1. Emily Graslie’s Brain Scoop is delightful. Graslie’s official title is chief curiosity correspondent for the Field Museum in Chicago, and the enthusiasm she brings to that — her relish for science even at its grisliest — is contagious. It’s hard not to get hooked by a blog that announces things like “Filmed the dissection of this squirrel with a terrible abscess today for an upcoming episode!” with such cheerful excitement — even if dissections and, say, zebra taxidermy aren’t quite your usual cup of tea.
Graslie made waves recently with a video on a slightly different topic — the abusive, sexist crap and bullying that women shouldn’t have to put up with online:
2. Here’s Sarah Jones on Doug Phillips, the Vision Forum, and the way “the Christian patriarchy movement grooms young women for abuse.” And here’s NPR’s Jennifer Ludden with “Five Things You May Not Know About Child Marriage.” Those two pieces have a great deal in common.
3. “This study examines the question of whether infants and children fare better in U.S. states that have the most restrictive abortion laws. Eighteen indicators of infant/child health, family, economic, and educational status are analyzed. The empirical evidence finds that states with the most antiabortion policies are also the same states that have significantly lower indicators of infant/child well-being.” (via Jay Lake)
4. The Christmas lights are up at my house. The eaves in the front are about 40 feet long, so we bought three strands of lights that said they were 13 feet, 8 inches long. That came up about a foot short, so I went back to the store. “Those sometimes run a little short,” said the very nice lady at the store. I bought the next size up — 15 feet 5 inches, it said.
But when I replaced the 1-foot-too-short 13-foot strand with the 15-foot strand it came up two feet too short. I laid them out side by side. Yep, the 15-foot strand was shorter than the 13-foot strand. So I went back to the store, again. “Those sometimes run a little short,” said the very polite lady at the store. Notice how I switched “nice” to “polite” there. That’s the difference.
5. Peter Enns shares the wisdom of Molly Worthen: “Evangelicalism and the anti-intellectual cult of the ‘Christian worldview.’” And see earlier here: “Weltanschauung” and “The ‘biblical worldview’ doesn’t come from the Bible.”
6. Al Mohler chimed in on that mortifying panel of white Christians ignorantly dismissing all rap and Hip-Hop music as incompatible with their white Christianity and their white Jesus. After some throat-clearing bloviation about the doctrinal corruptions of Beethoven’s music, Mohler writes something wise and sensible:
Rap music is not my music. I do not come from a culture in which rap music is the medium of communication and I do not have the ear for it that I have for other forms of music. But I do admire its virtuosity and the hold that is has on so many, for whom it is a first and dominant musical language. … I have no idea how to evaluate any given rap musical expression, but rappers know.
Mohler allows that culture and personal experience shape one’s ability to understand and interpret musical forms. He doesn’t think this is true of our ability to understand and interpret texts — and certainly not scripture — but he at least acknowledges, with a measure of humility, that it is true for music. This limited acknowledgement of limitations is a refreshing change from Mohler. If only he had shown a fraction of that humility before purging his seminary of
non-male, non-white “non-conservative” professors 20 years ago. (Sorry — I just remembered that white evangelicals all agreed to ignore the starkly obvious demographics of Mohler’s purge and to pretend it was, instead, strictly about “liberal” and “conservative” views of scripture. Forget I said anything.)
7. This is from the new Bad Religion album of Christmas Songs (no, really):