Worth Reading - 6/24

1. Social media allows instant communication and self-expression. There is a growing trend of individuals and groups being castigated for not publicly expressing the right sentiments at the right times in the right words on social media. According to Samuel James, this is part of defining decency down, where real expressions of grief, sorrow, and sympathy are much less important the projection into cyberspace.

If a horrific act of murder happens somewhere in the world, but you don’t blog within minutes about it, or Tweet about What It All Means…do you still care?
In the week and a half since a young man (I won’t name him. It’s a scandal that we make celebrities out of terrorists and psychopaths) brutally murdered nearly 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, I and many of those close to me have had much to think about. The nightclub was a gay nightclub. The killer obviously targeted a specific community of human beings that particularly offended him, one that he wanted to terrorize. In the era of our media-soaked, clicks-oriented identity politics, the weight of that thought can be hard to feel. Not hard to understand, mind you; hard to feel, to truly have the horror and hatred and vulnerability of such an act reverberate in the soul.

2. An interesting post at Public Discourse on a woman's interaction with a muslim man who wouldn't shake her hand for religious reasons. Her point is that we should be careful not to jump to conclusions and label things as hate, simply because we do not understand the basis.

I was impressed by Muhammad’s resume, which included a rigorous education at an excellent college that left him just as prepared to attend graduate school in Islamic studies or medical school (he has since done both). We had never met in person, as the internship had been arranged via e-mail. But on paper he sure seemed like a rising star.
The first thing that happened when he arrived in Princeton to start his internship was that he refused to shake my hand. Shock. Shock was my initial response. I tried to hide how stunned I was, but it was difficult. He was absolutely gracious in declining. I felt angry when he refused to shake my hand just because I am female, but it was hard to be angry at someone who was so kind. It wasn’t even clear to me what or who the object of my confused anger was. He explained that it was due to his religious beliefs that he does not shake women’s hands. Was I, who had hired this intern to help with religious freedom work, going to reject his freedom to follow his religious beliefs?
I suppressed how baffled and worried I felt. I moved right along as if nothing had happened. I welcomed him to the Witherspoon Institute and began introducing him to the work we would be doing that summer. But inside, my head and heart were spinning.

3. Not a new post, but a good one on civility and online engagement from Mere Orthodoxy.

A friend of mine recently addressed this question well when he was asked about how to respond to someone asking questions about the traditional Christian understanding of sexuality. He said it’s important to distinguish between the different sorts who might ask this question: On the one hand, you may be talking to someone like a younger version of Wes Hill or Eve Tushnett, in which case you very much need to discern the sincerity of the question and respond with all appropriate compassion, gentleness, and pastoral sensitivity to the difficulty of their situation. On the other, you may be getting the question from a person not at all interested in conversation who is only interested in getting you to say something dumb or to somehow out yourself as some kind of bigot. It’s the same question, but with two radically different rhetorical intents.
Thus it is vitally important that evangelicals not only know how to make arguments, but how to read situations rhetorically and to make sound judgments on how to respond given their read on the situation. We have to be shrewd in how we handle these kind of situations.

4. How many times have you heard someone argue that a certain doctrine was biblical or another one unbiblical? What does that even mean? My friend, Matt Emerson picks up that topic in a helpful post from his website.

The basic question at stake is, “What makes a doctrine biblical?” That question is of course important to Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants alike, but it is particularly important for us Protestants, affirming as we do sola scriptura. What I would like to do here is articulate an appropriate theological method that is faithful to sola scriptura in a robustly theological and historical manner (which, by the way, is how the Reformers originally articulated the idea). In contrast to a stark biblicism that sees theology as essentially an individual project whereby the reader exegetes a handful of passages and then makes theological conclusions, this method is, I think, more careful to understand that theology is not autonomous, it is not presupposition-less, it is not a-historical, it is not merely a matter of proof-texting or collecting a handful of texts, and it is not unmoored from other Christians’ reflection throughout space and time. With that said, then, what does an evangelical theological method look like?

5. Don't sleep on the report that China continues the practice of harvesting organs from prisoners.

A new report claims that China is still engaged in the widespread and systematic harvesting of organs from prisoners, and says that people whose views conflict with the ruling Chinese Communist Party are being murdered for their organs.
The report -- by former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and journalist Ethan Gutmann -- collates publicly reported figures from hospitals across China to show what they claim is a massive discrepancy between official figures for the number of transplants carried out throughout the country.

They blame the Chinese government, the Communist Party, the health system, doctors and hospitals for being complicit.
"The (Communist Party) says the total number of legal transplants is about 10,000 per year. But we can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals," Matas said in a statement.
The report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals.

6. This testimony of the problem of being an overweight, single, Christian woman is important.

I once had a close friend confide in me that a boy I liked told her he could never date me, despite being “attracted to my personality,” because of my weight, because he was embarrassed by me. It was my worst nightmare come true — that my personality does not offer enough redemption for my looks. That my body is a great concession that my future husband would have to make. That everything that makes me lovable cannot outweigh my weight.
I wish I could say this guy was in the minority, but we have to face facts: for men in the church, it’s a buyer’s market. With the surplus of godly, talented, accomplished Christian women, men can afford to be pickier, holding tightly to standards of physical attraction, sense of humor, similar interest, or taste in coffee. Women, on the other hand, have narrowed down their lists primarily to non-negotiables: growing in the Lord, bathing regularly. That’s it.