• The direct-mail grift goes on and on: “Evangelical Trump Boosters Johnnie Moore and Sam Rodriguez Launch Yet Another Group.”
Moore and Rodriguez have heard the desperate cry for yet another religious-right umbrella group and they’re responding by forming the “Congress of Christian Leaders.” What is that? What will it do? They can’t quite say, yet. But it will, um, unite Christians, around unity and, um, leadership. And they have a logo!
That’s from a Google cache of their apparently not yet ready website. The name is a shrewd way of ensuring at least nominal support from their competitors in the crowded market of religious-right direct-mail fundraising machines. The Family Research Council and the American Family Association and all of the other outfits now raking in the contributions might not be happy to see some new start-up seeking a cut of the lucrative scary-story-send-us-money industry, but they also won’t be able to resist the impulse to see their own names included in anything called a “Congress of Christian Leaders.”
I suppose the other aspect of the name is to give Fox News a handy and impressive-sounding institutional affiliation to paste on the screen below the names of Moore and Rodriguez when they appear on the network’s programs.
• Richard Mouw on the End Times preachers celebrating Trump’s embassy: “To my fellow evangelicals: What you’re cheering in Jerusalem is shameful.” The last two paragraphs especially:
If we want God to “bless” Israel we should keep calling the present Israeli government to treat the Palestinians as those who are “born among you.” We do Israel no favors by praying at its celebrations while ignoring the grave injustices taking place not far away.
The evangelicals who send angry messages quoting the biblical passage about blessings and curses are right to insist that God both blesses and curses nations for what they do. And the time is long past for us as evangelicals to talk seriously together about God’s concern for justice in the Middle East. And while we are at it we can also talk, as evangelicals, about God’s concern for “the stranger” who is within and at our own American borders. It is always important to attend to these things. They are matters for which divine blessings and divine curses are at stake.
• Mark Evanier has a relatable rant about the absurdities of major retail chains. He blames technology, but the common thread here really is the powerlessness of employees in large companies. These retail workers are afraid of getting into trouble. They work for companies that view labor as a cost to be minimized rather than as an asset to be empowered and appreciated (in every sense of the word “appreciate”). If a business doesn’t view its workforce as assets then it does not allow them to act as assets. It only allows them to act as it views them — as costs to be minimized.• The Diderot Effect.
• Paul Campos makes a compelling and convincing case. This seems likelier and more in character (for all involved) than any other assumption or guess, including the prevailing assumption or guess, which has been so widely discussed that it’s easy to forget that it, too, is only a theory.
• Fun read about “The Rise in Self-Proclaimed Time Travelers” taking over the more dubious corners of YouTube. My complaint with this bit has to do with craft. These hoaxes should be better, more interesting, and more entertaining than the current crop manages to be. It’s not just the shoddy production values, but the sloppy first-draft quality of the writing. I want to see more care and thought put into the plot and grand mythology of the various futures these purported time-travelers are visiting from. More world-building. I want to hear them speaking with the occasional awkwardness of a visitor who lacks a chronological native’s fluency in early 21st-century idioms and cultural references.
It’s fun idea, but geez, people, put some work into it.
• After spending 10 minutes staring at that top item, bewildered that anyone, anywhere in the world might be thinking, “A new religious right organization led by Johnnie and Sami? Yes! That’s what the world needs now!” I wound up with this old favorite from Cracker stuck in my head. So now I’ll let it get stuck in yours:
(Lowery & Co.’s insistence that what the world needs now is a new Frank Sinatra seems to be proving true, but in a different way than they imagined at the time. Yes, that was a Ronan Farrow joke.)