Weekly Meanderings, 8 February 2014

Weekly Meanderings, 8 February 2014 February 8, 2014

Correcting the President, Christina Hoff Sommers:

It’s the bogus statistic that won’t die—and president deployed it during the State of the Union—but women do not make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns.

President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.”

Carl Trueman weighs in on the flap some found in the post yesterday by my friend John Frye. Here are Carl’s words and they are good ones:

I am a Calvinist to the tips of my fingers.  I do not think that Calvinism is to blame for some contemporary Christians’ inability to handle tragedy and to lament.  Part of the problem is the perennial intrusion of the theologies of glory which the fallen world preaches to us and which our fallen hearts are always eager to believe.

But I do think the response to Frye should not be ‘How dare you blame the Calvinists!?’ so much as ‘If there is a problem, and if true Calvinism should not create such a problem, what is going wrong in our churches?’   Here, the difference between a church’s doctrine and the reception of that doctrine by individual Christians and congregations is crucial.  Calvinism, true Calvinism, is not to blame; but sadly there areCalvinists who are less innocent, who do reduce the problem of evil and suffering to tweetable soundbites which inevitably lack the complexity of the Biblical teaching, who do ignore the whole counsel of God in their teaching and preaching and choice of praise songs.  And I fear that a failure to reflect the whole counsel of God in our teaching and worship has indeed left individuals conflicted over how — and whether — Christians should lament.  The arrival of funerals that are ‘celebrations of life’ even within some Presbyterian circles witnesses to the reality of this problem.

Yes, thirteen witty lines from literature.

My friend, Aaron Niequist, has a new initiative at Willow on spiritual formation. Praying for him.

Ronnie Cohen on teenagers and breakfast:

(Reuters Health) – Teenagers who didn’t eat a good breakfast were more likely to be obese and have elevated blood sugar in middle age, a new study shows.

Researchers at Umea University in Sweden found that teens who reported eating no breakfast or only sweets were two-thirds more likely to develop a cluster of risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes when they were in their 40s than their peers who ate more substantial morning meals.

“It may be that eating breakfast aids in keeping to a healthier diet the rest of the day,” the study’s lead author, Maria Wennberg, told Reuters Health in an email.

Blaine Hogan’s reflection addictions, acting, and Philip Seymour Hoffman:

The whole point of acting is to enter into another character so deeply that youbecome that character. The horror is that after the scene is over or the show closes, you have to go back to just being yourself. Now there are a million actors, many of who are friends that can handle this delicate balance with grace and ease. But because I was always running and hiding, never willing to have my backstage life moved center stage, I simply couldn’t.

[Is acting a kind of addiction to distance from the self?]

My colleague and friend, Claude Mariotinni, has a long set of posts on Isaiah 7:14 and the virginal conception and they are worthy of a careful reading. Here is his conclusion:

In conclusion, the New Testament affirms that Jesus was born of a woman who was sexually a virgin. However, the Hebrew text of Isaiah 7:14 is not announcing that a virgin will give birth to a child. Rather, the prophet is announcing that God would be present with his people to save them. It is this prophecy of God’s presence that is fulfilled in Christ. In Christ God is with us to save us from our sins.

Immanuel, God is with us.

Eat less salt:

(Reuters Health) – Eating less than one teaspoon of salt per day remains the ideal goal for Americans, according to a new study.

Most research has linked high sodium consumption with greater risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Evidence has shown that men and women age 51 or older, African Americans or those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease face especially high risks.

Sean McElwee on the debate between Ham and Nye:

The irony of modern American Christian right-wing fundamentalism is that, for all its talk of tradition, it is a radically new way to read the Bible. The strict constructionist, or literal fundamentalist, biblical method of interpretation was invented in the 19th century. America at this time experienced rapid social change that played a key role in creating the fundamentalism that now lies at the core of the religious right. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the idea that technological progress is the way forward. American Protestants worried that all this science would encroach on their religious beliefs, so they turned to the Bible as the source of all knowledge — scientific and spiritual. During a time when Darwin’s followers were trying to explain everything in terms of evolutionary theory, American Protestants refused to look for truth outside their interpretation of Scripture.

In “Fundamentalism and American Culture,” George Marsden describes fundamentalism as “essentially the extreme and agonized defense of a dying way of life.” The American Protestant response to the Industrial Revolution was engendered by the fear that a small cabal of experts would dictate to Americans how to live their lives and that science would somehow replace their religion. In truth, the Christian tradition provides little support for the fundamentalist doctrines that arose during this period. Augustine believed that science and religion need not be in competition, and the Catholic Church has long held that evolution does not contradict the Church’s teachings. Fundamentalists who deny climate change and evolution have simply read their simplistic understanding of science into biblical texts.

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