Time was when we had a neutral commons where those of us who wanted to say something could say it, try to earn people’s attention, and choose whether to give them our own. I’m speaking of course of the internet—a long decade ago, before social media swallowed it whole.
Years ago I was at a friend’s wedding. As the happy couple left the church and we all threw birdseed or blew bubbles or whatever, a family member I didn’t know scolded me for taking a spot with a decent view—apparently I was blocking the videographer’s shot.
One week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, there seem to be so many failures in the ways that our theology is playing out in the public sphere. And while quick responses, blog posts, sound bytes and tweets are important in this moment, as they emerge from varying political and evangelistic agendas they also expose some of Christianity's devastating aspects.
The latest in can-you-believe-this-guy campaign-trail videos: Senate candidate Eric Hovde, who—like Montgomery Burns with a Wisconsin accent—reduces media coverage of low-income people facing service cuts to "sob stories."
So, who's playing politics with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? Sen. Schumer and the Democrats, or Sen. Grassley and the Republicans?
probably both. Yes, Democracts would love to bolster the narrative that
Republicans don't care about women, even though Grassley et al. object
to new provisions added to the VAWA, not the existing law. And yes, by
threatening the whole bill based on objections to small parts of it,
some Senate Republicans (not all of them) reveal that while they may in
general favor services for domestic violence victims, it's not exactly a
top priority to them.
Of course both Senators Chuck are playing politics. That's their game, especially in leap years.
In an interview with Oxford professor Michael Willis
about Tunisia, Radio Free Europe correspondent Hossein Aryan noted that "there
has not been a religious dimension to the unrest" in the Middle East. This is
quickly becoming the conventional wisdom.
In Why Religion Matters, Huston Smith argues for the importance of having and articulating a worldview. “Life’s problems press so heavily on us that we seldom take time to reflect on the way our unconscious attitudes and assumptions about the nature of things affect the way we perceive what is directly before us.”
In the early 16th century, Martin Luther, assisted by enterprising printers unhandicapped by copyright laws, swamped the market with five pamphlets for every one put out by his Catholic opponents. Other Protestant writers poured out their own flood of sermons, treatises, polemics and devotional writings. For more than three decades Protestants dominated the recently invented printing press.