Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Weekly Meanderings

Kris found this B&B on a hill overlooking Siena.
It is called Castello della Quattro Torra,
and our bedroom — no kidding — was the front left tower (very top).

IMG_1149.JPGThere will be a conference on the Church and Mission next January in Denmark, at the wonderful University of Aarhus (Oar-hoos).

What do you think of “virtual church“?

Barna’s new report on the faith of African Americans will be used for years to come.

Zaniest news item of the week: mayoral candidates square off in a sumo wrestling match. This would be really fun if the winner became mayor. (HT: JRB via Twitter) Some zany ideas for bloggers. Eugene’s made a zany retirement announcement — he’ll try again.

We need friends. We need controls on machines. We also need wise words for those who are pondering doing a PhD — and Carl Trueman provides those wise words. (HT: JT) We need posterity and Brooks ponders posterity’s significance. We need physical conditioning and health. We need fasting. Speaking of needing friends, Karen’s got a wonderful post at her new site (and read this one, too). And we need both Mr. and Mrs. Neff.

And we need posts like this one from Erika about Ann Goldingay.
And we need this book from Brett.
And we need blogs that do things like this — David Opderbeck interviews Jamie Smith.
And we need more creative prayer.

Colin Powell is a “third way” politician.

Is the new divide between pragmatists and militants? (Saletan on abortion debate.)

There is nothing quite like happening upon a field of sunflowers under a Tuscan sun.

Sunflower.jpgGates, Obama and Race

1. Stanley Fish: “Gates and Obama are not only friends; they are in the same position,
suspected of occupying a majestic residence under false pretenses. And
Obama is a double offender. Not only is he guilty of being Housed While
Black; he is the first in American history guilty of being P.W.B.,
President While Black.”
2. Jonathan Capehart: “The cure for this corrosive cancer won’t come through a government
program or the courts. It won’t come through documentaries like the
ones that Gates says he wants to do on the criminal justice system or
terrific movies such as “Crash,” the 2006 Oscar winner for best
picture. This is a matter of the heart, an intensely personal exercise
that demands we talk to each other — one on one, face to face. Perhaps
over a beer, as Obama, Sgt. James Crowley and Gates plan to do at the
White House. But this requires trust.
Can African Americans engage in the discussion without being
suspicious that whites will dismiss their painful experiences or
discount them as imagined or overreacting? Can whites participate
without fear that they’ll be called racist for expressing their
frustrations and concerns? And will each side listen to the other with
an open mind to try to understand where the other comes from? Do we as
a nation trust one another enough to have this complicated and
uncomfortable conversation openly and honestly? Sadly, for now, the
answer is no.”
3. We’re not done because we want to be fair and balanced. These two lefties are answered by a right winger, Mark Steyn? “A black president, a black governor, and a black mayor
all agree with a black Harvard professor that he was racially profiled
by a white-Latino-black police team, headed by a cop who teaches
courses in how to avoid racial profiling. The boundless elasticity of
such endemic racism suggests that the “post-racial America” will be
living with blowhard grievance-mongers like Professor Gates unto the
end of time.”

News items continued:

Kolakowski.jpg4. Which pill do you choose? Paul Krugman on the health care issues.
5. I’d like to see Krugman and Thomas Sowell have at it.
6. Summer salads … my favorite summer salad is a Lebanese cucumber, mint, tomato salad. There’s a name for it — anyone know?
6. Wonderful piece by George Weigel on the death of Leszek Kolakowski, a man with moral courage, intellectual ferocity, and a graceful pen (image above).
7. Solution to passwords?
8. Are you finding these problems in your local library (or is this guy a curmudgeon)?
9. Women, men and leaders.
10. Comet observation.


Should Pete Rose be reinstated and (a second question) permitted in the Hall of Fame?

“But, Grandpa, don’t you think the Cubs will win the World Series?”

“Yes, I do,” Aksel. “And I promise you that it will happen during your lifetime!”


Comments read comments(17)
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David Morfgan

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:00 am

Hi Scott,
I am used to a salad like your favourite called Fatoosh – spelling may vary – though the ingredients normally include some Middle Eastern pita bread.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 8:04 am

What does a story about Palin have to do with a curmudgeon and a local library or star and comet gazing? Both links take me through a “leaving facebook” page to the Palin article.
On Pete Rose – pardoned? no; in the hall of fame? yes.
Cubs? Aksel’s lifetime? Dubious – but a safe promise as you will never have to explain why not.
Mrs. Neff’s post here is also interesting (and a great picture).

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Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

RJS, thanks. All my CSM links seemed to be to one article — the lead article. I corrected the one about libraries, but haven’t found the one about comets.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 9:27 am

That’s funny, I thought my negative reaction to Obama’s comment was because he called the cops out for acting stupidly in the same breath as admitting he did not know the facts. The police report says that Crowley had a different cop re-handcuff Gates when Gates complained that the cuffs were too tight, Crowley went and got Gate’s cane, and Crowley made sure to verify that Gates was comfortable with the harvard employee assigned to fasten the door shut (which Gates broke into, causing the call in the first place). The one picture we have from the scene looks consistent with Crowley’s story that Gates was the one yelling and stirring up trouble, following the cop outside and continuing to yell at him.
All this, but it seems Mr. Fish sees right through me to see that the REAL problem is that Obama is P.W.B. So it distills down to this: I can either agree with Obama that the cops acted stupidly or I myself am racist.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 9:54 am

I think that Colin Powell (see Scot’s link above) has the best take on it.
Gates was tired and not at his best after a long trip (I’ve been the same I must admit), in his own home and thus in the right in a very important sense (think about it – what would you do if a cop came to your home and demanded that you prove it was yours – especially when you were tired), instead of taking it in stride he reacted – a stupid move, because it can go very badly – but mostly “stupid” in a pragmatic sense.
Obama shouldn’t have said anything off the cuff …
Powell relates a story of being taken less than seriously because of race. In my first decade as a professor I was often taken as the secretary or a student and treated with less than ideal respect by vendors and service people because of it – it was (to put it mildly) annoying. And then there was the medical student who started to explain pH in “baby talk” when I was pregnant … despite the fact that (if he had read it) the file he had in his hand said I was a chemistry professor. (He was embarrassed when I pointed it out to him.)
It is hard to react appropriately all the time, none of us (on either end of the situation) are perfect.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 10:23 am

I’ll read the Colin Powell article.
It seems to me that the whole “in my own home” thing is disingenuous. If the story were that Gates were unlocking his door and entering his home normally but Crowley came up out of the blue and began demanding to see ID, THAT would be very upsetting.
BUT, a neighbor called to report that someone was breaking in. Crowley responded. In fact, Gates was breaking in. As Juan Williams stated, it is the Police’s job to look around and make sure someone else isn’t there, perhaps holding a gun to someone’s head inside the house, telling someone in Gate’s position to make the cops go away. How does Crowley know what the full situation is? Under the circumstances, I think it was Crowley’s duty to secure the scene. Gate’s response was to berate and accuse. If the police report is correct, Gates was being abusive to a responding officer and even followed him outside to keep yelling. Gate’s yelled so loud inside the house that Crowley could not hear his radio. Gates makes comments about “your mamma” and something like “you don’t know who you’re messing with” and “you haven’t heard the end of this.” Gates demanded Crowley’s name several times but would keep yelling and not let Crowley finish. The whole “in my own home” thing is disingenuous. Gates should have STAYED in his own home and slammed the door shut if he was upset. What got him arrested was following a cop outside, continuing to be abusive. The arrest was made in a professional manner, with basic human courtesy granted (re-cuffing by a different cop, getting the cane, making sure Gates is OK with the person locking his door). RJS, honestly, would you ever treat a cop this way? Ever? Even when tired? Do you assume you can get away with it because you are a professor and he is just a stupid cop? Not trying to be combative, just making the point that I think Gates was WAY out of line and is hiding behind the race card.
My opinion depends on the police report (posted at smokinggun) being correct. If that thing is falsified then I will immediately change my opinion.
Comparison: I will be at a minor league baseball game today. There will be cops. Actions I will not take: antagonizing the cops and then complaining about getting thrown out of the game. If I did that, and if I were black, it seems I could accuse them of racism with impunity. Not fair.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 10:32 am

This year I have joined the club of those who keep score at a baseball game. It is addicting. My son is ten, so I am always at the game with boys who don’t sit through a whole game. Gaps in the score sheet seem inevitable. I wouldn’t want others appraising my score sheets with a critical eye because there are plenty of things I miss or get wrong. Nevertheless, scoring ball games is one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve undertaken this summer. I know you are an avid baseball fan but I don’t remember you talking about keeping score. If you ever have any pointers, comments, suggestions, pictures of your own score sheets, anecdotes… I would be interested!

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Erik Leafblad

posted August 1, 2009 at 10:48 am

A note on a Cubs World Series: my grandfather passed last weekend, a life-long Cubs fan. He was 101 years old. Do the math. 101 years takes us back to 1908. This was the year when the Cubs last won it all. I have maintained over the last 10 years or so that whenever my Grandpa passed away would be the year the Cubbies win it all. So, this is the year. Go Cubs!

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posted August 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

I think Gates responded stupidly – and probably regrets it deeply now. I also think that it is highly likely that he was tired, responded to an aggressive initial tone, and lost his cool, and it escalated from there. But I don’t think the fact that he was in his own home is disingenuous. Cops have a duty to check out a complaint, but they also have a duty to cautiously assume that the homeowner is who he says he is.
Your example in the last paragraph is totally off topic because a public venue is not remotely comparable to one’s own home in my opinion.
Three times I’ve had cops show up at the house thinking something like this was wrong. In no case did the cop pull a gun first. In two cases in a white middle class neighborhood he cautiously assumed that we were in the right.
Once in the middle of the night the phone dialed 911 (we still don’t know how it happened). The cops politely came in and looked around after talking to my husband at the door.
Once (2 am) they surrounded our house thinking that the former owner (who had outstanding warrants) had broken in and was squatting. They cautiously assumed we were right – but checked it out.
No we didn’t berate them – to do so, even when in the right is stupid, (see above).
But I know that the urban cop in a student neighborhood when I was a grad student (the third case) started off with the assumption that as a young graduate student – I was questionable. So the attitude was not cautious assumption that I was right, but clear assumption that I might be guilty until proven otherwise. (Someone broke the window in my apartment trying to get in.)
This wasn’t racism (I am white), but it was stereotyping. As citizens we should be flexible enough to just go with the flow – but does that mean that the cops were right?
I am not trying to excuse Gates’s behavior – or vilify or excuse the cops – I am just saying that it is a complex set of circumstances.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted August 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

Always good posts, and always great pics of Aksel.
I really like Erika’s post on Ann Goldingay.
I’ll never forget Pete Rose. I was a fan of the Big Red Machine, living near I-75 in Ohio. Although Tony Perez was my favorite Red (and what Red doesn’t love the greatest catcher ever, Johnny Bench), when I think of the Reds I think of Pete Rose giving it his all on the field and then some. Hustling down to first base after ball four. Sliding in head first to the bases, knocking the ball out of catcher Ray Fosse’s mit to give the NL a win in an All-Star game. Taking batting practice for 45 minutes after a game we once attended. Wonderful memories that nearly bring tears to my eyes.
Should he be reinstated and elected into the Hall of Fame? I don’t know. I do know of all the players during that time, he to me stood out. Sad that he was addicted to gambling and broke a cardinal rule, which you just can’t break, even if it did not affect his playing or managing.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

MatthewS, I love keeping score at a game but I’ve not done it in a few years. Here’s my recommendation:
The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball

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posted August 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

I hope Brooks is wrong in his posterity article about believers feeling like they are a “dead end” if they do not have children. Isn’t there the old saying “God has no grandchildren”? Doesn’t the family of God grow by adoption, not procreation?
But as someone in the second-class “married and childless” category in an Evangelical church, I fear Brooks is largely right.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Despite all the missteps or false starts, I like the concept of “beer diplomacy”. I like being called to the table. I like starting and opening the discussion rather than slamming the door shut.
Can we give room for stumbling our way into finding the answer(s), rather than expecting formulaic solutions that are not sincere or organic to the situation?

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Scott Morizot

posted August 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm

I grew up with parents, and especially my mother, who didn’t really talk about it, but whom I can now see pretty deliberately and intentionally tried to break the pattern of attitudes toward race that are deeply endemic in the South even in settings where nobody is overtly racist. (I have little real experience with other parts of the country, so I can only discuss the culture of the South in this regard.)
Even today, my mother works as the principal of a Roman Catholic mission school in a predominantly African-American and desperately poor small city. It’s not a stretch to say that without her efforts, the school would likely be closed now. She’s had to deal with quite a bit. Poorly done roof replacement. IRS tax problems. A threatened suit from a dismissed problem teacher. Accreditation issues. During a state accreditation visit last spring, a nun who works at the school ran in and said a man being chased by someone with a gun had kicked open the door to the cafeteria and run inside. It took a few seconds for my mother to process that she wasn’t joking, then she calmly had one person call 911, another announce the lockdown code over the intercom, as she calmly locked the door to the school wing, effectively sealing it from outside entry. (The other doors are emergency exits that open only from the inside.) The accreditation team was impressed.
So I have an odd perspective on the matter. I remember noticing as a late preteen/early teen in Houston how security and salespeople in stores/malls reacted differently when I entered with a black friend than they did when I was alone or with another white friend. I noticed a lot of things that seem to largely go unnoticed by many. We are improving and I think I’ve passed a lot of the same attitude and awareness on to my own children. But we’re still a very long way from being anything like post-racial in our attitudes.
Now, none of that is to say that I want to be treated poorly so that things can somehow be balanced. I appreciate the automatic neutral to positive presumption I am often given as a white male. I just think it would be better if we could become a society that granted that same presumption to all. We aren’t there yet.
These things are tricky. I remember a time earlier in my work career where we were working on some possible ideas of ways to improve the way we were doing something. (I honestly forget what the discussion was about.) This was a work group predominantly made up of women. I can’t remember if there was one other male at that time or not. At any rate, at one point one woman made a suggestion that was almost immediately dismissed. I happened to think it was a good suggestion. So a bit farther along in the discussion, I made essentially the same suggestion worded and presented differently. When I made it, everyone began discussing it, commenting favorably on aspects of it, and eventually adopted it. It’s my observation that people often neither intend nor even recognize when their reaction is colored and shaped by their unconscious cultural formation.
Yes, Gates failed to react in ways that would have defused the situation. I’m sure he knew what they were because it’s virtually impossible to grow up black in the US without absorbing them. But we all react poorly at times. And Gates did here. But it’s pretty unlikely that a similarly situated white man who lost his cool and reacted in the way that Gates did on his own property would have been arrested. It’s a bad idea to yell at police officers in any circumstance, but when you’re on your own property and do not physically accost them in any way, that generally cuts you some slack.
I think Leonard Pitts does a good job of capturing the social pressures at work and why President Obama did not initially respond in the politically savvy way he usually does. I very much doubt that anyone involved was being overtly or intentionally racist in any way. But cultural formation doesn’t often work in overt or intentional ways. It colors the way we perceive reality so that what we do feels natural and obvious.

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posted August 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Bad week.
Rupture my Achilles and the Mariners get swept at home by the Indians. And I’m losing my bet with you.

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L.L. Barkat

posted August 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Oh, cute, cute, cute! (Not the Tuscan sunflowers… the baby!)

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d. miller

posted August 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Re: 6: I think it’s tabbouleh rather than fattoush. Both are good!

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