Worth Reading - 3/9

1. The internet is a dangerous place, especially for those who are still being formed socially. This post on Medium talks about one platform in particular, but reflects on some of the deep darkness of social media for kids.

Musical.ly looks innocent — just kids making music videos, and it is that, but more so it’s this: user uploaded content by millions of people who can also live stream, which is how I first encountered porn on Musical.ly. A very helpful naked man live-streamed his live stream (if you know what I mean).

Kids are going to see it eventually, right? Might as well let them see it now. Might as well get them drunk while we’re at it. And high. Can’t keep them bubble-wrapped forever. Eight-year-olds have been diaper-free for five years; if you can pee in a potty, you can hold your own online. Amiright?

Friends who worry I’m over-reacting suggest I make the account private to keep pedophiles at bay, but pedophiles are not my main concern. Here’s why: Pretend you can turn your kid invisible. Pretend you drop your invisible kid off at a warehouse in downtown LA. You have no idea who’s inside — fingers crossed it’s packed with Nobel Peace Prize winners, board certified pediatricians, and J.K. Rowling. Pray it is not packed with the worst of humanity. No one can see your kid, but your kid can see everyone and hear everything.

Would you do it?

2. This is a long read from the Huffington Post (I know), but it is an interesting story about a couple who made millions of dollars playing a form of lottery with positive odds.

So perhaps it was only fitting that at age 64, Jerry found himself contemplating that most alluring of puzzles: the lottery. He was recently retired by then, living with Marge in a tiny town called Evart and wondering what to do with his time. After stopping in one morning at a convenience store he knew well, he picked up a brochure for a brand-new state lottery game. Studying the flyer later at his kitchen table, Jerry saw that it listed the odds of winning certain amounts of money by picking certain combinations of numbers.

That’s when it hit him. Right there, in the numbers on the page, he noticed a flaw—a strange and surprising pattern, like the cereal-box code, written into the fundamental machinery of the game. A loophole that would eventually make Jerry and Marge millionaires, spark an investigation by a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter, unleash a statewide political scandal and expose more than a few hypocrisies at the heart of America’s favorite form of legalized gambling.

3. Walter Strickland talks about his discovery of an excellent and interesting African American theologian.

Boothe was born on June 13, 1845, in Mobile County, Alabama, as the legal property of Nathaniel Howard. At the age of 3, Boothe learned the alphabet from lettering on a tin plate. At 14, he was sold to attorney James S. Terrel, and he began working as an office boy at a law firm in Clark County, Mississippi.

Mid-19th-century legal practice was rooted in biblical logic, which required young Boothe to explore Scripture on a regular basis. Over time, his exposure to Scripture drew him to salvation. In 1860 he testified that he “reached an experience of grace which so strengthened me as to fix me on the side of God’s people.”

At the conclusion of the Civil War, Boothe’s passion was racial uplift in a society that denied blacks’ humanity before God and the Constitution. At the age of 22, Boothe began teaching for the Freedmen’s Bureau and lecturing regularly at Booker T. Washington’s famed Tuskegee Institute. In the early 1870s, Boothe was a preliminary member of the Colored Baptist Missionary Convention that founded Selma University. He later served as the university’s second president (1901–02). Boothe desired to promote literacy so former slaves could read the Bible for themselves and escape the oppressive interpretative practices that had made the Christian faith a tool of black subservience.

4. Matthew Arbo engages the topic of assisted suicide at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's blog.

The Christian moral tradition, by contrast, has stressed the importance of “bodily integrity.” Human beings should in principle live whole, productive, and loving lives. That was Augustine’s emphasis, for example. Each of us has a duty to self-love and to love others (‘love your neighbor as yourself’). Love of self is natural and can be ordered or disordered. Only love of God leads to a properly ordered love of self and others. On this Christian theological basis, suicide is impermissible because it denies the fact that our lives belong to God and therefore are not ours to take. God alone brings final integrity.

Without love of God, self-love remains disordered. If the congregant’s father does not profess belief, then of course he will not understand his life as belonging to God. The theological rationale will not have strong purchase for him. The question then becomes whether there exists some common or universal rationale opposing euthanasia, a question that brings us to the social reasons why euthanasia is morally impermissible.

5. Read about a woman whose extreme generosity helped found one of Spurgeon's orphanages.

Born as Anne Field in Warwickshire, she waited until she was 38 to marry. Her husband, Reverend John William Hillyard, was the Curate of an Anglican Church at Ingestre in Staffordshire. He died just one year after their 1841 marriage.

It has long been a widely held misconception that the money Anne donated to the orphanage came from her husband’s estate. She had, however, inherited funds from her uncle prior to marrying, and was a self-sufficient woman in her own right. Though not rich, Anne was moderately wealthy—a wealth she happily gave to ease the burden of marginalized children.

It was some years after her husband’s death before she acted, but I think we can assume that Anne had considered for some time what to do with her money. Through a series of providential events, she found an answer to her prayers in Charles Spurgeon.