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Saturday, September 7, 2019

‘The Crash of United Flight 232’ with Mark Galli

‘The Crash of United Flight 232’

The above is the title of an article whose subtitle reads, “On July 19, 1989, one of the most dramatic events in aviation history unfolded in the skies over Iowa as heroic pilots battled to land a crippled DC-10.” It’s this week’s long read, but it won’t seem long, because the story is fascinating.
The Meaning of Commutes
How long does it take the average person to get to work? Depending on what era of history one is talking about, it makes a big difference:
In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day. This principle has profound implications for urban life.
I don’t have enough background to judge the strength of this thesis, but I found The Commuting Principle that Shaped Urban History pretty interesting.
1619 and Beyond
Last week I noted one pundit’s criticisms of The 1619 Project published by the New York Times. My concern was not with the project itself—we need to see our history from many perspectives. In fact, there is much in The 1619 Project I find illuminating, and the design is awesome. However, I didn’t think it responsible journalism to publish these essays in a manner that suggests this is the way we should now view our history.
This week let me offer another perspective on 1619, this time from Smithsonian magazine, by Michael Guasco professor of history at Davidson College. He wrote this long before the NYT project; he was responding to recent trends in U.S. history that use 1619 as a starting point.
Certainly, there is a story to be told that begins in 1619, but it is neither well-suited to help us understand slavery as an institution nor to help us better grasp the complicated place of African peoples in the early modern Atlantic world…. None of these queries conceive of the newly-arrived Africans as actors in their own right. These questions also assume that the arrival of these people was an exceptional historical moment, and they reflect the worries and concerns of the world we inhabit rather than shedding useful light on the unique challenges of life in the early seventeenth century.
I would add that we indeed should remember our failings as a nation. Actually I’m a little quirky in that I am fascinated by the sordid side of history, from the Holocaust to persecution of Christians, to slavery and so on. But in the end, I’m not convinced it is healthy to define one’s self or family or nation by our great failings. It is a grace indeed that God, while calling us to repent of all manner of wickedness, sees us individually and our larger communities first and foremost not as sinners but as beloved.
Why Willpower Can Make Things Worse
Rachel Gilson notes,
I want to point out that repression and avoidance have a Christian name but a pagan lifestyle. Both are tactical responses that center around willpower. A person practicing repression might attempt to ignore desire in a “pretend-it-isn’t-there” way. Or he might avoid most contact with people he finds attractive. Others are unwilling to acknowledge their sexual feelings at all (especially if one happens to be female or same-sex attracted), because that acknowledgment might bring shame from one’s community. First, both of these tactics try to wrest reward from God through bribery….
I’ll leave it at that, enticing GR readers with what is second and third in her wise and mature piece on this perennial temptation.
What Happens to Pills After You Swallow Them?
The two-minute video “Pills Dissolve” is a beautiful look at this everyday occurrence.
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

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