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Friday, November 8, 2019

The Truth about Aging with Mark Galli

The Truth about Aging

This week, good reading comes in pairs, beginning with this theme.
I initially thought the first article was satire, but upon a second reading, the author may be serious about Why Older People Should Be Allowed to Change Their Legal Age. Perhaps I’m mistaken; it may be just very good satire!
The second piece is more discursive, to the point that I don’t really know what the point actually is. It’s titled Why We Can’t Tell the Truth about Aging,” but then goes on to quote what many wise people opine about this stage of life, from Aristotle and Cicero to Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Simone de Beauvoir, among many others. One of my favorites comes from British journalist Ronald Blythe:
Old age is full of death and full of life. It is a tolerable achievement and it is a disaster. It transcends desire and it taunts it. It is long enough and it is far from being long enough.
Racial Absurdities
Here is a substantive review (e.g. long) of Thomas Chatterton Williams’, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. Faithful GR readers will remember that I featured an essay by Williams some months ago, but this review gives context and nuance to his thought. “Raised in suburban New Jersey by a white mother and black father, Williams grew up thinking of himself not as half-white or of mixed race but as “black, period.” And he was very proud of it. He underwent a philosophical transition in college, and then married a French white woman, with whom he had a child.
[The book] opens with the birth of Williams’s first child, a blonde and blue-eyed girl, and the author’s subsequent realization that “whatever personal identity I had previously inhabited, I had now crossed into something new and different.” For someone who has spent his whole life believing in the American binary between black and white, the sight of his “impossibly fair-skinned” daughter comes as something of a shock…. But rather than send him spiraling into a tragedy of Greek proportions, the birth of his daughter prompts Williams to reflect not only on the fluidity of racial borders but on their ultimate absurdity.
Another aspect of racial absurdity comes from Sheffield University in England, where white students were banned from anti-racist meetings. As the writer noted, “Apparently, being actively anti-racist means banning certain racial groups from getting involved in anti-racism.”
What’s Up with Astrology?
Augustine nailed it when he wrote that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. Every generation shows signs of such restlessness. In the last few years we’ve been treated to articles such as the recent Boston Globe piece, “‘Looking for a little magic’: Millennials and Gen Z Embrace Witchy, New Age Spiritualism”, though it appears you have to subscribe to read it. To get the gist of the trend, see last summer’s LA Times article on Must Reads: How Millennials Replace Religion with Astrology and Crystals.
I’m pairing those trend stories with an explainer video How Astrology Evolved, From Mesopotamia to Instagram,” which gave me more insight into how followers actually view astrology.
Laughing with God
Since reading Elton Trueblood’s The Humor of Christ (1964), I’ve noted many other authors who remind us of humor in the Bible, and by extension, Christian teaching. Most recently is Steve Wilken’s Does God Have a Funny Side? reviewed here in CT. Such books and essays by their nature are usually more earnest than they are funny. And yet nothing convinces like actually showing how the Bible is, well, absurd, crazy, and funny a lot of the time. Here’s a Jim Gaffigan audio file that does that pretty well. (Hearer beware: He uses the name Jesus Christ as an expletive in one story, but turns it into both a funny moment and a sound theological observation—IMHO anyway).
Grace and peace,

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

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