Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings January 14, 2012

Our town

Falsani and Paul Simon: “A few years back, Paul Simon released an album titled,Surprise. But for many of his listeners, and for me in an exceptionally personal way, the real surprise came with his 2010 album, So Beautiful or So What. After its relase last spring, I wrote about the album, filled with wondrous stories about God and faith, Jesus and the afterlife, and love in “hard times,” calling it one of the most spiritually powerful albums I’d heard in many years. A few months after my review of the album ran, I got a phone call at home in California one afternoon. It was Simon, whom I’d never met or spoken to before, calling to chat. He’d read what I’d written about the new album and was intrigued by the idea that, perhaps, God might have moved through him in the music without his knowing it.” [And I hope you can escape the Chevy Chase/Paul Simon jingle.]

Good line from Chuck Smith: “Never trade what you do know for what you don’t know.”

Australia and pot: “No, mon, it’s not what you think: Jamaica and The Netherlands may be popular with pot smokers, but according to a new study by the British medical journal The Lancet, high honors go to Australia and New Zealand, where up to 15% of residents between the ages of 15 and 64 used marijuana in 2009 – the latest year for which data is available. That compares with 11% of North Americans, 5.5% of Europeans and 2.5% of Asians.”

The Virtual Abbess ponders how original sin and laziness and relationships work together.

Adam McLane: “One reason youth ministry is flatlining is crappy theology. Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, was recently interviewed by Relevant Magazine about the present reality that youth ministry presents a faith students easily walk away from in college. She was asked, “Do you think there are any misunderstandings or misconceptions that contribute to young adults leaving the church?” Her response:

The students involved in our research definitely tended to view the Gospel as a list of dos and do-nots, a list of behaviors. We asked our students when they were college juniors, “How would you define what it really means to be a Christian?” and one out of three—and these were all youth group students—didn’t mention Jesus Christ in their answer; they mentioned behaviors.

Alex Murashko: “In a surprise decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, justices ruled in favor of church authority Wednesday, overturning a lower court ruling and concluding that the federal government should not intervene in the hiring and firing practices of churches.  In one of the most important religious cases disputed in years, also having separation of church and state implications, the high court accepted what is known as a “ministerial exception” to the employment discrimination laws. The ministerial exception allows religious entities to give preference in employment to individuals of a particular religion or require that employees confirm the organization’s religious tenants. It also bars the federal government from examining employment decisions by religious groups for employees with religious duties, such as pastors or ministry leaders.”

Jenell Paris responds to Mark Noll.

Here’s a group of Coloradons heading to NPU for classes next Tuesday!


Speaking of Colorado, Denver, Broncos, Tim Tebow, here’s a good one.

Meanderings in the News

Unprecedented is the right word: “Evangelical Christians in Oregon have developed an unexpected partnership with Portland’s openly gay mayor to mobilize over 26,000 volunteers in an effort to aid in charity activities, from city park renovation to counseling people in need. Kevin Palau, a devout evangelical, was so desperate to fix the notion that his community is taking strident stands on provocative issues, along with other perceived public relations problem that evangelicals face, that he reached out to a highly unlikely partner in Sam Adams, the mayor of one of America’s most progressive and secular cities…. Palau says that his team of volunteers represents the new face of American evangelicalism. “The old model was preaching to the choir, so to speak,” Palau says. Many people in the left-leaning town of Portland were uncomfortable with this unexpected arrangement at first, but now pretty much everyone admits the project is a major success — even though major philosophical differences remain.”

Frida Ghitis on Egypt: “So, what do Islamists really hope to accomplish? Washington doesn’t need to wait for an answer to that question before it starts responding to this uncertain situation. In fact, it can already start helping to shape the future of the Arab world by strongly promoting the ideals it supports. The Egyptian people have not studied democracy the way Americans or Europeans have. President Obama and his counterparts in other liberal democracies should help explain the West’s vision of democratic principles and tolerance. They should talk about how democracy does not just mean majority rule; it also means protection of minorities, equality for women and for people of all religions. It means rule of law and an independent judiciary. The West should make clear that those leaders who help preserve peace and build that vision of society in the emerging Arab democracies will have its support while those who don’t will not have its backing.”

Doctors die gently: “It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.”

Speaking of doctors, bring in Paul Farmer for this one.

Finding something that belongs to God. “Archaeologists digging near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City unearthed a rare find used in the daily work of the ancient Jewish Temple. The small clay seal is inscribed with two words in Aramaic meaning “pure to God.” “This is the first time we got [found] something that belongs to God, belongs to something that came from the temple,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Eli Shukron said. Archaeologists say the seal is the first archaeological evidence of the administrative workings of the Second Temple. That temple was built around 500 B.C. after Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed.”

First chimeric monkey offspring.

Sharon Otterman, Laurie Goodstein: “Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals on Friday, including Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, in a set of appointments that reflected the pope’s reliance on Italians and Vatican insiders at a time when the church’s population base has shifted to the Southern Hemisphere.”

Good article on pluralism: “The second criterion is specific to pluralism.  Any view properly describable as pluralism has to hold that something is irreducibly plural.  For example, a view which holds that there are many religions which nonetheless, at base, are all really the same should not count as a pluralist view of religion.  Similarly, a view which holds that there is a wide range of distinct ways of life which deserve to be tolerated is for similar reasons not yet a pluralist view.  Any view that is properly regarded as pluralist needs to do more than recognize the Many; it needs to deny that the Many is reducible to the One.  In other words, pluralism must involve irreducibility.”

Money and aesthetics: “THOUGH individual tastes do differ, the market for art suggests that those who have money generally agree on what is best. The recent authentication of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, for example, magically added several zeroes to the value of a work that had not, physically, changed in any way. Nor is this mere affectation. In the world of wine (regarded as an art form by at least some connoisseurs), being told the price of a bottle affects a drinker’s appreciation of the liquid in the glass in ways that can be detected by a brain scanner. It seems, now, that the same phenomenon applies to music. For serious players of stringed instruments the products of three great violin-makers of Cremona, Nicolo Amati, Giuseppe Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari, have ruled the roost since the 17th century. Their sound in the hands of a master is revered. They sell for millions. And no modern imitation, the story goes, comes close. Unfortunately, however, for those experts who think their judgment unclouded by the Cremonese instruments’ reputations, Claudia Fritz of the University of Paris VI and Joseph Curtin, an American violin-maker, have just applied the rigorous standards of science to the matter. Their conclusion, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that the creations of Cremona are no better than modern instruments, and are sometimes worse.”

But, when we buy table wine, we never look to the top shelf, but neither do we look to the bottom shelf for the 4 buck bottles. Isn’t there a reason why a bottle is only $4?

8 hours, they say, is how much sleep we need, and this link to Cliff Kuang has some cool graphics: “How many times have you told yourself (especially when you’re up at 2 a.m. on a Sunday night): “Eh, it’s just sleep.” Is it just sleep, though? What happens to your health when you’re not sleeping enough? This infographic designed by FFunction for Zeo, a company that makes an electronic “sleep coach,” is less of a real data visualization than a set of illustrated facts. But the facts are pretty gobsmacking. For example, we, as a nation, seem pretty tired all the time: Only 7% of people get eight hours of sleep a night. But the effects of this might be calamitous: Getting less sleep is associated with a 200% rise in cancer, a 100% rise in heart disease, and a 20% rise in the likelihood you’ll be dead in 20 years. Not only will you be less healthy, you’ll be fatter. People who sleep an hour more each day lose 14.3 pounds per year. (?!!).”

Meanderings in Sports

Here’s where this article is wrong. Once a whistle is blown, play stops and anything that happens after that whistle is jeopardized as no longer fair competitive play. (Thus, had it not been blown, perhaps said player would have recovered the ball.) If the whistle blows after the recovery, fine; but if before, no way.

I can’t tell if this is a reprint or something new, but this article about Michael Jordan’s coach who supposedly “cut” Michael … well, it’s a long story that is well worth the read.

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