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Friday, January 26, 2018

A Strange Christianity

The Loss of Privacy—So?
In the good old days, people were naturally held accountable because they lived in more intimate settings, in towns and villages, for example. One thing about small towns: Everybody knows what everybody else is doing. Which is one reason they were relatively safe places to live. But this nosiness was also one reason many abandoned small towns for the cities; they wanted to avoid the glare of their fellow citizens and enjoy a large measure of privacy.
To a large degree, we now live in a world that has again become a small town, where our every public action is witnessed by someone somewhere:
Today more than 2.5 trillion images are shared or stored on the Internet annually—to say nothing of the billions more photographs and videos people keep to themselves. By 2020, one telecommunications company estimates, 6.1 billion people will have phones with picture-taking capabilities. Meanwhile, in a single year an estimated 106 million new surveillance cameras are sold. More than three million ATMs around the planet stare back at their customers. Tens of thousands of cameras known as automatic number plate recognition devices, or ANPRs, hover over roadways—to catch speeding motorists or parking violators but also, in the case of the United Kingdom, to track the comings and goings of suspected criminals. The untallied but growing number of people wearing body cameras now includes not just police but also hospital workers and others who aren't law enforcement officers. Proliferating as well are personal monitoring devices—dash cams, cyclist helmet cameras to record collisions, doorbells equipped with lenses to catch package thieves—that are fast becoming a part of many a city dweller's everyday arsenal. Even less quantifiable, but far more vexing, are the billions of images of unsuspecting citizens captured by facial-recognition technology and stored in law enforcement and private-sector databases over which our control is practically nonexistent.
This week's long read from The National Geographic is a fascinating look at this new surveillance phenomenon that a combination of technology, terrorism, law enforcement, capitalism, and curiosity has made possible. It's like we're living in a small village again, where eyes are always on us. And the amazing thing is that most of us don't seem to care—in fact, we seem to think it a good thing.
A Strange Christianity
We swim in the water of American Christianity, so it's sometimes hard to know what this water really tastes like. This article—"What Christians in the US Can Learn from Immigrant Pastors:For those who met Christ elsewhere, Americanized Christianity can look a bit strange"—offers some surprising observations of what Christian faith looks and sounds like to those not raised in our water.
Pro-Life Science
Science as such is neither pro-life or pro-choice, of course, but recent neo-natal research has made many people change their minds about the human status of the unborn. So argues Emma Green in The Atlantic.
The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon
A few weeks ago, I mentioned my interest in clinical psychologist/professor Jordan Peterson. He's become an increasing point of controversy on a number of themes (men, women, freedom of speech, totalitarianism, maturity, patriarchy, feminism, white supremacy, among others). His views don't strike me as extreme (even when I find myself disagreeing with him), especially since he supports so many with keen observations from clinical research, evolutionary psychology, literature, and history.

But such are the times we live in that some don't just disagree but seem to hate him. It's led some weighty periodicals to ask "What's So Dangerous About Jordan Peterson?" (Chronicle of Higher Education) and "Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson Is Saying?" (The Atlantic). That latter is one of many articles that have tried to understand this interview, in which the host had the hardest time listening to his actual arguments. It's a highly instructive and sometimes frustrating but certainly entertaining 30-minute video.
Grace and peace,
 
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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