Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An interview in Christianity Today

Here's an interview with me in the magazine Christianity Today.  I really enjoyed talking with Ted Olsen, and his editing made me sound more well-spoken than I really am.  Thanks Ted!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A near-death experience

Spent a couple days in New York City last week at a symposium, and during one of the breaks I started chatting with a guy sitting next to me. He mentioned having had a heart attack several years earlier, and he had one of those see-the-light near death experiences. Apparently he was medically dead on the operating table for a bit before they could revive him, and during that time, he talked with God. He experienced God telling him something along the lines of: "You know, I've always been with you" to which this guy replied "I know". Then God said "And I'll be with your children" to which he gave the same reply.

I really enjoyed hearing this story, and after we had talked about it for awhile, I asked him how people responded to it. He said that about half were very interested, but about half felt very uncomfortable and just changed the topic.

Stories like this are fascinating, and I've read some books based on them. But, theologically I'm not sure how to make sense of these kinds of experiences. Aren't they sort of Heaven's version of catch-and-release?

At least the people who experience them usually have positive messages. Imagine hearing "who are you?" or "are you ever in trouble."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A great departmental website

Now, this is how department websites should be done!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just the social facts, ma'am

My good friend David Weakliem just started a blog.  He's a master at finding obscure, interesting survey data, and here's his place for sharing his findings.  Always interesting, perhaps occasionally important.  :-)


Check it out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I think this is a compliment?

From another e-mail, from someone who has known me for awhile...

"In our often uncertain world, your somewhat sick, sarcastic, make-me belly-laugh sense of humor is commended for its almost droid-like consistency!"

I think this is good?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I decided that having a Facebook account, blog, e-mail, phone, and stamps for letters simply didn't not give me enough ways to communicate with others, so I've started twittering as well.


More and more my ideas and thoughts about life don't exceed 140 characters, so Twitter seems like a good idea. :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A critique from an Asian Christian

One of the interesting things about writing a book is seeing how people react to it. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I received from a self-identified "Asian-Christian" (Chinese judging from the name). S/he starts out with some nice things to say, and then offers these corrections. Basically, they boil down to 1) I shouldn't tell jokes about sacred things and 2) what I perceive as discrimination might be acceptable. Not that I agree with these comments, but they highlight for me some very real cultural differences in how Christians think.


On P77 - Don't blaspheme using the term "holy trinity" in a joke; it must not be used other than describing the Godhead in a respectful way. I have seen frequent misuse of the word "Trinity" even among Christians. Has blaspheming become a trend among Christians in N. America?

On P20 - You should not have used a femine pronoun for a pastor since the Bible clearly prohibits female's spiritual authority over males and in fact the vast majority of ordained pastors are males. It's a mockery to male pastors.

On P69 - No Christians will try to find the future by the crystal ball; i t's a demonic sorcery.

On P178 - Christians MUST oppose gay speaking. Why should any Christians support or be neutral regarding perverts speaking in public? What do those humans who feel sexual desires for the same sex have anything worth to say? They are out there to promote perversion. Does American society force us to hear child molesters or the criminals of incest? Not yet. The question must be if Christians could dine with perverts and share the Gospel. Nothing more. We don't need peace when the society is so accepting of immorality. Immoral, pervert civilization won't have peace, since it doesn't deserve it. Christianity is for righteousness, not peace alone.

Next are my questions for you to ponder

On P 178 - Why is it wrong for whites to oppose kin's marriage to blacks or colored? Nothing is wrong with that!! I'm an Asian myself and we usually never favor inter-national marriage, let alone inter-racial merriage. Opposing inter-racial marriage is a natural inclination of mankind to preserve a race and order, not always racism. Of course we expect exceptions, but they are exceptions nontheless.

I have a personal question here for you. Why do white people nowadays so harsh on themselves or their ancestors? It looks ridiculous to outsiders. A picture of self-destruction. We colored people respected white people a lot more 30, 40, even 50 years ago and before. Whites don't need to be bash themselves to maintain respect. Colored people have plenty racism, vicious nature and horrible pasts(and current goings); I hope more white Americans could master some non-European languages so they can find more wholesome reality of the world.

On P 193 - Nothing is wrong for Christians to have negative opinion on cults and pagans and anti-God groups. It'd be a real problem if we don't have low opinion on them! They have outright serious theological and ethical and other problems. The right questions would be "Would you host a dinner for them?" Or "talk with them kindly and help them?" That's as far Jesus went, nothing beyond. Christians have been really compassionate throughout the history and the barbaric mankind learned to accept others through Christianity.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Article about religion and education

Yahoo, a paper just got accepted on which I'm a coauthor. It's written by a student, Michael McFarland, who is now working on his PhD at Texas.

It's entitled: "Educational Attainment and Religiosity: Exploring Variations by Religious Tradition," and it will be coming out in Sociology of Religion.

Here's the abstract:
This study examines the relationship between educational attainment and various dimensions of religiosity. On the basis of a network closure argument, we hypothesize that the relationship between education and religiosity varies by religious tradition. Analyzing data from the 1972–2006 General Social Survey, we found that educational attainment predicted increased attendance at religious services, decreased levels of prayer, increased inclination to view the Bible as a book of fables, and decreased inclination to view the Bible as the literal word of God. These relationships, however, significantly interacted with religious tradition. Increased education largely resulted in greater religiosity among evangelical Protestants, black Protestants, and Catholics but not among mainline Protestants and the nonaffiliated. Overall, this study shows that education does not uniformly decrease religiosity and highlights the importance of considering religious tradition in future research.

Always gratifying when journals say "yes"

Monday, September 06, 2010

A statistic about Christian pastors mutates

Here's a nice discussion about some stats about christian pastors that are floating around the net. It claims that thousands of pastors leave the church each month, and it attributes the stat to Barna (though I read somewhere else that Barna doesn't claim it).

Either way, yet another cancerous stat.

Thanks Mike.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Things people do when they are texting

For awhile now, I've been noticing that people text while doing just about anything else. Yesterday I was driving across campus, which has lots of construction underway, and a police officer directing traffic almost caused an accident because he didn't see two cars coming into the intersection at the same time. Why? Because he was texting.

I've also seen gratuitous texting while people are:
* Driving (of course)
* Walking across the state highway next to UConn, amidst traffic
* During one of my lectures (who wouldn't want to)
* Using a urinal at a Notre Dame football game, while also holding a big cup of beer
* Scolding their child in a supermarket parking lot
* Playing with their children in a park
* Riding a roller coaster at Six Flags
* Talking to me during office hours

Any to add to this list?