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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Galli Report - Friday, July 11, 2014

The Galli Report newsletter

Friday, July 11, 2014   

We can thank God that there has not been another random shooting for the last few weeks. Then again, it won't be long before we hear of another—maybe by the time you get this edition of the GR. After every shooting there is shrill commentary from both sides of the gun debate. But here is a piece that I think wisely sets a middle course, with realistic insight and proposals. Like: "What, then, can we do about guns? Well, the first step is to have humility."

"Our Starved for Touch Culture" was written in the aftermath of the recent Santa Barbara shootings, but it's not about that. Instead, the author notes:
Casual dating has been replaced by casual sex; platonic touch has been eclipsed by erotic signalling. Pickup artists teach their pupils (not inaccurately) that taking someone's hand, touching a shoulder, or even moving into one-on-one conversations are indications of interest, and a signal to keep escalating, in the hopes of transitioning to a hookup.

If affection is merely foreplay, then a person who isn't having luck approaching people romantically is also cut off from most normal human comforts. That kind of isolation is tremendously harmful.
This resonated with me, as touch was one reason I enjoyed basketball back in the day. Despite its reputation as a noncontact sport, it is very much about hand checking, shoving under the basket, and so forth. I can see why so many guys like playing football. No starved-for-touch culture there.

My favorite (and only) son-in-law did a stint on Mercy Ships, the traveling hospital. So my ears perked up when a story about a woman raised entirely aboard the ship was pitched at Christianity Today. The result—and a previous CT story—give us a window into this impressive ministry and the people who sacrifice to make it happen.

Joan Didion's essay "On Self-Respect" is a fine blast from the past (first published in Vogue in 1961). One line reads, "People with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of mortal nerve; they display what was once called character."
Didion suggests that self-respect is a "habit of mind" that can be developed. Perhaps. For most of us, it comes as an unexpected gift, the result of hearing how Wisdom Incarnate respected us so much he thought dying for us not too small a thing. As Karl Barth puts it:
By the grace of God, therefore, man is not nothing. He is God's man. He is accepted by God. He is recognized as himself a free subject, a subject who has been made free once and for all by his restoration as the faithful covenant partner of God. . . . We cannot say and demand and expect too much or too great things of man when we see him as he really is in virtue of the giving of the Son of God, of the fact that God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ (Church Dogmatics IV.1, 89-90).

Grace and peace,

Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor, Christianity Today

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