Weekend Reading: November 11, 2017

Welcome to the weekend, the weekend reading is below, but first, happy birthday to my darling wife Kate!

Just a few articles for you to consider…

There are some shifts going on in the culture, and not always in a good way.  This past week the lead pastor of Hillsong Church appeared on The View – that’s the first hint that there may be trouble – and appeared ambivalent about whether or not abortion was murder. Think about that for a minute. The lead pastor of one of the most well-known churches in the evangelical world can’t even come down on what is normally considered a softball for anyone serving in ministry. Heck, millions upon millions of people who aren’t followers of Christ consider abortion murder. I am not naive enough to think that this guy is some theological dynamo, but he is admired by many younger Christians and has a significant following internationally.  Why do I point this out? Because 1. its good to know where leaders stand on key issues, as it helps to explain what their followers/admirers think and 2. as an offshoot of 1, its helpful in explaining microtrends among groups of people. When their leaders shift one way, they might shift that way as well.

This was pretty sad stuff. I didn’t know that Halladay was one of only two men to have pitched a perfect game in the post-season…ever.  Amazingly talented guy.

Interesting: Why Does the Season Before Winter Have Two Names?

Another thing to take a look at.  This is a powerpoint put together by some ex-Bush administration politicos who are positing the idea that we’re living in the midst of a new gilded age. I don’t doubt that they are on to something.  Over at Axios, Mike Allen has been pushing this idea for quite some time. This PPT is a bit dated – to a few months back – because I hadn’t reviewed it yet, and I was curious as to how it was standing up to the test of the fall elections.  In some ways, they were off, and in others, they were spot on.  We see all kinds of evidence of this, and they seem anecdotal – stories like this one pop up in our news feeds: The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever Sold Is a $350,000 California Cabernet Sauvignon.  I am not making a moral conclusion to this data, but simply musing on it, and think it’s worth considering for future conversation.

This is a must-read: Sean Parker: Facebook was designed to exploit human “vulnerability”. I think it makes a ton of sense to say that people are getting addicted to FB and other social streams – many people wouldn’t deny that its possible – but what’s so revolutionary about this article is that these guys who created FB are now saying “ya, we want it to be like that…” (so to speak).  They want you to spend all your time there. But what we might see in the future are more scientific studies showing that the lack of attention span and other brain malfunctions are a direct result of the “Feedback loop” we put ourselves in online.

Of course, the other consequence of this feedback loop is that we created worlds online in which everyone agrees with us, and everyone who doesn’t is labeled as spewing hate speech.

To that end, check out this New York Times article: What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz.  The irony of this is not in the quiz itself but in the fact that there exists a feedback loop of sorts between the liberal media writers at the Times and the liberal corporate execs at Facebook. Note especially near the end of the story this paragraph:

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

So the New York Times got their liberal readership to pay attention to this ageism gap in the FB hate speech quiz, and in response, Facebook altered their policies.  Now to give this context, can you imagine if The Weekly Standard, or Red State, or even the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal posted a quiz online and had Facebook change its policies based on that quiz or writing from its conservative readership?  NO WAY!  That would never happen.  That is because the NY Times is inside the feedback loop, it’s inside the liberal echo chamber. I’m not saying that conservatives (and I think particularly communities inside evangelicalism) don’t have this same phenomenon.  But the difference is that liberals are now running corporate America, and major social and communications platforms. What are the consequences of this?  That free speech is going to be regulated more and more by the left, and with the left in America moving more and more TO the left, we’re going to see ripple effects in the way in which people talk, what they say, and how they say it.

I somehow missed this until I stumbled on it at Target…pretty cool.

More tech – did anyone else notice how frustrating typing the word “I” has been on your iPhone this past week or so??? The Wall Street Journal talks about it here. 

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Tim Challies asked if Christians need to be considering more closely their relationship to Hollywood.  The crux of what he’s saying could be more bluntly paraphrased: “Why are you surprised? We’ve seen this kind of behavior on the silver screen for years now…where did you think these ideas came from? They came from sexual predators who wrote the scripts!”

Which leads me to post this article by John Piper which I thought spot on: Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?  Spoiler Alert: yes, yes they do.

I hadn’t heard much about this story until someone at the National Review wrote about it. Apparently, there were two men who chased down the killer of those folks down in the Texas church massacre. I heard something obliquely spoken of on the radio, but I was distracted with driving (some irony there) and didn’t know the full story until I read this piece: In Texas, Two Very American Heroes.

That’s all I really have time for today. I hope you enjoy your Saturday – happy reading!

PJW

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