Saturday, June 28, 2014

Around the Horn – 6/27/14

At first, Paul Levy has a good piece on coming forward. It’s one of my pet peeves. Just because you have a big auditorium doesn’t mean you need to use it all, particularly if you don’t need to. Come together, people. It helps everything.

At second, Philip Corbett at the New York Times has a good piece on writing where he exhorts us to “do the hard work of ironing out our sentences so readers don’t have to.” Complex writing may make you feel good. It may make you feel smart. But it won’t help your readers. Simplicity, not complexity, is a virtue in communication.

At third, over at First Things, Robert Gregory writes about his experience at Bowdoin College over the matter of university policy requiring that Christians organizations open the doors of leadership to non-Christians. Such a policy is so absurd on its face that it could only come from modern academia. However, Gregory insightfully says, “Too much ground has been conceded over recent years in purchasing a ‘seat at the University table.’” It is reminiscent, perhaps, of the old fundamentalist/new evangelical controversy and quip, “I’ll call you brother if you call me doctor.” It is hard to tell what the end of this will be. It has happened other places, and will continue to happen. It is a good reminder that the university, and university fellowships (as good as they might be) are not the way God set out to accomplish his mission. The church is still God’s way, and Bowdoin, Vanderbilt, or anything other university cannot affect the church.

Last, here’s another view of the world. Or at least of a few cities. Street Score is a way of determining safe and dangerous neighborhoods, at least the perception of them by asking people to rate photos from Google. Here’s the Detroit map for those interested. (It’s still the Detroit map for those uninterested.) It’s interesting because all the major streets are unsafe and the neighborhoods tend to be rated safer. What strikes me from this is the way that people are going about gathering data. It is hard to imagine there is anything reliable about the methodology. But appearance matters. Perception may not be reality, but it is perception, and it shapes people’s views. There’s a lot of lessons there I suppose.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This and That

I recently saw (for the billionth or so time) someone comment about the supposed evil of being known for what you are against rather than what you are for. It made me wonder if this person wanted us to know he was against people being known for what they are against.

It’s not there’s no truth to the idea. It’s that it’s simplistic and misleading. To be for something is automatically to be against other some things. And that’s okay. And it’s also okay to let people know you are against some things. However, if you are only critical, or constantly critical, you may need to rethink some things.

Speaking of that, I recently saw someone condemn someone to hell because they handled a situation differently than they would have. And this from a person who says fundamentalists are judgmental and graceless. Ironic, eh?

Which reminds me that it seems that the people who talk most about grace often seem to give it the least. They are all about grace … so long as you agree with them. Otherwise they want nothing to do with you.

Which reminds me that a lot of people hate theological or philosophical separatism in ministry. They have a novel solution: they do not associate with those who are separatists.

Methinks they don’t see the irony of it.

I do. And I laugh.

You see, almost everyone is a separatist. The question is for what reason and from whom. And that’s okay. Just have biblical reasons.

I was playing golf last night … a 4 ball match with a medal component. All that means is that there are two games going on at once and both holes and strokes count. We ended up winning 2-up on the match and 3-up on strokes. I tried to give it away on 8th hole by carding a snowman … on a 90 degree day no less. It was a disaster. But I came up big on the 9th to seal the deal with a tap-in par. We followed it up with a salad (both garden salad and crab salad), grilled lamb chops and chicken (I skipped the fish), garlic roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables, ice cream, and oreo bread pudding. Win or lose, that tastes good.  

Two things about golf and life.

First, don’t make a guy putt an 18-incher for a quadruple bogey. It’s really rude. Unless all the strokes count, in which case it’s smart, particularly if the game is close. But if you hadn’t given a couple of two-footers away earlier, you might not be down now.

However, if you are the one putting for an quadruple bogey, you deserve the shame of having to make it. In fact, you should probably have to make it twice. But to quote Jude, on some have compassion. But only when the competition is over.

Second, sometimes it doesn’t matter how bad you play, so long as you show up when you need to. It’s not a good way to live life, but you get away with it sometimes. And it won’t build character. But every now and then you get away with it. Last night was one of those times.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Around the Horn – June 13, 2014

At first, here’s an interesting article on forensic science. For those who criminal investigation experience extends all the way to Law and Order and CSI, this article gives a side of the equation that removes the simplicity. Which leads me to wonder about fingerprints and snowflakes. It is commonly said that no two are alike, but how would they know that unless they have compared every single fingerprint or every single snowflake? Which I say mostly to remind pastors (and prosecutors) to be careful about using illustrations which cannot be proven to be true, because someone out there will be thinking about it.

At second, here’s a good article by Mark Snoeberger on raising children. Mark gives a needed reminder that the modern emphasis on giving grace to children should not exclude common grace. I am reminded of an article I read recently of a father who was going to punish his son for disrespecting his mother. Instead, he gave the belt to his son and told the son to hit the father ten times as hard as he could. Not only does that distort the atonement, it disregards the biblical command for fathers to teach and discipline their children, and it disregards the biblical teaching on respect itself. A child should never strike a parent.

At third, here’s an article on hyperactivity among children. We have probably all experienced the soundness and ease of a night’s sleep after a physically strenuous day. Or even the comfort of sitting in a chair on the porch and having no energy to move after an afternoon of work in the yard. Perhaps some common sense in dealing with fidgeting among children would go along way towards solving certain problems. There is no “one size fits all” solution. But there are some common sense things that get overlooked. Maybe this is one of them.

And last, Jurgen Klinsmann may have been a good soccer player, and a good tactician, but he’s clearly a bonehead as a coach. He came out several times recently saying that the US cannot win the World Cup. Now, let’s be honest: That doesn’t take a particular helping of clairvoyance to know that. But it’s a dumb coaching move to say it. That’s the job of commentators (of which there is not shortage). It might be something you say after it’s over. But it is not something you say going into a tournament.

While I am on this topic, I continue to think that the idea that Landon Donovan is not one of the 23 best players in this country right now doesn’t stretch the bounds of credibility. It is blows far past said bounds. For Klinsmann to leave Donovan off the roster was both a dumb PR move and a dumb coaching move. If Klinsmann wants to prepare young people for the 2018 World Cup, he has four years to do that. And it starts by exposing your young players to the experience and leadership of the most decorated players in US Soccer history. I maintain that if the US doesn’t make it through group play, Klinsmann should be fired in a post game press conference.