Weekly Meanderings

Weekly Meanderings September 1, 2012

We are getting the bugs out of our new landing/home page here at Jesus Creed — what do you think?

I wondered how long this would take. When I saw the original statements of TGC and that complementarianism was put at the level of the confession I was both unsurprised (the folks organizing it were strong complementarians) and surprised: How can complementarianism rise so high on the list? So while Carl Trueman and I disagree on plenty, we agree that this one is simply misplaced. Carl Trueman: “Given that the issue of complementarianism is raising its head over at The Gospel Coalition, it provides an opportunity to reflect on an issue that has always perplexed me: why is the complementarian/egalitarian debate such a significant bone of contention in parachurch cobelligerent organisations whose stated purpose is to set aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel?   Why, for instance, is this issue of more importance than, say, differences over baptism or understandings of the Lord’s Supper?  Historically and confessionally, those have been the issues that divide, so it is strange to see the adjective ‘confessional’ applied to movements which actually sideline the very doctrinal differences which made Protestant confessions necessary in the first place.”

Speaking of divisions, they get expressed at the Table. Kenneth Tanner: “As an ecumenist I listened to (and largely bought) the notion that taking Communion with other Christians in the absence of institutional unity was tantamount to premarital sex, to an intimacy that should not be attempted because we were not — as disagreeing Christians — properly wed to each other yet. But the more time I spend as a day-to-day trenches brand of pastor living out the faith in the real world, I find this argument holds less and less water. A reality I have come to grips with after decades of personal ecumenical involvement is the same reality that leaders at the highest levels of churches have been wrestling with for centuries: The age-old pursuit of doctrinal unity under an authoritative “true church” will likely never occur before the Second Coming. Another reality — a more personal one — has hit me with full force. This division at our Eucharists inflicts pain upon those of tender conscience and deep love for Christ and his bride. They are broken upon the rocks of our divisions and it is a scandal.”

Derek calls folks on priorities.

Good story at Mind Hacks: “In a story that could be the plot for a film, one of the world’s pioneering anthropologists has been found to have been a member of both the Nazi SS and the French resistance during the Second World War. Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff retains legendary status in anthropology and particularly in Colombia, where he first lived with many of the country’s remote indigenous people during the 1950s and 60s founded the first department of anthropology. He died in 1994 but his legend has only grown since his passing.”

Good sketch of the history by Andrew McGowan — are pastors “priests”?: “The term is used by Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics and eastern Orthodox Churches, to refer to ordained ministers, and in particular those in the order of presbyters. In wider usage, a “priest” is a religious functionary and in particular someone who offers sacrifices. So “priest” is the word used to translate the Hebrew cohen, the Greek hiereus, and Latin sacerdos, all of which refer to those who offer sacrifices in the temples of their respective divinities. However the English world “priest” is derived from the quite different Greek word presbyteros, meaning “elder” or presbyter.”

Interview with Elie Wiesel about his new novel.

J. Aaron Simmons: “My hope in calling for a Postmodern Kataphaticism is that Caputo’s “theo-poetics” and something like Jamie Smith’s Pentecostally oriented Reformed version of Radical Orthodoxy would both be recognized as options worth weighing and considering within postmodern philosophy of religion (whether within a continental or analytic mode).  The debate about what reasons one might offer for choosing one over the other is a debate well worth having and, I believe, would productively help to overcome the overblown opposition between continental and analytic philosophy of religion.  Even if postmodernism, in general, invites hesitation in the face of dogmatism, one cannot sit on fences forever.  Postmodern Kataphaticism reminds us of this and helps us to understand that even the most radical apophatic discourse is dependent upon positive claims.  Such claims may or may not be true—hence the need for continued conversation and good arguments—but that they might be true is what is important.  Postmodern apophaticism does not avoid making truth-claims, but it becomes problematically dogmatic and unhelpfully orthodox when it forgets this while criticizing everyone else for doing so.”

Meanderings in the News

Trevor Butterworth calls out Nicholas Kristof: “The point is that we need good regulation. We need quantified risk – not hypothetical risk. We need agencies that pursue the best possible scientific research without fear of unemployment or favor to industry or politics. Which is why Kristof’s ongoing, studied refusal to talk to the FDA on BPA is unconscionably bad opinion journalism. It is doing to the agency for Democrats what right-wing criticism is doing to the Environmental Protection Agency for Republicans: stripping both of scientific legitimacy. The public needs to know what the FDA is doing, because it is doing a lot and doing it well. And for evidence of that,don’t just take it from me, take it from NPR.”

Ruth Etchells: “Ruth Etchells, who has died aged 81, was one of the most influential women in the Church of England, “the best female bishop we never had” and from 1987 until 1996 a leading member of the Crown Appointments Commission, nominating Anglican bishops and archbishops. In 1979, her appointment as principal of St John’s College, Durham, which contains within it Cranmer Hall, an Anglican ordination training college, caused controversy, in both the university and the Church of England. Ruth as a lay woman, and an English specialist, challenged the preconceptions of the ecclesiastical, exclusively male, Anglican theological training hierarchy. The college required modernisation both in terms of academic rigour and physical development. Ruth transformed St John’s into a place of genuine creative exchange between university college and theological college, between church and world, and between theology and other disciplines.”

Ways to eat less.

Speaking of eating, maybe calories isn’t quite the deal: “The science of calorie restriction just got a lot more complicated. Rhesus monkeys fed experimental low-calorie diets didn’t live any longer than their high-calorie brethren, a result that conflicts with a 2009 report of long-lived, extra-low-calorie monkeys. That had been the first demonstration of extended lifespans in primates, not just lab rodents, and raised hopes of the diet being a dinner-plate fountain of youth. The new findings seem to challenge that notion, though they’re far from conclusive. More fundamentally, the findings pop the lid on a roiling scientific back-and-forth over calorie restriction’s effects and mechanisms, a matter of vigorous contention that’s belied by popular notions of the diet as a simple, straightforward longevity hack.”

Teens and Dads: “(CNN) — Adolescent kids retreat to their rooms when you try to ask them how they are and hide out with their friends so often that they spend less and less time with family, right? Maybe not so much, according to a new study. In the nearly 200 families tracked, kids generally spent increasing amounts of one-on-one time with parents in their early adolescent years. Time with the folks started to drop when they were about 15. The time teens spend specifically with their dads may have critical benefits, the study from Pennsylvania State University found. The more time spent alone with their fathers, the higher their self-esteem; the more time with their dads in a group setting, the better their social skills.”

Michael Laris reports: “While technicians watched his brain during an MRI, Smith answered a series of questions, including: “Did you kill Michael McQueen?” It may sound like science fiction. But some of the nation’s leading neuroscientists, who are using the same technology to study Alzheimer’s disease and memory, say it also can show — at least in the low-stakes environment of a laboratory — when someone is being deceptive.”

Location, location, location: “You just bought peanut butter. You chose the jar because, well, you’ve always eaten the crunchy variety.  In reality, however, something else may have influenced your choice—the product you picked was centrally located on the store shelves.”

It’s hard to believe “hell” can prevent a diploma, but it can: “If there’s one belief that unites Americans, it’s that First Amendment freedom of speech is a good thing.  Everybody should have it: cigarette companies, SuperPACs, hate groups, Todd Akin, Cher, and Nichole Ritchie. Teenagers, not so much. They might say something wrong. Better to shut them up. The last time the issue of impudent teen speech came up in this column, my comments page was swamped with suggestions that the problem wasn’t free speech, it was rudeness. Teens, you see, can’t be allowed to be rude. The saucy-teen issue has surfaced again, this time in the person of a high-school valedictorian in a small Oklahoma town who used the phrase “what the hell” in a graduation speech and has been punished with the withholding of her diploma.”

Meanderings in Sports

On Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins: “First of all, Lance Armstrong is a good man. There’s nothing that I can learn about him short of murder that would alter my opinion on that. Second, I don’t know if he’s telling the truth when he insists he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs in the Tour de France — never have known. I do know that he beat cancer fair and square, that he’s not the mastermind criminal the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency makes him out to be, and that the process of stripping him of his titles reeks. A federal judge wrote last week, “USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives.” You don’t say. Then when is a judge, or better yet Congress, going to do something about it?”

Greg Norman, on his plane’s landing in Geneva: “Greg Norman came crashing into Switzerland for the Omega European Masters on Tuesday when the wheels on his private jet malfunctioned upon landing in Geneva, according to Golf Digest’s Tim Rosaforte. “We were going 60, 70, 80 knots, the wheel went 90 degrees, the nose started kangarooing and stuff in the cabin was going everywhere,” Norman told Rosaforte later that day. “All the cabinets in the galley came out. The shaking was pretty violent. Nobody knew what was going on.” That’s about the the Aussiest description we’ve ever heard of a near-death experience.”

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