Saturday, August 31, 2013

a weekend linkathon while you wait for laundry to dry

Carl Trueman visits a liturgical service, shares the realization that traditional liturgical services can cover a whole ton more Bible than the smugly self-satisfied "Bible" church service. It's a worthwhile read.  Every religious gathering has some fashion of liturgy but ulta-low-liturgists tend to be in denial about that.

Hanna Rosin writes that there are some popular claims about earning discrepancy between men and women and that the popular stat is a false one.

This is one I'm reposting in case you didn't catch it the first time.

For some reason some British tabloid has revived an old idea that breast implants could be a way to smuggle explosives in for terrorist attacks.  Shallow men beware, fake breasts might one day literally be the death of you!

Well, there is such a thing as having a weekend.  May you enjoy yours.  This is a relatively fallow period of activity at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  That may not be the ideal for some but it is the ideal for Wenatchee at the present time.  :)  But there are sets of posts that will continue, so the plan goes, after there's some time set aside to enjoy what is left of summer

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

HT Phoenix Preacher: Kim Riddleberger's series on Orange County as a new Burned Over District, parts 1-6

Some striking quotes from the final part of the series:

The very fact that Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral is now Christ Cathedral--home to Rome's OC diocese--points to a degree of change which is absolutely unfathomable to those of us who lived through this tumultuous and exciting time.  Robert Schuller--the great "possibility thinker"--didn't consider the possibility of bankruptcy and losing his beloved Cathedral.  For a time it looked like a smooth transition from father to son, and then  suddenly, everything blew up.  Now the Crystal Cathedral is "Christ Cathedral" and a Roman altar now stands obtrusively in the center of the Cathedral.


The reality is that good deeds don't often generate buzz.  Warren is now old news here in the OC, suffering the fate of every "new" ministry when the "new" wears off.  "Now what do we do?"  "How do we keep it all going?"  I'd bet the farm that figuring out what strategic step to take next occupies the time and energy of the staffs and governing boards of the remaining evangelical megachurches.  Pity the poor staff person or board member who suggests going back to the basics of preaching the gospel!  These churches truly miss the "buzz" which built them, and would probably do just about anything to get it back.  But the buzz is long gone and chasing it is a fool's errand.

And this is why the OC is now a "burned over" distinct.  People have seen too many staged miracles and fake healings.  They have been told too many times that Jesus is coming back any moment because some crisis in the Middle East pointed in that direction.  Too many times they've heard that God was doing a "radical" world-changing work through some preacher who then spent more time begging for more money to keep it all going than he did explaining how this radical new work might come about.  Because the buzz was generated by personalities and entertainment, should we really be surprised it has fallen silent?  No.  All that remains when the buzz ends are ugly concrete shells with smaller and smaller crowds on Sundays, and ministers seeking to be more "radical" and hipper than their predecessors.  It can only turn out badly in the end.  This is why it is good the buzz is falling silent.      
If Orange County is as burned over a district as Riddleberger says it is then the folks at Mars Hill Church should not expect too much.  Ecclesiastes includes the legendary and wry observation that if you see something that appears new it is not, it was from ages past and that it is not really new.  But if there's anything I learned the hard way within Mars Hill it's that a lot of us are convinced we know church history enough to think we're doing something new when we don't realize that, at best, we've done nothing more than needlessly reinvent a wheel or, at worst, contributed to a foolhardy cult of personality that shouldn't have been permitted to emerge to begin with.  But the lure of legacy is just tempting enough that younger men, in particular (to whom the sales pitch has been rather explicitly crafted) are still likely to buy in.  A responsible overview of church history may play a role in providing reasons for a young man to reconsider.  The same could be said, of course, for older men. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ribbon Farm: You Are Not an Artisan

This has been linked to in the past at Wenatchee The Hatchet but a few key excerpts seem worth quoting and linking to again.

The future of work looks bleaker than it needs to for one simple reason: we bring consumption sensibilities to production behavior choices. Even our language reflects this: we “shop around” for careers. We  look for prestigious brands to work for. We look for “fulfillment” at work. Sometimes we even accept pay cuts to be associated with famous names.  This is work as fashion accessory and conversation fodder.

We can think of this as conspicuous production, by analogy to conspicuous consumption. First-world artisan tendencies take this to a logical extreme.

When you subconsciously think of work as something you consume for pleasure, you end up with a possibly irrational (economically speaking) attraction to artisan work. Even those who don’t actually end up as artisans choose work the way they choose cars, jewelry or handbags, over-valuing things like resume-value and exposure-value.


What makes it worse is that in an economy based on a fiat currency, shareholder value maximization and deficit spending, the capacity to generate an income does not necessarily imply that meaningful work is being done, either in a subjective psychological sense (it helps you evolve rather than atrophy) or economic sense (net wealth is being created rather than consumed or harvested). You might even end up having to pay to do real work.

Since income being generated at an individual level is not a reliable indicator that work being performed, I prefer a different distinction: schlep work versus sexy work. If there is schlepping involved, it is more likely to be real work. If there are sexy elements involved, it is more likely to be conspicuous production pretending to be work.

What unites all these trades [that are emerging in the information economy, as discussed earlier in the article] is that they accept roles based on kinds of schlepping that machines are bad at rather than insisting on work that humans like to do.


And that might be the biggest tell of all, the sexier the job looks the less likely it is that that job involves real work.  There are things machines are bad at, and may always be bad at, that humans will need to do, but these things can often be tedious and decidedly anti-sexy.  But someone has to do that stuff.  The paperless office I was being told would emerge thirty years ago has not quite arrived.  If anything the sea of documents we must slog through has either remained the same or increased but what has changed is the water line that is some kind of informational sea level, the level at which our ability to sink or swim may depend on not needing to have our feet on the ground of what we used to be able to trust.  But that's just rambling, never mind that.

Courtesy of Terry Teachout, a quote from Lord Acton--no not the one about absolute power, that one's TOO obvious. :)

There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men."
Lord Acton, letter to Mary Gladstone (Apr. 24, 1881)

Christian Brady on Jesus' cursing the fig tree and cleansing the Temple and a continually puzzling tale

There are many puzzling accounts in biblical texts, Jesus cursing a fig tree that was not even in the season to bear fruit is one of them.  Christian Brady, whose work we've linked to in the past for his nice explanation of why Mark Driscoll's claims that the Targum Neofiti proves Jews believed in the Trinity before Jesus (or something weirdly like that) doesn't hold up to any scholarly scrutiny.  If you want to part with some of your money to read Robert Cargill's paper inspired by the same Driscollian sub-competence on Old Testament literature generally and Jewish Targums (i.e. commentaries on Jewish scriptures) in particularly, knock yourself out. 

Meanwhile, Brady's writing about Jesus' cursing a fig tree is worth linking to.  Give it a read, if you've come this far already, and thanks for visiting.

Foreign Policy: CIA files establish US aided Saddam in Iran/Iraq war during Reagan administration

No comment at this time, but a link to the article seemed worth doing.