Weekly Meanderings, 11 March 2017

The Hum of AngelsFolks, we have been doing Weekly Meanderings for a decade or so, always a sampling of this week’s meanderings through blogs, news and internet sites.

A good week with some interviews about our The Hum of Angels. People ask me the most fascinating of questions, and often enough with an eye that says “I’ve had an angel experience, too.”

Babylon Bee is today’s Wittenburg Door, and this one takes on pastor fashion:

A wise man once said that the single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips—and then walk out the door and deny him with their lack of fashion sense. This rampant hypocrisy is even more serious when we’re talking about pastors who can’t seem to dress to save their lives, even though it’s one of the most important disciplines shepherds are called to master in order to serve God’s church and win people to Christ.

Luckily for you, The Babylon Bee is here to help. Pass these fashion tips on to your pastor to help him keep his style game on point. You get bonus points if you print this article out and stick it in the offering plate along with a strongly worded comment card this Sunday.

1.) Wear flannel everything. And we do mean everything. Shirts, hats, scarves, beards, boxers, briefs—make sure you are covered head to toe in flannel, so people will know you’re both stylish enough to preach the gospel and rugged enough to go cut down a tree or two if you have to.

2.) If your pants aren’t cutting off your circulation, they’re not tight enough. If you can walk without looking like a duck learning how to waddle, you need to go down a size or three. Besides, how will you hit the notes in all those Chris Tomlin songs the worship leader plays without your trusty pair of skinnies?

3.) Rock a secular band T-shirt so everyone knows you’re not too stuffy. Sport a Red Hot Chili Peppers tee while you’re preaching, or slip into a pre-faded Zeppelin concert shirt while you’re teaching life groups. This way, people think you probably have a pretty wild testimony filled with drugs and rock & roll, but more importantly, they know you’re not too judgmental like some of those weirdo pastor guys.

…. through 7 at the link above, but it ends on this portending note:

Pastors are often overworked, stressed, and depressed. Sharing this article with a pastor might be the best thing that happens to him all day—and might change his life, and the lives of countless other souls, forever. The power is in you to make that happen!

You gotta admit this is funny if not a gag gift, Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide:

Wow, 1400 or so Amazon reviews.

SEATTLE (AP) — A joke book “written” by a conservative author and filled with blank pages in a dig at Democrats is the top selling book on Amazon.

“Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide” consists of 266 pages. It has a table of contents, chapters and a bibliography, but no words on the pages other than the book and chapter titles. It’s billed in the description as “a political treatise sure to stand the test of time.”

As of Friday morning, it was Amazon’s best-selling book. The paperback is available for about $8.

Author Michael J. Knowles tells Fox News that when he took a look at the Democrats’ “record and reasons to vote for them,” he thought “it was probably best to just leave all the pages blank.”

Cardus:

OTTAWA – Religiously based U.S. high schools are proving to be especially good at turning out graduates who become civic-minded adults, finds a new study funded by Cardus an independent, North American think tank.

Catholic school graduates are over 50 per cent more likely than public school graduates to volunteer for organizations that fight poverty, according to data in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics – the world’s longest active panel study of households and family. The same data show graduates of Evangelical Protestant and other non-Catholic religious schools are about 40 per cent more likely to volunteer in general as adults than their public school counterparts are.

“Graduates of Catholic high schools seem to reflect the approach of Catholic social teaching, which emphasizes the importance of relieving poverty, among other priorities, like providing health care and education,” said Dr. Beth Green, Program Director for Cardus Education. “And it’s not surprising to see these results among evangelical graduates whose religious culture values putting others before self and sacrificing for the common good.”

The study also found a difference in charitable giving. Even after accounting for differences in socio-economic status, American graduates of Catholic, Evangelical, and other non-Catholic religious schools are more likely than public school graduates to make charitable donations. In terms of the amounts donated, graduates of Evangelical Protestant and other non-Catholic religious schools annually give on average $1,273 more than public school graduates do to charitable causes.

Sociologists Dr. David Sikkink and Dr. Jonathan Schwarz authored the study, The Lasting Impact of High School on Giving and Volunteering in the U.S., as part of their work at the Cardus Religious Schools Initiative at the University of Notre Dame.

Arden Dier:

(NEWSER) – Plenty of adults would struggle to spell “colloquial,” “odori” and “sevruga.” Five-year-old Edith Fuller made it look like a cakewalk. An early crowd favorite, Edith beat out about 50 competitors age 5 to 14 at the Green Country Regional Spelling Bee in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, making her the youngest person ever to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, reports KJRH. Her winning word was “jnana”—which refers to the acquisition of knowledge through meditation and study in Hinduism—though she afterward used a less tricky word to describe her emotion: “I feel thankful,” said Edith, who is home-schooled.

Edith’s parents say they discovered her talent for spelling last summer when she correctly spelled “restaurant” without having been taught the word, reports Tulsa World. “We knew there was something special there,” says mom Annie Fuller. To prepare for the competition, Edith looked up words she couldn’t spell correctly, allowing her to “learn about different countries and cultures and different kinds of food,” Fuller says. “I’m proud she held her own.” A rep says Scripps officials “look forward to welcoming Edith Fuller and all of our more than 280 national spellers” in Washington, DC, per ABC News. The competition kicks off May 28.

Andrea Turpin:

So how should Christians think about educational policy? The history of Christian higher education provides food for reflection today. I suggest we consider the parallels between women’s higher education and African-American higher education that were all too real for Pauli Murray. The first US institution to grant a true BA degree to women—and perhaps the first in the world—was Oberlin College in Ohio, an evangelical institution that boasted famous revivalist Charles Finney as one of its early presidents. Founded in 1833, Oberlin admitted women to the BA program in 1837, and the first women took their bachelor’s degrees in 1841. Oberlin was not only the first coeducational college in the United States; it was also one of the few colleges to educate black and white students together. In other words, it educated women and men of both races during a time of great fear of racial intermarriage, or “miscegenation” as it was known. And that’s still not all: Oberlin also pioneered a sort of work-study program designed to make the college affordable to women and men who would otherwise find it financially prohibitive to obtain higher education.

I argue in my book that Oberlin’s founders created such an unparalleled institution out of a philosophy I call “evangelical pragmatism.” (No relation to the American philosophical movement.) Evangelical pragmatists were a subset of American evangelicals so committed to the advancement of the Christian message that they were willing to override contemporary race, class, and gender norms to get the job done. Specifically, they argued that women—and in the case of Oberlin, African-Americans—ought to receive an education of the same quality historically offered to white men so that more people would be maximally equipped to preach and teach the gospel thoughtfully and well. Evangelical pragmatists believed that all people could best serve God when they developed their talents as fully as possible. They thought God would then personally direct individuals into the lines of work that best advanced divine purposes.

At Oberlin, the coin of evangelical pragmatism had two sides. One was admitting students without regard to race, class, or sex. The leaders of Oberlin believed doing so would increase the number of people as prepared as possible to be useful to God—but also that the policy was simple justice. Oberlin’s founder John J. Shipherd asked the trustees to admit black students in part “…because it is right principle; and God will bless us in doing right” (quoted in A New Moral Vision, p. 68, emphasis original). The other side of the coin sought to provide all admitted students with even more biblical and theological training than was standard at American colleges at the time. In this manner, not only would an Oberlin education unfold more people’s nascent abilities, but it would also train them in the specifics of the Christian faith that Oberlin leaders believed essential to students’ own spiritual maturity and to their ability to evangelize others. Both sides of the coin served God: the first by developing the talents of all people God had created, and the second by providing them with a distinctly Christian education.

The contemporary school choice debate pits these goods against one another. As I have written before at The Anxious Bench, I am a firm believer in institutional pluralism at the collegiate level. It seems to me to be the best way to serve multiple constituencies well. In pre-collegiate education, however, a voucher system as currently designed would make specifically Christian education affordable to more students only by pulling money away from public schools, which remain either the best or the only option for many students across the country. To provide more students religious schooling, vouchers potentially lower the quality of education available to others.

The leaders of Oberlin would have been horrified if they had believed that their approach to training more people for Christ would have meant leaving other people fewer opportunities. Their vision of justice was more holistic than that. In order to help bring all of God’s creation to full flower, Christians today need to think not only of our own children, but also of the children of others. We should make sure that any educational policy we advocate both allows us to pass on the faith to the next generation and best facilitates the flourishing of all people God has created, regardless of race, class, gender—or religion.

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