Weekly Meanderings, 18 April 2015

Weekly Meanderings, 18 April 2015 April 18, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.45.57 AMOur daughter, Laura, taught Jewel Loyd in 1st grade, and this is one wonderful story about Jewel, Notre Dame basketball star and now headed to the WNBA:

Image: Getty Images

News flash! Jewel was the #1 pick in the WNBA draft — she goes to Seattle. She will be joined by UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Days later, my mom got the test results back. She sat me down. A stack of paperwork neatly organized into folders separated us. I stared at the pile. What’s going on? I thought.

She told me I had dyslexia….

But that one word hung in the air: disability.

What are my friends going to say? Is this going to change what they or my teachers think of me? How they treat me? At that age, you’re so invested in other people’s opinions of you. Think about the social implications of having a disorder that manifests in everyday tasks like reading or writing and also requires special treatment, yet it’s unseen. An invisible disability. I was afraid people would think I was stupid.

How could I — someone who genuinely enjoyed learning and who wanted to do well in school — have this? What would it mean for the rest of school? College? It seemed unfair.

Adolescence is hard enough without a learning disability. It affected almost every aspect of my life. I tried to hide it. I was ashamed. You can only go so long before your friends start to suspect something. I was part of a really close circle of guy friends — we literally grew up together. I’d already disclosed my disability to the school faculty. I was actually the first person at my school to share a diagnosis, thanks to my parents, so we’d begun trying different specialized learning plans….

And then it clicked: the work ethic I had in the gym, the emphasis on repetition and visualization, was something I could apply to my studies. I developed strategies for overcoming my disability.

My friend Bob Robinson is posting on missional and vocation. Some good stuff here to read.

Karen, to the millennials:

We took seriously the directive to  go unto the ends of the earth, preaching the good news. 

It’s not that we never questioned, never criticized, never doubted, never despaired.

Like you, we did all of that and more.

It’s just that through it all, it never occurred to us to give-up on church.

We always understood that we are the church. 

It’s failures are our failures.

It’s successes are our successes.

It’s health is our health.

It’s hope is our hope.

To abandon it would be to give up on one another.

To say to Jesus, there is no power in the blood.

The Baruch Brothers Choir, by Amy Guttman:

Nearly all of Serbia’s Jews were killed during the Holocaust, in what was one of the swiftest murder campaigns in all of Europe. The region was declared “Judenfrei” in 1942, after just 13 months of Nazi occupation. Yet the Serbian-Jewish Singing Society—one of the oldest Jewish choirs in the world, today known as the Baruch Brothers Choir—has prospered, despite having been silenced during World Wars I and II. Today, having survived genocide, Communism, the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and a dwindling Jewish population, the group is larger than at any time in its history—even though less than 20 percent of its members are Jewish.

But that doesn’t seem to bother anyone—not the Ministry of Culture, which requests the choir’s presence at important commemorations; not the Jewish community; and not the singers. Synthesis and harmony have been the driving forces behind the choir since it was first established.

From the European Conservative, an interview question for Roger Scruton:

Given the constant threat of terrorism with which we now live, do you believe we are facing a cultural war? Is Samuel Huntington’s thesis that the world is divided into several civilisations based on religious ideals that can be fault lines for conflict still valid for the 21st century? 

There is certainly some kind of clash of civilisations occurring. However, Islam seems to have forgotten its civilisation, and it is rare now to meet a Muslim who has ever heard of enlightened Islamic scholars like Ibn Sinna, or Rumi, or Hafiz, or who is even aware that a great civilisation once existed, built upon the revelation of the Koran. Western civilisation, too, is losing the memory of its religious inheritance. I am reminded of Matthew Arnold’s “On Dover Beach” in which he expresses his fear for a future in which “ignorant armies clash by night”. So yes, there is a clash—not of two civilisations but of two competing forms of stupidity: one given to violence and the other to self-indulgence. [HT: CT]

Excellent article by Jonathan Merritt on how attitudes toward conversion therapy have changed:

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the Christian right poured money and muscle into promoting the message that homosexuality was a curable disorder. It advocated conversion therapy, which promised to turn gay men and women straight. But last week, when President Obama announced his support for a national ban on such therapies, few voices on the Christian right spoke up in protest. The announcement confirmed the evaporation of support for these approaches among the communities that once embraced them. As Alan Chambers, who once ran America’s largest ex-gay ministry, told me, “sexual orientation doesn’t change.”  …

In recent years, however, conversion therapy has been much maligned if not completely discredited. Almost all major medical and public welfare organizations oppose it, and even conservative Christians—once counted among its strongest supporters—are changing their minds. New Jersey, California, and Washington, D.C., have already outlawed ex-gay therapy for minors. By all accounts, therapies attempting to cure gayness appear to be going the way of the buggy whip….

By the second decade of the 21st century, the scientific foundation of reparative therapy had eroded, every major medical association had repudiated it, the movement’s leaders were falling away, and viral horror stories from former participants were popping up across the web.

But the death-knell sounded in July of 2013 when Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, America’s largest ex-gay Christian ministry apologized to the LGBT community and shuttered his organization. Chambers once claimed he knew “tens of thousands of people who have successfully changed their sexual orientation.” But last week, he told me “99.9 percent of people I met through Exodus’ ministries had not experienced a change in orientation.”

Steve Chalke, Andrew Marin, and the “conversation”:

Steve Chalke wants a conversation. But who should be able to take part in this conversation?

‘Everyone!’ declares Andrew Marin. The author of Love Is An Orientation has spent years building bridges between evangelicals and LGBT communities.

But Marin questioned whether progressive Christians (who are in favour of same sex relationships) were willing to let conservative Christians (who believe homosexuality is morally wrong) join in the conversation. Given that Marin’s audience appeared to be predominantly progressive, these were brave comments to make.

Despite being continually pressed, Marin refused to give his own opinion on the morality of same sex relationships. The 33 year old has managed to maintain this position of ambiguity for all of his life. The ‘bridge-builders’ unique stance has led to both criticism and praise from fellow evangelicals and LGBT groups.

Questions such as ‘Why can’t gay people be cured?’ and ‘What does it mean to promote inclusive youth work?’ were discussed during the day. There was also a debate about the phrase ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. Most agreed the statement was unhelpful and theologically flawed. Many cannot separate their sexuality from their identity, so ‘hating the sin’ is heard and interpreted as ‘hating the person’.

Another key question was, ‘How can you embrace homosexuality and still call yourself a biblical Christian?’ Cameron Trimble – a lesbian vicar and CEO of The Centre for Progressive Renewal led this discussion. If anyone in the room believed homosexuality was morally wrong, they didn’t say so.

Trimble wants to ‘un-build’ the traditional position on sexuality. She says it ‘no longer works’. She even went as far to say ‘Mega churches will un-build what they have built’ and that this should be ‘celebrated’.

If you haven’t seen this site, it’s worth a good ponder: for those “living out.”

New secretary general in the Anglican Communion, with a subtle instance of racism (in bold), by Fredrick Nzwili:

(RNS) African Anglicans welcomed the appointment of a Nigerian bishop as the next secretary general of the 85 million-member Anglican Communion, even as others criticized the appointment because of his anti-gay comments.

Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon beat other applicants from Oceania, Asia, Europe and the Americas and will assume the mostly ambassador type post at a time when the worldwide communion remains estranged over homosexuality and same-sex marriages, especially in Africa.

He is articulate and very well educated,” said Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, Kenya, diocese. “His position on traditional Anglicanism is very firm. This is good for us.” [To call a black man “articulate” is a way of saying, unintentionally often enough, “surprise, surprise” or “your stereotype has been upended”. Just notice how often one connects the word “articulate” to “African American, African, or black.”]

Kalu said the appointment had come at the right time, when African Anglicans needed a bigger voice within the communion.

South Africa protests:

A 112-year-old statue of Queen Victoria has become the latest colonial or apartheid-era monument to be vandalised in South Africa, raising fears that a racially charged debate over the country’s heritage could spiral out of control.

Splashes of green paint over the likeness of the former British monarch, which stands outside the city library in Port Elizabeth, were discovered on Friday andcondemned by local officials as illegal and “absolutely disgraceful”.

The attacks began a month ago when a student at the University of Cape Townflung a bucket of excrement over a statue of the British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes, which had enjoyed pride of place on campus since 1934. This sparked a vocal “Rhodes must fall” campaign, involving marches and sit-ins, that led to the huge bronze being removed from its plinth on Thursday before ululating crowds, some of whom splashed it with red paint or held placards saying “more than a statue”.

By then the debate about how South Africa should confront symbols of its difficult past had spread far beyond the student union to national newspaper columns, television talkshows and mainstream political parties. Protesters spray-painted a statue of King George VI at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and tore down a bronze British soldier from his horse on a Boer war memorial in Port Elizabeth.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters party, led by the firebrand Julius Malema, vigorously joined the movement. Its followers daubed paint over statues of the former South African leaders Paul Kruger and Louis Botha in Pretoria and Cape Town respectively.

Rachel Moss, feminism, fashion and poverty workers:

With plus-size models becoming the norm and Karl Lagerfeld using feminist placards in Chanel’s 2015 Spring show, on the surface, it seems the fashion industry is finally embracing feminism.

But are the women making the clothes we wear feeling the benefit?

According to campaign group Labour Behind The Label, there are approximately 24 million garment workers worldwide. Around 80% of those are women.

“Conditions for the women making our clothes are harsh,” Ilana Winterstein, a director at Labour Behind The Label tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

“Many face working excessive hours – often 14-16 hours per day – with forced overtime and no job security, for poverty wages and without trade union rights recognised.

“They suffer poor health, are victims of sexual and physical abuse and cannot afford to send their children to school.”

English majors, by Nick Anderson:

Like several disciplines in the humanities, English has faced hard questions in recent years. The Great Recession of 2008-09 led a growing number of students, urged by parents who want a “return” on their tuition investment, to pick majors they perceived as more likely to enhance their career prospects. This preoccupation with an economic rationale for going to college had been building for many years. But the economic downturn and its aftermath compounded job worries.

Numbers from College Park, home of the flagship public university of Maryland, tell a story that echoes in one way or another at schools across the country.

In fall 2009, there were 792 English majors among U-Md. undergraduates. That was nearly equal the total of computer science majors, 796. Five years later the computer science total had more than doubled, to 1,730. The total for English had fallen 39 percent, to 483.

English was hardly alone in decline. Down at least a quarter in that span were major totals for anthropology, art history, general biology and history.

At the University of Virginia, the English major count fell 18 percent from 2009 to 2013. History was down 31 percent; philosophy, 40 percent. Computer science was up 108 percent.

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