Sunday, March 01, 2020

Once more, round the 'Net

Not sure where to start this week. Maybe let's start with this, from Bicycling, on how social media affects, wait for it. . . what you eat! Yep. According to this article, "new research shows you’re more likely to consume the types of food you see most while scrolling on the ’gram." Not only are you what you eat, but you eat what you see. I guess placement ads must work for the same reason. There's a theological lesson there, isn't there. Something about fixing our eyes on Jesus.

But how about the mouth? Well, for you word of faith people, Andrew Gabriel, an Assembly of God theologian, so no cessationist, says it's overblown:

When I point out that there is no verse in the Bible where anyone ever says, “I decree and declare X over my life,” one question Christians sometimes raise is, “But don’t you believe the Bible when it says there is power in the tongue?”

Yes, I do. But we have to ask, what does the Bible mean when it refers to the power of the tongue?

Some Christians claim that because we are created in the image of God, we, like God, have the power in our tongues to speak things into being.

This is poor reasoning. God spoke the world into being literally out of nothing. No human has ever done that. And this is why no theologian in church history has ever suggested that being created in the image of God means that human words have creative power. Well…this, plus the fact that this idea has no biblical support.

But, as he does not hesitate to point out, the tongue does have real power to hurt and to heal, a theme that Ron Sider takes up via a guest post. Final two paragraphs:
We are speaking and hearing creatures. We live by words spoken and heard, words addressed and answered. In Finally Comes the Poet, Walter Brueggemann writes, “How we speak matters enormously…because the shape and power of everything else is put at risk and made possible by our speech with each other.”

Given our current situation, we have an option. Obama didn’t walk on water, but we have in him something far better in presidential rhetoric than what we’ve heard over the past three years. It seems worth talking about the difference words make and voting for something better in November.

Speaking of which, Heather Cox Richardson posted this Feb 23:
Ukraine journalist Marko Suprun and Russian-born foreign policy journalist Julia Ioffe said something interesting this morning on CNN. They were pointing out that observers often make the mistake of thinking that Russian disinformation is designed to pit the American left against the American right to sow chaos. But, in fact, they pointed out, Russian disinformation is designed to pit the American left and the American right against the American center, because it is in the great American center that democracy lives.
And David Fitch has this to say about reconciliation (part 2 to follow next week):
The “enemy-making machine” is my label for how antagonisms work in a society that lives in autonomy from God. Using observations taken from the field of “critique of ideology” (or “critical theory”), I’ve noticed several repeatable patterns to how antagonisms work in our culture and even in our churches. There are several elements to it that can help us ask the right questions, diagnose what is happening, and resist entering into the enemy-making machine. I contend if we can resist its temptation, we can open space for the presence of the living God to unwind the antagonism and make way for grace, forgiveness, and healing.
He follows that with some solid advice; read it!

On a darker side of things, this op-ed says that maybe it's just a dark comedy

I’m sorry not sorry to be a Cassandra about this — and I sure hope I’m wrong. But confronted with this reality, it is staggering to me that anyone can say we should chill. The nature of Trump’s instinctual tyranny is that it never stops by itself. And, like any psychological disorder, it never rests. It has an energy all its own. Each new beachhead of power is simply a means to acquire more of it in an ever-more ambitious and dynamic form. This is not a comedy; it’s a tragedy we want to believe is a comedy. Because the alternative is too nightmarish. A Kierkegaard quote, of all things, popped on Twitter this week that seemed to capture the dynamic beautifully: “A fire broke out behind stage at a theater. The clown walked out to warn the public and they thought it was a joke and they applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s exactly how the world will end: to generous applause from wits who think it’s a joke.”
Or maybe, this whole thing is because we have a warped view of masculinity.
The gospel of Jesus is not a gospel of proving yourself or measuring up. It’s a gospel of acceptance. Proving yourself is unnecessary. Before you can make your case that you belong, the Father places his signet ring on your finger and calls you “son.” Your title, your place, your identity has been secured by an act of love. Not a show of strength.
This one is compliments of Jim E. (who says he got it from James E.). David Bentley Hart looks at what socialism really is, not the imaginary versions that are used as scare tactics, and then proceeds to dismantle a few things that need dismantling. I'll just grab one paragraph, but as always, read the whole thing
Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?
OK, this is getting long, so a couple on education. First, the situation for adjuncts. Summary: not good. Fix: complicated. And Chris Gehrz asks if your Christian college will close. Hard thoughts, but good ones. And the old curmudgeocrat takes a look at the loss of shared public spaces via technology. Worth a read.

In other news, A.J. takes a look at productivity. BW3 quotes from Volf on divine retribution. Interesting quotation and worth thinking about (chase the link). And Christianity Today talks about identificational repentance.

Daniel was taken into captivity along with thousands of other Israelites during the Babylonian exile. There he was confronted with the complexities of living out his faith in a foreign culture while working for a pagan king. His prayer comes after decades of service to a foreign nation.

You do not have to read very much of the text to recognize the prayer as a confession. Daniel finds just about every way imaginable to ask for forgiveness. And he fully identifies himself with his people: We have sinned. We have rebelled. We have not listened. We have done wrong. We have been wicked. We have transgressed. We have turned away. We have been unfaithful. We have refused to obey. We have not sought the Lord. We have not turned from our sins. We have not given attention to your truth.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive acknowledgment of guilt, which is a little mystifying because, up until this point, Daniel hasn’t exhibited any obvious moral lapses. He’s been the very model of a faithful servant of God.

There’s a disconnect between his exemplary behavior and his humble confession. It makes you want to protest and say, “Daniel, you don’t have to do that. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s those who were unfaithful who should be apologizing!”

Daniel’s approach is so opposite from my own. When it comes to collective sins—whether those of the church, the clergy, or the nation—I want to distance myself from the offense. I want to point out why “they” are not “me.” And I want to denounce what I see “them” doing.

Yep. Here's an encouraging post, via Jim E. again, about a boss who put actions to his words by taking a pay cut back in 2015 and giving that money to his employees. Guess what? It worked. His employees are more productive and less stressed. Whodda thunk, eh? If you're not spending all your energy working 2–3 jobs to make ends meet on minimum wage, maybe you'll have energy to do one job well. Duh, as we used to say.

OK, two final posts on books. Nick Norelli on book gluttony (he should post more often). And the Literary Review of Canada looks at a book about books:

One thing to keep in mind when we talk idealistically about books is that many of the people who work directly with them—publishers, retailers, librarians, and authors alike—generally value one form of paper over all others: money. Publishing, like all other industries, is a profit-minded business, and bottom-line thinking often has ugly consequences for the object itself. Price’s book, for instance, contains a provoking “interleaf”—a section of about eight pages in which you read each line of text from the left-hand page across the gutter of the book to the adjoining right-hand page. It’s a clever game of mise-en-page, driving home visually and phenomenologically how our posture affects our experience of books and how habituated we are to using the material form of a book one page at a time. But the “interleaf” is also a failed experiment, thanks to the sloppiness with which Price’s book was bound up. Not a single one of the eight pages in my copy lines up properly across the gutter, rendering a hands-on study in graphic design just an unreadable, vertiginous nightmare. You should love books, we are told, even when they’ve been assembled with the care usually allowed to a last-minute science project.
Ouch! Wish I could disagree with them, but I can't.

That's it for this week. Hope you found something worth reading and didn't get to mad at me : )

No comments: