Standing by

Standing by May 22, 2018

• We remembered Pentecost on Sunday — the miraculous commissioning of what would become the church, even as, at the time, it left the early Christians “greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision.”

That’s a quote from Acts 10:17 — because nine chapters later the apostles were still bewildered, resistant and reluctant to accept the categorical inclusiveness of what they had been told and shown at Pentecost. “All Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Jesus had told them, but they were still, like, “Yeah, he said ‘Samaria,’ but did he really mean …?”

Eventually, though, the apostles finally got it. “God shows no partiality … God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.” That’s what Pentecost means.

And that’s what Pentecostal, as an adjective, ought to mean. It irks me that, instead, it has come to mean this.

Steve Strang is a shameless, predatory grifter and a Very Bad Man.

• Paul Campos points out that the latest evidence of massive White House corruption reinforces the theory that Elliott Broidy did not have sex with that woman.

• “There are no lone wolves

America’s shooters … share far too many characteristics with the white nationalists who have seen a resurgence in recent years: mostly male, mostly white, furious over their perceived socioeconomic displacement at the hands of women/African Americans/Jews/Muslims, and more than happy to share that rage on the digital commons of 4chan and Reddit under the guise of irony and “lulz.” Sexism and white supremacy go hand-in-hand, especially in the age of the so-called “alt-right.”

At what point do we stop classifying these men as “lone wolves,” and start referring to them as terrorists? “These incidents are connected and require an organized response from our politicians, law enforcement, and media,” Pacific Standard’s David Perry observed in March. “When hundreds of “lone wolves” are reading the same websites, talking to each other, consuming the same stories, picking up easily accessible weapons, and killing the same targets, they have become a pack.”

• Saddened, but unsurprised, to see the end of Interview magazine. I was never hip enough to be its target audience, but it was an iconic, unique publication. It’s central conceit — celebrity interviews conducted by other celebrities — often produced some fascinating juxtapositions. All that matters, though, is that it was a “content creator” off the beaten path of the Facebook guided tour.

I suppose I’m also somewhat relieved by this news. We’ve been getting Interview delivered here to the house ever since we moved in. My father-in-law, who died seven years ago, was a subscriber. What happened was that, years before we all moved here, some kid knocked on Pop’s door selling magazine subscriptions and, somehow, he wound up getting both Interview and Spin. These turned out to be lifetime subscriptions — and then some. He never renewed them, never sent either publication a check, but the magazines just kept coming.

This was kind of hilarious, since Interview was everything Pop was not. And vice versa. (Well, he and Andy Warhol were both devout Catholics, but other than that.) Maybe they thought he was Iggy Pop?

When Spin magazine folded, we started getting Car & Driver — an inexplicably random replacement offer we were finally able to cancel. Maybe next month, as a replacement for Interview, we’ll start receiving Field & Stream.

• Speaking of platforms slowly being squeezed to death by Facebook …

I’m going to try to find out from my hosts what the heck this is about. It’s disturbing, to say the least.

Patheos’ evangelical channel has changed its shape and tone quite a bit over the years since it first started with the strange duo of me and Scot McKnight. I fully understood when they booted me over to the “progressive Christian” channel — an awkward, we-need-to-call-this-something category that has since become a widely used term. But I can’t imagine a defensible notion of the “strategic objectives” for that channel that wouldn’t have room for Warren Throckmorton’s terrific blog.

Maybe the ever-shifting, perpetually negotiated boundaries of “evangelical” have reached a point where Doc Throck no longer fits into the now-Driscoll-friendly shape of that channel here at Patheos. OK, fine, then move him over to another channel. That was the whole idea of Patheos in the first place — there’s a channel for every perspective, right? Not doing that just … smells bad.

Also too: It’s never a good sign when people start talking about “strategic objectives.”

• Here’s that Soul Stirrers’ Gospel song, “Stand By Me (Father),” I mentioned yesterday — the one that Ben E. King, Lieber & Stoller leaned on for their more famous love song. I don’t know if this recording features Sam Cooke or someone else singing lead, but it’s Cooke-ish.

Both of these songs pull off an odd trick: They’re both pleas for help and comfort that wind up extending that help and comfort. They sound like a reassuring hand on your shoulder, like the very thing the singers say they lack and need.

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