Friday, September 26, 2008

Save the World on Your Own Time

I recently read "Save the World on Your Own Time" by Stanley Fish. It is a book about academic instruction and it was written for professors and upper-level administrators. I read this book for my job, and while it did not relate to much of what I do, it was helpful to have this insight on the debate about what college professors should be doing in the classroom.

The thesis of Fish's book is academics only have one job that they are trained and paid to do: to introduce students to disciplinary materials and equip them with the necessary analytic skills. Fish is arguing against instructors who use their classroom as a place to form political, religious, or other types of opinions. It is fine if students come away from a course with certain leanings, but a professor should never express her/his own opinions in the classroom and expect their students to follow suit. Hence the name of the book - save the world on your own time.

The book is a pretty dry read unless you are a college professor struggling with your pedagogy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hey Chicago, What Do You Say?

Every since I can remember, I have been a fan of the Chicago Cubs. I think that this is because I grew up a few hours outside of Chicago and my first visit to a major league ball park was to Wrigley Field. I would not consider myself a die-hard fan (I have never drank an Old Style and I do not go to all lengths to get WGN), but I can always tell you how they are doing and I can name almost all of the players.

I am pretty excited about the Cubs chances this year of winning it all. They clinched their division on Saturday, and just earned home-field advantage throughout the national league pennant race. Cubs fans have a strong inclination toward superstition, so I am taking a huge risk by putting this blog post out there. If the Cubs fall short of the ultimate prize, it could be the fault of this post. However, if they end the 100 year drought, I will go ahead and claim that this post is the reason.

One of my favorite thing about the Cubs is their cheesy theme song. If you have never heard it before, you have got to watch this video.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Shack

I recently read "The Shack" by William P. Young. I will not say too much about the book for a few reasons:

1. This book is really popular right now, and there are plenty of much better reviews out there
2. It is a pretty good book that is worth reading, so I do not want to spoil anything for anyone

My house church recently discussed the book in one of our gatherings. In preparation for that discussion, I did some online research to find what other people were thinking about the book. I was surprised to find the controversy surrounding the book and that there are a lot of Christian leaders who are vocal in their opposition to it. I was surprised by this because this book is a work of fiction and does not pretend to be some type of theological treatise. In the end, I think the book was good because it opens the door to have a common ground for starting a discussion on really complex issues involving the nature of God. You should read this book, not because it is 100% theologically accurate, but because it will force you to think about what you believe about God.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Godfather

Those of you who know me know that I have been sheltered from almost every aspect of popular American culture. As such, I just recently discovered the cultural phenomenon of the Godfather.

I started by reading the book by Mario Puzo, which I really enjoyed. I was completely fascinated by this world of friendship, respect, and favors. The story was compelling and the characters were well developed. I instantly decided that I want to be Don Corleone when I grow up, and so I have started to shape my worldview according to that perspective. Recently, I have gladly done "favors" for others as a sign of friendship and goodwill, confident that someday that favor might be returned when needed. The book ends with a masterful elimination of all enemies of the family, and really made the concept of redemptive violence look attractive.

As soon as I finished the books, I watched the first two movies (many people told me the 3rd movie was worthless, so I will wait to watch it). I really like the 1st movie and thought it did a good job of visually telling the story of the book. I also like the 2nd movie, and I thought it definitely showed the darker side of redemptive violence. In the end, Michael Corleone is either alienated or forced to kill most everyone that is close to him, leaving him utterly alone. I am glad I saw the second movie because it snapped me out of my illusion that I could lead this lifestyle. I guess I will stick to the difficult task of following Jesus and loving my enemies instead of "taking care" of them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hippie Fast Food

The other night Laura and I went to Evos in Chapel Hill, which is a fast food restaurant that markets itself as being a healthy and environmentally sound fast food chain. Laura got a free range, grass fed, no hormone hamburger with air-baked fries and an organic chocolate shake. I got a crunchy Thai chicken wrap. The food was pretty good, in fact, my wrap was actually very tasty. I checked out the nutrition stats and while it was better than most fast food joints, I do not know that you can go so far as to say that it is good for you. Overall, for 2 value meals it cost us $18, which is much more than a typical fast food joint, but you justify it in your mind by saying it is healthier food that is better for the environment.

I liked evos and I like that our culture is becoming increasingly "green." However, I cannot help but wonder if it is going to get out of control and words like "organic" and "environmentally sound" will start to lost meaning and become hollow. Already, every single car company is boasting what great gas mileage their cars get (next time you see a car commercial, I guarantee they will tell you what great MPG the car gets). I guess I am skeptical that the market will be able to produce environmentally sound and healthy products. When the end goal will always be to make increasingly more money, I cannot imagine that the environment will win out in the end and sustainability will be sacrificed for profit.

I guess for now I will just have to go to Evos instead of McDonalds and try to convince myself that I am doing something positive.