Weekly Meanderings, 23 January 2016

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 9.06.35 PMGoofiest story of the week about churches:

Imagine Cinderella’s glass slipper scaled to about 100 times its original size and dropped on the coast of Taiwan.

That’s the new church in Ocean View Park in Budai township.

Looking like it was plucked from a distorted fairy tale, the glittering, shoe-shaped building is made up of about 320 tinted glass panels and stands 55 feet tall by 36 feet wide. It was reportedly constructed by the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area in an effort to attract female worshippers and tourists to the site.

“In our planning, we want to make it a blissful, romantic avenue,” Pan Tsuei-ping, the administration’s recreation section manager, told the BBC.

But the inspiration behind the design — and, no, it’s not gender-normative commercialism — is anything but blissful. The BBC reports:

“The shoe was inspired by a local story. According to officials in the 1960s, a 24-year-old girl surnamed Wang from the impoverished region suffered from Blackfoot disease. Both of her legs had to be amputated, leading to the cancellation of her wedding. She remained unmarried and spent the rest of her life at a church.

“The high heel is intended to honour her memory.”

Just in case a giant high heel with a tragic back story isn’t enough to lure women to the new church, another local government official said the interior of the church, too, will cater to women’s apparently delicate inclinations.

A better story about churches, by Maria Godoy:

Separation of church and state? When it comes to fighting food waste, the U.S. government is looking to partner up with the faithful.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday launched the Food Steward’s Pledge, an initiative to engage religious groups of all faiths to help redirect the food that ends up in landfills to hungry mouths. It’s one piece of the agency’s larger plan to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

“We can make leaps and bounds in this process if we tackle this problem more systemically and bring a broader number of stakeholders to the table,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tells us. By engaging religious communities, she says, “we are tapping into incredibly motivated and dedicated people.”

Food waste connects to the core values of many faith communities, particularly helping the poor and feeding the hungry, McCarthy notes.

As we’ve reported, more than 1,200 calories per American per day are wasted, according to U.S. government figures. Loss occurs on the farm, at the retail level and in homes. We consumers often toss out foods because they’ve passed their sell-by date— but are still just fine to eat — or because we buy more than we can eat before it goes bad.

The “hemline” is rising, by Jorge Castillo:

Jerry West, the model for the logo of the National Basketball Association, wore basketball shorts the length of loincloths. Michael Jordan inspired a major alteration when he appealed for a longer and baggier cut. Then a group of freshmen at the University of Michigan known as the “Fab Five” became a national sensation in the early 1990s in part because of their sartorial swagger, with shorts that dropped below their knees. For years after, the subject of inseams inspired older observers of the game to fret: How low could they go?

But now the hemline is creeping back up.

In early November, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James declared he would wear skinnier and shorter shorts this season, his 13th in the league, because he wanted to present a more professional appearance. But while he is the highest-profile convert to the shorter short, he isn’t the first. The emerging generation of pro basketball players, one that came of age wearing tighter clothes off the floor, beat him to it.

A solid article about food, diets, and health

Fraser Nelson calls out OxFam every year on this; economics, folks, is not a zero-sum game. Persistent refusal to acknowledge how capitalism works and what are actual numbers makes me not trust those who want to play the anti-capitalist game. (Thanks to Kruse Kronicle.)

Your average milkman has more wealth than the world’s poorest 100 million people. Doesn’t that show how unfair the world is? Or given that the poorest 100 million will have negative assets, doesn’t it just show how easily statistics can be manipulated for Oxfam press releases? They’re at it again today: the same story, every January. “Almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the world’s population” it said in 2014. It has done variants on that theme ever year, each time selling it as a new “big” story. All peddling the impression that inequality is getting worse, that the rich are engorging themselves at the expense of the poorest.

This narrative (which is discredited as it is old) suits Oxfam’s fundraisers. (Rich dudes hoard power! “Even it up” by giving Oxfam money!) But the real picture is rather different. It looks like this:-

Global capitalism is lifting people out of poverty at the fastest rate in human history. Global inequality is narrowing, fast. Oxfam will not, and cannot, dispute such things – but this doesn’t suit its new anticapitalist agenda. So it talks about rich people and tax havens instead.

Carl Trueman:

Last year has provided an abundance of examples of how disenfranchisement is the order of the day for the Left. Does a significant historical figure not conform to the exacting moral standards of today’s Manhattan cocktail party-goers or over-indulged Ivy Leaguers? Then erase them from history. Nay, simply erase the history. Saves time later. And does somebody today hold to a position on marriage or sexuality which fails whatever test Slate cares to set? Then by definition they have no place in polite society.

And New Left philosophical mumbo jumbo plays an important role in this process too. The rebarbative jargon of thinkers from Althusser to Žižek has turned terms such as justice, equality, and the basic categories of personal identity into species of Gnostic knowledge on which only the illuminati can opine. And when Gnostic knowledge is the order of the day, then inability to understand the mumbo jumbo of the day is not a failure of mere literacy but of morality.

A truly liberal society and the Anglican Communion’s recent decision, by James Mumford:

The outcry is indicative of a profound shift. Institutions founded on certain precepts to which its members are expected to subscribe shouldn’t be allowed to act on them if those precepts don’t square with a prevailing agenda. Back in 2013 advocates for same-sex marriage argued that the church’s beliefs about sexuality shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of society. That makes sense. But now the church is being told it shouldn’t hold those beliefs at all.

It is easy to overlook how ominous this shift really is. The conviction that organisations and communities cannot determine their own distinct ethos, their own rules for membership and their own criteria for leadership imperils the very survival of a pluralistic society. What is the point of institutions if they don’t have the freedom to organise themselves in the way they see fit?

Consider a different case. Imagine that a female student leader of a church group at a university is expected not to sleep with her boyfriend. Now, one may think chastity a ridiculously outdated ideal, even a damaging instance of repression. One may think that group’s policy, and the way they justify it, is de facto judgmental about people who don’t live by their ideal. You may think it’s harsh that those leaders get removed from ministry if they break those rules. But for all our talk of diversity and pluralism, in reality this is what it looks like. Communities in society which look and feel very different from yours being allowed to look and feel very different from yours.

Melissa Puls, on what holds women back:

When thinking about barriers to female leadership, my mind is immediately flooded by the usual suspects: the patriarchal “boys club,” advancement discrimination, compensation inequality, and striking a successful work-life balance. These barriers are very real and thankfully, strong female executives are chipping away at them each year. I like to think we’re paving the way for the bright minds climbing today’s corporate ranks who will hopefully face fewer of these injustices over time.Which led me to wonder, beyond external barriers, what continues to hold women back? Honestly, it’s ourselves. Women can be our own worst enemy — but it’s a behavior that’s completely preventable.

Use yourself as an example. The last time you had a professional opportunity arise, was your first instinct toimmediately jump in and say “Heck yes, sign me up!”, or did you take a long pause to consider how it would impact your family and personal obligations? Be honest now. Too often, women’s bold career aspirations fall victim to nurturing instincts. While men seize these career-boosting turns with gusto, women often talk themselves out of them, labelling them as too risky or burdensome to the family: Who will pick-up the kids? Feed the family? Clean the house? Instead of speaking with their partners about how a great opportunity can be effectively managed for everyone, we martyr ourselves in silence.

Which America is yours? He had me until he had this Cubs family assigned to Yankeedom. Sorry, Colin Woodard — by Reid Wilson:

Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.

“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in theFall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”

Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in theFall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”…Woodard lays out his map in the new book “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Here’s how he breaks down the continent:Yankeedom: Founded by Puritans, residents in Northeastern states and the industrial Midwest tend to be more comfortable with government regulation. They value education and the common good more than other regions.
Rescuing Golden Retrievers:

LECANTO, Fla. (AP) — Florida rescue groups are helping to recover golden retrievers from Turkey and bring them back to the United States.

Experts say golden retrievers used to be a status symbol in Turkey, but only puppies are considered valuable, meaning many dogs are put in the streets or left in the woods. Rescuers say government officials would bury stray dogs alive in mass graves, poison them or leave them to fend for themselves.

It costs about $2,000 to rescue each dog, including airfare, overnight boarding and vet fees. Groups across the state, including Everglades Golden Retriever Rescue, and another in Atlanta, are getting on board.

The Citrus County Chronicle (http://tinyurl.com/gtt5o95 ) reports most dogs arriving last week went to rescue groups in South Florida and two went to Joshua’s House in Lecanto.

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.