Weekly Meanderings 29 October 2016

UmpsPrayLast Saturday night, in the Cubs’ game clinching win over the LA Dodgers, we saw again this crew of umpires — led by PhD in theology Ted Barrett — huddling to pray before the game began. I’m not sure if they were saying the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Creed, or going spontaneous but the removal of hats, huddling, and praying embodies faith before 42K fans. Grateful to Ted Barrett. (By the way, the bald African American in a blue sweat shirt in the front row is Magic Johnson, cheering for a good but still wrong team.)

Kyle Schwarber by Tom Verducci:

“I’m just trying to put in team at-bats right now,” Schwarber said. “I want to help this team get to the ultimate goal. That’s why I did all of this was for these guys in the clubhouse and for our organization. It wasn’t for me. So, like I said, I just want to put in good team at-bats every time I go to the plate and take that result.”

Three months ago, while Schwarber still was rehabbing from his wrecked knee, the Yankees asked Epstein for Schwarber in trade talks about Miller. Epstein immediately and emphatically rejected such an idea, calling Schwarber an untouchable franchise player. (He did likewise when the Yankees brought up infielder Javy Baez. The Cubs shifted the focus to trading for Aroldis Chapman in a deal in which they surrendered prospect Gleyber Torres.)

Too good to be true? Wait, there’s more. Consider this, too: Schwarber played in the World Series with a green wristband to honor Campbell Faulkner, whom Schwarber identified as a kid with a rare genetic disease he befriended in spring training last year.

“Really young, smart kid, and he’s just always got a big smile on his face,” Schwarber said. “You know, that draws your attention to him. He’s living life to his fullest, even though he’s got something to overcome. We’ve grown a relationship over the last two years, and I actually got to see him when I was in Mesa playing in the AFL, and it was great to see him … that’s a person you want to look up to right there.”

On Friday night, the first World Series game in 71 years will be played at Wrigley Field, the first one held there under the lights. It’s already an historic enough occasion. But now, based on the absurdist events of the past two days, more history awaits. The Legend of Kyle Schwarber is to be continued.

Speaking of which, Syler got to see only two pitches. Photo mug that he has, he got on TV and ESPN, too.

Aimee Byrd speaks up about Jen Hatmaker and, most tellingly, calls attention to LifeWay’s inconsistencies:

My newsfeed was divided between people who are celebrating this stance and who are upset over this decision. And I find myself annoyed over the whole thing. While I affirm that the Bible clearly shows that Christian marriage is between one man and one woman and that homosexuality is a sin, I still find myself scratching my head over Lifeway’s “doctrinal guidelines.” Why is Lifeway, or any of us, surprised at Jen Hatmaker’s statement?
Lifeway had no problem profiting from the sales many copies of her other books. In fact, their bestseller’s list tells me that they have low doctrinal guidelines when it comes to selling so-called Christian books. These books err on primary doctrines: who God is, the message of salvation, the word of God, and what the Bible says about man. And the books that are sold in the “women’s” genre can be the worst offenders. So those who read from Lifeway’s bestsellers of Christian books to women have already been conditioned to have a low view of God, a high view of man, and a distorted gospel. I have already opined over and over that Hatmaker has offended in these very ways.
So, I wonder, what are Lifeway’s doctrinal guidelines to a statement like this:
Consequently, I have heard more sermons, talks, messages, and lectures on Christianity than can possibly be impactful. I have spent half my life listening to someone else talk about God. Because of this history, I’ve developed something of an immunity to sermons. . . . 
Teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspires me. I am at that place where “well done” trumps “well said.”
That is an interesting take on the preached Word and its effectiveness.

Peter Tatchell, a well-known UK gay activist pours some cold water on the heads of some legal rulings, showing that eventually your freedom will collide with my rights., showing that rights approaches will never be completely adequate:

Do we really want a Muslim printer to be legally obliged to publish cartoons of Muhammad and a Jewish printer to be required, under threat of legal action, to publish a book propagating Holocaust denial?

Despite disagreeing profoundly with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea they oppose. Ashers did not discriminate against the customer who ordered the cake, Gareth Lee, because he was gay. They had served him previously and would do so again. Their objection was to the message he wanted on the cake.

Discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and is rightly unlawful. But in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. Unlike the court, I err on the side of freedom of conscience, expression and religion.

While Christian bed-and-breakfast owners and civil partnership registrars were wrong to deny service to gay people, this case is different. It is about the refusal to facilitate an idea — namely, support for same-sex marriage. Discrimination against people should be always unlawful but not discrimination against ideas and opinions.


Kevin Kinghorn on fair wages:

So I think a Christian theology of the family—as well as a theology of families in community—serves as a good basis for thinking about wages. Perhaps the notion of a “fair” wage is hopelessly ambiguous. But Christians do have theological resources in thinking about what our stances should be on such issues as a national minimum wage, the wage scale with our own place of business, and so forth.  (If your view is that a different set of theological considerations should inform a Christian view on wages, then you have a standing invitation to write a post for this blog!)

I have often heard Christians advocate for “family values.” I agree. The family unit is such an important biblical theme. But when I hear about family values, it’s usually in the context of issues like television content, with Christians having deep concerns about the violence and sexual content on display.

I happen to agree with these concerns. And if our local churches want to have a discussion about how to express these concerns to television producers and politicians, sign me up. But shouldn’t any Christian discussion about family values also have a focus on such issues as a living wage?  Much official social teaching of the Church has focused on it. I hope we’re having theological discussions about it in our local churches as well.

[HT: JS]

Three cheers for the Roman bath routine, by Hannah Seligson:

In ancient times, long before the modern spa, Roman baths were not just for bathing, they were crucial to relaxation and socialization. These baths weren’t just tubs, as we might think about them today, but instead consisted of a complex progression of open-air swimming pools, and rooms of varying temperature, progressing from cold to super-heated, for steaming and sweating. The baths were a focal part of the community and recreational life, a place where ancient Romans would spend hours upon hours.

I was less interested in emulating the social experience of bathing, and more curious about the ancient heritage of luxuriating in tried and tested aquatic circuits. I wanted to live out the Latin expression Salus Per Aquam, which means “health through water.”

So I made a beeline for the clear, calm, and salty Mediterranean, plotting visits to a handful of spas on the Italian coast. When I stumbled upon the website for Capo la Gala with its motto — “the magic of the water” — I immediately made plans to spend two days there.

It paid off. Over the course of those two days, my cortisol levels dropped enormously. At Capo la Gala, nestled on the rocky shore, there were only a few steps standing between me and the mineral rich sea. Valerio Cappiello, the general manager of the resort, informed me the hotel is situated in a very particular area of the Gulf of Naples. Here, the seawater is characterized by special mineral springs.

Andy Shaw, and the whole thing sounds like Hemingway Right:

Left-wing people in the olden days

Left-wing people used to like working-class people.

Lots of left-wing people used to be working-class people. These people were known as socialists and joined trade unions.

Sometimes working-class people used to frighten left-wing people, but they pretended that they weren’t frightened and were nice to them.

Left-wing people supported working-class people, gave them money, sat in rooms with them and wore badges to show that they cared more than right-wing people, who wore ties instead of badges and didn’t care….

Sometimes Left-wing people are made angry by other people

Left-wing people care so much, it makes them hate people who don’t show that they care. These people are right-wing people. Left-wing people have given them a name. It is “Tory scum”. Left-wing people like to shout at the right-wing people and tell them that they are scum even when they aren’t listening.

Shouting at the Tories is another way to show that they care. Caring is very important to left-wing people.

Left-wing people care so deeply that they don’t have time for thinking and convincing. They use their precious time for shouting about caring.

Also, working-class people don’t know what left-wing people are saying, so it is helpful when they point to the right-wing people and shout “scum”. They think that working-class people do understand shouting and caring.

If you have observed someone and you are not sure if they are a left-wing person, seek their opinion on “the Tories”. If they start to shout and care, they are left-wing.

AP — again, not sure how we made it!

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for infants to be kept in their parents’ bedroom at night for six months to a year to reduce the risk of sleep-related death.

The new recommendations say babies should sleep on a separate surface, in a crib or bassinet, and never on something soft. The guidelines say babies should sleep in the same room as their parents, preferably until they’re a year old. The nation’s most influential pediatricians’ group says it updated its safe-sleep guidance because of studies suggesting that room-sharing reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by as much as 50 percent.

For two decades, the academy has advocated that babies be placed on their backs for sleeping to reduce risks of SIDS. Other recommendations include: avoiding bed-sharing; use of crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys; using pacifiers; and breastfeeding. But SIDS cases have plateaued at 3,500 unexplained deaths each year in the U.S., prompting the updated advice released Monday.

Time for a Third Party? David Swartz:

They’re finishing the job started decades ago. As I described in Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, Democrats, who were arguably more pro-life than Republicans, in 1980 adopted an explicit pro-choice position and began to strictly enforce the new orthodoxy. Formerly pro-life, Ted Kennedy had declared to a Massachusetts constituent in 1971 that “wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized—the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.” Within a decade, Kennedy reversed course. Other pro-life politicians with evangelical or Catholic backgrounds such as John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Mario Cuomo, Bob Kerrey, Dick Durbin, and Bill Clinton, also become leading defenders of the right to choose. In fact, five of the contenders for the Democratic nomination in 1988—Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, Paul Simon, Dick Gephardt, and Al Gore—had flipped to a pro-choice position under party pressure.

This putsch, as political scientists Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio put it, poisoned many Christians’ perception of the Democratic Party. Regularly attending Catholics, a key constituency in the New Deal coalition, gradually but substantially left the Party. So did evangelicals. According to political scientist Lyman Kellstedt, the Democratic Party outpolled the Republican Party by a margin of 59 to 31 percent among evangelicals in the 1960s. By the mid-1980s, the Republican Party enjoyed a 47 to 41 percent lead. Evangelicals flocked to “God’s party” as the fault lines in the new realignment grew larger.

By the late 1980s, there was no place for progressive evangelicals who embraced a “consistent life ethic.” Antagonistic toward the Republican platform and antagonized by Democratic leaders, they were left without a political home. Which is the way it remains, even in a moment when the evangelical left should be surging.

[HT: JS]

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.