Ticklish Ears

Parenting, education, the Christian walk, and other ticklish subjects
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21
Oct

Democrats Get Religion (sort of)

Here’s a new take on the story of the Good Samaritan:

The Good Samaritan is walking down the road and cares for a stranger who has been beaten and robbed, [NC Democractic Rep David] Price said. The next day, on the same road, another person has been beaten and robbed. So it goes for another week — more robberies, more victims.

“How long is it going to take before the Samaritan says, ‘Hey, maybe we ought to patrol this road,’ ” Price said. In other words, the lawmaker argued, there are some problems that individuals can’t solve on their own. They require the resources of a morally responsible government.

Welcome to the New Big Government Version of the Bible. By adding just a little (OK, maybe more than a little) to Jesus’ parable, Representative Price has found a message Democrats can glom onto (interestingly, the original version of the parable is more about individual responsibility, so one could argue that Price has completely turned the story on its head).

So we are introduced to laughable article in today’s Washington Post entitled, “Helping Democrats Bridge the ‘God Gap’: Influential Dozen Show Political Leaders How to Connect With Religious Communities.”

Rather than cede red states to Republicans, the party is buying airtime on Christian radio stations, with the message that Democrats are indeed a party with deep moral convictions. [emphasis mine]

Deep.

Moral.

Convictions.

You’re probably wondering what they are (unless you’re a Democrat - then you probably know). Well, don’t expect to find a lot about that in this article (unless you count advocating more cops on the Jerusalem to Jericho beat, or maybe some fluff about the environment).

But you will find plenty about the process of reaching the washed. The Post lists twelve players who can help get the message out, including, for example, Illinois Senator Barak Obama (”The Blessed One” — I kid you not) and House staff member Burns Strider, who earns the nickname “The Matchmaker,” because he “shepherds the House Democratic Faith Working Group and corrals lawmakers into meetings with the religious community.” (corrals - that’s not a good choice of words).

But they must … be careful:

Some at Democratic Party headquarters are taking an under-the-radar approach to religious outreach and are reluctant to divulge all the party’s plans and advisers.

You never know who might be listening in. But wait! We do get to find out more:

“Our focus is not in putting someone behind a pulpit,” said Leslie Brown, the DNC’s “faith in action” coordinator. But after conducting polls, meeting with state party chairs and undertaking an “internal education,” Democrats are building a “message-driven machine,” Brown said. [emphasis mine]

Does anyone else see a problem here? It’s not about the message. It’s about the issues. National Association of Evangelical spokesman Rev. Richard Cizik says as much:

“Simply using ‘faith language’ won’t redound to the benefit of any candidate, Republican or Democrat, without some authenticity there,” Cizik said.

Agreed.

This isn’t to say that the Democrats are anti-religious. But they’re not going to turn things around with polls and “internal education.” And for many of us, they’re just on the wrong side of too many issues that matter.

19
Oct

What if Michael Jackson were from India?

I know you’ve probably pondered that question many times. Wonder no more.

Hat tip: Dave Barry.

15
Oct

I’m still here …

… just not very motivated at the moment.  DC life has taken some getting used to.  Plus I feel like I’ve lost my “blog identity,” now that I’m not professorin’ or homeschooling.

Be patient.

26
Sep

Radical CS Curriculum Change at Ga Tech

Wow!

The Georgia Institute of Technology is today unveiling what some experts believe is a much broader approach to the problem. The institute has abolished the core curriculum for computer science undergraduates — a series of courses in hardware and software design, electrical engineering and mathematics. These courses, in various forms, have been the backbone of the computer science curriculum not just at Georgia Tech but at most institutions. (emphasis mine)

In place of the core, a series of “threads” that students can choose form, and then a tailored curriculum based on what kind of computer scientist they want to be when they grow up.

Agile software development is a hot item these days; I guess this could be seen as “agile education.”  It’ll be interesting to watch (1) how this unfolds at Tech, and (2) how many other institutions see this as the future of CS education.

10
Sep

Washington Post finds nice things to say about Christians

Well, certain Christians, anyway:

Lyndsay Moseley was no longer inspired by the evangelical Christian faith of her youth. As an environmental activist, she believed that it offered little spiritual support for her work and was overly focused on opposing abortion and gay marriage.

… and, you know, sin and all that stuff.

Then the 27-year-old District resident discovered Brian D. McLaren of Laurel, one of contemporary Christianity’s hottest authors and founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in upper Montgomery County.

“He always talks about the environment as a priority when he talks about the church being relevant to the world,” Moseley said. “He’s leading a [spiritual] conversation that needs to happen,” one that “I’ve been hungry for.”

This would be a conversation about the environment, or about the church being relevant in the world? Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by relevant. (”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and so on - see Romans 12).

Still, McLaren offers a view of evangelicalism seldom seen in other evangelical churches:

“When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels,” McLaren said in a recent interview.

Amen to that, brother! I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve heard preached on that flag-draped, pro-nuclear Jesus. Why just this morning, the sermon’s focus was … no, wait. That was about the sovereignty of God. Oh well, I’m sure there was some anti-poor or pro-nuclear subtext. Happens all the time.

Then we find out that McLaren is part of the “emerging church” movement:

McLaren said the name “emerging church” came out of a 2001 discussion he had with Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, about “why the megachurches were not attracting young people.” [ed: unsupported assertion] The reasons, [ed: unnamed] experts said, were becoming evident in the 1990s: dissatisfaction with the rightward drift in evangelical politics; worship styles so contemporary and casual they had no spiritual uplift; a lack of emphasis on social justice; and a theology that some say reduced Christianity to a recipe.

This will come as news to the 16-year-old young man who gave the prayer of dedication at my church this morning.
But thank goodness McLaren’s church doesn’t suffer from being too contemporary and casual:

Volunteers stood at the door greeting young families, elderly couples, singles and teenagers with studded ears. In the lobby, coffee and bagels were available. “Make yourself a nametag,” invited a sign next to pens and labels.

The sanctuary is a huge open space with folding chairs circling a platform that serves as a pulpit. Behind that is an altar covered in purple cloth with a two-foot-high wooden cross. Behind that is a stage with two electric guitars, a keyboard, drums and tambourines. Two large video screens display words to contemporary hymns. The liturgy, which includes Communion, is casual but reverent.

Bottom line: the article implies something about “traditional” evangelical churches that just isn’t so. It’s not like there the DC area is devoid of such churches - they are found by the boatload up here. The reporter might have done some “comparison shopping” to see that the picture painted by Mr. McLaren and his followers is a bit skewed.

______

Update: I just looked at who else was blogging about the article and found the following at NewsBusters.com:

The Washington Post has found an evangelical Christian it likes. Conveniently enough he’s not a fan of the Christian right.

I swear I didn’t see that before I wrote the title of my post.

28
Aug

But can you get sweet tea in Dover?

From Fox News Sunday yesterday:

(CHRIS) WALLACE: And, finally, Senator Biden — finally, we’ve got about 30 seconds left, but I can’t let you go without some politics. As we’ve mentioned, you’re in South Carolina right now, on the campaign trial. Thirty seconds or less, what kind of a chance would a Northeastern liberal like Joe Biden stand in the South if you were running in Democratic primaries against southerners like Mark Warner and John Edwards.

(US SENATOR JOE) BIDEN: Better than anybody else. You don’t know my state. My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state has the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a Northeast liberal state.

See?  Here in Delaware, we’re just like all you former slave states of the South.  No Northeast liberals here.
Thanks for the condescension, Senator.

19
Aug

We are now Apple people

I promised SWMBO that I would get her a computer for downstairs. I thought it might be interesting to try a Mac this time around, so we now have one of these (the black one), which we bought here.

Just got it turned on, but so far it seems pretty fun. This post is being typed on the Macbook. I may get jealous and take it away from her before too long.

Or maybe I’ll have to get one of my own.

We shall see…

10
Aug

“This product copiously leaks out of my nose whenever I read these reviews.”

You must go and read the Amazon.com Reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk.  You will not be disappointed.  Funny stuff!

Caveat 1: I’m sure more reviews will be added.  They may not be as funny.

Caveat 2: Some of the reviews are not appropriate for younger eyes.

Caveat 3: At the time of this posting, there were 622 reviews.  That may be more than you actually want to read.

Hat tip: Jim Taranto’s Best of the Web

08
Aug

Misused abbrevations/acronyms

Is there a word for when people misuse an acronym or abbreviation by appending to it the full word represented by the last letter? For example: PIN number or ATM machine. There are more localized examples: when I worked at Kennedy Space Center’s Bicentennial Exposition (known as “Third Century America”) immediately after high school, people often asked me where the VAB building was. VAB stands for Vehicle Assembly Building.

The latest example I’ve run into has to do with identification cards the Air Force uses for a lot of its personnel. The new card is called a “Common Access Card” or CAC. Of course, everybody refers to it as a CAC Card.

My nomination is acronism. Or perhaps redundonym. Of course, maybe someone has beat me to the punch and such a word exists. Still, feel free to nominate other candidates in the comments.

A second, related question: why do some acronyms lend themselves to this abuse and others don’t?

Enough deep thoughts for the day.

07
Aug

OK, so it’s not so grand of an opening

… but I am back. It’s been a hectic month — two 26′ UHauls full of stuff, packing and unpacking, a 30 year High School reunion in Florida, and a series of snafus at my new job that prevented me getting access to a computer for almost two weeks. Throw in some record hot temperatures in the DC area, and you can see that my life has been anything but normal. Still, things are settling down.

As for the site, I had high hopes to reveal some brand spanking new philosophy for blogging and even a new theme, but life got in the way. So, not a whole lot has changed. Obviously, my thoughts on higher education will be from an outsider’s perspective (but from one who at least has experience on the inside). Also, the homeschool content will be different, as The Princess will be attending a local Christian school this year (perhaps more on our reasons in a later post — gotta have some way to get you back here).

You may get an eyeful of our adventures in house-hunting. We are renting for a year while we look for something we can afford in the DC area. We’ve done a bit of “browsing,” and the sticker shock has already hit us.

That’s our story up to this point. I’ll try to resume a more regular schedule of posting from this point on.

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