Weekly Meanderings, 7 April 2018

Weekly Meanderings, 7 April 2018 April 7, 2018

Could Beth Moore turn the tide? Will she? By Beth Allison Barr:

“Lord, I repent of ways I’ve been complicit in & contributed to misogyny & sexism in the church by my cowardly and inordinate deference to male leaders in order to survive rather than simply appropriately respecting them as my brothers. Forgive me for being part of the problem.”  Beth Moore tweeted (@BethMooreLPM) this  just last week, March 27 2018.

I almost missed it.

It wasn’t until we were eating Easter dinner a few days later when my mom (who is better on twitter than I am) brought it to my attention. “Did you see Beth Moore’s apology? Is she recanting complementarianism?” I nearly dropped my fork. As soon as it was respectably possible, I left the table and grabbed my phone, searching for the tweet. And there it was: “Lord I repent of ways I’ve been complicit in & contributed to misogyny & sexism in the church by my cowardly and inordinate deference to male leaders..Forgive me for being part of the problem.” She didn’t actually say the word complementarianism, but her language is pretty clear. She apologized for being “part of the problem” of sexism and misogyny in the church by her “cowardly” deference to male leaders.

I had to read the tweet several times before it sunk in.  I even double checked her twitter account to make sure it was real. It was only then that I allowed myself to finally start hoping. Could Beth Moore–popular Southern Baptist preacher and founder of Living Proof Ministries–help turn the tide of complementarian theology?

I’m not convinced of Vitamins — the skinny:

More than half of Americans take vitamin supplements, including 68% of those age 65 and older, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. Among older adults, 29% take four or more supplements of any kind, according to a Journal of Nutrition study published in 2017.

Often, preliminary studies fuel irrational exuberance about a promising dietary supplement, leading millions of people to buy into the trend. Many never stop. They continue even though more rigorous studies — which can take many years to complete — almost never find that vitamins prevent disease, and in some cases cause harm.

“The enthusiasm does tend to outpace the evidence,” said JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

There’s no conclusive evidence that dietary supplements prevent chronic disease in the average American, Manson said. And while a handful of vitamin and mineral studies have had positive results, those findings haven’t been strong enough to recommend supplements to the general U.S. public, she said.

The National Institutes of Health has spent more than $2.4 billion since 1999 studying vitamins and minerals. Yet for “all the research we’ve done, we don’t have much to show for it,” said Barnett Kramer, director of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute.

Patristics and war, by Brandon Hurlbert:

After doing a little more digging, I decided to catalog these references and see if there was a pattern. Why was this aversion to killing, war, and military service so unanimous among the early Church Fathers? Here are a few things that I found:

  1. No early Church Father approved of killing in any context. This belief was rooted in Jesus’ command to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:39-44) as it is frequently alluded to or quoted. It was both Jesus’ teaching and his example of the cross that provided the foundation for this nonviolent ethic of enemy-love.
  2. The nonviolent response of Christians to persecution and defamation was seen as a fulfillment of prophecy and a major identity marker of following Jesus. (“We came in accordance with the commands of Jesus to beat the spiritual swords that fight and insult us into ploughshares, and to transform the spears that formerly fought against us in pruning-hooks.” Origen, Against Celsus 5.33).
  3. The nonviolent response of Christians to persecution and defamation was often given as evidence of the value of Christianity to the Roman empire. It was argued that Christianity was making Rome more just and virtuous. This means that the enemy-love ethic had become a widespread way of living for Christians. If not, the arguments would fall flat in the face of opposing evidence.
  4. The aversion to Christian military service is primarily a result of its commitment to enemy-love rather than a focus on idolatry. While the idolatry infused in the Roman military constituted by mandated sacrifices and the taking of a public oath (Sacramentum, the same word used for the Christian mystery and the sacraments), was a concern in the writings of the early Church, it was not the Violence was the main source of contention as both issues are almost always addressed together. (To my knowledge, there are only two explicit instances, Tertullian The Crown 12.1 and Clement of Alexandria Commentary on 1 Cor. 26.98, which deal with Idolatry only. Various accounts of martyrdoms occurring in the military, especially Marcellus and Julius the Veteran, also only address the issue of idolatry.)
  5. Military and war imagery within the Old and New Testaments were reused and reimagined by the Church Fathers to draw a distinction between the Church and the Empire. The early Christian community really did wage war, even on behalf of the emperor, but it was done in accordance to Scripture, like Ephesians 6:11-17. Armed with the word of God, prayer, and their nonviolent enemy-love, the Church fought against the spiritual forces of evil that were the source of violence and warfare. The imagery was retained, but it was clear that the Militi Christiwas made of martyrs and those who prayed fervently for peace.

Deerfield IL banning assault rifles et al for the entire city:

(Reuters) – A Chicago suburb has banned the possession, sale and manufacture of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in response to the massacre at a Florida high school and other recent mass shootings in the United States.

Residents of Democratic-leaning Deerfield, Illinois have until June 13 to remove any firearms and magazines that fall outside the new restrictions or face a fine of between $250 and $1,000 per day, according to an ordinance passed by the town board on Monday night.

The ban was a direct response to the Feb. 14 killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and the student-led campaign for tighter restrictions on guns inspired by the mass shooting, the ordinance said.

The Deerfield decision is likely to face legal challenges from gun rights groups that see it as a violation of their constitutional rights.

A similar ban in Highland Park, Illinois was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and upheld.

The National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

These people are sticking it out:

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Augusta National, home to the U.S. Masters, may be one of the most exclusive and powerful golf clubs in the world but even its mighty coffers do not hold enough money to convince two neighbouring homeowners to relocate.

A residential community once bordering Augusta National is now a free parking lot after the club, in a bid to accommodate patrons for the one week each year that it hosts the Masters, enticed homeowners with prices that were too good to turn down.

The two remaining homes in the area are modest, red-brick bungalows that sit in the shadow of Augusta National’s towering pine trees and the owners of each house have no desire to appease the interests of Augusta National.

“We will just continue to be right here and Augusta National can put no kind of money in front of us that would change our minds,” Herman Thacker, who together with his wife Elizabeth has lived in their home since 1959, told Reuters during an interview at his house this week.

“We raised our family here, and we can go out and buy a new house but we can’t buy a home. This is home to us.”

Babel’s origins?

Scientists say they have traced the world’s 6,000 modern languages — from English to Mandarin — back to a single “mother tongue,” an ancestral language spoken in Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.

New research, published in the journal Science, suggests this single ancient language resulted in human civilization — a Diaspora — as well as advances in art and hunting tool technology, and laid the groundwork for all the world’s cultures.

The research, by Quentin Atkinson from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, also found that speech evolved far earlier than previously thought. And the findings implied, though did not prove, that modern language originated only once, an issue of controversy among linguists, according to the New York Times.

Before Atkinson came up with the evidence for a single African origin of language, some scientists had argued that language evolved independently in different parts of the world.

Atkinson found that the first populations migrating from Africa laid the groundwork for all the world’s cultures by taking their single language with them. “It was the catalyst that spurred the human expansion that we all are a product of,” Atkinson said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Atkinson traced the number distinct sounds, or phonemes — consonants, vowels and tones — in 504 world languages, finding compelling evidence that they can be traced back to a long-forgotten dialect spoken by our Stone Age ancestors, according to the Daily Mail.

Atkinson also hypothesized that languages with the most sounds would be the oldest, while those spoken by smaller breakaway groups would utilize fewer sounds as variation and complexity diminished.

The study found that some of the click-using languages of Africa have more than 100 phonemes, or sounds, whereas Hawaiian, toward the far end of the human migration route out of Africa, has only 13, the Times reported. English has about 45 phonemes.

The phoneme pattern mirrors the pattern of human genetic diversity as humans spread across the globe from sub-Saharan Africa around 70,000 years ago.

Teaching for the love (not for the money):

(Reuters) – John-David Bowman, Arizona’s 2015 “Teacher of the Year,” considers himself lucky: he can do the job he loves without worrying about supporting his family because he relies on his wife’s salary.

Things are harder for third-year Oklahoma teacher Jenny Vargas. The divorced mother of a 6-year-old girl is leaving her home state to take a job in Coffeyville, Kansas, where she can earn $8,000 a year more and be able to make ends meet.

Stories like theirs have sparked a wave of strikes and threats of more across the country over the past month as teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky have walked off the job to protest long-stagnant teacher pay and school budgets.

Teachers in Arizona have threatened similar action if lawmakers do not meet their demands for more spending on schools.

Vargas, who teaches second grade in a Tulsa school, joined thousands of Oklahoma teachers who crammed into the state Capitol in Oklahoma City this week and others held sympathy rallies around the state. They demanded lawmakers pass a tax package that would raise another $200 million for the state school budget to provide up-to-date books and other classroom materials. The protests continued on Wednesday.

“It was never my intention to leave the state of Oklahoma,” Vargas said in a phone interview. Despite her love for her students, she laments that she made more per year working at Walmart as a student than she does teaching, and said she is moving to give her daughter a better life.

“Most days I have to ask myself, ‘Today am I going to be a good mom or am I going to be a good teacher?’” Vargas said. “It’s really hard to do both.”

The walk-outs have shone a light on states where largely Republican-controlled legislatures have slashed funding for public schools.

Oklahoma ranked 47th in spending per student, according to National Education Association data, and its average salary for a high school teacher is $42,460, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

Moving poo to Parrish:

Parrish Mayor Heather Hall said at one point there were 252 tractor-trailer loads of poop stockpiled in her town.

(CNN)Right now, dozens of train cars carrying 10 million pounds of poop are stranded in a rural Alabama rail yard. Technically it’s biowaste, but to the 982 residents in the small town of Parrish, that’s just semantics.

They want it gone. The load has been there for almost two months, and it’s making the whole place smell like a rotting animal carcass.

To add insult to injury, it isn’t even their poop. For the last year, waste management facilities in New York and one in New Jersey have been shipping tons of biowaste — literally, tons — to Big Sky Environmental, a private landfill in Adamsville, Alabama. But in January, the neighboring town of West Jefferson filed an injunction against Big Sky to keep the sludge from being stored in a nearby rail yard.

It was successful — but as a result, the poo already in transit got moved to Parrish, where there are no zoning laws to prevent the waste from being stored.

Bradford Pear trees smell like poo:

GREENVILLE, S.C. — All those white blooming trees you see everywhere…do you think they are pretty?   [SMcK: not funny, folks, our trees were white with snow this week.] If you knew what they actually represent, you would choke on your morning coffee and gag on your scrambled eggs. All those white blooming trees you see now are an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.

I’m talking about every white blooming tree right now, with only the exception of wild plums, which is a short multi-flora tree that seldom reaches over 8 feet in height. All the other white flowering trees in today’s environment are an ecological nightmare, getting worse and worse every year and obliterating our wonderful native trees from the rural landscape.

If it’s blooming white right now, it’s a curse. This dictum especially applies to that “charming” Bradford pear your dimwitted landscaper planted in the middle of your front yard. Indeed, lack of smarts is what has led to this disaster. Bradford pear is worse than kudzu, and the ill-conceived progeny of Bradford pear will be cursing our environment for decades or possibly centuries yet to come.

When Bradford pear was introduced as an ornamental in 1964 by the US Department of Agriculture, it was known then that this tree possessed the weakest branch structure in nature. Also, the tree was assumed to be sterile. Bradford pears will seldom last more than 20 years before they bust themselves apart at the seams. That’s actually the good news.

In an attempt to extend the lifespan of this despicable tree, other varieties such as Cleveland Select, etc. were introduced. These trees will live for about 25 years. That’s little consolation for the resulting disasters that happened when these other pear varieties were introduced.

After 25 years the ill effects of the steep v crotch branch structure – which all pears possess – take their inevitable course of action and cause pear limb structures to crack, split and bust. You can’t fool Mother Nature, and people who plant pears will sooner or later regret that choice. Planting pears borders on — if not crosses the line — of negligence.

However, the fact that Bradford pear trees are short lived and dangerous is not the real reason that these trees are such a disaster. The problem is that these trees are in fact not sterile. No two Bradford pears will ever reproduce among themselves, but they do cross pollinate with every other pear tree out there, including the Cleveland Select pear trees that were meant to be the salvation of flowering pears everywhere. The introduction of other pear varieties has compounded the problem to the point where it is almost too late to rectify.

Because of the cross pollination problem, pear trees have now proliferated exponentially across our environment. And, to make matters worse, the evil offspring has reverted to the ancient Chinese Callery pears which form impenetrable thorny thickets that choke out the life out of pines, dogwoods, maples, redbuds, oaks, hickories, etc.

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