Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baylor Football Highs and Lows

Tomorrow the wife and I are off to Houston for the Texas Bowl featuring Baylor vs. Illinois.  It is Baylor's first bowl game since 1994, and the first since I became a Baylor Bear as a freshman in the Fall of 1996.  1996 was the inaugural year of the Big XII and that conference has not been kind to Baylor Football.  With the bowl game looming, I thought it would be a good time to recount some of my highs and lows as a Baylor Football fan.

The first time I heard of Baylor is was a tremendous high for Baylor football and a great low for me.  It was 1991 and my Colorado Buffaloes were coming off of their national championship season when little old Baylor came into Folsom field and squeaked by with a 16-14 upset. 

My first high would be my first road game ever, the first game of 1996 against Louisiana Tech which Baylor won 24-16.  It was the first game I went to with Peter Pope, who will also be attending the Bowl Game with me tomorrow.  It was my first Baylor game, it was a win, and it was with a great friend.

The big low from that year, was our homecoming triple overtime loss to Missouri 49-42.  Even though Baylor only went 4-7 that year, that win would have felt great.

Then come the total blowouts of my College years. 49-0 at Nebraska in 1996. 38-3 at Michigan in 1997 (Brilliant Dave Roberts, schedule Michigan on the road for a pre-conference game).  49-6 at home to Kansas State in 1998.  And then my Senior year: 1999, the season of blowouts: 41-10 at Oklahoma, 62-0 at home vs. Texas (it was 42-0 at half), 45-13 at A&M, 48-7 at K-State, 45-10 at Kansas, 38-0 at home vs. Colorado.  Final record for senior year: 1-10, Big XII: 0-8. 

But, of all of these, the most painful loss in my Bayor Football fandom was a 1999 loss to UNLV at home.  With seconds left, leading 24-20, Baylor with a first down on UNLV's 2 yard line could have just knelt the ball and taken the four point win, but brilliant Kevin Steele tried to punch it in.  I guess he had not heard of the Baylor curse.  Our RB fumbled the ball on the one yard line and a UNLV DB returned the fumble 99 yards for a touchdown and the win.  I was at the game, watching in disbelief.  We had a sure win, and we gave it up, and wins were hard to come by in those years.

But, despite all of these lows, there have been some great highs.  My first real high, Baylor's first real big XII win was the 1997 win over state rival Texas at home. It was my sophomore year, and though we only won 2 games that year, one of them was over the Longhorns.  Baylor fans rushed the field, tore down the goal post and marched it all the way back to campus.  Life was good. 

There is a tie for my favorite moment in Baylor sports history that I was a part of.  The first was Baylor's one point OT win over A&M in 2004.  It was my first year back at Baylor, this time as a Ph.D. Student.  I remember the game vividly.  We were down early, but battled back to tie the game at 27 late in the fourth quarter.  A&M got the ball first in OT and quickly scored on a couple of running plays.  The pressure was on.  Baylor had to go for it on fourth down, but Sean Bell hit Dominique Ziegler in the end zone to bring us within one point.  Then everything happened so quickly.  Instead of going for the extra point and a second overtime, Baylor went for the 2 point conversion, the same play, Bell to Ziegler, it was caught in the end zone, game over, Aggies go down.  Baylor fans again rushed the field, tore down the goal post and reveled in victory.  The best part: looking at the Aggie fans faces, frozen in disbelief for 15 or 20 minutes after the game was over.

The other favorite moment was this year's win over K-State that finally got Baylor Bowl eligible.  It was a magical sort of game.  The weather whipped up a torrential downpour only minutes into the game causing a two hour delay during which the Baylor Faithful, me and my wife included, huddled under the stands, packed like sardines, waiting for the rain stop.  Yet, the Baylor fans who usually would have gone home, stayed.  They knew something amazing was happening.  Baylor escaped with a close win, 47-42 as they withstood a 4th quarter charge from the wildcats.  Yet, the win was ours, six wins were ours, and with that a bowl game.

And tomorrow: the Texas bowl.  Who knows what to expect.  Vegas has the game a virtual tossup with Baylor a 1 point favorite.  Defense is expected to be absent, so points might go up fast.  I can't wait.  Rise up Baylor Bears.  Sic Em!

Friday, December 17, 2010


For the first time on this blog I must submit a retraction.  In my post yesterday concerning the upcoming project of reading through Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics, I said the following:
I coerced my wife into making this my Christmas present and so I will be joining Kirk and others as we read and blog about Barth.
 My lovely wife took issue with this statement, as well she should, it is not true.  There was some debate as to whether we could afford the gift, but no coercion involved.  I chalk that statement up to the usual trope in academia about Professors who spend way too much on books and whose spouses get annoyed.  But I must say, I have the best wife in the world.  Not only did I not have to coerce Brooke, she is enthusiastic about the project.  In fact, she wants to read Barth along with me and the others undertaking this project.

I am a tremendously blessed man to have the wife that I have.  Brooke takes genuine interest in my work.  She read and edited my dissertation four or five times, each time eagerly looking for ways to make my thoughts better, brainstorming with me, challenging me, and transforming my pedestrian prose into something readable.

I love Brooke's theological mind, especially as she sees tons of things that I don't and is always challenging me to be a better thinker, writer, scholar, and man. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Karl Barth, Here We Come

One of the greatest and most ambitious theological works in Christian history has now been made available as one of the greatest book deals of the past year.  Hendrickson Publishers has now made Karl Barth's 14 volume Church Dogmatics available in hardcover edition for under $100

I first heard about this from JRD Kirk at Storied Theology.  Kirk has come up with a reading schedule to read through the entire set in about seven years.  This is at the rate of about one book every six months (by book that means 1.1, or 1.2, etc.). 

I coerced my wife into making this my Christmas present and so I will be joining Kirk and others as we read and blog about Barth. 

My favorite quote about Barth comes from a fellow seminarian who was a native German speaker.  He said, "I prefer to read Barth in English, it makes more sense."  Having read a fair amount of Barth in English, and knowing how hard he is to understand sometimes in translation, I cannot imagine how difficult the German would be.

So, Church Dogmatics, here we come!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Constitutional and Biblical interptretation

Over the past several years the political debate has ramped up concerning how one interprets the constitution.  Words like "strict constructionist" and "judicial activist" are used as missiles to dismiss one's opponents.  I am struck by the similarity between this debate and one that has long existed in biblical studies as well.  That is, when interpreting a text, should one take it literally, symbolically, historically, etc.

To (over) simplify matters, in the constitutional debate, there seem to be two extremes with any number of positions in between.  On the right there are textual literalists, meaning that the most natural and literal reading of a text is the proper one.  Advocates of this position will read the wording of the second amendment, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," to mean just that, that people have a right to bear arms for whatever purpose they so decide.  On the left extreme are those called pragmatists, or sometimes judicial activists, who view the constitution as a living, breathing document that needs active interpretation and even reinterpretation to meet current needs.  In essence, on the left extreme, the text can mean nearly anything that the current situation demands.  Again, with the second amendment, the judicial activist might say that the current situation of gun related crimes, along with the change in weaponry and technology over the last two hundred years, along with the fact that militia's are not common anymore, necessitates a gun ban.  In between there are numerous positions, one of which are intentionalists, who argue that when interpreting the constitution it is neither current situations, or literal words of the text that determine meaning, but rather, the original intent of the framers of the constitution that matters.

There are similar debates in the field of biblical studies.  Once again, on the right are the biblical literalists who claim that the most natural and literal reading of a text determines meaning.  For example, if Genesis 1 says that God created the world in 7 days, then that means creation happened in 7 literal days.  On the left extreme are reader response critics who argue that only the reader (any reader) brings meaning to the text, and thus, all interpretations are valid interpretations.  In biblical studies there are also numerous positions in between these two extremes, one of which is the position of authorial intent.  This view, though problematic for numerous reasons, holds that the view of the author (Paul, Moses, Luke, etc.) is the determinative meaning of the text.

While I note the similarities in the debates of constitutional and biblical interpretation, I am no way equating the Bible and the Constitution.  Nevertheless, I think that a conversation between these debates could be mutually beneficial to constitutional and biblical scholars alike. 

How do you think these texts ought to be interpreted?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Video Chat

The other night watching Fringe, I noticed a horribly awkward product placement for Sprint video chat on their smart phone.  In the scene, Peter receives a call from Astrid, and the shot cuts to an over-the-shoulder view of the Sprint phone with a live image of Astrid.  What I found awkward is how stiff and wooden both of the actors were on this short phone call.  I think it illustrates the problem with this new video chat.

Fans of sci-fi have long been familiar with the promise of video chat.  All of the best sci-fi shows have for decades been showing us video-phone calls between cast members.  It looked like the wave of the future, a great day when we would be able to have a real, face-face conversation with someone at a distance. 

Yet, this technology has now been around for years.  Skype and other platforms are not new.  Anyone with high speed internet and a web cam have been able to have these face to face conversations for some time now.  But, this technology has not caught on in a big way.  I know of almost no one who really wants to have a video chat with anyone on a regular basis.  I have used Skype just a few times,  never for a real conversation.  I have had one Skype interview for a school.  I have Skyped a few people just to see how it worked.  My most ingenious use of Skype was to broadcast a Baylor basketball game to a friend living overseas.

I just don't think the technology is really going to catch on, and the reason is that it does not fulfill a need, at least not for most phone conversations.  Most people, when they make a phone call have no real desire to be "face to face."  In fact, they would rather not.  People like to multitask while on the phone.  They like to have the conversation, but they don't want the other person seeing what they are doing.  They might be walking around the house straightening up.  They might be at their desk shuffling papers, clicking websites, jotting down notes, etc.  They might be driving.  All things that cannot be done in a face to face conversation.  As the scene from Fringe made clear, when engaging in video chat, one stops all action and sits in front of a screen.  We have gotten used to having phone conversations while doing other stuff, and I think most phone conversations w/video would actually hinder the phone lifestyle we have become accustomed to.

So, is the capability of video chat going to be a purchasing factor on my next phone?  No Way, i'll take the audio-talk only function please.  What about you?  Do you see yourself engaging in video chat on a regular basis now that it has come to mobile devices?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Church Sign Wars

In general I dislike church marquees.  I think that most of the messages on church marquees are so banal that that they should be left off altogether.  Then my attention was drawn to the following use of church marquees: start a battle of words and wits with a cross town church.  If done right, like here, I love it.  HT to Scott McKnight at Jesus Creed.
Round 1: Draw, two unprovable claims
 Round 2: Our lady of the Martyrs, unsubstantiated claim and premature attempt to stop debated by the Presbyterians.
Round 3: Our Lady of Martyrs: levity, Presbyterians, too caught up on this "soul" thing.
Round 4: Our Lady of Martyrs: Levity, Presbyterians, What?
Round 5: Our lady of Martyrs: How do you come back from that.  At least the Catholics still have a sense of humor.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why not to Harmonize the Birth Narratives

Over the last couple of days I have posted some inconsistencies in the birth narratives.  Often when one comes across these inconsistencies the first reaction is to try and harmonize them, that is, make them fit.  Besides taking lots of time and stretching logic to the breaking point, harmonizing becomes a smoke screen, blinding the reader from what the narrative is trying to say. 

For example, in the birth narratives, I pointed out the different ways in which Matthew and Luke explained Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and his subsequent move to Nazareth.  In summary, Luke has Mary and Joseph living in Nazareth, going to Bethlehem to register for the census, giving birth to Jesus, and then returning home to Nazareth.  Matthew, on the other hand, has Mary and Joseph living in Bethlehem, giving birth to Jesus, fleeing the wrath of Herod to Egypt, and then returning to Israel but heeding an angel's warning, they return to Nazareth, not Bethlehem.  If one tries to harmonize these narratives, they, imho, do a lot of legwork for not much payoff.

Harmonizing keeps one from asking the really interesting questions, with great payoff.  Instead of harmonizing, why not ask the following question: why did the author tell the story this way instead of another? 

Let's look at Matthew's version.  Why did he tell of Herod's murderous rampage against all male children under 2 years old?  Why did he drive Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Egypt?  Where have we heard of a king putting to death all of the male children under 2 years old before?  Yes, Pharoah and Moses.  Where have we heard of a guy named Joseph before who has dreams and goes to Egypt?  Matthew is deliberately echoing the stories of the Patriarchs, specifically the story of Moses.  For Matthew, Jesus is the second Moses.  Jesus, like Moses is saved from a murderous king.  Jesus like Moses resides in Egypt before his journey to the promised land.  Jesus, like Moses, gives the Law.  Well, not exactly gives, he fulfills the law (Mt. 5:17). Commentators for some time have seen the structure of Matthew as revolving around five discourses (5-7, 10, 13, 18, 23-25), at the end of which the narrator says, "when Jesus had finished saying these things."  Five discourses, five books of Moses.

The same type of type of payoff comes from asking the same question of Luke's narrative.  Why did he include the census of Quirinius?  Was it just to get Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem?  No, it was much more.  There is a theological point here.  Luke's narrative, which I take to include Acts as well, has a great theological point that what came out of this small village in Nazareth would have worldwide repercussions.  This Galilean peasant would literally turn the world upside down, he would shake the very foundations of the Roman Empire.  So, here in the birth narrative, we already see Luke setting his narrative on the worldwide scene.  Augustus Caesar orders a census to "register the whole world."  (Luke 2:1)  Rome, personified in Augustus, orders a census that, unwittingly to Augustus, moves the Messiah right into place in Bethlehem to be born.  That Jesus will live and die, but his followers will bear witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  And that is where Luke's narrative ends, with Paul, at the center of the world, Rome, proclaiming the good news freely.

The birth narratives set the stage for what is to come in the gospels.  Both Matthew and Luke have slightly different theological aims, slightly different perspectives from which they approach the story of Jesus and they tell the birth of Jesus in order to highlight those aims and perspectives.  Yet, if we concern ourselves with harmonizations, we never get to these questions and perhaps miss part of what Luke and Matthew were trying to tell us.


Every year I make my freshman Bible class memorize the books of the Bible in order.  The students hate this, but it usually turns into easy points on the final exam.  One of my pet peeves is when people put an "s" on the end of the book of Revelation.  I make this quite clear to my students, so they are careful to avoid it.  What I now find amusing is that students get a little nervous about the "s" on the end of Revelation, and forget to put other s's on books where they actually do belong.  Here are some examples from this year's crop.

The book of Psalm
The book of Lamentation
The book of Act

And in the reverse case

The book of first and second Samuels

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birth Narratives: The Dating Game

Yesterday I posted about Matthew and Luke's birth narratives and how both evangelists treat Jesus' birth at Bethlehem and his subsequent move to Nazareth in different ways.  Today I want to talk about the date of Jesus' birth from these two narratives.

There are two very specific events referred to in these narrative for which we have reliable historical dates.  The first is the reign of Herod the Great, and the second is the census of Quirinius.

We know with a high degree of certainty that Herod died in 4 B.C.E.  In fact, we can even narrow it down to a month because Josephus mentions a lunar eclipse in connection Herod's death.  In Matthew's gospel, Jesus is born up to two years prior to the death of Herod, so anywhere from 6-4 B.C.E.  In Luke's gospel, John the Baptist is born during the reign of Herod, and Jesus is born about 6 months later.  So Luke's gospel also dates the Birth of Jesus no later than 4 B.C.E.

Yet, that is not the complete story for Luke, because Luke also mentions another event surrounding the Birth of Jesus for which we have a reliable historical date.  That is the census of Quirinius, which we can date at 6 C.E.  This census was the impetus for getting Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem where Jesus was born.  Yet, the dates don't match up, they aren't even close.  There is at least a 10 year gap between the death of Herod and the census of Quirinius.  And in this case, it is not a matter of Matthew vs. Luke, it is a matter of Luke vs. Luke.

So, what do you make of this?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Birth Narratives

In the synoptic gospels we find two birth narratives, that of Matthew and that of Luke, Mark has no birth narrative, nor does John.

It seems like one of the main questions that the birth narratives were trying to answer was the discrepancy between Jesus' home town of Nazareth where he grew up and began his ministry and traditions of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem.  The two birth narratives answer this apparent discrepancy in different ways.

In Matthew, Mary and Joseph live in Bethlehem where Jesus is then born.  Matthew makes clear that this birth in Bethlehem is to fulfill a prophecy from Micah 5:2.  Then, the Magi come and ask Herod where is the King of Israel.  The Magi visit the baby Jesus in a "house, " presumably their home in Bethlehem and then return without warning Herod.  Joseph is then warned by an angel in a dream to flee Bethlehem and Herod to Egypt.  Herod orders all of the children below the age of 2 killed (sound familiar?).  Then, after Herod dies, Joseph has two dreams, one telling him to return to Israel, and a second warning him not to go back to Judea (Bethlehem) but to go to Galilee, specifically the town of Nazareth. 

So, in summary, Matthew reconciles the discrepancy as follows: Mary and Joseph live in Bethlehem where they give birth to Jesus, they then flee to Egypt, and upon returning to Israel, they settle in Nazareth.

Luke also tries to reconcile this discrepancy, but in a vastly different way.  In Luke, Joseph and Mary live in Nazareth.  The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces the birth of Jesus, the Son of the Most High, Messiah.  When it actually comes time for the birth of Jesus, Luke tells the story of a Census ordered by Caesar Augustus and carried out by Quirinius the governor of Syria.  To register for this census, Joseph, from the tribe of Judah and of the House of David had to return to the town of David, Bethlehem.  It is while Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem registering for the census that Jesus is born. 

So, in summary, Luke reconciles the discrepancy as follows: Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth, but are summoned to Bethlehem to register for the census, Jesus is born, and then they return home to Nazareth.

Same question, different answer depending on which evangelist you ask.  What say you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

They're at it again

If you missed my previous post in which I link to a video of William Tapley, A.K.A. the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, A.K.A. the co-prophet of the end times, tells us that WWIII (and the start of the tribulation) will start no later than November 29th, 2010, you can see it here.  Yet, never fear, because he was obviously wrong.

But, in case you were wondering, the real date of the rapture is May 21, 2011, followed by the destruction of the world on October 21st 2011 (wow, that doesn't leave much time for a seven year tribulation, but I guess that means that these prophets are post-tribulation rapture folk and that we have been enduring the tribulation now since October 21st 2004, just before George W. Bush was voted into office for the second time).

HT to Joel at Unsettled Christianity

A Conversation with Stanley Hauerwas

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Stanley Hauerwas at Baylor University.  It wasn't really a lecture, per se, as it was entitled "A conversation with Stanley Hauerwas."  And it was precisely that, it was a conversation moderated by Jonathan Tran, professor or Religion at Baylor and form student of Hauerwas, as he asked pre-solicited questions from Baylor professors and students.  The conversation yielded many wonderful golden nuggets which I will include here in several quotations that I jotted down during the hour.  (disclaimer: many of these quotes are not "verbatim" due to my lack of listening/typing skills.  Yet, I think I have captured the "gist" of what Hauerwas said.  I in no way mean to misrepresent what he said and if I have done so, please let me know).

On why he wrote a "memoir" rather than a "confession."
"I am not a good enough Christian to write in the confessional mode."
On his memoir in general:
"I tried to subvert the overly self revelatory form of the modern memoir that leads to voyeurism."
"I tried to avoid writing a memoir because of its inherent narcisism, but it turns out I'm just narcissistic enough to do it."
"Fame is a killer, and I try to defeat it in any way I can.  I wrote the memoir to communicate that I am a human being... I know it sounds odd to say that you have written a memoir to avoid fame, but that is what I am trying to do."
"All of that could be seen as a gesture toward humility, but I don't trust humility at all." 
On race relations in America
"What we are currently experiencing is the failure of the success of the civil rights movement... African Americans can now move to the suburbs, have two cars and a picket fence and worry about the Jews moving in.  What is a little slavery between friends."
"Americans will miss the story of African Americans as long as it is a story of suffering." 
Responding to the claim that in the south Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America:

"if you want to see racisim on a stick, try Boston."
On segregated churches:
"I don't think we'll know how to worship together until we are dependent upon each other for survival.  The church is too safe."
On the Eucharist:
"if the words are rightly spoken, and the actions are rightly done, then there is nothing you can do to stop Jesus from showing up."
On whether Christians support limited police actions to stop Genocide:
"Yes... Such a police force must be trained to feel that they would rather die than kill." 
On whether violent action is ever a valid path to less violence:
On non-violence:
 "Believe it or not, I'm a theocrat. It's very hard to make people do what you want them to do while being committed to non-violence, but I'm going to try."
"I'm a Texan, I'm a violent son of a bitch." 
On the Academy:
"Tenure in modern universities has been shaped so that scholars know more and more about less and less and thus have security in the fact that they know very little."
"The duty of university is to create a literate public."
"Baylor has the responsibility to create literate Baptists, and that would be a miracle.  Baptists have the Bible and now, and that's a problem."
And my personal favorite, on vegetarianism and whether Hauerwas would eat meat:
"Eschatologically we are obligated to be vegetarians, but I'm a Texan."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nativity Scenes and the Birth Narratives

So Brooke and I finally got around to putting up some Christmas decorations over the weekend.  For a full pictorial album of our decorations, see my wife's post here.  For a story about our tree fiasco, see here.

One of our favorite Christmas decorations are our numerous nativity scenes.  We probably have about 8 different sets.  What I have always found interesting about the nativity scenes is that they are a visual representation of gospel harmonization.

For example, in this scene we have the three wisemen or magi from the East, all sitting on horses.  These magi are clearly from Matthew's gospel.  But, the scene with Mary and Joseph and the cow and donkey seems to be a stable scene which comes from Luke's gospel. Well kindof, there is no mention of a stable, just a manger, which evokes images of a stable with the requisite farm animals.

Next, look at this nativity set.  This one is very clearly a scene from Luke's gospel with all of the stable animals.  The shepherd also comes from Luke's gospel, yet in Luke, the shepherds are not present at the birth scene proper, but are in a field "nearby."  One major thing out of place would be the Star sitting above the stable, which is clearly only found in Matthew's account.

In this third nativity scene, we again have a shepherd (Luke), farm animals (Luke, kind of), the three wise men (Matthew) and now an angel, which is also not present at the birth scene in Luke, but does announce the birth to shepherds nearby.

It is very interesting to look at nativity scenes as a perfect visual example of gospel harmonization.  It is also interesting to look at a nativity scene and then actually go and read the birth narratives.  You might be shocked at what is, or is not actually in the text.

And finally, this one, oh wait, how did that get in here?  Happy Advent to you as we await the coming of our Lord.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Surprise

I love flash mobs.  Before I joined the blogosphere I didn't even know what they were.  I feel like they are one of the greatest developments in our culture.  It is like imagination and hard work coming together and just popping up in random spots.  This is perhaps my favorite flash mob ever.  This song in itself spurs an emotional response in me every time I hear it, but seeing it in this environment is just phenomenal.  Enjoy.

HT to my wife and James McGrath for bringin this to my attention.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grading Policy

Here is a direct quote from my Christian Scriptures class syllabus:

"Grading for this class is strictly on a points system. Grades in this class are EARNED not GIVEN. At the end of the semester, your point total will determine your grade. “Grade bumping” will not occur in this class as it is arbitrary and is unfair to students."
 I post this to serve as a reminder to students and as a jumping off point for discussion.

Let me mention that in my class I try and follow this phrase: "I WILL NOT DO for one student what I AM NOT DOING for every student."  Therefore, if some student has an 89.5% in my class (537/600 points) and they ask for a grade bump, I would essentially be giving them three points in my class.  I will not do that for one student unless I am doing it for all.  So, OK, lets say I do it for all, I give three points to all students.  Now, the student who had 534 points now has 537 points and an 89.5%.  What if they now feel gypped and ask for a grade bump.  You see where this is going.  Therefore, my class works on a purely capitalist system.  My students earn every point they get and I do not give out free points.

I do want to mention that I understand why a student feels justified in asking for a grade bump.  I do think our current grading system is not perfect.  Surely a student who earns an 89.5% is very close in ability and work to a student who earns a 90%, yet the grade point assigned to the former student is significantly lower than the latter.

This is why elsewhere (here and here) I have discussed the grading system and why I would like to see it changed (not that I think it will).  In short, I think just going to a purely percentage based system would be best.  Most classes are graded on a percentage system and then translated into a letter grade, which is then translated into a four point grading scale.  Why all the translation.  At the end of the class why not just give a student an 89.5 which then goes on their record and is averaged with their percentages in other classes.  This would have several positive effects.  First, the 89.5% student would no longer feel gypped knowing that their grade does not look significantly different than the 90% student.  Also, it would allow other students to really shine.  What about the 99% student who really works their rear end off, but in our current system they look just like the 90% student.  Last, but certainly not least, it might curb the emails to professors at the end of the semester asking for a grade bump.

What do you think?  Students, what do you think is most fair?  Other teachers, how do you grade and what system do you think is/would be best?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Third Eagle Top 40

In a followup post from yesterday, William Tapley, A.K.A. Third Eagle of the Apocalypse, A.K.A. the co-prophet of the end times is apparently a wonderful song writer.  Check out this well written and musically brilliant tune.

Now, if you listened to the whole thing, you noticed the formulaic verse pattern. Here is my attempt at another verse:

Horsemen ride
curb your pride
Don't be left on the wayside
horsemen ride
Red, white, black and pale they do abide
curb your pride
They bring death and hades at noontide
horsemen ride
curb your pride
If you don't they'll have your hide
horsemen ride
curb your pride
Flee your towns and fields up to the mountainside

Now it is your turn. Can you come up with another verse? Perhaps we could submit our verses to the Third Eagle and he will record another version.