Weekly Meanderings #1 of 2019

Weekly Meanderings #1 of 2019 January 5, 2019


Good ministry notice:

This is Living Ministries is seeking to help women leaving incarceration improve their lives.

“Tennessee Department of Corrections has given us their approval, and we can take in participants any day now,” said ministry executive director, Lindsay Holloway.

Holloway said the focus group for the ministry are women under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

“There are (TDOC women) in every county jail, and prisons. I just feel like that’s the population of women who are the least served.”

Most of the women behind bars, regardless of their upbringings, share one commonality that the ministry hopes to address in their program.

“The majority of women who are incarcerated have been through a trauma at some point in their lives,” Holloway said. “Before they were criminals, they were victims of some sort of crime (sexual, physical, mental).”

Holloway used her own experience with methamphetamine and opioid addiction as an example.

“I was a varsity cheerleader. I was in 14 clubs throughout high school. I didn’t wake up one day and think ‘I’m going to throw away all my scholarships and be a drug dealer.’ That’s not how it happens. It just sneaks in there and controls you.”

This is Living offers a 12-month program, which includes grief and trauma counseling; relationship and friendship curriculum; an abundance of craft classes; gardening and outdoor activities; journaling; job services; and Bible studies.

The ministry is the fourth parole-approved house in Tennessee.

“There were only three houses in the entire state that were parole-approved for women,” Holloway said. “So that means women get denied parole and have to stay incarcerated because their home plan isn’t approved, or they don’t have a program to go to.”

Those involved with the ministry also plan to keep in contact with the women who go through its doors by having alumni groups.

I’m with David Swartz:

I confess to considerable ambivalence over the prospect of bookless libraries. On one hand, I kind of get it. Why buy expensive books and shelves when e-books can be accessed for far less money? The library holdings at my small liberal arts college are limited compared to those of the research university library where I went to graduate school, so I’m dependent on interlibrary loans and electronic resources such as Jstor and Ebsco. In fact, my research has benefited tremendously from searchable databases and electronic journals. I’ve been able to track down sources in ways that would have been impossible decades ago.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to toss out the books. I get a lot of pleasure from sitting down in my office’s green leather recliner with a mug of steaming Earl Grey as I turn the pages of a book that I can actually touch. Is this a silly nostalgia for a preindustrial utopia that never was? I don’t think so. Along with Neil Postman, I’m not convinced that form doesn’t matter. This seems especially true when working in the archives. There’s something almost mystical about touching and reading the very documents that my historical subjects had touched. I like to think that it makes me a more empathetic historian.

I also object to bookless libraries because of the way we learn. Many times I’ve searched my library’s online catalog for a book only to realize later that the search was laughably insufficient. I might identify an important book, but when I head to the bricks-and-mortar library to fetch it, I almost always realize that the catalog didn’t find everything. In fact, some of my best sources have not come from targeted searches. I almost always come out of the stacks with half a dozen books from surrounding shelves. Catalog searches have real limits. We’re limited, obviously, by the terms of the search—and the teleology embedded in our searches. Browsing the stacks allows us to happen upon sources we never considered.

Sometimes the best learning comes through indirection as we travel circuitous routes toward an unknown destination. Sometimes we stumble on answers or insights on the path to somewhere else. Sometimes we pose the wrong question—or we construct an answer before we even ask a question. Sometimes we happen upon our best archival sources after being given the wrong box. Sometimes our most profound insights result from winding journeys in the laboratory, in the field, or in the text. The process can seem inefficient, but the search itself is important. It takes us beyond knowledge to wisdom.

James Macdonald, Elephant’s Debt, and Julie Roys — the newest:

In late December 2018, Moody radio (which has a large national network of radio stations) discussed pulling MacDonald’s radio “ministry” program Walk in the Word (WITW) from their radio distribution.  Julie Roys, again, has written a masterful piece covering this issue in detail.  When you are finished reading Roys’ piece, please return to this post for further discussion of the issue and a litigation update regarding proceedings scheduled for this Monday, 7 January 2019.

Welcome back.

What must be appreciated is the large network Moody radio has around the country that provided a massive fund raising platform for MacDonald. In a time when millions of dollars from Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) are no longer available to him and regular giving at Harvest Bible Chapel is consistently running under budget, this represents a significant financial blow to the MacDonald empire.

As is his usual practice, when faced with “strained” relationships that place a “burden” upon him, MacDonald resorts to resignation and rhetoric. This morning an email went out to the church announcing that WITW was going digital. This is yet another “resignation” he is attempting to explain to his congregation. Recall that he resigned from the Gospel Coalition in 2012, he resigned from Harvest Bible Fellowship in 2017, and now he has resigned from Moody Radio (and TBN) in 2018. Even before this email and website posting, MacDonald was in full spin mode.

How encouraging! Stadia’s church planting financial support.

Beginning immediately, we are giving away our vital, proven church planting services at no cost and with no strings attached – which means there will be no requirement of ongoing investment back to Stadia. We are confident this shift will open up opportunities for partnering with church planting organizations and with even more high capacity leaders, expediting church planting across the United States.

As Stadia has partnered to plant over 250 US churches, we have developed a suite of unique and highly effective church planter services, including church planter discovery, development and assessment, project management, coaching, bookkeeping, training, fundraising intensives, residencies, and post-launch support. When these services are provided, the resulting church plants thrive in ways that differentiate them from other church plants:

  • 90% of Stadia’s US plants are still engaged in their vision at year five, as opposed to the national average of 60% at year 3
  • Stadia’s US church plants average 67% higher attendance at year four than the national average

Are these on your list? 15 foods to avoid according to Fast Food workers.

Ocean Cleanup Device breaks down:

(CNN)A 2,000-foot-long system created to clean up plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean is broken and being towed back to port for repair.

The Ocean Cleanup System 001, a U-shaped floating barrier created by the organization The Ocean Cleanup, arrived in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October.
Ocean garbage patches are formed by rotating ocean currents called “gyres” that pull marine debris (litter, fishing gear, and plastic) into one location, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The are several of these patches in the ocean, including two in the Pacific. The one known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California, and it’s about double the size of Texas, or three times the size of France.
After several months at sea, it was determined the system failed to retain plastic, the organization announced earlier in December.
Now, a 60-foot section of the device has broken free from the system, the organization announced December 29. The entire floating system, along with over 4,400 pounds of plastic it has recovered, is being brought back to shore.
“We are, of course, quite bummed about this as 1) we hoped to stay out for a bit longer to collect more data on plastic-system interaction, and 2) it introduces an additional challenge to be solved,” Boyan Slat, Ocean Cleanup’s CEO, said in a blog post. “At the same time, we also realize that setbacks like this are inevitable when pioneering new technology at a rapid pace.”
The device is 2,000 feet long with a 10-foot skirt that hangs below it, under the water. It set sail from San Francisco in September, with the goal of cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.
Time to read Augustine’s big book? With David Moore.
Evangelicals shifting on their philanthropy, by Emma Green:

If the 2016 election was a reminder that white evangelical voters can determine who wins the White House, the past few years have also been a testament to the influence of Christian cash. Betsy DeVos, a juggernaut funder of religious and Republican causes in Michigan, is the U.S. secretary of education. Foster Friess, a conservative mega-donor in Wyoming, was an early backer of Donald Trump. And the Greens, the Hobby Lobby–crafts–chain owners who rank among the richest families in America, helped secure the Supreme Court’s consequential 2014 decision on religious freedom and birth control. They recently opened an elaborate museum dedicated to the Bible on the edge of the National Mall.

Donors such as these have helped solidify the identity of evangelicalism in the American popular imagination: a movement that’s solely about politics and the culture wars. But behind the scenes, a group of Christian elites is quietly working to create new ways for rich evangelicals to affect the world around them—and to foster a different public image for the church.

As these elites work to shape the world of Christian philanthropy, they are joining a great generational wrestling match over the way Christians should accumulate and use power. The outcome will help determine what’s ahead for the evangelical movement, including a new attitude toward the rightful role of the church in public life. …

This history makes Howard Ahmanson’s recent transformation all the more remarkable: One of the most stalwart backers of religious-right causes has become disenchanted with the GOP and many of its associated institutions.

“The Republican Party is a white-ethnic party. And I don’t want to be identified with that,” Ahmanson told me recently. He dislikes that white evangelicals are largely supportive of Donald Trump—“Whatever this is, it’s not the Gospel,” he said—and has stopped giving to groups such as the Family Research Council, an influential advocate for socially conservative causes in Washington. These days, his giving is focused on issues such as land use and zoning in California—connected to his father’s work in facilitating home building—and he’s funding a project to create a digital illuminated Bible. “God is using this time, and Donald Trump, to purge the church,” he told me. “Are you about Christ and the Gospel first, or is your church just a Sunday extension of your political team?”

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