A digest of interesting, entertaining, and otherwise worthwhile reads collected from around the web-o-sphere.
1) Last month, emergent/progressive Christian blogger Tony Jones declared that “It’s Time for a Schism Regarding Women in the Church” (emphasis his).
…sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.
The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.
Jones outlined several actions potential schismatics could take, including “If you work for a ministry that does not affirm women in ecclesial leadership, you need to leave that ministry.” Not surprisingly, Jones received quite a bit of push-back, and later recanted (sort of). A particularly interesting and pointed critique of Jones’ statement came from a surprising (to me) source: feminist blogger Dianna E. Anderson. In “Why Church Schisms are Not Easy Matters: Tony Jones, Ideological Purity, and Sin” Anderson writes:
Schism is a word of pain. It is a breaking apart of the Body of Christ. It is a deeply felt process — we still feel the pain from the Protestant-Catholic schism of hundreds of years ago. We’re still feeling aftershocks as denominations break apart and splinter. This breaking apart of the community is nothing less than sin.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m not calling for unity here as so many oppressors have done to respond to objections from the oppressed. Unity that means conformity is hardly what we need. But what I am saying that Tony Jones’ call for schism here amounts more to a selfish call for ideological purity than it does to a pastoral, helpful approach to the church body.
Jones, here, has outed himself as an ideologue, searching for a mob to lead against the supposed Bad Guys.
I had honestly not expected such a response from Anderson, based on other pieces of hers that I’ve read. But I love it when I’m proven wrong, when I read something that causes me to re-evaluate and re-think someone.
2) Following Nelson Mandela’s death, tributes and accolades came flooding in from around the world. But there were also some, shall we say, more skeptical and critical responses to Mandela’s memory. All of which brings me to this thoughtful piece by Albert Mohler on the morally complicated nature of history, and historical figures.
…when we look at his legacy in terms of the overthrow of apartheid, we recall the fact that Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the most influential theologians in America at the middle of the 20th century, argued that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect. That seems so often to be the case in a fallen world. In a sinful world, a world in which every dimension is marked by sin, the most effective political leaders are those who have the strongest convictions; but often those strong convictions and ambitions are met by a somewhat less than stellar character.
When it comes to human rights and human dignity, Nelson Mandela has to be put on the side of the heroes, not only of the 20th century, but of any recent century. He is, as an ironic view of history would remind us, one of those necessary men. A necessary man who nonetheless is a man whose feet were made of clay, as his biography reveals very clearly.
3) Ross Douthat draws some parallels between the themes in C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley’s writings:
In effect, both Huxley and Lewis looked at a utilitarian’s paradise — a world where all material needs are met, pleasure is maximized and pain eliminated — and pointed out what we might be giving up to get there: the entire vertical dimension in human life, the quest for the sublime and the transcendent, for romance and honor, beauty and truth.
4) In my latest Christ and Pop Culture piece, I ask “Why Are We Still Surprised When ‘Entertainment’ Does More Than Entertain Us?”
…what is incredulous to me is this continuing idea that popular culture — be it rock n’ roll, television, video games, etc. — ought to still be considered as something not worth serious consideration and thought. That we’re still shocked that our entertainers might dare to explore more substantial and sublime themes in their material.
5) Firefox is getting a facelift next year, but screenshots and sneak peeks have already appeared online. Codenamed “Australis” the facelist is intended to make the browser’s UI “modern, clean, and comfortable.” To which I say, “It’s about time.” One of the main reasons Chrome became my primary browser is because Firefox felt too bloated and convoluted. It’s nice to see the Firefox team’s attempt to streamline things.
6) The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang interviews Hirokazu Kore-eda, one of my favorite filmmakers. For example, regarding his ability to get extremely natural performances from child actors:
When I choose child actors, I chose them for their personalities. And then I work with their own vocabulary, so I’m not imposing text or dialogue on them, I’m just receiving. I’m catching their dialogue and putting it in my film. I try to use as much as possible their own vocabulary, so that it comes from them and not from me. I try as much as I can to capture what they say, and, you know I’ve made quite a few films [with children] now and I’m quite confident in my way with them… For example the younger brother of the boy in the bigger family [in “Like Father, Like Son”] that part was not written at all, it was totally improvised, and I wrote it according to what he was saying. I try to make them say things that I want them to say, but I want them to say it, and then I write that down and it’s confirmed as part of the script.
7) Spotify reveals how much they pay musicians, and it’s probably even less than you thought:
As Music Week note, Spotify have launched a new site specifically for artists looking to get their music on the service. One of the details to emerge on this site is that the company pay out an average of between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream.
8) PandoDaily’s Hamish McKenzie explores the recent upsurge in popularity of “viral” sites like BuzzFeed, ViralNova, and Upworthy, and the methods they use to get traffic.
Just as new media companies such as the Huffington Post specialized in “optimizing” their content so that it would be picked up by Google’s search spiders — a practise that includes loading up a Web page with borderline-gratuitous tags, writing headlines that are ploddingly prosaic, and irrelevantly dropping “Britney Spears” into a story about war in Iraq — today’s new media companies are gussying up their content with the attire that makes it appeal to the crowds who boredly trawl Facebook in search of distraction while at work or school. This time round, at least, publications are optimizing for humans rather than algorithms. But it’s fair to ask about the extent to which these developments can be attributed to “innovation” rather than just plain old psychological manipulation.
9) Collin Garbarino is flunking Mark Driscoll for plagiarism:
In a book on First and Second Peter published by Mars Hill Church, Driscoll lifts whole paragraphs almost word-for-word from the entry on First Peter in the New Bible Commentary, published by IVP in 1994. These passages are at the end of the previous link, and Mefferd provides additional passages here.
I’m a university professor. I have no tolerance for this kind of nonsense. I’ve failed students for less flagrant plagiarism. So, it’s my duty, as a member of my professing profession, to give Driscoll an “F.”
Mark Driscoll, you have failed.
But in an interesting, and confusing, twist, the woman who brought the initial charges has since removed the evidence and apologized for her conduct. Not sure what good this is going to do, since the evidence is still out there. And as my friend Alan Noble tweeted, “it saddens me that she apologized and [Driscoll] has not.”
On a related note, Kevin DeYoung has posted “Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books.”
10) Luke Harrington lists “6 Filthy Jokes You Won't Believe Are from the Bible”. (Did you know that King Rehoboam, the son of the legendary King Solomon, made jokes about the size of his dad’s penis?)
The above image is Schism by Jehan George Vibert.