Monday, January 08, 2018

Small Sips Has An Excuse for Book Hoarding Now

Well, if you insist. You know how you sometimes have more books on your nightstand or on your shelves that you have all the good intentions in the world to read, but feel bad because you can never quite get around to them? Jessica Stillman says that's okay, and observes why it's actually a good and healthy thing to surround yourself with more books than you'll ever read:
An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations - the vast quantity of things you don't know, half know, or will one day realize you're wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself towards the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.
"People don't walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it's the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did," Taleb claims.
Why? Perhaps because it is a well known psychological fact that is the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt.
So basically, having tons more books around than you have time for helps you remember how much you don't know. This can encourage curiosity and continued learning, rather than intellectual rigor mortis. So excuse me while I go place an order on Amazon...

Here to stay. Jack Jenkins observes why everybody stopped laughing at the religious left last year:
Organizers hope to muster protests for a span of 40 days in 2018, coalescing thousands of demonstrators—many risking arrest—to at least 25 state capitals and other locations, concluding with a march on Washington in June. Entire denominations have pledged to support the campaign, such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Union for Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Such lofty aspirations for the Religious Left would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. But after 2017, “prophetic resistance” is rapidly becoming the norm, not the exception.
It took the last election for progressive people of faith to realize that it was time to coalesce more seriously around common justice issues. Granted, many were already doing this work and making progress in different ways. But many who formerly were more dormant or lukewarm in their support have risen up to the moment, and I think that has made the difference. People like Revs. Barber and Blackmon and Linda Sarsour were around long before 2017, it's more that many others started paying attention, knowing that these are times that call for a greater demonstration informed by faith.

They'll still work, there just won't be as many. Christopher Xenakis reflects on "Church 3.0," and how different churches of the future will look and how they will operate:
Throughout Western history, traditional churches sort of worked. They were centers of philanthropy, worship, and education. They were where children were baptized and learned about God, and where family members married, worshiped, and commemorated their dead. Churches were gathering places where people shared community news and town gossip. And in early America, they anchored town squares and village greens; they taught and enforced morality, and what it meant to be a citizen.
But today, schools, social service organizations, television, and the Internet perform many of these functions as well as, or better than, churches ever did. So I wonder if traditional churches—and traditional ideas about church—still work?
I was at a Salvation Army for an event about a month ago, and one of the directors was telling us about all kinds of after school programs, indoor vegetable-growing programs, work with at-risk youth, and outreach to the less fortunate they were doing, and I wondered why I don't hear about more churches doing these sorts of things. Facing dwindling membership and budgets, they need to ask themselves, "Why are we here?" And the answer has to be about more than keeping the 20 people left in the pews happy until the whole thing finally and completely gives up the ghost.

Xenakis also touches on issues such as pastoral search and call processes, the increased reality that calling a full-time pastor is a privilege, and newer churches not looking a whole lot like hymns sung in a sanctuary with robes on Sunday mornings.

The real issue is often not what you think. Michael Hobbes wrote a long-form piece about the economic plight of the Millennial generation, and it goes far beyond quips about laziness and participation trophies:
What is different about us as individuals compared to previous generations is minor. What is different about the world around us is profound. Salaries have stagnated and entire sectors have cratered. At the same time, the cost of every prerequisite of a secure existence—education, housing and health care—has inflated into the stratosphere. From job security to the social safety net, all the structures that insulate us from ruin are eroding. And the opportunities leading to a middle-class life—the ones that boomers lucked into—are being lifted out of our reach. Add it all up and it’s no surprise that we’re the first generation in modern history to end up poorer than our parents.
This is why the touchstone experience of millennials, the thing that truly defines us, is not helicopter parenting or unpaid internships or Pokémon Go. It is uncertainty. “Some days I breathe and it feels like something is about to burst out of my chest,” says Jimmi Matsinger. “I’m 25 and I’m still in the same place I was when I earned minimum wage.” Four days a week she works at a dental office, Fridays she nannies, weekends she babysits. And still she couldn’t keep up with her rent, car lease and student loans. Earlier this year she had to borrow money to file for bankruptcy. I heard the same walls-closing-in anxiety from millennials around the country and across the income scale, from cashiers in Detroit to nurses in Seattle.
The entire thing is very long but also very informative and in-depth. A combination of stagnant wages, new company practices of hiring people as "contractors" without benefits, unaffordable housing, and a shredding of the safety net have led to this, not entitlement or lack of work ethic. A rigged system is playing out the way it was designed to, and younger people are suffering for it.

Misc. Gordon Atkinson reflects on turning 56. Karl Vaters on pastors who have flamed out, traded down, or stayed strong. Jan Edmiston on our need for greater empathy. Bobbie McKay on how people in the United Church of Christ define "spiritual healing."

(Top image via Pexels)