start, there was a problem. Neanderthals and modern humans ultimately evolved from the same ancestral population, so any genes shared by the two species might simply have been inherited from this common ancestor. “We were very upfront in our papers that this was a possibility,” says Pääbo’s colleague David Reich of the Harvard Medical School in Boston. [But there’s another theory:} Drifted apart: Andrea Manica and Anders Eriksson at the University of Cambridge have now built a model to demonstrate a non-interbreeding explanation for the 2010 result.”

I expected a little more than this from the meeting of the LCWR in St Louis, but this is the latest report; they want to extend time in dialogue.

Always interesting to see speculation about jobs in the future.

Meanderings in Sports

This is the best sports story I’ve read in many a year.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.twocities.org Dave Moore

    To Tony Jones,

    I appreciate some of what you write, but wondering how you would be aware of the level of ongoing theological engagement among Ben’s former students.

    Best,
    Dave

  • http://prodigalthought.net ScottL

    Scot -

    Though it might sound overly conspiracy-theory focused, do you think there is anything to a) HaperOne’s buyout of Thomas Nelson and b) the pulling of Barton’s book? I am no religious right proponent. It’s just something that has been noted and I wondered if you had any thoughts around it.

  • scotmcknight

    ScottL, I don’t know anything about this but I do know there have been some major criticisms of Barton’s book and this criticism has a history well before this buyout.

  • Kyle J

    “I’ll stand with you.”

    What a powerful little phrase.

  • http://prodigalthought.net ScottL

    Scot -

    Yes, I am now aware that the criticisms existed well before this Jefferson book. And I really don’t buy conspiracy theories nor am I a Barton fan (didn’t know who he was before this mess). So I’m not advocating anything for Barton, and not sure I would perusing his website and seeing his approach. I’ve just never heard of a book being pulled because some of the “facts” are off. Normally would there not be a recall and changing of statements where necessary, then a reprint and re-release? Something like that. So just wondered if it seemed a bit non-normative and extreme. But maybe this happens more than normal, it’s just that this is the only one that’s blown up in the Christians blogosphere world.

  • Aaron

    Scot,

    Have you read Richard Beck’s “The Slavery of Death Series” on his blog? It is so interesting and I would love to hear you interact with it, as well as the Jesus Creed community.

    Here is the link to part 1: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2011/08/slavery-of-death-part-1-he-who-does-not.html

    thanks -Aaron

  • SuperStar

    I agree, the Peter Norman story is one of the best sports stories I have read. As for the Barton fiasco, I seriously doubt Thomas Nelson pulled it because of the purchase by HarperCollins. My guess is they realized they just needed to be a responsible publisher. Conspiracy theories are for those who live by fear.

  • Phillip

    Geis’s article is great. I may make it required reading for my students before we engage in discussions and they write response papers.

    Jim Martin is a minister’s minister. Thanks for sharing his piece.

  • Nathan

    It’s great the Barton book was pulled. I’m afraid it’s too little too late. Barton has done a lot of damage to the witness of the church. And I think people were afraid to act sooner because of the political fallout in various churches.

    No doubt he is sincere, but lying in the name of Christ in order to grasp at temporal power for his communtiy is blasphemous and a betrayal.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Eggs – (this is a tangential at best), We have six chickens that fee range and one disappeared six days ago. Assuming another animal had an excellent meal we prayed for Amelia Pond (my daughter names them) and moved on. Today, my wife picked up a turned over a plastic kitty litter box in the garage and there was Amelia! Almost dead, six days without water or food, but alive. She is now eating and drinking again, and starting to stand up and take a couple of steps. My 16 year old daughter is going to be sooo happy when she returns from her 2 day Adventure Crew camp trip tomorrow :)

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Jim Martin on image – I have learned, in the past few years, to do the opposite. I dress and act like a typical disheveled engineer, but have been embracing the image concept lately at the request of my wife. I must say, it works.

  • Alan K

    Scot, so glad to see the return of the Weekly Meanderings. My Saturday mornings were appreciably dulled in their absence to the point that I was going to complain. So glad that I don’t have to! Thank you.


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