Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Educating better journalists

This is interesting, from Dreher, citing Malcom Gladwell:

If you had a single piece of advice to offer young journalists, what would it be?
The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master's in statistics, and maybe do a bunch of accounting courses and then write from that perspective. I think that's the way to survive. The role of the generalist is diminishing. Journalism has to get smarter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A New You Tube Sensation...


"One out of six people in humanity will wake up not sure that they can even fill a cup of food," Sheeran told reporters. "We have to make no mistake that hunger is on the march."
and LINK

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Those who taste honey...

But amongst us you might find simple folk, artisans and old women, who, if they are unable to furnish in words the assistance they derive from our doctrine, yet show in their deeds the advantage to others that accrues from their resolution. They do not rehearse words but show forth good deeds; struck, they do not strike back, plundered, they do not prosecute; to them that ask they give, and they love their neighbors as themselves. Surely then, if we did not think that God was in charge of human affairs, we would not thus cleanse ourselves.
These thoughts are but few out of many and trivial rather than lofty, but we do not wish to trouble you with more. Those who taste honey and whey can tell if the whole be good by tasting even a small portion.

Athenagorus, Embassy for the Christians. Ancient Christian Writers. Joseph Hugh Crehan, trans. New York: Newman Press, 1955.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brett Dennen: Ain't No Reason

I posted the lyrics to this song a while ago, but hadn't seen the video. Here it is:

Let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Strange collocation

John Piper writes,
One great benefit of going to a good Christian college is that you read important bad books with the help of wise Christian scholars. Most 19-year-olds are not ready to navigate the sophisticated arguments of seasoned skeptics. But with the guidance of a seasoned Christian thinker, the navigation can be profitable. It was for me.

Russell stressed the absoluteness of physical matter. In other words, if you trace the origin of everything all the way back, you arrive at impersonal matter, not personal spirit: Matter, not God, is absolute. This meant, for Russell, that there is only material existence.

This produced one of the bleakest views of human life imaginable. Here, he says, is "the world which science built for our belief."
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of the universe in ruins. . . . Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built (Why I Am Not a Christian, editor Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], p. 107).

It doesn't take too much assistance from a wise teacher to help a 19-year-old see something odd in this. Tragically odd. Triply odd.

First the language he uses seems borrowed from another worldview: "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." To be sure, he insists that these are all "but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms." Really? Why would material atoms collide to create a language affirming realities beyond matter? It is an odd creation of Russell's world.

Second, did Russell really say to his crying children (he had three) that their sorrows were the unfortunate collocation of atoms? Did he say to any of his three wives, in the best of their affections, "This is only the collocation of atoms?" In other words, did he live his philosophy? Or was he playing 20th-century academic games?
Read the whole thing

Why I Love Hebrew: Janus Parallelism

  • The flowers are seen in the land,
  • The season has come for (pruning//singing)
  • The turtledove’s voice is heard in the land

- Song 2:12
The zamir does double duty referring backward to the flowers, meaning “pruning,” and forward to the turtledove, meaning “singing.” Hence, Janus Parallelism.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotable: Postman

"To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple." -Neil Postman
ht: Groothius

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Who Killed the English Major?

This is a fascinating story from Rod Dreher:
Did you realize that in the last generation, there has been a startling drop-off -- a near-collapse, actually -- in the number of college humanities majors? Prof. William Chace, writing in The American Scholar, takes on the problem from the English Department:
What are the causes for this decline? There are several, but at the root is the failure of departments of English across the country to champion, with passion, the books they teach and to make a strong case to undergraduates that the knowledge of those books and the tradition in which they exist is a human good in and of itself. What departments have done instead is dismember the curriculum, drift away from the notion that historical chronology is important, and substitute for the books themselves a scattered array of secondary considerations (identity studies, abstruse theory, sexuality, film and popular culture). In so doing, they have distanced themselves from the young people interested in good books.

Chace tells a long, fascinating and depressing story of how broader social and economic changes have marginalized the humanities in colleges. But he focuses his frustration on how English departments have done so much harm to themselves, by turning the study of the beauty and the wisdom of literature and language into a bloodless, clinical dissection of this or that Theory. Chace, who is a veteran professor of literature, says there is no center or coherence to teaching English literature nowadays, and therefore a dissipated sense that its study is important. The withering and decay of the profession can no longer be hidden, he writes:
Meanwhile, undergraduates have become aware of this turmoil surrounding them in classrooms, hallways, and coffee lounges. They see what is happening to students only a few years older than themselves--the graduate students they encounter as teaching assistants, freshman instructors, or "acting assistant professors." These older students reveal to them a desolate scene of high career hopes soon withered, much study, little money, and heavy indebtedness. In English, the average number of years spent earning a doctoral degree is almost 11. After passing that milestone, only half of new Ph.D.'s find teaching jobs, the number of new positions having declined over the last year by more than 20 percent; many of those jobs are part-time or come with no possibility of tenure. News like that, moving through student networks, can be matched against, at least until recently, the reputed earning power of recent graduates of business schools, law schools, and medical schools. The comparison is akin to what young people growing up in Rust Belt cities are forced to see: the work isn't here anymore; our technology is obsolete.

the whole post

The Tribune

When risk replaces morals companies who see no more risks which are too great to take do whatever they want. LINK

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Sitting on the Q"

Stolen from my sister's blog: From Our Backyards
It's been said before that kindergarten is just a little microcosm of the real world ("all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten..."). Well, this week things are really falling apart for my kindergartener. Up to this point, my son had been sitting on the "T" of the big rectangular kindergarten carpet (for large group and story time, etc.). I guess the teacher decided to change the seating arrangement and now he is sitting on the "Q". This is a horrible thing because each letter also has a picture next to it, and Q has a queen. Queens, of course, are the very last thing that six-year-old boys want to sit on or next to. His little world has simply fallen apart! My first response was a desire to call the teacher and ask her to put a girl on the "Q". My husband is much wiser than I. Will admitted that it isn't very fun for a boy to have to sit on the "Q", but he pointed out to our son that God was in control when He allowed our son to be put on the "Q". My boy's job now is to love whoever sits on the "P" and the "R".

- Amy Hatfield

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Give to the One Who Begs from You

John Bloom has a good article at Desiring God Blog. LINK

A Voice We Should Listen To

I'm always looking for voices that I feel like I should listen to. It seems like there are certain men who are blessed with an inordinate amount of wisdom. I always try to take notice of these men and listen when they speak. Most often these men are not the ones who are being heard. The ones who are being heard are often the most extravagant or the loudest. Success has a way of bringing one's voice to the fore. And often it is wise to listen to those who are successful. But in our culture of rampant pragmatism it is also wise to understand "success" should not always be our highest ideal. And those who are successful are not axiomatically the ones we should listen to. One example of a man I listen to is Carl Trueman. Just about everything he writes I come away thinking - "that was right on." Another one: Paul Hartog. You need to read and listen to this entry by Dr. Hartog. I love his "prophetic-evangelic" model. There may be some slight differences between us in how we carry out this vision practically. But "this is right on."

- One caveat I might add to this article. I do think the "evangelic" aspect of this vision involves more than words. Dr. Hartog says,
Therefore, the ambassador of Christ must understand the receptor culture in which he or she ministers. As an incontrovertible example, Christian heralds must master the language of their hearers, and culture is tightly interwoven with human language.
I may be interpreting him somewhat uncharitably here, but it seems as though the need to connect on a deeper level than language is overlooked. It is also true that our deeds themselves (how we live among our neighbors) must create a bridge for the evangel (Matt 5:16 for example: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.")
- Also I hope you can ignore the ridiculous picture of Jesus on the red carpet. I see nothing about glamorizing the gospel in this article. This obviously was not his title.