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Thursday Miscellanea

Every now and then I like to collect a few miscellaneous thoughts and compile them into a post, rather than trying to write an article about each of them. Today is one of those times, so bear with me as I ramble for a few moments.

Roaring?

Yesterday Mark Driscoll posted an email exchange that involved himself and John Piper. At one point Driscoll wrote “As a result of your correction of me there is a bit of a roaring debate as to our relationship in some circles that we both respect as if folks needed to pick your team or mine. I in no way expect you to defend me, but I also do not want the rumor to keep growing that we are somehow at odds. I want the men who are supportive of me to be supportive of you also and in my heart would be very grieved if there was an appearance that somehow we were at odds because it is untrue.” This caused Piper to respond “Good grief. I am glad I don’t read the web very much. I would sin with anger too much. ‘Roaring debate’ !— these people have too much time on their hands.” I went searching for this roaring debate and was really unable to find it. I found a few isolated comments from people wondering about the propriety of Piper publicly (though lovingly) chastising Driscoll without first doing so privately, but certainly nothing that could rightly be termed a “roaring debate.”

Now, I don’t mean to criticize Driscoll here (goodness knows the man takes a lot of criticism already!) but, presuming this roaring debate was actually little more than a few comments on my site and perhaps a few others, I think it points to a concern I have long had with blogs. When reading blogs, it is easy to develop tunnel vision and to assume that something has wider exposure than is actually the case. For example, it is not unusual for me to speak to people who mention an article I wrote about and furor that developed in the comments section afterwards. I can often go back and show the person that, in reality, there were only two or three negative comments and even then they were likely made by only one or two people. Yet these are the comments that are remembered. I saw this most clearly after I posted a certain book review several months ago. Within a short period of time there must have been 150 comments, only a very few of which could be considered in poor taste. Yet people remember the article and the subsequent discussion only in the terms of those commenters.

Similarly, a person can read about a particular subject on two or three blogs and assume that the whole world is discussing that topic. People like to speak of “blog storms,” but to have more than a handful of blogs discussing a single topic at the same time is really quite rare. I think of the recent situation with Ligonier Ministries. Many people questioned why the statements released by Ligonier announcing the withdrawal of the lawsuit were posted only within the blogosphere. The answer, it seems to me, is quite obvious: only bloggers and people who read blogs knew about the lawsuits. There was no need for a wider response because the situation was almost entirely unknown outside the blogosphere.

I say all of this to caution you (and to caution me). Let’s be certain that we keep a rational perspective when we think about blog storms, roaring debates, and the like. Despite all the press given to them, most blogs still have very narrow exposure and very little credibility.

An Interesting Lawsuit

You may remember Phillip Way as a recent King for a Week award recipient. I recently became aware that he is involved in what promises to be an interesting lawsuit. Way is a bi-vocational pastor who not only leads a church, but also works another full time job. He was, until recently, employed by Randall’s Food Markets Inc. According to Texas Lawyer, “filed a religious discrimination suit against the grocery chain for allegedly denying him promotions and terminating him because he could not work on Sundays.”

Way alleges in his petition that Randall’s hired him as a produce clerk at one of its Austin stores in May 2004 with the agreement that he would not be available to work on Sundays because of his religious beliefs.

“Honoring the Sabbath and not working at secular employment on Sundays is part of [Way’s] religious beliefs because he is a Reformed Baptist,” says Fiddler, Way’s lead counsel.

Fiddler says it’s part of Reformed Baptists’ church concession, or statement of beliefs, not to work on Sundays.

Way, who worked as an assistant produce manager, alleges in his petition that the management at three different Randall’s stores told him that he would never be promoted to produce department manager because he was not available to work on Sundays. As alleged in the petition, one store director demoted Way and reduced his hours because he could not work on Sundays and another supervisor gave him a poor performance evaluation to prevent him from getting a raise to “teach Way a lesson.”

Way further alleges that although he requested a transfer to another store when the store where he worked was closing in November 2005, Randall’s did not give him a job.

The defendants failed to reasonably accommodate Way’s religious practices and beliefs and his religious practices and beliefs were a motivating factor in the discriminatory treatment, according to the petition.

Way, who demanded a jury trial, is seeking unspecified damages for past and future lost wages and benefits, mental anguish and emotional distress. Way also seeks punitive damages, alleging that the defendants acted with malice or reckless indifference to his federally protected rights.

You can find the actual lawsuit here.

A Family Moment

In recent weeks my family has been memorizing Romans 12. The children are learning it as part of their Wednesday evening classes at the church and Aileen and I are learning it by default as we go over it with the children. A couple of weeks ago they memorized verse 12 which says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Yesterday was picture day at my daughter’s school. She wanted to look her prettiest, so chose her favorite dress and blouse. She also wanted her hair to be curled, so Aileen took her up to the bathroom and began to curl her hair. As always, my daughter, whose mouth never stops moving, was chatting throughout. Their conversation went something like this:

“Are we done yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Will we be done soon?”

“It will be a few more minutes.”

“Mommy, I’m being patient in tribulation, right?”

I’m not exactly sure that this was the kind of tribulation Paul was writing about, but I guess it is as big a tribulation as a three year old can imagine. At least it shows that she understands what the verse is about!