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Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings December 3, 2011

Exceptional, exceptional article about Fred Craddock, one of our best preachers. LaVonne on the revisions in the Catholic mass: “The bishops have spoken, or at least succumbed. This weekend American Catholics began saying new words at mass. Well, perhaps new is incorrect – the aim of the revised liturgy is to bring back older words that are closer to medieval Latin. In a time when the Catholic church has been rocked by scandals of almost Renaissance proportions, this move is supposed to make American parishioners feel more holy. It is also supposed to bring us in line with European-language liturgies, whose translations are closer to the medieval text. Yesterday I went to the 10:30 mass at St. Michael’s Catholic Community. The Bishop of Joliet, resplendent in purple robes and gold miter, processed medievally down the center aisle behind an honor guard of Knights of Columbus wearing feathery hats. When he greeted us with the customary “The Lord be with you,” half of us responded “And also with you” while the other half said, medievally, “And with your spirit.” By the end of mass, we had all caught on and were saying the revised words. I didn’t feel especially holier. I did, however, feel greater kinship with European Catholics, who rarely attend mass.”

Brad Wright, on why folks leave the faith: “A majority (42 out of 50) of the deconverts that we studied did mention frustration with the Christians they knew, but it usually wasn’t misbehavior, per se, rather it was something that I never would have guessed: Frustration with how their fellow Christians reacted to their doubts.”

My friend, Amy-Jill Levine, a Jewish feminist New Testament professor at Vanderbilt, was interviewed about the new Jewish Annotated NT in the NYTimes. Roger Olson has a thoughtful set of criteria on how to test experiences claimed to be from the Spirit of God. Do you need a time out? Michael Mercer has a good sketch of repentance in “repent it forward.”

Someone needs to read this today. From Out of Ur: “What do you think of Tony Jones’ premise that evangelical youth ministry created the Emerging Church? I think he’s on to something important here–namely that ecclesiology is taught (explicitly but primarily implicitly) well before adulthood. Kids form their understanding of church very early, and it stays with them into adulthood. This poses a problem for many children and youth ministries that do not have a long view of formation. I think it’s fair to say that many youth ministries are focused on helping students through high school by creating a fun, engaging environment where they might learn about faith in Christ and hopefully connect to relatively safe and healthy peers. But how many youth ministries are aware of forming a student’s ecclesiology or practical theology?”

Five reasons to use a bound Bible in church, instead of the Bible on your smartphone. Some reasons not to observe the church calendar.

Video game violence and violence in life.

Meanderings in the News

Should you turn your electronic devices off on the airplane? [Yes, it’s the law.] But is it theater? James Fallows thinks so: “I have been out of range most of today, for reasons involving the vagaries of small-plane flight. But on opening up the email inbox I see a raft of messages kindly pointing me toward a NYT item asking whether there is any “real” safety reason for the familiar airline insistence that “anything with an Off/On switch” must be turned off for takeoff and landing. My answer is No. Of course not. The rule is pure theater. Or, Yes, A Little Bit, But Not For The Reasons They Say. Why do I think there is no “real” danger that Blackberries, Kindles and nooks, iPhones and iPads, Bose/Sony headsets, handheld GPS devices, or any other “equipment with an off/on switches” will interfere with navigation equipment, safe approaches and landing, and overall welfare? Because: – 100% of the pilots making those landings and approaches have GPS receivers right there next to them in the cockpits, of the kind you would have to turn off if you had one in your lap in seat 38F;
– Every one of the airline pilots I’ve ever asked has kept his or her cell phone turned on in the cockpit, again right next to the “sensitive” equipment. I always had a cell phone with me, turned on, during flights in small planes, and several times I’ve used it in flight. (Once, to contact a control tower when my radio had failed; another time, to get an IFR clearance when there were radio problems.)…” Here is a follow-up post.

Iconic book covers.

Repairs in Bethlehem: “BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Preparations for a long-needed renovation of the 1,500-year-old Church of the Nativity are moving ahead in Bethlehem, the town of Jesus’ birth, in the face of political and religious conflicts that have kept one of Christendom’s holiest sites in a state of decay for centuries. The first and most urgent part of the renovation, initiated by the Palestinian government in the West Bank, is meant to replace the building’s roof. Ancient wooden beams pose a danger to visitors, officials say, and leaks have already ruined many of the church’s priceless mosaics and paintings.”

Possibly good news for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, including other debilitating diseases too: “Prof Lozano says that for now: “a word of caution is appropriate, these are very early days and a very small number of patients are involved.” Starting in April they are aiming to enrol around 50 patients with mild Alzheimer’s. All will be implanted with electrodes, but they will be turned on in only half of them. The researchers will then see if there is any difference in the hippocampus between the two groups. They are specifically looking at patients with mild Alzheimer’s because of the six patients with the condition, it was only the two with the mildest symptoms that improved. One theory they are considering is that after a certain level of damage patients reach a point of no return.”

Have you seen this? The top ten countries when it comes to persecution of Christians: “Some think Christianity’s flawed past and modern emphasis on grace and forgiveness make it an easy (perhaps deserving) target for criticism and even reverse discrimination. Scathing rhetoric is part of any healthy debate, but should it go so far as to turn a blind eye? Christianity may have become one of the world’s predominant religions, but there are still many places where Christians are persecuted, dispossessed, tortured, and even killed for their faith. Often this occurs as part of governmental or religious policy. Western media frequently under-report these incidents, fearing to offend cultural sensibilities. As a result, much of this news must be culled from secular human rights publications and religious watchdog groups. Submitted for your approval are the Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries for Christians, as ranked by the Open Doors World Watch List.”

Yawning: “Yawning isn’t triggered because you’re bored, tired or need oxygen. Rather, yawning helps regulate the brain’s temperature, according to Gary Hack, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Andrew Gallup, ofPrinceton University. “The brain is exquisitely sensitive to temperature changes and therefore must be protected from overheating,” they said in a University of Maryland news release. “Brains, like computers, operate best when they are cool.” During yawning, the walls of the maxillary sinuses (located in the cheeks on each side of the nose) flex like bellows and help with brain cooling, according to the researchers.”

The world’s oldest tuna fishers? “Tuna has been on the menu for a lot longer than we thought. Even 42,000 years ago, the deep-sea dweller wasn’t safe from fishing tackle according to new finds in southeast Asia.”

How did Anthony Trollope write so much? “Every day for years, Trollope reported in his “Autobiography,” he woke in darkness and wrote from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., with his watch in front of him. He required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. If he finished one novel before eight-thirty, he took out a fresh piece of paper and started the next. The writing session was followed, for a long stretch of time, by a day job with the postal service. Plus, he said, he always hunted at least twice a week. Under this regimen, he produced forty-nine novels in thirty-five years. Having prospered so well, he urged his method on all writers: “Let their work be to them as is his common work to the common laborer. No gigantic efforts will then be necessary. He need tie no wet towels round his brow, nor sit for thirty hours at his desk without moving,—as men have sat, or said that they have sat.”

Jürgen Habermas opines on the European ideal.

Fr Bob Barron on the new Roman missal: “In just a few days, Catholics in this country will notice a rather significant change when they come to Mass. Commencing the first Sunday of Advent, the Church will be using a new translation of the Roman Missal. I would like to emphasize, at the outset, that this in no way represents a return to “the old Mass,” for the Latin texts that provide the basis for the new translation were all approved after Vatican II. So why the change? What had come increasingly to bother a number of bishops, priests, and liturgists over the years was that the translation of the liturgical texts, which was made in some haste in the late 60s of the last century, was not sufficiently faithful to the Latin and was, at least in some instances, informed by questionable theological assumptions. And so, over the course of many years, two groups in particular—ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and Vox Clara (a committee of bishops, liturgical experts, and linguists from around the English-speaking world)—labored over a new translation. This work was approved by the United States Bishops’ Conference and finally by the Vatican, and Advent 2011 was determined to be the time to begin use of the new Missal. What marks these new texts? They are, I would argue, more courtly, more theologically rich, and more Scripturally poetic than the current prayers—and this is all to the good. An unmistakable feature of the Latin liturgical texts is their nobility and stately seriousness.”

A meandering-book-notice: Mark Twain’s Nook Farm/Hartford home. (HT: JF)

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