Weekly Meanderings, 16 January 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 4.28.15 PMOK, one has to admit Marie Kondo’s magic of tidying up might be more than a little difficult for parents with kids around the house — but she’s good news for grandparents!

If you read Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and you are reading this parenting blog, you probably have as little appetite for Kondo’s second act as I do. In fact, I bet you’ve been through the same Five Stages of Life-Changing Magic that I have:

  1. Hey, I could use some life-changing magic!
  2. I think I can do this!
  3. Oh wait.
  4. Oh crap.
  5. Forget it.

Kondo claims that among her millions of clients and devotees, not one has backtracked. But Kondo had her first baby in July, and I’d be willing to bet even she has slipped once or twice since then. Perhaps the urgency of folding all her T-shirts to stand up like tacos (though loose enough they can still breathe!) has begun to seem a little unrealistic when she never has a hand free. Maybe after wolfing down (does Marie Kondo “wolf”?) a three-minute meal standing up while holding a fussy baby who can’t even hold her own head up, Kondo has recognized the wisdom of leaving the dish soap by the sink where it is useful, instead of storing it in the cupboard where it is tidy….

This is why Kondo’s life-changing magic makes no sense to parents.

It’s all premised on the idea that once you tidy, you’ll never have to tidy again. No matter how perfectly folded my socks are — no matter how minimal my bookshelf is — I’m going to be stepping in play-dough pies and Lego towns after every playdate. And nowhere does Kondo provide any tips on how to initiate my 4-year-old into the cult of de-cluttering when she’s too busy unfolding every blanket in the house to make a bed on the floor for every one of her dolls.

The church has no competition, and it needs to cease competing with Hollywood:

I’ve spent decades tweaking the service order, adjusting audio levels, setting up chairs, approving graphic designs and all the other work it takes to conduct a church service.

Does anyone really think the reason our next door neighbors aren’t going to church is poor stage lighting and a less-than-perfect closing song?

Or are they looking for something else entirely?

It’s not that those elements don’t matter. If they’re done poorly, they can distract from the message. But spending too much time and effort on them can distract from the message, too.

Let’s face the truth. It doesn’t matter how big our churches are, how much money we have, or how many A-List Hollywood producers become believers. If we compete head-to-head with Hollywood on entertainment quality, Hollywood wins, the church loses.

Not only can’t we compete with the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the local theater, we can’t compete with the phone in our pocket. The highest quality entertainment in the world is literally at our fingertips, 24/7.

My neighbor isn’t going to be blown away by the spectacle of our church’s Easter pageant.

The Church Has No Competition

So the bad news is, the church can’t compete with Hollywood. Or Disneyland. Or Broadway. Or Friday night high school football, for that matter. We can’t even compete with own smart phones and iPads.

But the good news is, we don’t need to compete with any of those things. Because the church has no competition.

The church needs to do what only the church can do.

Jesus told us to show the world we’re his disciples. Not by putting on a better Sunday morning show, or by making higher quality movies. And certainly not by sticking with the old, stale Sunday morning show, either.

Jesus said people would know we’re his followers because we love one another.


“Same” God and Jerry Walls:

So where does this leave us?  With respect to the original controversial claim, there is no unequivocal sense in which it is true that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  To avoid this equivocation, it is crucial not to confuse the first two questions with the latter two.

The first two questions pertain to objective public truth about what Christianity andIslam teach about God, and the inescapable fact that both the beliefs and the worship practices of these religions are mutually incompatible; therefore, both of them cannot be true.  The third question pertains not to straightforward facts about Islam and Christianity, but to individual Muslims (as well as adherents of other religions) and their relationship to God.  Here we are poorly positioned to judge.  We may hope and even have reason to believe that many of them are worshiping God faithfully according to the light they have, as Wesley would put it.  The fourth question pertains to a central, non-negotiable claim of Christianity.  While we can be clear about that claim and what it entails, only judgment day will definitively show who has knowingly and persistently rejected Christ.

In the meantime, let us muster as much clarity as we can while engaging these issues, even as we pray for charity on all sides, starting with ourselves.   However, we should not confuse grace and love for all persons with Christian fellowship, nor should we assume or state that those who do not profess Christ as Lord are our brothers and sisters in a common faith.  That fails to advance genuine respect and understanding just as it does when we presume to know the hearts of others or their eternal destiny.

More advice for Wheaton:

This debate got me thinking afresh about doctrinal statements.   I taught for four years at a classical, Christian school.  In their statement of faith mention was made that the Holy Spirit is integral to salvation.  As the school expanded new teachers signed the statement of faith, but had no idea what the decidedly Calvinist drafters meant by it.   The drafters of the statement believed the Holy Spirit could not be resisted, a particular doctrinal implication they thought was crystal clear from what they had written.  To say the least, others disagreed!  Which brings me back to Wheaton College.

Perhaps it would be wise to unpack a few significant implications which are understood by the drafters to inhere in church and school doctrinal statements.  It would not have to be terribly long.  Further clarification in adding a few “What we mean by this is…” seems like it would prevent some of the controversies we now see being played out at Wheaton College.

Since it seems likely that Wheaton’s current challenges will not be unique among Christian institutions, others may also need to consider adding a few lines of clarification to their doctrinal statements.

Bring back those paper books!

PORTLAND, Ore. – When it comes to reading, there’s recent proof that people still turn to paper pages.

According to Nielsen Book-Scan, Americans bought 10,000 more books in 2015 than they did the previous year. E-book sales, on the other hand, remained flat from 2014 to 2015.

Local mother Vanessa was one of those book shoppers. She takes her daughter, Alsea to Annie Bloom’s Books in Multnomah Village to stock up on reading material.

Store manager Will Peters said frequent book buyers like Vanessa and Alsea helped boost his sales for the year.

“A lot of people scribble in the margins. I turn down the pages. If you don’t like it, some people even throw it across the room which you probably couldn’t do with a device,” said Peters.

Harper Lee’s new novel helped fuel the spike. Go Set A Watchman reached No. 6 on Amazon’s 2015 bestsellers list. Adult coloring books took the 4 and 7 spots, and Peters said they’re big at Annie Bloom’s, too.

“The thing that I’ve consistently heard back is that people want to get away from screens on their own time and that’s one way to do it,” he said.

A former Redbirds front office director got caught:

A former St. Louis Cardinals director for baseball development, Chris Correa, pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorized access to protected information on the Houston Astros, including scouting and injury reports, trade discussions and draft rankings.

According to the Department of Justice, Correa, 35, admitted that from March 2013 through at least March 2014, when he was in charge of scouting for the Cardinals, he illicitly accessed the Astros’ online database, called Ground Control, as well as email accounts of people in the Astros organization to obtain proprietary data.

Each count carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.