Category Archives: Uncategorized

Zero Tolerance? How far is too far?

In April, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the case of Savana Redding,  a girl who was strip-searched at school over suspicion of having brought some prescription strength ibuprophen to school.

The school was enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and violence, and when an assistant principle was told that she and a friend had the pills on them, he ordered school employees to search both students without notifying parents or police. The search turned up no pills.

Lawyers for the school district said in a brief that it was “on the front lines of a decades-long struggle against drug abuse among students.” Abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications is on the rise among 12- and 13-year-olds, the brief said, citing data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Given that, the school district said, the search was “not excessively intrusive in light of Redding’s age and sex and the nature of her suspected infraction.”

In my opinion, this is the problem with zero tolerance policies. Not only does the article indicate that the Redding had no disciplinary record, it also indicates there was an interpersonal feud going on with an old friend, who accused her of having prescription drugs. Considering that the article is correct, the school officials (or anyone else) are able to hide behind a zero tolerance policy for their actions. In my opinion, this is laziness in the highest order. The trial system in the United States is based on the fact that the rule of law is subject to interpretation by peers, which is why we have trials and juries. In fact, the constitution even guarantees against unreasonable searches. Zero tolerance policies like those mentioned in the article circumvent such rights under the guise of “protection”. Shouldn’t this minor (she was 13 at the time) have the right to either have her parents notified, or due process of actually being approached by law enforcement officials before this search?

What do you think? How is too far in our quest to protect and educate the next generation?

You can read the article here.

What kind of tea party?

boston_tea_partyThis blog is a new kind of thing for me, and I had hoped to have at least one interesting news report to talk about a week. Unfortunately, everything is centering around the financial collapse lately, which I find fairly mundane. If you see an interesting article, send it to me, or generate a guest post of your own.

There was an op-ed on CNN by Jack Cafferty that asked if the US taxpayers needed to have another tea party in order to show the corporations their place.  You can read the article here.

Cafferty doesn’t flesh out his position too well, but I find the thought interesting nonetheless.

In colonial times, part of the problem revolved around representation in the government – the people felt that they were being taxed unfairly. Thus the phrase “no taxation without representation”. Essentially the corporations were influencing the English government to get what they wanted. My understanding is that the Boston Tea Party was vandalism against those corporations that were making the situation in the colonies worse.

Now, though, the situation is different. The people have representation, so we are told, and yet it appears that the same situation is occurring – the government is giving the corporations what they want under the guise of looking after our best interest.

So, since we have representation, what is fueling our restlessness – what are we upset about? If there was another tea party, who would you vandalize?

Economics and baby busts

It is well known that in times of economic upheaval, such as what the U.S.  is currently experiencing, birthrates decrease. Just a simple google search immediately turned up this article, for instance, and this applicable quote:

“I expect to see some wait-and-see attitude towards children-bearing,” says Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a non-profit demographic organization in Washington, D.C. “But no one has a good idea what percentage it will be.”

According to the data I have looked at, this “wait and see attitude”  seems to come from people’s fear of the future, in which people are unsure of their ability to take care of themselves and their children.

Such thinking caused me to pause and reflect on my views on why people have children, and specifically the Christian view on such a situation. What do you think? All things being equal, is uncertainty about the future a good reason to not have kids? Does your Christian perspective add anything to your thinking on this?

Raymond Brown – The Gospel According to John (pt 1)

brown_johnFor the past several weeks, I’ve been going through Raymond Brown’s commentary on the Gospel of John. Even though it is almost 40 years old, this commentary is widely regarded as the best English commentary on John.  It should be, because it is huge – over 1300 pages in 2 volumes. In going through this commentary, it is obvious that Brown really did his homework. Not only are Qumran materials (i.e., the Dead Sea Scrolls) dealt with in a robust way, but Jewish material (especially the Midrash), other commentators, and the synoptics are dealt with in an amazingly smart way.

For the next several weeks, I’ll be going through some of the more interesting points of Brown’s commentary, and asking questions about the interpretation of John.

To start, Brown deals with how the Gospel of John came to be in its current form. I found his hypothesis interesting. What do you think about the formation of the Gospels? How does that view impact your view of both inspiration and inerrancy?

Brown believes that the Gospel came to be in its current form over the course of at least 40 years in 5 main stages.

Stage 1:  Some material existed (probably both written and oral) that contained some of the words and deeds of Jesus, but that was independent of the material used for the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

Stage 2: Reworking of the material in stage 1 into the author’s primary concerns and themes. This stage probably occurred through oral preaching and teaching. Some of the material in stage 1 may have been exaggerated or left out to accomplish the author’s goals.

Stage 3: Organization of the lessons and sermons into a consecutive, written gospel. This would have been the first edition of the Gospel as a unified work. Some of the material from stage 2 would have to have been either merged with other material, or left out completely.

Stage 4: Second edition of the gospel to work out the kinks, as it were, with the first edition. This would have included changing material to answer certain questions or criticisms, and possibly adding material to address new problems in the world. This second edition would have been done by the author.

Stage 5: Final revision by an editor or editors other than the main author. Brown thinks this was probably a close friend or the disciples of the author, who took the opportunity to insert all the remaining material from stage 2 into the gospel. This would have been done after the author’s death, in an attempt to preserve all of his teachings for posterity. Since the final editor(s) would not have wanted to modify the material generated by the author himself, they simply inserted duplicate material, often side-by-side with the earlier material (e.g., 5:51-58 and 5:35-50).

What is your initial reaction to Brown’s proposal? For instance, does the idea of multiple editions or writers specifically bother you? Why or why not? What do you think of the proposal that the author may have exaggerated some stories, or combined stories to make a point?

‘The Rewind” – an orientation

Some of you may be familiar with my old blog, which focuses on my own reflections of Christianity as I embark upon the narrow way.

This blog, however, is intended to be different. This blog, hopefully, will explore books, movies, news reports, cultural phenomena, religion, and whatever else strikes our fancy. In general,  I hope that we will approach these topics from a Christian viewpoint, and push back on each other in our thinking. We should feel free to be provocative with each other, but polite and loving in our conversation. I hope that we will be pleasantly surprised by the diversity of our opinions.

For instance, one of the first things I would like is to have someone give a post (or series of posts) on is “The Shack” by William Young. This book not only aims to be Christian, it is provocative, and a cultural phenomena. While not everything should be as controversial as “The Shack”, it is a good start for this blog. Any takers?

Given the breadth of topics we can cover on this blog, we’ll always looking for reasonable ideas for content, and even people who wish to guest post. And if you’re really interested, you can even become a regular contributor.

As usual, feedback is always encouraged.