from my buddy Steve Davis
Here is my experience of being profiled: We lived in Memphis, TN. My dad had found a car for our daughter–bright red with dark windows. It looked like something someone in their teens or early twenties would drive. Some people said it looked like something a gangster would drive.
Our daughter’s friends thought it was cool, but she was a little embarrassed and prefered to drive something a little more demur.
I ended up driving her flashy red car. I got pulled over a block from my house one evening. When the officer saw that I was a clean-shaven, untattooed, middle-aged person, he was very polite, as I was in response.
He said he pulled me over because my tail light was out. I got out of the car and went back and looked at it, and we both saw it was working fine. He said, “Well it must be a short, you better get that checked out.”
Yes sir, officer.
Since he had pulled me over, he had to run my licence plate.
Nashville said my licence was expired.
But officer, it has the new sticker right on it. I just got it last week.
“Well, anyone can get a sticker. I’m going to write you a ticket. If you can proof you have a proper registration and paid for this years tags, the court will dismiss it.”
It took me several days of personal visits and phone calls, being sent from the County Courthouse to the city office, and more calls to Nashville. It turned out it was a simple mistake. Someone locally had not properly notified Nashville. Eventually the problem was solved.
But I learned two things. I saw how profiling works–in my case I was profiled because of a flashy car. Second, I saw how bureaucracy works and learned how frustrating it can be.
Its been about thirty years since our federal and state governments started reducing direct support for higher education and started steering students toward student loans. Now students commonly leave college with the equivalent of a mortgage payment, a debt many of them can never repay or escape.
Private colleges, and specifically, church-related Christian colleges have bought into the same student-debt funded tuition scheme.
When I entered one such college in another millenium, I never heard of FAFSA. Typically I would start the fall semester with enough money to pay my tuition, then in January, I might take out a short-term loan from the college, which I was able to repay over the summer and start the cycle again. I was able to get through more years of graduate study than is profitable in the same way.
Back in those days we were reminded that our tuition was only a token, it only paid a small percentage of the cost of our education. We were reminded that little old ladies on Social Security and hard working farmers contributed to our institution from their meager savings. And that was true.
But somewhere in the last few years administrators of Christian colleges found it was easier to raise tuition than to raise support for their students.
Their peers headed for law school or business school might look forward to a lucrative job that would make repayment of their student loans easy. Most of our students were headed to for far more modest (to put it mildly) salaries, and will be saddled with debt.
Hearing the tragic news about Kayla Mueller this week, I thought about some of my own former students who majored in intercultural studies and are serving people and God overseas, as she did. These were some of our brightest and most dedicated students. But many of them have to devote several years to paying off their student loans before than can go and serve in other lands among other cultures.
There will be another economic downturn, and tuition will become unsustainable. Meanwhile, students are customers paying for a service and are entitled to have it their way.
Sensational headlines get attention, so you can’t blame Solon for the bit of hyperbole in the title of the article God is on the Ropes, about a new theory that claims “Under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life”–certain conditions being those that prevail on a planet such as the earth.
I have been thinking for a while about a couple of verses in Genesis 1. In the first God says, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation” (1:11). Then in verse 24 “Let the earth bring forth living creatures (animals).” Similar is verse 20, “Let the waters team with living creatures.”
God assigns a role in creation to the earth. Other verses describes God as arranging “certain conditions,” separating the land mass from the oceans, providing an atmosphere, and roles for the sun, moon, and stars.
Genesis 1 uses simple images to describe the process of creation and the sequential development of life on earth as the creator willed. If the language of science is mathematics, then you would have to say Genesis is unscientific because it does not use scientific formulas. But there is nothing in Genesis 1 incompatible with what the natural sciences have shown us about the origin and development of life on the earth.
Our Annual Conference, the Western Fellowship of Professors and Scholars
is coming up next weekend, October 10-11. Here are the presenters and topics:
Russ Dudrey, “How Bookish is Our Faith? The Problems of Preaching a Book-Centered Faith to a Non-Literate Generation.”
Loren Decker, “The Bible in an Illiterate Culture-A Historical Perspective”
Alisha Paddock, “Family Metaphors in 1 Thess 2.”
Mark Alterman, “What Kind of Authority is the Bible?”
Les Hardin, “Searching for a Transformative Hermeneutic”
Bill Jenkins, “Deflation of Truth in an Age of Distraction.”
Virgil Warren, “Friends” or “Sons”: Comments on the Apostasy Question.
Here is the LINK for more information about the conference.
In 1 Corinthians 1:20 Paul asks ποῦ συζητητὴς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου;
The NIV translates “Where is the philosopher of this age?” A more accurate translation is “debater.” Bruce Winter, in his book After Paul Left Corinth describes how the movement known as the “Second Sophistic” affected the Roman city of Corinth.
Earlier, in the time of Socrates the first Sophistic movement entered Athens. The Sophists taught eager young men–for a good fee–the arts of being successful. Success for these ambitious students who hoped to move quickly up the ladder in politics meant learning the art of persuasion, how to sway a crowd with moving words and convincing arguments. It didn’t matter if the arguments were true, what does that have to do with winning?
It was on that point that Socrates disagreed with the Sophists. How do you know what success is, if you don’t care about truth? How can a life be called successful if it is based on sleazy manipulation?
Four hundred and fifty years later the Sophistic movement gained a new life and the Sophists came to Corinth. A teacher would advertise a sample oration or debate (in which vicious insults was often the key to defeating his opponents) and then would enroll tuition paying students in the full course.
Once more the philosophers and the Sophists became bitter enemies. That’s why the NIV translation in this verse is historically inaccurate. It is also misleading. It gives the impression that St. Paul is anti-intellectual.
Paul is attacking pride in human accomplishments and the idea that life is a struggle of all against all, a contest to be won at any cost and by any means. That is what the “debater” represents. It is also what the system he calls “the world” represents. It’s what we used to call the establishment, the machine, or the Man.
But Paul is not attacking clear thinking or clear and effective communication.