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The Elusive ‘Ideal City’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Jared Keller, writing for Aeon Magazine:

With its soaring concrete apses and vibrant, welcoming bell-casting community, Arcosanti doesn’t necessarily capture the futurism of Soleri’s more ambitious and intricate designs in Arcology. But Arcosanti is a living argument that the idea of a city can continue to evolve and improve without wreaking fresh havoc on the planet’s already-scarred ecosystem, so long as such a guiding hand as Soleri’s can midwife its development.

Soleri in 2006:

‘Can anyone imagine a frozen tundra or a scorching Sahara colonised by millions of hermitages, single homes?’ asks Soleri. ‘A nightmarish American Dream incapable of supporting any kind of dignified life, let alone the evolution of a civilisation. Is the exurban (ever-expanding suburban) metastasis a bejewelled dream? Of food and shelter, the two indispensable needs of life, shelter is the direct responsibility of planners; architects, urban planners, builders, developers, speculators, politicians, students … time to wake up!’

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This Week’s Worst ‘The Bible Says…’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s executive director Grant Castleberry:

The Bible teaches that men are wired by God to protect and to pursue, so it is not surprising that they naturally like toys that by-and-large involve fighting, building, and racing. Women, on the other hand, are wired by God to nurture and to be pursued, so it is also not surprising that they largely enjoy playing with American Girl Dolls, Barbies, and Disney princess dresses.

No, the Bible doesn’t teach that.

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‘When God Stops Making Sense’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Peter Enns has been set free from Patheos and is writing on his own site:

Here on earth, tsunamis take out coastlands and tens of thousands of lives. Mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanoes hit with little or no warning. Our environment is hostile, and we know, despite what an occasional crackpot T.V. preacher says, that God doesn’t cause these disasters because America has ceased being a “Christian nation.”

Sentient beings kill and eat each other. The entire evolutionary process is fueled by suffering and death on a massive scale.

So what kind of God is this, who abides by this clash of interests–a God who is good and just, expecting the same from us, but whose universe operates by a different standard?

In light of this question, Enns likes Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Psalms.

The question then is whether the non-sense leads to disbelief in God or becomes an invitation to seek God differently–even through confrontation and debate, as these biblical books model for us.

I too love these books. Within the narrative arc of the Bible these authors challenge the majority position on life and faith. It’s like they open their eyes to the reality of the world in which they live and ask a whole new set of questions.

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A World With More Pies

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Peter Greer, writing for PovertyCure:

It is because I follow Jesus—not in spite of it—that I cannot simply ignore the evidence showing that systems based solely on the redistribution of wealth never work. Historically, they promise utopia and deliver misery. As I once heard economist Jay Richards say, “Systems of forced redistribution don’t just fail to promote freedom—they fail at producing food.”

More importantly, systemic redistribution misses the beautiful truth that God created a world in which there is the possibility to create—and that as God’s image-bearers, we are to be co-creators.

Wealth is not a fixed pie from which we must shave off meager slices but something that can be multiplied. Instead of focusing on cutting up a single pie, what if we focused our efforts on working together to make more pies?

Here’s the video of Greer’s friendly debate with Shane Claiborne from this past March.

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Peter Enns: ‘We Are the Apologetic’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Peter Enns on his distaste for Christian apologetics:

I’m not a big fan of Christian apologetics. Nothing personal, and I know some smart people who engage in it.

It’s just not for me.

I’ve never seen an argument for why Christianity is true that can’t be met by some alternative argument.

And I am not interested in whether Christianity is “reasonable”–a lot of things are reasonable and I don’t center my life around them.

Nor am I interested in whether Christianity is probable or possible–a lot of things are probable and/or possible but I don’t dwell on them.

The very notion of “Christian apologetics” presumes that the intellect is the primary place of engaging the truth of Christianity.

And that hasn’t worked very well.

Instead, Christians should live faith out as an apologetic:

Living out the notion that, “The church must recapture its identity as the only organization in the world that exists for the sake of its non-members.”

That is the apologetic that can work, and that is much harder than a string of arguments.

We are the apologetic.

Side note: I’m thrilled that Pete is moving his site from Patheos to peteenns.com later this week. There are some incredible people writing at Patheos, but I cringe every time I click a link. The pages are ugly and the ads are awful. I hope more writers will follow Pete’s lead.

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Peaceful Resistance and Subversive Conformity

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

John Mark Hicks consistently churns out thoughtful (and timely) content on his site. His latest post is no exception. He walks through 1 Peter 2:13-17 to talk about “living as exiles in an empire.” If you have ten minutes, read the whole article and chalk it up as your theological workout for the day (don’t worry, it’s a light workout that leaves you feeling accomplished—not dead—at the end of it).

If you can’t spare ten minutes, here’s the turn from 1 Peter to reflecting on current events in U.S. America:

I find it rather distressing (saddened rather than distraught) that Christians in the United States live in such fear of the future, specifically the loss of a “Christian nation.” This fear generates anger, suspicion, hateful rhetoric, and despair. It is misplaced “fear,” and reflects misplaced allegiance (or authentic fear, the worship of God).

1 Peter called its first readers to live in hope, gentleness, love, and reverent awe among the nations. Without doubt, the imperial Roman culture was saturated with non-Christian values, commitments, and practices. These shaped every aspect of that culture—education, entertainment, and civic religion. Their children, nor anyone else, could escape that cultural reality and influence, and they won’t escape in our present culture. Yet, Peter—though realistic about the harsh criticism and hostility of that culture—calls believers to a way of life that is saturated with goodness and hope.

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The Economy of Words

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Another great episode of Luke Norsworthy’s podcast. Luke had a great interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor in Denver. My favorite part was her discussion of 12-minute sermons and why she rarely exceeds the allotted time: she believes in the “economy of words.”

Here’s the full description of the episode, in case it helps pique your interest:

Nadia Bolz-Weber returns to the show to discuss Luke’s visit to House for All Sinners and Saints, Nadia’s re-connection with the churches of Christ, twelve minute sermons, church plants as a birthday party you throw for yourself, well-differentiated leaders, democratizing church and of course, CrossFit.

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When the Music Finds You

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

M.G. Siegler:

There’s something different about hearing a song you love on the radio. It just sounds better.

I know that sounds absolutely crazy. And, in a way, it is. I mean, a song is a song. It should sound the same no matter how you hear it. Or maybe over radio it should actually sound worse given the relatively low fidelity of radio.

And yet, it sounds better. You simply cannot convince me otherwise. This has been on my mind this week following the launch of Apple Music.

It’s sort of like when a movie comes on TV. It’s one that you would have never picked to watch, but because it’s on TV you decide to watch it. You may even own the movie, but you choose the worse experience (i.e. ads) because it’s what was presented to you.

Last week’s Accidental Tech Podcast highlighted the negative side of radio, namely the inability to skip songs because it’s live. But now that the music industry has shifted to on-demand access to almost any song ever written, it’s nice sometimes to have something chosen for you. Something you can’t skip. It feels retro. That’s how M.G. closes his post:

In the age of hunting and pecking and searching for music amidst endless catalogs and repositories and libraries, there’s something great in this process being taken out of your hands; in not choosing what to listen to, but having the music find you. And in it being a song you want to hear, even though you maybe didn’t know you did at that moment.

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‘Where Virtue, Pragmatics, and Mission Meet’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Speaking of Greg McKinzie, check out what’s driving his decision to pursue doctoral education:

If this seems heady, well, it will be; it’s doctoral work. But my commitment is to serve the fruit of the ministry of study at the congregational table. What we need, in Churches of Christ at least, is a real hermeneutical alternative to the defunct interpretive habits that haunt us, and that alternative should be rooted in participation in God’s mission. I care deeply about hermeneutics because congregations need to live missionally in the world through the biblical narrative. We need reading practices that help us to embody God’s purposes, both in the interpretive process and in word-and-deed proclamation of the kingdom. Where virtue, pragmatics, and mission meet, we have in view roughly two kinds of interpretive practices:

  1. Practices that transform the church—actually making us who we are supposed to be, not just people who affirm the conclusions they are supposed to affirm.

  2. Practices that transform the world—actually participating in the restoration of all creation.

If, in the next three years, I can make any contribution in this direction, I will consider myself deeply privileged. I thank God for the opportunity.

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Writing That's Worth Reading

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Greg McKinzie has been tearing it up on Scripture and Mission in the few months between his family's move back to the U.S. of A. and starting his doctoral studies in Pasadena.

I’m linking to a great post of his from the beginning of May. It’s exemplary of the type of post you’ll often see on Scripture and Mission, where Greg not only presents original material but also walks his audience through the process of how he got there. I love it.

Of course I enjoy and benefit from Greg’s interaction with the actual material. But more than anything I love his introductory comments (or, in this case, introductory sections). Those who minimize Greg’s contributions because he uses big words and dissects difficult subjects miss an important point. Greg is using his site to teach. He’s not just doing the talking himself, he’s teaching readers how to read the Bible for themselves and draw their own, informed conclusions. In math terms he’s showing his work, which is harder than just persuasively presenting your own position.

Incidentally, Greg is also raising the standard for what is published on “blogs” (the term “blog” for me devalues content, which is why I like to say “website” instead of “blog,” and talk about “writing” instead of “blogging”). In a day and age of cheap information, lists of 27 things (of which YOU WON’T BELIEVE NUMBER 14), and easy solutions, I want to support thoughtful publishing online.

There’s a reason that Greg’s homepage only displays one post at a time. He writes standalone articles. A single post might even have 28 footnotes.

If Greg’s writing is difficult for you to read all the way through, here are a few tips:

  • Set aside 15-30 minutes. This isn’t the Internet equivalent of a fun-sized Snickers bar—it’s more like an Argentine steak with a side order of Peruvian potatoes.
  • Be ready to learn something. Pull up your dictionary app, or, even easier, make it a habit to 3-finger tap the words you don’t know (this works on OS X. On iOS, you have to highlight the word and tap “Define”).
  • Read.
  • Then, summarize what you’ve learned in your own words. Consider joining the conversation (on your own site, not Facebook) with a nuanced response.

Good writing is worth reading.

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Not Really the World’s Greatest Dad

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Peter Rollins, on honesty and idealizing:

It might seem that the only alternative to idealization is a bland world where parents talk about their child being reasonably attractive compared to other infants, and children buy cards that state, “You’re roughly average in your parenting skills.” But there is also the stance that Freud called “sublimation.” This is where some particular thing/person/cause takes on an absolute value for us, not in wanton ignorance of his/her/its imperfection, but in the very acceptance and even celebration of those imperfections.

Of course I had to wait a few days after Father’s Day to link to this, if only to lessen truth’s sting a bit.

Don’t miss the video at the end of his post. Hilarious.

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Down with ‘Depends on Experience’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Good post by Vu Le over on Nonprofit With Balls, regarding the common practice of not disclosing salary ranges with job postings:

The expectation for candidates to not bring up the salary until the end is naïve and irresponsible. We need to live and support our families on these salaries; our payment is not a pleasant bonus we get for saving the world.

And:

We in the nonprofit sector must blaze the trail for equity, and not just thoughtlessly follow the ineffective and inequitable practices we inherited from the business world like a bunch of sign-spinning robots. #DownWithDOE. Tweet that, and let’s start to end this practice.

I’ve been following this site for a while, but just stumbled across the story behind the site’s name. It’s worth the three minute read.

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Alto’s Adventure

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Some games are good for the soul.

From the App Store description:

Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey scrap the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.

Along the way you’ll rescue runaway llamas, grind rooftops, leap over terrifying chasms and outwit the mountain elders – all while braving the ever changing elements and passage of time while on the mountain.

Besides MarioKart on the Nintendo 64, I don’t play video games. Alto’s Adventure caught my eye, what with the thrill of snowboarding, randomness of catching llamas, and stunning design. I’m terrible at it but it’s so fun.

And right now it’s just 99 cents on the App Store.

See also: Dan Moren shares why he likes the game over on Six Colors.

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Reforming Education Reform

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Nicholas Kristof in his opinion column for the NYT a couple weeks ago:

I support education reform. Yet the brawls have left everyone battered and bloodied, from reformers to teachers unions. I’m not advising surrender. Education inequity is America’s original sin. A majority of American children in public schools are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, and they often get second-rate teachers in second-rate schools — even as privileged kids get superb teachers. This perpetuates class and racial inequity and arises in part from a failed system of local school financing.

But fixing K-12 education will be a long slog, so let’s redirect some energy to children aged 0 to 5 (including prenatal interventions, such as discouraging alcohol and drug use among pregnant women).

That leads to my third reason: Early education is where we have the greatest chance of progress because it’s not politically polarized. New York City liberals have embraced preschool, but so have Oklahoma conservatives. Teacher unions will flinch at some of what I say, but they have been great advocates for early education. Congress can’t agree on much, but Republicans and Democrats just approved new funding for home visitation for low-income toddlers.

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“The Mustachioed Little Man”

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Hilary Greenbaum, in an article on The 6th Floor blog for the NYT:

The Moka Express, a stovetop espresso machine that was meant for the home, provided both an affordable espresso and a beautiful object to make it in.

Today it is unimaginable to think of Italian homes without a Bialetti. Everyone still prefers drinking an espresso at the bar—that much hasn’t changed. But the Bialetti is indispensable for the early morning caffè latte and after dinner espresso. It’s amazing just how widespread its adoption was.

I love this little bit on Bialetti’s mascot:

To differentiate his family’s machine from potential imitations, Bialetti commissioned a mascot from the Italian artist, Paul Campani, in 1953. In Italian, the figure is known as l’omino coi baffi, or “the mustachioed little man,” and was printed on the side of the coffee machine. It is rumored that l’omino is a caricature of Alfonso Bialetti himself, but according to the Bialetti historical archive, the black-suited man is actually his eldest son, Renato. In addition to l’omino‘s presence on the side of every Moka Express, he also starred in the company’s early television campaigns.

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Clear Language and Respect

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Another enduring post by Seth Godin:

If the agreement starts with “whereas” and continues along with, “notwithstanding the foregoing,” and when it must be decoded by a lawyer on the other side, something has gone wrong. These codewords, and the dense language that frequently appears in legal agreements, are symptoms of a system out of whack. It’s possible to be precise without being obtuse.

There’s actually no legal requirement that an agreement not be in specific, clear, everyday English. To do otherwise disrespects the person you’re hoping to engage with. There’s no legal requirement that even the terms of service for a website can’t be clear and easy to understand. In fact, if the goal is to avoid confusion and the costs of the legal system when conflicts occur, the more clear, the better.

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N.T. Wright on Resurrection and Postmodernity’s Inevitability

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

N.T. Wright:

Faced with this situation, many have tried—some are still trying—to deny the presence of postmodernity, to retain the modern world in which we felt so comfortable and in which (whether we realize it or not) we preached a modernist gospel. Many want to turn the clock back, culturally and theologically.

It cannot be done.

My proposal to you is that we should not be frightened of the postmodern critique. It had to come. It is, I believe, a necessary judgment on the arrogance of modernity, and it is essentially a judgment from within. Our task is to reflect on this moment of despair within our culture and, reflecting biblically and Christianly, to see our way through the moment of despair and out the other side. That is why I want to talk to you about the resurrection and about the Emmaus Road story; that is why I want to do so through the lens of the poem that we call Psalms 42 and 43.

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‘Sometimes We Should Do What We Hate’

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

Compelling piece by Gordon Marino in the NYT Opinion Pages:

Perhaps you relish running marathons. Perhaps you even think of your exercise regimen as a form of self-improvement. But if your “something higher” is, say, justice and equality, those ideals might behoove you to delegate some of the many hours spent pounding the track on tutoring kids at the youth center. Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.

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