Weekly Meanderings, 3 Oct 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 9.06.35 PMA must read:

When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for themaccording to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

OK, Jeremy Affeldt, chats about what he won’t miss about pitching in the Major Leagues, including this about Wrigley Field!

Wrigley Field.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it.

Admittedly, the home of the Chicago Cubs is a national treasure. Visiting that ballpark should be on any baseball fan’s bucket list, and for good reason. On the surface, the place is gorgeous, and the building is a virtual time machine. But when you take a closer look—and I’ve read quite a few accounts from the fans’ perspective that seem to back my sentiments—all that shimmers most certainly is not gold.

While I realize that Wrigley is now undergoing a multiyear, multi-faceted renovation plan, I can only speak from my own experience. When I was with the Cincinnati Reds, we played a lot of games on the North Side, and I can tell you that the player facilities are an abomination. Not just by today’s standards, where players often find themselves taking advantage of luxurious clubhouses with every modern amenity imaginable, but by any era’s standards. Wrigley’s locker room (I can’t even really call it a clubhouse) is tiny. It’s virtually impossible to squeeze players, coaches and equipment staff in there at once, and when it rains—this happens quite often in the Chicago summertime—it’s absolutely unbearable.

And that mound. Every stadium has its quirks and home-field advantages, but the hill at Wrigley is another thing altogether. Not only is it different than other major league mounds, but it’s also different than the park’s warm-up mound! Maybe my feelings have a little something to do with me being winless at Wrigley (5.59 lifetime ERA!), but still, I won’t miss that place.

This, by Katie Botkin about Doug Wilson, is brilliant:

Let’s put this another way. Let’s claim that men who spend all their time deflecting accurate criticisms by trolling the internet hordes with shots about “small-breasted biddies” are themselves bulbous, unattractive effetes whose physical masculinity is obviously so tenuous that they need to assert themselves by regularly throwing verbal tantrums like two-year-olds obsessed with the idea that not enough people think they’re in charge. Actually masculine men don’t need to spend all their time convincing people that they’re masculine. Actually witty men don’t need to spend all their time convincing people they’re witty. Men who actually show honor to women — all women, not just the perfectly-dressed, perfectly-submissive ones — don’t need to spend time protesting that they’re nice to all the women who deserve it.

I’ve said all this, but note that I’m not necessarily insulting Doug Wilson with those statements. In fact, I’ll specifically say I’m not. See how Doug’s logic works?

It was easier to be skinnier back then, or it’s easier to be heavier today: either way. Olga Khazan.

study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practicefound that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.The authors examined the dietary data of 36,400 Americans between 1971 and 2008 and the physical activity data of 14,419 people between 1988 and 2006. They grouped the data sets together by the amount of food and activity, age, and BMI.

They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

Hungarian dilemma: helping refugees against the laws. Lauren Frayer:

Driving in rural, southern Hungary, especially at night, you’re likely to see people emerging from dark forests along the side of the road. They trudge along the highway’s narrow shoulder and sometimes flag down passing cars, asking for help.

They’re migrants and refugees who’ve entered Hungary by the tens of thousands in recent months, mostly en route to Germany and other northern European countries.

But it’s illegal for civilians in Hungary to help them get there….

“Basically, if I drive you across [the country] and you don’t have a visa, then I’m liable criminally,” says Marta Pardavi, a human rights lawyer with the Budapest branch of the Helsinki Committee. “We have advised volunteers doing this that there is a risk involved — the risk of a criminal procedure, of having to go to interrogations — and I think that risk is very real.”

But in southern Hungary, where most migrants and refugees enter the country from Serbia or Croatia, volunteers line up to offer them free rides — often right alongside smugglers, who charge them money. On one recent afternoon, NPR witnessed Serbian smugglers offering to transport people for 1,000 euros — about $1,125 — per passenger to the Austrian border.

Among the volunteers offering rides for free is Austrian Hans Breuer. He’s driven several Syrian families from the Hungary-Serbia border all the way to Austria — and he says he knows full well that what he’s doing is illegal here.

“I don’t ask the police — I just go. I’m constantly scanning the road, and if I see police, I go another way,” Breuer says. “I hope nobody will stop me. Maybe I’m risking prison time, and yes, that scares me.”

Greg Carey’s good sketch of The Gospel of the Blues by Gary Burnett:

Despite its essential role in opening the way to other musical forms, the blues remains a bit of a niche genre. I remember touring the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where the blues were presented, along with bluegrass and gospel, as a precursor to rock. At that moment I determined to sample blues music from the early part of the twentieth century. Having grown up in Florence, Alabama, where the “Father of the Blues” W. C. Handy was born, the journey felt important to me. Gary Burnett, a biblical scholar, musician, and blues aficionado, says lots more learning awaits me. His “The Gospel According to the Blues” (Cascade, 2014) argues that listening to the blues might put us in better touch with the message of Jesus. (Check out Burnett’s blog, Down at the Crossroads.)

Some might object that Burnett isn’t necessarily blazing new trails. Decades ago Robert L. Short got the smart idea of writing “The Gospel According to Peanuts.” It’s hard to believe, but 14 years have passed since Mark I. Pinsky published “The Gospel According to the Simpsons.” For all I know, somebody’s done “The Gospel According to Star Trek”. Maybe even “The Gospel According to Men’s Fitness.” With all such books the challenge requires doing more than simply establishing points of contact and organizing the material chapter by chapter. The book needs to add value. Burnett makes his book worth our time in two ways…. [read on at the link]

Lekan Oguntoyinbo:

Diversity is increasingly becoming a priority for many historically black colleges. In recent years, many have worked diligently to attract international students as well as students of other races and ethnicities, especially Latinos.This is particularly true in states that have high numbers of Latinos, such as Texas.Some higher-education experts say that the mission of HBCUs to serve the historically disenfranchised strikes a chord with Latinos.Dr. Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that promotes the interests of Latinos in higher education, says that HBCUs generally tend to be more student focused and have faculty who are culturally competent, making them attractive to emerging populations such as Latinos.
That’s a view echoed by Dr. Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania.“HBCUs o­ften have family environments and Latinos feel more comfortable in these environments,” she says, adding that HBCUs generally have lower tuition and that this appeals to Latinos, many of whom come from lower-income families.

And if you RSVP, we’ll charge you! Sarah Larimer:

I’m mentioning it now because this is a story about a Minnesota woman who says she was billed after skipping a wedding to which she had RVSPed.


Jessica Baker told KARE-TV that she and her husband received a $75.90 bill after missing the wedding that they had originally planned to attend earlier this year. The couple’s babysitter — Baker’s mother — fell through, which prompted the change of plans, the station reported.

Remember how I said sometimes stuff happens? Here is a real-life example!

“The invoice arrived in the mail yesterday,” Baker told the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis. “My first reaction was just, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve got to be kidding me.’”

“And then, when I read it, the whole thing, I just kind of laughed and had to call up my husband and go, ‘Uh, our friends sent us this bill for not making it to their wedding.’ And we kind of had a good laugh about it.”

The bill covered the cost of two meals, plus tax and a service charge, according to the station.

April Kelly-Woessner:

Second, I argue that youthful intolerance is driven by different factors than old fashioned intolerance, and that this change reflects the ideology of the New Left.  Herbert Marcuse, considered “The Father of the New Left,” articulates a philosophy that denies political expression to those who would oppose a progressive social agenda.  In his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance,” Marcuse (1965) writes,

“Tolerance is extended to policies, conditions, and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying, the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery. This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested…   Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”

The idea of “liberating tolerance” then is one in which ideas that the left deems to be intolerant are suppressed. It is an Orwellian argument for an “intolerance of intolerance” and it appears to be gaining traction in recent years, reshaping our commitments to free speech, academic freedom, and basic democratic norms.  If we look only at people under the age of 40, intolerance is correlated with a “social justice” orientation.  That is, I find that people who believe that the government has a responsibility to help poor people and blacks get ahead are also less tolerant.  Importantly, this is true even when we look at tolerance towards groups other than blacks.  For people over 40, there is no relationship between social justice attitudes and tolerance.  I argue that this difference reflects a shift from values of classical liberalism to the New Left.  For older generations, support for social justice does not require a rejection of free speech.  Thus, this tension between leftist social views and political tolerance is something new.

I must admit, I find this discussion about the pastor-scholar to be a bit of a nuisance because most often the term “pastor” is the term most misunderstood. But Andrew Wilson:

I agree that the church needs more leaders who are both shepherds and scholars, credible and critical, in one nature. Missional-practical-theological-pastoral, as Polonius might have put it. Or, to invert a quip from Vanhoozer himself: like Paul, only taller.

But how feasible is it to be both a scholar and a pastor? I suspect many of us know individuals who, by aiming to be both a pastor and a scholar, have ended up being neither. More commonly, some aspire to be both equally, but indicate by their speech and actions—let alone by their weekly timetables—that they major in one and minor in the other.

When N. T. Wright and John Piper were exchanging books a few years ago, both insisted that they wrote as scholars and pastors, filling their books with pastoral concerns and scholarly footnotes in equal measure. But while they are two of the most outstanding contemporary examples of pastor-scholars, critics pointed out that Piper had not published any research on dikaiosunē—Greek for “righteousness,” the primary topic of their debate—for nearly 30 years, and that Wright had spent little time in lay people’s kitchens or around Alpha course tables. No doubt, there is a sense in which everyone who writes for the church should be both theologically and pastorally engaged. But the union of pastor and scholar, shepherd and academic, is elusive.

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