Archive for July, 2010

Christianity in the Academy

July 31, 2010

Yet another story of difficulties with being a committed Christian in the academy. Granted, there’s not enough detail to make a final judgment, but in light of other stories like this it rings true.

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The culture of gaming

July 30, 2010

This book (Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter) looks interesting. For a review, see Nicholas Carr’s take.

Lewis on the necessity of the church

July 29, 2010

From the comments at this post about Anne Rice abandoning organized Christianity (at least), an interesting take on the importance of the church gathered.

C.S. Lewis was once asked, “Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?”

His answer was as follows:
“That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early to go to Church. It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house.

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church. I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.

I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.”

More on the Value of Education – Andrew Hacker

July 29, 2010

An interview with Andrew Hacker who has a book on higher education on the way (he critiques it, in case you wondered). Sounds like an interesting read.

Faith and Social Sciences

July 29, 2010

Christine Whelan provides a helpful discussion of the relationship between  and the social sciences. Naturally, she is criticized by secular academicians for all the standard reasons. What is interesting is how people of faith challenge her research from the other direction, challenging her presentation of facts (especially about changing sexual mores) as being approval of the practices she describes. It is not, but it highlights some of the tensions for academics. Her concluding paragraph states it well:

To present sociological facts as other than what they are would violate my ethics as a researcher and journalist — and I believe it would also do a disservice to my faith, which embraces intellectual inquiry. No sincere question should be off the table. No data should be “too depressing” to present. An open, straightforward discussion of facts in light of faith will embolden young people to make wise decisions about their futures.

Risky hiring

July 28, 2010

A brief discussion of the notion of the “risky hire”; someone who has more downside but also a lot more upside. Here’s a key paragraph:

Professor Mike Gibbs says, “In what kinds of jobs is this most important? Those where creativity, innovation, new ideas are needed. Where the environment is changing and you need someone to think and develop new approaches to the problem. Where you can assess their fit and talent relatively quickly. And, look for a person with a very interesting track record of success, creativity, possibly even changing fields and taking some risks. Unlike in stock markets, risk is often a good thing in a new employee. Employers out there – take a chance on someone!”

I think this probably has some application in hiring at educational institutions – if you can take action to remove those who don’t work out quickly and take advantage of these more intangible assets.

Old Earth

July 27, 2010

An interesting discussion of the current status of the debate which goes in some different directions. The concluding paragraph:

The truth is, insofar as the history of this earth has been shaped by the sovereign Triune God, we should expect this history to be structured by parallels, types, antitypes, figures, chiasms, lists of three, lists of four, lists of seven, lists of ten, lists of twelve, puns on names, recapitulations, foreshadowings, repetitions with variation, repetitions without variations, polemical motivations, doxological motivations, and even an occasional joke. If the appearance of any of these ingredients in a narrative pushes one to question the historicity of the passage, then one’s presuppositions about God’s relationship to history need to be examined more closely.

On Extraterrestrial life

July 26, 2010

Here’s a brief essay on the question by Edward Oakes. It’s one that has interesting (though mostly ignored) theological implications. I should do an essay sometime…

Questions You Should Ask Before You Quit Your Day Job

July 26, 2010

For those of us who from time to time consider career or job shifts, some good advice.

SBL Controversy

July 26, 2010

I just ran across this controversy. It began with Ronald Hendel’s BAR article, here’s the SBL response (note the comments for further details). While there are some complex aspects of the debate, as someone in the evangelical camp I find the framing of the issue problematic. Obviously, at SBL one would not make faith based appeals for arguments (or at least would nuance them a bit!), but this sounds like an attempt to exclude faith, with a measure of faith disparagement. I really don’t know if such arguments really accomplish much – it is those within faith based communities that are more likely to study biblical texts (and who have extra reason to do so). So I hope we can reach a happy equilibrium.

As a side note, I was saddened by the SBL/AAR split (which I viewed as being much more AAR driven, based on my understanding as a member of both), and am happy steps are being made to undo that.