Weekly Meanderings, 15 March 2014

High school dances — going the way of high button shoes? (One of my favorite movies of all time in that pic.)

Your high school may have had different names for them, but you probably recognize what they are: school dances. A staple of American culture, the dramatic climax of countless high-school movies, and the background of so many of teenage memories. The dances were something to look forward to.  In 2001, more than 800 students gathered in clusters on the squeaky gym floors at John Jay High School in Westchester County, bopping up and down to Nelly songs. In 2010, only 26 students showed up to the Homecoming dance in that same gym. You can imagine my surprise when I returned home this past Christmas and asked my youngest sibling, a senior at the same high school I graduated from, if she was excited about the 2014 Winter Ball.Those nights in the school gymnasium, transformed from sweaty dodge ball venue to magical glittery ballroom, held such promise.

She rolled her eyes at me. “We haven’t had a Winter Ball since I was a freshman,” Lucy said.  It turns out my alma mater in Cross River, N.Y., began to cancel school dances in 2010 when attendance started to drop.  Lucy told me she thought the reason students didn’t attend was because everyone would rather be home texting, Facebook messaging, or Snapchatting each other.

A mom gives ten reason why she wants her children to have handheld devices.

Rachel Held Evans has a fantastic post about abuse and Christian patriarchy, and this is but a clip… go to the link and read it all:

Over the past few months, the whistle-blowing website, Recovering Grace, has given voice to 34 women who say there were sexually harassed or molested by Bill Gothard or someone in his conservative, homeschool-based ministry. Gothard resigned from his ministry earlier this month.

While such abuse once thrived in the darkness of secrecy, silencing, and cover-ups, the Internet Age has helped shine a light on the problem of abuse not only in the Catholic Church but also among evangelical churches and ministries. Survivors have spoken out about pervasive abuse or sexual misconduct situations withSovereign Grace MinistriesVision ForumJesus People USA, the Bill Gothard Ministry, Bob Jones UniversityPatrick Henry CollegePensacola Christian College,and several missions organizations.

My evangelical brothers and sisters, we have an abuse problem and we need to talk about it.  Talking about it does far less damage to Christ’s reputation in the world than covering it up.

Now obviously, abuse is a result of sin and no denomination or community is immune to sin’s effects, but we do see a trend in which most of the organizations facing scrutiny over abuse and sexual misconduct charges of late are characterized by authoritarian, patriarchal leadership and by cultures that routinely silence the voices of women.

So the point I want to make today is not that all who subscribe to patriarchy are abusive, but that patriarchy in a religious environment, just as in any environment, has a negative effect on the whole community and creates a cultural climate more susceptible to abuse than one characterized by mutuality and shared leadership between men and women. 

Honeycrisp, the greatest of apples and the most expensive:

I would argue that the first time you find yourself grumbling about prices these daysmarks a rite of passage on par with the shedding of baby teeth, tasting your first legal beer, or buying your first home. It tends to happen over something really trivial, like postage stamps, or a vending machine candy bar, which makes your outsize fury seem all the more ridiculous. For me, the first consumer good to send steam shooting out my ears was an apple, for the simple reason that, as the granddaughter and niece and cousin of New York State apple growers, I think I know what an apple should cost.

I am talking, of course, about the Honeycrisp. With Galas and Romes and Granny Smiths and Red Deliciouses still going for a dollar and change per pound, the price of Honeycrisps — presently hovering around $4.50 a pound here in New York — is something previously unheard of in the scheme of apple pricing. In almost 400 years of cultivating apples on these shores, Honeycrisp may be the first true name-brand variety to hit the shelves — a designer apple, the first malus domestica to price out of a segment of the market.

I agree with this Chip MacGregor post about Driscoll’s buying his way onto the NYTimes list:

What’s wrong with buying your way onto the bestseller list? It’s an expensive, short-term ego stroke for the lazy and dishonest, and it excludes real writers from actually making the list. My two cents.

Track and Field’s Albuquerque Spring:

The scene was unprecedented: seven runners walking off the track hand in hand, in quiet protest against their own governing body. The women had just run the 1,500-meter race at the U.S. indoor national championships on Feb. 23 in Albuquerque. The day before, the winner of the 3,000-meter race, Gabe Grunewald, had been disqualified by one of the most powerful men in track, Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, for supposedly interfering with one of his athletes. How Salazar managed the feat is still unclear, but to fans and to other runners it was obvious what had happened: The people who really run the sport had prevailed upon the people who nominally do to change a result in their favor.

By itself, this was nothing new—dictatorial, rule-bending judgments are the order of the day in track. What was new was the backlash: an immediate eruption on social media and the small, televised show of solidarity after the 1,500, which a day later led to Grunewald’s reinstatement as national champion. And the outcry is ongoing. People are pissed about the way the sport is run—about the lack of transparency, about the way the athletes are left out of the process, about the appearance of Nike favoritism—and for the first time they’re saying so en masse and out loud, right there in front of God and Phil Knight. Call it the Albuquerque Spring.

22 quotes from influential women.

David Frum on millennials and trust and the common good:

Yet there’s another — and more ominous — explanation lurking in the numbers. Robert Putnam of “Bowling Alone” fame has collected data showing that social trust declines as a community becomes more ethnically diverse.

“The short run effect of being around people who are different from us is to make all of us uncertain — to hunker down, to pull in, to trust everybody less. Like a turtle in the presence of some feared threat, we pull in.”

In other words, in a more diverse society, it’s not just those who feel vulnerable who trust less. In a more diverse society, everybody trusts less. The clarion call of common purpose begins to sound more like a warning alarm that your group is about to be used for the benefit of another. The accusation that the (non-white) “takers” are plundering the (white) “makers” has powered protest politics since 2009. If anything, that accusation looks likely to increase in its political effect in the years ahead.

As America has become more ethnically diverse, political leaders have insisted ever more persistently that this diversity is a source of strength. Let’s hope that proves to be true. America will need that strength in a future that, by the number, seems likely to be more mutually suspicious, more alienated, more unequal and less united by patriotism.

Love the ducks.

Redditor CriticalFumble found this duck outside his home window a few months ago, and what was to happen over the next few weeks was quite amazing.

Best of all, he documented it all with these awesome photos!

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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