Weekly Meanderings, 6 January 2018

Kris and I loved this story:

When Dade Middle School in South Dallas put out a call for volunteers to help with a “Breakfast with Dads” event, there was a fear there wouldn’t be enough dads for the students.

“We were asked to help get some extra guys to stand in as surrogate fathers and mentors for the kids whose dad’s couldn’t make it or don’t have a dad in their life,” Dade SBDM Board President Donald Parish said.

On Facebook, they put out a plea for 50 additional men to show up – and word spread quickly.

On Thursday morning, nearly 600 men arrived at the school. The crowd of volunteers came from diverse backgrounds, including dads from various parts of Dallas, men in local law enforcement, public officials and community organizers.

Each father visited and inspired in a different way. Some taught the kids how to tie a tie, an auctioneer showed them how to auction like a pro, while others offered general guidance and advice.

“Words cannot describe the impact mentoring youth can have on both you and your mentee,” Jason Rodriguez said. “Powerful to see a community of fellow men and fathers come together to wrap their arms around our young men. Thank you for having me out.”

The Bee:

NASHVILLE, TN—According to a LifeWay press release, the Christian retail giant has teamed up with Fitbit in order to release a new spiritual health tracker, a wrist-worn device that keeps track of all your spiritual activity.

From raising hands in church and turning pages in your Bible to folding your hands to pray and serving soup at a homeless shelter, the Spiritual FitBit will let you know when you’re earning precious spiritual points and when you’re backsliding like a heathen.

“Our patented technology will let you set attainable spiritual goals for yourself and then see how you measure up,” LifeWay Head of R&D Martin Friar said Tuesday. “Chart your spiritual activity and even compete with your friends to see which one of you is the godliest.”

A complete list of spiritual activities the Spiritual Fitbit can track was added to LifeWay’s website as part of the product rollout:

  • Number of Bible pages turned
  • How many hands you shake in church each Sunday
  • How long you reflect on your sins before you take Communion
  • Your heart rate during Sunday’s sermon
  • How long your hands are folded in prayer each day
  • How vigorously you wave your hands around like a palm tree in a hurricane during the worship set
  • Altruistic activities
  • Number of tracts passed out each day
  • Number of words typed arguing with atheists on the internet

 

Does the Bebbington Quadrilateral work?

Historian David Bebbington has suggested that evangelicals believe in conversion (being born-again), biblicism (the need to base one’s faith fundamentally on the Bible), the theological priority of the cross (Jesus died for sinners), and activism (the need to share one’s faith with others).

Timothy Gloege writes:

When proposed thirty years ago, Bebbington’s definition was a valuable steppingstone. It pushed historians to ask new questions and research new groups. But the findings of that research also revealed the definition’s flaws. Its characteristics simply do not translate into identifiable patterns of belief and practice. (If they did, why isn’t evangelical Wheaton College’s statement of faith exactly four points?) It’s not a definition, but a prospectus for a theological agenda…..

A definition should connect to a movement’s most salient features (what sets it apart), and help us understand how they developed. Does “the theological priority of the cross” capture something uniquely evangelical? (It doesn’t.) Does it explain why white evangelicals tend to harbor a deep suspicion of the federal government and embrace free-market capitalism? Why policing sex and sexuality is such a priority (except when it isn’t)? Does it connect the dots?

The Bebbington Quadrilateral does none of these things; rather it offers theological slogans that make respectable evangelicals feel better about themselves. Rather than spur self-reflection, it lets evangelicals ignore hard questions, while the movement they helped conjure burns down the country.

[John Fea writes:] In my forthcoming book Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I assume the Bebbington Quadrilateral is the best way of defining evangelicals.  On one level, Gloege is right.  Conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, when considered alone, are features that one can find in many religions and Christian traditions.  But when you bring them all together it still seems like you do have something that is unique.

NFL attendance numbers:

The raw numbers (avg. viewership):

NBC’s Sunday Night Football
2017: 18.175 million
2016: 20.323 million
2015: 22.522 million

ESPN’s Monday Night Football
2017: 10.757 million
2016: 11.390 million
2015: 12.896 million

Thursday Night Football (NBC/CBS/NFL Network)
2017: 10.937 million
2016: 12.438 million
2015: 12.425 million …

Thus, my three factors in NFL ratings declines:

1) Nobody knows what a catch is.
2) Supersaturation.
3) [Insert personal bugaboo here].”

In Florida the Iguanas are getting to cold:

On Thursday morning, Frank Cerabino, a columnist for the Palm Beach Post, woke up to 40-degree weather and was greeted by a “frozen iguana” lounging by his pool in Boca Raton.

He responded as many people probably would: He shared a photo on social media. Then he pondered, “What do you do?” he told the New York Times.

One of the strongest winter storms on the East Coast in modern history has pummeled cities with snow and sleet, forcing schools and businesses to close while grounding thousands of flights.

And in South Florida, it is “raining iguanas.”

Green iguanas, like all reptiles, are coldblooded animals, so they become immobile when the temperature falls to a certain level, said Kristen Sommers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they become sluggish. Under 40 degrees, their blood stops moving as much, Sommers said.

They like to sit in trees, and “it’s become cold enough that they fall out.”

This is not a new phenomenon — there were similar reports in 2008 and 2010 — though it is not typical.

“The reality is South Florida doesn’t get that cold very often or long enough that you see this frequently,” Sommers said.

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