Monthly Archives: June 2013

Finding the Gospel in Surprising Places

“Finale B”, by Jonathan Larson. From the musical/movie RENT

There is no future, there is no past.

Thank God this moment’s not the last.

There’s only us
There’s only this.
Forget regret or
Life is yours to miss.

No other road, no other way;
No day but today.

Will I lose my dignity (I can’t control)?
Will someone care (my destiny)?
Will I wake tomorrow (I trust my soul)
From this nightmare (my only goal is just to be)?

Without you (there’s only now)
The hand gropes (there’s only here)
The ear hears (give in to love)
The pulse beats (or live in fear)
Life goes on (no other path)
But I’m gone (no other way)
‘Cause I die (no day but today)
Without you (no day but today)
I die without you (no day but today)
I die without you (no day but today)
I die without you (no day but today)
I die without you (no day but today)
I die without you.

No day but today.

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Filed under Aesthetics, Uncategorized

An Open Letter to the Lady Sharing the Elevator

Dear Lady on the Elevator:

I acknowledge the possibility that your parent(s) did not teach you propriety and common courtesy, but I wanted to inform you that Western culture considers it rude when you refuse to acknowledge someone’s presence, especially when they acknowledge yours first. I also recognize that you seem to have some perception of danger seeing as how you’ve (a) clutched your purse tightly to your body in a protective manner and (b) physically moved in between me and your child.

Nevermind that my own child is currently perched on my shoulders, or in the case that he is elsewhere, that I belong here in this building. As you may recall, you had to enter this building by first going through a locked gate and then through a locked set of doors, and there are cameras in the lobby and outside, meaning my image was recorded the entire time. That aside, my manner of dress suggests I belong here since, every day, I wear a collared shirt, slacks, belt, and dress shoes—business attire. Most often I have a computer bag on my shoulder. In fact, I am most often better dressed than most of the gentlemen in the building (by other people’s comments, not my own observation).

This leads naturally into my next point. Everyone who has residence in this building is either a student of the seminary or a spouse of a student. In fact, I am both, in addition to being an employee of the seminary. As such, I now have three reasons to belong in this elevator with you. While we can’t make too many hard assumptions, one can reasonably guess that as an employee, student, and spouse, I have been vetted by the seminary as having decent character (actually, the seminary ran a background check on me as an employee, which is more than I can say for your spouse).

As such, I can’t help but wonder that the reason for your reaction toward me has something to do with the only thing different about me that you can see: my skin color. You should know that I have somewhat of a mean streak when it comes to these kinds of reactions. The more you ignore me and act rudely, the nicer I will act toward you. In fact, I am now inclined to go out of my way to display polite behavior and engage in considerate public discourse with you. It’s not going to stop until you acknowledge that (a) I am a human being and that (b) I belong here. You may feel differently about it, but I’m sorry to report that my spouse, the school, and my employer all politely disagree with you.

Interestingly, according to the FBI, by percent and by number, you’ll more likely be the victim of a crime caused by someone who looks more like you than me. Except gambling; evidently the numbers say I’m highly likely to commit crimes of gambling against you. But that’s okay: you may continue to be rude as long as I can continue to make you uncomfortable by treating you with dignity.

With great irony,


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How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps

The Homeless Adjunct

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in…

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Filed under Christian Education

When is a Boy not a Boy?

Parents sue South Carolina for surgically making child a female –

I have to confess: transgender issues break my paradigms. Here’s the question: does a boy (or man) stop being a man once you cut off his genitalia? In reverse, does a girl become a boy when you add a different body part? What determines sex or gender?

Definitions: As usual, a lot of this depends on your definition. Wikipedia describes gender as the social, behavioral, and cultural concept of male/female as based on the World Health Organization. Gender, essentially, is what everyone else says about you and how you should be have as related to your sex. Gender identity, then, is what you say about yourself (and note that this is related to, but not the same as, sexual orientation) as related to your sex. Discussions regarding gender are really discussion of societal, social, cultural and even theological norms as they relate to male/female roles.

Sex, on the other hand, refers to the biological/physiological side of things. According to the wikipedia article, sex is determined by which gametes the organism produces: if you produce sperm, you are male, if ova, then female. Alternatively, we can determine sex on a genetic level based on inherited genes.

Implications: Technically, we lack the ability to reassign sex. Even if you cut off male genitalia and give hormone therapy, you cannot change the genetic makeup of the individual. As such, sex cannot change, because the biological factors that make one male or female cannot change. As an extension of that, I don’t see how we can attribute sex to sexual preference. While there are theological implications of same-sex attractions, it seems difficult to me to assert that attraction to one sex automatically equates to self-identity as the opposite.

The talk about “Biblical manhood or womanhood” seems misplaced to me. While we might develop a theology of gender roles, we have to remember that (1) theology is always contextualized, (2) theology is humanity’s response to what God has revealed, meaning God may not have explicitly stated thoughts about manhood and womanhood, (3) we can discern ideas about manhood and womanhood consistent with the rest of our understanding of divine revelation and (4) whatever conclusions we come to regarding gender (as opposed to sex) are by necessity mediated through our own understanding of culture, our own family experiences, and our own personal growth and development.

Conclusions: When is a boy a boy? My son is a boy because his chromosomes include my “Y” in addition to his mother’s “X”. He has (eventually) the ability to produce male gametes (sperm). He is a boy because I tell him he is a boy, based upon my understanding of family history, societal norms, theological principles, and cultural expressions (not necessarily in that order). His boyness may be somewhat related to whom he will find attractive (and I have definite ideas of what that should be) but these are not linked by necessity.

My son is a boy because he is a boy; I (and the rest of society), help him to understand what that means.

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Filed under Theology