Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings January 28, 2012

Kathy Keller reflects on Christians marrying non-Christians — worth a good read.

Ann Voskamp: “There’s a whole lifetime of memories here at the lake and how many Sunday picnics of fried chicken have we had right up there at the lighthouse? She’d serve extra helpings of green coleslaw and I’d pump the swing high and I could see how we might, soar straight out over the lake. There’s a time when you think nothing will end. I lean into her and she leans into me, and we’re warmer like this, close. Doesn’t therehave to be more than a decade left of this? And there doesn’t have to be anything. The waves keep breaking. Couldn’t she stay until she’s 117? When you wake to losing someone, you win love. When you realize that what you have, you will lose —  you win real eyes. You win grateful joy. It comes across the water and I turn to face it directly: It’s only when you realize everyone you love will one day leave you— that you really begin to love. I reach over for Mama’s hand and she does that, she squeezes mine softly and that says more… most. Someday, it is possible, I could stand here on my own 61st. I can close my eyes and almost see that.

Casey Tygrett: “Words create. Words destroy. Be creative.”

I like this from Rich Atkinson: “I’ve been a youth pastor for more than 10 years now and have watched how very easy it is to get young people excited … and how very hard it is to make that excitement stick. Jesus seemed to have an idea that this might be a problem. After all, he spent a surprisingly high percentage of his time investing in 12 young men knowing full well that one of them wouldn’t make it anyway! This shows us that Jesus didn’t make conference junkies — he made disciples.”

David Field’s sketch of Craig Evans’ book and its value for apologetics.

Ben Witherington reflecting on the sudden and unexpected death of his daughter and belief in a good God.

Derek Leman: “The Bible is in some ways like a beach vacation. You need the vacation. As it draws near you think idealistically about the vacation. It will be heaven on earth. It will revolutionize your life. If May 30 will just get here sooner than later, if you can just be transported to that warm sand and the sound of gentle surf, life will be worth living again. But the ideal beach vacation doesn’t exist. It begins with a very real drive passing by the usual signs of the earth’s brokenness. Your week at the beach has the usual drawbacks of ordinary life. Tension and fights with a family member. Insomnia in the hotel or condo bed. The sun is too hot, the water not as pristine as you would like. Sunscreen runs into your eye to remind you this is not the Elysian Fields or Nirvana. The beach vacation is not the once and for all answer to your dissatisfaction with life. But in spite of these things, when you return to normal life, you plan to do the beach again. It wasn’t all that your ideal picture wanted it to be, but it was healing.”

Meanderings in the News

Some pretty good wit in this post about what JLSathre learned in opening a used bookstore. Like this one: “7.  If you put free books outside, cookbooks will be gone in the first hour and other non-fiction books will sit there for weeks.  Except in warm weather when people are having garage sales.  Then someone will back their car up and take everything, including your baskets.”

In the age of Michelle Obama: “In a new nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a complex portrait emerges of black women who feel confident but vulnerable, who have high self-esteem and see physical beauty as important, who find career success more vital to them than marriage. The survey, which includes interviews with more than 800 black women, represents the most extensive exploration of the lives and views of African American women in decades. Religion is essential to most black women’s lives; being in a romantic relationship is not, the poll shows. Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.”

Mercy, this is bad news: “Steven decided to dupe his doctor when he returned from his elite boarding school exhausted by the intense competition there. He needed an edge to help him, he felt. So through written evaluations from teachers and his parents, and by deliberately failing tests, he succeeded in getting himself diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and was given both his in-school tests and his SATs untimed. Eventually Steven, which is not his real name, was accepted to a top college in upstate New York, although he no longer takes medication, nor does he consider himself ADHD. The ADHD diagnosis, and the benefits that came with it, he acknowledges, helped him beat the competition. Welcome to the new way to get into America’s best collegesADHD is a chronic condition that includes difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also often struggle with low self-esteem and poor performance in school and can show signs of the illness through adulthood. Yet a growing number of parents want their kids labeled as having the disorder. All so that they can ace their tests and gain entry into the ivory towers of the country’s best high schools and universities.”

I’m not an MD, so this is not my opinion or my advice, but this theme is becoming more and more vocal: “Breast cancer screening can no longer be justified, because the harm to many women from needless diagnosis and damaging treatment outweighs the small number of lives saved, according to a book that accuses many in the scientific establishment of misconduct in their efforts to bury the evidence of critics and keep mammography alive. Peter Gøtzsche, director of the independent Nordic Cochrane Collaboration, has spent more than 10 years investigating and analysing data from the trials of breast screening that were run, mostly in Sweden, before countries such as the UK introduced their national programmes.”

Sara Khorshid gives us an insider’s look at the Egyptian situation: “Secularism is not my cause and sharia is not my fear but I am one of those Egyptians who are critical of the Muslim Brotherhood movement – one who made a point of not voting for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party in the recent elections. My cause is Egypt, the revolution, and seeing my country become a true democracy. My fear is the prolongation of military rule, of transformation to a system that gives the military special status above civil institutions, or one that grants the army and its budget immunity against parliamentary accountability. The Brotherhood’s priorities are different from mine, and their objectives have occasionally conflicted with those of the revolutionaries.” And: “Having seen the Brotherhood make a series of compromising stances over the past year, I can’t trust it to be capable of achieving the revolution’s objectives. Despite all that, it’s absurd to find many western media outlets reducing Egyptian revolutionaries’ anger against the Brotherhood to an alleged fear of sharia law. An oversimplified analysis from some western writers depicts the divide between many young revolutionaries and the Brotherhood as a secularist-Islamist clash. What they seem not to have noticed is that the key secularist party in post-revolution Egypt – the Free Egyptians party – also opposed November’s demonstrations. And just as protesters kicked senior Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagi out of Tahrir in November, they also kicked out liberal figure Mamdouh Hamza in the same week. The protesters’ rejection of the two men had nothing to do with sharia, and had everything to do with the revolution and its initial objectives, which were neither secularist nor Islamist.”

Academic publishing: “This morning, I searched for an article about autism on JSTOR, the online database of academic journals. I have a child on the autistic spectrum, and I like to be aware of the latest research on the topic. I could not access any of the first 200 articles that contained the word “autism.” That’s because, for the most part, only individuals with a college ID card can read academic journal articles.  Everyone else, including journalists, non-affiliated scholars, think tanks and curious individuals, must pay a substantial fee per article, if the articles are available at all. I later found one article that was available for $38. I’m not sure why one twelve page article costs $38. It takes me about eight minutes to scan a twelve page article. The researcher receives no royalties. Why does it cost so much to read one article? The answer lies in the antiquated system of academic publishing.”

Speaking of academics, the archaeologists of the UK have a discovery: ” A recently discovered mysterious “winged” structure in England, which in the Roman period may have been used as a temple, presents a puzzle for archaeologists, who say the building has no known parallels. Built around 1,800 years ago, the structure was discovered in Norfolk, in eastern England, just to the south of the ancient town of Venta Icenorum. The structure has two wings radiating out from a rectangular room that in turn leads to a central room. “Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms,” said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.”

Indeed, out of balance, by Laura Pappano: “It is that point — “this commercial thing” in the middle of academia, as Charles T. Clotfelter, a public policy professor at Duke, put it — that some believe has thrown the system out of kilter. In his recent book “Big-Time Sports in American Universities,” Dr. Clotfelter notes that between 1985 and 2010, average salaries at public universities rose 32 percent for full professors, 90 percent for presidents and 650 percent for football coaches. The same trend is apparent in a 2010 Knight Commission report that found the 10 highest-spending athletic departments spent a median of $98 million in 2009, compared with $69 million just four years earlier. Spending on high-profile sports grew at double to triple the pace of that on academics. For example, Big Ten colleges, including Penn State, spent a median of $111,620 per athlete on athletics and $18,406 per student on academics.”

Church weddings on the rise in the UK.

Sam McNerney is right: “When it comes to getting work done Sartre was right, hell is other people. So was Picasso, who said that, “without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” And then there’s Steve Wosniak, who in his memoir explained that, “most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me … they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists… And artists work best alone …. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.”

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