Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death should be required reading in our entertainment/media saturated society. As bad as it was when he wrote, it’s gotten worse, and it’s led to important changes to the society and cultured foisted upon the bulk of the citizenry by the self-anointed “Ruling Class” (to coin Angelo Codevilla‘s term).
Hanlon’s razor reminds us not to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence, but we shouldn’t rule out malice either, and there is evidence of deliberate work being done to undermine institutions at the foundation of the United States. Here’s a very interesting piece by the Anchoress on Patheos, reposting some reflections from several years ago on the subject. Lots to consider.
At this time of the school year I’m always pondering ways to improve student interaction with the class, including performance and timeliness on submissions. Forcing them to actually talk with me and address their issues and concerns might help. Here’s an interesting example of a teacher who did that. I may have to consider it again.
As amusing as this election cycle has been at times, largely due to the clever trolling that has accompanied the presence of Donald Trump, it does demonstrate that the society of the United States has weakened to the point that it won’t hold together in the ways it has up to now. This country has flourished as a collection of people working together to advance certain ideas, which enabled it to overcome significant demographic fissures. To point out that the careful consideration of ideas is not the key to success in the current political moment in the United States is to point out the obvious.
That Donald Trump’s imminent nomination by the GOP demonstrates a political party adrift is also obvious, and it would seem to be the fruit of a failure to defend ideas and the language with which to articulate ideas. Jeff Goldstein at his Protein Wisdom blogs tries to impress the importance of that point here (language warning).
In a time when feelings seem to be the most important thing about a person, this article takes a very different line, but in light of the way attitudes of victimhood can lead to strong forms of censorship, it’s worth considering what’s happening to our ability to talk about serious issues.
This political season is going to highlight some issues in our culture and the way we communicate with one another. Or don’t communicate, as the case may be. This was a thoughtful article on the subject.
Here’s a brief conversation addressing some of the questions that arise concerning the candidacy of Donald Trump and the support of evangelicals. Dr. Jim Eckman is a wise observer of these things, so these 4 minutes won’t be wasted if you take time to listen.
The inversion of what is actually valued by certain groups and how those groups are portrayed in our society is one of the more remarkable aspects of this political moment. The hostility to the “Tea Party” on the part of those who claim to support populist values is bizarre.
“The Electric Tea Party Acid Test”
There is a certain fetish among a segment of our population for the notion that if only there were a way to openly dialogue about difficult subjects where there is disagreement and differences, people would see the light and come to see things in harmony.
Nicholas Kristof is an exemplar of why this is a fantasy. For too many of the conversational fetishists the light is predetermined to be their own conclusion on the matter, meaning they aren’t thinking of a conversation between two reasonable beings, they’re imagining a lecture from one point of view, with the demand of submissive agreement from those who might deign to state disagreement before being enlightened. It’s a disheartening dynamic.
It may not be what you think, if you’re used to claims about how the use of fossil fuels by the industrialized world is threatening the poor in the undeveloped world. The correlations demonstrated in China and India are dramatic, and while correlation does not prove causation, if one denies that industrialization decreases poverty, the challenge becomes to provide a better explanation for the benefits seen in the last few decades.
This writer put his finger on a problem I think is behind the nagging feeling I’ve been getting lately with each iteration of “advice to the church” couched as “what you need to know about why the young/men/women/singles/parents (etc.) are leaving.” [Note he wrote this in 2010, but the “advice” trope I’m critical of seems to have caught on in these winter 2014-15 months.]
The church is not an entity God’s people can choose whether or not to identify with. We’re it. Pretending it’s an option dependent upon our perception of its relevance, effectiveness, hipness, or whatever the criterion of the week is betrays a stunning hubris unworthy of people reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.