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Weekly Meanderings

posted by Scot McKnight
Our new neighbor.
He asked me where the blue parakeets were.
I told him I was his blue parakeet.
But if he didn’t mind himself, he’d be my blue parakeet.
Fox1.jpg
This was flippin’ fun!
This is a good reminder.
And this is changing, resistance notwithstanding.
In support of open membership with Mike Bell (at iMonk’s site).
Speaking of which, who is your companion with Don Johnson.
GulfOilSpill.jpg
Good piece about the wisdom of Hazel.
Mark Roberts on the National Day of Prayer flap … scroll down for part one.
Wow, have missions become toxic?
Kenneth Sheppard on the new atheists — nice review.

Meanderings in the News

1. Do we have free will? Ask the scientists: “In the introductory chapter of many undergraduate texts dealing with biology or biochemistry, it is common to stress (as I have in this article) that biological systems obey the laws of chemistry and physics; as living systems we are nothing more than a bag of chemicals. It is almost with a sense of pride that the authors of such texts may contrast this understanding with the alternative earlier belief in vitalism–the belief that there are forces governing the biological world that are distinct from those that determine the physical world. The irony here is that in reality, a belief in free will is nothing less than a continuing belief in vitalism–a concept that we like to think we discarded well over 100 years ago! It is my concern, that this vitalistic way of thinking about human behavior–a style of thinking that is present throughout our scientific institutions–serves only to hinder what should be a major onslaught on determining the molecular genetic and chemical basis of human behavior.” (HT: JT)
2. President Obama at UMich: ““It may make your blood boil,” he said. “Your mind may not often be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.”
3. Blogs left and blogs right.
4. Barbara Strauch: “But as it turns out, modern middle age is from 40 to 65. During this long time in the middle, if we’re relatively healthy our brains may have a few issues, but on balance they’re better than ever during that period.”
5. Anyone know about E-Verify? Mario Loyola on Arizona immigration issues: “The Arizona police-powers law distracts attention from the one way in which Arizona’s approach to illegal immigration can and should be a model for the nation: the adoption of a universal E-Verify mandate for all employers. Modern technology has given us a way to strike at the heart of the illegal-immigration problem. It comes not in the form of drones, or fences, or expanded police powers, but in the form of a simple legislative device that promises to alter the economics of illegal immigration. The several states should move as quickly as possible towards universal E-Verify.”
6. Oh my, this can get complex.
7. Was Cheney wrong
8. John W. Kennedy, at CT, on Ergun Caner.
9. Will the model for Catholic priests change? “In Cesbron’s view, the current model of the priest “dates to Vatican 1, to the counter-reformation, it is a model from the 16th century, and the model needs to finally adapt. That is bound to happen, it will be reformed, there is no logical choice for us.”
10. 5113! Why? (That’s exasperation, not a question.)
Meanderings in Sports
Tom Ricketts, the new owner of the Cubs, wants to erect a big Toyota sign over the left field bleachers. There’s more than one problem here. Welcome to Chicago!


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Comments read comments(9)
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JoanieD

posted May 8, 2010 at 7:16 am


The “flippin’ fun” link was fascinating!



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RJS

posted May 8, 2010 at 7:39 am


The “free will” article is worth a post – I may have to come back to it. We could get a good conversation going.



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Scot McKnight

posted May 8, 2010 at 7:44 am


RJS, I almost passed it on to you instead of making it a link today. But I agree: good one to return to.



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Rick

posted May 8, 2010 at 8:41 am


The scientific free will article brought to mind a paper Keith Drury did with Burton Webb (Prof. of Biology) in regards to genetics and sin. They asked:
“To what extent is an individual culpable for sin influenced by genetic factors? Should genetic predispositions change the church?s view of sin? If we learn to manipulate genes, will ?genetic sanctification? be possible?”
http://didache.nts.edu/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=771&Itemid=
RJS- I hope you do a post (or many) on this topic.



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Your Name

posted May 8, 2010 at 9:04 am


consistently one of my favorite virtual bullets each week. tks smk.



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Jason Lee

posted May 8, 2010 at 9:23 am


On the “have missions become toxic?” link:
People have been yawning the demise of modern missions for decades. Every once in a while someone else will become energized about this “death of missions” or “missions was so bad” narrative and will enthusiastically reinterpret missions history, and perhaps their own missions history. Sociologists of conversion point out a familiar pattern: a convert to a new worldview dramatically reinterprets their past allegiances, behaviors, and beliefs in overly negative ways (Scot McKnight has a post on this in regards to B. Mclaren). The convert may even come to present caricatures to others not familiar enough with the topic to know otherwise. This may often be the case with converts from Islam telling Christians about the “evils” of Islam. Christians are islamically illiterate and so view the convert from Islam to be some sort of expert.
Sure missionaries (if you can even generalize about them at all) have made terrible mistakes just as ministers have everywhere. This is no excuse for dutifully ignoring all of the things they’ve done well and right … and still are doing well and right.
Now to affirm something in this missionary blogger’s “toxic missions” post: The blogger missionary is really on to something in his basic thought in point #2. The professionalization of missions or the creation of a missions industry likely has unintended effects on missionaries, churches, and the people and places they serve. Many of these effects may not be positive. And the industrialization of missions will likely only increase with the connectivity of technology and easy travel. One way this happens is when missionaries become far too focused on ministry peers and disconnected from local people. This can have far reaching implications. One concrete example of this is missionaries who spend hours upon hours creating blogs and writing lengthy blog posts. This manageable activity may provide the missionary with large amounts of distraction from the practicalities of their work, such as prayer, or investing life-on-life with local people. Updating a blog is much easier than praying or spending relational time with people from a different culture (very unmanageable work). This is perhaps why missionaries have often found it tempting to invest in building and managing institutions (eg, seminaries and schools) rather than doing the knitty gritty of life-on-life discipleship with young local emerging leaders or verbally talking with non-Christians about Jesus Christ. For example, William Carey seems to be someone who did the former (institutions) but not much of the latter (relational ministry with locals).
Now let me try to be constructive and not simply critical: It seems that the Moravians were a group that heavily oriented themselves to local relationships and concerns. They integrated into local economies, married locals, and died local. But I pose the question: In what ways might the Moravian example be exemplary for modern missionaries? It seems that there might be something to the Moravian’s local orientation rather than peer or country of origin orientation. This is not to say that this approach is always appropriate or possible. Some specialized roles do seem to need high degrees of non-local orientation.
I am commenting as someone who grew up in missions, went on innumerable stm’s and was a career missionary. I resigned as a missionary and am no long attached to the ministry industry in any way. In my present situation I have more to lose by affirming missions than disparaging missions. Missions is an enormous and incredibly multifaceted phenomenon that evades generalization. This is why the largely sweeping and simplistic statements in the blogger missionary?s “toxic missions” seem less than helpful.



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Jeremy

posted May 8, 2010 at 4:52 pm


Jason: The thinly-veiled accusation that Mike devotes more time to his blogs than his ministry is out of line. Furthermore, I’ve seen first-hand the stuff he’s talking about and yeah, while it isn’t everyone, it needs to change.
On another note: The Caner thing is interesting. I don’t know enough to make a call on his truthfulness, but it does seem odd that accusing someone of mispronunciation, particularly when they’ve lived in the US for 30 years, carries such weight. On the other hand, lets hope Caner doesn’t turn out to be the next Mike Warnke either. There IS immense pressure for converts from other religions, particularly Islam, to share their testimony and have it confirm the listener’s worst fears. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten disapproval for not towing the expected line when sharing my own.



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kevin s.

posted May 9, 2010 at 12:14 am


E-verify is a system of computerized validation of employee citizenship status. It is a voluntary system on the national level, but is mandatory in a few states (including Arizona), as well as for federal contractors.
Uptake has been slow (go figure). The program is opposed by the chamber of commerce, whose membership rather transparently wants to continue illegal immigration. It is opposed by pro-amnesty forces since it erodes the path to citizenship. It is opposed by the ACLU for ACLU-type reasons.
Up until a few weeks ago, opposition focused on frivolous constitutional challenges to the system, as well as what was once a relatively high error rate. The new tack seems to be that e-verify doesn’t do enough do identify illegals, and so we need a new system that will be tougher. Considering the current system has taken more than a decade to arrive at its current level of effectiveness, the current argument strains credibility.
The system has its problems. Since the system is voluntary, immigrants who get caught in Arizona can simply move on to other states. It also creates an incentive for identity theft, though this is true of any real validation method for anything.
Seems to me that the system can work, with improvements.



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