Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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The Up Series

The Jesuits have a saying: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” And in a fascinating series of documentaries called Up, this is precisely the premise — except that there are no Jesuits involved.

The Up SeriesThe series begins in 1964. (At this point it’s called Seven Up!) We meet fourteen real-life seven-year-olds from the UK. They come from the city, the country, the suburbs. They hail from all over the socioeconomic spectrum. There are boys and a few girls. We hear them talk about their lives so far, what they like and dislike, the world around them, school, what they hope to do in the future.

There is Andrew, from a wealthy family, who proudly declares that he reads The Financial Times and plans to attend Cambridge someday. Then there is Tony, more of a middle-class boy, who wants to be a jockey when he grows up.  There are Jackie, Lynn, and Sue, who all attend the same elementary school in a working-class neighborhood; their commentary on seven-year-old existence is priceless. And there are nine other children, each with their own quirks and dreams.

Since then, every seven years these same fourteen Britons have had their lives documented on camera. Do their lives turn out as they expect? What influence does their upbringing have on their youth, their careers, their relationships?

The result is engrossing entertainment (the original reality TV!) and a profound education.

So, is the Jesuit saying true? You’ll have to watch the Up Series and see for yourself.

(The DVD boxed set, containing the first six episodes (ages 7 through 49), is available to check out. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have 56 Up, from 2012.)


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Bioethics at Rolfing

The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is hosting its 20th Annual Summer Conference this week and through the weekend. The conference will investigate the impact of modern medicine, science, and technology on our individual and common humanity.

Rolfing Library has a growing collection of bioethics books and e-books. In honor of this week’s events at the CBHD, we thought we’d post a few new acquisitions. Enjoy!


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Book Displays: Poverty Minstry

Hole in our gospelWhat is the gospel? Is it something we do? Is it something Christ does? Or maybe a combination of both?  Richard Stearns’s book, The Hole in our Gospel, has gained a lot of attention since its publication in 2009. In his book, Stearns argues that the American church has lost a piece of the gospel message. He urges Christians to look beyond their own churches and work to win the world for God’s kingdom. He challenges Christians to move from simply having a private faith to experiencing their faith in a public way, mainly through reducing poverty and caring the the sick, underprivileged, and the hurting throughout the world. Stearns delves into realms of missions, self-denial, and caring for “the least of these” in hopes of encouraging Christians to see the hole in their gospel.

His tone is gentle yet firm, and it is difficult not to feel sympathy for his cause. There is no debating that his argument is valiant and beneficial. Poverty is a crisis that needs to be addressed. Yet some argue that there is something missing from Stearns’s argument. In a review from the Christian Research Institute, author and pastor Kevin DeYoung gives three criticisms of Stearns’s book.

First, DeYoung resists Stearns’s method of turning Christians from apathy. He agrees that Christians are often apathetic to needs outside their own daily life and community, but he does not agree with Stearns’s method of motivation. Stearns asks believers to move away from valuing those in their own circles over those around the world. After all, God values all his people equally, so why don’t we? DeYoung finds this method of motivation ineffective and responsible for producing unnecessary guilt.

Second, DeYoung disagrees with Stearns’s use of economics to prove his point. These facts are no doubt motivating, but somewhat misleading as well. His use of statistics creates a dissidence regarding who is responsible for world poverty. In some places, he says that western Christians are not to blame for world poverty, and in others, his facts and statistics seem to argue the opposite.

Third, and arguably most important, is the question, What is the gospel? Stearns focuses on a gospel based on the actions of believers. DeYoung argues that this focus is a disservice to the true gospel message. Although Stearns would no doubt agree that Christ atoned for our sins so we could be reconciled with God, his book does not make it clear. When viewed as a whole, it seems Stearns’s gospel is primarily focused on something that we do.

Undoubtedly, this is an interesting read and a valuable perspective to explore. We are interested in your thoughts on this subject! Please comment below and check out our display relating to poverty ministry!

What do you believe is the balance between words and deeds associated with the gospel?

Have you read The Hole in our Gospel? What is your reaction to Stearns’s premise?

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Jesus Will Be Here by 2050…

Jesus' Return pie chart

…or at least 48% of American believers think so, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

A solid but small remnant of 14% admitted that they have no idea whether Jesus will be coming back in the near future. (Which seems like the appropriate response, doesn’t it?)

But popular eschatology aside, such polls can do more than amuse us (though they’re good at that). They can also do more than confirm our worst nightmares about the state of American Christianity (though they’re good at that too).

Groups like Pew can provide pastors with on-the-ground data with which to be better missiologists. Maybe this particular pie chart is not helpful, but the Internet is replete with other kinds of helpful information about the people, cultures, and communities God has positioned you and me to serve.

And luckily for us, much of this information is entirely free to access and use.

Here are a few links to get you started exploring:

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Book Display: Mathematics

I don’t know about you, but I have a slight math phobia.  I still remember sitting at my desk in the third grade, sweating as I watched the teacher hand out timed math quizzes. My hand would shake as I picked up my pencil and waited for her to say, “Start!”  There was always that kid who finished the test in an astonishingly short amount of time and made sure everyone knew it. Then there was me, using my fingers to do simple addition and having completely forgotten how to do math under all the stress .  Thankfully, the story does not end there. I had a fantastic calculus teacher in high school who would come to my lunch table and help me with my homework. It is because of him that I no longer sweat when I see numbers, although I do cling to my phone’s tip calculator when going out to eat.

This display is for people like me who have a math phobia, and for you mathematicians out there, and everybody in between!

Here are a few of my favorites!

Empowering science and mathematics education in urban schools How to read historical mathematics Number Sense and Number Nonsense Pioneering Women in American Mathematics