Weekly Meanderings, 27 July 2013

We’ve had some busy couple weeks around here — speaking, writing, grandparenting, gardening — so I have to give a big round of applause for Kris’s help yet again with finding some of these links for meanderings.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson — in context — about gun lawsand the Second Amendment. “(CNN) – Thomas Jefferson may not have penned the Second Amendment, but the paradoxical Founding Father comes galloping into the present whenever there’s a gun debate. Quotes attributed to him and tied to the right to bear arms litter the social sphere. But how did a man 200-plus years past his prime become today’s gun-debate darling? “Jefferson becomes this great political Rorschach in which people pour into him different things,” says Saul Cornell, a professor at Fordham University who studies early American political and constitutional thought. People read into the inkblots of antiquity, molding Jefferson into who they want him to be on the subject of guns. “Basically, what the Internet has done is democratized or Starbucks-ified discussions of the Founding Fathers. Everyone can talk about them without actually knowing anything about them,” Cornell says. It’s the Wikipedification of knowledge, and it doesn’t matter if it’s true. Real or fake, the Internet has spoken; it’s loudest after tragedies like Aurora and Newtown. Read these Jeffersonian quotes fueling the debate. What do they say to you?”

My colleague and friend, Sam Hamstra, sketches how to plan a multicultural worship service.

Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling and Jesus Today, evaluated at Englewood Review of Books: “The crucial question that we must ask of any book, bestseller or not, is “to what end is the author leading us?”  The best-case description (and I imagine that this is fair to the author’s intent) is that the goal here is to depict a Jesus that deeply loves and cares for his creatures.  Not a bad end, of course, but unfortunately there is no sense of a larger narrative at work, no answer to the question “to what end does Jesus love us?” and thus, this sort of book is extraordinarily vulnerable to becoming little more than a tool of the self-indulgent powers of our age.   If you are one who finds devotionals helpful, I am certain that there are better and more substantial choices. Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and Jesus Today are not essentially bad books, but they do pose significant dangers, not so much in what is said, but in what is left unsaid and how the work is framed.  The biggest dangers, it seems, are of offering a self-help Jesus, and of subtly promoting a faith defined by a “love of God” that is hardly concerned with “love of neighbor”.   To paraphrase the Apostle John, How can we love God whom we have not seen, if we don’t love our sister or brother that see daily?”

Before there was a missional movement there was the African American (missional) church, and this is a clip from D. Kyle Canty: “There’s a complex question that gnaws at my heart as I observe evangelical culture; “Does the broader evangelical church in America recognize that there is something that they can learn from the African American church?” I follow conferences and as of late, I’ve kept up with the missional movement. I love listening to those who have mined the themes associated with everything missional and topics around justice and mercy for the marginalized. I frequent blogs, YouTube videos and the major declarations put out by the evangelical machine. During the past couple of years I’ve recognized the homogeneity of these circles—most of the speakers are white. Interesting enough, many of the topics that are being written about and presented at these events are topics that I’ve heard about throughout my life. (e.g., justice, mercy, meeting felt needs, etc.)  Well before these were popular topics within evangelicalism, these were important issues among black pastors, preachers and theologians. The black church finds its uniqueness in the soil where it is cultivated—usually within marginalized and oppressed communities.”

Eight sports teams that changed their name.

The cricket bar: “Are edible insects the food of the future? One Salt Lake City-based company thinks so. Chapul Inc. has cooked up an energy bar with an eye-popping ingredient — crickets. Chapul Bars come in three flavors — peanut butter, chocolate and Thai — and sell for $2.99 to $3.59 each. They’re made from natural ingredients such as dates, agave nectar, coconut, ginger, lime and dark chocolate. And all contain cricket flour.” I’m not sure what to think.

Very clever piece on Tiger Wood, blacks and Muirfield.

Are the disciplines of education changing? Nigel Thrift thinks so: “Are disciplines becoming less important? I think they are. Universities are gradually changing how they operate as disciplines become less central to the construction of knowledge. Historically there are several universities that have tried different ways to organize their academics. In Britain, they include the University of Sussex, which for a long time divided itself into “Schools of Study,” so that students could benefit from a multidisciplinary teaching environment. In the United States, Arizona State University has done something similar with its degree programs. But these kinds of large experiments with disciplinary mix are still comparatively rare. What has happened at most universities is something different: a slow shift in the gardening of knowledge, moving from strict formal borders to drifts. In this vein, five changes come to mind….”

Has Beemageddon been solved? Why we dream.

Rosenberg on A-Rod: “A-Rod looks guilty. Really guilty. This Braun suspension should silence anybody who thinks this investigation is a P.R. game by Major League Baseball. Braun, who fought to clear his name for two years, just folded his cards. MLB had him nailed. Do you really believe it’s different for Rodriguez? If A-Rod fights his suspension now, he will look even more delusional and self-absorbed. If he accepts his suspension without appealing, then so what? Even Ryan Braun did that! And Braun did it first. Have you ever seen such a sad and unfulfilling end to a spectacular career? What does A-Rod have to show for his two decades in pro ball? Money, obviously, but what else? His fame has morphed into infamy. His numbers are at least partially fraudulent. His Hall of Fame chances are tiny, at least for now. His MVP awards feel hollow.”

The unambitious loser.

Dale Sveum, Cubs manager: “Arizona chased Samardzija in the sixth by putting runners at first and third with two out. Goldschmidt greeted reliever Blake Parker with a line drive home run to left field, plating three runs to make it 6-5. “At that time you just wanted a fresh arm, but obviously that went over like a fart in a space suit,” Sveum said. “We were very fortunate.”

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.


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