Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Jon Coutts writes about why he is dropping TGC blogs from his reading list:

But as we are only connected by their celebrity and influence within a big thing called evangelicalism, buy and since I have found their blogs more discouragingly mystifying than helpful, viagra and because they have not once interacted with my comments and questions, and since those of their followers who have interacted with me have not appeared to consider anything I’ve said, I have decided that their blogs are hardly worth the effort. I actually feel that my presence there has only served to solidify other commenters in their allegiance to their views.

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Speaking of TGC, Kevin DeYoung wishes that Christian colleges highlight “just” moms in their promotional and alumnus materials:

So here’s my challenge: let me know if you’ve seen an alumni magazine from a Christian college that spotlights mothers, not mothers who also dance in the ballet and spin centrifuges, but mothers who are “just” mothers.
And a bonus challenge, this one for our fine Christian colleges: we’d love to see how proud you are of the half of your graduates putting their education to good use by helping their husbands, raising kids, serving in the church, and doing a hundred other amazing things that don’t look impressive to most people but should look impressive to us.

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The Catholic Church in Quebec is going green. Instead of having sacramental wine sent up from California, wine used in the Eucharist will now come from a vineyard in Quebec:

It’s very symbolic,” said Norman Levesque, the man behind the initiative. “By taking bread and wine and replacing those elements with ones that are more environmentally friendly, we are touching the core of people’s faith.”
Although the practice won’t make a big difference on its own, it is one of a growing number of initiatives aimed at making churches more environmentally responsible.
Mr. Levesque is the director of Green Church, an initiative of the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism advising church leaders on ways to reduce their carbon footprints.
Since its launch last fall, more than 25 Montreal-area churches — Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant — have signed commitments to introduce more environmentally sustainable practices, usually involving heating, insulation and recycling.
The implementation of Quebec wine for communion is the program’s latest achievement and forges new spiritual ground.

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And in the “weird news” category, there is a group of nuns who have decided to venerate Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The reason: They believe he is the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul.

“According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first and an evil persecutor of Christians before he started spreading the Christian gospel,” the sect’s founder, who styles herself Mother Fotina, said.
“In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, and just like the apostle, he started wisely leading his flock.”

Manly Manliness

An article appeared in yesterday’s Globe and Mail about the nostalgia for manly men. Chuck, malady being very much into chivalry and warriorhood, ask eagerly read the article, sickness and came a way just a little bit disappointed. Read the article: Guy Guides: Nostalgia For When Men Were Masters of the Universe.

Below is Chuck’s response. He was going to send it to the Editor of the Globe, but they have a 150 word limit for letters to the editor. So I’m posting his entire response here.

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In his recent article, Russell Smith passes judgment on “how-to-be-a-gentleman guides” (Nostalgia for When Men Ruled, April 14th), arguing that these guides are “maniacally conservative” escapist fantasies grounded in a “nervousness” about gender, and a nostalgic desire to return to the days when “men were masters of the universe” and women knew their place.

Anything can be “psychologized” away (a variant of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy sometimes known as “Bulversism”or “Appeal to Motive”) if one tries hard enough. A psychologist who studies terror management theory could try to explain away the desire to be a good parent, for example, as nothing more than reacting to existential anxiety by focusing on the survivial of one’s offspring, and Freud might have described writing an article for the Globe and Mail as a sublimation of neurotic sexual conflict. Smith’s attempt to reduce the desire to be a good man to nostaglic crypto-sexist neuroses is just such a maneuver.

Regarding the charge of sexism, Smith offers no evidence in support of his accusation. He makes no attempt to deal with the fact that current contributors to this discussion, whether we are talking about Kate and Brett McKay’s book The Art of Manliness or Scott Farrell’s “Chivalry Today” podcast, explicitly sever considerations of gentlemanly behaviour from any implications of male superiority. Smith states that “in discussion of gentlemanliness there is no mention of how best to divide child care,” which is flatly incorrect, as can be seen in the discussion of stay-at-home dads at the Art of Manliness website, for one example. And Smith’s charge that behaving like a gentleman is about trying to assert dominance shows a lack of understanding of gentlemanliness. In my book on warriorhood (a topic associated with manly stereotypes if ever there was one), my research into warrior codes both past and present showed the core of martial greatness to be servanthood rather than masterhood, and Scott Farrell’s application of chivalric ideals to today’s gentleman is grounded in the relinquishing of dominance.

Smith also claims that the proliferation of gentlemen’s guides are the product of nostalgia, as evidenced by the anachronistic language used by most popular books on the subject. Given the attention paid by the media to the “metrosexual” and the 30-something who still plays Xbox in his parents’ basement as images of today’s man, and the often-heard claim that chivalry is dead (or at least badly wounded), it is not surprising that current thought on gentlemanliness often involves a desire to reconnect with something that is perceived to have been lost. However, the publication and popularity of the guides themselves cannot be attributed to mere nostalgia. From Geoffroi de Charny’s 14th-Century manual of chivalry to the writings of US President Theodore Roosevelt, men have always sought the advice of other men on the topic of how a man might live well, in the same way that women have always sought advice from other women. The current crop of “gentlemen’s guides” are no different.

Charles H. Hackney, PhD
Author of Martial Virtues: Lessons in Wisdom, Courage, and Compassion from the World’s Greatest Warriors (2010, Charles E. Tuttle Publications)

Religious Attendance in Canada

The 50th anniversary issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion is out. In it, sales it includes a study looking at the changing patterns of church attendance in Canada between 1986-2008.

Overall, mind the study found a 20% decrease in religious attendance. Part of this is due to the increase in people reporting that they have ‘no religion’. The other part is due to a decline in Catholic attendance.

As for Protestants:

…the story is one of stability and even increase. Across age groups, treat Protestants in Canada are now more likely to attend religious services…These data do not allow us to disaggregate mainline Protestants from evangelical Protestants. This makes it impossible to determine whether the stability in attendance among Protestants is because of stability across Protestant denominations, or if evangelical groups have compensated for declining rates of attendance in mainline groups. (pg. 199)

I know of one mainline church that has been studied regarding declining attendance. There is research about the United Church of Canada that found that by 2025 the average United Church will have:
• 52 financially-supporting households.
• zero new members received.
• zero new members in Sunday school.
• zero baptisms (all ages).
• Zero weddings.
• Four funerals.

(It should be noted that in this research about the UCC, the author found that there is also decline in the evangelical churches, just not as fast as the UCC).

But, if as the newest research suggests, Protestants are holding their own in terms of attendance (be it due to an increase in evangelical attendance, or not), what does this mean for the announcement that religion in Canada is on its way to being extinct?

More Hoopla over the C.S. Lewis Bible

Way back in September I wrote about the newest novelty Bible: The C.S. Lewis Bible. I commented on the publisher’s marketing ploy that this new Bible would provide fresh insights into the writings of Lewis, viagra sale and I talked about how it is just another example of marketing the Bible to make it about “what we want.”

I really thought the hoopla about this Bible was over in September. And then I read an article over at Christianity Today this morning, physician where the hoopla continues because the publishing company is supposedly not being faithful to Lewis because of the Bible translation they chose to pair with his writings. That’s right, C.S. Lewis is supposedly spinning in his grave because the publishers chose the NRSV translation instead of the KJV.

Quoting Leland Ryken, the article states:
“The choice of the NRSV, of which HarperCollins is the U.S. publisher, seems to have been a marketing decision rather than a logical choice,” Ryken said.

Um, the whole project is a marketing decision, and not a logical choice.

Geek Rant

It’s been an interesting week for movie news.

First, prescription a “leaked” promotional photo for X-Men: First Class was put up on MSN and then promptly pulled after the director saw it and freaked out. I’m not hyped up about this movie. I think the X-men franchise needs to disappear. (I know, illness I know, viagra sale this coming from a Marvel fan). But, really, they messed up X-3, and then destroyed Wolverine (and massacred Deadpool in the process). I’m not hitching my wagon to the X-men movie, I’ll gear up for the Avengers instead.

Then, Chris Nolan announced that he has cast his villains for the next installment of Batman: Bane and Catwoman. All I can say is that they better do Bane better than they did in Batman and Robin.

And then today, I got the horrible, horrible, awful, devastating, want-to-rip-my-hair-out news that Hollywood has hired a writer to re-boot the Lethal Weapon series. No. No. No. Very bad. No touching the Lethal Weapon series!

/ so ends my rant.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

The first RBP&S of 2011!

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Craig Adams asks What would have been John Wesley’s attitude toward the modern doctrine and practice of Speaking in Tongues?

Thus we can say that Wesley would not have fully endorsed either cessationism or pentecostalism. Extraordinary gifts and miralcles have not necessarily ceased, look but they are not necessary proofs of the Holy Spirit, either.
Wesley said that he did not claim “extraordinary gifts” of the Spirit as being necessary to the Spirit’s regeneration or sanctification of Christian lives. He does not seem to have claimed any particular “extraordinary gifts” for himself.
But, there is nothing in Wesley’s teaching that would absolutely disallow extraordinary gifts in the Church. Wesley’s defense of Montanus and his love for the writings of Tertullian could be seen as an argument in favor of the possibility of “extraordinary gifts” in the contemporary Church.

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The top 50 Biblioblog ranking for December is up. I never know what to make of these lists in terms of actual “top”-ness, but it’s a great place to find a few new blogs to read.

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Scientia et Sapientia has been posting tips for their Th.M program. The latest installment is for any student in any program: How to deal with Over-Research-itis:

This debilitating illness manifests itself in a tendency to spend almost the entire semester researching, leaving yourself with precious little time in which to actually write the paper that all of the research was supposed to be for.
If you’re not sure whether you suffer from this unfortunate syndrome, just ask yourself whether you tend to be frustrated with your papers because you don’t think they really reflect the quality of research you did for the project. If so, you probably suffer from over-research-itis.

Do I suffer from this? Um. Well. Considering I have been “researching” for my Pentateuch paper since November and still haven’t written a single paragraph, I think the answer is *gulp*.

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As regular readers are aware, I’m a fan of de-motivational posters. Today I came across a site full of Emergent po-motivational posters. Check them out!

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And if you went to Westdale high school in the 90’s like I did, you may remember science teacher Ms. Audrey Gleave. My prayers go out to her family and friends, and let’s pray that the police catch the creep who did this.

RIP Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen has passed away at the age of 84.

From the news report:

Born in Regina, doctor Canada, diagnosis Leslie Nielsen appeared in more than 100 movies and hundreds of television shows over the course of his career.
Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002…

You can see more here.

In honour of his passing, I present a trailer from a classic Leslie Nielsen movie:

A Buffy Re-boot

It has been announced that Warner Bros. is working on a re-boot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In my opinion, cialis this has disaster written all over it.

First, look they are re-booting the movie. The movie was awful. The reason it was awful was because the “suits” did not understand what Whedon was trying to do. The “suits” won and audiences were left with a B-level movie. It was only when Whedon was given the opportunity to do Buffy for the small screen, that we got to see what it was really supposed to be about.

Second, The Buffy-verse does not need a reboot! Spinoffs? Sure. Adaptation of the season eight comic book? Okay.
I say leave the Buffy story alone, and focus on one of the new Slayers (for those of you not in the know, at the end of Season 7, the Scooby Gang found a way to activate all the potential slayers in the world.)

Third, Joss Whedon is against this, and in true Whedon-humour says this:

I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie. Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.

Finally, I think this boils down to the fact that Warner Bros. is looking for the next Twilight. Repeat after me: Buffy is NOT Bella! Oh, and another thing:


Is Education a Democracy?

Earlier this week I posted a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education about a man who writes papers for students; students who either have no desire or no ability to write papers, cheap and have several hundred (or thousand) dollars to spend on hiring a professional paper writer.

Today I am reading about another case of cheating, this time in Florida, where 200 of 600 students cheated on an exam. All 600 students have to re-write the exam as a result. The professor is offering academic amnesty (i.e. no punitive repercussions) for those students who confess and agree to take an ethics course.

Nathan Gilmour, over at Christian Humanist, looks at both situations and the state of education in general. He writes:

I still believe that higher education exists not for its own sake but for the sake of a larger community. That particular sort of benefit has at its root a set of aristocratic assumptions, namely that some human beings have over the years acquired a real and intelligible range of human goods alternately called wisdom, expertise, and learning; and that inherent inequality between teacher and student can and should have the erotic force (in the old Platonic sense) to draw students upward, inspiring them to emulate those professors whom they admire and to supplant those whom they despise…
My own working assumption, the assumption of aristocracy, is that students must rise in their relationships to their teachers, not assume a prior and all-consuming equality, and to cheat within this context is to betray the institution and the larger community. The open secret is that every professor worth anything at all longs for the day when student supplants teacher, taking the future of the community in directions that the teacher is incapable of imagining. But a system corrupted by widespread cheating stands to ruin all chances of anything like that happening.

Is education a democracy? Are students and teachers equal in the classroom?

I admit that I struggle with this. The seminary where I’m taking classes has small class sizes, which is great. But because we all live, work and study in the same small college town, there is an informality and equality that I find hard to navigate.

I sit under these professors. I am paying to learn from them and to be challenged in my theological and biblical assumptions. They are the experts in their fields, and deserve respect and a degree of deference. A sign of respect that I can use is to call them by their title, “Dr. so-and-so.”

And yet, the informality of the community has us all on a first-name basis. One of my professors (and his family) is a friend of my family. We semi-regularly have family dinners together. In the informal setting I can call him by his first name. But once I’m in the classroom, I can’t do it. I know that some teachers say, “Just call me so-and-so” but I can’t.

Professors and students may worship together on Sundays, together as equals. They may be neighbours and friends. They may do extra-curricular activities together. But in the classroom, there is, for me, a clear demarcation of roles. I am the student. They are the teacher. I am not the expert. I am the one who is called to sit at their feet and learn from their wisdom. They are called to teach and guide and utilize their wisdom to challenge and grow us.