Not too long ago, the popular Bible app YouVersion released quite a bit of data. Both Christianity Today and Religious news service took a look at the data. They found what some of people’s favorite verses are, according to the data.
The 5 most shared verses include Philippians 4:13, Psalm 118:24, 1 Peter 5:6, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 7:7, and Isaiah 40:31.
The world’s largest religion began with a meal. There was a large enough room for the people invited. There was a jug of water. There were bowls and loaves of bread and cups and vessels of wine. There were prayers and speeches; there was a song and an…
In music – these days, particularly in jazz, but the cadenza of a concerto used to work the same way – improvisation is a fascinating art. Good improvisation is profoundly responsive to what has come before, and in certain ways obedient to the key and to…
A couple weeks ago (ages in internet time), Rachel Held Evans’ articles on CNN’s Belief blogwere making their rounds. Her articles, as they say, went viral sending seemingly every Evangelical Christian blogger into a blogging…
Only God is omniscient. To God alone are we to be a completely open book. To God, and only to God, should we say—or need to say—“You know when I leave and when I get back; I am never out of your sight. I look behind me and you are there, then up ahead and you are there, too…is there any place I can go to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you are there! If I go underground, you are there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute—You are already there waiting!” (Psalm 139:1-10). Only to God. And that is why all persons of faith should be deeply concerned about the hegemonic assumptions of the surveillance state.
-“American Stasi? What’s Wrong with NSA Surveillance”
Responding to the claim that not just reading but “high culture” in general is morally improving, Terry Eagleton points out that, during World War II, “many people were indeed deep in high culture, but … this had not prevented some of them from engaging in such activities as superintending the murder of Jews in central Europe.” If reading really was supposed to “make you a better person,” then “when the Allied troops moved into the concentration camps … to arrest commandants who had whiled away their leisure hours with a volume of Goethe, it appeared that someone had some explaining to do.”
There’s simply nothing about reading, or listening to Mozart sonatas, or viewing paintings by Raphael, that necessarily transforms or even improves someone’s character. As the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg once wrote, “A book is like a mirror: if an ass looks in, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.” Nevertheless, I am going to argue, from time to time throughout the course of this book, that if you really want to become a better person, there are ways in which reading can help. But the degree to which that happens will depend not just on what you read — you’ve already seen that I’m not dictatorial about that — but also why and how. So consider yourself either warned or promised, according to your feelings about moralistic exhortation.
Anyway, the permanent record was one of those semi-mythical creatures that you publicly dismissed while privately fearing when you were camping in the woods and the fire had burned down. I was a rich kid in that poor town, in public school mostly because of politics related to my father’s job, and most high school discipline rolled right off me. It was a given that I’d graduate at the top of my class and decamp for some fancy college, which, indeed, I did. But I do remember the permanent record thing making me ever so slightly nervous, and if I laughed about it to my friends, then I still privately fretted that some ambitious admissions officer would haul up my file and mark me off with a red X for some past minor infraction. Now, of course, kids really do get a permanent record because schools have followed the general trend of American social hysteria and started calling the cops for the slightest infraction; detention is now a misdemeanor, and so on. That’s a shame, because the permanent record ought to be as laughable now as it ever was. Do you remember yourself when you were sixteen? Many descriptors come to mind, but fully formed isn’t one of them.
As if that weren’t bad enough, that idea that one ought to be branded with one’s own youth like a poorly considered neck tattoo, we now find not only kids, but adults (especially new adults) getting constantly dinged with the dire warning that Social Media Lasts Forever. I think this is probably patently untrue in a purely physical sense; it strikes me as probable that fifty years from now, the whole electronic record of our era will be largely lost in a sea of forgotten passwords, proprietary systems, faulty hardware, and compatibility issues. But it should also be untrue in, dare I say it, the moral sense. Educators and employers are constantly yelling that you young people have an affirmative responsibility not to post anything where a teacher or principal or, worst of all, boss or potential boss might find it, which gets the ethics of the situation precisely backwards. It isn’t your sister’s obligation to hide her diary; it’s yours not to read it. Your boyfriend shouldn’t have to close all his browser windows and hide his cell phone; you ought to refrain from checking his history and reading his texts. But, says the Director of Human Resources and the Career Counselor, social media is public; you’re putting it out there. Yes, well, then I’m sure you won’t mind if I join you guys at happy hour with this flip-cam and a stenographer. Privacy isn’t the responsibility of individuals to squirrel away secrets; it’s the decency of individuals to leave other’s lives alone.