A Teacher's Writes

One teacher's thoughts on life, literature, and learning

When Claiming Colorblindness Cuts off Conversation

As a Christian who is an American ethnic minority, I say first hand Christian colorblindness stings my heart in two ways. First, it goes against God’s intention for ethnic diversity and secondly, its an attempt to superficially remove needed conversations about ethnic diversity inside of the Body of Christ, especially in Evangelicalism. We don’t need to put a gag-order on these talks instead, we need holistically deal with our issues regarding ethnicity to the point Ethnic Conciliation is evident in our; denominational structures, higher academic institutions, conference line-ups, pastoral teams, and interpersonal relationships amongst laity.

D.A. Horton, on his blog

“We need to spend more time teaching the Bible as first and foremost the revelation of God…”

Whatever serious false teaching we are facing, the Bible is uncomfortably clear: When false teachers persist in their views, they will be subject to divine judgment (see especially 2 Peter 2). For the sake of these false teachers (that they might avoid God’s judgment) and church health (that we might flourish in God), we believe we need a shift in how we teach the Bible. In short, we need to spend more time teaching the Bible as first and foremost the revelation of God. We understand the temptation to talk about the Bible mostly in terms of “what it means to me” and its “practical application to daily life.” But when this hermeneutic dominates—as it does today—Christianity becomes little more than self-help therapy. And it leaves people ignorant of Scripture’s deeper meaning, and therefore unable to spot false teaching.

The Bible is the Word of God primarily because it reveals the nature of God—who God is and what he has done for us. And that in turn shows us what it means to be those created in his image. Yes, it includes practical teaching for daily living. But most biblical ethical teachings reflect God’s general revelation and so can be found in many philosophies and religions (e.g., “Do to others as you would have them do to you”). The Bible’s unique message, its special revelation, is the revelation of the God who has brought us salvation in Jesus Christ.

Pastors, teachers, and small-group leaders would be wise to spend more energy showing how the Bible is the source of the great church doctrines—which are so often about God and his saving work. It’s time for our main pedagogical question to be not, “What difference does this make?” but, “What does this tell us about our good God?”

Mark Gali, for Christianity Today

Memoir as a Unique Expression in the Literary Canon

I would claim that, as a genre, personal memoirs and autobiographies provide something crucial to the literary canon and historical records. They are unique expressions, distinct in significant ways from novels and poetry; they are highly crafted true stories where the writer is free to tell whatever outlandish tale really happened. In them the writer’s ultimate purpose is to say, “This happened” and “This is what I believe it means.” And with them a unique trust exists between the writer and reader, with the reader willingly ceding incredulity toward the chronicled events, accepting them as true in an historical sense.

I’m working on something for my students and wrote this paragraph as an initial volley to which they could then respond–agree, disagree, or both. Is this what I should say about memoir? Am I missing something, or have I overstated or misstated anything?

Amen to David Stanley’s case against bicycle racing chivalry

It is time for ‘racing chivalry” to become a relic of the past. As with every sport, there is a professional code amongst bike racers. Part of that code is that you do not attack race leaders when they suffer mechanical issues; flats or bike problems. That code needs to go away.
a. Once upon a time, there were no support vehicles. In the years leading up to the 1930s, the Tour was contested by individuals. In those early years, pre-derailleur shifting, the riders had two gears. One cog was on each side of the wheel and at the base of the climbs, the riders would stop en masse and flip their wheels to their climbing gear. For many years, riders carried spare tires wrapped figure eight style over their shoulders. No spare wheels were provided by Mavic neutral support or your team cars. Neutral support didn’t begin in 1973. In those days, the idea of “All for one, and one for all” made perfect sense. With no help forthcoming, riders crossing the high-alpine goat paths that passed for roads in the post-WWII era needed the support of each other.
In 2015, rider support has become more sophisticated.
b. Once upon a time, equipment was unreliable. In the years leading up to the Merckx era, equipment was not to be trusted. Rims were wood. Tires flatted frequently. Post-war derailleur mechanisms were sketchy, and often went out of adjustment. Chains broke. When Mavic popularized the aluminum rim, early glues often came unglued from the heat generated during braking. As a consequence, the tires would peel off at speed, and riders would crash. With all of these issues, the idea that one should profit from a competitor’s mechanical issue seemed both un-sporting and unwise. Unwise, because he who would profit at another’s expense would surely be the next to suffer a mechanical.
c. Once upon a time, there was no money in cycling. Riders were called “les forçats de la route,” the convicts of the road, for a reason. They were poor. The sport made money for a few sponsors, but little was left for the racers. Today’s world-class racer is the monetary equivalent of many sporting heroes. Today’s teams are multi-million dollar investments for sponsors. The sponsors are now Fortune 500 companies. They invest in the teams because the teams generate return on investment. French business magazines estimate the value of the Tour at between 1 and 1.5 billion dollars.
With this much money at stake, let’s envision a meeting between a team and a sponsor who has not yet decided to renew a 10 million euro contract.
Oleg (the sponsor): Well, the Tour didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. We were promised a top stage finish. Our guy Vincenzo was right there. He looked great. When he attacked, I knew he’d win the stage. Talk about a great return. He’d be on the cover of L’Equipe wearing my company’s jersey! Why’d he sit up?

Sean (the team’s sporting director): Well, his big rival Chris had some problems with his chain.
Oleg: So? Sounds perfect to me.
Sean: Well, cyclists don’t like to take advantage when something like that happens.
Oleg: So, let me get this straight. I write checks for about 10 million bucks. I write a check to Vinnie for about an extra million five. And you’re telling me that because this Chris guy breaks a fifty dollar chain, we have to wait for him to fix everything up before we can race again? Are you nuts? That chain is this Chris guy’s problem. Not ours. Your problem is winning races. Oh, and you gotta another problem-finding a new sponsor. This is crazy. I’m out.
It is crazy. When Sebastian Vettel has an engine problem, does Lewis Hamilton slow down and wait? No. Formula One is a big business, a freaking huge business, and the teams hire the very best people to run their programs. 

In 2015, professional bike racing is also a freaking huge business, and it is time to start acting like one.

From David Stanley

Two gut-wrenching comments that are on my mind today

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

– Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical research for Planned Parenthood

They walked into the little clearing, the boy clutching his hand. They’d taken everything with them except whatever black thing was skewered over the coals. He was standing there checking the perimeter when the boy turned and buried his face against him. He looked quickly to see what had happened. What is it? he said. What is it? The boy shook his head. Oh Papa, he said. He turned and looked again. What the boy had seen was a charred human infant headless and gutted and blackening on the spit. He bent and picked the boy up and started for the road with him, holding him close. I’m sorry, he whispered. I’m sorry.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, p. 198

Jimmy Carter’s continuing evangelism

Meroney: Speaking of your faith, what’s your estimate of how many people you’ve led to Christ through personal one-on-one interaction?

Carter: I would say several hundred. I’ve been on Christian mission programs for the Southern Baptist Convention—to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, other places like that. I’d spend a whole week, or ten days, just going from one house to another explaining the plan of salvation to people who did not have any faith. A lot of them have accepted Christ. I teach a Bible lesson every Sunday when I’m at home. I taught this past Sunday, and I’ll teach next Sunday as well. We have only about 30 members of our church who attend our services—it’s a small church. But we have several hundred visitors who come—sometimes it’s as high as eight hundred. Most of the time, though, it’s in the two hundred range. Many tell me they’ve never been to a church before. I don’t have any doubt that a few of them, maybe every Sunday, decide to accept the lessons that I teach.

From The Atlantic, an interview with Jimmy Carter

In 1820, printers assembled the newspaper one letter at a time

The expansion of newspaper publishing resulted in part from technological innovations in printing and papermaking. Only modest improvements had been made in the printing press since the time of Gutenberg until a German named Friedrich Koenig invented a cylinder press driven by a steam engine in 1811.The first American newspaper to obtain such a press was the New York Daily Advertiser in 1825; it could print two thousand papers in an hour. . . . Compositors still set type by hand, picking up type one letter at a time from a case and placing int into a handheld “stick.” Until the 1830s, one man sometimes put out a newspaper all by himself, the editor setting his own type.

– Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought, p. 227



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