November 17, 2019

Saturday Brunch, October 5, 2019

Hi, friends. Welcome to the weekend. Hungry for some brunch?

Non-crying section, please? Every traveler has their pet peeves, but crying babies make the list for almost every plane passenger. Now Japan Airlines has revealed a new tool that lets you dodge infants when you book your seat.”Passengers traveling with children between 8 days and 2 years old who select their seats on the JAL website will have a child icon displayed on their seats on the seat selection screen,” reads the airline’s website.

Well, that’s good, I suppsose. I recall once being on a long flight once next to two screaming, almost demonic children. The flight attendant refused to move me on the ridiculous grounds that I was their father.

Excessive exercise can tire out your brain to the point that you have trouble making decisions, a new study claims. Athletes who exerted themselves to the point of exhaustion showed reduced activity in an area of the brain important for making decisions. And they appeared more impulsive in tests that evaluated financial decision-making, going for immediate rewards instead of larger ones that would take more time to achieve, the researchers found. They are also more likely to cheat on their diet. So too much exercise leads to bad decisions? Man, I must be Solomon then.

 

The Titanic sails again. Well, at least an exact replica of it, set to launch in 2022.

Clive Palmer, chairman of Blue Star Line wrote in a statement: “The ship will follow the original journey…” Um, Clive….yeah, you might want to think through your wording on this

 

This may not be the time to mention that last week a giant iceberg, “larger than Los Angeles” broke off from Antarctica.

Rusty Yusonoff has a cool last name and an even cooler hobby. He pokes fun at modern culture by morphing the famous human evolution silhouette. Here are some of the better ones (the rest are here).
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.
Still Don’t Believe In Evolution?! These Cartoons Take It To The Next Step.

New York schools have banned unvaccinated children from enrolling.

 More than 26,000 students in public and private schools and preschool programs in New York State had religious exemptions from required vaccines during the 2017–18 school year.

To lower the number of children susceptible to measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, New York State lawmakers voted in June to end religious exemptions from immunizations required for school children.

I’m all for vacinations, but is this a good thing or government overreach?

Speaking of government overreachDid you forget to walk your dog today? Do you live in Australia? If you answered the first question ‘yes’ you had better answer the second question ‘no’. A new law in Australia will fine owners who do not take their dogs for a walk every day. More specifically, you have two hours after you get home to walk Fido, or face a $4,000 fine!  The penalty would not apply if a dog was kept in a backyard, where it could exercise, or if it had to be confined indoors for its welfare. I love dogs, but as a libertarian this really yanks my chain. Unenforceable laws degrade society, and enforcing this one would require Orwellian surveillance by the state.

An emergency room in Poland designed a new logo:

Yeah, that’s bad. Thankfully someone with photoshop “fixed” it:

 

Josh Gardner was just happily driving down the highway in South Carolina when this happened:

Yes, a flying turtle sailed into his windshield. It happened after another vehicle sent it into the air. “I still don’t understand how it happened”. said Gardner. I think I know:

So, last week was Banned Books Week, a hilariously ill-named promotion of the American Library. James Heaney is having none of it:

During this seven-day festival of self-righteousness, librarians across the country posture as opponents of censorship.

In reality, of course, they’re not fighting censorship at all.  They can’t, because censorship doesn’t exist in this country.  Any book can be published, any book can be sold.  There are no “banned books.”  The ALA is actually fighting parents, many of whom have the temerity to request changes to their school curricula or even, in the worst cases, ask their communities to make it slightly more difficult for children to access certain books that, in the parents’ opinion, could cause harm to those children.  Access will not be denied, of course: again, censorship, the actual suppression of speech such that it cannot be heard, does not exist* in this country, and has been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional in a variety of contexts.

“Libraries Against Parenting”, however, lacks the same popular appeal as “Banned Books Week”, so America’s librarians construct an elaborate fantasy in which any attempt whatsoever to require or merely encourage a library to act in loco parentis (like any other responsible adult member of the community) is, through some arcane ritual of linguistic alchemy, a form of “censorship.”

Have you ever noticed that the Washington Monument looks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE George Washington? This really bugs me.

A Florida woman spotted something odd in the neighborhood pond. An alligator? Well, yes, but those are more common than dogs in Florida.  This was an alligator with a knife sticking out of its head:Image result for alligator with knife in head

No one knows how he got it (my guess involves beer and rednecks) but its rumored whoever is able to pull it out becomes king of Florida.

Ever seen a sunset and a solar eclipse at the same time? Well, you have now:

Credits to the photographer- Dan McGlaun, who took this in Big Spring State Park, Texas. More here.

It’s not enough, Nicole Brewer argues at American Theatre, for directors to produced diverse works with a diverse slate of actors, they should focus exclusively on “anti-racist ideas” and “values”: “You’re not practicing ART [anti-racist theatre] properly unless change is felt, and you experience an intuitive understanding that the plurality of your humanity is welcome.” Hmmm…I’m not quite sure what the plural of my humanity is. Is this a crack about my weight? But in any case, art with an agenda is almost always bad art.

Have you ever written a thesis or dissertation? What was it about? I’m really interested. I wrote an M.A. thesis on the relationship between God and Time. I wish I would have seen the following list of phrases and their definitions before I wrote it:

“IT HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN”…
I didn’t look up the original reference.

“A DEFINITE TREND IS EVIDENT”…
These data are practically meaningless.

“WHILE IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO PROVIDE DEFINITE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS”…
An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.

“THREE OF THE SAMPLES WERE CHOSEN FOR DETAILED STUDY”…
The other results didn’t make any sense.

“TYPICAL RESULTS ARE SHOWN”…
This is the prettiest graph.

“IN MY EXPERIENCE”…
Once

“IN CASE AFTER CASE”…
Twice

“IN A SERIES OF CASES”…
Thrice

“IT IS BELIEVED THAT”…
I think.

“IT IS GENERALLY BELIEVED THAT”…
A couple of others think so, too.

“CORRECT WITHIN AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE”…
Wrong.

“ACCORDING TO STATISTICAL ANALYSIS”…
Rumor has it.

“A STATISTICALLY-ORIENTED PROJECTION OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE FINDINGS”…
A wild guess.

“A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF OBTAINABLE DATA”…
Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of soda.

“IT IS CLEAR THAT MUCH ADDITIONAL WORK WILL BE REQUIRED BEFORE A COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS PHENOMENON OCCURS”…
I don’t understand it.

“AFTER ADDITIONAL STUDY BY MY COLLEAGUES”…
They don’t understand it either.

“THANKS ARE DUE TO JOE BLOTZ FOR ASSISTANCE WITH THE EXPERIMENT AND TO CINDY ADAMS FOR VALUABLE DISCUSSIONS”…
Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Adams explained to me what it meant.

“A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT AREA FOR EXPLORATORY STUDY”…
A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

“IT IS HOPED THAT THIS STUDY WILL STIMULATE FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN THIS FIELD”…
I quit.

Biologos had a fascinating discussion with  Aaron Niequist, who previously led worship at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and at Willow Creek Community Church.

“And so what I do is get up on a big stage with lights pointed at me and my face on a jumbotron and me holding the microphone. In that context, I’m saying ‘hey, don’t focus on me, me, me.’ It’s a very conflicting thing.”

In his years leading worship at Willow Creek,  he felt like he had to “work against what the room was declaring really loudly — which is ‘focus on those people up on the stage in the lights.’”

Niequist hit a rocky point and had what he called “a real faith crisis” after college when he was around 22. The problem was, he was a professional worship leader at that point. “How do you lead these songs, how do you say ‘let’s worship this God that I don’t even know if I believe anymore,’” he remembered feeling.

What helped him through this? Supportive friends and family, one of whom recommended Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy.

“I remember where I was sitting, reading about the Kingdom of God, which I had never heard about. I had been a Christian for 22 years at that point and I had never heard a message on the primary message of Jesus which was the Kingdom of God. That was the born again again moment for me,” he said.

“I was like ‘wait, if this is the story — it’s not just you’re a sinner, say a prayer so you can go to Heaven someday but if it’s you get to join what God is doing to redeem and restore all things, I get to? You get to? We get to? I’m in. Let’s do this.’ That was as much a conversion moment as I’ve ever had in my life and it was about the Kingdom.”

Niequist’s perspective on everything changed and so did his goals. “It … reoriented the goal from getting people saved to getting us all into discipleship and Christ-likeness, transformation,” he said. Up until then, the only tools in his toolbox as a worship leader were “four pop songs and a hymn.”

He goes on to discover something called liturgy. You can hear about it here.

And now for a random reminder that, yes, we live in a time of political division, climate change, income inequality and various other maladies. But it could be worse:Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and text

This is interesting. How to visualize the speed of light? Here’s how:

 

A climate activist group called Extinction Rebellion somehow got a hold of a fire truck, filled it with 400 gallons of fake blood, and aimed it at the U.K. Treasury Building. What could go wrong?

 

Low methane sheep? Here is the headline: Scots scientists awarded £250,000 funding to breed sheep who fart less.Image result for farting sheep

Well, that’s it for this week, friends. Have a great weekend!

Comments

  1. ” I’m all for vacinations, but is this a good thing or government overreach?”
    a good thing
    some of the complications of measles are horrific

    • Yeah, doing less constitutes governmental malpractice.

      • Agreed. Unvaccinated children are a threat to each other and the wider community. We don’t allow parents to NOT educate their children – this is just as vital

        • There are edge cases where vaccination will kill the recipient (vaccines were/are cultured on egg protein; if you have the misfortune to have anaphylactic shock reaction to eggs…)

          I think you might make an exception there. But not religious exemption

          • Prior notification and alternate culture agents can alleviate that risk (though not totally eliminate it). But objecting to vaccinations on “religious” principles is warrantless (unless your religion approves of pure selfishness or all-out medical fatalism).

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Strongly agreed. Government overreach is when government tells you what you may or may not wear (other than in hazardous occupations), or what consenting adults can do in a bedroom.

      Vaccinations stop people from dying. Not only the vaccinated, but especially the immuno-compromised who can’t be vaccinated.

      Also, any one who claims religious exemption is seriously out on a limb, and likely goes through massive logical contortions. All of the major and most of the minor religions are considerably older than vaccinations.

  2. James Heaney doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The Grapes of Wrath was banned from many Kern County, California libraries and schools in the mid-20th century, and as a relatively new English teacher in the 1980s, I was forbidden from teaching Catcher In The Rye to my high school students, even though it was widely taught elsewhere. Censorship can and does happen. It has happened. I experienced it.

    As for the vaccination requirements, I don’t see them as overreach. Society needs 95% vaccination rate to achieve herd immunity. Fail to achieve that and you put a lot of people at risk, many of them children. So people who refuse to vaccinate their kids are endangering not just their own children but others as well. Not acceptable.

    • Yup: There is no censorship in the US in the strict sense that the federal government can’t stop you from buying and reading a book. But there is censorship in the sense that the local government can do its darndest to keep you from doing that. This is less true today than pre-internet, but not entirely gone.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > But there is censorship in the sense that the local government

        This; local government in America is persistently problematic. That’s why we had have things like the Voting Rights Act, and various civil liberties legislation; to police local governments which are easily captured by factions unrepresentative of their constituents.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Even if that faction is Born-Again, Bible-Believing CHRISTIAN Culture Warriors?

          Because BABBCCWs are heavily represented in the history of Banned Books.

          • Absolutely true. That’s who was behind the censorship I experienced. And we’ve had those types as elected officials (school boards, city councils, county supervisors) quite frequently. Almost without exception they end up exhibiting some kind of cruelty and do incredible damage in a lot of areas.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              I call it “The Corruption of Righteousness”.

              RIGHTEOUSNESS plus POWER is a very destructive combination.

  3. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > Every traveler has their pet peeves, but crying babies make the list
    > for almost every plane passenger.

    Or people who pay for their children to have seats in the business class car on the train. Ugh.

    > I’m all for vaccinations, but is this a good thing or government overreach?

    It’s a great thing.

    > Did you forget to walk your dog today?

    Libertarians may object, and this card carrying Socialist is going to be right along side them. This probably falls under the umbrella of “complaint based enforcement”, which is a great way to use rules against people ‘we’ don’t like and avoid applying them to the privileged. “complaint based enforcement” is something my own city should be infamous for….

    > …led worship at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids…

    Ugh, I wish we could in infamous for ALMOST anything else.

    > A Florida woman spotted something odd … This was an alligator with a
    > knife sticking out of its head: but its rumored whoever is able to
    > pull it out becomes king of Florida.

    King of Florida? And notably, no one has yet to try removing the knife.

    > But in any case, art with an agenda is almost always bad art.

    Art without an agenda isn’t art. Good art convinces you of the agenda.

    Or I’ve always like the definition: “Art” is art you agree with. “Propaganda” is art you disagree with. And then there’s all that stuff which is just incomprehensible.

    > …But it could be worse:

    As a fundraiser lets publish a calendar of IM authors in fashion shorts and target ties!

    > How to visualize the speed of light?

    That’s really well done.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      > A Florida woman spotted something odd … This was an alligator with a
      > knife sticking out of its head: but its rumored whoever is able to
      > pull it out becomes king of Florida.

      King of Florida? And notably, no one has yet to try removing the knife.

      “Hold my beer and watch this…”

  4. off topic: here’s a poem:

    Weather Report

    unnoticed, grace rolls in from the northwest,

    raining down on rub-and-tugs and cemeteries,

    the tenements with the asbestos and the live

    wires, that rich duke’s house they turned into

    a museum, shawarma huts and money marts—

    raining down on the just and unjust with no

    questions asked. anil verma scratches to win

    like his life depends on it; over his shoulder,

    his shadow is laughing at him. moishe gets

    tagged by the new red light cameras, adrian

    thinks of going back to school for something

    practical and when things get tight everybody

    stares into a glowing screen, we have at least

    that much in common. dean’s on his knees

    again, hoping jesus grades on a curve. zero

    per cent financing; half off; one day only.

    it’s raining harder now, down the graffiti-

    stained plywood where the windows used

    to be and something about how the walls

    meet the roof makes me weepy, jittery.

    something’s up tonight; we tighten our

    grip on our remote controls. grace comes

    to town and we don’t even hit pause as

    it rains all the way to the erie canal and

    down on a drafty row house sublet to a

    sensitive soul, riding a crest of bad luck.

    next to his toilet’s a million-selling how-

    to book called YOUR BEST LIFE NOW.

    the author’s incisors twinkle like stars.

  5. Re: Banned Books Week: I can understand that parents have a right and responsibility to monitor what their kids read in school, and have a right to give input regarding that, but why do they have the same right or responsibility with respect to public libraries? Aren’t these two different issues?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yeah, that seems like conflating two different issues.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Exactly. It is almost as if the author was trying hard to use a perfectly fine event as foil to advance his own particular agenda. In fact, he is trying to force issues a small subgroup might have with school curricula to be dealt with by limiting access to the public at large (public libraries). If only we had a word for that….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          To paraphrase a famous Sienfield tag line:
          “REMEMBER… IT’S NOT CENSORSHIP IF YOU’RE THE CENSOR.”

    • I think the banning refers to books that some portion of the public consider dangerous, a danger to the public good. Therein lies the problem: what exactly is dangerous to the public good? For some, it might mean publishing directions for making a bomb. For others, it would be incitement to revolt against the existing order of society. Some would consider ideas or representations of sexuality, especially what they consider the “other”, to be dangerous. And, ideas about religion and divinity can be considered dangerous.

      In my lifetime (I’m about to turn 65) the repression of “dangerous” ideas has become much more relaxed. At the same time a lot of people have a lot of anxiety about what they consider dangerous and feel they need to control ideas they see as dangerous. I truly don’t see how this all gets resolved amicably, at least in the short term. I can only trust in God.

  6. Memo to Extinction Rebellion: Do NOT, NOT attempt to operate a high pressure hose without proper training!!

    Duh.

  7. Re: Aaron Niequist:

    1) He no more “discovered liturgy” than Columbus discovered America. Let’s hope he doesn’t go on to try and reinvent the liturgical wheel, although it appears that he’s already on that path.

    2) Decades of experience in mainline liturgical churches have not made apparent to me any obvious cause-and-effect relationship between the regular practice of liturgy and a higher incidence of Christ-like transformation or Kingdom of God realization.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      “He no more “discovered liturgy” than Columbus discovered America“

      Oh come on, I discovered a nice little cafe around the corner from my office: I am not therefore claining that I was the first one to ever do so.

      • In the case of American evangelical worship designers, when they rediscover ancient approaches to worship, they frequently do it in a way that is very much like reinventing the wheel. I’ve experienced this firsthand, most jarringly in an evangelical megachurch style Mennonite congregation. If I’m wrong to assume that in this case, then I owe Niequist an apology.

        • There’s a Mennonite *megachurch* in the Lancaster area?!

          Frankly, that sounds ominous to me. I just can’t imagine how it works, or why a congregation would ever want to go in that direction.

          I guess i should be thankful for the very low-key approach by the various Mennonites up my way, although they are patriarchal to a fault (also Church of the Brethren).

          • Megachurch style, yes; more than one. When Mennonite congregations (usually Mennonite Church USA) leave Plain culture behind, some go evangelical style, all the way; some of the larger ones imitate megachurch culture. Praise music and bands, strong appeals to emotion from the pulpit and in the prayers, large sanctuaries with worship music lyrics displayed on big monitors/screens. I’m familiar with two such churches here in Lancaster, very large, thriving congregations; I know there are more.

        • Christiane says

          ” “That was as much a conversion moment as I’ve ever had in my life and it was about the Kingdom.”
          Niequist’s perspective on everything changed and so did his goals. “It … reoriented the goal from getting people saved to getting us all into discipleship and Christ-likeness, transformation,” ”

          ROBERT F,
          I think it is a case of a young man having an epiphany into the concept of the Kingdom . . . . instead of ‘salvation’ via something I have to do and say’
          it becomes that far more encompassing thing: TRANSFORMATION, being conformed to the mind and heart of Christ,

          and the young man ‘discovered’ ancient Church in the form of the liturgy, not that he ‘invented’ it, no;
          but that he was ‘awakened’ to it

          and having been a ‘worship leader’ (music minister?),
          he begins to express his vision of the Kingdom in the ways he knows: music, but in a more liturgical form, with audience response . . . it looks like he is experimenting coming from what he knows, his music, and finding something ‘transformative’, and that fits in with something from the ancient Church, THIS:

          “”For in His condescension to men, He called the wise men by a star, the fishermen by their art of fishing. ” (St John Chrysostom)

          I think the young man Aaron was called by his art of music into awakening to a vision of the Kingdom.

          ‘saved’ or ‘transformed’ . . . he saw a difference, and it pointed him to the ways the ancient Church prays,

          you know what I think?
          IF this is a new ‘movement’ among the young who are looking for something more meaningful in their faith,
          THEN something of the divisions that keeps so many Christian people from knowing their brothers and sisters in the ancient Church is healed, and maybe John Chrysostom had it right:

          God calls us to Himself and to one another using our talents, gifts, and interests.

          I can see this possibility in the life of the young man Aaron. I wish him well. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “I remember where I was sitting, reading about the Kingdom of God, which I had never heard about. I had been a Christian for 22 years at that point and I had never heard a message on the primary message of Jesus which was the Kingdom of God. That was the born again again moment for me,” he said.

      “I was like ‘wait, if this is the story — it’s not just you’re a sinner, say a prayer so you can go to Heaven someday but if it’s you get to join what God is doing to redeem and restore all things, I get to? You get to? We get to?”

      Once again, we see the fruits of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

  8. Dan from Georgia says

    I wish I could un-see that clothing add.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “I wish I had never heard… I wish I had never seen… Ia, Ia, Cthulhu, Fthagn…”
      Dagon (actually an adaptation of “The Shadow over Innsmouth”)

  9. Re: Titanic II: “Praise be to Nero’s Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn/ Everybody’s shouting, ‘Which side are you on?!'” — Bob Dylan, Desolation Row

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “It was midnight on the sea
      Band was playing ‘Nearer My God to Thee’
      Fare thee well, Titanic, fare thee well —
      Wouldn’t let Jack Johnson on board
      Said “This ship don’t haul no coal’
      Fare thee well, Titanic, fare thee well…”
      — Jaime Brockett, 1968 (by way of Lead Belly & Dr Demento)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfbq8EI6A40

      • Christiane says

        thanks for that link, Headless

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Listening to The Dr Demento Show every Sunday night for ten years gives you a degree in weird-ass novelty songs. (And I was listening on Los Angeles radio, where Dr D’s show was twice as long as the syndicated version.)

  10. you can feel
    autumn waiting
    for its first frost

    • Haiku is a spiritual practice. To do it well, to do it at all really, you have to love the world and the things in it, and you have to find and express the mysterious connection between those things and your own inner condition, all in a few unforced, natural words. I am able to recognize good haiku when I see it, and it fills me with wonder and longing in the way that the beauty of nature sometimes does, but I lack the love for things that it requires, and I lack the spontaneous insight into the connection between those things and myself. It grieves me to have this inability. Ah, well!

      • first mist of rain fall
        leaves bronzing in the chill air
        don welcome warm scarf

      • Robert – it takes work and practice to get there. I think you’re doing just fine, and way better than most who try. (I have difficulty with “haiku” that just uses 5-7-5 but where the subject is not the natural world, fwiw. I think that’s cheating or maybe a different form entirely an American hybrid that needs another name.)

        Anyway, I’ve loved haiku since i st began to read it, when i was about 10 or so. It really came alive for me, as i grew up pretty close to the natural world, though not quite as close as i would have liked….

    • Norma Cenva says

      You can also see that the Sun has lost its footrace with Orion at dawn.

    • Christiane says

      and waiting and waiting still . . . .

      All nature wonders
      as the length of days shortens
      why no birds fly South

      • Love it!

        • Though it is sad.

          • Christiane says

            usually, by this time, our pool is closed, and ducks come by, thinking they can rest on the blue pool cover

            this year, it’s October, leaves still on the trees, though turning slowly, and the pool is open and used

            (sigh)

            I remember the end of October, we were kids going out in the neighborhood for Halloween wearing our winter coats and jackets against the chill

            seems like another life and yes, it’s sad

            • Christiane says

              Robert, I left you a comment that got out of place.
              It’s near the bottom of the comment stream to do with that young music preacher Aaron and his interest in liturgy

            • you can feel
              autumn awaiting
              its first frost

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Never mind, Christiane.
              Between Genesis 9:15-16 and Revelation 16:8-9, Christians have both bases covered.

  11. ““I remember where I was sitting, reading about the Kingdom of God, which I had never heard about.”

    And this guy was a “worship leader”! Search on “kingdom of God” through an online Bible and you will find it strewn throughout the gospels, which we discover by his own admission he had never read–at least not for content.

    I told a story a while back from my wife, who teaches high school social studies in a very good suburban school. This includes world religion, so she taught a lesson about Jesus and his teachings that Christians believe, in exactly the same way that she would teach a lesson about the Buddha and his teachings, that Buddhists believe. One of her kids–white upper middle class–was blown away. He had been going to a Christian church–generic non-denominational–his entire life, and had never heard about any of this. He told her mother, who was similarly blown away. Mom checked with the pastor, who confirmed that this Jesus dude was behind it all.

    Whenever I tell this story I have to admit that I am not sure that there is not leg-pulling going on here. I am confident that my wife is not pulling my leg. I have known here a long time and this isn’t her style. I am also confident that she believes her student. But this might be a hilarious joke he pulled on her.

    Then I read this bit, about a “worship leader” who openly admits that he had never heard of one of the underlying concepts of the New Testament. It makes my wife’s student’s story much more plausible.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I do not have any problem believing this story.

      Back in the day when I was involved in ‘college ministry’, during a Wednesday night Bible study, a college freshman girl shrieked in amazement when she realized Jesus was a Jew. Life long “Good Christian Girl.” So many of them went to church, went to “Good Christian Schools”, went off to Liberty or Taylor… and couldn’t have passed a basic test on Christianity. I suspect one doesn’t learn about something when one **feels** entirely confident you **know** everything about it..

      • What should be included in a basic test on Christianities? Plural to reflect that there are different expressions

        • 1) Ability to give a basic sketch of the Biblical narrative (Creation-Abraham-Exodus-Judges-Kings-Exile-Christ).

          1A) ability to put all that into how Christ fulfilled it and how we should read the Bible in light of Him.

          2) Ability to recite and give a basic exposition of the Apostles Creed (bonus points for the Nicean)

          3) Know the hows and whys of the 2/7 sacraments (depending on your tradition), and the basic structure of a worship service

          4) know how the teachings and calling of Christ fits into/conflicts with modern life.

        • We don’t need tests, just Christians modest enough to realize they have much to learn about their own faith, and willingness to learn it. That’s a tall enough order, maybe too tall for most to handle.

        • I wouldn’t expect a random pastor to be proficient with comparative religion studies. He would undoubtedly be a better pastor for it, but let’s be realistic. All I am asking is that he have a decent knowledge of his own tradition. The alternative is to conclude that he in fact does, and his tradition is in fact so shallow as to exclude even a rudimentary knowledge of scripture.

    • Christiane says

      Adam, just think about what so many young people are being raised with in some communities:

      heavy doses of ‘get right or you’re going to hell, heavy emphases on: misogyny worn as ‘patriarchy’, islamophobia, homophobia, whole campaigns against trans people, a God of Wrath, racism that is not openly admitted but is taught non-the-less with ‘code’ phrases . . . . and of course, ‘never vote for them Demonocrats’, sometimes followed up by words from Jeffress and Falwell Two on the Coming Among Us of Trump, The Annointed One. . . . .

      not that Aaron encountered such a thing, no.
      what happened in his case is likely that all connections with ancient Church were broken and ‘sola Scriptura’ reigned to the extent that stages replaced pulpits, and bands replaced choirs, and the ‘new music’ replaced those lovely old hymns . . .

      but it wasn’t ‘enough’ and Aaron found something that was more meaningful to him that ‘clicked’ . . . . I always think that we hold within us a way of ‘recognizing’ what IS ‘more meaningful’ when we come upon it, and maybe it was always a part of ‘who we are’ as individuals, but our culture spoke louder for a while, until the time came for a gut check and opportunity to connect with our ownselves is presented . . . hence, we find new meaning in something that WAS actually a part of our own heritage and we did not know it. (my theory, slightly mangled) 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      ““I remember where I was sitting, reading about the Kingdom of God, which I had never heard about.”

      And this guy was a “worship leader”!

      Who had only heard a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation before being immersed in the Megachurch Spectacle Pizzazz.

  12. thatotherjean says

    As God is my witness, I thought turtles could fly!

    • good one! Actually turtles do fly but they have to have rockets coming out their butts and be named GAMERA!

    • I live about 30 miles from the University of Maryland, where “Fear The Turtle” was a slogan for the schools’ sports teams some years back. The photo of the smashed windshield could be enough to revive that slogan.

      • Nice story over this side of the Atlantic, in Nottingham. Police were called when a goose went through the windscreen of a taxi, but then couldn’t find its way out of the car.

        Police reported that it had a good gander at the back seat. Coincidentally, the traditional Goose Fair is on in Nottingham at the moment…

      • thatotherjean says

        I’m about that far away, myself. They dropped the slogan in 2009, and I will never understand why. “Unstoppable starts here” when you already had “Fear the Turtle” is just wrong.

    • turtles can fly, but you have to have them in some kind of container during the flight that is appropriate

  13. Fun stuff, Daniel. You say that no one likes to hear screaming children on planes, but I’ve found I honestly don’t mind.
    After flying all over the world with four kids, the awareness that it isn’t one of my own screaming is a delight.

    Dissertations/Theses? Mine was an examination of the cultural milieu of Provence/southern France in the High Middle Ages in order to interpret the backwards imagery of albas, or “dawn poems,” as understood by the original audience. At my graduation, my mother told me she had been talking with friends who worked for the CIA, who said that the Agency was interested in people like me. “In what sense?” I asked nervously. (Apparently because I knew obscure languages, but who knows.) It’s fair to say that no one else was ever interested . . . 🙂

  14. Randy Thompson says

    As to flying with children. . .

    I am reminded of Robert Benchley’s observation: “There are two classes of travel. First class, and with children.”

  15. Randy Thompson says

    And, regarding Masters Theses, Harry G. Frankfurt’s book, “On Bullshit,” should be required reading for all graduate students.

    And preachers.

    Frankfurt, by the way, was a philosophy professor at Princeton.

    • Christiane says

      there used to be a book in the sixties called ‘The Peter Principle’ by Laurence J. Peter
      that probed ridiculous language used by incompetent people trying to ‘sound’ more ‘knowledgeable’

      you can still find the book in print, but the latest copy is written in French

      the originals are sold on Ebay, otherwise good luck finding a copy . . . (maybe they were all burned)

      the book is said to have cosmic implications 🙂

      a typical quote from Laurence Peter:
      ‘maybe an atheist can’t find God in the same way that a thief can’t find a policeman’

      Peter’s section on ‘palaver’ is absolutely hysterical, it was great fun to read in the late sixties, and in a way, it shines some light on what is going on in today’s world . . . I think the book might have been strangely prophetic

  16. Christiane says

    ” “That was as much a conversion moment as I’ve ever had in my life and it was about the Kingdom.”
    Niequist’s perspective on everything changed and so did his goals. “It … reoriented the goal from getting people saved to getting us all into discipleship and Christ-likeness, transformation,” ”

    ROBERT F,
    I think it is a case of a young man having an epiphany into the concept of the Kingdom . . . . instead of ‘salvation’ via something I have to do and say’
    it becomes that far more encompassing thing: TRANSFORMATION, being conformed to the mind and heart of Christ,

    and the young man ‘discovered’ ancient Church in the form of the liturgy, not that he ‘invented’ it, no;
    but that he was ‘awakened’ to it

    and having been a ‘worship leader’ (music minister?),
    he begins to express his vision of the Kingdom in the ways he knows: music, but in a more liturgical form, with audience response . . . it looks like he is experimenting coming from what he knows, his music, and finding something ‘transformative’, and that fits in with something from the ancient Church, THIS:

    “”For in His condescension to men, He called the wise men by a star, the fishermen by their art of fishing. ” (St John Chrysostom)

    I think the young man Aaron was called by his art of music into awakening to a vision of the Kingdom.

    ‘saved’ or ‘transformed’ . . . he saw a difference, and it pointed him to the ways the ancient Church prays,

    you know what I think?
    IF this is a new ‘movement’ among the young who are looking for something more meaningful in their faith,
    THEN something of the divisions that keeps so many Christian people from knowing their brothers and sisters in the ancient Church is healed, and maybe John Chrysostom had it right:

    God calls us to Himself and to one another using our talents, gifts, and interests.

    I can see this possibility in the life of the young man Aaron. I wish him well. 🙂

  17. Christiane says

    Adam, just think about what so many young people are being raised with in some communities:

    heavy doses of ‘get right or you’re going to hell, heavy emphases on: misogyny worn as ‘patriarchy’, islamophobia, homophobia, whole campaigns against trans people, a God of Wrath, racism that is not openly admitted but is taught non-the-less with ‘code’ phrases . . . . and of course, ‘never vote for them Demonocrats’, sometimes followed up by words from Jeffress and Falwell Two on the Coming Among Us of Trump, The Annointed One. . . . .

    not that Aaron encountered such a thing, no.
    what happened in his case is likely that all connections with ancient Church were broken and ‘sola Scriptura’ reigned to the extent that stages replaced pulpits, and bands replaced choirs, and the ‘new music’ replaced those lovely old hymns . . .

    but it wasn’t ‘enough’ and Aaron found something that was more meaningful to him that ‘clicked’ . . . . I always think that we hold within us a way of ‘recognizing’ what IS ‘more meaningful’ when we come upon it, and maybe it was always a part of ‘who we are’ as individuals, but our culture spoke louder for a while, until the time came for a gut check and opportunity to connect with our ownselves is presented . . . hence, we find new meaning in something that WAS actually a part of our own heritage and we did not know it. (my theory, slightly mangled) 🙂