Oh, I know the frustration of not having the candidate of your choosing win an election. That’s right, the results of the elections in 2008 and 2012 were struggles for me. I took the results, and the resultant years, in as much of a stoic fashion as I could muster. And I’m not at all satisfied this time around either.
I keep hearing voices proclaiming, despite his apparently legitimate electoral success, that Donald J. Trump is “not my president.” Of course, this would work perfectly well for any Canadian, for any citizen of a European or African or Asian nation (that is unless they have dual citizenship). But will it work for American citizens? I find that prospect rather doubtful. Since the refrain continues to resonate, here are a few of my own thoughts.
I think this report is essential reading here at the beginning of 2017. I don’t say that lightly. Given the pressing nature of these and related subjects, and given the ongoing politicization and social threatenings, being ignorant of reigning academic, psychological, and political claims, as well as their critics, is to do a disservice to ourselves and others. Here is the online blurb (borrowed from their website) by the editor of The New Atlantis:
Questions related to sexuality and gender bear on some of the most intimate and personal aspects of human life. In recent years they have also vexed American politics. We offer this report — written by Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, an epidemiologist trained in psychiatry, and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half-century — in the hope of improving public understanding of these questions. Examining research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence. The report has a special focus on the higher rates of mental health problems among LGBT populations, and it questions the scientific basis of trends in the treatment of children who do not identify with their biological sex. More effort is called for to provide these people with the understanding, care, and support they need to lead healthy, flourishing lives.
Lists like this are a bit of a gimmick. “Click bait” is the term, I believe. But I’m listing them here out of a conviction that the presentations that follow are, in fact, worth your time. While other presentations surely are just as worthy of your time, these are ten that have impressed me as worth hearing here at the end of 2016 (and, no, these aren’t necessarily presentations made or posted in 2016).
Now, I struggled with even the thought of attempting to rank these, or even to put them here in any particular order. Different considerations would result in a different ordering. But I’m not ranking or ordering them in terms of importance. I feel like each is important is significant and notable ways. So, I offer you ten presentations I believe you’ll want to watch or hear.
Oxford Study Centre
Book List for Hilary Term 2017
Our reading list changes a bit from term to term. New books are published, others seem less pressing, and there is a steady stream of articles and chapters on subjects that beg to be included. For the upcoming coming Hilary Term (January-April)—in addition to a selection of articles, essays, and other items—we are using the titles listed below. I have placed them roughly in the order we will read them. (I’ve provided links to Amazon for any who care to chase up the volumes.) Before getting to the book list, permit me a moment to explain the purpose of our course.
Saturday, 12 November 2016; London, England – I was in London this weekend. While one of our daughters was in class, I was walking through Covent Garden and along Victoria Embankment asking random people what they thought of the U.S. election and its outcome.
“May I ask you a question?” I would inquire with a smile. And the vast majority of people obliged. A few seemed to know quite a lot about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Many appeared to know nearly nothing.
A few conversations were longer than ten minutes; most spanned perhaps two minutes. I’ll sum up the “results” at the end of the post, though I sense that the brief narratives below rather speak for themselves.
Perhaps the funniest exchange is the first one below, though it wasn’t my first engagement, thankfully. I spoke with around fifty people in the span of nearly three hours.
The year 2012 was a hallmark year for the United Kingdom. The Olympics in London, a royal wedding, and Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee were all splendid celebrations of Britannia in her happiness and glory.
For me, that year was a celebration of a different British icon: Oxford University. Indeed, my best memories of 2012 will always be of long studies, grand adventures, and the towering significance that was my time as a student of the Oxford Study Centre.*
Why the Oxford Study Centre?
What makes the Oxford Study Centre special, unique, worth considering? Well, when asked so candidly, the website provides a sufficient answer, I think. (And do watch the invitational film just below in this post.) A better question to ask, or at least one I wish I had asked before going, is…
Why do you seek the gifts of Oxford and what will you do with them? The answer to this question helped me discover the value of the Oxford Study Centre, both in what it is and how it has so profoundly shaped me.
Jesus, Greater than the Angels?
Opening the Book of Hebrews
Kevin James Bywater
• • •
For years, I wondered why the book of Hebrews began with so much attention on angels (Heb 1:1-2:18). The book seemed to me to be focused more on the priestly service described in the book of Leviticus—tabernacle, priests, sacrifices, offerings, washings, etc.—so why all this attention to angels? One might notice that Jesus was presented as one greater than Moses (Heb 3:1-6), better than the high priests, more effective than the sacrifices. Sure, but why does the book begin with a focus on angels? And just what exactly was the message brought by the angels (Heb 2:2)?
There appears to be some connection between the divine revelation delivered through Moses and the message that came through angels.But what message came through angels? Again, why bring up angels and spend so much time arguing that Jesus is superior to them and that his message is more pressing than theirs (see Heb 2:2-3)?