Monday, August 25, 2008

How to Help Students Navigate Ethical Situations

The following op-ed piece is from today's edition of USA Today. I received an email with an link to this article from The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. I thought it was interesting to hear different sides of this debate. I am inclined to agree with statements of being able to serve in the military, vote, etc. as equal footing as the legal drinking age, however the argument that making something legal will allow it to loosen its stranglehold on society or a portion of society. All one has to do is look at the tobacco industry or perhaps a better example would be pornography. Just because something is out there and legal for people of certain ages to do doesn't make it good, beneficial or moral for anyone!! I'm not endorsing the consumption of alcohol by anyone, but I have witnessed far too many 18-20 year olds make poor, dangerous-even life-threatening decisions under the influence of alcohol to support the college presidents and this push to lower the legal drinking age.

Don't lower drinking age; teach value of waiting

Derek Melleby, director, College Transition Initiative, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding - Elizabethtown, Pa.

The recent movement by some college presidents to reduce the legal drinking age to 18 is shortsighted. Trying to lower the drinking age is a superficial response to a deep issue ("College presidents want lower drinking age,", Aug. 18).

(Photo - In praise of drinking: The Booze News, a satire, was founded by Derek Chin and Atish Doshi in 2004 at the University of Illinois / Dan Gill, AP)

It is unlikely that the law would be changed, no matter how many college presidents join this movement. So why are they getting involved?

Know this: Not all students go to college to drink. I've talked to countless students across the country who long for their college experience to be different. They are developing virtues of delayed gratification, self-control and sacrifice. They are students who want to think more deeply about the goal of education and the meaning of life. Some are students who have been hurt by the effects of alcohol abuse. Many didn't mind waiting a few years to drink legally and have learned to do so responsibly.

Developing students such as these will require college presidents with the moral clarity and courage to make strong decisions about what is acceptable behavior at their colleges.

What is needed is an atmosphere on our nation's campuses conducive to shaping students' character so that waiting to drink until the age of 21 wouldn't seem like such a sacrifice.

Colleges and universities used to pride themselves on fostering a countercultural ethos. Today, what would be more countercultural than a college or university committed to educating students to be responsible and virtuous?

Students are mature

David N. Laband, Professor of economics and policy, Auburn University - Auburn, Ala.

As a 27-year university professor with a reputation for not being drinking buddies with college presidents, I support 100% the college presidents who have proposed that the drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18.

I routinely discuss drinking behavior with my students. They are, to say the least, candid. They are mature enough to be asked to risk death in Iraq or Afghanistan, mature enough to vote, mature enough to sign contracts, get married, drive automobiles, but not mature enough to have a beer?

This is oxymoronic and, therefore, insulting.

In response, they simply evade the law, with sometimes dangerous consequences. For example, because students are not permitted to bring alcohol into Auburn University's football stadium, they either front-load their consumption before entering a game or sneak in smaller containers of considerably more potent alcohol.

Either way, from a health standpoint, the resulting alcohol abuse must be much more damaging than the casual consumption of beer that occurs when the individual does not feel like a criminal. Consumption of four or five beers over several hours, in addition to a couple of slices of pizza or other food, has a much lower toxicity impact on an individual.

The Europeans have it right with this one: They treat alcohol consumption by young people as a normal activity and, so far as I am aware, their colleges and universities are not plagued by destructive binge drinking.

Limit change to beer

Frank Glamser - Hattiesburg, Miss.

The university presidents who have recommended a discussion of lowering the legal drinking age are on to something if the change is limited to the consumption of beer.

Drinking has been an integral part of college life for centuries. Attempts to suppress it have driven drinking underground to private spaces where abuse is common and unobserved by people in authority. It also might be increasing the interest in hard liquor, which is easily transported and hidden.

It would be much better if students were consuming beer in a campus pub or commercial establishment where behavior could be monitored to some extent. Also, beer consumption is somewhat self-limiting because of the volume of liquid involved and the tendency to become ill when consumption is excessive. This is unlike hard liquor, which is often the source of alcohol poisoning cases that plague higher education.

USA TODAY welcomes your views and encourages lively -- but civil -- discussions. Comments are unedited, but submissions reported as abusive may be removed. By posting a comment, you affirm that you are 13 years of age or older.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Renewing the Center

Recently, I finished reading Renewing the Center: Evangelical Theology in a Post-Theological Era by Stanley Grenz. The book offered a sweeping history and analysis of evangelicalism, even recounting key figures that represent two ends of the spectrum within evangelicalism. In fact, some readers would argue that some of the people that Grenz defends as evangelicals are in fact outside of the realm of evangelical theology, which in many ways illustrates the purpose of this book to call evangelicals to a renewed vision of a "generous orthodoxy" that will reclaim the truth of the gospel while moving forward to engage an increasingly secular and postmodern culture. There were many things that were encouraging to me about this book. First, the rich theological history that I have by being a part of evangelicalism. Second, the shape of Protestantism to be a people who are constantly reshaping and revising the implications for living out the gospel. Third, the importance of being shaped by scripture and the biblical narrative rather than shaping scripture to meet my own needs and agenda. Stanley Grenz writes, "A renewal of the center, therefore, calls the church to the ongoing task of doctrinal retrieval and reformation, under the normative guidance of Scripture and Spirit, for the sake of the furtherance of the gospel of God's transforming grace freely available in Christ" (p. 345). The challenge for me and every other believer is to move forward in reaching people for Christ without compromising the center that drives us, THE GOSPEL!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gaining the World

I was listening to a playlist on my iTunes entitled Troubadours that has music from Neil Young, Bill Mallonee, Bob Dylan, Mo Leverett, and Edwin McCain, and The Lost Dogs. This song by Dylan came on entitled "Masters of War". The song obviously deals with his opposition with war in general and perhaps specifically the escalating nature of things in Vietnam (original release was early 1960s), but it has some piercing comments that grabbed my ear. One verse of the song challenged me to reexamine my own thoughts about money and material possessions.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

We live in a culture full of greed. We bas our society on the American Dream that has morphed into the American nightmare of debt. People are selling their souls for money and stuff that won't mean a thing when they die. Is it worth it? Didn't Jesus ask "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Big One

My beautiful wife celebrated her birthday today! Not much fanfare, just a simple family dinner which means we had as much food as we have at Thanksgiving. The best part about Cyd's birthday for me is that for a few months I get to be married to an older woman! I've been at almost as many birthdays as I missed out on before we started dating. We were talking just the other day about the fact that we don't really remember life before each other. I can honestly say that is a wonderful feeling! Birthdays are another day that reminds us to be thankful to God for the breath of a new day.

New Things

I was working on my lesson for The Gathering and I was reminded again about the amazing way God weaves redemption into nature and the world around us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 talks about being new creations in Christ...the best example of that to me is the way the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Yesterday Claire and I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together. It is a simple book that illustrates a common occurrence in nature, but it offers profound insight into the way God looks at our old self and our new self. The caterpillar, a creature that most people don't think very highly of, but God takes that creature and forms a beautiful new butterfly out of it. What a picture of God's redemptive work in our lives to take the our broken lives before Christ and make them whole in Christ! He takes something not so pretty, even downright ugly and makes something beautiful and grace-filled out of it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Family Portrait

Our attempt at a family portrait at Tybee this weekend. My mom did a good job with the camera but it's kinda hard to get all four of us looking the same direction let alone smiling. This was also after Claire fell trying to climb a sand dune and got "stickers" in both hands and both feet, so really this is a pretty darn good picture, all things considered.

Claire and Charlotte

Some photos of the girls at Tybee.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wisdom from the Past

The old hymn writer, William Cowper, once wrote these words
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

Perhaps in your life difficulties have sprung up like the weeds in my flower bed and before they can be picked the rain has come to make them grow even more. Don't worry, the sun always comes out after the rain. Sometimes the rain is brief like a south Georgia, summer thunderstorm and other times it is several days of downpour, know that he will grant your soul rest again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Amazing Grace

Early this summer I finished a book by Kathleen Norris entitled Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. In the book she recounts her own journey of being exposed to Christianity early in life through grandparents but walking away from God in college as she embarked on a literary career. Later in life, through a great deal of pain, she came back to faith. As someone who was on the inside of the church with an eye like those on the outside she decided to reflect on some of the common terms one hears in the church. Her insight is inspiring as she looks at matters of faith. She challenges people to rethink what some familiar terms mean and gives new life to ancient words. There were many passages that I underlined and noted, but I will only share one with you.

One so often hears people say, "I just can't handle it," when they reject a biblical image of God as Father, as Mother, as Lord or Judge; God as lover, as angry or jealous, God on a cross. I find this choice of words revealing, however real the pain they reflect: if we seek a God we can "handle," that will be exactly what we get. A God we can manipulate, suspiciously like ourselves, the wideness of whose mercy we've cut down to size. (p. 214)

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Things

Tonight was a night of first things. I'm not referring to the old Foreigner song, nor the excellent journal, First Things. I am referring to a couple of milestones met by the Pagliarullo women tonight. Claire got her first bloody nose! She was playing in the backyard when she fell and hit her face hard enough to cause a mild nose bleed. Charlotte gave me her first high five! I've been working with her for weeks now, but she couldn't ever quite get the hang of it. Tonight was fact I got not just one high five but two. When all was said and done tonight both girls were happy and well loved!