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February 2010 Archives

February 11, 2010

Kids and Computers--Skeel

Thanks to the East Coast blizzard, we’re now in day two of a six day weekend (otherwise known as an eternity) with our two high school sons. This means lots of spirited debates about how long the boys can stay on the computers. In our house, we’ve arrived at a rule that that they can’t go on the computer before 12 noon, and must get off by 10 p.m. My wife and I are pleased with this system (the boys are rather less enthusiastic, and frequently tell us so), but it still means policing the noon and 10 pm boundaries and lots of discussion about how long they can stay on during those hours in between.

At a recent dinner I attended, an executive of a prominent organization told a story about how a young employee had been fired for using Facebook on his work computer, because the organization has a strict rule against employees going on non-work sites.   The principal concern was that surfing the web would interfere with work. When the employee’s boss heard that he’d been fired, he said, “Oh no, he was my most productive employee.” At the dinner table, this led to a predictable discussion of the changes in the way the younger generation processes information and does their work.
At home, the story made me wonder whether our after-noon-and-before-10 pm system is hopelessly anachronistic. Maybe it is, but that love for computers looks an awful lot like an addiction to us old timers, and going cold turkey for at least part of the day still seems like the best treatment.

February 21, 2010

Wheaton's New President--Skeel

Phil Ryken, the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, the church of which I and my family are members, was just named the eighth president of Wheaton College.  The first excitement came even before the official announcement, when the website of Christianity Today magazine released the news yesterday before it was public.  Dr. Ryken informed the elders of our church yesterday morning, at roughly the same time as the faculty of Wheaton was informed of the choice in a confidential meeting.  The plan was to wait until after the move was announced to Tenth’s congregation this morning before making it public. A vibrant debate ensued on the CT website as to whether CT should have posted the news.  Although it would have been far better for Tenth’s congregation if the news had not been leaked, I side with those who think CT acted perfectly appropriately in posting it.  Only in rare circumstances—such as national security threats—should journalists withhold breaking news.  If there are villains in the story, it is the people who leaked the information, not the reporter who published it.

While Ryken’s departure will be very hard for the church, I think he is a superb choice to lead Wheaton, which is arguably the leading evangelical institution of higher education in this country.  He has strong academic values (and is the son of prominent Wheaton professor Leland Ryken), superb credentials, and is the most gifted administrator I have ever seen.  (Full disclosure: I am a friend and had the privilege of talking to the Wheaton search committee during the search).  Some of his views will be controversial, even within Wheaton’s evangelical community.  Tenth Church does not have women pastors,or instance, and Ryken is a member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, which has been very critical of New Perspective theologians such as N.T. Wright.  But Ryken has a remarkable capacity to listen to those who may disagree with him on particular issues, and Jesus is the focus of every sermon he preaches and everything he does.
I cannot imagine a better choice to lead Wheaton for the coming generation.