Weekly Meanderings, 9 June 2018

Weekly Meanderings, 9 June 2018 June 9, 2018

It’s Graduation Day at Northern Seminary, and I have 15 DMin students graduating and I will miss each one of them. Good students, good pastors and leaders, good thesis projects. Tonight Kris and I go with our MANT students to visit the sites of Paul along the Mediterranean!

But it’s also Weekly Meanderings Day!

An excerpt from Blue Parakeet

David Swartz:

Some years ago, a town in Iceland stopped the construction of a road. Not because it was an archaeological site—or because of budgetary concerns. But because the proposed path of the road was the habitat of invisible elves.

Multiple rock piles stood in the way, which signified that elves inhabited the site. Government officials asked local elf whisperers to seek permission from these elves to proceed with construction. The answer, relayed the elf whisperers, was a firm “No, you cannot level the rock piles to build this road.” General consensus among locals, construction workers, and government officials was that the wishes of the elves should not be defied. After all, defying the elves can have disastrous consequences (in Alfholl, machinery and drills repeatedly broke down when the city proceeded despite a denial from the elves). And so the road was rerouted at considerable expense.

I heard this fascinating story during a recent five-day hiking trip to Iceland. Whether or not the elves are real, the rock piles certainly are. They’re everywhere, even in the most remote areas of Iceland. In the Westfjords (the most remote of the five regions in the country), I saw more rock piles than people (about 7,000).

The persistence of elves in the Icelandic imagination reflects a spiritual syncretism. Pagan until about 1000 CE, Iceland’s rulers converted to Christianity and named it the national religion. Paganism was officially tolerated, however, and pagan spiritual practices have persisted ever since. …

Iceland, like many other Western nations, faces declining church attendance. Though 70 percent of citizens are registered as members of the Lutheran Church of Iceland, the country’s state church, less than ten percent actually attend church, even only once a month. It appears to be the epitome of a secular state.

And yet . . . it is hard to find an atheist (less than ten percent of the population) in Iceland. And citizens continue to view the church as an important institution. Indeed, the state continues to fund the church; all taxpayers over the age of sixteen pay a church tax called the sóknargjald. Even more curious, given the supposed secularization of Iceland, elves shape public policy. The constructs of secularism and the supernatural, as it turns out, are much more complex than we usually think. [HT: JS]

Owen Strachan, who was blinded to the impotency of eternal subordination, is now criticized by Eric Price for appointing himself to be the guardian of orthodoxy:

The tactical strategy for the so-called Southern Baptist “conservative resurgence” required that everybody be divided into one of two camps – allies or enemies. The battle plan necessarily precluded the possibility of having charitable disagreement, learning from others, or admitting incomplete understanding. To learn from others would be to concede tactical ground to “the enemies” and risk having soldiers defect to the other side.

Since the battle plan was to elect fundamentalists to positions of power, truth became inseparably wedded to power; thus anyone (read: any men) who had “the truth” deserved to wield power to silence those who opposed the truth. The fundamentalists had to discard every weapon in their toolbox except the hammer of rebuke. The tools of gentleness (Prov 15:1) and listening (James 1:19) were set aside because they did not advance the takeover plan. A constantly alarmist tone was adopted as a rhetorical tool that legitimized the fight, and this alarmist tone cannot be maintained when discussing the nuances of exegesis, the integration of general and special revelation, and the role of one’s social location in the task of theological reflection.

Now that the SBC fundamentalists have “won” by seizing power from the people who were wrong, they are on too much of a triumphalist victory parade to put down their weapons and treat those outside their own tribe as brothers and sisters who are equally gifted with the Spirit and with cognitive faculties. Truth is still wedded to power, so it is inconceivable to those who have “the truth” that they would not use it to exert authority and dominance over others. Once you have appointed yourself as the denomination’s savior and faithful remnant, it is a demotion to suddenly begin treating other Christians as your theological peers.

Jimmy John’s:

Jimmy John’s is taking gluttony to a new level.

For those who think Subway’s footlongs just aren’t big enough, Jimmy John’s is going even bigger — a 16-inch giant of a deli sandwich.

The most outrageous version of this baby handily packs more calories than even the 1,650-calorie Boss Burger that Chili’s introduced last month. Chili’s behemoth goes vertical, nearly half a foot high with five kinds of meat, cheese and sauces.

Jimmy John’s wasn’t about to be one-upped.

“It really came about because of consumer demand for it,” said John Shea, Jimmy John’s chief marketing officer. “We had hungrier consumers looking for a little bit more sandwich.”

Double the size of the chain’s eight-inch original, the giant sandwiches range from 1,110 calories for the classic turkey breast to 2,190 for the hefty Gargantuan. This cardiologist’s nightmare comes stacked with salami, capicola, turkey, roast beef, ham, provolone cheese, vegetables, oil and vinegar and mayo.

Christina Capatides:

According to KIII-TV in South Texas, Jennifer Sutcliffe and her husband were out doing yard work near Corpus Christi when they spotted a four-foot rattlesnake on their property. As any hot-blooded Texan would, her husband promptly grabbed a shovel and beheaded the snake. However, when he then bent down to dispose of the reptile, it retaliated — or rather, its severed head did.

It turns out snakes can still attack even an hour after they’ve been beheaded. Since their metabolisms are much slower than those of humans, their internal organs can stay alive for longer. And naturally, they become aggressive in the throes of death, when they perceive the situation as a last-ditch opportunity to survive.

The weekend of May 27, Jennifer Sutcliffe’s husband learned that the hard way. And because the snake’s head was no longer connected to a body when it bit him, she told KIII-TV that it discharged the full load of its venom all at once.

According to the station, the man immediately began having seizures, lost his vision and began experiencing internal bleeding. He reportedly had to be airlifted to the hospital. Once there, doctors administered massive amounts of the antivenom CroFab, but for the first 24 hours, they still weren’t sure whether or not he’d make it.

“A normal person who is going to get bit is going to get two to four doses of antivenom,” Sutcliffe told KIII-TV. “He had to have 26 doses.”

More than a week later, the man is in stable condition, but still showing signs of weakened kidney function due to the shocking bite. After all the trauma he and his family have endured, one silver lining may be the spotlight he unknowingly shed on the issue of how best to handle a venomous snake.

Tim Daniels:

Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant surprised kids he mentored from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula in Menlo Park, California, by agreeing to pay for their first year of college tuition. … In March, Karl Buscheck of the San Francisco Examiner reported the 29-year-old committed over $13 million to community causes this year.

Although Durant didn’t comment on his charitable efforts from the story, Dubs teammate Quinn Cook praised the All-Star forward for his commitment to the Washington, D.C., area, where they both grew up.

“It means a lot to the community,” he said. “It’s not just the amount of money that he donated. It’s the constant support that he gives to the kids. He’s always back, showing his face.”

Debbie Carlson:

It’s easy to drop serious cash in a garden supply shop, falling in love with a gorgeous yucca plant or picking up a bunch of bargain tools.

But when the that sun-loving yucca dies in your shady, wet-soil backyard, or that plastic-handled spade breaks the first time you used, you’ve wasted money and you’re frustrated. To help you avoid financial heartbreak, garden experts shared common mistakes they see new gardeners make.

1. You’ve neglected the soil.

2. Choosing the wrong plants

3. Buying cheap tools.

4. You didn’t think about watering.

5. You’re overdoing it on fertilizer or pesticides. If you’re gardening to be more environmental, the last thing you want to do is waste money on expensive fertilizers, and many of these can make your plant dependent on the feedings.

“(Synthetic) can harm your plant quite a bit. If you overfertilize, it will burn the roots of the plant, or the plant is so dependent on the synthetic fertilizer that the minute you stop using it, it begins to fail because it needs that constantly,” Young said. She recommends organic fertilizers that feed the microbes and the soil, which will then in turn feed your plants.

Johnson frowns on the yearlong fertilizer programs that “weed and feed” lawns, such as powders or granular types in bags available at garden-supply shops, noting many release unneeded chemicals. If you feel the need to treat existing insect or weed problems, he recommends using liquid sprays for spot treatments.

“In my mind, … you shouldn’t be applying any sort of a pesticide, whether it’s herbicide or insecticide if you don’t need to,” he said.

Where do recyclables end up?

The New York Times recently reported that, unknown to most families who spend hours separating garbage into little recycling bins, much of the stuff ends up in a landfill anyway.

One big reason: China has essentially shut the door to U.S. recyclables.

The Times notes that about a third of recyclables gets shipped abroad, with China the biggest importer. But starting this year, China imposed strict rules on what it will accept, effectively banning most of it. That, the Times reports, has forced many recycling companies who can’t find other takers to dump recyclables into landfills.

One company, Oregon’s Rogue Disposal and Recycling, sent “all its recycling to landfills for the first few months of the year,” the Times reports.

Bloomberg says Massachusetts has issued dozens of landfill waivers so recyclable material can be dumped in them. The Florida Sun Sentinel reports that in Broward County, Fla., up to 30% of the stuff residents put in recycling bins ends up in landfills.

Worse, some local officials aren’t telling residents this for fear that they will give up on recycling altogether.

Even without China’s recycling wall, plenty of “recyclables” end up in landfills, in part because of “single stream” recycling. That’s where residents can put everything in the same bin — a switch designed to encourage more recycling. But it results in more stuff that can’t be recycled because it’s “contaminated.” One study found that about 30% of plastic collected in these “single stream” bins can’t be recycled.

In addition, the market for recyclable materials has collapsed as supply increases and demand subsides. Manufacturers use less material, recycled or otherwise, to make things like bottles and cans. And lower oil prices make it more economical to make products fresh, rather than from scraps.

As a result, prices for paper, plastic, glass and scrap aluminum have plunged. In some cases to zero.

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