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Friday, June 23, 2017

What's Wrong with the World?

What's Wrong with the World?
That was a question that, the story goes, a journalist once asked G. K. Chesterton. He is said to reply, "Me." The story may be apocryphal, but it is certainly Chesterton-esque. And certainly the right answer. Another fine writer, Wendell Berry, seems to be coming to the same conclusion.

Berry sometimes slips into pompous finger wagging at everyone and everything not like him or his farming community. But his critiques of our obeisance to technology and efficiency—well, they are often spot on. Yet the careful reader will note, even in his most searing essays, he's not unwilling to announce a mea culpa.

That's what Josh Retterer at Mockingbird noted as he listened to Berry during a round table discussion. At one point, Berry quotes from the book the panel is discussing (Paul Kingsnorth's Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist):
Traditional leftist activism entrenches a kind of dependency. It involves identifying an enemy and then taking it on. There is always a them who needs to sort out the problem. And that gives us, the dis-empowered but righteous masses, more of an excuse to wash our hands of our own complicity or simply to never get them dirty in the first place.
Later Berry says,
Living well is something that none of us is doing in a complete or perfect way. We are all complicit in the things that we oppose. That's where it gets interesting. None of us are going to die free of sin. I think we are in Original Sin, round 2.
I know I'm living in fantasy land, but how interesting it would be to hear opponents in some cultural argument first admit how they themselves contribute to the problem under discussion.
Delightful Critic
More from my favorite liberal, Camille Paglia. I have a weakness for those who have the courage and vigor and wit to criticize their own—especially when their arguments are grounded in what seems to me to be common sense. She's not exactly the model of humility I admire above, so I'll never be accused of consistency. Then again, even when she skewers something I happen to believe, I can't help but smile because of the delightful way she does it.
'Overprotective Parenting Is a Threat to Democracy'
That's the overly dramatic subtitle to an otherwise interesting article on parenting trends today. Much of this has been noted before, but I appreciate how Pratik Chougule brings a number of trends together under the same umbrella. I'm a skeptic that "unprecedented levels of supervision and control over children's lives" will lead to the collapse of democracy, but I still think it's a fairly serious trend that needs attention.
Caught by Grace
I have to admit Sanya Richards-Ross has not been a name for me, but she was an Olympian back in 2004, 2008, and 2012. And one who had an abortion so that she could compete in the 2008 Olympics. This is a very sad moment indeed, especially when one ponders how many women (and the men in their lives prompting them) think the sacrifice of a child is not too great to pursue some life goal. At any rate, these terrible moments seem to be the one that God is fond of using to turn people around. Richards-Ross talks about how she had been chasing God for years only to discover that it was God's grace that was chasing her. Read more here.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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