Weekly Meanderings: May 4, 2013

One cool tree house:

Helen Lee pushes Christian employers to consider the way of TJ’s: “As much as I love my local Trader Joe’s, and as much as I appreciate that they clearly value their crew members, a part of me wishes I could see Christian organizations making the news for their extraordinary people practices and for being the trendsetters in this area. As Cavanaugh asks, shouldn’t Christian companies set the example as places where employees are treated well? I believe so, absolutely. Trader Joe’s has demonstrated a basic understanding of business that seems counter-intuitive but that echoes what researchers Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discovered about visionary companies in their business bestseller Built to Last: “Profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself for many of the visionary companies.” In other words, money is important, but people are even more so. If this is not a value deeply embedded into the DNA of a Christian company, then perhaps it needs to further examine why they are in business to begin with.”

Congratulations to Sherilyn Emberton: Trustees at Huntington University have elected Sherilyn Emberton as the Christian college’s next president. When Emberton begins at the Indiana school on June 1, she will become the first female president in Huntington’s history. She will succeed G. Blair Dowden, who has led the university for 22 years. Emberton, who currently serves as vice president for academic affairs at East Texas Baptist University, also will join the somewhat-elite ranks of female presidents within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Of the 111 CCCU member schools in North America, only 6 schools currently have female presidents (approximately 5 percent, compared to a 23-percent national average), including…” And Don Dayton’s comment is not without significance: it is noteworthy these women are in the Wesleyan/holiness/charismatic tradition.

Pete Enns is right: “Once we see that Yahweh’s actions toward the Canaanites are like that of the gods of other nations toward their enemies, the discussion cannot continue as before. A vital historical contextual factor is brought into our speculative theological and philosophical musings. We can talk about God’s actions toward the Canaanites within the parameters of the canon or carefully worded categories of dogmatics and systematic theology. But once we see that Chemosh, god of the Moabites, tells king Mesha (or better, Mesha tells us what Chemosh told him) to take Nebo from the Israelites and “put to the ban” the entire population–and that the word “ban”  corresponds precisely to the Hebrew word for the same sort of behavior–well, it puts the theological and philosophical discussion on a whole different level. So, the question, “Why would God command the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites?” cannot be addressed in an intramural theological back-and-forth. It must also include this little bit of historical information: Yahweh’s actions are not unique but seem part of an ancient way of thinking. Maybe that’s the best way to sum up what I’m saying here: theological discussions about biblical interpretation must be in conversation with ancient ways of thinking. Told you. Not very profound. But then again, I feel like I need to keep saying it.”

Jonathan Merritt and the brain and spirituality at Relevant.

Father Rob, let me tell you about my left shoulder … “Have I told you about my knees? They are killing me these days. And it’s not even when I’m doing anything strenuous. It’s just when I’m walking. In fact, I don’t have to be doing anything at all. They ache when I’m sitting. Heck, they ache right now and I just got out of bed! I’d love to tell you more about how much they ache but I’m still at a point where I can exercise a little self control on this subject and cut myself off. In a few more years, who knows? Our bodies are one of the surest reminders that this world will not last. It is passing away even now. We are passing away. The aches and pains that we all experience are just part of our present physical bodies, that once were so glorious, wearing out.”

Informative article by J. Harold Ellens about the great library of Alexandria.

Rachel on the household codes:  “I used to hate talking about submission too. I hated how that word was used—along with proof texts from Ephesians 5,  Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 3—to put Christian women “in their place,” as subordinates to their husbands.  But that was  before I studied the context of the epistles to the early Church, before I learned about the Greco-Roman Household Codes and Peter and Paul’s radical Christian remix that often passes unnoticed by modern readers. ”

Catholic, ordained, and a woman.

Homeschoolers in search of theistic evolution curriculum.

Meanderings in the News

A sketch by Gary Marcusof recent attempts by Christians to articulate how science and faith work. “The relationship between science and religion has always been vexed. Most scientists I know are nonbelievers, convinced that there is no deity, or at least that there is no convincing evidence of one. Even those who are believers, like Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, see their religion and their science as largely separate. (“If God is outside of nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove his existence,” he once wrote.) But it has been startling to see leading scientists employ science itself in arguments for believing in a kind of supernatural: Jürgen Schmidhuber, a prominent researcher in artificial intelligence, calls for what he has dubbed “computational theology,” while Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist David Eagleman has proposed a kind of religious perspective that he calls “Possibilianism.” Neither argues for anything like a conventional Judeo-Christian deity, but both point to something beyond the natural universe.”

Amalfi, love it.

Dianna Gwilliams, new Dean: “Reverend Canon Dianna Gwilliams has been approved as the new Dean of Guildford by the Queen. She will be installed in a service at Guildford Cathedral on 15 September. She said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the chapter, congregation and Cathedral Council as we participate enthusiastically in the part of the mission of God with which we are entrusted.” Canon Gwilliams is currently vicar of St Barnabas, Dulwich, a foundation chaplain of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, Dulwich and has just completed a year as acting Archdeacon of Southwark.”

Good news for migraine sufferers. “Mutations on a single gene appear to increase the risk for both an unusual sleep disorder and migraines, a team reports in Science Translational Medicine. The finding could help explain the links between sleep problems and migraines. It also should make it easier to find new drugs to treat migraines, researchers say.”

8 blind spots between men and women in the workplace. “The authors’ eight points all come back to the same larger piece of wisdom: Whether because of hard wiring or learned behavior, women and men approach workplace challenges differently. Women are more process-oriented, they ask more questions, they care more about building relationships on the way to achieving goals and they put a great deal of value on listening and being heard. When they have emotional reactions, they want to express them. By contrast, men are goal-oriented and they don’t feel the need to talk through every step along the way to finishing a task. Relationships and sharing credit with others are less important than finishing projects and claiming credit for themselves. Men also have a tougher time multi-tasking and they prefer to keep their emotions to themselves. If men and women can acknowledge these differences, empathize with one another and come up with ways to cope with their different responses to workplace challenges, they will work together more productively and with less friction.”

Someone who has no idea what he’s talking about.

Heracleion’s discoveries: “For centuries it was thought to be a legend, a city of extraordinary wealth mentioned in Homer, visited by Helen of Troy and Paris, her lover, but apparently buried under the sea. In fact, Heracleion was true, and a decade after divers began uncovering its treasures, archaeologists have produced a picture of what life was like in the city in the era of the pharaohs.”

Viet Nam vet found?

Philosophers, a survey: “The Davids distributed their questionnaire to 1,972 philosophers at 99 of the world’s “leading departments of philosophy” (in this case, their target group comprised predominantly Ph.D.-granting departments in English speaking countries, giving rise to an acknowledged bias toward analytic or Anglocentric philosophy). The questionnaire consisted of a background survey, 30 multiple choice questions, and a metasurvey that asked philosphers to predict how their colleagues would weigh in. A little under half of the target faculty group completed the survey. Here are their responses:

1. A priori knowledge: yes 71.1%; no 18.4%; other 10.5%.
2. Abstract objects: Platonism 39.3%; nominalism 37.7%; other 23.0%.
3. Aesthetic value: objective 41.0%; subjective 34.5%; other 24.5%.
4. Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes 64.9%; no 27.1%; other 8.1%.
5. Epistemic justification: externalism 42.7%; internalism 26.4%; other 30.8%.
6. External world: non-skeptical realism 81.6%; skepticism 4.8%; idealism 4.3%; other 9.2%.
7. Free will: compatibilism 59.1%; libertarianism 13.7%; no free will 12.2%; other 14.9%.
8. God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
9. Knowledge claims: contextualism 40.1%; invariantism 31.1%; relativism 2.9%; other 25.9%.
10. Knowledge: empiricism 35.0%; rationalism 27.8%; other 37.2%.”

Banned baby names in New Zealand.

Meandering in Sports

Tom Ricketts: “The owner of the Chicago Cubs publicly threatened for the first time Wednesday to move the team out of Wrigley Field if his plans for a big, new video screen are blocked, saying he needs millions of dollars in ad revenue to help bankroll the renovation of the storied ballpark. “The fact is that if we don’t have the ability to generate revenue in our own outfield, we’ll have to take a look at moving — no question,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told reporters after a speech to Chicago business leaders outlining plans for a $500 million renovation of the 99-year-old stadium.” The tail think it can wag the dog. Wrigleyville does not own Wrigley Field or the Cubs.

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  • PastorM

    Context seems critical in a couple of these posts. But it takes time to research and mull over what that means, which, IMHO, is why many ignore context and, in effect, make their own meaning from scripture. Of course, such meaning(s) often do not reflect scripture in context. That leads to all sorts of problems, as your posts frequently point out.

  • gingoro

    “a part of me wishes I could see Christian organizations making the news for their extraordinary people practices and for being the trendsetters in this area.”
    After my last year of high school I worked in a company run by one of the deacons in our church. Worst place I ever worked, an absolute sweat shop. I’d be happy if organizations owned by Christians just managed to be average in how they treated people instead of much worse. I never worked for Christians again.

  • AHH

    I hear where gingoro is coming from — I guess this can be a factor both in companies run by Christians (I’ll never forget how flabbergasted I was when I learned that a notorious multilevel marketing company was owned by Christians) and in churches and para-church organizations themselves.

    My wife has worked at about 10 jobs in her life, one of which was part-time kitchen manager in our fairly large church. She says that one was the worst of the bunch in terms of her receiving any sort of orientation and welcome and help getting settled in, and also in terms of the senior people on staff communicating with her or enabling success in the job. When your boss (church’s full-time Business Manager) who you have just decided you need to have an important conversation with sends an email late on a Friday afternoon saying “I’m leaving on vacation, see you in 3 weeks”, it is pretty discouraging for someone who has previously worked in places that operated in a more professional manner.