Apprentice to the Truth

A New Book by Myron Penner

I haven’t read this book yet, but I can recommend an article taken from it, called “Ironic Witness,” which appears in the July 10th issue of The Christian Century. Myron Penner likens living faithfully, in this age, to being an “apprentice to the truth.”

I love that phrase, “apprentice to the truth.” Penner explains what he means:

“… a life of faith is more aptly articulated in terms of a struggle to be faithful— to live truthfully– than as the possession of truths and absolute certainties…. Rather than thinking of the believer as the possessor of truth, who must then work ardently to maintain belief over against all rational challenges, it might be better to view the one who has faith as an ‘apprentice to truth.’

“To speak of an apprentice to truth in this way is to acknowledge that truth is not our possession, but something by which we must be possessed. I do not have the truth and cannot get it on my own. Instead, I must apprentice….”

In many ways, this is a fine articulation of religion in balance: the affirmation of the reality of a Truth (or a Love, or a Power, or a Goodness, or a Beauty) bigger than– and independent of– any person’s idea of it; the affirmation of a humility that recognizes our inability to possess this Truth (Love, Power, Goodness, Beauty); and the affirmation that this Truth (Love, Power, Goodness, Beauty) is worthy, not only of our time and attention, but also of our bending our will in its direction. It’s a reality to build lives out of.

via NetGalley Catalog

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A Mistake Is Something From Which You Learn Nothing

Note: Due to issues with WordPress, some of you may not have received this post. So here it is again.

“A mistake is something from which you learn nothing,” says one of my best mentors for teaching, Keith King. “If you didn’t learn anything from a mistake, why did you bother to make it?”

The common measure for failing schools, and the cause of great hand-wringing over educational policy, is low test scores. Lost when the conversation stays at this level, are questions about adaptive learning (as opposed to training). How can schools help kids learn how to learn? How can schools prepare kids for a future of presently unforeseeable challenges/opportunities? How can schools prepare kids to be comfortable in situations where they do NOT know what to do, or in situations where the solution to a problem requires a wholly unusual response — in other words, to be unanxious in the face of the unknown?

Adaptability and creativity are the marks of highly functioning human systems: families, organizations, communities, polities, cultures. Rigidity and rote responses are the mark of deadness. There is no discovery without mistakes. Teachers need to be able to– and be allowed to– teach students how to make “mistakes” in such a way that they aren’t really mistakes at all, but opportunities to learn.

Theologically speaking, God is always doing something new. We are in tune with that ever renewing, ever life-creating God, when we are able to discern what is being born, and to respond accordingly, with deep and joyful freedom. Our mistakes need not be fearsome ogres.

The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park– It’s a Different Time

Mick Jagger

This item from The Christian Science Monitor caught my attention: a few days ago, the Rolling Stones played a concert in London’s Hyde Park.

When they played there 44 years ago, Mick Jagger was about 26 years old. Now he’s nearing 70.

When they played there 44 years ago, the concert was free. Now, some premium tickets cost around $300.

Here’s an excerpt and the link:

The Rolling Stones returned to London’s Hyde Park after 44 years with a concert that saluted both the band’s past and the fleetingly idyllic English summer. Mick Jagger even donned a frock for the occasion.

via The Rolling Stones return to London’s Hyde Park for the first time in 44 years – CSMonitor.com.

Helpful Context for Understanding Egypt

Dr. Larbi Sadiki, Exeter University (UK)

We send $1.3 billion to Egypt annually. Here is some helpful context as we attempt to understand what is happening at the other end of our far-flung foreign aid. (The full interview is available at the link at the bottom):

Jacob Powell: Do you think Egypt is ready for democracy?

Larbi Sadiki: I think the question is not really answerable. The question should be: “where is the infrastructure in place to facilitate democracy?” Democracy is an open-ended game that gets developed over a long time. What we have seen since 2011, – the Egyptian people have the building blocks of democracy enacted through mostly peaceful people’s power displays. We should not engage the question through ‘exceptionalism’, relegating Egypt or Arabs to the realm of ‘non-democracy’, whatever that might be. For example, Chile had its setbacks and Pinochet toppled a democratically elected government in the mid 1970s – mostly with Western backing especially from the US. Several Latin American countries had similar experiences of democratic breakdown with the generals intervening to scupper democratic processes and purge democratic opposition. We cannot forget the Chavista and anti-Chavista in Venezuela. During 2002, Chavez was temporarily ousted by the army, and there were people protesting for and against him.

Closer to home, we cannot forget Algeria 1991-92 and the Palestinian elections of 2006. The common thread is that Islamists choosing the ballot box keep being toppled. The route to democracy is not linear (emphasis added). It is long, complex and fraught with obstacles, embracing both highs and lows. The journey to democracy, past and present, affirms this. I don’t really think Egyptians have something in their character that lends itself to inhospitality to democracy and democratisation. Definitely, what has happened in Egypt has stunted a fledgling democratisation process. I’m pretty sure that the Egyptian people have the means to reclaim their power and restore the democratisation process. However, we cannot massage words about what has happened: a coup is a coup is a coup – be it one which, for now, has been triggered by massive public backing. It is naïve to think Arab uprisings have been solely popular affairs – armies are very much part of the machinations driving ousters of unwanted regimes and presidents, especially in Egypt.

via Q&A: What next for Arab democracy? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Jason Gay: 27 More Rules Of Fourth of July Wiffle Ball

“Steeeee–rike”

Just for fun, some highlights from Jason Gay’s Wall Street Journal article on the 27 rules for Fourth of July Wiffle ball. The whole article is accessible at the link at the bottom:

3. Some people play Wiffle ball without running bases. But running bases is entertaining. So is getting an out by hitting the runner with the Wiffle ball. This makes the game more action-packed, burns more calories, and most important, introduces the amazing opportunity to legally throw something at members of your own family.

7. Bunting in Wiffle ball is a state and federal crime.

8. Wow, that is an amazing 82 mph backdoor slider you’re throwing. Related: Everyone in this Wiffle ball game despises you.

9. Beware the Wiffle ball strike zone. There’s always someone who wants to set up a strike zone behind home plate, and this can be an interesting wrinkle, but the “called strike” adds a mean streak to the game. The pitchers start taking themselves too seriously, and the next thing you know, Scott Boras is representing your aunt Claire.

11. Look, it’s fine—and common—to strike out in Wiffle ball. Don’t worry: The ridicule only lasts between 10 seconds and 40 years.

12. Just let Grandpa pitch one inning. All he wants to do is his Luis Tiant impression and then go inside and read his Lyndon Johnson book.

14. There are no umpires in Wiffle ball. There’s Uncle Billy watching the game on the porch, and Uncle Billy saw…OK, Uncle Billy is asleep.

18. Little kids should always be encouraged to play Wiffle ball. You just have to accept that your left fielder is eating Cheerios from a Ziploc and your second baseman went back to the house to watch “Ratatouille” for the 900th time.

21. Mid-game trades are allowed in Wiffle ball, but be careful: feelings can get hurt. No matter how much sense it makes at the time, you cannot trade your brother for a lawn chair.

24. Exciting news! There are more people at your Wiffle ball game than at a Marlins game.

25. The oldest rule of Wiffle ball: The person who has never played Wiffle ball before will end up getting the biggest hit of the game.

27. Do not take Wiffle ball seriously. You are an adult trying to hit a small piece of plastic with another small piece of plastic. But yes: Everyone knows you went 4 for 5 with seven RBI.

via Jason Gay: 27 More Rules Of Fourth of July Wiffle Ball – WSJ.com.