Weekly Meanderings, 12 May 2018

Weekly Meanderings, 12 May 2018 May 12, 2018

We have turned toward summer here in Chicago: the crabapple trees are blooming, flowers are blooming, some leaves and buds are emerging, local baseball games can be heard, and, well, rain. And a number of interviews and short pieces on my new book —->

Thanks to Kris for so many of the links this week.

Best internet piece I read this week.

Wonderful story:

Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch. James Harrison deserves so much more than that.

Harrison, known as the “Man With the Golden Arm,” has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. After 1,100 donations, the 81-year-old Australian man “retired” Friday. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter.

According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies.

One sermon, lots of response, this one by Wes Hill:

None of this classic Christian perspective, sadly, is on display in Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley’s recent sermon on the place of the Old Testament in the life of contemporary Christians. Expositing the scene of the apostolic roundtable in Acts 15, Stanley declares, “Here’s what the Jerusalem Council was saying to the Gentiles: ‘You are not accountable to the Ten Commandments.’” Part of a threefold sermon series titled “Aftermath,” Stanley’s sermon went viral after the Christian Post website ran a story about it on Wednesday with the headline, “Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament from Their Faith, Stanley Says.”

Stanley’s motive is straightforwardly evangelistic. He wants to convince those who have lost or are in the process of losing their faith that the difficulties they may have with the perceived violence and legalism of the Old Testament need not prevent them from coming to Jesus. Alas, most of the 39-minute talk can really only be described as an elaborate and educated flirtation with the old Christian heresy of Marcionism—the belief that the Old Testament is not authoritative in matters of Christian doctrine and morals.

The gospel of Jesus, says Stanley near his sermon’s climax, “is completely detached … from everything that came before.” Summarizing that gospel, he says that “God has done something through the Jews for the world.” And then he drops this bombshell: “But the ‘through the Jews’ part of the story is over, and now something new and better and inclusive has come.”

Ben Witherington speaks out about the United Methodist Church and the so-called local church option:

Annual Conferences are just around the corner all over the USA and there will be petitions submitted to annual conferences suggesting something along the lines of a local church option when it comes to defining what counts as Christian marriage, what counts as proper sexual morality, what counts as moral fitness for ordination. It is no use denying our beloved and belabored Methodist Church is in a crisis, but neither of the local church options that are currently being noised about in the council of bishops and elsewhere are viable solutions to our problems. Why not?

First of all, because they are profoundly un-Methodist. Methodists do not decide major issue of doctrine or polity at the local church level, nor even at the annual conference level. They are quite rightly decided at the General Conference level, which is the only body which can speak for the whole church on such matters. This is why we have A United Methodist book of Discipline, which includes the doctrines and sanctioned practices in it. This has been the Methodist way for basically our entire existence. Ours is not a Baptist or Congregational church polity, nor should it become one. If it did that we would lose the genius that is Methodist connectionalism. So NO!— the local church should not suddenly become the arbiters of truth as to what counts as holy matrimony, what counts as being morally fit for ordination, what counts as appropriate Christian sexual behavior. No, no,no. Whatever solutions we may come up with to deal with our difficulties this is a ploy of desperation that denudes us of our Methodism that should be soundly rejected.

Girls names, Boys names for 2017:

Like the names Liam and Emma? So does every other new parent, according to national records.

Top 10 girl names:

1. Emma

2. Olivia

3. Ava

4. Isabella

5. Sophia

6. Mia

7. Charlotte

8. Amelia

9. Evelyn

10. Abigail

Top 10 boy names:

1. Liam

2. Noah

3. William

4. James

5. Logan

6. Benjamin

7. Mason

8. Elijah

9. Oliver

10. Jacob

Egg News:

And in good news for lovers of a frittata or scramble, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there were no adverse effects from having as many as 12 over seven days.

The researchers found that weight loss was similar over a year for people on a low-egg (two a week) and a high-egg (12 a week) diet.

They discovered that even participants with Type 2 diabetes did not suffer adverse effects from eating a diet high in eggs such as inflammation, cardiometabolic risk levels or raised glucose levels.

“A healthy diet based on population guidelines and including more eggs than currently recommended by some countries may be safely consumed,” concluded the researchers.

It has prompted a call for a review of the National Heart Foundation guidelines, which recommend just six eggs a week.

While eggs are high in fat, they are full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy omega-3 fats. The yolk is packed with nutrients, so there’s no need to opt for egg whites only.

Eggs do not significantly raise cholesterol in the blood, the Mayo Clinic reports, and people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs have been found to eat fewer calories over the day.

Joe Hawley on the Go:

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — For eight years, Joe Hawley’s life followed an inescapable rhythm — the monotony of practice, film study and offseason workouts, all of it on a seemingly endless loop. The NFL dictated where he had to be and what he had to do. It wrecked his body. It consumed his life.

“It’s very structured. My whole life has been like that,” Hawley says. “I felt like I just kind of wanted to experience life, be free.”

So when Hawley’s career came to an end at 29 — a finish line he saw coming long before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers declined to renew his contract this spring — the former offensive lineman decided to adjust course.

Hawley moved out of his Tampa apartment and donated most of his belongings to charity. He sold his Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe and purchased a 2007 Ford E-350 cargo van. He shed almost 50 pounds on an unusual diet that has him putting slices of butter in his coffee. He adopted a 2-year-old boxer mix from a shelter and aptly named her “Freedom.” And now, he plans to spend the next however-many months driving around the country and living out of his van — meeting new people, exploring different regions and blogging about the whole thing.

To say that Hawley is at a crossroads in his life is probably a bit dramatic. He prefers to describe all of this as an adventure or, more broadly, the first step in a “huge transition” away from football — the pursuit of “my next dream.”

One of his former teammates, however, had a different word for it.

“I thought he was crazy,” Alan Cross said with a laugh.

You go John Holman III:

John Holman III turned on his back as the waves crashed around him. It was 2002 and Holman was in his mid-60s, competing in his first Ironman. As he tried to navigate the angry waters, a thought popped into his mind: “What am I doing out here?”

The surf off the Southern California coast slammed into the cliffside and bounced right back toward the swimmers. The roiling water added to an already intimidating task, and Holman just hoped to get through it.

“You are getting hit going in both directions,” Holman recalled. “I was out there doing the backstroke and some other things, just trying to survive it.”

He lived through it, and many others since. And on Saturday, Holman, at 80 years old the oldest competitor at Ironman 70.3 St. George, will do it again.

Holman’s Ironman journey began at a San Diego cafe in the 1990s. The eatery was on the bike course of a triathlon, and Holman and his wife, who has since died, watched as the competitors soared down the road. Holman had competed in some century bike rides, so he turned to her and said, “That might be fun to do.”

Reminds me of the Sign in the Temple:

Ancient Romans used blood red, bright yellow and stunning white paints to illustrate dire warnings on the wall that separated them from the rebellious tribespeople of Scotland, a new study shows.

The painted warnings — including Roman eagles with blood-stained beaks, and the slain and decapitated bodies of the defeated victims of the victorious Roman legions — were shown alongside Latin inscriptions on carved stone slabs placed along a Roman rampart in Scotland.

Archaeologist Louisa Campbell from the University of Glasgow says the carved and painted stone slabs would have served as “Roman propaganda” to local tribespeople north of the Antonine Wall, a fortified wall built across Scotland by the Roman legions during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century A.D.

Although the stone slabs are plain gray today, Campbell’s research shows that they were once brightly colored with naturally made paints, including red and yellow ochre, a red mineral called realgar, a red plant dye known as madder, a bright yellow mineral called orpiment and white lead.

The reds, in particular, were used to paint details, such as the cloaks of Roman soldiers, and to signify the bloody end in store for enemies of the Roman Empire. “The scenes depicted by the iconography demonstrate the power and might of Rome in a highly graphic manner,” Campbell told Live Science in an email.

The stone slabs, placed at intervals along the Antonine Wall, would have promoted the idea of Roman control of the region, both to the Roman armies and visitors from the empire, as well as to the indigenous peoples who lived around and north of the wall, she noted.

The stones were “a very visible message to the indigenous peoples of those regions that Rome is a powerful empire that will not tolerate any challenge to her authority,” Campbell said.

CBS News:

If you ever feel disconnected from others, take some solace in the fact that you’re not alone. A new report finds many Americans are lonely, and younger adults appear to be the hardest hit.

The study, published by the global health service company Cigna, found that 46 percent of U.S. adults report sometimes or always feeling lonely and 47 percent report feeling left out. Cigna calls those “epidemic levels.”

What’s more, only around half of Americans say they have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending time with family members.

Loneliness is defined as a feeling of being alone or lacking social connectedness,” Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna, told CBS News. “At Cigna, we’ve been hearing more and more from our customers and individuals calling us that they’re feeling lonely, alone and disconnected from others.

For the study, Cigna and the market research firm Ipsos surveyed more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Researchers measured loneliness using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Previous research has shown that loneliness is connected to a number of health issues, including diabetesheart disease and depression. It may play a role in substance abuse and can diminish overall quality of life. Some studies have even found that loneliness and social isolation may lead to an early death.

Surprisingly, the study found loneliness affects younger Americans more than the elderly.

Generation Z, or those between the ages of 18 and 22, were the loneliest generation, with a “loneliness score” of 48.3. Possible loneliness scores range from 20 to 80, with the national average a 44.

Millennials (ages 23 to 37) were close behind with a score of 45.3, followed by Generation X (ages 38 to 51) with a loneliness score of 45.1 The so-called Greatest Generation, those age 72 or over, ranked as the least lonely, with a score of 38.6.

When it came to the role of social media, researchers found its use was not a predictor of loneliness.

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