“God’s promises were not given to save us the problem of thinking.” — John Stott
Parsing Politics and Finding Cool Stuff on the Internet
“God’s promises were not given to save us the problem of thinking.” — John Stott
Click on the image to view the enlarged version. I own Ghost Wars and tried reading it a few months back but ended up putting it down.
Enjoy this long read by Frank Rich (former NY Times columnist, highly recommended) in the New York Magazine. Topic:
Obama’s Original Sin
The president’s failure to demand a reckoning from the moneyed interests who brought the economy down has cursed his first term, and could prevent a second.
This isn’t an exhaustive list (and many would argue over which books made it or didn’t) but enjoy. It is organized by category (which is helpful). I thought the memoirs looked good.
I hope this turns into a daily series.
The Rabbis frequently suggested that on Mount Sinai, each one of the Israelites who had been standing at the foot of the mountain had experienced God in a different way. God had, as it were, adapted himself to each person “according to the comprehension of each.” As one Rabbi put it, “God does not come to man oppressively but commensurately with a man’s power of receiving him.” This very important rabbinic insight meant that God could not be described in a formula as though he were the same for everybody: he was an essentially subjective experience. Each individual would experience the reality of “God” in a different way to answer the needs of his or her own particular temperament. Each one of the prophets had experiences God differently, the Rabbis insisted, because his personality had influenced his conception of the divine. –Karen Armstrong (pp. 73-4) in her book The History of God.
As they say, with the passing of Memorial Day weekend, we now enter summer. With that, here are some books mostly geared towards education and information. I have churned through a few fiction (Ordinary People) and nonfiction (Underboss, the History of God, which I am only 70 pages in) lately and am on the lookout for some others for the summer.
6. THE FILTER BUBBLE
We live in a culture that puts a premium on customization, but this ultra-personalization has its price when it comes to the information we’re being served. That’s exactly what Eli Pariser, founder of public policy advocacy group MoveOn.org, explores in his fascinating and, depending on where you fall on the privacy spectrum, potentially unsettling new book, The Filter Bubble — a compelling deep-dive into the invisible algorithmic editing on the web, a world where we’re being shown more of what algorithms think we want to see and less of what we should see. (Did you know that Google takes into account 57 individual data points before serving you the results you searched for?) Implicitly, the book raises some pivotal questions about the future of the information economy and the balance between algorithm and curator — something I feel particularly strongly about.
Hearts and Minds has some great ones. Money quote (but there are so many to pick when reading their stuff!):
I think we have regrets about the weekend End fiasco because, as Gabe Lyons nicely put it on Good Morning America, this stuff distracts us from our real purpose and work, from being busy serving God and neighbor. Some evangelicals (although actually fewer than you might think, I’d say) have allowed end-times speculations, bizarre interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, and weird methods of counting of numbers and names in the Bible to determine who the anti-Christ might be, to distract them from serious missional engagement. I hate to sound snide about it–and I pray that I do not–but sometimes when well-meaning customers come in the story asking for books of “prophecy” (like is American in the ends times, a la John Haggee, say) I direct them to Haggai commentaries. Spend some time with Amos or Habakkuk, I sometimes suggest, if you want prophecy. Eugene Peterson’s wonderful and slightly revised Run With the Horses(IVP; $15.00) is a fabulously rich and easy-to-read set of meditations on Jeremiah. God’s prophets spoke into their times, calling for social reform and holiness and justice and cultural repentance, they didn’t just invite people to try to predict the future. How can we help folks get that?
OutdoorLife magazine has an exclusive interview with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Charles Simic laments:
All across the United States, large and small cities are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operations. Detroit, I read a few days ago, may close all of its branches and Denver half of its own: decisions that will undoubtedly put hundreds of its employees out of work. When you count the families all over this country who don’t have computers or can’t afford Internet connections and rely on the ones in libraries to look for jobs, the consequences will be even more dire. People everywhere are unhappy about these closings, and so are mayors making the hard decisions. But with roads and streets left in disrepair, teachers, policemen and firemen being laid off, and politicians in both parties pledging never to raise taxes, no matter what happens to our quality of life, the outlook is bleak. “The greatest nation on earth,” as we still call ourselves, no longer has the political will to arrest its visible and precipitous decline and save the institutions on which the workings of our democracy depend.
I see this when I am at the library in York. Scores of grown adults and kids do not have computers at home and rely strongly on their 2 hours allotted to them a day to look for jobs, work on schoolwork, and yes a fair amount of time set aside to watch YouTube videos.
Once I started to enjoy reading, libraries became my new toy store. Free books, so many services and resources at your fingertips (secondary language services, such as Rosetta Stone, are there to use and others are available to check out) and more all there and paid for by our tax dollars.
Simic makes a few more points worth noting:
This was just the start. Over the years I thoroughly explored many libraries, big and small, discovering numerous writers and individual books I never knew existed, a number of them completely unknown, forgotten, and still very much worth reading. No class I attended at the university could ever match that. Even libraries in overseas army bases and in small, impoverished factory towns in New England had their treasures, like long-out of print works of avant-garde literature and hard-boiled detective stories of near-genius.
Wherever I found a library, I immediately felt at home. Empty or full, it pleased me just as much. A boy and a girl doing their homework and flirting; an old woman in obvious need of a pair of glasses squinting at a dog-eared issue of The New Yorker; a prematurely gray-haired man writing furiously on a yellow pad surrounded by pages of notes and several open books with some kind of graphs in them; and, the oddest among the lot, a balding elderly man in an elegant blue pinstripe suit with a carefully tied red bow tie, holding up and perusing a slim, antique-looking volume with black covers that could have been poetry, a religious tract, or something having to do with the occult. It’s the certainty that such mysteries lie in wait beyond its doors that still draws me to every library I come across.
Pictured: a library established by Andrew Carnegie.
The impacts are stark:
Stray bits of paper fall out of books, and then you’ve lost your place. You can’t access your highlighted passages when you’re at the office and your book is at home. You can’t read your matchstick etchings two months after they were written. A ripped out page gets quickly lost. The natural shield against distraction means that if you do want a quick distraction, you have to put the book down entirely — and then you may not pick it back up.
First, an interview he gave on his book Friendship at the Margins:
A brief description of the book: In our anonymous and dehumanized world, the simple practice of friendship is radically countercultural. But sometimes Christians inadvertently marginalize and objectify the very ones they most want to serve.
Chris also briefly discusses denominations and doctrine.
“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book,”- E.B. White, writing to the children of Troy, Michigan, congratulating them on their new library in 1971.