Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings July 7, 2012

Protecting Water in California!

Wyndy Corbin Reuschling unleashes against the Christian silence on an ethic for the common good — and the place to begin is — yes — Israel’s laws demanding Israelites to surrender some of what they raised and earned for the good of the poor (we call that taxes today): “What has disturbed me most over the months has been the lack of theological and moral arguments for access to health care. I am not naive about economic realities (even though I am not an economist) nor about the complexities of implementing imperfect policies (I am not a social policy expert). I am just a Christian social ethicist who thinks Christians can add something helpful to this conversation in light of the long historical commitment which the Church has had in providing health care, particularly to underserved and vulnerable groups of people.” Sadly, for too many the “common good” has come to mean “I earned it, it’s mine” and to others “centralize” with inadequate attention to what it means to care for all and to sustain the rights of each person. A theology of humanity, that’s what we need.

This post by Michael Kruse is cool, but it’s not the right Michael Kruse. But here’s a good listing of zombie texts in the Bible.

Karen: “God does not love America. If that offends you, you have a problem. God does not love Israel. Israel as a nation is a construct of the Truman Administration and some legal wrangling within the United Nations. I know we have been taught — truly indoctrinated — to think otherwise. I get it. It’s a hard truth to realize that as a nation God is no more devoted to us than he is to Afghanistan or Iraq, Iran or North Korea. It’s like learning that your mama loves your brother as much as she loves you. It’s disappointing to not be the favorite. But when it comes to nation-building, God does not play favorites. I understand how we got to this place — the place where we believe that we are God’s BFF.”

Do fat people get into the kingdom?

Kenan Malik: “In the ancient pantheistic world the distinction between humans, on the one hand, and earthquakes and hurricanes, on the other, was often blurred because all nature was imbued with agency. With the coming of monotheism, God became the principal source of agency in the cosmos and through Him nature could wreak terrible havoc. Humans possessed agency, but only through the grace of God. In the post-Enlightenment world, human agency became the key force transforming the world, while nature became ‘disenchanted’, to borrow Max Weber’s phrase, and God slowly faded from the picture. In the postmodern world humans, too, in the eyes of thinkers such as Harris, Rosenberg and Savulescu, have become disenchanted, and the distinction between moral and natural evil blurred, not because everything possesses agency but because, seemingly, nothing does.”

Morgan Guyton: “Please recognize what I have said and haven’t said. There are legitimate arguments to be made against Obamacare and any number of other political issues. But we misrepresent Christ when our arguments are based on meritocracy or the assumption that the free market is “Christian” while government-based solutions are “secular humanist.” I would much rather see solutions for poverty emerge on a local grassroots level through authentic community-building relationships. As a Christian pastor, I would much rather see people provided for both materially and spiritually as one package in the kingdom of God. But regarding those aspects of human need like health care and housing that require greater resources than even large megachurches can muster, I don’t see why Christians should fight tooth and nail to prevent God from using our secular government to provide for these needs.”

I thought I was a member of the online version of CT, but evidently not — so I’ll post a comment here. Joe Carter’s review of Logan Mehl-Laituri’s book is unquestionably harsh, but it would have helped us all had Carter summarized the book first instead of just launching into his bashing of the book.

Meanderings in the News

A study contending that human ancestors ate like giraffes. “Talk about a high-fiber diet: the newest member of the human family,Australopithecus sediba, ate enough bark, leaves, and fruit that its appetite was more like that of a chimpanzee’s than a human’s. That is the conclusion of a new study, in which an international team of researchers used state-of-the-art methods to analyze the diet of two australopithecines that fell into a death pit in Malapa, South Africa, almost 2 million years ago.”

Church gets missional, neighbors not happy. (HT: AH)

Even when I disagree, this is the sort of collection of comments that deserves reading and listening to… and to be on a mental shelf to use when it comes to political rhetoric. What can’t be known can’t be predicted: “Washington economic experts have been proclaiming that economic recovery is right around the corner since before they were sure the patient was sick. For those of us who have been saying all along that none of the economic interventions since 2007 would revive the economy—not the rescue of Bear Stearns and other financial institutions; not the Troubled Asset Relief Program; not the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; not Quantitative Easings I, II, and III; not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; not Cash for Clunkers or Solyndra or the bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors—the cavalcade of wrongheaded, fantastical economic analysis coming out of official Washington and its media in recent years would be hilarious if it were not so infuriating. The granddaddy of these economic inanities is Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke’s March 2009 declaration that he could see economic “green shoots”:

I think as those green shoots begin to appear in different markets and as some confidence begins to come back, that will begin the positive dynamic that brings our economy back.

With the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to laugh at Bernanke, and some folks have been known to do so.”

Books that changed science forever.

Moving walkways in ancient cities: “Moving walkways are typically found in airports and shopping malls, places where tiredness and sloth mix with the urgent need to get somewhere. But one city in Spain has broken out of the box with a snazzy mechanical walkway running right through the middle of town. This is architect Roberto Ercilla‘s “Mechanical Ramps” in Vitoria-Gasteiz, a city of about 236,000 souls situated near the northeast coastline of Spain (for the geo-bufffs out there: 42°50’55” N, 2°40’20” W). The local council installed the giant treadmill in 2007 at a cost of about €3.7 million. The autowalk is split into seven segments that run more or less in a straight line up and down charmingly European but heel-bustingly steep cobblestone roads.”

David Brooks and the education of boys: “Then he’d rebel. If the official high school culture was über-nurturing, he’d be über-crude. If it valued cooperation and sensitivity, he’d devote his mental energies to violent video games and aggressive music. If college wanted him to be focused and tightly ambitious, he’d exile himself into a lewd and unsupervised laddie subculture. He’d have vague high ambitions but no realistic way to realize them. Day to day, he’d look completely adrift. This is roughly what’s happening in schools across the Western world. The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encouraging a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious. People who don’t fit this cultural ideal respond by disengaging and rebelling. Far from all, but many of the people who don’t fit in are boys. A decade or so ago, people started writing books and articles on the boy crisis. At the time, the evidence was disputable and some experts pushed back. Since then, the evidence that boys are falling behind has mounted. The case is closed. The numbers for boys get worse and worse. By 12th grade, male reading test scores are far below female test scores. The eminent psychologist Michael Thompson mentioned at the Aspen Ideas Festival a few days ago that 11th-grade boys are now writing at the same level as 8th-grade girls. Boys used to have an advantage in math and science, but that gap is nearly gone.”

Larry Magid: “I was sitting at home looking at the shelves that store our books, CDs, videotapes and DVDs, and realized how much of a story they tell. If you look at our books, you can get a pretty good idea of what we studied in school, our hobbies, interests and even our political beliefs. If you gaze at our CD and DVD collection, you’ll know something about our tastes in movies and music. I find the same is true when I visit other people’s homes. I don’t snoop around, but I sometimes do glance at their books and CDs to see what we might have in common. But none of this will be possible in the future as we transition from physical to digital media. Already, I have scores of books in my Amazon library, which are only visible if you have access to my Kindle or iPad. Anyone with access to my Roku or tablet can peruse the movies and TV shows I’ve purchased in the past few years, but not a single one is visible on our shelves. The loss of this visible manifestation of who we are may be of little consequence to most people, but it’s a loss worth noting.

How the 50 States acquired a name.

The next Ratzinger? “VATICAN CITY (AP) — The pope named Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller to head the Vatican’s all-important orthodoxy office Monday, tapping a German theologian like himself to head the congregation he presided over for nearly a quarter-century enforcing Catholic doctrine. The 64-year-old Regensburg bishop replaces American Cardinal William Levada, who turned 76 last month and is retiring after seven years at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the former Holy Office. While Mueller is considered a conservative theologian — he has penned some 400 academic articles and founded an institute to publish all the pope’s writings — some of his less-than-orthodox positions have raised eyebrows in Rome and abroad among staunch conservatives. Chief among them is his friendship with the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, the Peruvian priest considered the founder of liberation theology, the Marxist-influenced one advocating for the poor.”

Tom Odula: “NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Kenyan clerics across the religious divide vowed Tuesday to not allow sectarian violence to erupt following attacks on churches over the weekend that killed at least 15 people. The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya said Muslims will form vigilante groups alongside Christians to guard churches in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, where the latest attacks occurred. Adan Wachu, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and the chairman of Inter-Religious Council, said the weekend attacks, which are being blamed on an al-Qaida-linked militant group from Somalia, are meant to trigger sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims. Wachu said clerics will actively preach against retaliation to prevent violence from spreading in Kenya like it has in Nigeria, where attacks on churches by a Muslim sect has ignited a spiral of violence. “This is not a religious war and it has to be addressed from a different paradigm shift,” he said.”

Meanderings in Sports

Pre. Nadia.

Local athlete does well.

Tiger does well too, but the obvious is that Tiger now plays golf strategically, not with power. He uses irons and fairway woods from the tee, hits longer shots into greens, and has learned to go for the birdie when he can — not all the time — and just missed the cut in his recent outing: “Almost everything has changed in the life of Tiger Woods over the last three years, but that was hard to keep in mind as Woods held off a pesky Bo Van Pelt at the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. For Woods and golf in general, everything is starting to look very 2009.
Woods, who shot a two-under-par 69 to beat Van Pelt by two shots, notched his 74th career victory to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s career total and take over second place alone, eight wins behind all-time victories leader Sam Snead. Woods’s victory at Congressional marked his third of the year — he is the Tour’s first three-time winner this season — and his first at Congressional since the 2009 AT&T. “Yeah, pretty much everything,” Woods said, when asked which part of his game has come around the most this year. “I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again. That was, I think, what, six months ago? Here we are.”

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