Aug 18, 2017

Weekend Reads: Donald Trump & Evangelicals, Charlottesville, Biblical Literacy, Prince’s Official Purple & more

Also: Waiting for your favorite authors, the allure of magic, publishing trends, shoegaze protest, and the dark matter enigma.

Donald Trump
Our shameless leader

Jake Meador calls out evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr and Mike Huckabee who still support Trump after Charlottesville. “This is the depth we have sunk to: the fact that the president is, by his own admission, a serial sexual assaulter has become backpage news in the midst of potential nuclear war with North Korea, obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, and now this clear public alignment with neo-Nazis.”

Ed Stetzer lays it all out: “[S]imply put, if you are unable to critique the President, you’ve lost your prophetic witness, Christian. And that’s a tragedy.”

Robert E. Lee Statue
Robert E. Lee
Hal Jespersen (Public Domain)

We don’t have to tear down memorials of the founding fathers just because we tear down Confederate statues. “It would obviously be unreasonable to expect every celebrated historical figure to be without any kind of significant blemish. But the case against Confederate statuary is setting a much lower bar. It demands only that a celebrated historical figure have done something worth celebrating. Washington, Jefferson, and other mainstream American historical figures all clearly meet that test. Lee and Davis clearly flunk it.”

It’s tempting to cheer on any efforts to condemn neo-Nazis like those at Charlottesville, but tracking them down online isn’t the best approach. “Until we can show evidence that the people being doxed will actually change their lives for the better, we may be only fanning the flames. It might work on those who have just joined the group, but those heavily indoctrinated will only dig deeper.” And as always, follow the money: “So if doxing helps neither left- nor right-wing extremists, who does it benefit? Well, increasingly, it’s a financial boon for self-styled internet investigators.” And of course, there are always mistakes.

Bible
The Good Book

America may be increasingly secular and post-Christian, but there’s still value in knowing the Bible. “If you live in the United States of America, knowing the Bible enriches your understanding of our shared culture. Especially if you have never learned anything about it, you might want to look into it if you want to connect with the art of people such as Leonard Cohen, Chance the Rapper, the team behind ‘The Leftovers,’ and Jim Carrey, among many others.”

Like many, I’ve grown increasingly impatient for the next books from George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. But maybe there’s a good reason to keep waiting. “I’ve welcomed Martin and Rothfuss into my home and both are lovely people who care a lot about their work and their readers. But like any writer working today, they care about their work being the best it can be. They too want their books read long after they are gone. The best way to assure that it is to spend extra time on them.”

Deck of Cards
Pick a card…

Kevin Pang explains his decades-long obsession with magic tricks. “One thing that sets magic apart is that while other hobbies are about the overt display of skills (yo-yo tricks, juggling, karate, piano), magic is about the concealment of skills, hiding sleight of hand within natural, unsuspicious movement so as to convince the spectator nothing untoward is happening.”

This looks like a good trend in magazine publishing: “News and current affairs magazines are becoming more popular — but celebrity, gossip and fashion publications are still struggling.” Here’s hoping it continues.

Ride
Ride

I’d never considered shoegaze music as protest music. “To Mr. Reynolds, the sociopolitical climate in Britain had created a sense of defeat among young people who were coming of age just as bands like Slowdive, Ride and Swervedriver were forming. There were a few genres in which to lose oneself: Some involved drugs, and some involved sounds that worked pretty well with drugs.”

Chen Hui Jing wants to rethink web design: “The new normal I would like to see is one where people don’t expect websites to look the same on different browsers and devices. Where we embrace the fluidity of content and work with it instead of against it. Where we cede control of our designs to the browsers that render them rather than constantly engage in this battle to dictate where every pixel should fall.” I support this wholeheartedly.

Prince
The Purple One

It’s official: Prince has his very own shade of purple. “The (naturally) purple hue, represented by his ‘Love Symbol #2’ was inspired by his custom-made Yamaha purple piano, which was originally scheduled to go on tour with the performer before his untimely passing at the age of 57. The color pays tribute to Prince’s indelible mark on music, art, fashion and culture.”

And finally, to end things on a note of mystery: scientists have grown increasingly flummoxed in their search for dark matter. “We understand the formation of cosmic structure, as well as the evolution of the universe as a whole, in terms of dark matter. Yet a decade of sophisticated searches has failed to detect the material directly. We see the shadow it casts, but are completely unaware of what the dark side of the universe may contain.”

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