Weekly Meanderings, 4 February 2017

One, but only one, of the African Americans I enjoy celebrating this month (African American History month) is Chicago’s Ernie Banks:

[From an older article] Ernie Banks passed away late Friday. He, however, will live forever in the memories of baseball players, officials and fans.

Banks arrived at Wrigley Field back in September of 1953, allowing the Cubs to become the ninth of the 16 Major League teams to integrate. More than 61 years later, he is still the face of one of the game’s storied franchises.

“He became an icon in Chicago,” said former Cubs manager Don Baylor. “He and [the late] Buck O’Neil were so much alike. They both broke in in the Negro Leagues. What always struck you was how appreciative they were of getting to make a living in baseball.

“I don’t know if either one of them ever had a bad day. They were always so positive.”

Baylor, however, knows better. He never had to walk in Banks’ shoes, but he came close.

While Banks helped integrate baseball, in the early 1960s Baylor volunteered to be one of three kids in his Austin, Texas, junior high school to integrate public schools in Texas. He was the first African American to play football and baseball at Stephen F. Austin High School and the first African American offered a football scholarship by the late Darrell Royal, longtime coach of the Texas Longhorns.

“There are challenges, and Ernie was so strong they never got in his way,” said Baylor. “I don’t think young people really understand what he had to deal with.”

Good job folks! Bill Chappell

Days after fire destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas, donations to rebuild the mosque have passed $1 million. And that’s only one part of the support the mosque has received: Four churches and a synagogue say Muslims are welcome to hold services in their buildings.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” wrote campaign organizer Omar Rachid, who attends the mosque. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”

With donations far surpassing the center’s goal of $850,000, the fundraising page does indeed show a wide range of donors — including, on Wednesday, a man who described himself as an atheist Jew.

“But I send you my very best wishes and solidarity,” the donor, Vincent Graff, wrote. “From one human to another, here’s to hope and kindness.”

The financial support mirrors the Texas community’s efforts to support the mosque and its congregation. Hours after a raging fire gutted the building in the darkness of early Saturday, hundreds of people gathered for a prayer rally at the site. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though the mosque has previously been targeted by vandals.

With a congregation of fewer than 150 people, the mosque’s building was never insured, the Victoria Advocate reports. The newspaper’s Jon Wilcox, who reported from the scene as the mosque burned, told Texas Standard that it looked like an inferno. Later, he watched as supporters met to show solidarity.

I agree 100%+, torture is unChristian — whether it “works” or not.

It is a central principle of the Christian ethic that one must not do evil that good may come. That ethic does not require us to ignore the consequences of our actions, since it allows that some generally bad things—such as root canals—may in some cases be made good by their consequences. Yet it does require us to accept that there are some ways of acting that we can identify as evil no matter their consequences, and must bravely eschew even when bad consequences threaten. Torture is one of these. Calling it by its name should be a first step toward demanding that it not be done. [HT: JS]

I like this from Taylor Brown about Eric Metaxas:

I still count Eric as my brother in Christ and I hope that he will come to see the error of his ways in selling out to a corrupt, extreme-Right political regime (just as I also hope my more progressive Christian brothers and sisters will see the error of selling out to the extreme Left). If and until he does so, all I can say is that he is hurting his Christian witness in extreme ways. For many non-Christians, voices like Metaxas are the face of conservative, orthodox Christianity. And if this is what evangelical faith looks like, those same non-Christians (who might otherwise be compelled by Christian faith) will want nothing to do with it.

As America continues to become a post-Christendom country, we cannot afford to harm our witness by so radically aligning with one political extreme or another. That is not to say we shouldn’t be politically engaged. We should be. That also is not to say that we cannot support either the Republican or Democratic parties. We can (though after this election, I followed George Will’s example and went from a being a Republican to a conservative Independent).

It is to say that even in the midst of being civically and politically engaged, we must never forget that our first allegiance is to Christ and His Kingdom, and any sort of temporal political activity that harms our witness as emissaries of that cruciform polis has descended into the realm of idolatry. And that includes the activity of leaders like Eric Metaxas.

The immigration/refugee ban and Americans — interesting numbers here, from Reuters:

By Chris Kahn | NEW YORK

Americans are sharply divided over President Donald Trump’s order to temporarily block U.S. entry for all refugees and citizens of seven Muslim countries, with slightly more approving the measure than disapproving, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Jan. 30-31 poll found that 49 percent of American adults said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed with Trump’s order, while 41 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” disagreed and another 10 percent said they don’t know.

But the responses were split almost entirely along party lines. Some 53 percent of Democrats said they “strongly disagree” with Trump’s action while 51 percent of Republicans said they “strongly agree.”

Trump’s executive order banned refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, and it placed an indefinite hold on Syrian refugees. It also blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The president, who campaigned on a promise to bring what he called “extreme vetting” to the nation’s immigration system, said the order he signed on Friday was meant to protect the country and its borders. “This is not a Muslim ban,” he said.

But confusion over who was covered by Trump’s order left travelers, airlines and foreign governments scrambling to get clarity from U.S. officials, many of whom were also bewildered.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found 31 percent of Americans feel “more safe” because of the ban, compared with 26 percent who said they felt “less safe.” Some 38 percent said they felt the United States was setting “a good example” of how best to confront terrorism, while 41 percent said the country was setting “a bad example.”

Andie Judson:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Most teachers start their day off with attendance, but a local teacher has found his own unique way to connect with students before they enter Room 219.

Barry White Junior teaches fifth-grade literacy at Ashley Park Elementary School.

The Title I school encourages teachers to find creative ways to engage with students. But before Mr. White incorporates “vocabulary shootout” and shoe-tapping songs into his curriculum, he tries to connect with each of his students.

“The most critical component is the relationship, the rapport you build with your students because sometimes it can go underrated or overlooked,” White says. “Before I’m able to deliver a substantial amount of content to them, they have to invest in the teacher.”

White says he wants his students to be excited about school. In an effort to bring joy and build trust, White began creating individual handshakes with students.

The idea came to the Cleveland Cavalier’s fan when he noticed Lebron James doing handshakes with his inner-circle. White decided it would be a fun idea to bring to the classroom.

He first tried a special handshake with a student in another class.

“She would come see me before she went to class and sometimes she would get in trouble because she would wait to get the handshake,” White said. “Once I saw how simple, but how powerful it was to her, I thought it would be so cool to have for an entire class.”

It was a slam dunk. White says once the handshakes started, they became contagious.

“I said ‘Okay, if I can do 20, I can do 20 more I guess,” White said.

Janice Williams, to the consternation of every dentist and heart doctor in the world:

Most parents would consider it a crime to give a child ice cream for breakfast. But they might rethink allowing their kids to have a scoop of the cold, sweet treat first thing in the morning, if they knew it could make them smarter. Although an early morning sugar rush may be parents and teachers worst fears, a new study recently found eating ice cream first thing in the morning can actually be beneficial for the brain. The study, published by Kyorin University professor Yoshihiko Koga, said eating ice cream right after waking up can result in improved instances of alertness and mental performance.

The study, which was published on Japan’s Excite News website Tuesday, compared participant’s brain activity in people who had been given ice cream immediately after waking up with those who had not eaten ice cream. Koga found that people who had consumed ice cream for breakfast showed better reaction time and were able to process information better than those who did not have the ice cream. Further tests of brain activity also showed that the people who had ice cream first thing in the morning had an increase in high-frequency alpha waves, which are associated with higher levels of alertness and can reduce mental irritation, the report said.

Subjects were tested a second time, during which they were given cold water instead of ice cream immediately after waking up. Although the results from that particular test did show higher levels of alertness and mental capacity, people who had ice cream for breakfast showed significantly higher mental stimulation.

Robert S. Young:

Talk is growing about a March for Science on Washington, similar to the Women’s March the day after President Trump’s inauguration. It is a terrible idea.

Among scientists, understandably, there is growing fear that fact-based decision making is losing its seat at the policy-making table. There’s also overwhelming frustration with the politicization of science by climate change skeptics and others who see it as threatening to their interests or beliefs.

But trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends.

I am a coastal geologist. I direct a center where our mission is to conduct scientific research and then communicate that science to elected officials, regulators, even private entities and the public. There is no question that the proposed March for Science will make my job more difficult and increase polarization.

Please understand, I don’t shy away from openly presenting the facts about the changing climate and rising seas. But I’ve learned that doing so is not without risk.

… A march by scientists, while well intentioned, will serve only to trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about, turn scientists into another group caught up in the culture wars and further drive the wedge between scientists and a certain segment of the American electorate.


Berkeley, California (CNN)Violence erupted Wednesday night at UC Berkeley — the same campus where the Free Speech Movement began — to protest a scheduled talk by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos.

The university blamed “150 masked agitators” for the unrest, saying they had come to campus to disturb an otherwise peaceful protest.
Administrators decided to cancel the event about two hours before the Breitbart editor’s speech. UC Berkeley said it removed him from campus “amid the violence and destruction of property and out of concern for public safety.”
Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police. Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.
At least six people were injured. Some were attacked by the agitators — who are a part of an anarchist group known as the “Black Bloc” that has been causing problems in Oakland for years, said Dan Mogulof, UC Berkeley spokesman.
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.