March 24, 2017 / From the Editor
Every Friday, we will publish a short list of a few articles that have caught our attention. This is what we’re reading this week.
July 11, 2015
The blog Faith and Theology asks, “What is the opposite of faith?”
Let’s start with the Protestant no-no: works. We are justified, put right with God not by works but by faith, faith alone – sola fide – isn’t that, as Luther put it, the doctrine by which the church stands or falls? And wouldn’t Calvin and Wesley agree? Well, yes, but … Luther was citing Paul, but during the last half century – through a better understanding of the thought-world of first century Judaism – it’s now become pretty clear that what Paul meant by “works” and what Luther meant by “works” are not identical.
When Brad Katsuyama came to the US in 2002 to run the trading desk for the Royal Bank of Canada, he thought he understood the game. If he wanted to purchase a block of shares for a client, he could find an amount at a certain price and buy it. But around 2007 something began to change. Increasingly he could no longer get what he saw offered on his screen. A purchase order would get him only a fraction of the shares he wanted, and when he went to buy the rest, the price had suddenly gone up.
A story from a plantation tour guide:
Up until a few weeks ago, I worked at a historic site in the South that included an old house and a nearby plantation. My job was to lead tours and tell guests about the people who made plantations possible: the slaves.
The site I worked at most frequently had more than 100 enslaved workers associated with it— 27 people serving the household alone, outnumbering the home’s three white residents by a factor of nine. Yet many guests who visited the house and took the tour reacted with hostility to hearing a presentation that focused more on the slaves than on the owners.
An article that helps explain Bitcoin:
Will bitcoin make me rich? That was my first question about Bitcoin when I heard the term years ago. I didn’t know a thing about cryptocurrency, or why or how a bitcoin might be used, but it sounded like an internet gold rush. I never invested in bitcoin, and that may have been the right decision. But sometimes I think of the life that could have been.
This week, I invited my brilliant pal Russell Brandom to explain Bitcoin. He has a skill for making complex things like this digestible, and he delivers yet again, explaining the numbers behind the madness.
Žižek speaks about Greece:
The unexpectedly strong No in the Greek referendum was a historical vote, cast in a desperate situation. In my work I often use the well-known joke from the last decade of the Soviet Union about Rabinovitch, a Jew who wants to emigrate. The bureaucrat at the emigration office asks him why, and Rabinovitch answers: “There are two reasons why. The first is that I’m afraid that in the Soviet Union the Communists will lose power, and the new power will put all the blame for the Communist crimes on us, Jews – there will again be anti-Jewish pogroms…”
For an article on FiveThirtyEight today, Mike Lopez and Noah Davis charted the relationship between spending and win percentage for every baseball season since 1985. They found that the relationship between money and winning in baseball is as strong now as it’s been any time in the free-agency era. Below you’ll see that relationship for each team in the majors. Each season is one dot in the figure, and the colored line is a smoothed curve fit through the points. Essentially, the higher the curve, the more the team’s money was well-spent. The gray line is an aggregation of all the data points across the entire league, and that line shows a pattern: More money generally means more wins.
The question we’ve been given is, “What are your beliefs about morally appropriate relationships between persons who experience same-sex attraction?” This is (a modified version of) the question being asked by American culture today, but there are a couple of respects in which I don’t think it’s the best question to address the needs of our churches and the longings of our hearts.
The best thing about this question is its focus on relationships: on love. So much Christian discussion about the role of gay and same-sex attracted people in our churches focuses instead on acts or on identities. There is a place for talking about both of these things, but the central question, I believe, is, “How are gay and same-sex attracted people called to give and receive love?” This is a question about relationships.
A review of Christology, Hermeneutics, and Hebrews:
A newer entry into the increasingly popular spate of essay collections on the theological interpretation of Scripture, Christology, Hermeneutics, and Hebrews draws upon more than a dozen theologians and biblical scholars to trace the history of the interpretation of Hebrews and the letter’s significance to the task of Christian theological reflection. As a theologian I find projects like this especially exciting in that they tend to side-step formal questions that often preoccupy scholars in the guild of biblical studies (such as authorship), and instead jump straight into the epistle’s theological content. On the other hand, the collection is attentive to questions of method (i.e. the nature and tasks of theological hermeneutics) in a way that such reflection often neglects.
Publication The Awl is making waves in the media industry:
The piece predicted that the future of the internet looked a lot like the television industry: websites would atrophy, and publications would become disembodied producers of content for large social networks like Facebook. “If in five years I’m just watching NFL-endorsed ESPN clips through a syndication deal with a messaging app, and Vice is just an age-skewed Viacom with better audience data, and I’m looking up the same trivia on Genius instead of Wikipedia, and ‘publications’ are just content agencies that solve temporary optimization issues for much larger platforms,” the author wrote, “what will have been point of the last 20 years of creating things for the web?”
— Esquire Magazine (@esquire) July 9, 2015
David A. Garner