Worth Reading - 3/18

1. Russell Moore explains why adoption isn't for everyone:

Some said the parents thought the children they had adopted were demon-possessed. The story was that they’d tried exorcism, and couldn’t drive the devils out. The parents say the story was nothing quite so supernatural. The children displayed severe mental and emotional trauma, they claim, to the point that they feared for the safety of their other children, so they sent them to live with another family.

I can’t judge from here who’s right or wrong in the particular case of reports surrounding why Arkansas state Rep. Justin Harris (R) gave away his adopted child. I just know this story is all too familiar.

Every few weeks or so, it seems, I hear of another family on the verge of “disruption,” the term used to describe families relinquishing back to the system children they have adopted. As with divorce, in some of these situations, there is no alternative to the tragic outcome. But as with divorce, in other cases, many of the adoptions did not need the nuclear option.

As a Christian, I believe every part of the church is called to care for widows and orphans.

2. When sharing on social media trumps the experience itself:

I usually avoid Times Square, but I had bought my ticket to see American Authors five months earlier and so happily jostled the turtle-paced tourists. As we entered the dark Best Buy Theater, my friend said, “This is so nice!” I thought she was happy about getting a spot soclose to the stage, but instead she smiled at her phone, “There’s Wi-Fi here.” My friend wasn’t alone. Before the first jubilant percussion beats could settle, an iPad blocked my visibility like a solar eclipse. Turning for a better view revealed a conglomeration of glowing devices – not only grabbing pics and vids, but tweeting, texting, snapchatting, posting, gramming, vining.

I saw an audience controlling the experience instead of letting the experience entrance them. Our smartphones, and the instant communication they lend tempt us to forget the real moment in which we are involved. Musicians create something powerful to enjoy, but most audience members insist on retaining the power of tangible devices instead of surrendering to the music’s intangible beauty. The guttural throb of the bass guitar resets my heartbeat, but nothing can overpower the frenetic pattern of fingers on lucent screens. Is this an essential part of the concert experience or a divergence from it?

3. With memories of the Holocaust fading in Europe, is new persecution of Jews such a reality that emigration may be necessary?

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.

Despite this history of sorrow, Jews spent long periods living unmolested in Europe. And even amid the expulsions and persecutions and pogroms, Jewish culture prospered. Rabbis and sages produced texts and wrote liturgical poems that are still used today. Emancipation and enlightenment opened the broader culture to Jews, who came to prominence in politics, philosophy, the arts, and science—Chagall and Kafka, Einstein and Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Durkheim. An entire civilization flourished in Yiddish.

4. Is a biblical vision for human sexuality really dangerous and harmful as many critics claim?

One of the most common and significant charges leveled against the traditional Christian understanding of sexuality and marriage is that it is damaging. Denying someone’s sexuality is seen as denying who that person really is. It’s telling people to repress something central to their identity and ability to flourish. This is harmful to anyone, but especially to teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality while still at a young age. Christians, it is claimed, are to blame for gay teenagers killing themselves.

This accusation has been made perhaps most forcefully by Dan Savage:

’The dehumanizing bigotry set forth from the lips of faithful Christians give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words.’

Many Christians are beginning to conclude the traditional understanding must be wrong if it’s having this sort of effect on people. Surely, they reason, this kind of self-loathing and despair cannot be the fruit of God’s truth.