Saturday, July 16, 2011

News of the week

This week has been the first full week of orientation and getting into the groove of the Beeson program.

We started last Friday and Saturday and then continued with training/familiarity this week. 
One of our training sessions included computer training.  In this program included is a laptop.  We had choices, a Dell or a Mac.  I went with the Mac. I reasoned that if I was jumping into a whole new world, I might as well give the Mac a go.  When I returned from training Anna asked how I liked the new computer and I said, "I think I would rather have a tractor."  She reminded me, "they don't give those out with this program."    I've done a little work on the Mac and it is fine.  There is one feature I miss from the other kind, the backspace button.  On the other platform the backspace button goes to the left, and the delete button goes to the right.  On the Mac, only one button, Delete, and it goes to the left.  I miss the button.  We'll see how the rest unfolds.

Another thech tool I've been utilizing is Amazon's Kindle. About half of our upcoming classes have required texts that are available on the Kindle.  Reading from the Kindle has been an adjustment.  All of my tools of familiarity with a paper book are out the window; scanning the headings, picking up the chapter titles quickly, highlighting and writing in the margins.  To be true, you can highlight, search, have words defined, have the book read to you, but the feel is very different.  Content stays the same, but the delivery is profoundly different.

Making these leaps into these tech tools and across platforms has not been super easy, there is much change involved.  I've preached about welcoming change, rolling with it, etc.  When you're on the receiving end of change there are moments when you want to say, I think I like the old way better.  I am sure that one of the first books I would have comprehended better had it been in paper, but change brings significant possibilities.  My colleagues who will be traveling overseas can take an enormous library with them in one small device.  For research, the searchable feature is helpful, and for writing, the ability to copy and past a clipping is fantastic.

Many things have changed in this transition.  The rhythms we have been running in are packed away in boxes for at least a year.  In this liminality aspects of time have been lost.  Keeping track of time has been difficult.  I find myself wondering, what day is it - number and day of the week.  I've got an enormous amount of reading so I've been doing something totally unroutine, arising at 6am to read.   The items in our home are much decreased because our space has shrunk exponentially.

Yet the new rhythms are growing on us.  It's been a delight to go running with Anna 4 or 5 times a week.  We started that just before we moved and have continued it.  Reading at 6 am is more fruitful than if I try and read into the night.  My dreams have been shifted already; I'm dreaming about reading and talking about dissertations.  I don't know how the mind makes those changes so fast.

Coming forth from my reading this past week is a question I've been pondering.  The question arises from books on anthropology. In each of the book the authors write apologetically about the field/science/work of anthropology.  In some circles, in particular - the funding circles, the field is loosing its clout and its appeal.  And so the professional anthropologists have included in their work appeals for their work.  One of the appeals went something like this - we are a real science, we do add real value to the world, you can't go on without us - kind of shrill.

So here's my question; does such an appeal, such an apology convince you, or does it take on a very hallow sound?

I thought about this question in regard to the church and ecclesiology.   There is a circle of people, mostly pastors, who will often given a litany of reasons why the church is essential, why the church needs support - especially financial support of people, why the church should be a broker at tables of influence and the like.  These litany of reasons may be given in a sermon, but more often than not they take up the transitional times, or it becomes the de facto button you push when we're moving from one thing to the next and there's a desire to peg what we're doing to something bigger than what we're doing.   Or this apologetic is acculturated so that there are always little hooks along the way.  But the same question begs to be answered - does this begin to sound hallow?

That sent me thinking about Bill Hybles.  One of his essential propositions is that the church is the hope of the world.  Interesting about his approach, at least what I've seen, he doesn't run that through an apologetic.  He states it, and then proceeds to work positively, with confidence and a certainty that is winsome in character.

I wonder which way of appeal captures your imagination and causes you to move?  For me, the shrillness, the litany of apology, sends me to changing channels.

That's all the news that isn't. 


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