Sunday, February 23, 2020

Another time around the web

Another week and another set of interesting (at least to me) links.

First off, a historical journey through the last 200 or so years of US history.

A lot of folks have been asking me lately if America has ever been in such a crisis before and, if so, what people in the past did to save democracy.

The answer to the first question is yes, it has, three times, although only once was this bad. In the 1850s, the 1890s, and the 1920s, oligarchs took over the nation’s government, controlling the White House, Congress, and the courts.

Same old story, different names, but same theme. Enough of that, though. How about our education system? The old curmudgeon is concerned about the view of (too) many that education is simply a factory to produce "meat widgets" who do jobs. Read it; he's right. Maybe that is tied to the previous story, now that I think about it.

Speaking of meat widgets, Roger Olson looks at the ethical perils of gene editing; here are the final two paragraphs, but read it all; it's short:

There are no easy answers in modern bioethics. And Christian pastors and lay people need to inform themselves of the its cutting edges and bring the discussion into the churches and take the answers, if any are found, into the public square.

One Christian seminary professor (of ethics) told a story about a man in the congregation to which she belongs. She did not know him well. In a group setting she mentioned that she would be attending a convention that included dialogue between biologists and theologians. He said (and I paraphrase) “I’m a molecular biologist and I didn’t know theology and biology had any relationship with each other.” This is the ignorant belief of too many Christians and others.

The final paragraph is the most harrowing to me. We're failing if people don't see Christianity as an all-encompassing life submitted to the lordship of Jesus. By the way, lordship means ruler, you know, the one calling the shots, making the rules, etc.

While we're on Roger, here is a post he did on Methodism. He isn't one, but he gives a fair evaluation of it's heritage.

And speaking of religion, Scot McKnight looks at the heritage of religious freedom.

It was not church wars that gave rise to national and secular theories of toleration but Christian thinking about Christians that led to toleration as a public doctrine. Religion, Tertullian argued, can’t be imposed or coerced. There can be, Wilken concludes, “no justice in society without liberty in the things of God.”
Let's expand that a bit to freedom in general. Missio Alliance takes a look at the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WW2. A black spot on the record if ever there was one.

Not sure where to put this one, but next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and apparently some churches are doing ashes to go. I'm not a big liturgical guy, but that is just so wrong. As he says

The whole “ashes to go” thing seems rather glib and flippant to me. I’m not saying that’s the intention, but it’s how it comes off.

And the modern church has embraced the trend of making the whole church experience too easy and accessible. We’re literally not even asking people to set foot in the building, or even getting their lazy butts out of their cars, in order to visibly align themselves with its message.

Yep. And here's a piece on animal ethics. I had a theology professor in college who said you can always tell a lot about a society by the way they treat their animals. He claimed it was an Orthodox Jewish statement, but I've never been able to back that up. Still, quite true.

Speaking of kindness, here's a nice piece on kindness. We have a plaque on our wall that contains a portion of 1 Cor 13, Love is Kind. On more than one occasion I've seen that and been convicted about what I was saying or how I was saying it. I like how he ends the post

God won’t say: “Will one of the angels get a Kleenex and head down to row three million and five and wipe away the tear from the eye of worshipper 3376459?”

No, God will come down that row, walk up to you and go “There, there, don’t cry. It’s okay now.”

Our King is kind from beginning to end. Then kind from the new beginning that will never end.

No meat widgets in the new creation! Ever feel like the other person isn't listening? Especially in close relationships.
There’s an unconscious tendency to tune out people you feel close to because you think you already know what they are going to say.
Yep. Goes back to the kindness thing again.

OK, three final links. An unexpected anti-climate change initiative being endorsed by the current ruler, despite his "there is no climate change" rhetoric. May it happen and prosper!

Times Higher Ed takes a look at how many hours academics work. Good thoughts by a variety of academics. When I was still an undergrad, a professor once told me that he forgot to take enough research-related books with him on his "vacation" and didn't know what to do. And I grew up in an academic household; my dad was always reading journals to keep up. How many hours is enough? Not an easy question to answer.

Final link. What is your idea of an ideal bookstore? Mine? For an academic one? Hands down the old Seminary Co-op Bookstore in the basement of CTS. All those nooks and crannies and ducking to keep from hitting the heating pipes. I spent many an hour and many a dollar there. For families? Without a doubt, 57th Street Books, also part of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. We spent many hours as a family there, especially in their fantastic kid's section. What about you? What's your idea of the ideal bookstore?

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