Archive for July, 2014

The Declaration

July 26, 2014

A review of an interesting book on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence.


July 26, 2014

Another reason to urge my students to be careful in citing wikipedia, especially in religious matters.

Seal of Confession?

July 26, 2014

Apparently there are more pressures to undo confidentiality in religious practice. This seems a bit dangerous. What to do when there are cases of imminent danger or ongoing and unrepentant evil is complicated, however (though not in the Catholic tradition, if I understand correctly).

Fact-checking sermons

July 26, 2014

I’m grateful not to have spent much time in churches where fact-checking was needed. But, I’ve heard some sermons…

Review of Wright’s Paul

July 26, 2014

Link to a review by Larry Hurtado from Pete Enns. I’d link directly, but it’s worth a read of Enns’ prayer of thanksgiving in his link.


July 26, 2014

Here’s a proposal on what to do with ABD students. Not sure it would work, but it seems like something should be done.

Seven Reasons to Invite People to Leave Your Church?

July 26, 2014

Here’s an article with a small point but which ends up in a very bad place. And to be sure, I’ve been in places where the departure of a problematic person brought peace and even enabled progress. But I rightly grieved that reality (even when it made my life easier). I don’t really sense any sorrow in this. We have a hard-nosed, bottom-line, business calculation here.

A quick response to the seven reasons:

#1 – rather than worry about the cost of the unaligned, make the vision central to all you do. You’re inviting them to be part of it. Some may leave, but that’s not your intent or purpose (or your invitation).

#2 – business models do not describe the church. You are not “hiring” people. God has given you a stewardship.

#3 – Sometimes a person would be better off elsewhere, but that’s not inviting them to leave but encouraging them to find their niche. Not quite the same. And the motivation is different.

#4 – corporations rotate ineffective employees from division to division, leaving pain throughout the organization. I guess that should be the church model too.

#5 – Yes, but what does that have to do with encouraging others to leave?

#6 – so the job of the church is to make its members honored and relieved? Maybe it is to serve others, even if painful or difficult at times.

#7 – if you can’t figure out how to harness enthusiasm, sending people away may not help.

In the end, I refuse to think of disengaged people in the almost parasitic model he suggests. True, they take up seats and even resources. But they are still God’s people who we are called to minister to. If we can’t figure out how to do that, we are to discard them? Ouch. That sounds more like corporate models for corporate success. We aren’t supposed to be like that.


Academic Jobs

July 26, 2014

And how few there will be, and what that means for future prospects.

Now that’s what I call plagiarism

July 26, 2014

If I had received this paper, there would have been an unpleasant meeting.

Ivy League Education

July 22, 2014

Do Ivy League schools turn kids into zombies? Are they places where real education is difficult and true diversity is absent? So argues William Deresiewicz in this fascinating essay (based on his upcoming book). I resonate with elements of what he says. Especially about the admissions arms race. We didn’t have the resources to put our kids in dozens of extra-curricular activities and they weren’t “leaders” (as arbitrarily defined). Fortunately, they’ve done well in other schools. One in a sort of Ivy (U of Chicago), one in a high quality liberal arts school (St. Olaf), one in a public university (University of Maryland), and one  in a smaller religious institution.

I found this paragraph somewhat surprising (to see, not because I think it is untrue):

Religious collegeseven obscure, regional schools that no one has ever heard of on the coastsoften do a much better job in that respect. What an indictment of the Ivy League and its peers: that colleges four levels down on the academic totem pole, enrolling students whose SAT scores are hundreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a better education, in the highest sense of the word.

Here’s another good one:

Instead of service, how about service work? That’ll really give you insight into other people. How about waiting tables so that you can see how hard it is, physically and mentally? You really aren’t as smart as everyone has been telling you; you’re only smarter in a certain way. There are smart people who do not go to a prestigious college, or to any collegeoften precisely for reasons of class. There are smart people who are not “smart.”

Yes, yes, and yes. Read it all.