Archive for November, 2011

Religious Bigotry

November 30, 2011

Harold Bloom whacks at Mormonism (though mostly the Mitt Romney version and not the Harry Reid one) in this fairly useless piece. As others have noted, this is mostly religious bigotry at its most unpleasant. I don’t think the religious issue should be much of a factor in this upcoming election, but I think Walter Russell Mead is onto something when he suggests:

The essay drips with condescension and disdain; he hates and fears the Mormons not because they are different from most of their fellow citizens but because they are like them.

Particularly, the last paragraph makes clear Bloom’s opinion of another large segment of American religious life, the Southern Baptists:

Mormonism’s best inheritance from Joseph Smith was his passion for education, hardly evident in the anti-intellectual and semi-literate Southern Baptist Convention. I wonder though which is more dangerous, a knowledge-hungry religious zealotry or a proudly stupid one? Either way we are condemned to remain a plutocracy and oligarchy. I can be forgiven for dreading a further strengthening of theocracy in that powerful brew.

While hardly fair, that’s not really the point, is it…

New Education Model?

November 29, 2011

Here’s a link to a post about a new college with a different pricing strategy – flat rate per term. Further disruption…

Technology and Labor

November 25, 2011

Michael S. Malone on technology and the “average worker.”  Mostly an application of Malone’s Law:

“Technology revolutions always arrive slower than predicted, but quicker than we are prepared for.”

A helpful warning against Luddite instincts, which have a certain appeal, even when they are ultimately wrong.


November 24, 2011

We have much to be thankful for. Roger Kimball catches that thought well in this bit of a longer essay:

Perhaps the deepest pleasure I take in Thanksgiving, however, has to do with the first syllable of the name of the holiday: “thanks.” I am fond of observing that Aristotle may or may not have been correct that man is the rational animal, but he would certainly have been correct had he said man was the ungrateful animal. That is particularly true for those of us who have most to be grateful for, those, I mean, who have been lucky enough in the lottery of life to have been born in the United States in the last century. What ever slings and arrows they may have to contend with — and we all have some — they were born into the richest, the mightiest, and most secure polity in the history of the world. It is still, despite some significant erosions, among the most free as well.

So give thanks!

Some Good Advice for Friday

November 23, 2011

It’s Update Your Parent’s Browser Friday. So do it, if you need to.

Jesus is My Boyfriend

November 23, 2011

I’m largely in tune with this commentary by Preston Sprinkle. He asks:

Is Jesus our cosmic boyfriend? These [lyrics he has just listed] are all lyrics from actual worship songs, but they also give me some good material to romance my wife. Is this ok? Is our love for God an amped up version of the romantic love we have for our spouses (or girlfriends/boyfriends)?

I do think we have an overly sentimentalized vocabulary of faith. We can have genuine emotions, I think, without going this route.

On Mark’s Gospel

November 23, 2011

I’ve been teaching through the Gospel of Mark this semester and here’s a nice little window into some of the major themes of the book.

On reading theology

November 23, 2011

Someone linked to this recently, and I thought it was good advice. To sum it up: “read.” A little bit every day will go a long way.

Who works more?

November 23, 2011

After a week away at conferences, I’m back with a look at study habits by academic field. And the results do not seem all that surprising. I found at least one major problem in the article- when the article notes that “The average full-time undergraduate student studies about as much as faculty members expect—15 hours a week”, I want to say well, I tell them to study a lot more than that, and they ought to. And since there are fields like engineering that average significantly more than that average, that means some fields must average considerably less….

All of these results come from the Nessie study (with some debate about its accuracy lurking in the background), which also had these results:

For the first time, the survey asked about learning strategies, generating some disappointing results, the report says. More than 85 percent of students take careful notes during class, but only half discuss effective studying habits with faculty members or classmates. Two-thirds of students stay focused while reading course materials; only half frequently write summaries of their readings.

So, they don’t spend enough time and they often do it poorly. That explains a lot.

New Testament Text

November 15, 2011

A quick summary of a recent debate between Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman. It makes most of the standard points, but I think the point made in the last paragraph highlights the key issue:

One person from the audience asked Ehrman what it would take for him to be sure that we knew what the original of, say, the Gospel of Mark was. He said if we had ten first-generation copies, written within a week or so of the original, with “0.001% deviation” between them, then he could be relatively assured that we had Mark’s Gospel intact.

Of course this is a ridiculous, impossible demand. So Ehrman has decided before the process begins that he won’t accept the text. He is free to do so, of course, but that is scarcely reasonable or persuasive.