Good morning!

A wonderful discovery in Turkey:

Archaeologists in the ancient Turkish city of Aizanoi have discovered a cache of 651 Roman coins in a vessel buried near a stream, reports Muharrem Cin for the state-run Anadolu Agency.

“The jug was aimed to be kept [in place] by three terracotta plates covering it,” lead archaeologist Elif Özer of Pamukkale University tells the Hurriyet Daily News, adding that that the coins were likely buried during Emperor Augustus’ reign (27 B.C.—14 A.D.).

Per a statement, the scholars concluded that 439 of the coins were denarii, a type of silver coin first introduced in the third century B.C., while 212 were cistophori, or silver coins from Pergamum, an ancient Greek city in what is now Turkey. Though the researchers discovered the coins in 2019, they weren’t able to examine them until recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the statement, as translated by CNN’s Jack Guy, Özer describes the coins, which were minted in Southern Italy, as not only a “very special and unique collection,” but “the most special silver coin find of recent times.”

Dated to between 75 and 4 B.C., the coins bear the images of Roman emperors and politicians, including Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus and Mark Antony, writes Live Science’s Laura Geggel. When studying the artifacts, researchers found that many of the coins were well-preserved, with their engravings still legible.

Another wonderful story:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Moved by a need to help his students, a South Carolina high school principal took on a part-time job at Walmart and donated his paycheck to those in need.

Henry Darby, principal at North Charleston High School, is considered his community's guardian angel.

"A couple of years ago, I had two students, who were females, sleeping under the bridge. There was another situation where a former student of mine and her daughter were sleeping in their car, and another situation where a former student needed funds for her water and light bills," he told WCIV-TV.

Emlen Tunnell:

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — Before he became the first Black player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Emlen Tunnell served in the Coast Guard during and after World War II, where he was credited with saving the lives of two shipmates in separate incidents.

Now, a Coast Guard cutter and an athletic building on the Coast Guard Academy campus are being named in honor of the former New York Giants defensive back.

The service aims to highlight his little-known story and its own efforts to do better when it comes to race and celebrating diversity.

Liuan Huska:

Lents notes that the human brain hasn’t changed in 12,000 years, so it is essentially adapted to the Pleistocene life of hunter-gatherer tribes. Yet since then our societies have changed dramatically. We’ve gone from living in roving bands of 150 or so people to a global, interconnected society of billions. But our brains are still wired to identify with a small group—our tribe—and draw lines between “us” and “them.” In the tribal setting, we also learned to trust the power of anecdote and what “our people” told us about how the world works. These tendencies play out as cognitive biases, writes Lents, including confirmation bias (interpreting new evidence in ways that support our existing beliefs) and anchoring bias (giving more weight to the first piece of information we receive). They served as important mental shortcuts that allowed an early human to make sense of the world without needing to find out everything firsthand.

But today, these mental adaptations keep many of us from recognizing the evidence of climate change or systemic racism, keep us from questioning the stories we’ve been told. But what enabled us to survive thousands of years ago is undermining our ability to adapt and survive today. When we come up against information that contradicts what we’ve been told by trusted authorities, such as parents or pastors, instead of weighing the evidence and considering that the truths we were first taught might be incomplete, we often ignore the new information. It’s too uncomfortable to sit in the tension of conflicting realities. For many, the events of 2020 have become a place of rupture between the stories we’ve been told and what we see happening before our very eyes. This is a scary position—turning from what we thought we knew and scanning unknown territory, not knowing what lies ahead.

Yet I believe we have humanity’s greatest resource for our uncertain times—in the person of Jesus Christ.

David Swartz on two stories:

The lesson of the story: Peace is difficult, but it’s the way of faith in God and obedience to the teachings and example of Jesus. My evangelical Mennonite church taught me that killing fellow believers is a violation of Christian discipleship—and that killing heathens, which might send them to eternal torment, is a violation of evangelism. Because the Hochstetlers sought peace, they should be viewed as pacifist heroes. As one account puts it: They remained “faithful in the hour of sorest trial.” As a ten-year-old boy, I was transfixed by the story, and I interrogated my own soul. Would I be courageous enough to not use violence to defend myself?

This was a true story. But there was another story that my history teachers had not told me. My ancestors may not have brandished guns and forcibly taken land from indigenous peoples. But they were nonetheless complicit in what we might call the European invasion, rather than settlement, of North America.

Indeed, their farms would not have been possible without the backing of the British Empire. Their farms would not have been possible without wars and dozens of broken promises and treaties between the U.S. government and various indigenous people groups. Their farms would not have been possible without help from the land offices of Pennsylvania and Maryland that gave them land designated as “vacant.”

This second story, which is more attentive to the historical context of my ancestors, exposes their inaction in the face of terrible injustice. In this case, unlike the first story, inaction doesn’t seem quite so peaceful.

Workplace adjustments post Covid:

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco-based business software maker Salesforce says it will let most of its employees work remotely even after the pandemic, at least for part of the week. Other major tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook have made similar announcements.

Salesforce, which is the city’s largest private employer, said Tuesday that it will let most of its employers work from home at least part-time permanently. This means people will be in the office anywhere from one to three days a week. Employees who don’t live near an office or have roles that don’t require an office will work remotely full-time, Salesforce said.

Some workers whose jobs require them to be in a physical office will continue to go in to work.

John Stackhouse reminds us that toxic leaders have been used by God – and it was Luther, right, who said if God can speak through Balaam’s ass…

A friend grieves the news of a report on Ravi Zacharias’s awful sins. And there are more on the public record now that don’t show up in his report (such as his absolutely disqualifying lies about his academic credentials, accomplishments, and positions, detailed in Steve Baughman’s well-researched and unjustly overlooked book).

How can he read Ravi Zacharias anymore? Worse, he knew RZ personally and was blessed by knowing him. What, now, about all that, in retrospect? Does he just rewrite his memories and throw away RZ’s books in the shadow of Zacharias’s wickedness?

What I wrote on his Facebook stream I put here, too, in case it can be of some small help:

What remains truly astonishing to me is the undeniable and enduring value in the work of notorious sinners such as Karl Barth, John Howard Yoder, and Jean Vanier.

To be sure, I’ve been on my guard for a long time with Barth (and Paul Tillich similarly) to see whether their theology is actually bent in such a way as to accommodate their sin. (I have yet to come across someone who has taken this hermeneutical approach to either theologian, but hundreds of scholars study them, so maybe someone has.) Same now with Yoder. But still: so much blessing from such toxic streams…

Yet we know Martin Luther was capable of both great blessing and hair-raising cursing. John Calvin and John Knox made terrible decisions as leaders accompanied by invective harsh even by sixteenth-century standards.

None of the grace God passed to us through such people excuses their sins, of course, as none of what little good I’ve been able to do as a teacher and writer excuses one jot of my own considerable transgressions.

I’m just wondering aloud at how God has been somehow able (and, yes, mysteriously willing) to truly bless many others through people who were demonstrably very, darkly wicked. These aren’t isolated cases.

And doesn’t God do the same strange thing every day through me, through you, if only on a smaller scale? It’s all very odd, and disquieting.

(But whom else has God to work with? There aren’t that many saints around…)

Outrage among the Episcopalians:

[Episcopal News Service] Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith issued parallel apologies late Feb. 10 for allowing popular evangelical pastor Max Lucado to preach during the cathedral’s Sunday service, despite facing outrage in advance over Lucado’s past statements against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Budde and Hollerith both spoke of the pain the decision had caused many members of the LGBTQ community. Budde, in her statement, quoted with permission from a dozen of the people who wrote to her in protest. Hollerith said people had reached out to him as well, and he acknowledged he had erred in not listening to their calls to rescind the invitation to Lucado.

“In my straight privilege I failed to see and fully understand the pain he has caused,” Hollerith said. “I failed to appreciate the depth of injury his words have had on many in the LGBTQ community. I failed to see the pain I was continuing. I was wrong and I am sorry.”

Lucado is a best-selling author of self-help books and the pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His 22-minute prerecorded video sermon for the cathedral’s Feb. 7 livestreamed service included no reference to sexuality or same-sex marriage. Outrage over allowing Lucado to preach began late last week over a 2004 article, in which he called homosexuality a “sexual sin” and outlined his belief that God does not condone same-sex marriage, comparing it to legalizing polygamy, bestiality and incest.

ENS reached out several times to Lucado and his church, seeking comment on whether he still holds those views. Church staff members said he was unavailable. (Editor’s note: Lucado later apologized for his comments in a Feb. 11 letter to the cathedral.)

The outrage over the cathedral’s decisions continued to simmer this week, despite retired Bishop Gene Robinson’s prominent defense of the cathedral. Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church when he was consecrated in 2003 in New Hampshire, agreed to a request by Hollerith to come to the cathedral on Feb. 7 and preside at the online service that featured Lucado.

Like Hollerith, Budde said she should have heeded the appeals of those who were questioning the cathedral’s decision to invite Lucado as its latest guest preacher.