Weekly Meanderings, January 19, 2013

Yes, Karen’s right on this one: “So while I was busy wrapping up the manuscript for my upcoming novel — MOTHER OF RAIN — the National Father’s Day Council named former president Bill Clinton Father of the Year. Really? Father of the Year? The Huffington Post reports: National Father’s Day Committee chairman Dan Orwig commended the politician and philanthropist for his “profound generosity, leadership and tireless dedication to both his public office and many philanthropic organizations.” Shouldn’t they just have named Bill Clinton Giver of the Year? Or, in his former era, Philanderer of the Year?”

Professors and teachers are politicians, by R. Jensen: “Political biases are, of course, present throughout any course in the humanities and social sciences, no matter whether a professor acknowledges them or not. From decisions about what topics to cover, to the list of readings, to the framing of lectures and discussions—teaching is always political, if by that one means that judgments about the nature of power in a society affect what, and how, one teaches. To recognize that all research and teaching have a politics is not to claim that the work of professors is nothing but politics, in the sense of proselytizing. Quality research and reasoned argument are important, but the value of our work is heightened, not diminished, when the political nature of that work is understood and acknowledged. That’s as true of those who accept the status quo as those who challenge it. The issue is not whether teaching reflects political judgments, but whether one can defend those judgments on intellectual grounds. There may be no final consensus among faculty members on how a course should be structured or taught, but we faculty members can collectively sharpen our understanding and improve our practice by discussing these matters.”

This is what you call a serious walk. “US journalist Paul Salopek is going to spend the next seven years walking from Ethiopia to the tip of South America, retracing the journey of early humans out of Africa and around the world.”

Lee Wyatt: “Our persecution is of the former “softer” or “iron fist in the velvet glove” kind.  It has been and is the free market economy and social ideology to which most of us have bowed the knee on pain of economic privation or, at least, fear of lack of advancement. The affluence, complacency, and apathy that are the “gifts” of the free market are the muzzle and bonds which coerce (gently) our compliance and distort our witness so profoundly that our bodies do not need to be attacked for our hearts have already been captured and made compliant.  This ideology has powerfully destabilized the plausibility structure of the church – the gospel – seeming to render it both unthinkable and impracticable on the one hand, and, on the other hand, offering itself as the proper framework within which to fit the Christian message. If it is true, and I think it is, that persecution is a condition under which the church often grows and flourishes in the face of superior opposition, it is a theological and tactical mistake of the first order to allow ourselves to believe that we lack that condition here.  We are under attack, not in the facile ways the Christian right claims, but at the very core of our being as Christians and churches from whence we derive our identity, existence, and mission as God’s people.”

Jarrod McKenna calls for a socialism of grace, Les Mis style. “Victor Hugo and Martin Luther King Jr. challenge us to reject the idea that “socialist” is the worst thing you can be called, and to freely explore a kind of “socialism of grace”. For me this is a“socialism of grace” that rejects violence and takes up the cross of nonviolent love. A nonviolent love that sees in the faces of les misérables, and even Javert, the face of God. The grace that brings us to tears in the conversion of Valjean is the same grace that should bring us to tears in the finale of Les Misérables. The grace that flows from the cross of Christ, that is ours in the Resurrection, can never be separated from the “tomorrow comes” of the Kingdom, “the world we long to see”.” Jarrod, my friend, the word “socialism” doesn’t work much here in the USA.

Digital revolution and spiritual formation: a Big Question.

Emergence Conference 2013, focusing on Phyllis Tickle, had — according to Julie Clawson — a weird ending.

Yes, of course, we strive for progress in racial relations in culture. But where’s the ecclesiology in this piece?

St Francis, a good sketch. (HT: JD)

Meanderings in the News

A 27 story forest swarming apartments in Milan.

Americans and our taxes — high or low or medium? “For the next few years, there’s no particular reason to expect there will be another major tax increase, but after 2020 the government’s health care bill will start to make our spending levels look, for lack of a better term, European. There are any number of ways to stop the trend, from the extreme — turning Medicare into a voucher-support program — to the incremental — tweaking Medicare and hoping that medical inflation slows down on its own. But either way, the U.S. won’t have historically low interest rates forever, and it’s probable that the third-lowest tax/GDP ratio in the developed world is a good deal for now, but not a sustainable deal for the long run.”

Right hand man to Steve Jobs, James Higa.

Info about caffeine.

The assassination of JFK — one man or more? From Jamie Stengle:”DALLAS — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn’t solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a “shoddy piece of craftsmanship.” Kennedy and his sister, Rory, spoke about their family Friday night while being interviewed in front of an audience by Charlie Rose at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. The event comes as a year of observances begins for the 50th anniversary of the president’s death. Their uncle was killed on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade through Dallas. Five years later, their father was assassinated in a Los Angeles hotel while celebrating his win in the California Democratic presidential primary.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not a library.

Tech news: Tel Aviv wil have wifi for everyone. Are classrooms are banning more and more digital devices?

Top 20 archaeological discoveries of 2012.

Cool faucets.

I agree with Charles Blow — the rhetoric tells the story: “If you pay attention to the right-wing’s rhetoric, you can hear a string of code words that feed the fears of these people and paralyze progress. A collection of conservative groups have declared Jan. 19, during the weekend celebrating President Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King’s Birthday, as Gun Appreciation Day. In a press release, the event chairman, Larry Ward, said, “The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people.” Using the word “dictates” is a subtle, but intentional, effort to frame the president as dangerous. Andrew P. Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, said in a videoposted Thursday on the network’s GretaWire blog: “Here’s the dirty little secret about the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment was not written in order to protect your right to shoot deer, it was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government. How about chewing on that one.” He went even further in a piece in The Washington Times, saying that the Second Amendment “protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

Found this fun, by Kara Kovalchik: lines in songs that need some explaining, like “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.”

From RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s king granted women seats on the country’s top advisory council for the first time on Friday, giving them a long-awaited toehold in the ultraconservative kingdom’s male-dominated political system. King Abdullah’s decrees come against the backdrop of heavy restrictions on women, who are not allowed to travel, work, study abroad, marry, get divorced or gain admittance to a public hospital without permission from a male guardian. Recently, airport authorities were instructed to send text messages to the phones of male guardians — husbands, fathers or brothers — with information about the movements of their wives, daughters or sisters. “The decision is good but women issues are still hanging,” said Wajeha al-Hawidar, a prominent Saudi female activist. “For normal women, there are so many laws and measures that must be suspended or amended for women to be dealt with as grown-ups and adults, without a mandate from guardians.” But she said that having female members of the council could help to change the image of women in society. “Men can finally respect women when they see them playing a (traditional) male role,” she said.”

Nina Totenberg, on Sonia Sotomayor.

Meanderings in Sports

Wow: “For McIlroy the real challenge may be metaphysical, not technical.” Metaphysical?

THE sports story of the week is Manti Te’o, and this paragraph by Josh Levin may be the most important angle on this story — journalists just not doing their job well: “If Thamel or anyone else at SI had used Nexis or Google, they would’ve discovered that Lennay Kekua (not to mention her brother and sister) didn’t exist. A reporter doesn’t expect to learn that his subject’s dead girlfriend is nothing but a fake Twitter avatar. But a reporter, especially at a fact-checked magazine like SI, also doesn’t generally put someone’s name into print and say that she smashed up her car on April 28 without confirming the spelling and the wreckage. That assumption of basic competence filters down to everyone else in the sports media ecosystem: If Manti Te’o’s story of woe is in Sports Illustrated, then it must be true.”

So SBNation’s list of media that did not check facts will make journalism better. I suspect this story will be showcased in journalism classes for decades.

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.

  • Phiilip

    The article on banning laptops, etc in the classroom was interesting to me. In my large gen ed OT classes, students often had laptops open or smart phones out. Some are taking notes, others are surfing the web. Some students surf and yet still do well. But others clearly fall behind. I also find it distracting at times, esp. when several heads are leaned in toward the same screen. I have a “presence and participation” grade, and in the syllabus it states that presence means more than having one’s body in the room. It also means being fully engaged in what is going on in class. So if I see them surfing or texting, that grade is lowered. And, I also like the observation of a friend who said what we now call multitaking used to be called being rude.

    Last semester in this gen ed class, I decided to ban laptops and digital devices. There were more A’s in the class than in the past. No one failed the class either. Admittedly, it was not a contolled experiement. I had made some changes to assignments that could have affected grades, and I did not have another class to use as a control. Still, it at least suggests to me there may be a benefit in having them shut off devices for a while.

    Last s

  • AHH

    While I agree with Lee Wyatt’s diagnosis of the captivity of much of the church to western consumer culture, the word “persecution” seems inappropriate.
    When Christians are not singled out, but instead are just immersed in the same pervasive idolatry (consumer capitalism) as everybody else to such an extent that it is very difficult for the church to be what it is called to be, that is bad for the church. But it does not seem to qualify as “persecution” — a word that I hate to see diminished like this, as bad a misuse of the word as when those on the right apply it to cases where Christians lose privileged places in American culture.

    Insightful piece by Charles Blow on the right’s ramping up up rhetoric around tyrrany (sometimes “persecution” gets misused there as well). Lots of paranoia and conspiracy theories are being whipped up to oppose what are rather mild proposed restrictions on guns and ammunition.

    Speaking of conspiracy theories, I hope this 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination does not give us a year filled with all the usual conspiracy theories there, most of which have been debunked years ago.

    And a post on song lyrics that need explaining is woefully incomplete if it doesn’t mention “Blinded by the Light” or “American Pie”.

  • Debbie

    A delightful pleasure to get lost on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and Weekly Mnds… thank you Chris and Scot!

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    A Gospel Coalition piece lacking solid ecclesiology? Shocking. Just shocking, I say! ;)

  • Nathan

    Yes, because we can’t ever let a sanctimonious chance pass to dredge up Clinton’s past. Where’s the grace? Where’s the applauding of reconciliation and healing? Wheres the commitment that none are too lost to be healed, saved, redeemed. The Clinton’s have done what therapists encourage, try to heal and stay together. In fact, we have no idea how that may have deepened clinton as a parent. What’s up with church folk needing to never let go on his cheating? And all the people who say they stayed together for political reasons should let me know where they were given the clairvoyance to know the Clintons heart and mind. This is precisely why I don’t read that blog. And its always baffld me a bit that it gets consistently linked over here. the consistent tone over there is pretty pious and nothing like the posture here at Jesus Creed.