Weekly Meanderings, 4 May 2019

Weekly Meanderings, 4 May 2019 May 4, 2019

Greetings from Naxos, where I’m taking a mini-sabbatical to do a preliminary sketch of a small book on prayer. We find these small churches and even smaller chapels all over the mountains of Naxos.

Yes, this is a story and ought to be more of a story, even if it is not all persecution:

The persecution of Christians in parts of the world is at near “genocide” levels, according to a report ordered by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution.

Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.

Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The interim report said the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.

It warned the religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.

“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the Bishop wrote.

We are growing gray.

My friend Claude Mariottini has re-awakened his Carnival:

It has been three years since I hosted The Biblical Studies Carnival. Before I list some of the most outstanding posts for April, allow me to take a short trip through memory lane.

The April 2019 Biblical Studies Carnival will be Carnival Number 159. Since the Biblical Studies Carnival is published on the first day of each month, this means that the Carnival is 13 years and three months old. A lot has been changed in the blog world in the last thirteen years.

I began blogging in 2005; the Carnival was born in 2006. When I began blogging, bloggers used to link their blogs to other bloggers. The purpose of linking was to attract more viewers to one’s blog and to advertise the kind of material bloggers were publishing.

As I prepared the April Carnival, I noticed that most bloggers do not link their blogs. Bloggers today are lone rangers. The fellowship that existed among biblical bloggers no longer exists, if it existed at all. In addition, many bloggers do not publish regularly. Out of 137 bloggers listed in the Complete List of Biblioblogs published in July 2018, only 71 bloggers posted in April, and some of them, posted only one or two posts.

The meeting of bloggers at the annual meeting of the SBL was one way for bloggers to meet, have fellowship, and exchange ideas. Today, most bloggers do not know what their fellow bloggers are doing. I would like to use the April Carnival to encourage bloggers to link their blogs to other blogs.

The reciprocal linking of blogs was a good way to keep bloggers up-to-date with the work of fellow bloggers. I would like to encourage bloggers to return to the tradition of the past. Let us, once again, begin the reciprocal linkage of blogs.

Here are some of the outstanding posts for April 2019.

Jason Edwards, who quit yelling:

I’m now closing out my fourteenth year of teaching, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside and to coach both novice teachers and veterans. I’ve asked and fielded tons of questions about education, and while I truly enjoy delving into the details of my content, an overwhelming preponderance of questions that I hear being asked in meetings, conferences, and professional development sessions revolve around one subject: classroom management. Oftentimes, these questions are simply a teacher’s substitution for their real question: “How do I just get them to do what I want?” This desire is somewhat misguided, but for me, what’s worked to improve my management has been deep content knowledge, methodological and charismatic delivery, extensive planning, rigorous and meaningful activities, and flexibility. What doesn’t work: yelling.

I will not glamorize my own experience and pretend that I’ve always had classrooms that run smoothly. Nobody does. But throughout my teaching career, I can only recall resorting to yelling a dozen or so times. In my last five years of teaching, I remember yelling twice. None of these moments were my proudest in the classroom, but I’ve found myself more frequently observing — or simply overhearing — teachers who seem to constantly yell and scream at students. This can’t work. Here are five reasons why I quit yelling:

Good idea:

Forcing students to part with their phones and laptops and confining them to a classroom to read Nietzsche or Sartre for four hours doesn’t seem the best way to win over students at your new university. However, that’s exactly what David Peña-Guzmán, an assistant professor in humanities at San Francisco State University, has done – and it appears to have been a success.

Every other week, students signed up to the class “The Reading Experiment: The Power of the Book”, are given a short introduction to the day’s work and then asked to put their phones in a bag. They then read for four hours – with short breaks every 55 minutes – before an hour-and-a-half discussion about the reading material.

Dr Peña-Guzmán said that he designed the unique class to counteract the distracting effects of technology and to help students “reignite their love of attentive reading”.

Dr Peña-Guzmán told Times Higher Education that he did so after noticing how technology was increasingly affecting his own reading habits. “It’s now so easy to pick [your phone] up and check for messages or alerts and I realised that would be affecting students too,” he said.

There is one piece of technology in the classroom: a white noise machine to remove outside noise. “It’s about a distraction-free environment; I incorporate technology that is conducive and confiscate what is not conducive,” he said.

Dr Peña-Guzmán said that he had been surprised at how students had taken to the class. “A couple of times after the class introduction I’ve forgotten to collect their phones, and every time they remind me,” he said. Some students have even asked how to recreate the environment at home. He admitted, however, there is some self-selection bias because students who like to read are more likely to choose the class.

The concept is important because students are typically not taught to read any more, according to Dr Peña-Guzmán. “We simply assume that reading is something [students] mastered when they were five or six…they aren’t being asked to reflect upon their reading habits and what it means to read attentively, intentionally, and purposively,” he said.

Dr Peña-Guzmán, a philosopher, explained that the course’s theme, existentialism, fitted well with the self-reflection that the class design forced students into.

Other faculty at San Francisco State have expressed interest in replicating the experiment, Dr Peña-Guzmán said.

“It’s important to be honest about why you are conducting this class in this way from the beginning,” he explained. “It’s not about not trusting them, it’s not arbitrarily taking their phones…the format is motivated by concern [over] the ever-increasing influence of technology in our everyday lives – and I am implicated in that too. I give up my phone as well.”

Love this story:

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — A Grovetown man nursed a hummingbird back to health four years ago. That hummingbird migrates south every year, but around Masters time, he always finds his way back.

It’s a story that proves friends come in all shapes and sizes.

If you’re looking to cross someone, Mike Cardenaz is not the guy. But, this muscle car driving, tattooed, former SWAT officer has a softer side.

Right now, he’s helping an injured chipmunk get back on his feet.

“That’s what people call me, Dr. Doolittle,” said Cardenaz.

The flowers on his front porch attract hummingbirds. Four years ago, Mike found one that needed help.

“Several of his feathers in his wings were broken off and he couldn’t take flight,” said Cardenaz.

He named him Buzz and nursed him back to health with Pedialyte, sugar, and a safe place to heal.

“I had to wait until he molted, and regrew new wings. That was 8 weeks. And he became a part of the family,” said Cardenaz.

Eventually, Buzz regained his strength

“He would fly around the yard and come back when he got exhausted because that was his comfort zone until he finally took off for the winter. And he’s been coming back for the last four years,” said Cardenaz.

From Grovetown to South America and back to Mike’s back yard.

But, how does Mike know it’s the same hummingbird?

“Random hummingbirds don’t land in your hand,” said Cardenaz.

This year, Buzz caused some concern. He was about a week or two later than normal.

“I was kind of worried about him and I was on the front porch, sweeping off the front porch and I felt something zoom around my head. I stood on the front porch, put my hand out, and he landed on my hand,” said Cardenaz.

Back for year four to prove an act of kindness really does go a long way.

Twitter World is not Real World, so true!

Twitter, as it turns out, is not a good model of the world.

Hard as that is for the Twitter-addicted to believe, it is true, and a recent Pew Research study presents new evidence about the way that the platform leans.

In the United States, Twitter users are statistically younger, wealthier, and more politically liberal than the general population. They are also substantially better educated, according to Pew: 42 percent of sampled users had a college degree, versus 31 percent for U.S. adults broadly. Forty-one percent reported an income of more than $75,000, too, another large difference from the country as a whole. They were far more likely (60 percent) to be Democrats or lean Democratic than to be Republicans or lean Republican (35 percent).

But Pew’s methodology was able to capture another layer of distortion: The Twitter of the platform’s fanatics is very different from the norm. In other words, Media Twitter is not Median Twitter. …

Twitter is not America. And few people who work outside the information industries choose to spend their lives reading tweets, let alone writing them.

Twitter is a highly individual experience that works like a collective hallucination, not a community. It’s probably totally fine that a good chunk of the nation’s elites spend so much time on it. What could go wrong?

When sexual identity politics suppresses women:

Sooner or later reality catches up with the intellectual schizophrenia of the gender identity politics and beats it to the line.

And sometimes, as in the case of a dispute over prize money for a recent running race at Queensland University of Technology, actually beats it to the line.

As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, the university had to perform its own athletic manoeuvre and do a backflip, over its decision to award prize money to the first three athletes in the 5km event at the QUT Classic last weekend.

The university running club dutifully kept its word, awarding first, second and third to the three athletes who crossed the line in those positions.  Three males as it so happened.

The problem arose when the first female across the line, Alexandra Blake, was told that the rules of the race had been made clear, and that the rules around the prize money were indiscriminate.

Race directors told Blake, when she had finished, that the rules had cleared stated first, second and third, with no reference to gender.

First three, that’s it.  Blake was incensed.  …

But it is to say this: sport is a great leveller.  It finds you out.  It finds out whether you did the training.  It finds out how good you are compared to how good you say you are.

And it finds out where real difference lies.  It shows the distinction between elite and non-elite, which is why I was in awe of the young woman who ran over a minute faster than me at Parkrun last week. And she made it look easy in the process!

And sports shows the distinction between men and women.   Which is why it’s going to become an ongoing battlefield for the increasingly hostile gender agenda.

Alexandra’s dad, in his Facebook post, is right in one sense.  It is about equality.  It’s about levelling a completely un-level playing field.  But not by denying there is deep difference, but by admitting there is, and by celebrating it nonetheless.  And I fear that, over time, strong, athletically brilliant women like Alexandra Blake are going to be the also-rans in this war.

Wow, this is an odd set of facts and figures:

The dead will one day take over Facebook. In 50 years, if not sooner, there will likely be more profiles of deceased people than of living users on the social network, according to a study published online by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) on April 27.

“This study is the first to give a scientifically rigorous projection of the development of dead user profiles,” said Carl Ohman, researcher at the OII Digital Ethics Laboratory and author of the report. Ohman cross-referenced United Nations data on mortality rates by age group and country with the figures he was able to obtain on Facebook users to establish two evolution scenarios.

Unable to predict the exact growth in the total number of users, currently standing at nearly two billion members, the researcher selected two extreme situations. At first, he imagined that there would never be any new people registered on the social network again. In this extreme hypothesis, nearly 98% of Facebook’s population will have died by the end of the century, and the number of deaths will exceed the number of living people by 2070.

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