Weekly Meanderings, 28 September 2013

For the psychologists amongst us.

A good interview with Karen Swallow Prior by David Moore:  Moore Engaging: What can literature teach that systematic theologies can’t?

Prior: Humans are logical, rational creatures. Systematic theologies allow us to seek and find truth through our intellect. Logic and facts constitute one kind of approach to knowledge. But humans are also imaginative, interpretive creatures. We are driven to create and find meaning through not only the intellect but also through our senses, our emotions, and our imaginations. Literature allows us to find meaning in ways that replicate the way we create meaning through our interactions and activities in real life.

Have you seen the Blue Footed Booby? One of the least alert (to humans) birds of the world.

Ten myths about airplanes — some fun reading.

“When the only contemporary means of self-transcendence is orgasm, we Christians are going to have tough time convincing people that it would be nicer if they would not be promiscuous” (Hauerwas and Willimon, Resident Aliens, 63).

10 things you should never let your kids do!

Catholics and Baptists in conversation: the document and a commentary by Fr Thomas Baima.

Probing why males have more affairs: “I suggest that one overlooked reason that men find themselves in the midst of an extramarital affair is that men don’t talk! (1) Thanks to their biology, neurophysiology, culture and psychology most men rarely express worries, emotions, sexual issues or physical concerns about themselves, to friends, family, or colleagues, much less to their partners. (2) As the show, “ Married Men Don’t Talk” suggests, men will talk about everything from kids to sports but they don’t discuss marital issues. (3) In their research on men who stopped seeking sex from their partners, Bob and Susan Berkowitz, report that 44% said they were furious, felt criticized and insignificant in their marriage; but would not or could not talk about it with their partners. (4) M.Gary Neuman found that 48% of the men he interviewed reported emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason for cheating. The men reported feeling unappreciated and wished that their partners could recognize when they were trying. They did not talk to their partners about this.”

Oh, many can sympathize: “When I first defended my graduate dissertation three months ago, I was sure there would be a robust reaction from policymakers, journalists, and the public at large. Now that a little time has passed, however, I’m starting to think that maybe—possibly—my dissertation is not getting the attention outside of academia I was expecting upon publication. In fact, it appears that nobody except my thesis advisor and my mom has read the whole thing, entitled Studies in Asymmetric Exponential Distribution, Positive Excess Kurtosis, and General Econometric Computation Using Data on Race and Gender in the United States from 1996 to 2011 at all.  I blame the lack of reception on a poor outreach strategy. It definitely wasn’t the title—the original title was longer, but I trimmed it to make sure that it was more readable. And it couldn’t have been the amount of work I put into it; I’ve been writing it since 1997. Thus, the clear hypothesis is that I simply failed to properly get my ideas to the world. I sent an excerpt to the New York Times for publication in their “Opinion” section, though maybe I should have sent it to their news desk instead because, if you think about it, it’s also news. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell who’s supposed to cover what these days in the media. I also sent it to President Obama, but rather than invite me to discuss ways to incorporate my research into his second-term agenda, he just sent me a form letter. “Dear Joshua,” someone in his correspondence office wrote. “Thank you for your letter.”

I believe in mental reverie — so I have to regroup on Sunday morning when Jay or Amanda get behind the pulpit: “Once accused of being absent-minded, the founder of American Psychology, William James, quipped that he was really just present-minded to his own thoughts. Most recent studies depict mind wandering as a costly cognitive failure with relatively few benefits (Mooneyham and Schooler, 2013). This perspective makes sense when mind wandering is observed by a third party and when costs are measured against externally imposed standards such as speed or accuracy of processing, reading fluency or comprehension, sustained attention, and other external metrics. There is, however, another way of looking at mind wandering, a personal perspective, if you will. For the individual, mind wandering offers the possibility of very real, personal reward, some immediate, some more distant.”

What our ancestors sounded like 6000 years ago.

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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