But a shift was occurring by the 1990s. I would continue to visit the library frequently, sitting at a table with a mountain of books in front of me, but students increasingly ignored the bookshelves, accessing what they needed with their computers. Few of them went to the shelves anymore. The books, so far as they were concerned, were unnecessary. And since the majority of users were no longer using the books themselves, the college decided, ultimately, to dispose of them.
I had no idea that this was happening—not only in the AECOM library but in college and public libraries all over the country. I was horrified when I visited the library a couple of months ago and found the shelves, once overflowing, sparsely occupied. Over the last few years, most of the books, it seems, have been thrown out, with remarkably little objection from anyone. I felt that a murder, a crime had been committed—the destruction of centuries of knowledge. Seeing my distress, a librarian reassured me that everything “of worth” had been digitized. But I do not use a computer, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of books, even bound periodicals, for there is something irreplaceable about a physical book: its look, its smell, its heft. I thought of how the library once cherished “old” books, had a special room for old and rare books; and how in 1967, rummaging through the stacks, I had found an 1873 book, Edward Liveing’s Megrim, which inspired me to write my own first book.
This attack is very significant. It is the first infantry-like, complex, and penetrating attack in Baghdad city by ISIS since the fall of Mosul in June of this year. ISIS likely carried out the attack to release some of the pressure it is facing as a result of the recent U.S. air campaign targeting its positions. The attack also signifies that, despite the heightened defenses of Baghdad in the aftermath of the fall of Mosul, ISIS is still able to carry out attacks in an area where it is unlikely to have active sleeper cells given Kadhmiyah’s predominantly Iraqi Shi’a demographic. The mortars were likely launched from Taji due to ISIS’s historical presence in the area and its ongoing activities there.
“If same-sex relationships are really sinful, then why do they so often produce good fruit—loving families, open homes, self-sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, joy? And if conservative Christians are really right in their response to same-sex relationships, then why does that response often produce bad fruit—secrets, shame, depression, loneliness, broken families, and fear?”—“God and the Gay Christian” Discussion, Week 1
“…the prison system is fundamentally designed to help us avoid confronting this reality. We much prefer to think of the prison system as protecting us from evil, rather than as protecting us from facing the disavowed evil (racism, economic injustice, lack of education, unemployment, underemployment etc.) that we dance with daily. This same logic can be perceived in the way that religious organizations often view the homeless. Congregants are invited to get involved with homeless ministry to give something back, to offer people a hand up or to bring some good news. What we see then is nothing but an abstraction that makes us feel good, while protecting ourselves from the danger that we might be provoked to fundamentally change how we live by seeing ourselves as part of the reason why there are homeless people in the first place.”—Getting Thrown Out of Prison: Judge Dredd, the Oppressed, and Salvation
“Just as God’s love entered the world, thereby submitting to the misunderstanding and ambiguity that characterize everything worldly, so also Christian love does not exist anywhere but in the worldly, in an infinite variety of concrete worldly action, and subject to misunderstanding and condemnation. Every attempt to portray a Christianity of “pure” love purged of worldly “impurities” is a false purism and perfectionism that scorns God’s becoming human and falls prey to the fate of all ideologies. God was not too pure to enter the world.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“The paradox that we all wrestle with is how love has to get “dirty” to be love, how Jesus’s vision of holiness involves embracing tax-collectors, sinners and prostitutes. And yet, there’s this impulse in some sectors of Christianity to keep our love “pure.” We see this impulse at work in the mantra “hate the sin but love the sinner.” The idea here is that we can, with surgical precision, make a cut between our affections toward human persons and how we feel about their behaviors. But as I argue in Unclean, such surgical precision is psychologically untenable. And we know this. It is incredibility hard to not let a person’s behaviors affect how we feel about him or her.”—The Impurity of Love
“We still have not come to full recognition of blacks and other people as full citizens, as full people. And one way we can demonstrate that is that when we see another human being, our brain is actually wired so that part of the brain lights up, just from recognition of another human being.”—John Powell
Gains from rising worker productivity are no longer shared by workers but go into rising corporate profits. Wages for men without higher education have stagnated, even declined. Jobs that used to be a route to middle class life have been shipped overseas, and replaced by low-paying work. The power of labor relative to corporations has declined. The route to advancement through higher education has become far more expensive — unaffordable for a great many families except by taking on huge debt.
The Republican Party, as the instrument of the forces of corporatist oligarchy, has had a major hand (more so than the Democrats) in injuring the economic prospects of these men. But the ways these injuries have been inflicted are more hidden than the social revolutions that toppled the old order of automatic superiority.
Added to that, Republicans are much better than Democrats at getting people to see what they want them to see. So it’s not surprising that these angry white men align themselves with the Republican Party — “voting against their own interests,” as liberals tend to describe it.
The value that patriarchy gave men at the expense of women, and that racial tyranny gave whites at the expense of blacks, and that traditional morality gave straights at the expense of gays, was unjust. The Democratic Party has done right to help redress those injustices.
“We are clearly called in the Bible to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God” (Micah 6:8), to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Luke 10:27), and to “defend the cause of the marginalized” (Psalm 82:3). We are called to proclaim the Gospel and to live as witnesses of the love of Christ, not to promote our theological or political agenda.”—Evangelicals for Marriage Equality: A Response to Our Critics
“The only reason this news at all is because Peterson is a celebrity athlete. I have been stomping my feet and talking myself blue and posting awful photos and giving very real statistics about child abuse for the past five years, mostly to no avail. Far as I can tell, the court of public opinion doesn’t care if you are child being abused if your father or mother isn’t a celebrity.”—Karen Zacharias
“Most projections of climate change presume that future changes—greenhouse gas emissions, temperature increases and effects such as sea level rise—will happen incrementally. A given amount of emission will lead to a given amount of temperature increase that will lead to a given amount of smooth incremental sea level rise. However, the geological record for the climate reflects instances where a relatively small change in one element of climate led to abrupt changes in the system as a whole. In other words, pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large-scale impacts. At that point, even if we do not add any additional CO2 to the atmosphere, potentially unstoppable processes are set in motion. We can think of this as sudden climate brake and steering failure where the problem and its consequences are no longer something we can control.”—Report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society
“It seems that Qatar backed the wrong side – the Muslim Brotherhood – after the regime change in Egypt in 2011. The Saudi Arabian royal family hates the Muslim Brotherhood, because the Brotherhood advocate elections, and kings don’t do elections. So, the Saudis bankrolled another regime change in Egypt, putting the military back in charge, and are now fighting a proxy war with Qatar in Libya. Which is why the Saudis blackballed Qatar from participating in Obama’s coalition of the willing against ISIS. (You do understand all this, right?)
Turkey, which is part of NATO, has been a wonderful father to ISIS, allowing the caliphate’s fighters free use of its long border with Syria and Iraq. In return, Turkey gets to buy the cheap oil from the fields that ISIS seized from Syria and Iraq, which makes the Turks somewhat reluctant to try to kill little baby ISIS.”—Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS?
“…imagine a world where, you know, the highways are made of solar panels that charge our cars as we drive. Where every house is just made out of shingles of solar panels with a little wind turbine in the corner. Where we have no air pollution anymore, you know, killing children with asthma and people with respiratory disease. I mean, I know this sounds like utopia.”—Katharine Hayhoe
“Americans have spent trillions of dollars and seen thousands of our young people killed or maimed since 9/11, only to see the terror threat spread like a cancer.”—Christmas Comes Early for War Profiteers
And oh, those blacks Lincoln emancipated? Except for Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, they vanished like the Lost Tribes of Israel. They wouldn’t re-enter history until the 1950s, when for some reason they still weren’t free.
Here’s what my teachers’ should have told me: “Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.” I think that would have gotten my attention.
It wasn’t just that Confederates wanted to continue the war. They did continue it, and they ultimately prevailed. They weren’t crazy, they were just stubborn.
To this, day, it still has not. For the other half is the story of how slavery changed and moved and grew over time: Lorenzo Ivy’s time, and that of his parents and grandparents. In the span of a single lifetime after the 1780s, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out plantations to a subcontinental empire. Entrepreneurial enslavers moved more than 1 million enslaved people, by force, from the communities that survivors of the slave trade from Africa had built in the South and in the West to vast territories that were seized—also by force—from their Native American inhabitants. From 1783 at the end of the American Revolution to 1861, the number of slaves in the United States increased five times over, and all this expansion produced a powerful nation. For white enslavers were able to force enslaved African-American migrants to pick cotton faster and more efficiently than free people. Their practices rapidly transformed the southern states into the dominant force in the global cotton market, and cotton was the world’s most widely traded commodity at the time, as it was the key raw material during the first century of the industrial revolution. The returns from cotton monopoly powered the modernization of the rest of the American economy, and by the time of the Civil War, the United States had become the second nation to undergo large-scale industrialization. In fact, slavery’s expansion shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of the new nation—not only increasing its power and size, but also, eventually, dividing US politics, differentiating regional identities and interests, and helping to make civil war possible.
The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth. And that truth was the half of the story that survived mostly in the custodianship of those who survived slavery’s expansion—whether they had been taken over the hill, or left behind. Forced migration had shaped their lives, and also had shaped what they thought about their lives and the wider history in which they were enmeshed. Even as they struggled to stay alive in the midst of disruption, they created ways to talk about this half untold. But what survivors experienced, analyzed, and named was a slavery that didn’t fit the comfortable boxes into which other Americans have been trying to fit it ever since it ended.
In 2008 Yahoo fought the NSA to avoid becoming part of the PRISM program. They eventually lost their court battle, and at one point were threatened with a $250,000 a day fine if they continued to resist. I am continually amazed at the extent of the government coercion.
“American Christians’ inability to see Middle Eastern Christians for who they are—not just fellow Christians, but human beings who are suffering and dying—contributes to the marginalization of some of the most persecuted people in the world, hastening their erasure from history.”—Andrew Stephen Damick
I am married to an American of Palestinian ancestry. People sometimes ask me if that means my wife is Muslim. She is not. She is an Orthodox Christian. Her father is an Orthodox Christian. His father was an Orthodox Christian. And so on. They’re actually not really sure how far back their Christianity goes, but the family originally came from Antioch (which is now in Turkey but was a major Syrian capital in the Roman Empire). I once asked when the family became Christian. One of my wife’s relatives answered, “When Jesus rose from the dead.” There’s a good chance that that’s roughly correct.
When the Apostles made their missionary journeys to the uttermost parts of the earth, history doesn’t say that they skipped the rest of the Middle East and headed straight for Europe. No, they immediately began founding Christian communities right in their own neighborhood. Two major Syrian cities—Antioch and Damascus—figure quite large in early Christian history. They are mentioned in the New Testament. They are still home to Christians.
Granted, when many American Christians think of “the Holy Land,” they don’t usually think beyond the borders of Israel. But Jesus went beyond those borders (e.g., to Tyre and Sidon, both Lebanese cities, as well as to Egypt in his youth), and the Apostles certainly did. And who can forget the Hebrew heritage in Egypt? Or that Abraham was from what is now Iraq? The Middle East is the very cradle of Christianity and its Jewish inheritance.
But even if we have a hard time wrapping our heads around the presence of Christians in the Middle East, we can look for them right here in America. The most numerous ethnic group of Middle Eastern people—those identifying as “Arabs”—has a presence of about 1.7 million people in America. Of those, 63 percent are Christians. (Muslims account for only 24 percent of Arab Americans.) The average Arab in America is a Christian. And I live in a valley in Pennsylvania with thousands of Syrians—more than any other congressional district in America, and as the civil war in their native land continues, their numbers here are growing. Most Syrian Americans are Christian, too.
“The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn’t reconcile is not a Christian gospel at all. But in America it seems as if we don’t believe that. We don’t really believe that the proof of our discipleship is that we love one another. No, we think the proof is in numbers — church attendance, decision cards. Even if our “converts” continue to hate each other, even if they will not worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, we point to their “conversion” as evidence of the gospel’s success. We have substituted a gospel of church growth for a gospel of reconciliation.”—John Perkins
Lost knew how to titillate, sometimes by weaving complex webs, but often with gestures as basic as the title cards that bookended each episode—that eerie, singular “LOST” that floated across the screen at the beginning of episodes and the firmly centered logo that served as closing punctuation, often with a percussive boom. The music was genius, from pulpy strings and horn blurts to that desperately sad emotional theme that soundtracked everything from Boone’s death to the series’ much-maligned final scenes. Even those mimicked the opening minutes of the pilot when Jack wakes up, stumbles upon the crash scene at the beach, and rushes to save everyone in sight, which, I mean, come on: That’s classic television.
It was a show that made people exclaim, “What the fuck!?” on a regular basis— sometimes in rage, sometimes in delight. And while your ratio of positive to negative exclamations may vary, the series I remember blew my mind far more often than it disappointed me. Sure, they never really explained why Walt was “special” or how exactly blowing up an atomic bomb on the island “worked.” The plot sometimes stalled out for a few episodes at a time, and the characters rarely asked the questions any rational person would ask. It was not a perfect show. But it was a show whose most dumbfounding moment—like when a light suddenly flipped on in the hatch; or when Desmond placed his legendary phone call to Penny; and especially when Jack told Kate, “We have to go back!”—more than compensated for its lapses in logic. Were you not entertained?
“So the cross didn’t happen because God angrily wanted to crucify all of us and begrudgingly accepted his son as our substitute. The cross happened because God sees infinite worth in people who have done really really bad things to other people, and he wanted to do justice to the harm that they caused while creating a means for their redemption and reconciliation. It wouldn’t be just to the victims of their sins for God to say everything is fine now without the cross.”—Do you deserve to be crucified for your sin?
And they will disappear because institutions whose primary mission is the nurturing of the mind will find the dissonance too great to continue. (The United Negro College Fund isn’t the only organization that believes that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.)
“The salaried pastorate inadvertently keeps the church shackled. A damaging co-dependent relationship exists between paid pastors and the people in the pews: the pastor(s) gets paid to “do the work of the ministry” while the people largely sit and watch. Despite good intentions, this relationship stifles the good that the church can do and the wondrous thing it can be. I do not sugarcoat or soften this call in any way. I believe all pastors who receive salaries from churches should resign today. This applies to all places on earth.”—All Salaried Pastors Everywhere, Please Resign!
“Somewhere along the line, for reasons that are utterly beyond me, TV’s Adam Baldwin got involved. Do you know how weird it is to see an actor from a show you love repost conspiracy videos about how your sex life is somehow ruining video games? Pretty goddamned weird, it turns out. A friend suggested that ever since his stint as Jayne on Firefly, Baldwin is afraid of women named Zoe. That at least took the sting out of no longer being able to watch one of my favorite shows without scowling so hard I sprain my face.”—5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person
“Well, you know, unfortunately, it was a common conversation that I had with many of my friends whose husbands who also played football. And it was all—it was just a code of silence. You didn’t tell. You didn’t talk about it. When you would talk about it, you always started to weigh exactly what’s happening to Janay Rice right now. If it gets in the media, what’s going to happen? Is he going to lose his job? How am I going to be perceived, you know, in the situation? Like I’m tearing him down. You know, when you’re a victim and when you feel that things that are going wrong in your marriage or in your household are your fault or you’re causing it, because you’re made to believe that, because you’re dealing with a person who is a superstar in their own mind, they’re a superstar on the football field, and everyone gives them what they want. And so, you know, when we would conversate about it, problems would come up between the wives, because—we called it pillow talk: If the women would go back to their husbands and share anything that I would say or someone else would say, the husbands would go to the locker room and share it, and then that would escalate the argument and the fight, because then, you know, your husband comes back home and says, “Stop talking to our business. You told such-and-such about this. It’s no one’s business. Keep our business in our house.” And so, it was very difficult, because it happened to many women, both physical and verbally, and it was just—it’s just what happens.”—Dewan Smith-Williams
“The reality is that the government was not reducing the amount of money devoted to management of the urban poor. It was radically altering what the funds would be used for. The dramatic shift toward punitiveness resulted in a massive reallocation for public resources. By 1996, the penal budget doubled the amount that had been allocated to AFDC or food stamps.”—Michelle Alexander
“Activists and writers have long argued that there are “racist elements” or “racist injustices” embedded in our current crisis of mass incarceration. [Michelle] Alexander would have us push this claim much further, arguing that mass incarceration is “a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.” She disarms the popular notion that it is somehow wrong to discuss a modern Jim Crow in the age of Barack Obama, noting that “no other country in the world imprisons so many of its racial or ethnic minorities. The United States imprisons a a larger percentage of its black population then South Africa did at the height of apartheid.” In Alexander’s rendering Jim Crow didn’t die so much as it mutated.”—Books for the Horde: The New Jim Crow, Chapter One
“[Ted] Cruz provoked some people at the summit last week by asserting that Christians in the region “have no greater ally than Israel.” That isn’t true by any reasonable definition of the word ally, but by itself one could dismiss it as a pandering throwaway line that a conservative Christian would use to reconcile his “pro-Israel” hawkishness and his faith. If Cruz wants to pretend that this is true for his own reasons, he can do so, but it’s important to understand that there is no such alliance. An alliance implies more than just having common interests or common enemies. It also requires active and mutual support, and there is simply isn’t any of that. Nor would we expect there to be any. Cruz’s error was in believing that such an alliance exists and in assuming that Christians in the region were somehow at fault for not acknowledging something that doesn’t exist. Israel and Christians in the region may have some of the same enemies, but that doesn’t mean that an alliance exists between them, so it is ludicrous to suggest that Israel is their ally, much less their best one. The bigger problem with what Cruz said was that he asserted something demonstrably false as if it were undeniably true and then went on to denounce anyone that disagreed with the falsehood as being filled with hate.”—Cruz’s Bogus “No Greater Ally” Claim
“Years of air strikes, drone-operated killings, and covert operations have brought neither peace nor safety to the region and its people. Estimates of the death toll from U.S. attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia alone range from 3,100 to 5,400, including 570-1,200 civilians. Precise figures are impossible to obtain since the strikes remain classified, and investigating drone attacks is difficult and dangerous work. Nor has the drone campaign halted the proliferation of groups seeking to link their — usually local — agendas to the idea of a global struggle represented by al-Qaeda. Indiscriminate killing — and the constant fear of death from above — has only destroyed communities and provided easy recruitment material for extremist groups.”—The Next Round of an Unwinnable War Beckons
“In other words, the Christian alternative to the post-religious spirituality outlined earlier is not simply ‘religion’ as some sort of intellectual and moral system but the corporately experienced reality of the Kingdom, the space that has been cleared in human imagination and self-understanding by the revealing events of Jesus’ life. Standing in this place, I am made aware of what is fundamental and indestructible about my human identity: that I am the object of divine intention and commitment, a being freely created and never abandoned. Standing in this place, I am also challenged to examine every action or policy in my life in the light of what I am; and I am, through the common life of the ‘Assembly’, made able to change and to be healed, to feed and be fed in relations with others in the human city. Faced with the claims of non-dogmatic spirituality, the believer should not be insisting anxiously on the need for compliance with a set of definite propositions; he or she should be asking whether what happens when the Assembly meets to adore God and lay itself open to his action looks at all like a new and transforming environment, in which human beings are radically changed.”—Rowan Williams (via ayjay)