7 Takes on The Self, The Longings, The Chosen, and The Algorithms

7 Takes on The Self, The Longings, The Chosen, and The Algorithms June 18, 2021

Is it Friday? Looks like it. After a week of excessively light blogging, let’s see what we have.


I know I’ve said this before but I am really annoyed with how Facebook has changed its algorithm yet again to suppress the plain posting of links. It is so annoying to have to cut the link into the comments, instead of straight into the post. I tried it the old-fashioned way yesterday out of haste and it showed up in zero people’s feeds. All that to say, all the words that I am typing–feeds, algorithm, Facebook, post–are also annoying. I really don’t want to be a Luddite digital minimalist, but every day Facebook makes me ponder the option more fully and truly.


Finished the Book of Longings yesterday by speeding it up to 1.5 on audible. The fastest I’ve ever gone before is 1.3 so it began to have a bit of a chipmunk feel. I had started out with it on kindle, thinking I would read the thing, but then realized that sitting down and looking at the words felt like being nailed into the very coffin that Ana (wife of Jesus) is nailed into to escape her persecutors. So I paid extra to listen to it, but even that was a kind of representative death so I kept speeding it up.

All that to say, I do enjoy the occasional bad novel, and I think this one, if you like funny (but not meant to be) turns of phrase, might be your perfect summer beach read. Also, novels are those perfect windows into the souls not only of the people who write them but also of the cultures in which those writers live and move and have their beings. All the unquestioned assumptions about good and evil, virtue and villainry make their way onto the page, whether the author thinks she is being stunning and brave or not. The writer of the Book of Longings postures as provocative and boundary-pushing, but honestly, she is articulating the same view of reality that every single person in this cultural moment has embraced–to the point, I am sorry to say, of tedium. Anyway, going to write my review now. It’s going to be epic.


When I say “everybody,” of course I don’t mean everybody. There are straggling Christian voices here and there who pathetically bleat that The Self is not nearly as awesome as “everyone” seems to think it is. And truly, if I hadn’t gotten through a goodly half of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self before having to endure The Book of Longings, I think I would have thought I was going mad. Now that I’m done with Ana and “Jesus,” I will go back to Carl Trueman who is at the very least a better writer, and more interesting…maybe he should write a novel. Now that might be really alarming.


The other great antidote, as I said on Twitter, is that we’ve been binge-watching The Chosen. As with everything and anything that has to do with Jesus (besides the Bible and Anglicans) I was pretty skeptical. In fact, my husband tried to assert the patriarchy and then resorted to subterfuge to even get me to try it. The fact is, I’ve endured so many bad Jesus on Film options that I just couldn’t even believe it wouldn’t be awful. That said, allow me then swallow my bad attitude and say that I really like it. I don’t know if you will, because maybe we don’t like the same things, but I like it.


Just some of the things that I like–All the Jews have sort of very bad accents that they don’t seem to fuss over too much (just rolling the ‘r’s’ and moving on with life); All the Romans have straight American accents; Jesus is funny and well-timed, occasionally really funny; They seem to really lean into the whole American Evangelical vibe (so maligned by all which makes me love it more) so that Thomas feels like a straight-up Baptist youth minister, and Peter’s wife sounds like she would be a great big-eva blogger/YouTuber; The unerring theological bent for the actual divinity of Jesus and the fact that everyone is a sinner, you know, basic Christian doctrine until five minutes ago; the mashing up of people so that Nicodemus is one of the first people you see, and he runs into Mary Magdalen, and Matthew as tax-collector knows Peter and Andrew because he collects their taxes; Matthew as spectrumy–for real, Matthew is my favorite; and finally, did I say that it’s funny?

In fact, though, like all American sorts of things, it sidles well up close to sentimentality and even nostalgia, it saves itself every time with the humor.


Because Facebook is so perverse, maybe you missed the Podcast I did with Melanie over at the Christian Research Journal about The Making of Biblical Womanhood. I think if you wander over to youtube, you’ll see that some people in the comments are mad. I’ve “misrepresented” Barr because she doesn’t believe the Bible’s not true, she just doesn’t believe in inerrancy. Give it a listen anyway, and ask yourself, who gets to decide which bits are true and which bits aren’t? And what exactly is it about “The Self” in its current rising and triumphing that would help you form a good hermeneutic that would help you make sense of the text? Because that’s the current norm by which scripture is normed–Self-Bibling.


Go check out more takes! If you need me, I’ll be listening to a book from another century while I crush Japanese Beetles. Have a nice day!

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