Links to Think

Links to Think: 14.02.17

February 17, 2014


What Bitterness REALLY is – Wendy Alsup shares some important words from a friend’s study about bitterness. This is always a good reminder, but particularly when there are hurting people or people whose difficulties (including our own) we tend to view as inconvenient, and therefore, incorrectly equate as being sinful. 

“I have written on bitterness and accused people in the past (rarely to their face) of being bitter. In the church, we think that complaining leads to bitterness which leads to divisiveness. A few months ago, a pastor friend, Bob Bixby, wrote a thought provoking post on what bitterness really is biblically. It’s the first real exposition I’ve heard of Hebrews 12, and it has radically changed how I think about this passage and subsequently how I view or judge people who “rock the boat” in Christian circles. “

“The “Bitter Card” has trump power. Pop that baby out, and you can dismiss the criticism. It’s played this way: person A has a grievance that he/she does not feel is being understood. Eventually Person A vents too often, too emotionally, or even sinfully, or gets too close to unsettling the happy delusion of the establishment and consequently in danger of getting too much influence. At this point, play the “Bitter Card.” This puts them on the defensive and, in the minds of the clueless, guts their argument. Plus it has the added benefit that you can say that their defensiveness is proof of the truth of your claim. Often people who play the “Bitter Card” employ Hebrews 12:15 and warn that the bitterness could result in the defilement of many.”

“The “root of bitterness” in Hebrews 12:15 could more aptly be applied to the scourge of immorality and its abuses than to the wounded, spiteful, angry, and sometimes over-the-top venting of those who have been “defiled” by it. In other words, friends, the disgruntled are more likely the “many” who have been defiled by the “root of bitterness” … than bitter souls who ought to be dismissed for having a bad attitude.”

“The reason there are so many disgruntled and hurt and wounded and angry opponents of (various offensive people or institutions within conservative evangelical Christianity) is because the “root of bitterness” was not vigilantly rooted out. It’s not too much of a stretch, considering the context of Hebrews 12:15, to read into the word “defiled” something more than just a moral defilement but a cultic/ceremonial/communal defilement. In other words, the cultic (and, I mean here “worship”) and communal fellowship among those affected by the “root of bitterness” and the rest of the believers is severely damaged. That’s why it is a community obligation to “see to it that no one among you fails the grace of God.””

“It flies in the face of reason not to admit that many people have been hurt in (certain) circles and it is belligerently ungodly to dismiss it by saying, “Well, everybody is a sinner.” The godly response is to be trained by it and to say, “Let’s lift up the drooping hands and the weak knees.” In other words, let’s strengthen those in our community that are discouraged by sin. Yes, even our sinfulness. Therefore, “let’s make straight paths” and fix the problem so that what is already “lame may not be put out of joint.””

Setting Children Up to Hate ReadingWhen we paint normal childhood developmental rates as a crisis, difficulties are sure to result. (The full article shares 10 potential problems.) Helpful thoughts in a world of increasingly rushed childhood.

“Politicians, venture philanthropists, and even the President, make early learning into an emergency. What’s a poor kindergartener or preschooler to do when they must carry the weight of the nation on their backs—when every letter and pronunciation is scrutinized like never before?”

“All of this emergency talk has filtered into America’s classrooms. That’s why kindergarten teachers now believe all children must learn how to read in kindergarten. Having worked for years with reading and language problems in middle and high school students, I can tell you these new reading requirements for young children are terribly worrisome—even dangerous.

Many children will not be ready—not because they’re slow, not because they have learning disabilities, but because they’re normal and moving along at their own pace! The door should be opened to them in kindergarten and beyond to learn how to read in a relaxed manner. Even when a child has difficulty learning to read (dyslexia for example), you don’t attack the problem by pushing the child to read beyond what is considered normal.”

“When kindergarten teachers expect every kindergartner to focus on reading and learn it at that age, it opens the door for all kinds of problems. Here are a few:

  1. No Joy in Reading. Children learn to hate reading. When you assess children too early, currently done in kindergarten with Response to Intervention testing like DIBELS, children learn reading is a chore. It becomes something serious—even fearful for a young child.
  2. Vocabulary Emphasis.  Most memorization is boring. When teachers focus on vocabulary acquisition and word recognition, young children lose interest in the stories. Curiosity is squelched. Some sight word instruction is fine, of course, but focusing so much and tracking every word as a data point is obsessive.
  3. Self-Fulfilling Prophesy. If a kindergartener is not reading yet (normal), but they are treated like they have a problem, they really could develop a problem.
  4. Loss of Cognitive Ability/Play. Heavily focusing on reading, at the expense of other important kindergarten tasks, like play, destroys critical aspects of learning. Without play, children lose the ability to think about things on their own. How does this toy work? How do I put the blocks together to build a house? What can I create on my own?
  5. Loss of Self-Worth. It is fine for some children to show up reading in kindergarten, but children who are not reading yet (perfectly normal) may lose the feeling of self-worth. They could also act out becoming a behavior problem. Adults, after all, never trusted them to learn some things on their own.”

“Enough is enough! Let children be children. Let them be their age. Bring back the joy of learning to read.”

How to Name a Baby – In the last seven-ish years of bearing and birthing babies, I’ve grown even more fascinated by what names are trending, both past and present. I love choosing names for my own children, and have deep meaning behind our choices. Like the author of this article I have had a lifelong fascination with this topic, and thus, I absolutely loved this article on Huffington Post (which is really more of a science behind how people choose to name babies more than it is advice on how you should name your baby), especially since it used a lot of data from The Baby Name Wizard, as site on which I’ve run many name tests on my family’s names and those of friends. If you’re a name nerd like me, you’ll love this article! (Plus the graphs are awesome!)

“You’d assume that thinking about baby names is a new thing in my life, but I’ve actually had a lifelong fascination with the topic.

My curiosity rose to a whole new level the day I discovered an amazing website called The Baby Name Wizard, and especially their Voyager tool, which lets you plug in a few letters or a whole name and see a visual depiction of its corresponding popularity trends over time. The Voyager is delicious and rents permanent space in my Dark Playground. (Of course, as soon as it was the topic of this post, putting Voyager play time in the Dark Woods for the first time ever, the monkey suddenly wanted to do other things and kept clicking away from the page. But that’s a whole other topic.)

So, for all these reasons, it seemed like the right time for a post about names, trends, and the things expecting parents need to think about as they make this decision. After many hours on The Baby Name Wizard (and the government’s official name database), here are my thoughts (focusing on the U.S. unless otherwise stated) –“

Charlotte has a weird history.

After dying out as a popular name for Southern women a few decades ago, Charlotte has returned as a popular name in the most liberal states. This graph shows popularity in each state over time, with the states going from most conservative on the top to most liberal on the bottom.”

Names starting with a vowel were hottest now and 100 years ago, while many names starting with consonants were biggest in the middle of the century. “

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