Weekly Meanderings

Our first Weekly Meanderings of 2013 opens with an image of icebergs in Greenland.

Karen’s testimony to Mama, about whom we learned in her After the Flag Has Been Folded. Thanks Karen.

In praise of the essay, led by Montaigne. Speaking of essayists means we speak of spelling, and ask Is “agenda” a plural or not?

Roger Olson: “In 1950s evangelicalism we memorized Scripture. Who does that anymore? Then we sang theologically rich hymns and gospel songs. Who does that anymore? Then we studied our Sunday School lessons on Saturday (if not before). Who does that anymore? Then we attended church on Sunday evening and invited “unsaved friends” to hear the gospel. Who does that anymore? Then we gathered in each others’ homes for fellowship and prayer and Bible study. Who does that anymore? Then we went door-to-door with gospel tracts and invitations to attend church. Who does that anymore? Then we knew the people we went to church with well. Who does anymore? Then we were required to give an account of our conversion before baptism. Who does that anymore? Then we had occasional “protracted meetings” (revivals that included special services nightly for a week). Who does that anymore? Then we had warm, even passionate, “altar calls” and invitations to accept God’s call to be missionaries. Who does that anymore? Then we watched missionaries’ “slide shows” and heard their stories of successes and failures “on the mission field.” Who does that anymore? Then we had “missionary barrels” in the church foyer to collect “goods” not available to missionaries “on the field.” Who does anything like that anymore? Then we had church picnics and people stayed after church on Sunday evening to talk and pray and the young people fraternized and flirted as the children played games on the lawn outside the church. Who does that anymore? Then the pastor (and often the pastor’s spouse) visited members and visitors in their homes. Who does that anymore? Then evangelical families had “family altar” at least weekly (if not daily) at home. Then evangelicals called each other “brother” and “sister.” Who does that anymore?”

Maria Popova, a consummate blogger, interviewed.

Paul Matsushima: “Perhaps the study of American racial dynamics offers a narrow, limited path by which to view the world. Not everyone, especially in their faith journeys, will travel through the ism of race as I have. But as I reflect back, it troubles me that I feel I must end with a defense that racial discourse is a legitimate area of study. I expect hesitation, even disagreements from those who read this post’s title and disregard it as unworthy of attention. But for me, and perhaps for many other Asian Americans, the area of race is where I am most deeply wounded and where I find healing. This is the avenue I learn compassion towards those unlike me, even those who reject me simply because I’m “Asian.” My hope is that evangelicals, especially Asian American evangelicals, will learn the brokenness and tragedy in America’s racial history so that they’ll be challenged to heal their wounds, confront their errors in thinking, and be moved towards racial justice.”

Krish Kandiah presses Tim Keller’s (and TGC’s) sketch of egalitarian thinking. Kandiah contends Keller and the others do not live up to Keller’s sketch of how to disagree. Here is Kandiah’s appeal: “I  contend that it is possible to have a high view of scripture and believe that women can take on leadership roles in the church. I contend that egalitarians are not all cowards – sometimes egalitarians have faced significant opposition from conservative friends and colleagues because of where their reading of scripture have taken them. I contend that the role of women in leadership in the church is not an unassailable division – if we have found a way to find unity in diversity on baptism surely we can on this issue. I have benefitted greatly from the ministry of all of the men in this video, they have produced some brilliant books and materials, its such a shame this video is not up to their usual  high standards. I would like to encourage the Gospel Coalition to reconsider its position in light of Keller’s very helpful rules of engagement and consider removing this inflammatory and insulting video. I would like to suggest a dialog between evangelical complementarians and egalitarians modeled on Keller’s rules that can genuinely engage with each other’s convictions at their best and explore ways we can find unity in the gospel rather than division on this matter.”

Bicyclists were once the worry for the pastors: “So popular was cycling in the 1890s that American church leaders feared that congregations would be dangerously depleted by those who preferred to ride rather than attend church. An 1890s clergyman in New Haven, who probably didn’t know that the first ever bicycle in America was ridden in his town, way back in the 1860s, conjured up a terrifying picture of Sunday bicyclists riding “down a glittering hill to a place where there is no mud on the streets because of its high temperature.” What is the equivalent today? Sports? Computers? Lake homes? TV?

Is this a Rick Roll? (HT: PP)

Which is your favorite gadget?

Dan Gilgoff’s lessons from editing CNN.com’s Belief Blog.

It’s got to be easier than this, folks. How about a drop down thingy that says “change channel”?!

Rough Type says the transition to e-readers is taking longer than expected: “None of this means that, in the end, e-books won’t come to dominate book sales. My own sense is that they probably will. But, as we enter 2013, I’m considerably less confident in that prediction than I was a few years back, when, in the wake of the initial Kindle surge, e-book sales were growing at 200 or 300 percent annually. At the very least, it seems like the transition from print to electronic will take a lot longer than people expected. Don’t close that Gutenberg parenthesis just yet.”

Meanderings in the News

A clever, brief discussion about academics — married and not married — and acquiring posts and who stays home.

Good news for journalists: “Good news for journalists, editors and newspapers: The New York Times‘ paywall seems to be working. After a year and a half, the paywall has helped boost the paper’s subscription dollars. For the first time, paper and paywall subscriptions from will exceed the money made from advertising, Bloomberg reports. Since the Times installed its paywall in March 2011, journalists and bloggers have disputed its value. Amidst an ever tightening budget noose publishers argued that they cannot give away free content, while the blogger crowd purported that paywalls turn off readers who are accustomed to receiving free content on the Web. Digital subscriptions will generate $91 million this year, accounting for 12 percent of total subscription sales, which totalled about $768 million. Print subscriptions continued to slip this year, but online readership increased 11 percent since last June. Web readership may soon rival print subscriptions if the trend continues.”

Twelve (almost) historic speeches.

Defending the State of Israel on campuses: “For far too many people, any mention of the words “Israel” and “university campus” in close conjunction conjure up images of doom and gloom. University students are steadily growing hostile toward the Jewish State, and the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is gaining credibility on campuses across the United States and Canada – or so we are led to believe. In fact, the situation is not nearly so dire. There are many indications that the university anti-Israel movement is actually losing steam, due to both its inherent contradictions and the hard work of passionate Zionists on campus. Better yet, whether you’re a student, a parent or even a potential donor, standing up for Israel and for basic principles of equality and civility on campus is easier than you would expect….”

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, says her husband has banned the children from owning and/or using Apple gadgets.”

Bonnie Rochman, happily, defends recess, my favorite class: “Playtime can be as important as class time for helping students perform their best. Recess is most children’s favorite period, and parents and teachers should encourage that trend, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Recess can be a critical time for development and social interaction, and in a new policy statement published in the journal Pediatrics, pediatricians from the AAP support the importance of having a scheduled break in the school day. “Children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges,” says Dr. Robert Murray, a pediatrician and professor of human nutrition at the Ohio State University who is a co-author of the statement. “They tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task. It’s not enough to just switch from math to English. You actually have to take a break.”

Informed Comment about the Middle East 1000 years ago: “Just for fun: What was our world like a thousand years ago? Of course, technologically very different, but Song China and Muslim Spain had made real advances in science, technology and infrastructure. If CNN had existed then, what major events would they have listed and passed around by carrier pigeon? Some of the themes salient then are still recognizable today.”

Yes, indeed, old folks can learn new things.

How “liberal arts” colleges survive: “ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) — They’re the places you think of when you think of “college” — leafy campuses, small classes, small towns.Liberal arts colleges are where students ponder life’s big questions, and learn to think en route to successful careers and richer lives, if not always to the best-paying first jobs. But today’s increasingly career-focused students mostly aren’t buying the idea that a liberal arts education is good value, and many small liberal arts colleges are struggling. The survivors are shedding their liberal arts identity, if not the label. A study published earlier this year found that of 212 such institutions identified in 1990, only 130 still meet the criteria of a “true liberal arts college.” Most that fell off the list remained in business, but had shifted toward a pre-professional curriculum. These distinctively American institutions — educating at most 2 percent of college students but punching far above their weight in accomplished graduates — can’t turn back the clock. But schools like Adrian College, 75 miles southwest of Detroit and back from a recent near-death experience, offer something of a playbook.”

Google+ is the borg? “By AMIR EFRATI Google Inc. is challenging Facebook Inc. by using a controversial tactic: requiring people to use the Google+ social network. The result is that people who create an account to use Gmail, YouTube and other Google services—including the Zagat restaurant-review website—are also being set up with public Google+ pages that can be viewed by anyone online. Google+ is a Facebook rival and one of the company’s most important recent initiatives as it tries to snag more online advertising dollars.”

Sports in the News

Bill “Walton, being Walton, reflected on the litany of broadcasters who have been mentors over the years, including retired Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely, Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler, and the late great Marty Glickman. He retold the story of how Don Corsini, then Prime Ticket’s vice president of programming and production, gave him his first job in television. “Don looked at me and said, “Walton, you are 6-11, you have red hair, you have a big nose, freckles, you have a goofy, nerdy-looking face, you can’t talk, you are a life-long stutterer and you are a Deadhead. Why would I ever put you on TV?’ But Don took a deep breath, he gave me a chance, and who would have ever thought it? I am the luckiest guy in the world.”

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  • RJS

    Good stuff as always.

    Karen’s posts on the death of her mother and in tribute to her mother are beautiful (and “beautiful” only partly catches the depth).

    Roger Olson’s posts on church as extended family hit me so deeply I don’t have words to express it. I miss church as extended family and as participatory experience.

    Krish Kandiah’s post is thought provoking, as is the TGC video he links. Piper is right (end of the video), you can’t have an organization of his sort that is both complementarian and egalitarian because as soon as you have forced him (and the other complementarians) to listen to a woman teacher it is no longer both – it is defacto egalitarian. The whole video is depressing.

    The post about Dual Career couples in academia links to a report that is now 4+ years old, but still interesting. Dual career hiring is a real issue we deal with constantly.

    I’m glad Meanderings are back after the holidays. A great start to a Saturday morning.

  • Jerry

    I clearly remember many of the things dr Olson mentioned and it wasn’t in the 50’s. clearly we’ve lost some of those things and we are the poorer for that loss.

  • Pepy

    [sarcasm] God forbid that any TGCer would, by the Spirit’s prompting, listen and learn from any woman. They act like they are being asked to eat the forbidden fruit (again).

  • RJS


    I think that some TGCers will, by the Spirit’s prompting, listen and learn from women. But if the organization is not explicitly complementarian it will be defacto egalitarian because all will be required to listen to women teaching on some occasion, even if rare. One can dissent from a strict complementarianism and allow a looser interpretation in other venues, but one cannot dissent from egalitarianism within a both/and organization unless no teaching or leading occurs within the organization.

    I think that for those who are strict complementarians it would be like being asked to sin. (And I’m not sarcastic here.)

  • RJS


    It wasn’t 50’s for me either – late 60’s and 70’s; 80’s some and even to a little lesser extent 90’s and 00’s. But when success is measured by the number of unique individuals preached to on a Sunday the things Roger mentions must be discarded. Even Sunday School (something he mentions) goes by the wayside because it limits the number of unique individuals a facility can “service” on a morning. Yes there is generally children’s SS – but it comes at the expense of family worship.

  • Jim

    Big sports news here in Oregon is where is Chip Kelly going to land. It looks like Cleveland is very close – you guys in the midwest might want to start following this. My big question: can an NFL team go without huddles?

  • Val

    Well, it would be nice if TGC were fair in their descriptions of egalitarians. Traditional Pentecostal, Canadian Vineyard, and Mennonite Brethren – hardly loose on scriptures – all are egalitarian, and conservative. The nonsense (complementation) spouted by American Evangelicals is doing more damage than good to Christ’s witness. Why? because even they can’t say what it means – JI Packer said only the Sr. Pastor had to be male, and women could do anything else. Piper won’t even let women read the Bible in his church, just in case a guy learns something from her while reading! It’s great fun to say we all have God ordained roles, but since no two Christians can agree on what that is, we would endlessly have to pander to the most patriarchal in the group – in order to not offend them.

    I am on the opposite point of view – just like it isn’t OK to make a compromise about race (imagine saying a denomination can’t have a Sr. Pastor who isn’t white), it isn’t OK to compromise on sexism. These guys claim to be following God, while selecting deliberately twisted Bible translations to obscure the face Junia was a women, yet they want respect and patients from everyone else. I’d say ban the ESV until it behaves like an honest translation. When that is out of the way, they have no Biblical support for their sexism. If they think it is a sin to learn from women, sorry, the early church was run by many, many women.

  • Val (#7),

    The problem of gender roles in the church was obviated once I realized that we should be seeking the kingdom of God and not church.