Weekly Meanderings, 8 March 2014

This amazing picture of Chicago’s reflection on the lake taken from an airplane by an iPhone.

Rob Merola’s wisdom

The two most destructive forces I have seen in my almost 30 years as a priest are anger and alcohol. It’s interesting, then, that one of the chief findings of one of the longest running studies of human development is the surprising conclusion that “alcohol destroys”. Begun in 1938 and conducted by Harvard University, the study’s director writes of alcohol use:

its abuse [is] by far the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects.

Again, my own experience corroborates that.

So I’d like to make a suggestion. I’d like to suggest that those of us who observe Lent consider giving up alcohol for the season. Heck, maybe even if you don’t observe Lent, or don’t believe in God at all, you might want to join us on this one just on the principle of things.

The period from now until Easter is about 50 days—in other words, not too long. Might it be worth it to abstain from alcohol simply as a way of checking in with ourselves about our relationship to it? And if something pushes back against that (remember, it’s only 50 days), might that push-back in and of itself be  something at which it’s well worth taking a closer look? [Read at the link the rest of the post.]

When best to book your flight — how many days in advance?

Finally, there’s a scientific answer to that magic number of days before a flight when tickets are at their cheapest.

The answer? Are you ready? Are you reeeally ready?

Fifty-four days before takeoff is, on average, when domestic airline tickets are at their absolute lowest price. And if you don’t hit 54 days on the head, you should usually book between 104 to 29 days before your trip — within the “prime booking window” — for the lowest possible prices. In this window, ticket prices typically hover within $10 of the lowest price they’ll ever reach.

31 tips for cleaning your home.

Ted Gossard and the culture wars backlash:

What I think is happening in part is a backlash from the days of the “Moral Majority” and what followed (as one of our favorite teachers back in the 1980′s said might happen). This is tied up in the notion that America is at its roots a Christian nation.  I’m sure there is much more to be said about this. Heavy handed in your face demonstrations and the seizing of political power to enforce moral law just doesn’t strike me as in the way of Jesus for his followers, or even in line with how Daniel and the exiles lived in foreign states.

Francis Effect:

Although he has an average approval rating from his constituency that any U.S. presidents would envy, it’s not fully clear how much the former Argentinian archbishop is influencing Catholic behavior.

“We’re not seeing any increase in the number of people who identify as Catholics. There is no increase in the frequency with which Catholics say they go to church. People are not going to confession or volunteering more often,” said Greg Smith, director of religion surveys for the Pew Research Center.

At the same time, pollsters did detect pockets of growing enthusiasm, especially among the most committed Catholics.

“One in four tells us they’re more excited about their faith in the last year. Four out of 10 say they’re praying more often. And one in five say they have been reading the Bible or other religious materials more often,” Smith said.

Since he succeeded the conservative and regal Pope Benedict last March, Francis has been heralded as a breath of fresh air: down-to-earth and focused on the downtrodden. (HT: LEMB)

Michelle Van Loon is doing a study of 40plus church members — what they think they are doing and what pastors think of them, and here is a series of links to her series:

What pastors, church leaders have to say about working with congregants over 40 –  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pilgrimsroadtrip/2014/02/survey-pastors-leaders-how-does-your-church-relate-to-members-over-40/
A first look at the demographics of those responding to the survey -
Comments relating to the nature of intergenerational ministry -
The gifts and difficulties of working with congregants over 40 -

Ego-driven leaders…  Matt Monge’s list of ten:

How can you tell if your leadership is ego-driven?

1. Ego-driven leaders often measure their success by how much others notice their success. It becomes more about being the center of attention than it does about actually being successful in and of itself.

2. Ego-driven leaders often feel better about themselves when others around them don’t achieve or earn as much as they do.

From a wonderful article on grains:

Your typical white flour is made from wheat grains that have had the germ and bran removed—it’s all endosperm up in that white bread and “regular” pasta, not to mention your white rice and pretty much anygrain or grain-based product that isn’t explicitly marked with the words “whole grain.” That seven-grain bread does indeed contain seven grains, but unless it’s seven-whole grain bread, you’re still only getting the endosperm—still lots of flavor variety, but not the same nutritional profile.

Grains are refined for a few reasons. Sure, you may prefer those pastas and breads to their whole wheat counterparts, but flavor and aesthetics have less to do with it than you may think. Light, heat, and air are the sworn enemies of cooking oils, and the same goes for the oils in whole grains. Mass-produced grain products are often refined primarily to extend shelf-life and allow for non-refrigerated storage.

The NFL and the N-word prohibition:

It’s one of the most polarizing debates of the NFL offseason: should the league ban and penalize the N-word?

One of the NFL’s most outspoken players, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has weighed in on the issue.

“It’s an atrocious idea,” Sherman told MMQB.com’s Peter King. “It’s almost racist, to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”

According to King, Sherman also emphasized that the word could be used in different ways and that the intent of its use changes from case to case.

“It’s in the locker room and on the field at all times,” Sherman said. “I hear it almost every series out there on the field.”

Sherman’s viewpoint is a common one, but there are also those who think eliminating the word would be a positive step for the league.

“Ultimately, if the NFL can get it done, it’s great for our game,” free agent linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told King. “But I think refs have a hard enough time officiating the game now. Now they’d be asked to police language?”

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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