Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Myths about Diets in Preventing Children's Allergies

From Medscape Pediatrics

New Guidelines Downplay Role of Diet in Preventing Pediatric Allergies: An Expert Interview With Frank Greer, MD
Posted 04/21/2008
Kathleen Louden

Medscape: What was the impetus for developing this new clinical report?

Dr. Greer: There was a lot of folklore built around this idea that something the mother eats during pregnancy or lactation or something she feeds her baby has long-term impact for allergy disease. Traditionally a lot of pediatricians have recommended not to give infants eggs, fish, peanuts, or any nuts in the first year of life.

Medscape: Were there new research findings?

Dr. Greer: Yes. It makes absolutely no difference. For instance, if you're going to have a peanut allergy, it has nothing to do with when you were introduced to peanuts. If a mother eats peanuts during pregnancy or lactation or if she feeds her 6-month-old peanut butter, it has no effect on whether you get peanut allergy. If you're going to get it, you're going to get it. There's even evidence from one study that if you don't introduce egg into the infant's diet until after 6 months, the baby is more likely to develop an egg allergy. And European recommendations came out the same month that ours did that if you introduce wheat between 4 and 6 months of age, your baby will be less likely to have a gluten allergy.[1] We didn't go that far. This is one of the very few areas where ESPGHAN [European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition] policy differed from the AAP's January statement.

Medscape: So expecting and breastfeeding mothers don't have to restrict their diet by avoiding common food allergens?

Dr. Greer: Correct. The evidence is just not there that pregnant and lactating women restricting their diet in any way affects whether their baby gets allergic disease.

Medscape: This is a major change from the recommendations the AAP made in 2000, isn't it?

Dr. Greer: We've never had a statement this strong. The statement that this replaced said that it's probably not a good idea to introduce these [potentially allergenic] foods until after the infant is of age. [The former recommendation was to delay giving dairy products until 1 year; eggs until 2 years; and peanuts, tree nuts, and fish until 3 years of age.] These recommendations were not based on evidence but on expert opinion. The new statement is evidence based. There have been a number of recent studies, particularly looking at the effect on allergy of nutritional interventions during pregnancy and lactation.

read interview

read journal article
Published online December 31, 2007 PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 1 January 2008, pp. 183-191
Abstract
Full Text (PDF)

CLINICAL REPORT
Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas
Frank R. Greer, MD, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, A. Wesley Burks, MD and the Committee on Nutrition and Section on Allergy and Immunology

Myths about Diets in Preventing Children's Allergies

From Medscape Pediatrics

New Guidelines Downplay Role of Diet in Preventing Pediatric Allergies: An Expert Interview With Frank Greer, MD
Posted 04/21/2008
Kathleen Louden

Medscape: What was the impetus for developing this new clinical report?

Dr. Greer: There was a lot of folklore built around this idea that something the mother eats during pregnancy or lactation or something she feeds her baby has long-term impact for allergy disease. Traditionally a lot of pediatricians have recommended not to give infants eggs, fish, peanuts, or any nuts in the first year of life.

Medscape: Were there new research findings?

Dr. Greer: Yes. It makes absolutely no difference. For instance, if you're going to have a peanut allergy, it has nothing to do with when you were introduced to peanuts. If a mother eats peanuts during pregnancy or lactation or if she feeds her 6-month-old peanut butter, it has no effect on whether you get peanut allergy. If you're going to get it, you're going to get it. There's even evidence from one study that if you don't introduce egg into the infant's diet until after 6 months, the baby is more likely to develop an egg allergy. And European recommendations came out the same month that ours did that if you introduce wheat between 4 and 6 months of age, your baby will be less likely to have a gluten allergy.[1] We didn't go that far. This is one of the very few areas where ESPGHAN [European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition] policy differed from the AAP's January statement.

Medscape: So expecting and breastfeeding mothers don't have to restrict their diet by avoiding common food allergens?

Dr. Greer: Correct. The evidence is just not there that pregnant and lactating women restricting their diet in any way affects whether their baby gets allergic disease.

Medscape: This is a major change from the recommendations the AAP made in 2000, isn't it?

Dr. Greer: We've never had a statement this strong. The statement that this replaced said that it's probably not a good idea to introduce these [potentially allergenic] foods until after the infant is of age. [The former recommendation was to delay giving dairy products until 1 year; eggs until 2 years; and peanuts, tree nuts, and fish until 3 years of age.] These recommendations were not based on evidence but on expert opinion. The new statement is evidence based. There have been a number of recent studies, particularly looking at the effect on allergy of nutritional interventions during pregnancy and lactation.

read interview

read journal article
Published online December 31, 2007 PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 1 January 2008, pp. 183-191
Abstract
Full Text (PDF)

CLINICAL REPORT
Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas
Frank R. Greer, MD, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, A. Wesley Burks, MD and the Committee on Nutrition and Section on Allergy and Immunology

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Embryology Bill in the United Kingdom

The Embryology Bill: What is at stake?
by Agneta Sutton

Expected to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons in May, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has already been the focus of controversy, with media attention given to the interventions of Church leaders and the call for the government to allow a free vote. But what does the Bill actually propose? Agneta Sutton examines some of the most contentious measures and the ethical issues they raise.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently on its way through Parliament, contains a number of controversial proposals. Four of them in particular will be the subject of heated debate: the proposal to legalise the creation of human-animal embryos for research; the proposal to allow lesbian couples to have IVF and be registered as parents of the child; the proposal to give legal sanction to the creation of so-called saviour siblings; and the proposal to allow the use of a technique similar to that of cloning to avoid mother-to-child transmission of mitochondrial disease. There is also a debate about whether the time-limit for abortion ought to be lowered.


read more


If passed, this Bill will have major ramifications throughout the world. What do you think?


The Embryology Bill in the United Kingdom

The Embryology Bill: What is at stake?
by Agneta Sutton

Expected to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons in May, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has already been the focus of controversy, with media attention given to the interventions of Church leaders and the call for the government to allow a free vote. But what does the Bill actually propose? Agneta Sutton examines some of the most contentious measures and the ethical issues they raise.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently on its way through Parliament, contains a number of controversial proposals. Four of them in particular will be the subject of heated debate: the proposal to legalise the creation of human-animal embryos for research; the proposal to allow lesbian couples to have IVF and be registered as parents of the child; the proposal to give legal sanction to the creation of so-called saviour siblings; and the proposal to allow the use of a technique similar to that of cloning to avoid mother-to-child transmission of mitochondrial disease. There is also a debate about whether the time-limit for abortion ought to be lowered.


read more


If passed, this Bill will have major ramifications throughout the world. What do you think?


Excelsior, true believer!

An interview with Stan Lee

Stan Lee is an ageless wonder. At 85, he's busier than most guys half his age, and his mind is as sharp as ever, too, still cranking out ideas for comic books and films, and still capable of recounting stories about his remarkable career. SCI FI Weekly recently caught up with Lee in advance of the May 2 release of Iron Man, the latest would-be blockbuster based on one of his comic-book creations. In this wide-ranging conversation, Lee talks about being an action figure, contemplates the differences between a good comic book and a good film, discusses his cameo appearances in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and reveals that he doesn't plan to retire anytime soon.

Do you see much difference between a good comic book and a good movie or television show based on a comic book?

Lee: Wow. Well, a good comic book, like any form of literature, should have characters you care about and a story that holds your interest. One thing that helps a story hold your interest is it should be replete with surprises and the characterization should always be interesting and realistic. Even if you're doing superheroes, the characterizations should be believable and realistic. And I don't think there's any difference between a good comic book and a good movie or TV show, because they're both for the purpose of entertaining. If a good movie or TV show can hold your interest and entertain you and, when you leave the theater, make you say, "Wow, I enjoyed that," that's what you hope a reader will say who's read a good comic book or a good novel or hears a good opera or sees a good stage show or a ballet. They're different media, but it's all the same. We're in the business of entertaining, and we have to entertain the reader, the viewer or the audience.

read the rest of the interview









Excelsior, true believer!

An interview with Stan Lee

Stan Lee is an ageless wonder. At 85, he's busier than most guys half his age, and his mind is as sharp as ever, too, still cranking out ideas for comic books and films, and still capable of recounting stories about his remarkable career. SCI FI Weekly recently caught up with Lee in advance of the May 2 release of Iron Man, the latest would-be blockbuster based on one of his comic-book creations. In this wide-ranging conversation, Lee talks about being an action figure, contemplates the differences between a good comic book and a good film, discusses his cameo appearances in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and reveals that he doesn't plan to retire anytime soon.

Do you see much difference between a good comic book and a good movie or television show based on a comic book?

Lee: Wow. Well, a good comic book, like any form of literature, should have characters you care about and a story that holds your interest. One thing that helps a story hold your interest is it should be replete with surprises and the characterization should always be interesting and realistic. Even if you're doing superheroes, the characterizations should be believable and realistic. And I don't think there's any difference between a good comic book and a good movie or TV show, because they're both for the purpose of entertaining. If a good movie or TV show can hold your interest and entertain you and, when you leave the theater, make you say, "Wow, I enjoyed that," that's what you hope a reader will say who's read a good comic book or a good novel or hears a good opera or sees a good stage show or a ballet. They're different media, but it's all the same. We're in the business of entertaining, and we have to entertain the reader, the viewer or the audience.

read the rest of the interview









The Wanderer




Artist's Comments
En route to fulfill a diplomatic mission, a quite majestic imperial Nekhbeht class cruiser passes near planet Khons, homeworld of the ruling caste of the venerable Sethnakhte race.Modelled in Amapi 6, post-production in Adobe Photoshop.

The Wanderer




Artist's Comments
En route to fulfill a diplomatic mission, a quite majestic imperial Nekhbeht class cruiser passes near planet Khons, homeworld of the ruling caste of the venerable Sethnakhte race.Modelled in Amapi 6, post-production in Adobe Photoshop.

The Science of Iron Man

Some interesting facts and fiction about Iron Man's armour. The trick is to differentiate what is science and what is fiction...

April 28, 2008
Lab Notes

Iron Manic, Lithium Depressive

By Wil McCarthy

Stronger than steel, more powerful than an M1 tank, able to leap tall buildings and defeat bad guys ... Who among us has never dreamed of being a superhero? Unfortunately, Superman is from another planet, Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive arachnid, and Batman combines the resources of an aerospace corporation, the intellect of a Sherlock Holmes or a Thomas Edison and the physical prowess of both an Olympic gymnast and a UFC cage-fight champion.

Hard to imagine you and I could measure up against a standard like that! But when a wounded Tony Stark first climbed inside his Iron Man armor in 1963 (possibly inspired by Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, 1959), he offered up the possibility that with the right equipment, any ordinary person (well, any billionaire genius) could grow up to be a bulletproof, cement-wall-smashing, crime-fighting rocket jock.

read more

The Science of Iron Man

Some interesting facts and fiction about Iron Man's armour. The trick is to differentiate what is science and what is fiction...

April 28, 2008
Lab Notes

Iron Manic, Lithium Depressive

By Wil McCarthy

Stronger than steel, more powerful than an M1 tank, able to leap tall buildings and defeat bad guys ... Who among us has never dreamed of being a superhero? Unfortunately, Superman is from another planet, Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive arachnid, and Batman combines the resources of an aerospace corporation, the intellect of a Sherlock Holmes or a Thomas Edison and the physical prowess of both an Olympic gymnast and a UFC cage-fight champion.

Hard to imagine you and I could measure up against a standard like that! But when a wounded Tony Stark first climbed inside his Iron Man armor in 1963 (possibly inspired by Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, 1959), he offered up the possibility that with the right equipment, any ordinary person (well, any billionaire genius) could grow up to be a bulletproof, cement-wall-smashing, crime-fighting rocket jock.

read more

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Letter to My Nephew

As you stand on the threshold of adulthood, you are beginning on a wonderful journey of discovery. This will be a journey full of laughter and tears; joy and pain; happiness and sorrow; and light and darkness. However, do not be afraid to step forth because you will never journey alone. Your mother, father and sister will be with you. Your Uncle Alex, auntie and cousins will also walk with you. Most of all, there is One who will walk closely with you each step of your journey.

This is a journey of discovery. You will discover what a great and wonderful world you are living in. Your eyes will be open to new vistas and broad horizons. In the process you will discover yourself. Take time to know this person who is you. He may not be the person you want him to be yet, but give him time. Know that you are unique and in all the eons of creation, there is only one you. You will also discover new friends and old. Take the time and efforts to cultivate friendships because these are lasting in these ever changing times. You will also discover stirrings inside of you as you grow into a man. Keep yourself pure; avoid pre-marital sexual encounters until you meet the girl God has created specially for you.

You will also discover new knowledge and much information. Reflect on what you have learned everyday because knowledge and information is only useful if they are tapered by wisdom. Knowledge and information comes and goes, but wisdom remains. Keep your mind open and retain your sense of wonder. College and universities will be beckoning soon. In terms of your vocation, think not of what you can do for God but what He can do through you. In your journey, you will work in many jobs but you have only one vocation.

Be gentle with yourself and maintain a wholesome discipline. You will discover the liberty of freedom but freedom is no excuse for laziness. You must have self-control and exert self-discipline. Know that all your choices have consequences, so choose well. Make short and long term goals and seek to fulfil them. There will be times of great success in your life. Enjoy them but do not let them go to your head. There will also be times of failure and rejection. Learn from them and leave them behind. Live life with purpose and you will find life fulfilling.

Be not ashamed of your heritage. Instead be proud because you have received the best attributes that China, Korea and Malaysia have to offer. Be they princes or paupers, your ancestors have passed to you the great potential that you now possess. Go forth and fulfil that potential. Take time to embrace your heritage.

Take time to laugh because that is God’s gift to mankind and receive Joy for that is His salvation. Never take yourself too seriously or others too lightly. Be counter cultural if you have to for that is the Way of Jesus. You will find much human glory in the sport fields and in physical beauty, and you will be tempted to lust for such glory. You will think being popular is a worthwhile ambition and be willing be sacrifice for it. Football jackets, prom queens, and popularity are temptations for you in this part of your journey as wealth, sex, and power are in a later part. Learn to resist these temptations for they will lead to much heartache.

Get to know the One who walks with you. It is time for you to develop your own faith because all these years you have been covered by the faith of your parents. You will discover that the One who walks with you is a self-revealing God. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. Develop Godly habits of Bible reading and study, praying, fellowship, spiritual friendship, silence and solitude, giving, service, and journaling. Then your journey will be a powerful experience as you dive into the depths of God and soar the heights like an eagle.

Finally learn to love and be loved. You grew up in a family built upon love. Now you will be entering a world where love is often abused. And loving can be painful. However, there is no greater force in the world than love. Let love be your guide and your sustenance. Love is commitment and loyalty.

Our ancestors have a proverb that states, “A journey of a thousand miles start with a single step.” Take that step now, and know that our love goes with you.


your loving uncle

Alex

A Letter to My Nephew

As you stand on the threshold of adulthood, you are beginning on a wonderful journey of discovery. This will be a journey full of laughter and tears; joy and pain; happiness and sorrow; and light and darkness. However, do not be afraid to step forth because you will never journey alone. Your mother, father and sister will be with you. Your Uncle Alex, auntie and cousins will also walk with you. Most of all, there is One who will walk closely with you each step of your journey.

This is a journey of discovery. You will discover what a great and wonderful world you are living in. Your eyes will be open to new vistas and broad horizons. In the process you will discover yourself. Take time to know this person who is you. He may not be the person you want him to be yet, but give him time. Know that you are unique and in all the eons of creation, there is only one you. You will also discover new friends and old. Take the time and efforts to cultivate friendships because these are lasting in these ever changing times. You will also discover stirrings inside of you as you grow into a man. Keep yourself pure; avoid pre-marital sexual encounters until you meet the girl God has created specially for you.

You will also discover new knowledge and much information. Reflect on what you have learned everyday because knowledge and information is only useful if they are tapered by wisdom. Knowledge and information comes and goes, but wisdom remains. Keep your mind open and retain your sense of wonder. College and universities will be beckoning soon. In terms of your vocation, think not of what you can do for God but what He can do through you. In your journey, you will work in many jobs but you have only one vocation.

Be gentle with yourself and maintain a wholesome discipline. You will discover the liberty of freedom but freedom is no excuse for laziness. You must have self-control and exert self-discipline. Know that all your choices have consequences, so choose well. Make short and long term goals and seek to fulfil them. There will be times of great success in your life. Enjoy them but do not let them go to your head. There will also be times of failure and rejection. Learn from them and leave them behind. Live life with purpose and you will find life fulfilling.

Be not ashamed of your heritage. Instead be proud because you have received the best attributes that China, Korea and Malaysia have to offer. Be they princes or paupers, your ancestors have passed to you the great potential that you now possess. Go forth and fulfil that potential. Take time to embrace your heritage.

Take time to laugh because that is God’s gift to mankind and receive Joy for that is His salvation. Never take yourself too seriously or others too lightly. Be counter cultural if you have to for that is the Way of Jesus. You will find much human glory in the sport fields and in physical beauty, and you will be tempted to lust for such glory. You will think being popular is a worthwhile ambition and be willing be sacrifice for it. Football jackets, prom queens, and popularity are temptations for you in this part of your journey as wealth, sex, and power are in a later part. Learn to resist these temptations for they will lead to much heartache.

Get to know the One who walks with you. It is time for you to develop your own faith because all these years you have been covered by the faith of your parents. You will discover that the One who walks with you is a self-revealing God. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. Develop Godly habits of Bible reading and study, praying, fellowship, spiritual friendship, silence and solitude, giving, service, and journaling. Then your journey will be a powerful experience as you dive into the depths of God and soar the heights like an eagle.

Finally learn to love and be loved. You grew up in a family built upon love. Now you will be entering a world where love is often abused. And loving can be painful. However, there is no greater force in the world than love. Let love be your guide and your sustenance. Love is commitment and loyalty.

Our ancestors have a proverb that states, “A journey of a thousand miles start with a single step.” Take that step now, and know that our love goes with you.


your loving uncle

Alex

Friday, April 25, 2008

Top 5 Books on World Christianity

My Top 5 Books on World Christianity
By Martin E. Marty, author of The Christian World: A Global History (Modern Library) posted 4/22/2008 08:49AM

A World History Of Christianity
Edited by Adrian Hastings
The fourteen historians who contribute to A World History of Christianity do what no single historian could do with much detail: write about Christianity in places far from Europe and North America, while doing justice to the places that have engrossed most historians of Christianity.


Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity
Lamin Sanneh
Gambia-born Sanneh, now teaching at Yale, does important work to place the story of Christianity in the Southern world in the minds of Westerners. Disciples of All Nations is the kind of comprehensive work that informed Christians and the community of historians can use as a guide.

The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, Revised and Updated
Philip Jenkins
Jenkins is the exemplar of the "new kind" of church history, which deals with the background to the way the church is "going South." Like Sanneh, Jenkins dramatizes and, some say, over-dramatizes the meanings of this epochal shift in Christian locations and energies.

The Story of Christianity from Birth to Global Presence
Jakob Balling
Balling, a Danish historian, spends as much time reflecting on the story as he does writing his narrative. Sometimes sociological concepts crowd out elements of The Story, but his work will no doubt prompt others to take new looks at power relations in the churches, and help them assess their direction.

Christianity: A Short Global History
Frederick W. Norris
Norris knows where the Christian power shift is taking the church, and helps account for it. For Norris and many other historians (including Balling), the global story in the last two centuries is preoccupying. They provide charters for those who will bring new curiosity to the longer, wider Christian story.

read more

Top 5 Books on World Christianity

My Top 5 Books on World Christianity
By Martin E. Marty, author of The Christian World: A Global History (Modern Library) posted 4/22/2008 08:49AM

A World History Of Christianity
Edited by Adrian Hastings
The fourteen historians who contribute to A World History of Christianity do what no single historian could do with much detail: write about Christianity in places far from Europe and North America, while doing justice to the places that have engrossed most historians of Christianity.


Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity
Lamin Sanneh
Gambia-born Sanneh, now teaching at Yale, does important work to place the story of Christianity in the Southern world in the minds of Westerners. Disciples of All Nations is the kind of comprehensive work that informed Christians and the community of historians can use as a guide.

The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, Revised and Updated
Philip Jenkins
Jenkins is the exemplar of the "new kind" of church history, which deals with the background to the way the church is "going South." Like Sanneh, Jenkins dramatizes and, some say, over-dramatizes the meanings of this epochal shift in Christian locations and energies.

The Story of Christianity from Birth to Global Presence
Jakob Balling
Balling, a Danish historian, spends as much time reflecting on the story as he does writing his narrative. Sometimes sociological concepts crowd out elements of The Story, but his work will no doubt prompt others to take new looks at power relations in the churches, and help them assess their direction.

Christianity: A Short Global History
Frederick W. Norris
Norris knows where the Christian power shift is taking the church, and helps account for it. For Norris and many other historians (including Balling), the global story in the last two centuries is preoccupying. They provide charters for those who will bring new curiosity to the longer, wider Christian story.

read more

From Moses to Mao, A Man and his Art



Christianity Today (Web only) 2008

From Mao to Moses
Artist He Qi, born again in China's Cultural Revolution, is painting a new peaceful identity for the Chinese church.
Susan Wunderink, with reporting by Gary Gnidovic posted 4/25/2008 09:26AM

A teenager at the launch of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese artist He Qi (pronounced huh chee) is fast gaining world recognition for his paintings, which are almost exclusively depictions of biblical events.

The witty, reverent paintings are full of the symbolism of Beijing Opera, medieval-style hidden messages, and modernist plays on perspective and time. And He is introducing a new idiom for biblical art, one influenced by, but not part of, the European traditions. His website says, "He hopes to help change the 'foreign image' of Christianity in China by using artistic language, and at the same time, to supplement Chinese art the way Buddhist art did in ancient times."

He's work is gaining more and more attention in the West. He has exhibited in the U.S., the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong, as well as in mainland China. In 2006, Overseas Ministry Study Center collected his work in Look Toward the Heavens, and he is now working on an ambitious project: an illustrated Bible. It's an unlikely project for the son of a non-Christian mathematics professor.

read more

watch powerpoint slideshow here

From Moses to Mao, A Man and his Art



Christianity Today (Web only) 2008

From Mao to Moses
Artist He Qi, born again in China's Cultural Revolution, is painting a new peaceful identity for the Chinese church.
Susan Wunderink, with reporting by Gary Gnidovic posted 4/25/2008 09:26AM

A teenager at the launch of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese artist He Qi (pronounced huh chee) is fast gaining world recognition for his paintings, which are almost exclusively depictions of biblical events.

The witty, reverent paintings are full of the symbolism of Beijing Opera, medieval-style hidden messages, and modernist plays on perspective and time. And He is introducing a new idiom for biblical art, one influenced by, but not part of, the European traditions. His website says, "He hopes to help change the 'foreign image' of Christianity in China by using artistic language, and at the same time, to supplement Chinese art the way Buddhist art did in ancient times."

He's work is gaining more and more attention in the West. He has exhibited in the U.S., the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong, as well as in mainland China. In 2006, Overseas Ministry Study Center collected his work in Look Toward the Heavens, and he is now working on an ambitious project: an illustrated Bible. It's an unlikely project for the son of a non-Christian mathematics professor.

read more

watch powerpoint slideshow here

The Current Preaching Emergency

Brueggemann (2007) Minneapolis, Fortress Press


Walter Brueggemann is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus in the William Marcellus McPheeters chair at Columbia Theological Seminary.

Finally, another book by Brueggemann on preaching. Brueggemann is one of my favourite OT scholars. Knowledgeable, precise, incisive with a deadly wit, he does not suffer fools gladly. However, he is a prophet crying in the wilderness on a number of topics. One of them is preaching and he is declaring for a state of emergency on preaching.

He writes,

On all counts, the act of preaching is:
  • foolish because in the congregation some know more and because in every congregation there are those ideologically committed in ways that preclude serious listening...
  • dangerous if it is fruitful, because the powers of retrenchment are every-where among us, a passion to keep things as they were before utterance. Ideological resistance is readily evoked in most congregations...
  • a risky self-exposure of the preacher, who at best is vulnerable in the precariousness of the utterance. Every preacher knows with some regularity that what is said and what must be said inescapably expose the preacher as something of a fraud, for good preaching must speak truth to which the preacher's own life does not always attest...

The Current Preaching Emergency

Brueggemann (2007) Minneapolis, Fortress Press


Walter Brueggemann is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus in the William Marcellus McPheeters chair at Columbia Theological Seminary.

Finally, another book by Brueggemann on preaching. Brueggemann is one of my favourite OT scholars. Knowledgeable, precise, incisive with a deadly wit, he does not suffer fools gladly. However, he is a prophet crying in the wilderness on a number of topics. One of them is preaching and he is declaring for a state of emergency on preaching.

He writes,

On all counts, the act of preaching is:
  • foolish because in the congregation some know more and because in every congregation there are those ideologically committed in ways that preclude serious listening...
  • dangerous if it is fruitful, because the powers of retrenchment are every-where among us, a passion to keep things as they were before utterance. Ideological resistance is readily evoked in most congregations...
  • a risky self-exposure of the preacher, who at best is vulnerable in the precariousness of the utterance. Every preacher knows with some regularity that what is said and what must be said inescapably expose the preacher as something of a fraud, for good preaching must speak truth to which the preacher's own life does not always attest...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Sin is Ever Before Me

Credit: Kevin Frank.Net

My Sin is Ever Before Me

Credit: Kevin Frank.Net

New Marketing for Old Church


April 21, 2008
Secular Thoughts on Sacred Marketing
Seth Godin’s advice on spreading your church’s message.
by Chris Blumhofer

StreamingFaith.com recently sat down with marketing guru Seth Godin and asked his advice on church “marketing” in our increasingly plugged-in, techno-driven society. At the forefront of Godin’s thought-world these days is “new marketing”—methods of communicating messages that aren’t top-down (from an ad firm to your TV) but side-to-side (from a bootleg YouTube clip, to your blog, to my blog, to the evening news). New marketing reaches smaller audiences, but it creates more of an impact.


His advice may surprise or offend, but it is still worth thinking about.


Consider these excerpts (you can see the full interview here):


"Churches are the oldest businesses around today. And yes, they’re businesses. They don’t necessarily sell a physical product, and they don’t always charge money, but there’s a transaction nonetheless. And that involves the individual paying attention. Attention is precious and it’s rare and it’s non-refundable…."


"Just because it’s important to you (and it could be your Tupperware product line or your sermon) doesn’t mean it’s important to me. The essential idea here is that new media is selfish and you can’t buy or demand attention, no matter how worthy you believe your idea may be…."


"I'd say you need to concentrate on what's remarkable and interesting and noteworthy and touches my faith, and stop spending time on tasks that don't amplify any of those elements. Doing something because you've always done it isn't an idea worth spreading…."


What do you think? Do we short-change ourselves by taking people’s attention for granted? Do we recognize the selfish way in which people listen to our messages? How can church leaders make the most of insights from the business world?


Check out the full interview on StreamingFaith’s website.

New Marketing for Old Church


April 21, 2008
Secular Thoughts on Sacred Marketing
Seth Godin’s advice on spreading your church’s message.
by Chris Blumhofer

StreamingFaith.com recently sat down with marketing guru Seth Godin and asked his advice on church “marketing” in our increasingly plugged-in, techno-driven society. At the forefront of Godin’s thought-world these days is “new marketing”—methods of communicating messages that aren’t top-down (from an ad firm to your TV) but side-to-side (from a bootleg YouTube clip, to your blog, to my blog, to the evening news). New marketing reaches smaller audiences, but it creates more of an impact.


His advice may surprise or offend, but it is still worth thinking about.


Consider these excerpts (you can see the full interview here):


"Churches are the oldest businesses around today. And yes, they’re businesses. They don’t necessarily sell a physical product, and they don’t always charge money, but there’s a transaction nonetheless. And that involves the individual paying attention. Attention is precious and it’s rare and it’s non-refundable…."


"Just because it’s important to you (and it could be your Tupperware product line or your sermon) doesn’t mean it’s important to me. The essential idea here is that new media is selfish and you can’t buy or demand attention, no matter how worthy you believe your idea may be…."


"I'd say you need to concentrate on what's remarkable and interesting and noteworthy and touches my faith, and stop spending time on tasks that don't amplify any of those elements. Doing something because you've always done it isn't an idea worth spreading…."


What do you think? Do we short-change ourselves by taking people’s attention for granted? Do we recognize the selfish way in which people listen to our messages? How can church leaders make the most of insights from the business world?


Check out the full interview on StreamingFaith’s website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Interview with an Theistic Evolutionist

Francis Collins
Interview by Marcus Goodyear

Ten years ago, the average person had probably never heard the word "'genome," but Francis Collins was already the director of the Human Genome Project. It's a project many are calling the most important scientific undertaking of our time.

In 2000, Collins publicly presented the first draft of the human genome alongside President Clinton. According to his New York Times bestseller,
The Language of God, Clinton's speech on that day took a surprisingly spiritual turn: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."

As an outspoken scientist, Christian, and theistic-evolutionist, Collins sits at an incredibly controversial crossroads. Many Christians fear his defense of Darwin while many Darwinists shun his faith. Regardless of where you stand on these issues, there is no denying that Christians can learn something from Francis Collins' approach to worship and scientific research.

Celebrating God Through Science (Part 1)

Love God With a Scientific Mind (Part 2)



Interview with an Theistic Evolutionist

Francis Collins
Interview by Marcus Goodyear

Ten years ago, the average person had probably never heard the word "'genome," but Francis Collins was already the director of the Human Genome Project. It's a project many are calling the most important scientific undertaking of our time.

In 2000, Collins publicly presented the first draft of the human genome alongside President Clinton. According to his New York Times bestseller,
The Language of God, Clinton's speech on that day took a surprisingly spiritual turn: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."

As an outspoken scientist, Christian, and theistic-evolutionist, Collins sits at an incredibly controversial crossroads. Many Christians fear his defense of Darwin while many Darwinists shun his faith. Regardless of where you stand on these issues, there is no denying that Christians can learn something from Francis Collins' approach to worship and scientific research.

Celebrating God Through Science (Part 1)

Love God With a Scientific Mind (Part 2)



Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Matador! Of course...



picture credit

Holy Matador! Of course...



picture credit

The Whys and Wherefores of Writing


"They enrich us with their knowledge concerning knowledge of the past, counsel, educate, honour and dignify us; if you say they are dead you are not wrong, and if you say they are alive you do not lie"


Ibn Tiqtiqa in 'Al-Fakhri'

The whys and wherefores of writing
IKIM Views
By DR MOHD ZAIDI ISMAIL
Senior Fellow, Centre for Science and Technology, IKIM
Insofar as Islamic intellectual tradition is concerned, the zest for books has often been described as all permeating.


APRIL 4 began with what by now is an annual affair, the 10-day long Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair at the Putra Trade World Centre. Although one of the very few events worth attending for book lovers, it remains essentially an event for players with stakes in the book industry. The occasion therefore, is more about writings being products to be marketed rather than as food for thought.

Writings – be they in such traditional forms as treatises, monographs, books, or in non-conventional modes – are media for the mind to express itself. As such, they play a significant role in the intellectual culture of any peoples.

Insofar as Islamic intellectual tradition is concerned, the zest for books has often been described as all permeating. Numerous anecdotes testifying to such enthusiasm have been narrated.

The 13th Century scholar ibn Tiqtiqa, for example, reported in his al-Fakhri that a certain Caliph had sent for a certain scholar merely to share his company. The servant who was instructed to meet the scholar later found him sitting surrounded by books which he was studying. Having been informed that the Caliph had summoned him, the scholar answered: “Tell him some learned men are with me, and I am conversing with them. Once I have finished with them, I will come.” The Caliph, upset as he was upon being informed of the scholar’s reply, asked his servant who those learned men the scholar referred to were. The servant gave a straightforward answer: “In truth, O Caliph, there was no one with him.” “Fetch him at once, regardless of what state he is in!” instantly came the Caliph’s command. When that scholar arrived, the Caliph angrily queried: “Who were those learned men with you?” “O, Caliph,” the scholar replied, “we have companions, trusty and trusted, whether absent or here to see, of whose talk we do not tire; they enrich us with their knowledge concerning knowledge of the past, counsel, educate, honour and dignify us; if you say they are dead you are not wrong, and if you say they are alive you do not lie.” With such a witty reply, the Caliph knew that the scholar was referring to books, and did not therefore mind his tardiness.

Books are indeed the product of the human mind; as such, like any other mental act or operation, they are intentional. There are always reasons for one to write a book.

Ibn Hazm of Andalusia (Muslim Spain) (d. 1064) in his al-Taqrib, a treatise on logic, enumerated seven reasons for one to compose in a meaningful manner. First, an author may have something original to write. Second, he may want to complete something that had been left uncompleted. Third, he may want to put right something that was erroneous. Fourth, he may want to clarify and explain matters that are mysterious, abstruse or complicated. Fifth, he may shorten, without omitting anything vital, a work by another person that is too long. Sixth, he may want to gather information from numerous independent sources. Seventh, he may want to assemble things that hitherto had been scattered like beads, and thread them together again.

In fact, ibn Hazm was alleged to have considered the above as the only categories for which scholars and perceptive people write.

That, however, is the opinion of a scholar of the 11th century in a place now part of Europe.

Eight hundred years later, in another part of the globe, the Indian Sub-Continent, we find the prolific Siddiq b. Hassan Khan al-Qinnawji (d. 1889) echoing the same sentiments in his three-volume Abjad al-’Ulum. Al-Qinnawji argued that composition is of seven types from which no intelligent scholar can escape. First, something having no precedence, which he therefore invents. Second, something deficient, which he therefore completes. Third, something abstruse, which he therefore explains. Fourth, something lengthy, which he therefore abridges without affecting any of its original meanings. Fifth, something scattered, which he therefore combines. Sixth, something mixed or confused, which he therefore puts into order. Seventh, something regarding which its author was in error, which he therefore corrects.

If ever we are writers with conviction, which of these groups do we consider ourselves?


read here

The Whys and Wherefores of Writing


"They enrich us with their knowledge concerning knowledge of the past, counsel, educate, honour and dignify us; if you say they are dead you are not wrong, and if you say they are alive you do not lie"


Ibn Tiqtiqa in 'Al-Fakhri'

The whys and wherefores of writing
IKIM Views
By DR MOHD ZAIDI ISMAIL
Senior Fellow, Centre for Science and Technology, IKIM
Insofar as Islamic intellectual tradition is concerned, the zest for books has often been described as all permeating.


APRIL 4 began with what by now is an annual affair, the 10-day long Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair at the Putra Trade World Centre. Although one of the very few events worth attending for book lovers, it remains essentially an event for players with stakes in the book industry. The occasion therefore, is more about writings being products to be marketed rather than as food for thought.

Writings – be they in such traditional forms as treatises, monographs, books, or in non-conventional modes – are media for the mind to express itself. As such, they play a significant role in the intellectual culture of any peoples.

Insofar as Islamic intellectual tradition is concerned, the zest for books has often been described as all permeating. Numerous anecdotes testifying to such enthusiasm have been narrated.

The 13th Century scholar ibn Tiqtiqa, for example, reported in his al-Fakhri that a certain Caliph had sent for a certain scholar merely to share his company. The servant who was instructed to meet the scholar later found him sitting surrounded by books which he was studying. Having been informed that the Caliph had summoned him, the scholar answered: “Tell him some learned men are with me, and I am conversing with them. Once I have finished with them, I will come.” The Caliph, upset as he was upon being informed of the scholar’s reply, asked his servant who those learned men the scholar referred to were. The servant gave a straightforward answer: “In truth, O Caliph, there was no one with him.” “Fetch him at once, regardless of what state he is in!” instantly came the Caliph’s command. When that scholar arrived, the Caliph angrily queried: “Who were those learned men with you?” “O, Caliph,” the scholar replied, “we have companions, trusty and trusted, whether absent or here to see, of whose talk we do not tire; they enrich us with their knowledge concerning knowledge of the past, counsel, educate, honour and dignify us; if you say they are dead you are not wrong, and if you say they are alive you do not lie.” With such a witty reply, the Caliph knew that the scholar was referring to books, and did not therefore mind his tardiness.

Books are indeed the product of the human mind; as such, like any other mental act or operation, they are intentional. There are always reasons for one to write a book.

Ibn Hazm of Andalusia (Muslim Spain) (d. 1064) in his al-Taqrib, a treatise on logic, enumerated seven reasons for one to compose in a meaningful manner. First, an author may have something original to write. Second, he may want to complete something that had been left uncompleted. Third, he may want to put right something that was erroneous. Fourth, he may want to clarify and explain matters that are mysterious, abstruse or complicated. Fifth, he may shorten, without omitting anything vital, a work by another person that is too long. Sixth, he may want to gather information from numerous independent sources. Seventh, he may want to assemble things that hitherto had been scattered like beads, and thread them together again.

In fact, ibn Hazm was alleged to have considered the above as the only categories for which scholars and perceptive people write.

That, however, is the opinion of a scholar of the 11th century in a place now part of Europe.

Eight hundred years later, in another part of the globe, the Indian Sub-Continent, we find the prolific Siddiq b. Hassan Khan al-Qinnawji (d. 1889) echoing the same sentiments in his three-volume Abjad al-’Ulum. Al-Qinnawji argued that composition is of seven types from which no intelligent scholar can escape. First, something having no precedence, which he therefore invents. Second, something deficient, which he therefore completes. Third, something abstruse, which he therefore explains. Fourth, something lengthy, which he therefore abridges without affecting any of its original meanings. Fifth, something scattered, which he therefore combines. Sixth, something mixed or confused, which he therefore puts into order. Seventh, something regarding which its author was in error, which he therefore corrects.

If ever we are writers with conviction, which of these groups do we consider ourselves?


read here

The Evangelical Mind


"The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind"

The Evangelical Mind


"The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Anselm of Canterbury

Thoughts for Saint Anselm's Day

On the feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Professor Jack Mahoney SJ assesses the lasting contribution to Christian thought of this eleventh century monk, and also notes some limitations we might yet need to overcome.

Anselm of Canterbury

Thoughts for Saint Anselm's Day

On the feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Professor Jack Mahoney SJ assesses the lasting contribution to Christian thought of this eleventh century monk, and also notes some limitations we might yet need to overcome.

150 Teaching Methods

For those who love lists, here is 150 teaching methods

150 Teaching Methods

For those who love lists, here is 150 teaching methods

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Movie about a Forbidden Kingdom



The Forbidden Kingdom
Review by Peter T. Chattaway posted 04/18/08

The Forbidden Kingdom

Martial-arts fans have been waiting for years to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li co-star in the same movie, and when these two living legends finally meet for the first time in The Forbidden Kingom, you can sense that the filmmakers wanted to make the most of this historic moment.
Chan plays Lu Yan, a slightly comic figure who is always drinking wine and does a lot of his fighting "drunken" style, while Li plays a mysterious figure known only as the Silent Monk—and their first encounter, in an abandoned temple, leads to a seemingly non-stop series of kicks and blows, choreographed by The Matrix's Yuen Woo-ping, that looks incredible...

read more


The Movie about a Forbidden Kingdom



The Forbidden Kingdom
Review by Peter T. Chattaway posted 04/18/08

The Forbidden Kingdom

Martial-arts fans have been waiting for years to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li co-star in the same movie, and when these two living legends finally meet for the first time in The Forbidden Kingom, you can sense that the filmmakers wanted to make the most of this historic moment.
Chan plays Lu Yan, a slightly comic figure who is always drinking wine and does a lot of his fighting "drunken" style, while Li plays a mysterious figure known only as the Silent Monk—and their first encounter, in an abandoned temple, leads to a seemingly non-stop series of kicks and blows, choreographed by The Matrix's Yuen Woo-ping, that looks incredible...

read more


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Theology of the God of Consumerism



With globalisation, there is a “global culture” that is slowly insinuating into the local cultures and at times supplants them. This global culture is not irreligious but brings along its own branding and mythology. The branding is named McDonaldisation. The new mythology includes what Neil Postman calls the “god of consumerism,” “god of technology,” and “god of Economic Utility” (1995 , 27-36). Each of these gods have their own theology.


The “god of consumerism” teaches through the media, the most powerful being television commercials.




Postman notes,

But the majority of important television commercials take the form of religious
parables organised around a coherent theology. Like all religious parables,
these commercials put forward a concept of sin, intimations of the way to
redemption, and a vision of Heaven. This will be obvious to those who have taken
to heart the Parable of the Person with Rotten Breath, the Parable of the Stupid
Investor, the Parable of the lost Traveller’s Checks, the Parable of the Man Who
Runs Through Airports, or most of the hundreds of others that are part of our
youth’s religious education (1995, 34)

This was written in 1995. Postman did foresee the “god of consumerism” working with the “god of technology” but may not imagine how true was his forecast. This partnership resulted in niche marketing, the rise of the Internet, the pervasive influence of computers, the DVD revolution, the virtual life (facebook, second life), and the prevalence of handphones as status symbols, multimedia communication devices, and entertainment centre.

.

The Theology of the God of Consumerism



With globalisation, there is a “global culture” that is slowly insinuating into the local cultures and at times supplants them. This global culture is not irreligious but brings along its own branding and mythology. The branding is named McDonaldisation. The new mythology includes what Neil Postman calls the “god of consumerism,” “god of technology,” and “god of Economic Utility” (1995 , 27-36). Each of these gods have their own theology.


The “god of consumerism” teaches through the media, the most powerful being television commercials.




Postman notes,

But the majority of important television commercials take the form of religious
parables organised around a coherent theology. Like all religious parables,
these commercials put forward a concept of sin, intimations of the way to
redemption, and a vision of Heaven. This will be obvious to those who have taken
to heart the Parable of the Person with Rotten Breath, the Parable of the Stupid
Investor, the Parable of the lost Traveller’s Checks, the Parable of the Man Who
Runs Through Airports, or most of the hundreds of others that are part of our
youth’s religious education (1995, 34)

This was written in 1995. Postman did foresee the “god of consumerism” working with the “god of technology” but may not imagine how true was his forecast. This partnership resulted in niche marketing, the rise of the Internet, the pervasive influence of computers, the DVD revolution, the virtual life (facebook, second life), and the prevalence of handphones as status symbols, multimedia communication devices, and entertainment centre.

.

Countdown to Final Crisis


Countdown, retitled as Countdown to Final Crisis from issue 26 onwards, is a comic book limited series published by DC Comics, which debuted on May 9, 2007, directly following the conclusion of the last issue of 52. The series is written primarily by Paul Dini, along with a rotating team of writers and artists. Countdown consists of 51 issues published weekly for one year, crossing over with noteworthy and significant titles published by DC. The series is numbered in reverse order, starting with #51. The series covers much of the fictional DC Universe and is told in parallel narratives, through the interconnecting stories of a cast of characters, and frequently crosses over with various other DC titles.

read more

Countdown to Final Crisis


Countdown, retitled as Countdown to Final Crisis from issue 26 onwards, is a comic book limited series published by DC Comics, which debuted on May 9, 2007, directly following the conclusion of the last issue of 52. The series is written primarily by Paul Dini, along with a rotating team of writers and artists. Countdown consists of 51 issues published weekly for one year, crossing over with noteworthy and significant titles published by DC. The series is numbered in reverse order, starting with #51. The series covers much of the fictional DC Universe and is told in parallel narratives, through the interconnecting stories of a cast of characters, and frequently crosses over with various other DC titles.

read more

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John Ortberg on Spiritual Friends

Leader's Insight: Spiritual Friends

Here's the gift you should really be seeking.
by John Ortberg

There is an old Celtic saying:
"Anyone without a soul friend is a body without a head." There are not many Celtic sayings about what people without success are; the Celts didn't seem to be terribly interested in success. But they were pretty big on friendship. Finish the article


.

John Ortberg on Spiritual Friends

Leader's Insight: Spiritual Friends

Here's the gift you should really be seeking.
by John Ortberg

There is an old Celtic saying:
"Anyone without a soul friend is a body without a head." There are not many Celtic sayings about what people without success are; the Celts didn't seem to be terribly interested in success. But they were pretty big on friendship. Finish the article


.

Tessellating: Where Faith meets Practice

Jeremy Beckett, Tessellating: Starting out in Medicine and Dentistry, Where faith meets practice, Christian and Dental Medical Fellowship of Australia.

The title was the first thing that caught my eye when a Monash Malaysia medical student lent me this book. I am ashamed to admit that I do not know what it means. It must have baffled a number of others too because on the back cover was a helpful definition: Tessellating = creating a mosaic from small tiles of identical shape.

Being curious how faith and medical practice may be considered identical shape, I started to read the book. The author, Jeremy Beckett was the president of the Christian Healthcare Group (SMA) at the University of Western Australia. He graduated in 2002.

Beckett has set himself a challenging task as he seeks to reconcile Christian faith and medical practice. However, it is not one that is unique because this is a task all Christian doctors or doctors who are Christian have struggled with through the ages.

Before Christianity, the Pythagoreans had struggled with ethical medical practice and their philosophy. The Pythagorean did not only come out with the Pythagoras' theorem of the triangle but also Hippocrates. In all ages, doctors have struggled with faith and practice. For some strange reason, medicine has always demanded strict ethical and moral standards of her followers. Faith and practice is a struggle and creates a creative tension for doctors and other healthcare personnel. This is especially so if one is serious about his or her faith and medicine.

The approach in the book starts with the gospel, the love of the Father, how our thinking are nuanced by Greek philosophies, leading to how we are to live out the Christian faith in the workplace as a healer, community-of-faith member, and disciple. I like his 9 practical tips:

  1. everything is spiritual!

  2. there is a different ways of doing everything

  3. the importance of human touch

  4. the value of a cup of tea

  5. learn names, and use them

  6. write neatly and document well

  7. avoid mercenary thinking

  8. loving the unlovable

  9. …and when necessary use words

There are many gems of wisdom in these practical tips. However I cannot imagine Malaysian and Singaporean doctors and dentists making tea for their patients! I do appreciate the gesture as saying “I have time for you.” Nevertheless, a Christian doctor in a government outpatient clinic may have to rethink the strategy as he or she may have to see between 100-150 patients per session!

This is a good book for medical and dental students to read. They need to be ready to engage their Christian belief and their medical practice in context of where they are. Medical and dental students must build up the foundations of their faith before they graduate because the final examination they will face is not in the final MBBS but in their daily workplace for the next 20-30 years.

.