Every Christian in America is political. This is unavoidable. It is the privilege and burden of citizenship. We can choose to not exercise the duties of citizenship, but that does not mean we do not have them. —Compassion & Conviction, p. 3

Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.

—Orwell, 1984, part iii chapt. 3

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

—Orwell, 1984, part ii chapt 9

If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate. It is therefore realized on all sides that however ofter Persia, or Egypt, or Java, or Ceylon may change hands, the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except bombs.

—George Orwell, 1984, part ii chapter 9

Anthony Fauci’s Boss on Why Things Could Be Much Better Soon

Francis Collins, literally the top scientist in the land:

We Americans tend to be pioneers in individual behavior, but this is a time for individuals to moderate their behavior.

It’s one of the great tragedies of this current moment that scientifically based public-health measures have somehow been captured as cultural or political phenomena. Your chance of spreading the coronavirus to a vulnerable person has nothing to do with what culture you come from or what political party you belong to. Your responsibility is to try to prevent that from happening to vulnerable people around you. But our country’s polarization is so extreme that it even seems to extend into a place like this — where it absolutely doesn’t belong. That is really troubling because it’s putting people at risk who shouldn’t be.

And:

It took me a couple of years to get through those many thickets of intellectual debate, but it led me then at that point in my life to see science and spirituality as not in conflict but actually quite compatible, quite harmonious, quite self- and co-reinforcing. People said my head was going to explode, that it would not be possible to both study genetics and read the Bible. I’ve never found a problem with this at all, despite the way in which some scientists have caricatured faith to make it seem incompatible. Most of those caricatures don’t resemble my faith. Similarly, the way that some people have caricatured science as a threat to God, that doesn’t resemble the science that I’m doing.

“to repudiate morality while laying claim to it”

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

—George Orwell, “1984”

Tim Keller on “Racism and Corporate Evil“:

Systemic evil… is a system that excludes and marginalizes people on the basis of race even though most of the people in the system are probably not intentionally trying to do so.

Justice Too Long Delayed

Christianity Today:

Two explorers enter a cave filled with the most elaborate spiderwebs. One of them cannot locate a spider, and thus refuses to believe it exists. You see the webs, replies the other. The spider is implied. Racial prejudice is the implied spider that has woven the web of policies and practices, inequalities and abuses that have constrained black Americans now for four hundred years.

Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies

Kottke:

This is a great example of the Great Span, the link across large periods of history by individual humans. But it’s also a reminder that, as William Faulkner wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Until this week, US taxpayers were literally and directly paying for the Civil War, a conflict whose origins stretch back to the earliest days of the American colonies and continues today on the streets of our cities and towns.

Steps for Christian Civic Engagement on Racial Injustice

AND Campaign:

Many Christian leaders are asking how they can constructively and practically advance the cause of justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and national protests. Here are steps we recommend you consider as you lead people to address injustice through civic engagement. As the nation convulses with anger and mourning in awareness of its own injustice, the Church’s response will help to determine whether this is a season of rebuilding or one of disintegration. We’re in a position to change the dialogue and enact policies that change the system.

Genesis 3

“When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel — and did his heart not falter as he realized — that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That it was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveller in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvellous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.”

—Richard Adams, Watership Down, “The Great River”

“The birth of a new religion”

Adrienne LaFrance for The Atlantic:

QAnon is emblematic of modern America’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories, and its enthusiasm for them. But it is also already much more than a loose collection of conspiracy-minded chat-room inhabitants. It is a movement united in mass rejection of reason, objectivity, and other Enlightenment values. And we are likely closer to the beginning of its story than the end. The group harnesses paranoia to fervent hope and a deep sense of belonging. The way it breathes life into an ancient preoccupation with end-times is also radically new. To look at QAnon is to see not just a conspiracy theory but the birth of a new religion.

Tweet thread from @howertonjosh:

We often get sins and wounds confused. Sins are rebellious places in our heart that need repentance. Wounds are tender places in our heart that need healing. You can’t repent of wounds. And you can’t get therapy for sins.” –– Darrin Patrick

Christian fundamentalism pushes everything into the sin category. Modern secularism pushes everything into the wounds category. Both far too simplistic to address what’s going on. And this doesn’t even factor in the reality of spiritual warfare. You can’t “cast out” the flesh. You can’t disciple a demon. The Bible is the worldview that addresses the full complexity of human personhood.

PRESBYTERIANS: “You need discipleship” CHARISMATICS: “You need deliverance” THE BIBLE: “Yep”

Reminds me also of the importance of understanding both “broken” and “bent.”

“What elevates the constrained visions’ virtue, not to mention its viability in finding workable solutions while encouraging cooperation, is sober realism that people will make mistakes, combined with its willingness to move beyond such mistakes to foster cooperation”

bruceashford.net/2020/the-…

The open web is where we can make sites that don’t abuse data the way Facebook does

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Anil Dash for anildash.com:

The web is where we can make sites that don’t abuse data in the ways that Facebook properties do.… With billions of people using the major social platforms, and the people who remember a pre-social-media web increasing in age while decreasing as cultural force on the internet, we’re rapidly losing fluency in what the internet could look like.

The “arbitrary activity that was cooked up by 20-somethings in some incubator rec room in northern California” that passes as “social”

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Cal Newport on the Ezra Klein Show:

Digital interaction” actually doesn’t come close to giving the same rewards as… real world conversation. So this is why you can actually get more lonely as you spend more time doing digital interaction. It’s not because the digital interaction itself is causing this negative effect; it’s because it’s crowding out the real world conversation which is what our brain is evolved to actually crave. Our brain doesn’t understand that that number or that little comment under a picture on a small glowing rectangle in your hand is another human being who’s interacting with you and fulfilling your need for sociality. There is some part of your frontal cortex that thinks that counts, and so you do more and more of that and less and less of the real world, and it leaves you worse off…[Digital interaction] is not a substitute. It’s a sort of arbitrary activity that was cooked up by 20-somethings in some incubator rec room in Northern California.

Psychology tells us, “Your problem is a lack of self-esteem.” And biology tells us, “You’re just evolved amoebae”

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Tim Keller on Psalm 8:

We live in a culture in which in the psychology class it’ll tell you, Your problem is a lack of self-esteem.” And in the philosophy and biology class it’ll tell you, You’re nothing. You’re just evolved amoebae.” That’s the way it is. How do you keep those two things together? There’s no way.

We [Christians] no longer have that coursing through our veins. Instead, we say, How does all the world — the trees, the fields, the sun, the moon, the stars — sing to us about the glory and joy of God?” And that’s what we’re in for! You can live a life of meaning. You can live a life of hope. You can get that down deep in your own psychological makeup so it creates wellbeing.

“The soul that does not eat pepper is a dead soul”

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Yewande Komolafe for the NYT:

There is a saying in Yoruba, one of the languages spoken by the people of southwestern Nigeria, that translates as The soul that does not eat pepper is a dead soul.”

The saying refers not to just one single element, but to the variety of ingredients in Nigerian cuisine that add heat to a dish: the mild tingle and smoke of selim peppers, the sudden rush of alligator peppers, the sustained heat of a habanero. We don’t say a dish is spicy — we say it has pepper. Pepper is not meant to overburden your palate, but to stimulate it with an interplay of flavors, and to bring your mouth to life.

The seven A’s of saying “I’m sorry”

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David Bailey on Christianity Today’s Quick to Listen” podcast:

I mean, this is old school, but I love it man. I think Peacemaker’s has a really great way. It’s the Seven A’s of Apologies, and that’s: Address everyone involved, you know, all the who’s been affected by this. Avoid if, but, and maybe statements. So, you know, try not to excuse your wrongdoings. Admit specifically both an attitude and actions. Acknowledge the hurt. So that means express sorrow for hurting people that you actually hurt. Accept the consequences such as, you know, trying to make restitution or not expecting that people forgive you. Alter your behavior, so you actually like change your attitude and your actions. And Ask for forgiveness.

Italics mine.

“The problem with the dragon is not its stockpile stewardship, but its appetite”

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Maciej Ceglowski for Idle Words:

[T]he giant tech companies can make a credible claim to be the defenders of privacy, just like a dragon can truthfully boast that it is good at protecting its hoard of gold. Nobody spends more money securing user data, or does it more effectively, than Facebook and Google.

The question we need to ask is not whether our data is safe, but why there is suddenly so much of it that needs protecting. The problem with the dragon, after all, is not its stockpile stewardship, but its appetite.

“They are systematically killing the industry”

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Jack Nicas for The Times:

They all tell a similar story: They ran apps that helped people limit the time they and their children spent on iPhones. Then Apple created its own screen-time tracker. And then Apple made staying in business very, very difficult.

Over the past year, Apple has removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps, according to an analysis by The New York Times and Sensor Tower, an app-data firm. Apple has also clamped down on a number of lesser-known apps…

Some app makers with thousands of paying customers have shut down. Most others say their futures are in jeopardy. They yanked us out of the blue with no warning,” said Amir Moussavian, chief executive of OurPact, the top parental-control iPhone app, with more than three million downloads. In February, Apple pulled the app, which accounted for 80 percent of OurPact’s revenue, from its App Store.

They are systematically killing the industry,” Mr. Moussavian said.

This is the Facebook-y-est, YouTube-y-est move from Apple so far.

“Why Americans hate the media”

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James Fallows writing for The Atlantic in 1996:

The limited curiosity that elite reporters display in their questions is also evident in the stories they write once they have received answers. They are interested mainly in pure politics and can be coerced into examining the substance of an issue only as a last resort. The subtle but sure result is a stream of daily messages that the real meaning of public life is the struggle of Bob Dole against Newt Gingrich against Bill Clinton, rather than our collective efforts to solve collective problems.

The natural instinct of newspapers and TV is to present every public issue as if its real” meaning were political in the meanest and narrowest sense of that term—the attempt by parties and candidates to gain an advantage over their rivals.

“The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper”

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Great Newsweek (remember that?) article from 1995 on all the ways the Internet is an overblown fad.

Unsurprisingly, the author got so much wrong:

Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Yet, other things he got so, so right:

What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee. No interactive multimedia display comes close to the excitement of a live concert. And who’d prefer cybersex to the real thing? While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth. A poor substitute it is, this virtual reality where frustration is legion and where—in the holy names of Education and Progress—important aspects of human interactions are relentlessly devalued.

h/t @logangreer

“You don’t go to Instagram because you’re looking for something, rather, you want to see what it has found for you”

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Nat Eliason on the destructive switch from search to social:”

You don’t go to Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or Instagram because you’re looking for something, rather, you want to see what it has found for you.

On the Internet in 2006, you were focused on pulling out what you wanted. Unless you were reading the news, whatever you read was something you had sought out. But now, most of your information is pushed onto you. You no longer enter the Internet the way you would a public library, where you browse and pick out what you want to read in peace, it’s more like the Las Vegas strip, where you’re bombarded with demands for your attention and need not exert any effort to be entertained.