Here's a log of my wanderings around the blogosphere.
1. Pray for the family of Steven Curtis Chapman - I am sure that most of my readers have heard of the tragedy suffered by the family of Steven Curtis Chapman in the loss of their daughter, but in case you haven't heard, here's a blog set up in her honor.
2. If you would just yell a little louder I would understand you better. Seth Godin shares a bit of wisdom:
when someone doesn't understand what you're saying, saying it LOUDER doesn't usually work.
3. In case you aren't feeling stupid enough today, Dan Philips tells us all about Henry Alford:
But that was Alford. For instance: what were you doing when you were six? I was watching cartoons. Henry Alford was writing The Travels of St. Paul, and a collection of Latin odes. Further, when AlfordUnsurprisingly, Alford was made a fellow at Trinity College when he was twenty-four.
...was scarcely nine he had compiled, in the straggling characters of a schoolboy, a compendious History of the Jews; besides drawing out a chronological scheme in which were tabulated the events of the Old Testament. Prior to the completion of his tenth year he actually produced a series of terse sermons or laconically outlined homilies, the significant title of which was Looking unto Jesus.
4. In case you need to be inspired to follow Christ more fully today, Dan Phillips tells us all about Henry Alford:
Nor was he merely an arid academic. When he was sixteen, Alford wrote in his Bible, "I do this day, as in the presence of God and my own soul, renew my covenant with God, and solemnly determine henceforth to become His, and to do His work as far as in me lies." He was known for his consistent and holy life, as well as his likable, friendly way of dealing with people.
“Hyperparenting is a kind of bizarre cultural perfect storm,” Honoré told the paper. “All these remarkable and in themselves not evil trends have come together to produce the moment of collective hysteria about children and collective panic that touches everything we do with childhood.”When I think of my own childhood in England — albeit many years ago now — I experienced a degree of freedom to spend time how I wanted that would probably amaze many children today and horrify most parents. Did my parents always know where I was? No. Did I spend most of my ‘free’ time in organized and supervised activities? No, very little. Did I get into trouble as a consequence? Not at all.
My wife has exactly the same experience of childhood: a time of freedom to roam and play without constant involvement of parents or other adults. A time to grow up naturally, at your own pace.
6. Homo curvatus in se - which in English means - "man curved in upon himself." From Dave Bish at the BlueFish Project:
"...personhood as ‘ecstatic’, in terms of a going out or being drawn out of oneself by the Spirit into the life of Christ, a life lived for and with others. So we might also say that persons are ‘eccentric’, that they find their lives in the lives of others. Enter the man curved in on himself, who stubbornly refuses to go out of himself and smugly stays at home in and with himself. He is ego rather than ec-centric, finding his life in and living his life for himself... It’s a familiar image, and a fitting one, the photonegative of the man whose life is found in relationship. In this view, sin is a violation, perversion, and refusal of the very relationships which constitute us. Eberhard Jüngel puts it succinctly, calling sin "the urge towards relationlessness and dissociation". And the sinner? "The sinner is, to put it simply, a person without relations, with no relation to God or to self".
--Matt Jenson, The Shape of Our Sin - at The Other Journal
7. Everything I really needed to know in life I learned from Johnny Depp. The Freakonomics guys say:
We can learn a lot about the evolution of democracy by studying pirates in history, says George Mason University economist Peter T. Leeson.
On the other hand, high-seas piracy can also be the key to understanding 21st century terrorism, according to Douglas R. Burgess Jr.
Leeson previously wrote about the profit-maximizing strategies of pirates in his paper “Pirational Choice: The Economics of Infamous Pirate Practices.”
Sing it with me now - "Yo ho, yo ho, a Pirates life for me!" The Freankonomics guys close with the most important question of our day:
Pirates: Is there anything they can’t teach us?
9. On a more serious note I got a good pushback from John Mark Reynolds on gripes about evangelicals. There is no doubt that the current state of evangelicalism leaves much to be desired. But before too many stones are cast we ought to read and heed John Mark's post Protestant Evangelicals: Five Things You Should Know.
First, Evangelicals are not just white, despite media perceptions.
Second, Evangelicals (in general) hate anti-Semitism.
Third, Evangelical culture values education highly.
Fourth, Evangelicals help the poor.
Finally, conversion to Evangelical Christianity has saved many people from destruction in the here and now. That is a good thing whatever your view of the afterlife.
That's especially helpful coming from John Mark since he's not your typical Baptist/Presbyterian/AOG - protestant evangelical - he's Greek Orthodox.
Which is even more interesting since John Mark is from West Virginia. I keep meaning to ask him "how does someone from West Virginia become Greek Orthodox? Talk about the question of our times!
11. While we're on the subject of control freaks, Bill Kinnon quotes William Blake as follows:
He who binds himself to a joy
Doth the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise
I don't know if Bill's post triggered it but if you read the end of that post you can see that a bunch more people are posting about control issues.
12. Weasel words, Egads!
A weasel word is a word that is intended to, or has the effect of, softening the force of a potentially loaded or otherwise controversial statement. This phrase appears in Stewart Chaplin's short story Stained Glass Political Platform published in 1900 in The Century Magazine according to The Macmillan Dictionary of Contemporary Phrase and Fable : "Why, weasel words are words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell." Thus, weasel words suck the meaning out of a statement while seeming to keep the idea intact, and are particularly associated with political pronouncements. Weasel words are used euphemistically. The term invokes the image of a weasel being sneaky and well able to wiggle out of a tight spot.
Examples of weasel words:
- "People say…" (Who are the people who say it?)
- "I heard that..." (Whom did you hear it from? How, where and when did they learn of it?)
- "Experience shows that..." (Whose experience? What was the experience? How does it demonstrate this?)
- "Few of those who knew the truth have spoken up for …" (Which people knew the truth and should have spoken up?)
- "It has been decided that..." (Who decided?)
- "It turns out that..." (How, and why, did it "turn out" that way?)
- "Popular wisdom is/has it, that..." (Who made it popular, and is it really?).
I've told my session (the leadership board at our church) to catch me if I use weasel words in a sermon - I also told them not to use weasel words when talking to me.
13. As one who has toyed from time to time with the idea of pursuing a Ph. D. (I still may) I appreciated Sean Michael Lucas's words of advice regarding this subject. Here's an excerpt:
Many come to seminary with a very romantic view of the ministry--having grown up in churches, many of which were strong and stable, it appeared that the senior pastor's life offered security and significance. In addition, these students may have had someone who impacted their lives in a profound way: perhaps a youth minister, campus minister, or senior minister who took time with them and discipled them in the basic practices of the Christian faith. In a response of romance, gratitude, and epiphany, these students come to seminary desiring to be used by God in a similar way.
Until they get to seminary. And then they discover several things: one is that seminary can be difficult. They struggle with Greek and Hebrew; they find that their wives and children serve as sanctifying agents in ways they hadn't before (amazing what an 800 sq. ft. on-campus apartment can do); God begins to peel back their hearts in ways that had never happened before. Their wives may go through a period of questioning them--why did you lead us away from Egypt (or Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston, Los Angeles, or wherever) to bring us to the wilderness?
Another is that ministry can be difficult. Through field education, as these students begin to spend time as interns or directors of ministries in the context of the local church, they see the other side of ministerial life: the grace-filled thorns that the Apostle Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 12. They are exposed to infighting among ruling elders or among church staff members; they engage in the less glamorous parts of ministry (one internship I had at a church led to hours spent in the church's tape room making copies of sermons for distribution to the congregation); they sometimes feel a bit ignored.
A final discovery is this reality: as one friend put it, that while they were the rising star at their local churches--the one surrendered to vocational ministry--when they come to seminary there are hundreds
Suddenly, they begin to look at their seminary professors in a whole new light. They seem suave, secure, significant; they have time to read books and write learned essays; they control the classroom and have no one to say them nay; their families seem protected, isolated from churchly toil, struggle, and infighting--plus, the seminary profs get paid for all this. The sense of calling with which the students came--an internal call matched by the church's approbation that they had pastoral gifts for local church ministry--begins to shift (at Covenant Seminary, 350 MDiv students) just like them. Suddenly, they don't feel so special any more, which can lead to profound doubts and questions about calling.
He goes on to show that, though a Ph. D. is a good thing, it's not always the cure for what ails you.
14. Those shoes are killing your feet. Hint, when it comes to shoes, less is more. Most likely, the more you spend on an athletic shoe, the worse it is for your feet.
In a 1997 study, researchers Steven Robbins and Edward Waked at McGill University in Montreal found that the more padding a running shoe has, the more force the runner hits the ground with: In effect, we instinctively plant our feet harder to cancel out the shock absorption of the padding. (The study found the same thing holds true when gymnasts land on soft mats—they actually land harder.) We do this, apparently, because we need to feel the ground in order to feel balanced. And barefoot, we can feel the ground—and we can naturally absorb the impact of each step with our bodies. “Whereas humans wearing shoes underestimate plantar loads,” the study concluded, “when barefoot they sense it precisely.”
15. It will probably take more resources than you have available but wouldn't you love to try this on someone? I mean, who doesn't love a good port-a-potty prank!