Worth Reading - 9/29

1. A scholar laments how the internet has made scholarly debate significantly more difficult:

The Internet does not necessarily serve us well when it comes to scholarly discussion of topics. As an experienced “blogger” attempting to promote scholarly work now, I know this well.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to post something and then within days (or even hours) to have responses and helpful contributions from other scholars across the world, sometimes from individuals that I otherwise don’t know personally. It’s also encouraging and affirms a sense of the worth of my efforts when there are readers who ask questions, or ask for further information/explanation, or who ask about contrary views. On the other hand, it’s tiresome and annoying when others clearly out of their depth in knowledge of the subject but who confidently take issue on some matter, act as if they have some superior grasp of things.

The Internet makes it possible for us to express our opinion freely, almost effortlessly. But that doesn’t mean that we should do so! Scholarship doesn’t properly consist in half-baked notions based on insufficient (or inaccurate) information. Scholarly discourse demands good knowledge of the relevant data and prior scholarly work on the data, the ability to analyze the data and make cogent inferences, and a readiness to learn from others.

2. David French composed a thoughtful post on how counterproductive the negative reaction to the NFL anthem protests is for free speech:

Americans do not and should not worship idols. We do not and should not worship the flag. As a nation we stand in respect for the national anthem and stand in respect for the flag not simply because we were born here or because it’s our flag. We stand in respect because the flag represents a specific set of values and principles: that all men are created equal and that we are endowed with our Creator with certain unalienable rights. These ideals were articulated in the Declaration of Independence, codified in the Constitution, and defended with the blood of patriots. Central to them is the First Amendment, the guarantee of free expression against government interference and government reprisal that has made the United States unique among the world’s great powers. Arguably, it is the single most important liberty of all, because it enables the defense of all the others: Without the right to speak freely we cannot even begin to point out offenses against the rest of the Constitution.

3. Last week, Aaron Earls wrote a helpful post about the deceitfulness of the human heart. In an age that bids us to follow our hearts, this is a helpful reminder.

The worldview of the Western world is centered on the motto “follow your heart.” Once you start to look for it, the concept is inescapable. It’s in everything.

The mantra is frequently given as the solution to every problem on TV shows and movies. It’s often the unstated, but assumed foundation to every song.

If you would only follow your heart, you would find yourself, find your soul mate, find success, find happiness, find peace, find purpose, find love.

But that’s not what Jeremiah says you’ll find when you follow your heart. The prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says we will often find lies.

Like a siren, the words of Scripture pierce through the noise of this world. The one thing the world tells us to trust most is the one thing the Bible says is most deceptive.

4. An excellent post from Bruce Ashford on the real source of Fake News:

After the interview with Uncle Lenny, Glass concluded, “Facts do not have a fighting chance against this right-wing fable.” Glass is right. I think he’s ignoring the fact that the left has unassailable fables of its own. But he’s right. People today seem more prone to stick to their position, even after being shown evidence to the contrary. If it doesn’t fit within my view, it must not be true.

Now, the blame for the fake news phenomenon does not fall squarely on the shoulders of conservatives such as Uncle Lenny. I chose the Uncle Lenny story because it’s a good one and because I’ve spent most of my career criticizing silliness on the Left. And given that I like to consider myself an equal opportunity offender, I thought I’d start off this article by exposing some silliness on the Right.

On the Left and the Right, we are experiencing a world filled with “fake news,” “alternative facts,” a “post-truth” approach to reality. It’s a world filled with “Uncle Lennys” who have—wittingly or unwittingly—embraced our “post-truth” world. It’s a world in which the views of people on the Left and the Right are shaped more by their long-held personal opinions and by appeals to emotion than they are to objective facts. Even worse, it’s a world in which an increasing number of public influencers purposely convey partial truths and outright lies in order to accomplish their personal, professional, or political goals.

5. Ed Stetzer wrote about why Christians in particular should be cautious about calling for the firing of people who say things they don't like:

I think we all want to live in a country where presidents and politicians are not going after certain groups of people and targeting their employment due to the unpopularity of their beliefs.

I understand (and actually agree) that Kaepernick’s approach was not helpful. There is a time and a place for peaceful protest in civil society. However, his selection of time and space during the singing of the national anthem—moments set aside to honor the sacrifice of countless patriots—was an unwise choice. (And, thankfully, you can have a different opinion.) However, it appears that almost all other players agreed—until the president started calling for people to be fired.

As a patriot, I defend the right of people to peacefully protest by simply taking a knee.
So, before you disagree, NFL fans can do what they want. And the president can say what he wants.

But before you cheer on his words while tearing down the words of others, keep in mind that speech is free even when it’s unpopular. And that, depending on the circumstances, unpopular speech is sometimes your speech and related to your job.

In other words, the cleat may soon be on the other foot.