Friday, January 08, 2016

Around the Horn - 1/8/16

At first this week is Ten Reminders for Preachers. Nathan Busenitz has assembled these ten reminders from the words of ten preachers of old including Spurgeon, Baxter, Lloyd-Jones, and others. They are good reminders of the task that preachers face, particularly with another Sunday coming soon. If you don’t have time to read all ten of these guys before Sunday, these short quotes will be helpful.

At second is an interesting article about how Detroit Defied Reality to Help Win WWII. It is about the production of B-24 bombers at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, just west of Detroit. After what can only be considered failure by Consolidated Aircraft, Ford Motor Company took over the project, built the Willow Run plant and the machinery, and eventually produced a B-24 every hour at the height of production. Eventually, the government told Ford to cut back on production because the losses were not as great as they had anticipated. It’s an interesting story about the manufacturing power that helped to win WWII.

At third is a pair of articles that will be controversial for some because they deal with race and incarceration. The first is a review of a book entitled Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment. The second is a recommendation of the review that originally turned me on to the review. It’s interesting and controversial because the drug war and particularly sentencing is under fire. The author of the book is a black man who grew up in Brooklyn “during the height of the crack epidemic.” In 1986, a law was passed that made selling 50 grams of crack the same penalty as selling 5000 grams of powder cocaine. This ended up leading to a disproportionate number of black men in prison for dealing crack. The laws are often called racist because of this effect.

What many don’t know (and I didn’t know) was that the stiff sentences for crack cocaine that appear to disproportionately affect young black men were originally supported by the black community because of safety issues. The reviewer says, “It was blacks who instigated the crackdown on black criminality, often over the opposition of white liberals and black political elites.” In fact, the review says,
This crack/powder disparity was increasingly attacked as racist—crack offenders tended to be black, while powder offenders tended to be white. Never mind that Representatives Charles Rangel and Major Owens, two black liberal Democrats from New York not known for their reluctance to play the race card, led the fight to impose the differential. Never mind that 11 of the 21 black lawmakers serving in Congress in 1986 supported the new law. And never mind that even those black congressmen who opposed it did not do so on grounds that it was racially unfair.
Today, certain comments and perspectives about racial issues are almost litmus tests for evangelicals. If you don’t say the right thing, you can quickly be labeled, tarred and feathered, and run out of evangelicalville, as a friend of mine recently experienced on Facebook because of an obviously true and relatively benign comment about a certain situation. I would cautiously urge a bit more nuance in some of these areas as we seek to engage in these issues. The book looks interesting and appears to give a needed historical perspective on this issue.

Last, but not least, CCEF Now is a publication of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) which is headed up by Ed Welch, David Powlinson, and some others. They have some excellent resources for counseling. I would particularly point you to the articles on “Becoming a Wilderness Companion” by Winston Smith on ministering to those in the hospital and the article on “Engaging Emotions Engaging God” by Alisdair Groves. Of course, Welch’s article “Counseling Is Theological” (emphasis his) is a much needed reminder for those who are tempted to separate counseling from Scripture or integrate counseling with secular psychology. 

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