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Flotsam and jetsam (2/1)

Why were so many churches “requiring” a pastor to be married? Jesus wasn’t. Paul wasn’t. Almost all pastors were single until the time of the Reformation. Is it wise to “require” that our Evangelical pastors be married? Is it biblical?

We must teach [Baptist] views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them.

Any number of political and social factors underpins the current unrest in Egypt—and as always, economics figures in. The upheaval has shined a light on two serious problems facing the country: Most jobs pay too little, and most food costs too much.

Is it time for a new look?

No, I’m not referring to myself. If I was, the answer would be pretty simple. I’ve been overdue for a new look since…well, since high school probably. So, you can keep your comments about how I look to yourself.

My question is about the look/design of the blog. Yesterday, I began reflecting on the future of this blog by asking, “Is it time for a new name?” Thanks for all the great feedback. I haven’t made any decisions yet, but you’ve given me plenty to think about.

Today’s question has to do with the look and feel of the blog. Since the header is the first thing you see, let’s begin there. There’s a bit of a story behind our current header. It all started with the fact that the generic image for this header had a bridge in it. When I thought it was time to have our own header, I put out a call for suggestions and commented that any header with a bridge needed to have a troll in it. After a lengthy and fun discussion (see here, here, and here), we had a new header (graciously designed by Nick Norelli) complete with its own allegorical explanation. That header has served us well for a while, but I’d like to know what you all think. Is it time for something new?

I’m also thinking about changing the basic theme/design of the blog. We’ve been using the same theme since the blog started and I’d like to switch to something a little more flexible. If you have any thoughts on the overall look and feel of the blog’s theme, I’d appreciate hearing them.

January 2011 Biblioblog rankings – thanks to whoever voted for us!

The January 2011 Biblioblog Top 50 is out, and congratulations to Near Emmaus for making it all the way up to #3! They’re all doing a great job over there, so the move up the rankings is well deserved. (We didn’t do too badly either.)

For the second month, we also have a list of the Top 10 Biblioblogs. Unlike the Top 50, which is determined by internet traffic, the Top 10 list is based on  people just casting votes for the blogs they like best. It’s completely random and unscientific, but still fun. And, apparently someone voted for us, since we’re ranked there for the first time at #10. I don’t know how many people voted overall, so it could be that we received two votes and that was enough to grab the #10 slot. If so, thanks to both of you!

Writing tip of the day – get past the “magic” of writing

In my own experience, nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family and friends. To most people, even those who don’t read much, there is something special and vaguely magical about writing, and it is not easy for them to believe that someone they know—someone quite ordinary in many respects—can really do it.

…………………………………………………………………~John Gardner


A roundup of links on Egypt

I was going to include some links about what’s going on in Egypt in today’s Flotsam and Jetsam, but there were too many. So, here are some of the more interesting resources I’ve come across recently.

To start things off, here’s a video of a Saudi girl explaining what she thinks Mubarak should do.



Some other interesting resources.

Flotsam and jetsam (1/31)

HT Kevin DeYoung

Like major league baseball, a successful academic career is a very good gig. Do we really owe every 22-year-old who is admitted to a Ph.D. program the right to that career solely on the basis of getting into a Ph.D. program? Or is it enough to give them a chance to succeed, knowing full well that not all of them will? Personally, I’d rather give more people a chance, in large part because I don’t think we know which 22-year-olds are going to make the best academics.

  • A WSJ article with the provocative title “Why Rich Parents Don’t Matter” discusses a recent study looking into the impact of socio-economic status on a child’s mental development.

These results capture the stunning developmental inequalities that set in almost immediately, so that even the mental ability of 2-year-olds can be profoundly affected by the socio-economic status of their parents. As a result, their genetic potential is held back.

Merton (1915-1968) is one of the most significant religious writers of the twentieth century and a lasting influence on untold numbers of Christians (and non-Christians) from every tradition and culture. For those of us in the Bluegrass state, he also holds the distinction of being perhaps the most significant religious figure to reside in Kentucky, being a monk at Our Lady of Gesthemeni monastery near Bardstown for twenty-seven years. He is buried there today.

When it comes to a crucifixion no one would argue for beauty in an aesthetic sense. The form of a broken, bled-out human being certainly isn’t pleasing to the eye. And this lack of beauty is most true particularly in a crucifixion where the death sentence is piggy-backed onto a miscarriage of justice. But here, in the gospel account, is kingdom subversion. In one of the most brutal acts of physical horror and treachery on a cosmic scale, God weaves together the elements of beauty.

The movement got started with basic, biblical teaching about the gospel and holistic mission. It picked up speed with a network of projects and organizations committed to orphan care. And to this theological observer, it looks like it may have the momentum to reinvigorate evangelical systematic theology.

Interactive videos: the wave of the (YouTube) future?

Interactive online videos are becoming ever more common. Are they the wave of the near future for online video technology? Who knows. But, they’re fun.

Mashable offers their roundup of 10 Incredible Interactive YouTube Videos. As they say:

Like a 21st century version of the choose-your-own-adventure books, interactive YouTube videos can up the engagement factor by letting the viewer decide the course of the action, or just play around with the content.

Here’s one good example from Patrick Boivin.



I wonder how these could be used in theological education? I could certainly see using them as a way of illustrating case studies. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Still, it’s intriguing.

Free Kindle download – Imaginary Jesus!

Amazon is offering Imaginary Jesus as a free Kindle download today. So, head on over and grab a copy.

If you’re not familiar with the book, here’s the Publishers Weekly comment from the book’s Amazon page.

The Apostle Peter punches Jesus in the face, then chases him out of a coffee shop. And that’s just chapter 0. In this quirky tale the publisher describes as not-quite-true, former missionary and comic book store clerk Mikalatos disguises his critique of Christian life in an action-based quest to find the real Jesus. It’s A Christmas Carol meets Oz, but instead of ghosts and tin men, it’s a talking donkey, a motorcycle rider, and Mikalatos himself. The cast of characters drags the reader through the streets of Seattle and ancient Judea to introduce a host of fake Jesuses: Magic 8 Ball Jesus, Harley Jesus, even Liberal Social Services Jesus. They’re constructs of the human mind. People invent a Jesus for one specific reason and then discard him when they don’t need him anymore, says one of the Jesuses (the one with an expensive suit). Peter teaches Mikalatos that he must quiet falsehoods and mold a deeper relationship with the living, historical Jesus. Mixing questions of suffering and free will with a nexus of weirdness, Mikalatos throws Christian fiction into the world of Comic-Con and Star Wars. His silly quest is startling, contemporary, meaningful, and occasionally exhausting when the reader is puzzled. It begs for a comic book counterpart.

We also discussed Imaginary Jesus a while back (see here and here) and had some good interaction with the author Matt Mikalatos.

HT Brian Fulthorp (via Facebook)

Is it time for a new name?

My youngest daughter has recently developed a new way of answering difficult questions. Snuggled on the couch yesterday morning, she listened patiently as I gave an obviously incorrect answer to a question she’d asked.  When I was done, she just looked at me and said, “You should ask your imaginary friend who’s smarter than you what he thinks about that.” Where does she come up with this stuff?

Well, I have a question to ask, and although my imaginary friend is pretty smart, and I’ll certainly see what he thinks, I’d also like to get a broader perspective.

Actually, I have several questions to ask. In a few months, this blog will have had about one year of active use. (It was mostly dormant for quite a while before that.) So, I’m starting to wrestle with what to do moving forward. For the next couple of days, I’d like to throw some questions out there and see if anyone has some input that might even be better than that of my imaginary companion.

First off: Does the blog need a new name? I’m very aware of the fact that “scientia et sapientia” probably doesn’t mean much (if anything) to many people. As I explained when I started the blog, the phrase identifies two different ways of knowing that are both important. But, since I’m not sure how many people actually know that’s what the phrase means, I’m wondering if a less obscure (and probably more interesting) name might be a good idea.

So, what do you think? Does the blog need a new name? You won’t hurt my feelings (much), so speak freely.

And, although I realize this is dangerous, I’m also going to ask, Do you have any suggestions for a new name? Feel free to comment on the first question even if you don’t have any suggestions for a new name. I’m not going to turn this into a full-fledged contest, but I would be interested to know if anyone has some ideas floating around that they’d like to toss out there.

11 Steps to Writing a Good Theology Paper

The perennial problem of the seminary student: what does it mean to write a good theology paper and how do you go about doing it?

Although there really is no definitive answer to such questions, here’s an older article that John Frame wrote describing How to Write a Theology Paper. He explains the 11 steps that he goes through in writing the paper and offers some good thoughts for any seminary student looking for tips on how to write a good paper.

At one point, he explains the importance of offering your own argument and not just re-stating the opinions and ideas of other people:

Furthermore, every paper should contain something of the theologian himself. It is rarely sufficient simply to tell the reader what someone else says (an “expository paper,” as I call it). Nor, in seminary level papers, is it adequate to write down a series of “standard” arguments on an issue—arguments that have been used time and time again. I describe papers of that sort as “party lines.” Party lines are often useful; it is good to have at your fingertips the standard arguments for infant baptism, for example. I myself use this kind of argument frequently in talking with inquirers. But generally, party-line arguments do not belong in theological papers. Expositions, summaries, surveys, party lines—all of these are essentially regurgitations of ideas obtained from other sources. They involve little analytical or critical thinking. But such thinking is precisely what is needed, if the paper is to represent an advance in the church’s knowledge.

You’ll need to read his paper to see his whole process, but here are the 11 steps that he suggests.

  1. Choose a topic with care.
  2. Understand your sources.
  3. Write down what you find interesting.
  4. Ask questions about your sources.
  5. Formulate a critical perspective on your sources.
  6. Organize your notes according to topics of interest.
  7. Ask, then, What do I want to tell my audience on the basis of my research?
  8. Be self-critical.
  9. Decide on an audience.
  10. Decide on a format and style.
  11. Produce your formulation.

HT Justin Taylor