Showing posts from January, 2016

Only on Facebook

can you see, in juxtaposition, within 30 seconds
Videos of how to make a chicken casserole with 3 ingredientsreminders that Jesus loves youMemes of the Most Interesting Man in the WorldPolitical arguments (and I don't mean that in the sense of reasoned political discourse, but snipes at various candidates and their afficionados.  Translate this to mean ad hominem arguments.)Lots of selfies and updated photos, making me wonder how often the people I know take photos of themselvesPhotos of children and grandchildren (which I thought was the point of FB)Lots and lots of Jack-ass or "America's Home Video"-type videosPlugs for products, advertising either paid for or notclick bait about everything imaginable:  how the Victorians photographed corpses, incognito gay politicians, secrets of "Full House," ad infinituminvitations to online gamesand more inspirational quotes and much more jumbled things.  
This blog is for others, but it is also a repository for me.  I'm posting this because it's cool but also for future reference. as

I am working on a book about Daniel as a leader in a secular setting, although Babylonia does not quite fit as secular because they were religious, just not Jewish like Daniel.  This article shows how ahead of their time were the Babylonians Daniel was dealing with.  Thank you, NPR, for helping me do research.

30 Years Since Challenger Tragedy

This morning when I was planning my day, I thought, "It's January 28.  What is it I am supposed to know or remember about January 28?"  By the time I was at work, I learned; today is the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

I remember that day very well.  I didn't see the explosion on television, and only knew about it until an afternoon class.  That evening President Reagan gave one of his most memorable (and studied) speeches, and we have had 30 years of research on what went wrong.  Edward Tufte wrote about it in his book on data display (Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative)
and how it can me misleading.   I even wrote my first real short story (at 30 in a Fiction Writing class) about that morning.

But I was heartbroken anew by this story.  Listen and feel the tragedy.

No, thank you, Planned Parenthood

For some unknown reason, I received a solicitation in the mail this week from Planned Parenthood.

At one level this is rather funny, considering that I give money to Right to Life groups, have volunteered in a crisis pregnancy center, and even wrote a novel on the issue.  I am thinking about sending them a very formal letter thanking them for the letter since it means (a) I can see first hand what kind of rhetoric they use, and (b) letters to me that get thrown in the recycle bin and shredded means that they are wasting money.

My first comment is that, since they get so much money from the federal government, why are they trying to get me to give them money? 

My second comment is, why me?  Where did they get my name?  I imagine another organization that I belong to may have given them my information (I have suspicions, especially since I do work in higher education and am supposed to be liberal).

My third comment is, get a load of this dramatic, over-the-top appeal:

"We have been…

Dr. King Day

This link is to an excerpt of a book, The Birmingham Revolution, by Ed Gilbreath.  I hope to read it sometime.

Last year I made a smart remark that Dr. King Day could be called "White people go out to lunch day."  Many of us are off work because it's a government holiday, and most of us white people are not going to get anywhere near some sort of celebration (I'm being snarky again.).

Everyone should at least read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  It is brilliant, angering, poignant.  The article referenced above discusses it.

An elderly friend recently told me that he used to require students to read the "I Have a Dream" speech but he found out Dr. King was unfaithful to his wife and turned to Communism.  The first is true and acknowledged; the second is harder to get into because his life was shortened.  And of course some of the beatification can be a bit m…

Forgiveness: Thoughts

Forgiveness hinges on total recognition of the wrong done.  While the wrong done may not be the worst thing that ever happened, diminishing its importance or injury is not part of forgiveness (neither is going on and on about it).  In other words, it does little good to say, "It was no big deal."  Especially if the person asking forgiveness felt the need to ask it.

"I forgive you," should never be followed by "but" or advice.  The statement is enough, if sincere; move on.  Thanking for the apology might be good, though.

I cannot grant forgiveness because I have moral superiority.  I cannot grant forgiveness because I haven't done something as bad.  I can't grant it because of tit for tat.

I can only grant it because I am forgiven for much worse by God.  Grace for grace.  That is the parable of the unjust steward, the world's most concise sermon on forgiveness 

Oh, Downton Abbey, Where Art Thou?

Could this show get any more mawkish?  I watched episode 3 last night wondering why I was supposed to keep watching the same scenes.

I do have to say that the clothes are still great.  And the theme of the dying of the great estates has some interest for me.  But it seems like I am just watching to fulfill some sort of commitment.

Figuring Out Humor

My friend and colleague the standup comedian/communication professor/former radio host tells me that if my classes don't find me funny, "you're too hip for the room."

Humor, as I tell my students, is highly personal, contextual, and volatile.  Some say that anything, any topic can be made funny; I don't think so.  For example, The Producers uses Hitler as a comic foil, but not really--the foil is over-the-top Broadway productions.  And I do laugh every time I think of "Springtime for Hitler and Germany," because the two scammers are trying their best to make the most awful, tasteless play in history--and it backfires.  So the Holocaust is not funny; it just is part of the mix.

I recently was watching an old Woody Allen movie where he and Diane Keaton were making jokes about rape.  Shame on her.  But I should not expect much better from actors, who will do anything for a buck.

These thoughts keep me awake because I watched the first (and only for me) epi…

Trump, Revisited, NOT

At the academic conference I attended this week I outed myself as a Republican, but said I was appalled by Donald Trump's rise.  This article articulates my feelings exactly.

Spirituality and Being an Academic

Sometimes I wonder if having an academic career is detrimental to being a Spirit-led disciple of Jesus Christ.I present, as an academic would (especially one who was a debate coach for several years), the arguments.1.In a career in academia, we must be merit mongers.In order to achieve tenure and promotion, the only two big monetary awards outside of the move to administration, or to be eligible for grants and awards, one’s accomplishments in all things teaching, service, research, and professional development must be documented, recorded, and broadcast.Volunteerism for the institution is not valuable for it own sake, but for expanding he CV, or at least, one starts to feel that way.One begins to question one’s motives.Of course, one could leave things off the CV, but . . . it’s absence may mean the difference in a promotion or award.2.Academic teach, which usually involves some level of lecturing and talking; therefore, we talk a lot, even the introverts.Of course, 21st century peda…


“God is not speaking to me . . . “ “I haven’t heard from God in so long . ..” “God is silent now and has been for . . . “ “For five years we endured God’s silence . . . “
I don’t understand these sentences and believe they come from either the innate narcissism of modern evangelical theology and practice or wrong expectations of God, or both.
There is enough in the Bible and history and our own experience to know God works and is working, so lack of immediate evidence does not seem like much of an argument.
But maybe I am just unsympathetic, unempathetic.
We are told that God knows every detail of our lives, the He loves us supremely, that He is sovereign.Why, if these are true, would we need to “feel” His presence?Lack of feeling means there is something wrong with me, not God.Lack of internal sensory input does not change reality.
Perhaps these people (who like to get on Christian radio and write books) are just pointing out that we go through periods of fatigue, isolation, semi- o…

Reflections on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, Entry One

For many years I have heard the name Bonhoeffer, have reads bits and pieces of his life and writing, and thought I knew rather a bit about him.I bought The Cost of Discipleship years ago, but never really cracked it open, although in retrospect I am not sure why.But because I am a “fan” of Eric Metaxas—at least I listen to him on the radio every day—I decided that 2016 would be the time to actually study this person.
When I went to buy Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Amazon, the reviews gave me pause and I decided to hold out to find another one.I will not the repeat the reviews here, as they are publicly available.It’s just that I have far too many books, and unless I get it from the library or already own it, I am not inclined to bring another into the house.So I decided to go to Bonhoeffer’s own words for two reasons: I had already readLife Together and found it readable and wise, and I already owned The Cost of Discipleship.
In the past I had read “warnings” that DB…

Higher education – the biggest conflict – ideational and aspirational

--> Getting back into blogging after a couple of weeks thinking and writing.  I attended a higher education leadership conference this week (will keep the name and place nonpublic) and have been thinking a great deal about higher education and my place in it.
After reading Chancellor Dirks view and trying to listen to Liz Coleman’s Ted Talk and attending a conference on higher educational leadership, I have been reflecting, or cogitating as I used to call it, on higher education’s purpose, problems, and future.Actually, I was doing so before the last few days, but I find some time to write about it with a long weekend.I do live in a better-than-average place to comment on these questions, since I have a doctorate, have taught in college for 36 years, and work as a college administrator.
It seems that there are three basic views:1.…

And just for fun

A song hard to get out of your head:

The past, present, and future--Update for January 9

Going back to work after a two-week break has been a challenge, not the least of which is listening to everyone else whine about it.  After a nine-hour stint in the office, spending most of the time putting out fires, answering emails, and processing minutiae, I came home to a dog walk, dinner, and semi-mindless TV-watching five nights in a row.  Perhaps now I can get on track, although I am flying to a conference in Miami this week. (As one of my students said, "That sucks for you.")

As it is, I have several writing projects I want to pursue and that means a hiatus from the blog, with the hope that when I come back I will have lots to post of value because that is one of the things I am working on--a series on spirituality and one on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I also have several book ideas that are incubating, and a play to submit to a contest, and my job gives me no time during the week to pursue these.  Plus a house in need of repairs!

I will say that we watched the last seas…

Palliative Care and Assisted Dying

I found this program on NPR interesting: Morning Edition

The doctor who is quoted says:

"'Patients feel as though their choices are between untreated suffering or physician-assisted suicide,' she told NPR's Renee Montagne. 'Palliative medicine, when it's applied skillfully and at the right time, often relieves most of the suffering that prompts people to ask for [death] in the first place,'" she says.

"Van Zyl is head of palliative care medicine at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health New/Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News But palliative care, which is focused on managing symptoms and relieving pain, isn't available to everyone, van Zyl says. There are smaller hospitals that don't have palliative medicine teams, and it may be hard to get treatment even in urban areas. Van Zyl thinks more work should be done to make palliati…

Welcome to 2016: Focus on Sent

After a two-week break, I return to work tomorrow and am trying to get in the frame of mind.  I plan to present a series of blog posts on spirituality and on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but want to emphasize quality rather than quantity and will probably keep it to one a week.  In fact, that is my goal for 2016:  simplicity, quality, less is more, focus.

I taught (although my time was curtailed and I didn't get it all in) on the word "Sent" in the book of John (and I may do a series of posts on John, too, my favorite book if that is allowed).  It is below, with caveats that I am not attacking another religion (in this case Buddhism) but making observations about the American version vs. the original.

--> Which diagram seems to describe God and His world? (the small circles represent the world and the big ones God)

I tend to go with the third, although the second might make sense to some of us.The first reminds me of the Bette Midler song about twenty years ago, "…