In the time of King David, the Bible says that the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.
To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.
- From the everyone’s a critic department: The Media Loves The Gates Foundation — These Experts Are More Skeptical (JuliaBelluz, Vox). This piece never mentions God, but I found it theologically fascinating for three reasons:
- This article reminds me that no matter how much good you do there will always be critics. Jesus was perfect and the world nailed him to a cross.
- This article reminds me that it is far easier to criticize than to accomplish. The article left me far more impressed with the Gates than with their critics. And I reflected upon the fact that the critics are unwittingly storing up judgment for themselves in heaven where they will be measured by the same standards they apply to Bill and Melinda Gates (Romans 2).
- But Bill and Melinda do not get off scot-free. This article also reminds me of Isaiah 64:6 — our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before the Lord. These criticisms (at least those which are well-founded) are mere hints of the limitations God sees in the righteous deeds of Bill and Melinda Gates. All of us need Jesus — even our most moral friends.
- From the responding to criticisms department: On Conservative Religious Activism, The Numbers Speak For Themselves (originally Washington Post, but better-formatted at RNS) People sometimes claim that Christians spend too much of their time and money fighting political battles rather serving the poor. This op-ed provides numbers to rebut the claim. A related article by a non-Christian journalist explains why many people believe the charge despite the data: Verily I Say Unto You: Christians Care About the Poor (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View).
- From the self-deception department: If You Use Facebook to Get Your News, Please — For the Love of Democracy — Read This First (Caitlyn Dewey, Washington Post): Nancy sent me this interesting article about how Facebook’s filtering algorithms subtly reinforce our biases. In related news, Ezra Klein at Vox explains Why The Most Informed Voters Are Often The Most Badly Misled.
- From the laughter is good department: Dilbert meets an Internet star. The last panel kills me. Yesterday’s strip about brainstorming was insightfully funny as well.
Suggestions for a better title/frequency/best day to send the email on/articles to consider/etc are welcome. My current plan is to send out an email with 3–5 topics every Friday.
Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and will at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles.