Weekly Meanderings

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.19.00 PMFrom the Evangelicals to the Catholics, from Wheaton to Mount St Mary’s:

Professors from universities across the country — from Stanford to North Carolina Central to the University of Nebraska to Harvard — signed a petition Tuesday calling on the Mount St. Mary’s University administration to reinstate professors who had been fired.

Within hours of being posted, the petition had more than 2,400 digital signatures, a symbol of the  outrage from some in the campus community as well as in broader academic circles who viewed the terminations as retribution against faculty who had opposed the president. They also said the decisions threaten the academic freedom at the private Catholic university in Maryland and violate the school’s core principles.

Alumni wrote letters to the university’s board, parents emailed the Archdiocese, and students planned a day of fasting and prayer for the campus on Ash Wednesday.

The controversy began months ago, when the provost and some professors had raised concerns when the president asked for a list of students unlikely to succeed in college several weeks into the school year; one said it was too early to separate those who would do well from those likely to drop out. Simon Newman, the president, told professors, “there will be some collateral damage.”

Leah Donnella:

In 1996, when Dominque Dawes became the first black woman to win an individual gymnastics medal at the Atlanta Summer Olympics, critics said her look wasn’t quite right.

In 2012, Gabby Douglas became the first black woman to win the title of individual all-around champion at the London Summer Olympics. She was then asked again and again to comment on critiques about her hair.

In 2013, Simone Biles became the first black woman to be world all-around champion at the gymnastics World Championship. Following her win, Italian Gymnastics Federation official David Ciaralli said there was “a trend in gymnastics at this moment, which is going towards a technique that opens up new chances to athletes of colour (well-known for power) while penalising the more artistic Eastern European style that allowed Russians and Romanians to dominate the sport for years.” Ciarelli also said black people were unsuited to be field managers, general managers, or swimmers.

Black female athletes, especially the ones who make it to the very top, have faced a history of being criticized for their bodies, their hair and their strength. In performative sports, like gymnastics, figure skating and ballet, they’re often subject to more elusive critiques about style and grace. The exact meaning of these comments can be hard to pin down, but they still send a clear message: This is not a black woman’s sport. Black women don’t belong here.

Which is part of what makes a video that went viral this weekend so exciting. It shows a young woman named Sophina DeJesus, a senior on the gymnastics team at UCLAwho identifies as African-American and Puerto Rican, incorporating dance moves into her Saturday floor routine that are strongly rooted in blackness.

Churches sheltering immigrants:

U.S. churches are again defying federal immigration authorities. Across the country, a handful of congregations are opening their doors to offer safe haven to Central American immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and are under deportation orders.

The new sanctuary movement echoes an earlier civil disobedience campaign by churches in the 1980s.

The newest church in America to openly challenge federal immigration laws is St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Austin, Texas. Ten days ago, the congregation took in Hilda and Ivan Ramirez, a Guatemalan mother and her 9-year-old son.

“I’m really afraid that they’ll deport me. That’s why I came here,” she says, sipping coffee in the parish hall. “I don’t think immigration agents will break down the door and take me away. I feel safe here.”

The mother and son’s new residence inside the church in a middle-class suburb in north Austin is a safe gamble. A 2011 memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement states that agents will avoid arresting anyone at churches, schools, hospitals and public demonstrations — unless the person is a terror suspect or a dangerous felon.

Elaine Rogers, and do you practice “integrative” medicine?

D’Agostino is among a growing branch of physicians practicing what is called integrative medicine, acknowledging the merits of healing traditions such as acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga and nutrition — termed complementary and alternate medicine (CAM) in medical circles — and actively incorporating them into their patients’ treatment plans.

He and others say that integrative medicine and the concept of “treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms of illness” is becoming more mainstream, and even conventional physicians are increasingly likely to discuss the nutraceuticals and wellness therapies patients have already prescribed for themselves, or to make suggestions about CAM treatments they might pursue.

“I believe there is a benefit with integrating complementary and alternative medical treatments such as nutrition, exercise, yoga, massage, etcetera, into traditional/conventional medical practices,” says Lea Krekow, an oncologist at Texas Breast Specialists-Bedford and Texas Oncology’s Bedford and Grapevine locations. “Wellness is more than just the absence of disease.”

Trisha Smith, an internist with Baylor Family Medicine at Highland Village, Tex., explains that integrative medicine is about combining the best of both worlds.

“Traditional medicine, unfortunately, does focus on treating disease, and most alternative medical systems focus on tapping into the innate healing powers of the human body,” she says. “More and more we are seeing a trend in traditional medicine towards prevention and wellness.”

Thomas Cromwell reconsidered:

There is a difficulty in ever writing Cromwell’s life story properly. His papers survive in abundance, thanks to a political accident: at his arrest they were seized from his filing system, and have stayed in government hands ever since – but they amount to the contents of his in-tray, rather than letters he wrote himself. I suggest that this is the result of a quick decision made by his household when he was arrested: they burned the out-tray because that is where the incriminating material would be. It would, they believed, be much harder for Cromwell’s enemies surrounding the king to build an accusation on letters written by others.

Once we try to penetrate the silence, a rather different Cromwell emerges. His intimate friendship with thoughtful, carefully candid Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, is telling: I have deduced from surviving archives that in the 1530s they were so much a team that Cranmer kept a special file just for their exchanges of letters, separate from other correspondence. During his service to Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s, Cromwell became a quiet friend to the Thames Valley Lollards, a group of religious dissenters that questioned the established church.

Over the following decade, when Henry VIII effectively granted him Wolsey’s powers in the church, he became a busy and effective promoter of the new religion and its enthusiasts. And in his latter years, he became a discreet organiser of contacts with the most radical European mainstream Reformations, in Zurich and northern Switzerland – far beyond anything the king could have approved, and highly dangerous for him. That was not the action of a political cynic.

Walking away from a car?

A growing number of Americans are driving less and getting rid of their cars.

The trend is gaining traction in middle-aged adults, to the point where fewer of them are even bothering to get or renew their driver’s licenses, but it’s been prominent among younger adults — millennials — for years now.

“Honestly, at this point, it just doesn’t really seem worth it,” says 25-year-old Peter Rebecca, who doesn’t own a car or have a driver’s license. “I mean, I live in Chicago, there’s really good access to, you know, public transits for pretty cheap.”

The student at Harold Washington College downtown lives just a couple of blocks from a rail stop on the Northwest side. In the warmer months, Rebecca says, he uses a bike.

“I’ve got a bunch of grocery stores in walking distance, and even then I can use the bus if I have to get further,” he says.

Rebecca is hardly alone, especially among young adults in urban areas.

“Over the past several decades, particularly for the youngest age groups, there’s been a pretty large decrease in the number of people who have been getting driver’s licenses,” says Brandon Schoettle, a researcher at the University of Michigan.

He led a new study published by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute that studied the proportion of people with driver’s licenses over the years.

Christopher Elliott:

British Airways shouldn’t have charged Jim Arnold and his wife $400 for their checked bags. After all, the couple were flying from London to Newark in premium economy class. But when they tried to check in, that’s what the computer demanded.

So they forked over their credit card number.

Later at the airport, a representative apologized for the glitch. “I was told that this happens all the time,” says Arnold, a retired chief financial officer who lives in Bellevue, Wash. “I needed to contact customer service at British Airways for a refund.”

The airline representative was right. This happens all the time. When in doubt, an airline charges for bags, because luggage has become a massive source of revenue. The domestic airlines are on track to break last year’s record of $3.5 billion in luggage fees. By comparison, domestic airlines collected only $464 million in such fees eight years ago.

The industry is resorting to increasingly creative tactics in an apparent belief that there’s still room to grow this revenue source. They include everything from simply raising luggage fees to creating complicated pricing menus that confuse customers and prodding them into participating in loyalty programs with the promise of a “free” bag in exchange for signing up for a branded credit card. Fortunately, there are ways around all of that.

Kristin Kirkpatrick on addictive foods:

Just the other day, a patient told me she had eaten a full meal: a burger, french fries, and a soda. Then, not even two hours later, she was hungry again. She craved something sweet.

After all of those calories, how could she still be hungry, she asked? And she’s not alone.

In overweight and obese patients especially, it turns out the brain’s reward processing system for food is similar to the brain’s mechanisms related to substance abuse. If unchecked cravings affect you, you might need to make a conscious effort to control them.

Below are four of the most “addictive” foods — and tips on how to curb your cravings.

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.


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