• Caitlin Flanagan’s “The Dark Power of Fraternities” is a fascinating, disturbing, insightful look at “their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame.” It’s a really long read, so just try this: Click over and read the first sentence. Then decide if you want to keep reading.
• Cathy Lynn Grossman of Religion News Service has a nice explainer on the EEOC’s new explainer of the rules on religious discrimination in the workplace. “Businesses cannot refuse to interview a Sikh with a turban or a Christian wearing a cross. Neither can they limit where employees work because of their religious dress.” But can employers forbid all female employees from purchasing health insurance coverage that violates their bosses’ purported religious beliefs? Hobby Lobby says yes, but the EEOC clearly says no.
• The Wikipedia entry for Patheos is woefully out of date.
• I never realized that Rick Warren’s publishers pulled an “Achy Breaky Heart” to help The Purpose Driven Life become a best-seller. That’s a bit shady. (I’ve never read the book — I couldn’t get past the lack of a hyphen in the compound adjective in the title.)
• The previous link isn’t mainly about Warren, but about Mark Driscoll, whose latest book was apparently also nudged onto best-seller lists with buy-backs in the hopes of creating buzz. Speaking of serial plagiarists with contempt issues … Paul Ryan is in trouble again, this time for stealing someone else’s story and adopting it as something told to him by another Wisconsin Republican. (It’s a sweet story and a true story — originally told as part of a campaign to fight against Ryan’s slashing of food stamps.)
I understand the story-telling impulse to embellish and enhance such tales when retelling them. That part of it is more art than deception. But Ryan, like too many preachers implausibly rewriting hackneyed sermon illustrations, takes that next step of misrepresenting where the story comes from in order to pretend he’s personally involved in it. That’s not just a bit of storytelling flair — that’s just a lie. Part of the difference is that it’s a deliberate change introduced not to enhance the story, but to enhance the prestige of the storyteller.
• Former Spy Jamie Malanowski offers a delightful rebuttal to Rush Limbaugh’s claim that 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for best picture solely because “It had the magic word in the title: Slave.” (Yes, Limbaugh resents slaves, because, apparently, he’s sure that somehow Solomon Northrup was getting a sweet deal at the expense of white people.)