25 February 2009

To: The recipient. From: The sender.

This doesn't have to do with theology, or politics, or political theology, or Springsteen. It has to do with direct marketing, and the short time I spent doing online fundraising for a nonprofit.

I do not remember ever purchasing anything through abebooks.com, though I guess I must have done so at some point, and used my Duke email address. I had never received an email from them in my life until this month, when I have gotten three promotional messages. What I can't fathom is, why did they bother to send me an email as useless as this one? (Note the places where they were supposed to customize the message based on my prior purchases, whatever they were.)

24 February 2009

A Methodist Quiz!

This weekend at our Wesley Fellowship retreat, we discussed the Sermon on the Mount. My responsibility was to lead the group through the Beatitudes in conversation with the United Methodist Church's Social Principles. In order to introduce everyone to the Social Principles (a rather obscure document found in our Book of Discipline), I wrote up a little quiz. Sorry if the formatting is weird, but here it is (answers at bottom). 

SECTION ONE: In each question, there are four options. Choose the one that is NOT specifically opposed in the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church.

  1. Human cloning; The use of chemicals in growing food; The weaponization of outer space; The commercialization of Christian holidays.
  2. The separation of church and state; The practice of homosexuality; Bottled water; Weakening standards for organic food. 

SECTION TWO: In each question, there are four options. Choose the one that is NOT specifically affirmed in the Social Principles.

  1. Affirmative Action; Public libraries; Abstinence from tobacco; U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  2. U.S. Bill of Rights; Preservation of old-growth forests; Taxpayer-funded gov't healthcare; Children are not their parents' property
  3. The integrity of unmarried people; Universal access to internet & phone service; Safety testing for processed food; Composting household food waste

SECTION THREE: This isn’t a question; I just thought you should know.

United Methodists “support and encourage social policies that are directed toward rational and restrained transformation of parts of the nonhuman world into energy for human usage” (¶160.B)

SECTION FOUR: Additional Questions:

  1. Only two sections of the Social Principles include direct scriptural references. Choose which two of the following topics make mention of a specific Bible verse or passage:  Military service; Family farms; Animal life; Abortion; Suicide; Death Penalty; Immigrants; Right to health care.
  2. What happens to a United Methodist who violates one of the Social Principles?

    1. Nothing.
    2. You are subject to a church trial; if found guilty, you may be removed from membership.
    3. Your pastor is to oversee the church’s effort to be reconciled to you in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20 (First, point out the sin to the person in private; then confront him/her with one or two others from the church; et cetera).
    4. You are expected to write a letter to your congregation explaining your actions before you will be welcomed at the communion table.
1.1: Commercialization
1.2: Separation of church & state
2.1: Public libraries
2.2: U.S. Bill of Rights
2.3: Composting
4.1: Suicide (Rom. 8:38-39) and Health Care (John 10:10b, Ezek. 34:4a)
4.2: Nothing, though if the principle has to do with homosexuality it has also been written into the enforceable church law someplace.

23 February 2009

Closest thing we have to "foodies" on campus.

As part of its ongoing, invaluable service to the University, our daily newspaper ran an opinion column today that included the following assertion about campus dining: "The problem with West Campus, however, is that there is no internal logic to the dining options. This is another instance of our culture fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of human freedom." Translation: I just learned about the Enlightenment in my Philosophy class, and now I know how to run a university!

The real startling thing about human freedom is that at fifty thousand dollars a year, he felt free to spend his time publishing an observation like that.