Weekly Meanderings

C. Michael Patton’s sketch of apologetics and the problem of evil.

Patrick finishes up his series calling complementarianism into question. “First, some realism: Can there be a recognition that neither side are going to ‘obliterate’ the other’s arguments, however passionately they believe the other is wrong? The tone of some of the debate is characterised by this sort of vain hope. The reality is that either side ‘ain’t going away you know’. Second, evangelicals have lived with other such areas of disagreement for centuries. As with baptism, can there be a willingness to work together in mission and witness and a refusal to let this issue become something that threatens unity around the gospel? Third, it is possible to imagine constructive and healthy debate on this issue for they are already happening (see here) where both ‘sides’ explore what they disagree about and affirm what they believe in common within a respectful dialogue. So can we please move on beyond the sort of divisiveness that thinks ‘If we can completely demolish their credibility we’ll win the argument once and for all’? Can we all repent of unchristian attitudes, forgive one another and commit speak well of one another in future as a sign of love?”

Rebecca Trotter: “This restoration to the “image of God” is the teaching of theosis. When this restoration of a person to who they were created to be occurs, there is no longer any impediment to union with God. That is salvation. Theosis is union with God. It is being saved, restored, redeemed. It means becoming the person we were created to be and the person each of us has been created to be is an image of God.”

Larry Hurtado responds to the mythicists (who don’t believe Jesus existed): “Instead, what we have are many unsupported assertions (e.g., about Paul, early Christianity, ancient Judaism, Pharisees, etc.), put forth often with surprising confidence, but for which there is scant support in relevant scholarly circles, often out-dated generalizations, and distortions (albeit perhaps unintentional) of evidence.”

Mark Regnerus: “This shift in discourse of late away from reducing teen pregnancies—a fairly intelligent, no-brainer goal—to reducing unplanned pregnancies continues to grate upon me years after The National Campaign added it. (I don’t actually mean to single them out.) It’s not simply a subtle and neutral turn of phrase, but instead indicates a larger push for social change around conception and childbearing, one that reaches well past teen pregnancies to adult ones as well. Although the Campaign is focused on unmarried adults, the discourse can and does spill over into marriage, as the advice column suggests.”

Over the years Billy Graham has made mistakes in connections with the White House; this one appears to be another mistake in the political realm.

In light of Tom Wright’s work, with a nod toward mine, iMonk proposes some ponderings on the Creed.

Roger is writing on heresy.

Church as airport: “If you go to an airport and ask someone, “So where you are traveling to today?” you will neve hear someone say, “Oh, I’m not going anywhere. I’m here just wandering the terminal to admire the incredible design of the gates, to enjoy the amazing food at the restaurants and to enjoy the comfortable chairs. After a while, I’ll probably just get in my car and head home after that.” In fact, if you heard that, you’d probably call security. The point is, of course, that airports are intended to take you somewhere. The role of the airport is to make sure you connect to some place else.”

We are rejoicing with IBI in Dublin!

Meanderings in the News

Good report of the week: Lemonade stand boy. (HT: LEMB)

Check this out from Katherine Mangu-Ward: “French President François Hollande proposed banning homeworkas part of a school reform package last week. French schoolkids already put in long school days: 8:30 to 4:30 or longer. But that’s not Hollande’s concern. In fact, he wants to extend the school week from 4 days to 4.5. Instead, he is worried about the inequality factor—kids who get extra help at home have an unfair edge, he frets. “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home.”

And then Janet D. Stemwedel writes about a father against the subject of chemistry: “There’s a guest post on the Washington Post “Answer Sheet” blog by David Bernstein entitled “Why are you forcing my son to take chemistry?” in which the author argues against his 15-year-old son’s school’s requirement that all its students take a year of chemistry.”

Got a Zombie Teen? Maybe it’s all that chemistry homework! “Many parents know the scene: The groggy, sleep-deprived teenager stumbles through breakfast and falls asleep over afternoon homework, only to spring to life, wide-eyed and alert, at 10 p.m.—just as Mom and Dad are nodding off. Fortunately for parents, science has gotten more sophisticated at explaining why, starting at puberty, a teen’s internal sleep-wake clock seems to go off the rails. Researchers are also connecting the dots between the resulting sleep loss and behavior long chalked up to just “being a teenager.” This includes more risk-taking, less self-control, a drop in school performance and a rise in the incidence of depression.”

This girl is neither a zombie nor one who ignores homework — but her homework comes to school in clothing: “This is how Stella Ehrhart, age 8, decides what to wear for school. She opens her closet. She opens her book, “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.” And she opens her mind. Voilà, she is Billie Holiday, in a black dress with a red tissue-paper flower tucked into her strawberry-blond hair. Behold, she is Grace Kelly in pink satin lace on her wedding day. Poof, she is Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, wearing a hat her aunt got her in Vietnam. The Dundee Elementary School third-grader comes to school dressed as a different historical figure or character — Every. Single. Day. And she’s done that since the second day of second grade, when this all started.”

Harper Lee to Oprah on “real” books. Priceless. “Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it. And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up — some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.”

Stephanie Pappas: “Now, archaeologists have unearthed a concrete structure nearly 10 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall (3 meters by 2 meters) that may have been erected by Caesar’s successor to condemn the assassination. The structure is at the base of the Curia, or Theater, of Pompey, the spot where classical writers reported the stabbing took place.”

Touch-friendly Windows 8 machines.

Many creative breakthroughs occur in a dream. How about you? “It’s said that Dmitry Mendeleyev was on a three-day work bender when he finally gave in for a few minutes of shut eye. Instead of falling asleep for 17 hours like most sleep deprived people, Mendeleyev dreamt of an arrangement of elements that would change modern chemistry forever, then popped up about 20 minutes later to record it. “I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper … Only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.”

Urban schools, gentrification, suburban schools.

Some good suggestions for airports.


Watch out for the “deckering.”

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  • RJS

    Well – I think J.R. Briggs is dead wrong on the value of the analogy of Church as airport. This is not to say that there isn’t a good point in there – just that the analogy is a poor one.

    An airport is an impersonal tool used to connect me as an isolated individual with a device that will take me where I need to go (or want to go). I am not important to the airport as an individual – and if there is a better way of connecting with where I want to go I will change on a dime – train stations gave way to airports, maybe we will have teleporters in the future (not likely).

    A church is a family of the people of God, a local manifestation of the body of Christ. It is, or should be, an entirely personal gathering to which people belong and in which they are important as unique and irreplaceable individuals. When people leave they should be missed and as they contemplate leaving it should tear bonds and leave pain.

    And if the church you are currently in isn’t helping you make your connection, it’s time to step up and do something about it.

    Yup – leave and find a more palatable terminal to pass through? This is modern evangelicalism.

    As I said above I don’t think the entire point he makes is wrong – but the analogy nonetheless is a horrible not very good one.

  • RJS

    Ben Witherington’s repost of Larry Hurtado’s response to the mythicists is fascinating.

    One thing that struck me on this is how we could take his first post and insert other topics and the same rings true. As a scientist who has been interested in the science and christian faith discussion top of the ladder is evolution denialists – the tactics, logic, strengths, and weaknesses are essentially the same as those of the mythicists.

  • RJS

    Argh … I have to go do something useful, too many intriguing links today.

    No mention of the Tigers though! – This is a true lapse Scot. The decisive four game sweep of the Yankees is worth at least a comment.

  • Pat

    Good posts on complementarianism and church as an airport terminal.

  • RJS #1

    Of course, Jesus said he would make us “fishers of men.” Ever thought about that from the point of the view of the fish? Our mission is to ensnare people from the world, kill them, and consume them for our own ends? 😉 Like you say, his metaphor is good as far as it goes, but any metaphor can be pushed to unhelpful extremes.

  • RJS


    No analogy is perfect – the fishers of men one can be a problem in another way as well, when it results in a view of conversions as notches on the belt (my “catch” is bigger than yours).

    This one just struck a nerve – the church is the breaking through of the kingdom of God today, the place where we learn and practice God’s language now. An airport terminal is a tool, church isn’t a tool.

  • RJS

    I’ve refrained from commenting on “Why are you forcing my son to take chemistry?” … to even pose the question leaves me shaking my head in dumfounded bewilderment.

  • Re: Mendeleyev’s dream experience. The other one worthy of consideration was Kekulé’s dream of benzene’s structure…I’m trying to think of other scientists who had insights from non-experimental practices…

  • Tom F.

    I was really disappointed to see the Graham move. Not because I think Mormon needs to be labeled as a “cult” (what does this sort of labeling accomplish exactly?), but because it just seems to reinforce the idea that there is no difference between being an evangelical and a conservative. There are a bunch of other “cults” listed on that website. If members of these other groups were ever to run for president as conservatives, would they also get a temporary pass off of the cult listing?

    Or better, are theological differences now seen as less important than political ones? It just makes me want to be really, really cynical.

  • John

    “it is possible to imagine constructive and healthy debate on this issue…”

    My son has been doing a lot of work on alternatives to academic debate. He spent the summer interning for our state senator and saw how laws were really made, and why our political system is failing us. Academic debate is all about winning. There is a winner and a bunch of losers. But real social issues are mostly gray and deeply nuanced. He notes that many of our politicians probably competed on high school and college debate teams, where they were taught to win, not engage in diplomatic compromise. No wonder we have political gridlock — our politicians were never given tools for healthy compromise and dialogue. Daniel wants to create a new form of competitive engagement where individuals and teams score points by achieving strategic compromise.

    This got me thinking about religion. When I read Dan’s work on debate vs. dialogue, I can often substitute the word “religion” with “debate” and the word “spirituality” with “dialogue.” For instance,

    Spirituality (dialogue) searches for agreement – Religion (debate) searches for differences
    Spirituality causes introspection – Religion causes critique
    Spirituality re-evaluates assumptions – Religion defends assumptions
    Spirituality listens for meaning – Religion listens in order to counter
    Spirituality remains open-ended – Religion implies a conclusion
    Spirituality opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions – Religion defends ones own position as the best solution and excludes other solutions.