Take it, it’s yours

Take it, it’s yours March 6, 2019

• The insular bubble of evangelical Christian media in Brazil seems to create support for the authoritarian government of Jair Bolsonaro. Not a surprising story given that the insular bubble of evangelical Christian media in the U.S. seems to create support for the authoritarian government of Donald Trump.

RIP Luke Perry.

I was never a Beverly Hills 90210 fan, but Perry won me over in Jeremiah. That post-apocalyptic Western (that’s what it was, really) ran for two seasons on HBO, ending in 2004. It was set in 2021 — 15 years after its fictional “Big Death” virus wiped out (almost) everyone older than 13.

Jeremiah was kind of a mess, but always an interesting one. The mythology and conspiracy and long story arcs of Jeremiah didn’t intrigue me as much as the show’s world-building. I was pleased just to follow Perry and his sidekick, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, as our tour guides to that world.

Casting those two as the leads of a story about a generation abandoned and left to fend for themselves in a world their parents destroyed seems to have been a deliberate way of reinforcing its themes (which seems even more resonant now for the former Theo Huxtable). But both actors were also pretty good in those roles, charming and convincing in equal measure.

Having spent way too much time wading through a disturbingly more popular set of post-apocalyptic novels, I came to admire something Perry brought to his role in Jeremiah — a deep sense of sadness. Not Dylan McKay-style brooding, but the actual grieving necessary to make any such post-apocalyptic story believably human. Luke Perry understood something about the End of the World that all the “Bible-prophecy scholars” and Rapture Christians haven’t been able to imagine: It’s heart-breaking.

Anyway, Jeremiah is probably streaming somewhere. It’s worth checking out.

• Robert Farley mines this gem from the personal memoirs of President Ulysses S. Grant:

The line between the Rebel and Union element in Georgetown was so marked that it led to divisions even in the churches. There were churches in that part of Ohio where treason was preached regularly, and where, to secure membership, hostility to the government, to the war and to the liberation of the slaves, was far more essential than a belief in the authenticity or credibility of the Bible.

Farley adds:

White American Evangelicals have prioritized racial hierarchy for as long as there have been white American Evangelicals (even before the full maturation of the latter, to some extent). That Donald Trump has managed to take and hold their support is probably one of the least surprising elements of his Presidency.


And nothing in recent decades of white evangelical talk about “racial reconciliation” seems likely to change that. Nearly 30 years of such talk hasn’t even begun to bother clarifying who it is that needs to be reconciled to whom or why.

And kudos to Farley for managing, in an 11-word parenthetical aside, to summarize and surpass all of that recent hair-splitting discussions about Phillis Wheatley and/or George Whitefield.

Ken Levine is not wrong. Watching the news is good and informative. Watching panels of pundits talking about the news is not. Cable news is generally only “news” up to the point at which the news-reader or host says “We turn now to our panel …”

Those panels sometimes include actual experts — legal scholars, say, brought on to parse the fine points of some legal dispute. Those can have value. Some cable hosts will also invite the actual reporters covering a story on to discuss it further, and that’s great. (Chris Hayes makes a point of doing this more than assembling shout-y “panels.”) Interviews with reporters are another form of delivering actual news.

But those panels of pundits aren’t that. They’re just infotainment and, as Levine says, “They’re usually wrong. They’re speculating while all the facts are still not known.” And that often amounts to disinfotainment.

Here’s the thing: Cable news never assembles these panels of talking heads when there’s actual news to report. When there’s a big wildfire, or an earthquake, or a championship game, they fall back on just reporting: W?W?W?W?H?W? etc. That’s the news. The rest is just news-adjacent theater.

• “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.” — Ecclesiastes 9:11

And also: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” — Luke 12:48

And also: “Some are guilty; all are responsible.” — Abraham Joshua Heschel

All of which is to say, yes, David Roberts is right: “Acknowledging luck is profoundly threatening to the lucky.”

• Alan Keyes is still bonkers. “CPAC Panel: America Threatened by Spread of ‘Social Justice’ in Evangelical Churches.” If the size of such a “threat” corresponds to the depth and scope of concern for social justice in evangelical churches, then this really can’t be much of a threat, can it?

• The title here comes from the Replacements song that could’ve served as the opening theme for Jeremiah.

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