7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.2)

7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.2) September 2, 2013

1. Hey, remember that Japanese nuclear plant that was leaking radiation after the earthquake and tsunami back in 2011? That was big news, but then other stuff happened and, well, it was all fixed or something, right? Not so much: “Fukushima radiation levels ’18 times higher’ than thought,” the BBC reports.

2. Katie Mulligan of Inside-Outed posts the sermon she preached on Sunday. Perhaps “sermon” doesn’t sound enticing to you, but it’s really good — with Martin Luther King Jr. and Wendell Berry and one of my favorite Jesus stories. I’m linking to it because it’s quite good, and because it’s an excuse to share the quote from James Baldwin she uses at the beginning: “I would like us to do something unprecedented: to create ourselves without finding it necessary to create an enemy.”

3. AZSpot points us to this 1989 speech by Bill Watterson on “The Cheapening of the Comics.” Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, foresees the shrinking future of the newspaper biz and, even before the rise of the Web, presciently points out that comics are one thing newspapers have that TV and other competing mediums couldn’t imitate. But instead of exploiting this advantage, newspapers were cutting and squeezing their comics sections to cut costs.

In the years since then, this same squandering of advantage has slowly been destroying everything else that newspapers used to be good at. Yes, the rise of cable TV and the Web were a challenge to the newspaper business. But it is not dying because of cable TV and the Web. It is dying because it is run by money-grubbing idiots who don’t know or care what it used to be good for.

Speaking of Bill Watterson, Gavin Aun Than’s illustration of Watterson’s advice to college graduates is good and beautiful and true.

4. Don’t miss this one-two punch from Christena Cleveland: “Everything I Know About Racism I Learned in the Church” and “Everything I Know About Reconciliation I Learned in the Church.”

5. The Cleveland chapter of the National Right to Life Committee has been “disaffiliated” by the national organization for saying it will oppose Ohio Sen. Rob Portman due to his support for marriage equality.

It’s an interesting dispute over the connection between these two conservative culture-warrior agenda items. What’s the link between being anti-abortion and being anti-gay? Is it intersectional and wholistic? Or is it a matter of knee-jerk partisanship?

6. Here’s ASAP Science’s brief, cheerful explainer on “The Poop Cycle.” This is one reason I have more respect for “off-the-grid” libertarian types than I do for people who enjoy Big Civilization while rejecting the “big” government that makes it possible.

7. Robin Parry writes about “The Dangers of Apologetics” — or, really, about the problems with “apologetics” in concept and in practice, which render it useless for anything except an elaborate way of jamming one’s fingers in one’s ears and shouting “LalalalaLA!” to drown out the shouts of one’s own doubts. Most of what passes for Christian “apologetics” these days, in other words, is a way of creating ourselves by creating an enemy.

Parry’s conclusion is dead on: “The key apologetic for Christianity … is love.” And that highlights the other main function of the “Christian apologetics” cottage industry: Distracting ourselves from the obligation to love.

Here’s the first of his five points, for a taste, but go read the rest:

First, there is a danger of deciding the questions we feel people ought to be asking rather than looking at those they are asking. For instance, one student mission I was involved with was based around a set of evangelistic meetings that focused on issues such as, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” and “Are the Gospels reliable?” Now these are important questions that require sensible answers but they were not burning issues for most of the students.

The opposite side of this coin is avoiding the questions that people actually are asking about the faith (e.g., why do you treat gay people badly? Why has Christianity inspired so much violence in its history?), perhaps because they are harder to answer in such a way that Christians come out looking good.


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  • hidden_urchin

    The general skills translate well into any field. What I lost was the environment and that’s what I loved.

    I was a good navigator too.

  • Lori

    I’m sorry. That’s really hard.

  • TheBrett

    5. They’re probably the same group of people in Ohio: conservative religious fanatics.

  • mattmcirvin

    All of Europe seemingly fell for the “expansionary austerity” myth after the 2008 financial crisis. To a greater extent than the United States, believe it or not, though many of those countries had further to fall.

  • FearlessSon

    I think it is fair to say that some people did get to doing what they loved, and what they loved was amassing capital. Good for them, but unfortunately for everyone else the ones with the most capital get to define what “success”, and we are stuck competing in a system we never asked to be part of and are at the mercy of whether we enjoy it or not.

  • Bombalurina

    Thanks for the link love!
    Katie Mulligan

  • FearlessSon

    Aye, I had myself sterilized in part because I wanted to be able to operate and plan without having someone dependent on me, such that I could take the risks I might have to.

    Hell, subsidization of family planning and child care services would probably go a long way toward making our economy more effective due to less financial disruption or time out of the workplace.

  • The_L1985

    I personally believe that if “what you love” isn’t something you can do well enough or profitably enough to survive on, you should relegate “what you love” to a hobby–BUT that people must then be allowed the opportunity to make enough money, with sufficient free time, that they can enjoy the hobbies that they love. This is something our society has become very, very bad at because of all the CEOs fucking it up for everybody else.

  • “We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town.”

  • Albanaeon

    If you don’t mind me asking, would corrective vision surgery helped?

  • Gregory Peterson

    Pastor Steve Smothermon of Legacy is an influential homophobe here in New Mexico. Considering that he wears his bigotry on his sleeve, it was disconcerting to me, but apparently to no one else, that he was on the Police Oversight Committee.

    However, his love affair with law enforcement personnel seems to be souring.


  • Gregory Peterson

    Pastor Smothermon believes that born again Christians like himself are God’s privileged nobility.

    “A noble birth is not to be taken lightly. It places an individual above
    the common man and carries a distinction of honesty and integrity.”


  • banancat

    Yeah, that was my take on it. They both go against complementarian gender roles.

  • Gregory Peterson
  • Elizabeth Coleman

    I was thinking that one of the points the comic was making is that it’s okay for the traditional roles to be switched, but yes, we have to assume that she’s happy with her profession, too.

  • Jenny Islander

    Indeed. I love to write stories set in intricate imaginary worlds. It just plain feels good to create them. It’s my refuge and my comfort. But in 35 years of doing this, I have never finished a story longer than a couple of pages, and I doubt I ever will. And I understood long ago that my chances of ever making a penny at this are about as good as my chances of winning the lottery.

    I did sell a non-fiction article and a poem once. Made almost $100. My point still stands.

  • Turcano

    Oh, Ravi Zacharias. If you want a real headdesk experience, pick up The Lotus and the Cross sometime.

  • Matri
  • Hth

    Yeah, key word “enforcing.” Both safe, legal abortion and the ability of non-heterosexual women to marry one another really and truly do create a society where women have meaningful options about how to organize their own lives for their own happiness. This is straight-up terrifying to a certain set of people who believe — correctly! — that the only model for women’s lives that they can bear (the one Fred rather fantastically refers to as “God loves you and has a horrible plan for your wife”) will not do well in a free-market type arrangement. They feel — again, I think 100% correctly — that very few women will volunteer for lifelong housebound helpmeet status at the age of 18 if they have a fair range of options from which to choose, so an awful lot of what these people spend their time doing is trying to make every other option even worse.

  • guest

    And the Nordic countries are more than Scandinavia–I was also in Finland last month, and although I didn’t chat much with the locals to ‘discover their secret’ Finland always gets top marks in quality of life league tables.

  • John Alexander Harman

    Yeah. What I thought of was the godawful Dungeons and Dragons movie that came out thirteen years ago. That steaming pile of fewmets wasn’t just the result of a studio making a cheap, slapdash project to cash in on a trademark — it was an absolute labor of love by a tragically untalented writer/director who worked his heart out for seven years to get it made.

  • hidden_urchin

    One would think so. Unfortunately, one’s pre-surgery vision can’t fall outside of a certain range. That’s what got me.

  • Oswald Carnes

    From no. 5:

    “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement.”
    This is a good one for the “they don’t really believe abortion kills a baby” file. Even assuming that two people of the same sex getting married denies a mother and father to a child or children, surely actually murdering a child or children is worse. If, that is, they really do believe abortion kills a child.
    Trying to keep up with the way these people think is exhausting.

  • christopher_y

    Samuel Butler believed that the Odyssey was written by a woman who included the character of Penelope as a Mary Sue. I wish it was true, but I’m fairly sure it’s not.

  • Wait, what?! But post-surgery vision…! That makes no bloody sense and smacks of an outdated distrust in medical science.

    (Someone I know just had LASIK and her vision is 20/15, which is better than mine, and I don’t actually wear glasses most of the time…)

  • Carstonio

    Do you mean that your nearsightedness/farsightedness/astigmatism was too severe for Lasik to correct?

  • VMink

    Considering the way retirement plans and funds are tied to the markets, that’s depressingly not too far from the truth.

  • Back when I was forced to be a Christian, I remember the apologics
    answer being something like “Only 4 original copies of the Iliad
    survive, but no one doubts that that was written by Homer, and no one
    doubts he’s the author*”.

    Yeah, I remember getting that exact same bit of intellectual flotsam. I then went on to get my degree in history, wherein I learned that the first step in becoming a good historian is not trusting any single source. I developed a saying that if it wasn’t recorded it probably didn’t happen and if it was only recorded in one place it probably didn’t happen in that way.

    In the end, though, the comparing the Illiad to the Bible thing is a total red herring argument. It’s a pseudo-intellectual bit of balderdash that forces the people involved in the conversation to move off of something potentially uncomfortable for the apologist to something that the other person probably doesn’t have the knowledge or background information to refute.

    I would pick that argument apart in 10 second, but I’m trained. When I first heard it I was a high schooler who had never been taught to think critically about source material and was getting the argument from a trusted authority (my pastor) so I accepted it as a valid argument. Now I would hit back with the doubts about Homer’s existence above and then add in an additional argument that goes something like this:

    “So by that logic we’re supposed to believe any book that we have enough old copies of. Does this mean that since we can find first edition copies and, most likely, manuscript copies, of The Great Gatsby that we’re to believe that there was once a rich man who lived on Long Island and was shot by a man who mistakenly thought he was boinking the shooter’s wife and then killed her? The book is filled with accurate details of New York and the surrounding area at the time, so are we to believe that there actually is an East and West Egg and they’ve just been removed from the map or washed into Long Island Sound since then?”

    I’d assume the response would be something like, “But that’s a fictional book!” My response would be, “So’s the Illiad. What does that have to say about the Bible that that’s your point of reference?”

  • hidden_urchin

    Nope. My vision is perfectly correctable. I suspect it’s a holdover from when surgery was less advanced. It’s possible the range correlates with a probability of future problems, but I’m just guessing. I remember ten or fifteen years ago a relative was advised not to get surgery because of the state of the tech.