Constantly reading articles, one sets some good ones aside for review and or comment. Eventually the pile gets pretty big and it is time to go through it. I am doing that this morning and thought I would pass on some of the best. In some cases these are older, but still important.
The more social media, the less likely a commitment to a set of ideas or principles. (Religion) This is, I think, an attention span phenomena. We don’t have to pay attention to much because it is all at our fingertips. This has a radical effect in two ways. It makes really life shaping anything difficult – from church to Scouts to military service. Secondly, what will be come of genuine expertise. Real expertise involves not just knowledge, but wisdom and experience – things that social media cannot transmit.
Relatedly, Five Thirty-Eight discovers that diversity reduces commitment when discussing religion. I do not know how the Left has managed to unhinge the word “diversity” from any antecedent, but they have. Racial diversity is a good thing, but idea diversity simply means no cultural or social cohesion. In other words chaos. When I was in school we learned about other ways of thinking because it was important to sharpen your own viewpoint.
Even the atheist needs fellowship. Christianity is under fire, but withdrawal and disengagement are not the way. Relationship matters so much more than ideas.
According to the Japan Times, a new survey of Japanese people ages 18 to 34 found that 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women are not in a relationship. It gets worse: Around 42 percent of men and 44.2 percent of women admitted that they were virgins.
Would somebody please explain to me why virginity outside of matrimony is “worse?” The article is about the national fertility of Japan, which is a huge problem, but out-of-wedlock birth solves little of the problems, simply shifts them. The statistics show that the rise in so many of the social issues confronted by the United States coincides with a rise in the out-of-wedlock birth rate, particularly the ills suffered in the African-American community where out-of-wedlock births are a huge majority of births generally. The problem is not about sex, its about productive marriage. To reduce fertility to mere copulation is to stunt a nation in significant ways.
Finally a lesson in communication in our uncommitted, social media saturated culture. Carl Trueman continues a discussion begun on the Hewitt show:
Last week Rusty Reno and I did a double act on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. At one point, I remarked that the problem with trying to argue against the dominant moral consensus on sex, sexuality, and identity was that it is not based on an argument that one can address in kind, but rather on an aesthetic. Matters of taste are what really dominate the expressive individualism and ethics of authenticity of this present age.
This is where I believe the parallel with our current issues breaks down. The aesthetics are against us now. The sight of gay couples rejoicing as they marry in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges is one that naturally inspires a positive response. I have noted before the role of sitcoms and soap operas in forming the public’s moral imagination on issues of identity, marriage, and sexual morality. To this we might add that the aesthetics of the language used in the cause are potent: Freedom, love, and equality resonate deeply and positively in our culture. By way of comparison, the linguistic aesthetics in the abortion debate—choice versus life—are very finely balanced, making other factors, such as sonograms, more decisive.
I agree with Trueman, man is not primarily rational. Many of the articles presented in this post reinforce that fact. But it should be remembered that the church thrived in a pre-literate, pre-rational age. The matters here are much deeper than merely matters of taste. God is beautiful and therefore defines what is beautiful. If the current aesthetic says that beauty lies elsewhere, that can only be true in the absence of sight of God’s real and genuine beauty. Beauty is only a matter of taste in the absence of the real thing.
God’s beauty is a beacon that outshines all other light. If the world does not see this, then it can only be that the light is not shining. The problems that confront the church today belong squarely to the church. We stood on the hill, but our light did not shine and we were toppled like we were just another pretender. The only way the church can be perceived as ugly is if it is – God’s beauty is too apparent to be dismissed merely as a matter of taste.
God’s beauty is deeper than sexuality or any other specific issue – it does not please simply the eye, nor does it merely invoke emotional response. God’s beauty reaches that place within us that reflects God’s own image and touches it in ways that nothing of this earth can. The church is supposed to be a vessel for such beauty; if we are not, then the problem is ours, not the worlds.