Fr Rob, on enough is enough, from Lynne Twist, and that we need to waken with thoughts of God’s faithful love. “That does not mean it has to be this way, which is the author’s ultimate point as it was yours. But it does mean, I think, that we will have to diligent in reconditioning ourselves to live with gratitude and contentment instead of this sense of lack.”
Dick Staub on Obama’s faith: “(RNS) The flap about President Obama’s religious affiliation reveals our national ignorance about religion in general and Christianity in particular. Here are some facts we ought to understand about Christianity before we go around rating the Christian character of Obama or anyone else:…” Apart from the adolescent ending — Jesus didn’t call himself a Christian — Staub’s reflections are helpful for civil discussions.
Beauty is in the right eye: “It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s only half-true for the Gouldian finch. Jennifer Templeton from Knox College, Illinois has found that these beautiful birds only display their famous fussiness over mates if they’re looking with their right eye. If the right is shut, and the left eye is open, the birds have more catholic tastes. As Templeton writes, “Beauty, therefore, is in the right eye of the beholder for these songbirds.”
Julian Hardyman interviews Vaughan Roberts about same-sex attraction: “Julian: Does the disclosure that same sex attraction is one of your personal battles mean you are defining yourself as a homosexual? Vaughan: No, it doesn’t. It’s important to reiterate that I have acknowledged a struggle in all eight of the areas the book covers and not just in one. The brokenness of the fallen world afflicts us all in various ways. We will be conscious of different battles to varying degrees at different moments of a day and in different seasons of our lives. No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ. All of us are sinners, and sexual sinners. But, if we have turned to Christ, we are new creations, redeemed from slavery to sin through our union with Christ in his death and raised with him by the Spirit to a new life of holiness, while we wait for a glorious future in his presence when he returns. These awesome realities define me and direct me to the kind of life I should live. In acknowledging that I know something of all eight battles covered in my book, therefore, I’m not making a revelation about my fundamental identity, other than that, like all Christians, I am a sinner saved by grace, called to live in the brokenness of a fallen world until Christ returns and brings all our battles to an end.”
An incomparable resignation — thanks to Roger: “And so, on and on it goes. Where it stops…. It’s apparently in the DNA of some evangelicals to conduct inquisitions and “investigate” fellow evangelicals, even their friends, from time to time to prove some point. I resign right now, in advance, from any organization that engages in or will engage in such nonsense—aimed at fellow evangelicals who are orthodox Christians (Christologically defined). It’s a bad habit.”
Sarah Bessey’s heart-felt confession of faithfulness and love and struggle and mutual changing… good read: “I looked back on that season of our marriage, the season when we were so different, and I remembered you telling me that this was not going to change us. We could give each other the gift of time, and space, room to change without fear. There wasn’t an urgency of trying to convince each other, was there? I didn’t feel the need to make you believe and think in my ways. I understood why you were there. And you gave me the same grace, didn’t you? You even gave me the extra measure, the freedom to explore my struggles and ideas and weaknesses in a public place, you were not threatened by me. And when you were faced with the choice between full-time vocational ministry or a strong marriage, you chose me. Don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Don’t think I’ll ever forget how you stay here, in a small city in Canada, for me, for our tinies, even now. Don’t think I’ll forget how we each let each other be wrong, for a long time, each.”
“Spiritual but not religious”: a good example of a rant by someone who seems to have no facts and little understanding of this segment of America.
Local priest — Bob Barron — and evangelism.
Surprised? Not I. “Up for a promotion? If you’re a man, you might want to get out the clippers. Men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair, according to a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.”
Roger, I’m reading Swartz’s book: “But there are still signs of hope. The other day I met a former student who, when he was my student, was a kind of late hippie and a progressive activist. I remember seeing him demonstrate (peacefully with a sign) at the dedication of a multi-million dollar religious building. Now he wears a suit and tie and his hair is neatly trimmed. He heads up a state non-profit organization to fight hunger. According to him, relying on government statistics, there are millions of children at risk for hunger in America. His organization is bringing religious groups and government agencies together to find constructive ways to use government and private funds to eradicate hunger. It’s a lofty goal, but just the kind of goal the evangelical left talked about in the heady days of the 1970s. I don’t hear that goal talked about among the religious right. So far as I can tell, they have no plan to eradicate hunger among America’s children. So far as I can tell, they are only interested in fighting “gay rights” and abortion and redistribution of wealth. (I have listened to their radio programs and read their books.) May my former student’s tribe increase.”
About as good as it gets when it comes to a sketch of friendship and research.
Meanderings in the News
The USNews and World Report college rankings — a racket? “U.S. News likes to claim that it uses rigorous methodology, but, honestly, it’s just a list put together by magazine editors. The whole exercise is a little silly. Or rather, it would be if it weren’t so pernicious. Magazines compile lists because people like to read them. With U.S. News having folded its print edition two years ago, its rankings — not just of colleges, but law schools, graduate schools and even high schools — are probably what keep the enterprise alive. People care enough about its rankings to pay $34.95 to seek out the details on the U.S. News Web site. And they imbue these rankings with an authority that is largely unjustified. Universities that want to game the rankings can easily do so. U.S. News cares a lot about how much money a school raises and how much it spends: on faculty; on small classes; on facilities; and so on. It cares about how selective the admissions process is.”
Foodie backlash: “Western industrial civilisation is eating itself stupid. We are living in the Age of Food. Cookery programmes bloat the television schedules, cookbooks strain the bookshop tables, celebritychefs hawk their own brands of weird mince pies (Heston Blumenthal) or bronze-moulded pasta (Jamie Oliver) in the supermarkets, and cooks in super-expensive restaurants from Chicago to Copenhagen are the subject of hagiographic profiles in serious magazines and newspapers. Food festivals (or, if you will, “Feastivals”) are the new rock festivals, featuring thrilling live stage performances of, er, cooking.
But would the British like that “Britishisation” word? “There is little that irks British defenders of the English language more than Americanisms, which they see creeping insidiously into newspaper columns and everyday conversation. But bit by bit British English is invading America too. “Spot on – it’s just ludicrous!” snaps Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley. “You are just impersonating an Englishman when you say spot on.”
This makes sense — IF everyone has a computer and constant access.
To helmet or not helmet? “I rode all day at a modest clip, on both sides of the Seine, in the Latin Quarter, past the Louvre and along the Champs-Élysées, feeling exhilarated, not fearful. And I had tons of bareheaded bicycling company amid the Parisian traffic. One common denominator of successful bike programs around the world — from Paris to Barcelona to Guangzhou — is that almost no one wears a helmet, and there is no pressure to do so. In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion. But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.”
Need a job? Think tech: “That teacher, Steven Edouard, knows a few things about the subject. When he is not volunteering as a computer science instructor four days a week, Mr. Edouard works at Microsoft. He is one of 110 engineers from high-tech companies who are part of a Microsoft program aimed at getting high school students hooked on computer science, so they go on to pursue careers in the field. In doing so, Microsoft is taking an unusual approach to tackling a shortage of computer science graduates — one of the most serious issues facing the technology industry, and a broader challenge for the nation’s economy. There are likely to be 150,000 computing jobs opening up each year through 2020, according to an analysis of federal forecasts by the Association for Computing Machinery, a professional society for computing researchers. But despite the hoopla around start-up celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, fewer than 14,000 American students received undergraduate degrees in computer science last year, the Computing Research Association estimates. And the wider job market remains weak.”
Nine visionaries: “We like to think that many of our fantastic dreams of the future — from space colonization to artificial intelligence and human enhancement — are fairly recent conceptions. But nothing could be further from the truth. Futurist visionaries have been speculating about these possibilities for centuries. And now, as we head into an era of accelerating change, some of these longstanding predictions may actually come true. Here are nine futurists of the past 400 years whose predictions were ahead of their times.
Sara Reardon and Rowan Hooper: “It’s not as glamorous as cocaine or diamonds, but the illegal logging industry has become very attractive to criminal organisations over the past decade. A new report finds that up to 90 per cent of tropical deforestation can be attributed to organised crime, which controls up to 30 per cent of the global timber trade.”
Meanderings in Sports
Can you believe it? The Bears are ahead of the Packers! How long will that last?