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.

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