Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some Linkage You Might Like

There have been a few pretty interesting things online the past week.

This is a fascinating look at the lengths people will go to in order to coax gold from the ground to satiate the incredible demand for this particular metal: A Journey Into The World's Deepest Gold Mine. Few people give much thought as to where their gold comes from. We assume that just as our food magically appears in grocery stores each night to restock the shelves like manna, we assume that gold comes from jewelry stores. Well it doesn't. To meet the demand mining companies dig deeper and deeper into the earth where the rock is over 100 degrees and prospective miners are put through a stress test to make sure they won't overheat and die underground. Many still do, clawing the yellow metal from the earth in Africa to adorn the fingers, ears and neck of our loved ones. When you are in the mall passing a jeweler or see someone with an expensive gold necklace remember that people die to get that metal to America. It makes gold lose some of the luster.

The New York Times reports that the F.D.A. Restricts Antibiotics Use For Livestock. Thanks to the unnatural conditions industrialized livestock are raised in, disease runs rampant. To combat this farmers use huge amounts of antibiotics, even using them on non-ill animals to help them grow faster. This practice has made the livestock industry the largest consumer of antibiotics. No one really understand the impact of this massive use of livestock and what it means for humans. Does it leach into the ground water? Is it responsible for antibiotic resistant disease strains? This move by the F.D.A. is expected given the recent media coverage of this issue. I am not a big fan of government regulations but I am also not a big fan of having substances that might be harmful in my water supply, especially since we live very close to a hog confinement operation.

Income inequality and generational systemic poverty are also a major social issue today as the wealthiest among us seemingly get richer and the ranks of the poor who are dependent on government aid swells. Mona Charen looks at this issue and highlight the number one indicator of someone likely to end in poverty, namely not being married. In her essay The Marriage Divide she looks at the powerful evidence that moving away from a traditional marriage culture to one where many women, often through no fault of their own, are left to raise kids by themselves while the fathers move on to greener pastures. Unfortunately many of the most vocal advocates for the poor also are the most vociferous when it comes to creating the system that perpetuates this situation through single motherhood as well as undercutting what is rapidly becoming a luxury good for the well-to-do, traditional marriage and family.

Thabiti Anyabwile is one of the bright stars of the new Reformed movement. He is also unusual in that he is not a 30-40 year old white guy. His recent essay, What Are We Going to Do with Our “Crazy Confederate Uncles”?, looks at an issue that many of us don't even think much about, namely the fringe of the church that pines for the gold old days of the Confederacy. He writes:

Every theological family has, if you’ll permit me the term, their “crazy uncles.” The uncles who are “not quite right,” who normally keep to themselves in their own rooms and usually don’t bother anybody, but occasionally need an intervention. The family knows they’re there and wish they were better, healthier, and able to join the rest of the family in the regular routines of the tribe, but for everybody’s sake leave them in their rooms.

For us theologically reformed types, I call these folks our “crazy Confederate uncles.” Somehow they’ve managed to hold onto the old blending of southern Presbyterianism or Reformed theology and are trying desperately to keep the old world in this new one. So, they make videos and give speeches about the South being the “greatest Christian civilization” or slavery “not being that bad.” They show up with flammable comments whenever “racial issues” dominate the news, like when a South African president dies or a teenage boy is killed. And it seems that our “crazy Confederate uncles” have been out of their rooms a lot lately, talking crazy about Christian hip-hop, interacting with the town folks and leaving a lot of people aghast. Even as a family member, I’ve been pretty embarrassed and sometimes angry.

Like I said, as a white guy in the north I don't see or at least notice this as much but it clearly is there. The issue of race is still an open wound in the church and for our black brothers and sisters this issue (as well as immigration for our Latino brothers and sisters) is an issue that causes division that is unhealthy and unhelpful. I am glad for brothers like Thabiti who will speak to these issues in a thoughtful, Cross centered and winsome way. We have had too much rancor and the world we are heading for is not one where we will have the "luxury" of dividing ourselves up based on race or ethnicity.

Tim Challies just today is starting a series on the ancient church councils. These councils are not well understood by many contemporary Christians but they have a lot to say about why the doctrines and practices of the church are what we are used to. Check out 7 Councils: The First Council of Nicea

That kind of wraps up this list. I have a lot of things I am reading, writing (for my blog and elsewhere) and thinking about. Perhaps they will show up on this page, I am really trying to get back in the habit of blogging more frequently.

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