Weekly Meanderings, 13 Jan 2018

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 5.58.52 AMGood morning!

Good for Janice Dean: a viewer, well, criticized her legs. Her response?

“Hi JoAnn,

Fox doesn’t dress me. I dress myself. I’m sorry if you don’t like my legs. I’m grateful I have them to walk with. You’re right. I don’t look like the typical person on TV, and I’m proud to be a size 10. Imagine that! You can always turn the channel if you’re offended by my huge legs. Hope you don’t mind. I may share your post with everyone on my FB page. All the best, Janice” …

My big legs have always been a sore spot for me – but now more than ever I am proud of them. Because with MS, I could lose my ability to walk literally any day. So I’ve learned to be proud of my legs, and am grateful for them every day of my life.

Fun read; whacky church names.

The Christian satire site Babylon Bee recently skewered the growing trend of trendy church names. Forget words like “Faith,” “Bible,” “Church,” or—heaven forbid—the name of your denomination, they advised. Don’t go with a name that gives visitors information about your church, said imaginary consultants. Go with a name you can market.

I had a good laugh, but it got me thinking. What if I compiled my own list of the most cringe-worthy actual church names? So I conducted an informal social media survey, and was overwhelmed by the responses. For your convenience, I’ve pared down the list (really, I did!) and broken these church names (all of which I’ve checked, and all of which are real) into nine handy categories.

Understand that I count all of you who belong to these, ahem, creatively named churches as brethren and sistren, so please, no angry emails. We’re all in this together, and what’s life if you can’t laugh at yourself? Without further ado, here are the nine types of trendy, new church names. …

The best included, “Burning Hearts,” “Door of Hope,” “Epiphany Station,” “Liberating Spirit,” “Mercy Road,” “New Horizons,” “Passion,” “Second Chance Church,” “Shepherd of the Prairie,” “The Nest of Love,” “The Refuge,” and “Word Aflame.”

Beth Allison Barr:

It really struck me. As a young woman growing up in a conservative Southern Baptist church, I always had mixed feelings about Paul. I loved his bold statements; I loved how he explained who Jesus was and why we need Christ; I loved how he explained the transformation of Christians–the new life we have in Christ. My favorite scripture has always been Philippians 4:6-8. I learned about the peace of God from Paul, a peace that passes all understanding and persists even during difficult times. That peace has carried me through so much of my life. I am grateful to Paul.

But I always stumbled over Paul in Ephesians, Corinthians, etc. It was hard to recognize the calling I felt in my own life with the limitations he seemed to place on women. Was I wrong? Was God not calling me to teach, because women couldn’t be called in that way? Whenever I tried to reconcile what I thought were Paul’s teachings about women with the rest of his writings, I became frustrated and confused. Was Paul schizophrenic? The way Paul had been taught to me did not jive with the man I read. …

Today, at the age of 42, Paul no longer frustrates me. I have realized, as one of my very astute students once said, that when we are confused about God, it is never God who is wrong. The fault always lies in our own understanding. …

We can believe that the Bible is fully trustworthy without accepting complementarianism.  Complementarianism is a theory constructed during a particular historical moment. It–unlike the letters of Paul–is not the word of God. [HT: JS]

Fascinating story by Anika Burgess:

On Ireland’s southwest coast, in County Kerry, there is a small village called Caherdaniel. Nearby, there is a national park, a fort that offers glimpses of the Skellig Islands, and the sloping shores of Derrynane Bay. And, etched into this countryside, is the Caherdaniel Mass Path. Like other such paths around Ireland, this narrow track was used by Catholics to attend mass 300 years ago, during a time of religious persecution.

The locations of these passages were closely held secrets, which is why it took Irish photographer Caitriona Dunnett years to research her project Mass Paths. It was the one at Caherdaniel that first sparked her interest. “I photographed it and remembered learning about the penal times at school,” she says. “It inspired me to research and find other penal paths to photograph.”

Beginning in the 1690s, the Protestant-controlled Irish Parliament, in conjunction with the English Parliament, passed a series of increasingly stringent, brutally wide-ranging penal laws that imposed serious restrictions on the already oppressed Catholic majority. No Catholic person could vote, or become a lawyer or a judge. They could not own a firearm or serve in the army or navy. They could not set up a school, or teach or be educated abroad. They could not own a horse worth more than £5. They could not speak or read their native Gaelic.

In an attempt to decrease Catholic land holdings, in the early 1700s, a new law prohibited primogeniture, and instead, when an Irish Catholic died, his land was divided among his sons and daughters. But any son who became Protestant could inherit everything. According to one report, Catholics made up 90 percent of the country’s population. A the end of 1703, they owned less than 10 percent of the land.

Alice G. Walton, two habits of long life and health:

In the ongoing search for health and longevity, researchers have looked to parts of the world where people live the longest—the “blue zones,” which include Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. In these places people tend to live into their 90s or 100s pretty regularly. So researchers have studied their habits, and have taken away what seem to be the most effective lifestyle factors. And, as they should, they match up extremely well with what other types of scientific study have found about cellular health and longevity. … [Nine habits]

You can probably see the punchline coming. These nine habits can actually be boiled down to just two: Keep a healthy body and keep a healthy mental life—in other words, a good lifestyle and “good practices,” as Puyol says. He writes that the lifestyle portion includes the first few points above, and “implies regular intensity exercise, including routines to ‘break’ from daily stress, and including mainly plant-based products in our diets, eating without filling up and not drinking excessively.”

The other, more cerebral tenet is all about devoting time to your mental, social, spiritual, and communal health. “[F]amily, religious communities, social groups, and so on – all of which must have their own ‘ikigai,’ that is, their own ‘reason to live.’ There is a personal ‘ikigai,’ but there is also a collective ‘ikigai’ that sets the goals for each community as well as the challenges to overcome in order to achieve them.”

Grant Osborne, my teacher and former colleague, on teaching as pastoring:

I just realized my ministry lasted exactly fifty years, from my first church in Newark, Ohio, in 1966 to retiring from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 2016. Forty of those years were at Trinity. I didn’t just like my job, I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. I retired only because my body made me do so.

As a New Testament scholar, I felt my task in the classroom was twofold: to enable my students not just to understand God’s word but to crave it (1 Pet 2:2), and to motivate them to want to share its treasures with others. In future issues, I will write about “the teacher as teacher” and “the teacher as scholar.” For now I want to talk about “the teacher as pastor.”

I have long felt that if all I was in the classroom was a disseminator of information, I would fail. The problem today is that the seminary (or college, or graduate school) classroom is often too academic, and too few students fall in love with the process of exegesis and feeding their flock—even looking upon the act of “feeding” in terms of delivering simple topical messages. We must show students the relevance of the biblical text for their lives, stimulating them spiritually as well as intellectually. The truth is that they can find everything we are going to say in commentaries and other sources. What we need to do is show them how practical and refreshing deep exegesis can be.

This means my lectures might take on the qualities of a sermon as I go through, say, John 12 or Romans 6. Certainly I am dealing with academic debates, but I want to demonstrate that the result of this scholarship is a gourmet meal in God’s word and not just a dry-bones debate over trivia. Moreover, I have a pastoral duty to help students grow in the Lord. Even in that, though, I am primarily their teacher. Many of them will be preaching or teaching when they graduate, so I want to model a good pastor for them. Paul considered his ministry to believers to be that of discipleship, and his primary principle was “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1Phil 3:171 Thess 1:6). I want my students to emulate my model, and so I must have stimulating application in my classroom as well as deep intellectual wrestling with the text and the issues of it.

Peter Leithart, Heimberger, and immigration:

Robert Heimburger’s God and the Illegal Alien is a careful, theologically-informed treatment of American immigration law. He provides detailed overviews of the development of immigration law, including the origins of the concept of a legal “alien,” sketches a theology of politics with the help of “Barth’s biblical theology of the peoples,” examines the biblical evidence regarding borders and immigrants with help from Oliver O’Donovan, Luther, and others, and examines specific cases in discriminating detail.

He concludes that American immigration law developed in a despotic direction, in which “practically no norms of justice constrained the executive powers to deny entry, detain, and deport aliens. Particularly against the claimed power to expel aliens lawfully residing in the country [e.g., Chinese laborers], judges protested that the federal government was turning despotic and lawless, but those who advocated such extensive authority over immigration prevailed (210).

He claims that US restrictions on Mexican immigration is part of a “game,” in which visas were required but illegal entry was permitted, so that contract laborers and undocumented workers could take median jobs: “In effect, Congress and business collaborated to enable continued migration while classing it as illegal, using and exploiting Mexican workers” (210).

From his various theological resources, he concludes that Christian tradition views peoples and nations as “fluid.” Nations both “bless human beings as they fill the earth and judge human beings for their self-worship.” Rather than sealed-off entities, “these far-flung conglomerations of language, land, and history are best understood as opportunities to draw near to one another, a process that is complete in the people of God, in Israel and the church.” The people of God “are sent out across national distinctions so that those of every tribe can share in the fulness of life that comes through Christ’s death and resurrection.” Most fundamentally, then, nations are not “alien” to one another: “A Christian narrative of the healing of nations stands at odds with treating those from other nations like aliens” (210-1). [HT: JS]

Mail carrier alert! Watch for turkeys:

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (AP) — Postal carriers say a rafter of aggressive wild turkeys have prevented them from delivering mail to more than two dozen homes in a Cleveland suburb.

Cleveland.com reports residents on a number of streets in Rocky River have had to pick up their mail at the post office because the turkeys have created unsafe conditions for carriers to deliver to their homes.

Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst said the problem has persisted for the last three weeks. She said city ordinances don’t allow for the turkeys to be eradicated.

The city has instead sent letters to people asking them to stop putting out bird feed in the hope the turkeys will go elsewhere.

A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says some carriers have been pecked but none have been injured.

 

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