Weekly Meanderings, 22 March 2014

Weekly Meanderings, 22 March 2014 March 22, 2014

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… yerkidding… it’s a woman!

On Malaysian Airlines flight 370, about which I’ve not said anything … there is so much we do not know. Perhaps not knowing is the point of whoever flew that plane. That is, maybe disappearance was intended. As I see it, if the plane is in the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth, it had to fly way off course and it is there by some kind of design, and inasmuch as that is one of the most deserted and inaccessible places on the earth, it would seem we ought to consider someone (pilot, co-pilot, hijacker?) wanting that plane to disappear. The absence of any debris or wreckage makes me wonder if the one flying that plane made a soft water landing to make the plane disappear and be as un-findable as possible. We continue to grieve with the many families involved.

Amazing stories of new creation life among the players at Baylor University:

Baylor coach Scott Drew stood outside the media interview room at the Ferrell Center collecting his thoughts. It was Feb. 4 and his team had just suffered its seventh loss in eight games, this one by 17 points to Kansas as part of a 2-8 start in Big 12 play. Before Drew entered the room to answer questions about what wasn’t working, why and what he could do to fix it after plummeting out of the top 10 of the polls, he saw Scott Brewer, one of the Bears‘ two team chaplains. Drew grabbed Brewer as he passed by in the hall. “We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach,” Drew told him, “but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss.”

The sentiment has been one that’s summed up Drew’s approach to coaching his team, but this season has been one marked by life change more than any of Baylor’s 24 wins or 11 losses.

Later that month, Drew watched five of his players make public pronouncements of faith by being baptized. Two of those five had recently committed their lives to Jesus Christ for the first time….

Drew’s message has trickled down to his staff and the rest of the team. Friday might be the last game of a rocky season on the court. It might be the first of a memorable run up I-35 to Arlington for the Final Four.

The result won’t change what’s already been, by Drew’s measure, the most successful season in Baylor history.

“Winning the game of life is a lot more rewarding than a 40-minute basketball game that’s so temporary,” he said. “To have an opportunity to help be a part of an impact on a young person’s life is the best feeling.”

James Duncan on the celebrity pastors problem:

That fleeting bestseller designation is one that the pastors have embraced and trumpeted. Until last week, Mark Driscoll promoted himself as a #1 bestselling author. Perry Noble’s Facebook profile says only two things: He’s a pastor and a New York Times bestselling author. While the bestseller designation has its own value in increasing future book sales and inflating speaking fees, its special value is in the appearance of non-church wealth it creates for these pastor-authors.

The truth, however, is that much of their spendable wealth is generated by laundered tithe money, so the royalties and speaking fees comprise a second, hidden church salary. By using tithed money and their own pulpits to drive book sales and even buy the books outright, celebrity pastors have turned their non-profits into personal profit centers.

The problem isn’t only an ethical one. Tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from contriving special financial gains for their leaders, a violation called inurement that the IRS can punish by revoking the organization’s tax-exempt status. That seems a risk that these pastors are either unaware of or comfortable with, because their churches’ budgets, branding, and messaging are routinely used to sell as many books as possible to make the preachers even wealthier.

Gene Luen Yang, and Asian parental expectations — a good life story:

A few days before I headed off to college, my dad sat me down for a talk. It wasn’t that talk, which we’d had a few years before. That talk was incredibly awkward, involving metaphors about shooting guns and comparisons between human genitalia and broccoli. My dad gave me that talk in Chinese, and it was one of the few times in my life when I was grateful my Chinese language skills weren’t up to par.

The talk we had before college concerned something even more important than the birds and the bees, at least in the eyes of a first-generation immigrant like my father. He wanted to talk to me about my choice of major. He told me in his most solemn voice, “You must choose a major that is practical.”

He didn’t have to spell out what qualified as “practical.” The knowledge had surrounded me throughout my childhood, lingering in between the words of every conversation my parents had about my future. What it came down to was this: In four years, my dad was going to attend the graduation ceremony held in the Science building of my university. He hoped that I would be there too.

Don’t feed the narcissists, Kathy Escobar says, rightly:

for the most part, i try to stay out of social media madness because it is usually just that–maddening.  i watch things come into my feed and because i have a diverse set of friends the opposing viewpoints right next to each other are sometimes kind of comical. i also made a decision a long time ago to not add fuel to certain stories because i don’t want to contribute to the madness.

but yesterday morning after another tumble of posts about one person in particular i just felt like yelling at my computer–“people, stop feeding the narcissists!” 

i know we all have narcissism in us, but i am talking about the full-blown ones who also tend to be charismatic, strong, and quite-often-the-leaders-of-big-churches-or-organizations.  seriously, when it comes to the whole celebrity-business-model pastor thingthe unhealthy & often abusive systems built around them, and all of the blog churn on their behalf, we need to remember that we are contributors to the whole mess by engaging in it and giving it our time & energy.

it’s exactly what narcissists want.

it’s like they’ve got everyone eating out of their hand.

because that’s what narcissists do.

Is this the Jesus Seminar applied to the whole Bible?

This last comment strikes at the heart of the real issue behind the debate about homosexuality and the Christian faith.  The real issue for the church is not homosexuality, but the Bible.  And the underlying issue regarding the Bible is what kind of book the Bible is and how God has spoken, and continues to speak through it.  The answers to these questions determine how we read the handful of passages in the Bible that seem to speak to some form of same-sex sexual activity.

In my upcoming book, Making Sense of the Bible, I suggest that there are three “buckets” into which scriptures fall:

  1. Scriptures that express God’s heart, character and timeless will for human beings.
  2. Scriptures that expressed God’s will in a particular time, but are no longer binding.
  3. Scriptures that never fully expressed the heart, character or will of God.

Tara Bahrampour: travel for seniors is changing dramatically:

A generation ago, Americans’ idea of retirement travel might have involved a Caribbean cruise, a casino vacation or a European shopping trip. It would not have typically included trekking in the Himalayas, clearing invasive weeds on a volcanic island, canoeing through crocodile-infested waters in Nepal or, at the extreme end, selling the house to fund years of travel.

But little is typical among today’s retirees, who increasingly are leaping into more adventurous activities than their parents ever dreamed of….

The number of men over 50 traveling overseas from the United States rose 70 percent from 1993 to 2012, and the number of women over 50 rose 141 percent, according to the Commerce Department’s Survey of International Air Travelers. The biggest increases were among those 65 or older.

Over the same period, a cottage industry has burgeoned around adventurous travel for older people. Overseas Adventure Travel, a Massachusetts-based company designed for people 50 and older, served 40,000 clients last year, up from 29,000 in 2004 and 1,011 in 1994. At HomeLink USA, a house-swapping organization, 65 percent of clients are retirees and empty nesters, up from around 50 percent in the 1980s.

The difference reflects the values of a generation that was the first to travel extensively in its youth and has no qualms about spending money on immediate pleasures rather than saving for hard times.

How does dark chocolate work? We now know according to Monte Morin:

For years, chocolate lovers have remained blissfully unaware of the precise reason bittersweet dark chocolate seems to improve cardiovascular health. At least until, now that is.

On Tuesday, researchers at meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Dallas said they had solved the confection conundrum: Specific chocolate-loving microbes in the gut convert an otherwise indigestible portion of the candy into anti-inflammatory compounds, they said.

Sarah Knapton:

For the health conscious reader who has been stoically swapping butter for margarine for years the next sentence could leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Scientists have discovered that saturated fat does not cause heart disease while so-called ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats do not prevent cardiovascular problems.

In contrast with decades old nutritional advice, researchers at Cambridge University have found that giving up fatty meat, cream or butter is unlikely to improve health.

They are calling for guidelines to be changed to reflect a growing body of evidence suggesting there is no overall association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.

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