Research On Glossolalia

I just read about some cutting-edge research about speaking in tongues (you may have also seen this referred to as “glossolalia”).

Summary quote:

“We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain,” comments Principal Investigator Andrew Newberg, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies, and Director for the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, at Penn. “Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues.”

I pass this along because we so often focus on research findings which seem to challenge the faith (or more frequently on research findings which challenge our interpretation of the faith), it’s always interesting to spot those that correspond to exactly what we would expect based upon a straightforward reading of the Bible.

Thoughts on Worship

A few weeks ago I was discussing worship with David Jones, the leader of Reformed University Fellowship at Stanford, and he put something into words that I’ve been trying to articulate for a while, “Worship is both expressive and formative.”

In other words, worship doesn’t only show what we feel and believe, it also shapes what we feel and believe.

My students will only hear me preach a given sermon once – but they may sing a worship song dozens of times. And if we’ve chosen catchy yet superficial junk for them to sing we’ve done them a real disservice.

And that’s why we don’t just sing any old song in our Chi Alpha meetings. They have to be catchy while also being profound and ennobling. In other words, they have to both sound good and be good.

For what it’s worth, I think that Chris Tomlin and Ben Pasley (of Enter the Worship Circle) stand out for really hitting the mark consistently. Of the old hymn writers, Isaac Watts really had it going on.

As The World’s Number One Speaker On The Subject of Humility…

Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders (J-B Leadership Network Series)As the world’s number one speaker on the subject of humility, I’d like to draw your attention to a book in which I am a recurring character.

Earl Creps has just written Off-Road Disciplines, a book for church leaders trying to navigate all the change our culture keeps throwing at us.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I am quoted many times throughout the book. If you have never read yourself quoted in a book before, let me assure that it can be disconcerting.

There’s no way I can be objective about this book. It’s written by a friend and almost all the recurring characters are friends.

So I will simply say that I enjoyed it and I think I would have enjoyed it whether or not it was by a friend. It’s just filled with fascinating little snippets.

The History Channel recently offered me part of the answer in a documentary about the researchers who devote their lives to discovering Atlantis. These passionate and sincere people consider themselves consummate professionals in their field. They employ expensive, high-tech equipment and sacrifice the respect of mainstream science to live on the perpetual verge of one of the greatest discoveries of all time. Spurred on by an ancient text (Plato, in this case), they spend years surveying vast stretches of ocean in a quest to assemble clues to cataclysmic events in the distant past. The disdain of their scientific peers only increases their fervor by making these faithful into professional martyrs. Sometime before the last commercial on the TV program, I grasped the parallel to the post-Christian experience of the Church: ancient texts, outrageous theories, huge expense, persecution complex, and a passionate devotion to things that matter only to insiders. (page 21)

I have to believe I would find that gripping no matter who wrote it. Or consider this simple evidence that demonstrates a truth I have long believed but been unable to show data for:

…in a survey of magazine indices I found that the first references to postmodernism in Christian periodicals did not appear until four to thirteen years after the first references are indexed in secular journals.

That’s the most concrete, data-based illustration I’ve ever seen of the culture lag in which the church is trapped.

Plus he coins two phrases that I love: “overchurched underachiever” (so busy with church stuff they have no time for real stuff) and “orthodoxy creep” (a tendency to doctrinalize every opinion).

Anyway, on to the important stuff: me.

My first appearance in the book is on page 45:

After hearing a talk supported by PowerPoint, Glen (half my age) said politely, “I thought you had a degree in communication.”

Ouch. The words hurt Earl the first time and me the second.

I am featured again five pages later: “Glen helps me with technology and the Internet.”

My best role, however, comes in the chapter on humility.

No, really.

A [ministerial] life representing an attitude of “I know!” “You’re wrong!” and “You need me!” serves as what my friend Glen calls a “blocker,” standing in the way of the spiritually hungry rather than motivating them to investigate Jesus further. (page 83)

At last, I am portrayed as the humble sage I know and love.

So I’ll stop quoting from the book before I paint myself in an unflattering light again. 😉

Oh, You Have One Of Those…

Dana has been potty training lately and she’s getting quite good at it. She’ll be playing with her toys, minding her own business, when all of a sudden she will leap to her feet and sneak/bolt towards the bathroom. After successfully depositing solid matter she will emit a triumphant cry: “I went poop!”

It’s quite charming, really.

Yesterday one of our friends, Jen, volunteered to take Dana in for the day while Paula was on bedrest. Things were going just fine until Dana pooped in her pants without showing the slightest interest in Jen’s bathroom.

Dana needed some cleaning to prevent a rash, and when Jen brought Dana to the bathroom Dana stared at the toilet and then said slowly to Jen, “Oh, you have one of those.” 🙂

Assumptions. As my friend Fraser used to tell me in high school, the word assume makes an ass out of you and me.

For the record, I am assuming the etymology of that comment traces back to donkeys and not to sphincters, otherwise it might be construed as a vulgarity. My thoughts on cursing, vulgarities, and expletives are a little complicated, but the bottom line is that I try to avoid offending people with the words I choose without becoming bound up in silly rules (such as erasing the word ass from the dictionary because one of its uses is a synonym for posterior). Plus the ensuing pun (resulting from the juxtaposition of poop and hiney) would be too awful even for me.

Back to assumptions: Dana assumes Jen has no potty and so she excretes wherever she happens to be. I assume God has no opinion about my decisions and so I don’t pray to receive guidance.

Bad assumptions lead to stinky situations.

Paula in Hospital, Everything OK

Yesterday Paula began to feel contractions, and her doctor decided to put under observation in the hospital.

She gave Paula some medicine to stop her contractions, and so far it seems to be working. She estimates there’s still a 60% chance that our baby will go full term.

In any event, it looks as though Paula will be on bed rest right up until Baby Davis appears sometime in the next few weeks. Or days. 😉

We’re already at the point where Paula can deliver with very little danger to the baby, so this is more about optimizing conditions rather than trying to preserve the life of our child.

Bottom line: Paula is fine, baby is fine, Dana is confused, Daddy is frazzled.

Helping Teens Transition To College

I stumbled upon this quote today:

Every autumn I have a spate of letters from fond parents, teachers, guardians, and monitors, appealing to me to follow up on such and such a youngster who is away from home at college for the first time, and who has to be hunted, followed, shadowed, intercepted and driven to Christian meetings. I have scarcely ever known this desperate technique to work. I understand the panic of parents and guardians, but it is too late then to try high pressure tactics. Prayer, example and precept, in that order, are the means of bringing up children and young folk in the faith. Nor will high pressure tactics and brainwashing techniques avail when young folk have gone off on their own. Some young folk, alas, will have their fling and sow their wild oats, and come at last to heel, sadly, like the prodigal son. It is where Christians pathetically put their trust in external techniques and artificial stratagems that young folk go astray. Nothing takes the place of the realism of holy living and secret wrestling before God in prayer for our youngsters. We must commit them to God so utterly that we dare not interfere or tamper with their precious souls.

(William Still, late Pastor of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen, Scotland)

Well said.

Daddy Can’t Handle The Truth

While eating breakfast this morning, Dana said, “Your bottom is saggy, Daddy.”

Bewildered, I think I said something on the order of, “Huh?”

At which point Dana began chanting, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Over and over.

I didn’t think I’d have to put up with this sort of mockery until her adolescence. I certainly didn’t expect it from a two year old.

I need to tell my ego to buckle its seatbelt – it’s going to be a rocky ride from here on out.