Thirty Three Things (v. 1)

1. Quote of the Week: “The essence of the Christian religion consists in this, that the creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and recreated by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God.” — Herman Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek

2. The 7 Rules of Church Fonts

3. 50 Most Extraordinary Churches of the World

The Church of Hallgramur is a Lutheran parish church which is also a very tall one, reaching 74.5 meters (244 ft) height. It is the fourth tallest architectural structure in Iceland.

It took incredibly long to build it (38 years!) Construction work began in 1945 and ended in 1986.

4. If Noah had a blog . . .

5. Real Gardening vs. American Lawncare

Two weeks ago, I was watching my neighbor meticulously patch his lawn after spending a half hour edging the sidewalk.

I thought, “If he spent that much time and care on a vegetable garden, he could feed his family all summer long.”

Then last week on my son’s preschool field trip, the instructor showed the kids a photo of a lawnmower and asked what tool did that job 100 years ago on the farm. The scythe was the answer, and I thought, “That wasn’t for cutting grass, it was for field work.” I was struck by the fact that farmers 100 years ago didn’t have lawns. They didn’t have time for them, nor did they probably see the point.

6. How to Write a Theological Paper

7. A Scientific Analysis of the 5-Second Rule*

On surfaces that had been contaminated eight hours earlier, slices of bologna and bread left for five seconds took up from 150 to 8,000 bacteria. Left for a full minute, slices collected about 10 times more than that from the tile and carpet, though a lower number from the wood.

Suggested revision:

If you drop a piece of food, pick it up quickly, take five seconds to recall that just a few bacteria can make you sick, then take a few more to think about where you dropped it and whether or not it’s worth eating.

* The old adage that if you drop food on the floor but pick it up within five seconds, it’s okay to eat it.

8. Picture Show: The 37 or so Ingredients in a Twinkie

9. The Holy Cosmos: The New Religion of Space Exploration

In what ways does Cosmism resemble a religion?

Harrison: Well, the roots of this extend back to antiquity in early notions of sky gods and that sort of thing; it’s telling, for instance, that the polytheistic gods of yesteryear lent their names to planets. In the modern era, Cosmism is generally thought to have originated with early twentieth century Russians. There are a couple different ways that you see the religious aspects of Cosmism. One place you see it is in the tremendous faith that both Russians and Americans have in technology; specifically, the idea that technology can solve the problems of humanity, and that we need to leave Earth to create a better society, to find, in some sense, perfection in space. You see this idea over and over when space exploration is discussed, the idea that we can leave behind the problems that plague society here on Earth and we create these wonderful new societies in space. There’s a general resemblance in this thinking to religious views of heaven, and in particular notions of salvation.

10. The 5 Best Toys of All Time

11. Why you want a strong Goth for a best man:

The tradition of a best man has its origin with the Germanic Goths, when it was customary and preferable for a man to marry a woman from within his own community. When women came into short supply “locally,” eligible bachelors would have to seek out and capture a bride from a neighboring community. As you might guess, this was not a one-person operation, and so the future bridegroom would be accompanied by a male companion who would help. Our custom of the best man is a throwback to that two-man, strong-armed tactic, for, of course the future groom would select only the best man he knew to come along for such an important task.

The role of the best man evolved. By 200 A.D. his task was still more than just safeguarding the ring. There remained a real threat that the bride’s family would attempt to forcibly obtain her return, so the best man remained at the groom’s side throughout the marriage ceremony, alert and well-armed. He continued his duties after the ceremony by standing guard as sentry outside the newlywed’s home. Much of this is German folklore, but is not without written documentation and physical artifacts. We have records that indicate that beneath the altars of many churches of early peoples (the Huns, Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals) there lay an arsenal of clubs, knives, and spears. The indication is that these were there to protect the groom from possible attack by the bride’s family in an attempt to recapture her.

12. The Most Aggressively Inarticulate Generation

13. The Future is Here. And We’re Impatient

I now have in my possession a pocket-sized computer which, when I speak a question to it (“Who is the author of Kraken?” “Who was the fourteenth president of the Unites States?” “What is the name of John Scalzi’s cat?”) provides me an answer in just a few seconds. If I take a picture of something, the same pocket computer will analyze the photo and tell me what I’m looking at. Oh, and it makes phone calls, too. Among other things.

None of that is the cool part. The cool part is, when I speak a question to my pocket computer and it gives me a bad answer, I get annoyed. Because here in the future, when I talk to my pocket computer, I expect it to get the answer right the first time.

14. Video clip of blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli telling the story of his mother’s decision not to abort him.

15. Roger Callois on the difference between play, work, and art:

A characteristic of play, in fact, is that it creates no wealth or goods, thus differing from work or art. At the end of the game, all can and must start over again at the same point. Nothing has been harvested or manufactured, no masterpiece has been created, no capital has accrued. Play is an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money … As for the professionals—the boxers, cyclists, jockeys, or actors who earn their living in the ring, track, or hippodrome or on the stage, and who must think in terms of prize, salary, or title—it is clear that they are not players but workers. When they play it is at some other game.

16. Top 10 Reasons We Should Revive the Dark Ages

17. Underwater Basket Weaving: the real story

We’ve all heard “Underwater Basket Weaving” used as a synonym for easy, impractical college courses. Turns out that underwater basket weaving is challenging, rewarding, and offered by at least two American universities: UCSD, and Saint Joseph’s College Indiana. So whence the joke about UBW?

18. Where is Golgotha?

19. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway on Motherhood as Vocation

How should Christians think about the Mommy Wars? Vocationally. You may have heard vocation used as a synonym for occupation. But Martin Luther used it to talk about every Christian’s calling to particular offices through which God works to care for his creation. We serve our neighbors as employees, yes, but also as citizens, parishioners, and family members. Through our web of relationships, we are the instruments by which God works in the world.

So, for instance, God heals us by giving us doctors and nurses. He feeds us by giving us farmers and bakers. He gives us earthly order through our governors and legislators, and he gives us life through our parents. God is providing all these gifts—but we receive them from our neighbors.

Parenting is one of the most important vocations we can be given. Yes, the obligations of childrearing are difficult, but when the duties are fulfilled with the knowledge that we are doing the will of God, our reward is great. Luther wrote that fathers should not complain when they have to rock a baby, change his diaper, or care for the baby’s mother, but instead should view each act as a holy blessing.

20. Tarzan Skills: How to Swim, Dive, Climb, and Swing Like the Lord of the Apes

21. The Coconut – Nature’s Best Packaging Design

The humble and tropically ubiquitous coconut, besides producing one of the tastiest cocktail starters out there (mmmm…..piña coladas!), is one the best package design solutions for a perishable food item ever designed by nature. Not only do coconuts survive falling from heights of 50 feet to the ground (landing on anything from cushy golf courses to lava rock), but they often travel thousands of miles via ocean waves, still perfectly protected. Viable Caribbean coconuts, which are the seeds of the Coconut palm, have been found as far north as Norway, which is why the tree has propagated so successfully from 26 latitude North to 26 degrees latitude South.

22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

23. America’s Royal Family

One of the things that’s often forgotten is that, by virtue of the annexation of Hawaii as a state, the United States does have a royal family — one with no constitutional status, but one which is also widely recognized within one state of the fifty. The surviving members break up into the primary line, the House of Kamehama, and the secondary line, the House of Keoua Nui. The person usually considered the current Titular Queen Regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii is Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa; the primary heir to the House of Kamehama is Quentin Kuhio Kawananakoa, a Hawaiian politician, and the heirs to the House of Keoua Nui are the musician Owana Salazar and her children, Kapumahana Kaʻahumanu Walters (best known for being a former Miss Teen USA) and Noa Kalokuokamaile DeGuire. Since the Kingdom of Hawaii is defunct and there is no Hawaiian throne to be heir to, being a Hawaiian prince or princess is a pretty minor thing, purely titular, sustained only by polite custom. But the custom exists nonetheless.

24. 20 Questions to ask of Novels

25. Novelist Milan Kundera wonders why protagonists of great novels don’t have children:

I was rereading One Hundred Years of Solitudewhen a strange idea occurred to me: most protagonists of great novels do not have children. Scarcely 1 percent of the world’s population are childless, but at least 50 percent of the great literary characters exit the book without having reproduced. Neither Pantagruel, nor Panurge, nor Quixote have any progeny. Not Valmont, not the Marquise de Merteuil, nor the virtuous Presidente in Dangerous Liaasons. Not Tom Jones, Fielding’s most famous hero. Not Werther. All Stendhal’s protagonists are childless, as are many of Balzac’s; and Dostoyevsky’s; and in the century just past, Marcel, the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, and of course all of Musil’s major characters…and Kafka’s protagonists, except for the very young Karl Rossmann, who did impregnate a maidservant, but that is the very reason — to erase the infant from his life — that he flees to America and the novel can be born. This infertility is not due to a conscious purpose of the novelists; it is the spirit of the arc of the novel (or its subconscious) that spurns procreation.

26. 10 Unforgettable Stories History Forgot

27. Architectural criticism of couch-cushion forts – A group of architects provide a “critical analysis of the architecture, methods and design philosophies of living room furniture re-appropriation.”

Before we were influenced by Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright, before we had seen the visual delights of Ronchamp, Pompidou Center and the Bauhaus school in Weimar, we were driven by a greater force of design inspiration. More primal and immediate than any of the previously mentioned examples, it was couch cushion architecture that established the basic building blocks of our design logic.

We greatly admire the use of coffee table as lateral moment-frame in this application. The solution is both formal and fun, offering the users a sequence of experiences beginning with the entry to vaulted ceiling to raised deck. Grade A-

See also: Couch Cushion Architecture; A Critical Analysis 2

28. How-To of the Week: Turn a $10 Flashlight into a $95 Flashlight

29. Alan Jacobs on boredom:

In Boredom: the Literary History of a State of Mind, Patricia Meyer Spacks explains that boredom as such is a relatively recent invention, from the eighteenth century at the latest. Before that we had melancholy (which was a kind of affliction of the spirit) and, further back still, acedia (which was a sin). What’s distinctive about boredom is that we don’t see it as either a condition of our own selves or a sin, but rather something that just happens to us. When we’re bored, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with us: we think the world is at fault. Stupid old world — it doesn’t interest me. And interesting me is the world’s job.

30. Why Do Girls Love Horses, Unicorns And Dolphins?

31. The psychological secret to humor is making immoral behavior seem harmless

University of Colorado psychologists A. Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren set out for an all-encompassing explanation of humor. That might seem like an impossible task, but they believe they’ve cracked the code by examining the shortcomings of previous theories of humor. For instance, Sigmund Freud thought humor came from a release of tension, while later theories held the key to comedy was a sense of superiority or incongruity.

But none of those can account for all humorous and non-humorous situations – for instance, they point out that killing your spouse would meet all three of those conditions, and yet most people wouldn’t find that funny. So they added a new element to the equation – comedy comes from violating society’s rules, but only if the observer feels those rules have been violated in a safe way.

32. What Makes the King James Version Great?

33. What is the Bible Basically About?

  • RN

    Some of these are especially amusing, particularly #22…

  • Christina

    So many great things in here! Thanks!

  • Matt E.

    I’m so glad you’re doing these here now. Thanks!

  • Steve, Winnipeg, Canada

    I’ve been to Hallgramur Church in Iceland. The building is magnificent.

    My mother-in-law attended a service there. It was 15 minutes long including a 3 minute sermon delivered by a state-paid minister. Does this make Hallgramur less impressive?

    By the way, Joe, thanks for bringing 33 things over to the GC. I always enjoyed it at First Things.

  • Roger Overton

    Glad to see 33 Things again- Thanks Joe!

  • Joe Carter

    Thanks, Matt, Steve, and Roger. I wasn’t sure it would fit here at TGC but I figured I’d give it a shot and see what people think. Most of this one is comprised of older items that I thought people may not have seen, though future posts will include much more new material.

  • Aaron Meares

    #25 Jean Valjean, too.

  • Dan B.

    I don’t remember opening so many tabs from a roundup post before! Eclectic and interesting. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Re: #33 I understand it is helpful to boil things down to its simplest denominator for clarity sometimes and yet, to say that the Bible is ‘not about us’ leaves unstated the incredible truth that the Bible is a LOVE STORY of the three Persons of God so desiring relationship that He would insist on making a way for His creation and for humans to be reconciled again through Jesus for the most intimate fellowship with Him. This story about the treasured possession that we are to Him is something I cannot get over!

  • Scott Davis

    Number 12 was great, don’t you think? It is a great contrast with Paul as he wrote about the resurrection of Christ. May we speak with sch confidence today, even as we serve with humility.

  • Dave Eden

    I just wanted to join the others in saying that I’m very happy to see 33 things again!