Weekly Meanderings, February 2, 2013

Shauna Niequist’s new policy: “Why am I telling you this? Because I think I’m not alone. It doesn’t matter if you work or don’t, or have little kids or don’t, or travel or don’t.  So many of us, it seems, are really, really tired of the hustle, and the next right thing is to slow down, to go back to the beginning, to stop.  I’m adopting a ruthless anti-frantic policy. I’m done with frantic. The new baseline for me: will saying yes to this require me to live in a frantic way?  I’m saying no more often than I’m saying yes. I’m asking hard questions about why I’ve kept myself so busy all these years. The space and silence I’m creating is sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrifying.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a cartoon airplane when the engine gets cut and the plane hovers for a few long seconds before starting to fall. But then sometimes I feel so strongly like for the first time in a long time, I’m listening to the right voices. I’m remaking my way of living from the inside out.  Publishing is all about striking while the iron’s hot. But sometimes you have to trust that the iron will still be hot later, and that there’s more to life than that iron. Sometimes you have to trust that life is long for most of us, and that there will be other irons.  My inbox is a disaster. The house is messier these days. That’s how it’s going to be for a while. I’m not powering my life with the white-knuckled, keyed-up buzz of efficiency and multi-tasking anymore. The word that rings in my mind is anti-frantic.  Sleep. Slow.  Present with my kids.  Present to my own life.  Anti-frantic.”

Post of the week (that I saw this week).

Statement of the week, from Donald Driver, retired wide receiver for the Packers: “Someone’s going to always tell my kids that their dad was a great football player. But no one will be able to tell my kids that their dad was a great dad and a great husband, so I have to be able to show them that. And that’s what the next chapter of my career is going to be.” (HT: JD)

Robert Crosby’s favorite Dorothy Sayers quotation: The Quote: “The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore – on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mile,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”

Doug Ponder: “If you are a Christian, you will drink wine with Jesus one day. And you will like it. Indeed, Jesus promised that he would drink wine with his followers in his Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29). He was speaking about “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9), a heavenly celebration for the bride of Christ akin to a reception following a wedding. And like every good Jewish wedding in Jesus’ day (John 2:1-11), the marriage supper of the Lamb will involve wine—lots and lots of wine—just as God has promised (Isaiah 25:6-7;  Jeremiah 31:11-13). Yet that truth is troubling to some Christians. The mention of alcohol makes them nervous, upset, or angry. So instead of teaching about self-control, some teach that Christians cannot drink alcohol without sinning. For example, I grew up in a church that formally prohibited its members from drinking alcohol in its constitution and bylaws. This church was not an exception, either. There are many Christian organizations that forbid their members from drinking altogether. But if you think about it, this means that Jesus wouldn’t be allowed to host the marriage supper of the Lamb in any of these places. Doesn’t this seem odd? Shouldn’t we be concerned if we have rules that mean Jesus isn’t allowed? Here’s the thing. Alcohol shouldn’t be an issue for Christians, but we make it an issue in one of two ways: either (1) we ignore the Bible’s teachings about the good gift of alcohol, or (2) we ignore the Bible’s warnings about the real dangers of alcohol. Both of these groups of people get alcohol very wrong.”

Alister Chapman, Why I am still an evangelical, author of a fine book on John Stott: “Giving up on evangelicalism would seem easier. There are other Christian traditions I could join. But I think that evangelicals have Christianity as right as anyone, with their emphasis on the need for a personal response to a holy God who loves and their eagerness to reach and serve others. Because I believe that Christianity is true, these two driving impulses are as important as anything for me. Being an evangelical is grounded in convictions about God more than culture. So I am still an evangelical, and plan on remaining one. But it would make me happy if more people thought of evangelicals with nuance and charity — in contrast to those British people who lumped all Americans together with George W. Bush.”

Where did that Tabernacle go?

IVCF and a renewed commitment to Bible studies on campus: “College campuses in the U.S. are not generally considered bastions for Bible literacy or interest, say officials from the Christian organization InterVarsity. However, in light of a recent Barna Group study released about the most and least Bible-minded cities in the nation, InterVarsity optimistically points to thousands of Bible studies “breaking out across the country,” following commitments made at its student missions conference (Urbana 12) at the end of December in St. Louis. “In a week when the Barna organization has highlighted the most Bible-Minded and least Bible-Minded cities in the U.S., and classes have resumed on college campuses across the country, it’s exciting to know that thousands of college students are leading many of their friends into new relationships with God through Bible study,” said InterVarsity Evangelism Director Terry Erickson.” Terry Erickson is one of America’s central leaders when it comes to university-based Christian fellowship and discipleship.

A clever graphic about introverts.

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(HT: Geeding for that picture.)

Meanderings in the News

Feeling down? Eat more kale. “Humans have long turned to substances—from beer to Prozac—to improve their outlook on life. But there’s another possible remedy to the rigors of existence that doesn’t get nearly as much attention: the green stuff that grows in the field, and I don’t mean marijuana (though, hey, that might help, too). A new study (abstract) from Harvard researchers found a strong association between adults’ levels of optimism and the amount of carotenoid antioxidants in their blood. Carotenoids are found in richly colored green and orange vegetables, including kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, and collard greens. The more servings of carotenoid-containing vegetables you eat, the results suggest, the brighter your outlook.”

A 100-foot wave? Wow.

Beatles fan?

Sad: Katie McDonough: “Israel has admitted that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth control injections, according to a report in Haaretz. An Israeli investigative journalist also found that a majority of the women given these shots say they were administered without their knowledge or consent. Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu acknowledged the practice — without directly conceding coercion was involved — in a letter to Israeli health maintenance organizations, instructing gynecologists in the HMOs “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.” Depo-Provera is a hormonal form of birth control that is injected every three months.”

McCory and others: “The Republican governor also called into question the value of publicly supporting liberal arts majors after the host made a joke about gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” McCrory told the radio host. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” The two criticized philosophy Ph.D.s in a similar manner later in the program. “How many Ph.D.s in philosophy do I need to subsidize?” Bennett asked, to which McCrory replied, “You and I agree.” (Bennett earned a Ph.D., from a public flagship university, the University of Texas at Austin, in philosophy.) McCrory’s comments on higher education echo statements made by a number of Republican governors – including those in Texas, Florida and Wisconsin – who have questioned the value of liberal arts instruction and humanities degrees at public colleges and universities. Those criticisms have started to coalesce into a potentialRepublican agenda on higher education, emphasizing reduced state funding, low tuition prices, vocational training, performance funding for faculty members, state funding tied to job placement in “high demand” fields and taking on flagship institutions.”

A photo journey through Ethiopian Christianity’s Timkat.

Six brain issues for bad financial decisions, by Dan Ariely and Nina Mazar: “We all do it: hold on to a stock when every indicator screams sell, or spend our entire bonus on a new car instead of paying off debt. A whole new area of science called behavioural economics, or BE – a blend of psychology, economics, finance and sociology – has sprung up to explain why. According to BE pioneer and Duke University professor Dan Ariely (author of the bestseller Predictably Irrational) and Rotman School of Management researcher Nina Mazar, our brains are hard-wired to choose short-term payoff over long-term gain. Here are six common mistakes investors make – and how to avoid them.”

From Steve Hendrix: “It took about six months after moving to Washington for Patty Stonesifer to find her new job. As the former chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she had a lot of corner-office options to sift through, including a university presidency and the top jobs at a national charity and an international development agency. Her choice? She’s going to run Martha’s Table on 14th Street NW. Starting April 1, she will take over the well-regarded but decidedly local food pantry and family-services nonprofit organization.”

Meanderings in Sports

Aaron Liberman: “Liberman chose Northwestern over Georgetown and Southern California, and made the team as a preferred walk-on, meaning he was recruited but not given a scholarship. The fact that there was an Orthodox community near campus factored into his decision. Through his parents, he connected with a Jewish chaplain, and now Liberman lives in the family’s basement. “I try to stay away from the party scene,” Liberman said. “It’s not a very Jewish lifestyle.” He then motioned to his big-screen television and PlayStation 3 and added, “These are a little more college.” Northwestern has made arrangements so that he never has to fly on the Sabbath. He takes separate flights if necessary. The university is also designing special skullcaps for him that Under Armour, Northwestern’s apparel sponsor, is having made by a company called Klipped Kippahs.” Who knew?

Joseph Zucker: “A federal judge has ruled against a motion from the NCAA barring football and men’s basketball athletes from claiming a cut of past and present television revenue.”

No one is like Bubba Watson: “”It’s sad that people live and die by their sport and they have to, I guess, cheat and go around it and try to better themselves with deer-antler spray,” Watson said. “I’m not just going to take something and ask questions later. I’m not going to take deer antler-spray and find out what it is later. … I think we should check them for mental problems if they’re taking deer-antler spray. That’s kind of weird.”

Opinion: The sad implication of their use of PEDs is that athletes like A-Rod and Barry Bonds and Armstrong were great without them and that completely-legal greatness is diminished.

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.

  • Diane

    As usual, thank you for an interesting ramble through stories I otherwise might not have seen. The McCrory article goes a long way to explaining why people like me are not Republicans as I reject the narrow focus on the business community as the be all and end all. I would be dismayed to see higher education turned into vocational training alone. As the article states:

    “That belief tends to ignore the argument that a college education serves purposes other than preparing students for employment, including economic and civic returns that benefit individuals and society as a whole.”

    I was also interested in the comments of the head of UNC’s gender studies dep’t that her majors have not had problems finding jobs, and sometimes wonder if cutting funding for humanities majors is more about cutting off access to certain political views than anything else. I also wonder about the long-term wisdom of alienating and unemploying a group–humanities PhDs–who have learned how to think and ask questions and who feel a stake in how society is ordered …Subjects like poetry, literature, history, philosophy and religion persist because they fulfill human needs. They are not simply expendable because they don’t turn an immediate monetary profit, and I can’t agree they should solely be offered in private colleges–I want my tax dollars to support them, because I want to live in a broadly humane society, where Keats and Kants are not merely the privileged province of the pampered classes.

    Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/30/north-carolina-governor-joins-chorus-republicans-critical-liberal-arts#ixzz2Jk5QSJgC
    Inside Higher Ed

  • RJS

    Interesting stuff.

    I like the graph about introverts – “Interaction is just expensive and they don’t want to spend it on something annoying (read: wasteful)” – it takes some thinking, but there is an important point here.

    The IVCF bible study report is interesting – although it is a drop in the bucket of course, maybe even a drop in Lake Superior. How many of those who attended are not already doing something like this and/or how many are at Christian colleges? We need to start with drops though.

    McCory is hot air, but dangerous hot air.

  • gloria

    Great story about the Northwestern basketball player, Liberman.

  • Barb

    Yup I still love the Beatles!

  • Pepy

    Very much enjoyed the FaithInIreland piece. Hear here!

  • Dennis

    I thought Patrick Mitchel’s post was great. After reading Richard Cronin’s response it made me think of a few things. To me, embracing the ‘Jesus of faith’, over the ‘historical’ or ‘doctrinal’ Jesus, is not an existential view disassociating one from the other; as (I imagine) Barth’s followers suggest. The very real presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit is as concrete as any affirmation of faith. If we understand that Jesus is the true pursuit of Christianity (I’ll call it the ‘ever present’ Jesus, as opposed to the ‘contemplated’ or ‘asserted’ Jesus) it should be clear to me that theology/doctrine goes together equally with community, and spiritual disciplines. Seeing that Paul states that faith comes through revelation and we are to gather as a body, I really do not see why evangelicals balk at this idea, giving doctrine precedence. If community and spiritual disciplines are as important, It should be logical to conclude that doctrine cannot be enough, and therefore cannot be definitive either.

  • Dennis

    Maybe I should clarify that last sentence to say, “not as definitive as people would like” :)


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