Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings February 18, 2012

Jim Martin provides a question all pastors need to ask. A good one, Jim. And Bill Donahue asks a good question, too. Good one, Bill. And while we’re at it, read this one by Kurt Fredrickson.

Speaking of pastors, this series by Mike Cope is among the finest sets of posts any pastor can read. Thanks Mike. (When a child dies…)

Brad Wright on a world without grace — thanks Brad. Patrick Mitchel on where the world’s headed, and he had a real nice series that complements our Junia is not alone theme.

Tim Dalrymple blogs about blogging about controversies, and offers good suggestions. Speaking of which… Ben Witherington on John Piper: “John Piper is concerned, as are other Reformed writers and thinkers, for instance some in the Gospel Coalition, with what is perceived to be the stripping of male dignity and honor in our culture. He seeks to rub some healing balm in the wounds of men who have been assailed about their male chauvinism and macho approaches to women and life in general, especially in this case, men who are ministers. But as I have mentioned before on this blog, the problem with the church is not strong women, but weak men who can’t handle strong women, much less tolerate women in ministry. So, they have to provide rationales for these views. And to do so requires all sorts of exegetical gymnastics, ignoring of contexts, and even dubious theology and anthropology…  I decided to let this percolate for a while before I reacted. Let me be clear that this sounds like a classic over-reaction to what is perceived to be the malaise of our culture.”

You know you’re a scientist if you… do this!

I’m excited about the potential of this network: the Ancient-Future Faith Network. And I’m glad my friend Fr Rob reviews Lauren Winner’s new book, a book I encourage you to digest.

Dave Strunk on the “confessional” evangelicalism and Al Mohler: “In essence, Mohler’s defense of confessional evangelicalism is indistinct from a more generic yet still orthodox version of evangelicalism. Mohler does an excellent job, as always, of defending evangelicalism against its foes on the left and right. What Mohler fails to do, though, is to offer a compelling apologia for the benefits found in confessional evangelicalism.”

Good set of ideas from Proverbs by JR Briggs.

This is why the Churches of Christ have struggled, and this is what we all need because we are all in one family: “This group, the XCMA (X County Ministerial Alliance), always begins by discussing the week’s lectionary passage (don’t know what a lectionary is? Look it up … and think about getting out of your denominational house once in a while), which this week happened to be from John 17. Jesus’ prayer that “they may all be one.” Each of us got to share a few thoughts about this passage. When it was my turn…I repented. I apologized on behalf of all the members of the Churches of Christ who had been hateful and divisive and exclusive and mean. I upheld these ministers’ identity as believers and Christians and expressed a desire to be unified with them, lest the world not recognize that Jesus was sent from God. And guess what…I got a standing ovation…in fact the only ovation of any kind, along with many handshakes and hugs. Then an older Baptist minister was asked to close us in prayer. He prayed for our group, our churches…and for the “dear brother who has joined us today to take a stand for unity,” and continued to pray for me and the Churches of Christ and since I thought I heard his voice break, I glanced up at him to see tears rolling down his cheeks. He finished and came and embraced me and told me stories of how many times he’d been told that he wasn’t a Christian, how often he’d been excluded and shunned by my brethren. And as a final tear fell from his chin, he thanked me for my simple act of participation. And so I learned that we have done wrong, that we’ve damaged our own reputation, that we’ve failed to earn respect. This IS important…we can’t afford to be arrogant…we just need to be Christians only…not the only Christians.” And this was at the bottom of that very post: “He has since removed the post from that blog. You see, for this and other views deemed too ecumenical, he was relieved of his position and now ministers in sales to support his family. He tells me that he has not preached or written in five years, but is starting to want to again.”

Why do you love U2? (Ireland.)

Meanderings in the News

Bath in Books: “This bath is made entirely out of books which Vanessa cut and fitted together over a metal frame to form a bath of books, which is suspended by four antique bath tub, lion-shaped feet. She intends to later cover it in layers of resin and has already applied proper taps and drain, so that it will be a utilizable, functional bath at all effects. The idea is of immersing oneself in knowledge, books, truths, and ‘cleaning’ or ‘purifying’ one’s mind with from external, every day life bombarding from media, by reading ad reflecting on books,- ‘pure sources’, which is of course, metaphorical, implying we can become polluted by ideas of truths and knowledge, which we can only ‘clean’ by reading our way through to our own ideas and reflections.”

Some cool thank you letters here.

Hilary Rosen‘s telling lines on Whitney Houston: “Like Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Elvis and others before her, that inner voice of doubt that we all feel sometimes just could never keep up with the public adulation. And so the only answer in the moment that makes sense is to drown out the external praise and dull the doubt with drugs and alcohol. By many accounts from those close to her, she understood the dangers even as she was too often powerless to change…. Whitney Houston’s music legacy will be an inspiration to young artists for years to come. Without taking one thing away from her amazing talent and my total and complete admiration for her career, I hope her troubled life in the spotlight will also serve as the right warning as well.”

Least informed statement of the week, in Will Oremus: “The issue resurfaced following the industrial revolution, when the advent of rubber condoms, coupled with urbanization and other social forces, spurred a resurgence of birth control. But as late as the turn of the 20th century, the Catholic Church worried that denouncing contraception would have the unintended consequence of informing people of what it was. Better, the thinking went, to leave them ignorant.”

It’s the economy: “In August 2010, Robin Marantz Henig observed in New York Times Magazine that Generation Y (the Millennials) has pushed back each of the five milestones of adulthood: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a kid. Why won’t Millennials grow up? she wondered.  The biggest reason is they can’t, according to the Pew Research Center’s fantastic new survey “Young, Underemployed, and Optimistic.” It begins with school.  The good news is that more young adults are enrolled in school than ever. The share of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled has increased by 50% since 1990. That’s awesome. Less awesome is that the cost of college is rising, too. Average debt for public college students doubled between 1996 and 2006. It’s less advisable to invest in marriage with $30,000 in student debt as a couple. “More than one-in-five young adults ages 18 to 34 (22%) say they have postponed having a baby because of the bad economy,” Pew reported. “Roughly the same proportion say they have postponed getting married.”

Rebecca J. Rosen: the problem isn’t technology, it is time itself (or its perception): “When we experience time-deepening we don’t merely feel that we are doing more in a day; we feel that time is actually moving faster. Research into how people perceive time suggests that when people are distracted — when their focus is divided or elsewhere — they mis-estimate the passage of time, thinking that less time has passed than actually has — that time has flown. It’s perhaps because of this perception that when Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery described the changes in work-life patterns in a recent issue of Mother Jones, they called them the “great speed-up.” The Digital Sabbath isn’t the only strategy for dealing with this speed up: The related set of “slow” movements — slow food, slow travel, even slow science — have proliferated in recent years.”

What Europeans don’t get about America (USA), by Richard Florida: “Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.”

Juan Cole lists ten items taught by the RCC Santorum doesn’t support: “The right wing Republican politicians who have been denouncing the requirement that female employees have access to birth control as part of their health benefits as an attack on religious freedom completely ignore the church teachings they don’t agree with. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.”

From the Loom: “If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born. In 2000, a team of Boston scientists discovered a peculiar gene in the human genome. It encoded a protein made only by cells in the placenta. They called it syncytin. The cells that made syncytin were located only where the placenta made contact with the uterus. They fuse together to create a single cellular layer, called the syncytiotrophoblast, which is essential to a fetus for drawing nutrients from its mother. The scientists discovered that in order to fuse together, the cells must first make syncytin. What made syncytin peculiar was that it was not a human gene. It bore all the hallmarks of a gene from a virus.”

Meanderings in Sports

Helen Lee, on Jeremy Lin: “Just a little over a week ago, Lin was sleeping on his brother’s couch and wondering if the Knicks were going to keep him on the team. But as injuries whittled down the Knicks’ roster, Lin’s number was called against the New Jersey Nets on February 4th. He scored an improbable 25 points, started in the next four games, and repeated the seemingly impossible by scoring in double digits each time, including 38 points in a prime-time, nationally-televised performance against Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.”

Hope you saw this about Gary Carter: “Even as the world watched the Grade 4 brain cancer wither his body, Gary Carter was still, and is always, Kid. It is a testament to Carter’s passion for the game, and for life, that the nickname that at times was applied derisively by crusty veterans ended up on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Joe Posnanski is right about one thing here: Tiger only cares about winning. First place or no place. I’m not so sure the backhanded putt tells us much.

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