Weekly Meanderings, 21 May 2016

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_Emaus dsMark J. Perry: Has the middle income sector shrunk? Yes. Where did it go? Upward!

Bottom Line: Over the last nearly 50 years, one of the most impressive (and unreported) gains for US households has been the three-fold increase (from 8.1% in 1967 to nearly 25% in 2014) in the share of high-income US households earning $100,000 or more per year, which accounts for the declining share of low-income and middle-income households (by two different measures). Yes, the ranks of the middle-class have been shrinking over the last generation or more as the Financial Times points out. But as Scott Sumner reminds us, and as all three charts above show (despite the Financial Times’ misinterpretation of the income trend), America’s middle-class shrinkage isn’t best described as a “middle-class meltdown” — rather, it’s been more of a “middle-class uprising,” as average US households have become better off by moving into higher income groups over the last 50 years.


India sweltered to a scorching 123.8 degrees Thursday, setting a new all-time high that breaks a 60-year-old record, the India Meteorological Department said.

Officials recorded the blistering temperature in Phalodi in Rajasthan state in the northwestern part of the country. It bests a record most recently set in 1956 of 123.1 degrees in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan. That temperature was also recorded May 25, 1886 in Pachpadra in the same state.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth is 134 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., on July 10, 1913.

Like Chris Wright’s stuff on God’s mission? Check this out:

Chris was exploring a biblical theology of mission, engaging along the way with contested ideas of mission, and criticisms of his own approach as outlined most fully of course in his magnum opus The Mission of God.

Some notes and observations of the half-day conference: – and these do not therefore represent exactly what Chris said but one person’s interpretation ..

Both terms ‘holistic mission’ and ‘missional’ are useful but both can easily become too anthropocentric – they revolve around ‘us’ and what we must do. They do not in and of themselves resolve the question of what ‘holistic’ and ‘missional’ actually mean – they mean different things to different people.

Based on the Great Commission of Mt 28, Chris unpacked some key themes. The Great Commission if framed within the lordship and presence of God. It is both cosmic (all of creation – See Eph 1:9-10 etc) and  Christocentric (based on the Messiah’s saving work).

Mission is God’s activity, not primarily ours. It has both a global scope and cosmic scope. The mission of the church needs to reflect the scope and size of God’s mission.

As a foundation for understanding mission, Chris went to the 5 marks of mission first articulated by the Anglican Communion in the 1980s / 90s. In brief they are:

  1. Evangelism (proclaim the good news of the kingdom)
  2. Teaching (teach, baptise and nurture new believers)
  3. Compassion (respond to human need by loving service)
  4. Justice (transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation)
  5. Creation care ( strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth)

All intrinsically flow from the Lordship of Christ

Chris broke these down into 3 themes that he unpacked in turn:

Restorative justice comes to Lawndale:

– A community court allowing young non-violent offenders to take accountability for their actions instead of serving jail time will open next year in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side, the Circuit Court of Cook County announced Thursday.

The Restorative Justice Community Court will hear nonviolent felony and misdemeanors cases involving adults between 18 and 26 years old who reside in North Lawndale and volunteer for the program, according to the county. It is expected to open in early 2017.

The “restorative justice” concept allows defendants to take accountability for their actions and work to repair any harm done through restitution, community service, letters of apology, and peace circles. Defendants who successfully complete the program will have charges dropped and the arrest expunged.

Gerry McDermott takes on Walter Brueggemann.

Day jobs of some famous writers:

Tip your waitress well. She may the next great fiction writer of our times.

Many of the most famous authors in history started out working at less-than-glamorous day jobs to make ends meet before they were “discovered.” Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times Bestsellers, and other literary giants worked for years at jobs in construction, food service, and yes, even asbestos manufacturing, to earn their daily bread.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and what could be stranger than learning that the path to becoming one of the most popular novelists in the world started out with a job selling dental products over the phone?

Feeling frustrated in your own pursuit of literary greatness? Clock out for break time and peruse The Expert Editor’s infographic on the surprising first jobs of the world’s most beloved writers.

School uniforms: Got an opinion?

A Melbourne mother has launched an online campaign calling for gender equality in school uniforms.

Simone Cariss said it was unacceptable that there was not a pants option for girls at her daughter’s Catholic school.

She launched an online petition on Friday night and has already collected more than 2,000 signatures.

Ms Cariss said her daughter Asha, who is in Year 1, loved the school but found the rule challenging.

“She feels at a disadvantage because she’s wearing a heavy, cumbersome kilt with uncomfortable tights, and if she chooses not to wear tights, she has to wear socks and then she’s cold. So it really is an impractical uniform,” Ms Cariss told 774 ABC Melbourne.

“My daughter is really active; she likes to join in with the boys and the girls at lunchtime playing sports and running around.

“She doesn’t choose to wear a dress at any other time, so she wants to have the choice.”

Ms Cariss said she had been told by the school, who she has chosen not to name, that there was no plan to change the uniform policy.

Twelve big questions about cooking.

If you’re like me, there are some parts of cooking that are completely baffling. I’m not just talking about figuring out the recipe. Sometimes I also just wonder what sort of chemical reactions are going on that makes the food taste so good and turn out the right — or wrong — way.

Without further ado, here are the scientific answers to some of your biggest quandaries in the kitchen.

Questions like: Does searing a steak really sear in its juices? What does marinating do to meat? Why do some people put vodka into their pie crust?

TSA — this about sums it all up:

The blame can be shared, so the solution has to be as well. Since airlines are charging for checked luggage, more people are taking bags through security lines, slowing the process. As a result of lower oil prices, airline travel is cheaper. A stronger economy has led to increased air travel. Congress has, until recently, failed to support budget requests for more TSA agents. The public has been slow to apply for TSA Pre-check programs that allow easier passage through security lines and that decrease the time it takes to flow through the checkpoint. TSA employees have certain union rights that make shifting work hours to align with increased travel times subject to negotiation. And the job itself — not easy, highly demanding — is difficult so there is major attrition in the workforce.

Noam Chomsky, ever green in his views:

So we are faced with a political system largely devoted to the needs of organized wealth, which leaves working people anxious, worried about the future, and, as we have seen, very angry. In essence, political elites — on both sides — have created a vacuum into which a charismatic and loudmouthed demagogue can emerge.

As Chomsky noted in his interview with Hedges, “The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen. Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response.”

That was in 2010. Now, in 2016, we have Donald J. Trump, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

Trump is, of course, not “honest” in any meaningful definition of the word, but his supporters believe that he “tells it like it is.” They view him as a no-nonsense straight-talker, a man not confined by the limits of political correctness.

To garner votes, Trump has tapped into the fears and animosities of members of the white working class who previously backed Republicans but now view the party as a collection of bureaucrats who have sold them out.

Trump, they believe, is different. He isn’t bought, they say; he uses his own money, accrued by his uncanny deal-making abilities. He’s an outsider; he’ll stand up to the stuffy elite. And he, above all, speaks the truth about who they perceive as the real enemies — not billionaires like Trump, but illegal immigrants and Muslims.

“What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’?” Chomsky asked. In Germany, he added, “it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority.”

Sound familiar?

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