Weekend Reading

1. One writer protests the architectural designs intended to eliminate displays of poverty by moving the homeless along. Something that deserves deeper consideration:

More than 100 homeless people are “living” in the terminals of Heathrow airport this winter, according to official figures – a new and shameful record. Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have warned that homelessness in London is rising significantly faster than the nationwide average, and faster than official estimates. And yet, we don’t see as many people sleeping rough as in previous economic downturns. Have our cities become better at hiding poverty, or have we become more adept at not seeing it?

Last year, there was great public outcry against the use of “anti-homeless” spikes outside a London residential complex, not far from where I live. Social media was set momentarily ablaze with indignation, a petition was signed, a sleep-in protest undertaken, Boris Johnson was incensed and within a few days they were removed. This week, however, it emerged that Selfridges had installed metal spikes outside one of its Manchester stores – apparently to “reduce litter and smoking … following customer complaints”. The phenomenon of “defensive” or “disciplinary” architecture, as it is known, remains pervasive.

2. 19th century, anti-Catholic bias is impacting contemporary discussions of religious freedom. This illustrates why seeking justice in principle, not favorable policies, is the best course of action. The ruling party may not always be in charge to stop the 2nd order effects of their policies:

Eleven years ago this week, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in Locke v. Davey that continues to have a detrimental impact on religious liberty. But the seeds for that ruling were planted 140 years ago, in another attempt to curb religious liberty.

When James Blaine introduced his ill-fated constitutional amendment in 1875, he probably never would have imagined the unintended consequences it would have over a hundred years later. Blaine wanted to prohibit the use of state funds at “sectarian” schools (a code word for Catholic parochial schools) in order to inhibit immigration. Since the public schools instilled a Protestant Christian view upon its students, public education was viewed as a way to stem the tide of Catholic influence.

3. On the importance of choosing words wisely and not exaggerating rhetoric. This is an important and timely piece by Aaron Earls:

For those of us who write, we definitely have a responsibility to monitor the topics and themes of our writing. We must make sure we are delivering more than online bickering and finger pointing.

For all of us who read, think before you click or share. Rewarding clickbait headlines and controversy-stirring posts serves only to perpetuate more of the same. Look for something more positive to read, like and retweet.

Both writers and readers working together can change the way online content is presented and consumed. In particular, Christians can and should be seeking to build others up.

Hate and heresy clearly exist, but we are not combating them by misidentifying them.
In my youth ministry experience, I have found that the best way to tackle the hard truths is simply to teach exegetically through entire books of the Bible. Given the choice, most of us would love to bounce around from Romans 8 to John 10 and over to Galatians 2 and Revelation 21. It would be tempting to let Romans 9, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Luke 16 sit out a few plays at small group. But dodging the difficult texts robs us of the opportunity to prepare students for the suffering that certainly awaits them.

May God help us to teach the Scriptures completely and accurately with the hope that the seeds of truth planted may grow into foundations of hope and assurance when the day of suffering comes.

5. My post yesterday at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics deals with a recent trip we took to see how some old fashioned work was done:

Understanding the connection between the product on the shelf and the process that made it, especially the historical, labor intensive process, is becoming more important in a world of specialization where many of us never see a tangible result from our work.

I’m hopeful that our latest adventure, and future trips like it, will cement those images in my children’s minds and help them value the miracle of contemporary society.