Weekly Meanderings

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.”

Ann on uncommon decency one and two.

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.”

Global warming and bad weather?

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?

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Wade Burleson And Paige Patterson

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  • Rick

    “The Bears are ahead of the Packers!”

    Skol Vikings!!!!


    Any comment from you on the “infield fly rule” call last night?

  • Scot McKnight

    Didn’t see the play last night. We had a wonderful event at Northern Seminary, leaving the Braves and Cards in the dust. I trust the umps to know their business on IFRules.

  • In regard to Obama’s “faith” or “religion” (or any other public figure who makes it an issue), he should be held to account and any disconnect should be discussed.

    What I find difficult is the people he has surrounded himself with and the way he/they conducted his previous campaigns in Chicago. “Do not be unequally yoked” is to be taken seriously especially for a public figure who puts their faith out there. Also as Paul told Timothy “you know all about my teaching, my way of life…”

    More important advice when we are going to follow someone or jump on their bandwagon for whatever reason.

    Show me your faith by what you do. A lot of people where crosses around their necks or flags on their lapel.

  • Larry Barber

    Don’t go into tech, there are lots of techies that are driving cabs and trucks. There are plenty of unemployed or underemployed technical workers out there, but most of the industry thinks you are over the hill at 35. Not to mention the rampant out-sourcing (and in-sourcing through importing workers). Study business, you’ll have more fun in college and have a more secure job when you graduate.

  • Blimey! You’re properly daft if you think I’ll succumb to Bristishisation. I’ll nip along downstairs now to catch the Dr. Who Marathon.

  • John

    Re: College rankings. My son is applying for college over the next couple months. He’s picked 10 potential colleges and has visited their campuses, etc.. He has reach schools (Deep Springs, Stanford), wheel house (Cal, UCLA, Cornell), and a safety schools (UCI, UCSD). He put together a matrix of college ranking websites for his schools. I know he found at least a dozen on-line college rating services (US News, Forbes, AWRU, HLRL, QS, Parchment, etc.), and each one has a different ranking criteria. He averaged all the different scores to get a comprehensive ranking for each of his schools. Here’s his result:

    1 Deep Springs
    2 Harvard
    3 Stanford
    13 Cal
    17 UCLA
    21 Cornell
    33 UCSD
    45 UCSB
    47 NYU
    75 Brandeis
    76 UCI

  • Tony Springer

    “Wow” on the birds

  • Pat

    “When some say Obama is not a Christian, what they’re really saying is that he’s not their kind of Christian.”

    That pretty much sums it up. Just as people (typically evangelicals) were head over heels about President Bush because he used the language that identified him as one of theirs.

  • Norman Jeune III

    Of course the lists from U.S. World News and Report are smoke and mirrors. They are selling a marketing opportunity. I work in healthcare and I can tell you first hand that organizations figure out how points are earned and tailor the presentation of their organization to fit with the scoring system. Then once they get placed on a list, they plaster the U.S. World News and Report logo on all their advertisements to show people how great they are. The list of course does not necessarily have any bearing on reality

    It’s no different than your average certification. If I start a certifying organization for X profession, and I can get people to give credence to that certification, then I can get people to pay to obtain said certification. Now I have a lucrative business. It’s all politics, marketing, and money…

  • Top of my list: where did you get that terrific Big Bird graphic, Scot! It’s great! 😀 (so speaks a softie for funny images)

    I appreciated both of Roger Olson’s posts. His experience of evangelical inquisitions is so frustrating. Why do we seem to be perennially stuck, here? What spiritual weakness does that reveal about evangelicals? (Would many of the rest of us still be included in that category, anymore, by the majority who identify themselves so?) His stories reminded me of Rich Mouw’s comment at the conference about how dangerous it is to be moderate.

    Olson’s recounting of that statement of Falwell’s about Wallis from the 70’s is shocking & the trajectory of that attitude into the present day is disturbing, to say the least. What do you think of Swartz’s book? Any review scheduled, here?

    Sarah Bessey’s post finds blessing in the difficult journeys many of us experience.

    & thanks for the links! I really enjoyed the Conference on Civility & the interactions, there. 🙂

  • scotmcknight

    I’ll do Swartz… exceptional book.

  • Beakerj

    @5 Michael: soooooooo close! We’d probably say ‘proper daft’ or just plain daft… and it’s just nip…no need to nip along.

    But please keep practising 🙂