In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
The recent conversation around University of Michigan student Jesse Klein’s column on being middle class has been fascinating. Klein’s family makes $250k a year and lives in a $2 million house. But it’s not an enormo-house, because that’s $2 million in Silicon Valley.
“What’s desperately needed in American Protestantism today is for someone to engineer the confluence of these two streams of Protestantism so that the faith can reclaim its prophetic voice.”
As an optimistic romance on network, The West Wing's advantages are obvious: more feels, less murder. What’s weird is that House of Cards doesn’t really deliver on the other side of the ledger.
In Romans 7, sin seems to have at least as much agency as Paul does.
In discussions of poverty’s ills and cures, it doesn’t take long for the subject of root causes to come up. Not everyone agrees what those root causes are, of course—or whose fault they are. But it’s often taken for granted that you can’t just tackle a presenting problem directly; you have to go for the root, whatever it is. This certainly isn’t always wrong, but it does have a way of obscuring simple, obvious solutions.
So much religious talk is about naming, about describing a general reality in particular terms. This is important. But in our increasingly secular culture, it’s always striking when someone gets at deep religious truth without bothering with religious language. For instance, Jay Smooth offers a pretty crisp explication here of the nature of sin and virtue.
Alyssa Rosenberg makes a smart point about the FX show The Americans, a drama about a married pair of KGB agents working undercover in early-80s metro D.C. Their two teenage children are unaware of what their parents do, and the older one, Paige, becomes a devoted churchgoer.
Some small good news for American low-wage workers: Walmart is increasing its wages at the low end. By April, no Walmart employee will make less than $9 an hour; a year from now it’ll be $10. The retailer is also moving to improve its scheduling practices, a source of worker complaints. Walmart’s decision is a voluntary one, made for business reasons.