Weekly Meanderings, February 23, 2013

Weekly Meanderings, February 23, 2013 February 23, 2013

Image credit.

Adopting mom deals with the serious question: ““Why did their Mommy and Daddy not want them?”…  …was the question that was dropped into my lap as I was sitting on the floor, with an elementary-aged girl, in our Children’s Worship Room this past Sunday. This young girl had just recently immigrated to the US from China with her family….just shy of a few weeks ago. She had asked this question upon finding out that both Toby and Stella were adopted. To be absolutely clear, her question came from an innocent and sincere heart. This is one of the tougher moments for me in adoption. And yet, it is our reality as we raise these kids. As much as I’ve equipped myself to answer this with love, gentleness and confidence – it is still a question that is difficult to hear and take in. It’s loaded with so much brokenness, that often, it’s incredibly hard for my heart to handle.”

Our President (at Northern) is now posting a devotional week. Check out this one, and I’m thinking Mark Galli might get a chuckle out of this.

Pete Enns: “Glory and humiliation. Not a formula for getting saved from hell, but a pattern of life modeled by Jesus and destined for his followers. If it was good enough for Jesus, Paul says, it’s good enough for us. Experiencing in our daily journey the same power that raised Jesus–but, only if we are also willing to accept the other side of the coin, deep suffering. This is why suffering is a normal state of affairs for followers of Christ. If you feel like you can’t go on, you’re on the right track. Dying and rising. A sobering paradox.”

Shifts in the future of education, including especially seminary education — by Northern Seminary’s Greg Henson.

O my, that’s what you call a big ol’ bird nest.

Meanderings in the News

Gregg Frazer takes on David Barton about Jefferson’s theology and faith. “David Barton’s fundamental claim in chapter 7 of The Jefferson Lies is that Jefferson was orthodox for the first 70 years of his life and only rejected the fundamental doctrines of Christianity in the final 15 years of his life. In support of this claim, Barton said that in his 1776 Notes on Religion, Jefferson “affirmed that Jesus was the Savior, the Scriptures were inspired, and that the Apostles’ Creed ‘contain[ed] all things necessary to salvation’” (p. 168). That is simply not true.”

I like this picture of a gosling, reminding of the need to have good solid footings.

Jordan Weissmann and employment for PhDs: “Politicians and businessmen are fond of talking about America’s scientist shortage — the dearth of engineering and lab talent that will inevitably leave us sputtering in the global economy.  But perhaps it’s time they start talking about our scientist surplus instead.  I am by no means the first person to make this point. But I was compelled to try and illustrate it after readinga report from Inside Higher Education on this weekend’s gloomy gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, job prospects for young science Ph.D.’s haven’t been looking so hot these last few years, not only in the life sciences, which have been weak for some time, but also in fields like engineering.”

Blaire Briody: “As the higher education system in the U.S. faces rising costs and reduced state funding, many are asking, What will colleges of the future look like? According to a recent cover story in The American Interest, some won’t look like anything at all, because they’ll cease to exist. Author Nathan Harden estimates that in 50 years, half of the approximately 4,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. will go belly-up.”

Adam Kirsch’s good piece about the new essayists.

Cocooning is rising: “McLEAN, Va. — Cocooning is undergoing a metamorphosis: Call it super-cocooning. Thanks to always-on wireless Internet connectivity and bigger, better TVs that reproduce pixel-perfect high-definition video, cocooning is entering a new evolutionary stage. Consumers are staying home more, watching movies delivered via cable, satellite, Internet or disc, eating in and transforming their apartments and houses into a shelter from the daily social storm. This new level of super-cocooning is affecting Hollywood, professional sports and restaurants across the U.S. “Everybody is nervous, really nervous,” says trend forecaster Faith Popcorn, who coined the term “cocooning” in 1981. “I think we are looking for protection. Almost like the Jetsons, we want to walk around in a little bubble. We are moving toward that.” Cocooning is not a new behavior. Born out of a mix of fear and fun, it became a trend identified with Cold War unease that led to stay-at-home entertainment such as the first home video game systems, rec rooms and the adoption of home swimming pools and trampolines.”

Fun article on words: “7. ALLIGATOR Alligator came to English from the Spanish explorers who first encountered “el lagarto” (lizard) in the New World. While the big lizards were for a time referred to as “lagartos,” the “el” accompanied often enough that it became an inseparable part of the English word.”

Happiest cities in the USA. “Is Disneyland really the happiest place on Earth?* How happy is the city you live in? We have already seen how the hedonometer can be used to find the happiest street corner in New York City, now it’s time to let it loose on the entire United States. We plotted over 10 million geotagged tweets from 2011 (all our results are in this paper), coloring each point by the average happiness of nearby words (detail on how we calculate happiness can be found in this article published in PLoS ONE)…”

Good news about curing blindness: “Researchers  at the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tübingen have restored vision in blind patients using tiny retinal implants embedded in the eye. Nine patients were chosen because they had all suffered hereditary diseases where the retina had degenerated to the point of blindness, but left the remainder of the visual pathway intact. Eight of the nine could still detect some light, although could not locate its source. One was completely blind. Each was implanted with a tiny 3x3mm film square containing 1,500 photodiodes which send out electrical signals when they detect light.  The electrical signals are picked up by the nerve cells lying against the retina and passed to the brain. When the retina implant is switched on, the patients perceive a pixellated diamond in the centre of vision, 15 degrees  wide.”

Some more good news about coffee from Jean Tang: “Anything this good must be bad.  That’s the prevailing attitude when it comes to caffeine, isn’t it? We crave it. We guzzle it. Drinking coffeemakes us feel good — better able to handle an overbearing boss or an unruly pack of toddlers. But then… we feel guilty about it, suspecting that sooner or later, it’s going to do us in.  In reality, it’s not the guilty pleasure everyone makes it out to be — in fact, caffeine side effects can do you good. So feel free to grab a tall breakfast blend while we set the record straight.”

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  • On Barton’s version of Jefferson, I think all that need’s to be said is that Nelson pulled the book after nearly unanimous clamor from evangelical historians that he’d got it wrong. Now, if we could do the same for Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer we’d be doing great!

  • RJS

    I’ll sound like an old fogey here. The whining about Ph.D. jobs in the sciences is just that.

    If someone thinks three letters should guarantee them a job, they need to grow up. All Ph.D.’s are not created equal (or with equally abilities). The job market is competitive, and if we believe in “free market” it should be. The “best” jobs are very competitive – did you really expect otherwise?

    Postdoc positions are normal (a post-doc of at least 2 years often more after Ph.D. is almost as necessary as a residency (3-7 years) after the MD, although some students do go directly into more permanent jobs). I was a postdoc for 6 years in the late 80’s – a bit longer than normal because of a change in direction to better position for a job. A major difference though compared with medical school … at least in all major graduate programs there is no new debt acquired. Students have tuition paid and are funded with a 12 month stipend by the program. We, for example, guarantee five years of funding for students in good standing.

    If you want a specific kind of job, go to the best school you can get into and take advantage of all the opportunities available. Set your expectations based on realistic measures. Expect competition.

  • Phil Miller

    I largely agree with what RJS said about PhD jobs. My wife has a PhD in the life sciences, and while she has been blessed in the fact that she hasn’t had trouble finding a job, tenure track positions are always sort of the holy grail. And they do seem like they’re getting harder to come by. I think there’s a multitude of reasons for that.

    One thing I will say is that I have met plenty of people for whom staying in grad school seemed to be more of way for them to delay going out into the real world rather than actually pursuing something they’re really passionate about. So I question whether some people really actually care that much about getting a job in that field after they graduate.

  • Peter Stone

    What’s the issue with Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer book?

  • RJS


    It is also true that in our graduate programs across the board, STEM, humanities, and social sciences, we are asking questions about the job market and trying to be sure that class sizes are not immensely larger than the available market (both academic and nonacademic jobs).

    So from our end the other part of the equation is that more reasonably qualified prospective students will get rejection letters.

  • Dana Ames

    I am an adopted child. My parents had good advice about what to tell me when I asked the inevitable questions; they also knew some non-identifying information about my birth parents, and told me as much as I could understand at the ages I was when the discussion would come up.

    I was basically told that my birth mother was not able to take care of me, and did a very loving and generous thing by giving me to be raised by a family that could do better by me than she was capable of doing. It wasn’t a matter of “wanting” – it was a matter of sacrificial love. Even as a child, I could comprehend that. I never held anything against my biological mother (although later on I was told that my biological father was married to someone else when I was conceived, and I did have to work through to a place of forgiveness for him – it wasn’t simply “youthful drives” that were in play); neither have I ever had a burning compulsion to find my birth parents.

    My parents are the ones who parented me, loved me (imperfectly, but still pretty well) to life, and gave me an identity in the family, nuclear and extended, in which I was raised. I’m grateful for it all.


  • Hi Dr. McKnight,

    In my email was a message from WordPress about my gosling photo. It was to check a ping.
    I checked it and it was that you used my holding photo in your blog. I am so look excited and spoil
    exceedingly blessed in that you did this. I go to Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan.
    I really like your messages and go up front after church to say hi, and that I like your message and shake your hand. That you chose to use my photo holds a special significance for me,
    for this reason.

    I love wildlife and nature photography. It is awesome to see and record God’s creation in this way. All of my wildlife and nature photography is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, as that is where I live.

    Thank you again, for choosing my photo.

    Looking forward to the next time you are at Mars Hill Bible Church.


  • I have to edit my previous post. I didn’t notice the mistakes in it. I posted it with my son’s Kindle Fire and I am not use to that it has auto text on it. He was using my computer at that time.

    Hi Dr. McKnight,

    In my email there was a message from WordPress about my gosling photo. It was to check a ping. I checked it and I saw that you used my gosling photo in “Jesus Creed”. I am so excited and exceedingly blessed in that you did this.

    I go to Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, Michigan. I look forward to when you are there, I really like your teachings and I go up front after church to say hi, and that I like what you said, and to shake your hand. That you chose to use my gosling photo, holds a significant and special meaning to me for this reason.

    I love wildlife and nature photography. It is awesome to see and record God’s creation in this way. All of my wildlife and nature photography is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, as that is where I live.

    Thank you again, for choosing my photo.

    I am looking forward to the next time you are at Mars Hill Bible Church, and that you can meet me in person, as the photographer who took this photo.