Friday Link Love: Waves, High-School Heroes, and Embracing Limitations



Wave Photographs by Kenji Croman — Colossal

Obligatory Colossal Link:

Many more at the link…


Cross Country Runner Saves Life, Finishes Race — KnoxNews

The young man is a trained lifeguard. He came upon a fellow runner in medical distress and stopped to help:

In the midst of this, a woman named Jessica Chandler ran up. She’s the mother of another Germantown runner and had known the fallen runner for years.

“Honestly, I was in shock,” she said. “But this guy was taking complete control. He was like, ‘You — call 911. You — go get some ice.’ He turned him on his side. I thought he was a parent or an EMT.”

At this point, the victim was shaking, his body seizing again and again.

“This is normal,” said Goldstein. “I’ve seen this before.”

Note: Goldstein had actually never seen this before. But he didn’t see the point in panicking. He was calm, reassuring everyone involved.

Many parables of non-anxious leadership in that bolded statement.

If you ask him, Goldstein will tell you it’s the slowest race he’s ever run. It’s also his personal best.



Religion, Science and Easy Answers — NPR

Everyone knows that cell-phones work because of radio waves. Sure it’s complicated and, in general, few of us really get it. But we all know that cellphones work because the natural world is built in simultaneously subtle and complicated ways.

What is remarkable about the fundamentalist perspective, however, is an unwillingness to see spiritual life in the same light. Instead of seeing subtlety and complication that require a lifetime of intense dedicated effort — a genuine personal investigation of the world — to understand, everything is reduced to magic-marker outlines with unwavering, absolute answers….

While writing on science and religion, however, I have met lots of really amazing folks who are quite serious about their spiritual lives. They have come from a diversity of faith backgrounds: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and more. Some of these people were highly educated, some where not. What struck an atheist like me about these folks was their dedication to the investigation.

Fighting back with nuance in a sloganeering world…


Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect — Newsweek

Yes, yes, yes. A worthy follow-up to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent tour de force, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Debora Spar writes:

So what, then, are we to do? One possibility, of course, is simply to give up; to acknowledge women’s destinies as something different from men’s and stop complaining about it. This, however, hardly seems fair, either to the generations who fought so hard for women’s freedoms, or to those who have not yet had the opportunity to give these freedoms a try. A second possibility, trumpeted most recently in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter in her examination of why women still can’t have it all, is to keep fighting the proverbial fights—for better day care, better family leaves, more flex time at work and co-parenting at home. These are all important goals. Yet they will never be sufficient to address the underlying issues.

This is because many of the problems that plague women now are not due to either government policy or overt discrimination. They cannot be resolved solely by money and they are not caused only by men. Instead, the problems we face are subtler. They come partly from the media, partly from society, partly from biology, and partly from our own vastly unrealistic expectations. To address them, we must go beyond either policy solutions or anger with the patriarchy. We must instead forge partnerships with those around us, and begin to dismantle the myth of solitary perfection.


The Tricky Art of the Children’s Sermon — United Methodist Reporter

A good point/counterpoint on the efficacy of children’s sermons in worship. Most forward-thinking pastors I know have already done away with them or would dearly like to. I get the impulse. But I still do them. I try to avoid interactive questions that set kids up to be entertaining*. My approach is to tell the biblical story so that they’re ready to go upstairs to the Upper Room for the remainder of worship, or to Sunday School, where they engage the story they just read. It’s a way of setting up the rest of the morning’s experience for them.


Videos on the Creative Process — 99U

What a treasure trove of wisdom. I’ve watched a few of the shorter ones, and others I’ve seen before, but I might make it a goal to watch the others during my time away for CREDO. I leave in a week and will spend a few days with my BFF before it starts. Squee.

Here’s a specific vid I liked, about the importance of constraints in fostering creativity:

I’ve had two different people recently ask me to help them think about the process of writing a book. One of their concerns is how to get it done with everything else going on in life. I’ve tried to explain how that busyness can benefit them. Assuming you have enough motivation to start, of course–if you’re lukewarm about doing it, the rest of life will conspire against you. But if you just have to write that book, you will find a way. And the limitations will help you. At the end of the process you will have an imperfect thing on paper, rather than a perfect thing in your brain and nowhere else.


*My favorite children’s sermon story: I was talking about Jesus’ parable of the yeast and I’d brought some yeast from home. I showed it to the kids and said, “What is yeast used to make?” One of them piped up, “BEER!”

Yes, that was my child.


How to Respond to Fanatics

This afternoon at the bus stop, I had a conversation with the Muslim woman who picks up her granddaughter, a lovely little first grader with a big smile, straightforward manner and lime-green head scarf (how do they keep it fastened all day?). I told her I was sorry about what was going on. I was sorry about all the ugliness, all the scapegoating, all the offensive, hateful gestures. As a Christian pastor, I was sad, and disgusted, at what was being planned in Jesus’ name in Florida on Saturday.

I debated whether to say anything, though. I don’t hold moderate Muslims responsible for 9/11. So why should I apologize for the KKK, Fred Phelps, or pastor Terry Jones?

I ultimately decided that in this case, “I’m sorry” meant “I share your sorrow.” And that’s always a good, worthwhile message. At the end of the conversation I was surprised when this reserved, soft-spoken Muslim grandmother from Pakistan hugged me. We live in a very tolerant melting pot here in Fairfax County, but she seemed… relieved? I share this story in case there’s anyone out there thinking, “Surely my Muslim neighbors know I’m not one of those people.” Maybe not. Or maybe they do know, but it’s still nice to be reminded you’re not alone.

Here is something I struggle with: I don’t want to give those attention-mongers in Gainesville one iota of additional publicity. This is a meaningless stunt, and it’s a tiny, fringe group of people behind it. Yet some things are so egregious that they must be answered with action. I know folks who are going to donate $1 to Park 51 for every Qur’an burned. Others are scheduling a “read the Qur’an” day. I’m considering a pastoral letter to the congregation asking people to consider similar actions on the anniversary of 9/11.

How do we thread this needle?

I wrote on a friend’s blog this week, in response to a different topic:

Karl Barth once preached an entire hour-long sermon in the 1930s to a group of German pastors without once mentioning Hitler. He was accused of being irresponsible, but he said, “Hitler is a nothing. I am called to preach Christ crucified.” …Hitler is not a “nothing,” but Barth’s point is, we sure can get blown off course… And we can get mired in the pointless kerfuffles that don’t ultimately matter. I think it’s time to stop talking about Glenn Beck, for example. We’ve said our piece and will continue to preach social justice and it’s time to move on.

Hitler was not a pointless kerfuffle, of course. But are we going to let the fanatics define what we say and do? Talk about being blown about by every wind of doctrine! (Ephesians 4)

The tension is this: When must we stand up and say, “No,” and when does standing up and pointing at the thing we’re condemning increase the attention to (and thus legitimize) the fanatics?