the forty-second parallel

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

On Distraction

Alain de Botton:

One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.

Posted on June 8th, 2010 | Culture

A Cold Civil War?

Susan B. at Lilac Rose:

As far as I’m concerned, the differences are irreconcilable. …

However this election turns out, there will be turmoil. If Obama wins, a large part of the country will feel angry and powerless against the will of the left leaning blue states, the news media, Hollywood and academia. (In fact, they already feel that way, I assure you.) They will believe that ACORN created enough false voter registrations to put Obama over the top. If McCain wins, the left will riot and claim, “The Diebold machines were hacked!” The blue states, the news media, Hollywood and academia will resent that the will of the “dumb hicks” in flyover country overruled that of their “betters”. And we will hear the cries of, “Racism! Racism!” ad nauseam.

I hate to sound all doom-and-gloom, but I see absolutely no solution to this. Or at least no solution in which America stays in the same form it is now. I hope I’m wrong about that. I guess we’ll see.

I can’t say I agree with the entire sentiment expressed by Susan B. But with all the turmoil in the financial markets, I can’t shake the feeling that we are standing on the precipice of some kind of monumental political change. Based on polling from recent years, roughly half the country will welcome such change and the other half will detest it.

Will those reactions lead to something like a “cold civil war”? I hope not – but the existence of such conjecture solidly within mainstream punditry certainly gives pause.

Posted on October 12th, 2008 | Culture, Politics


Over the past year or so, I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading about what exactly it means to be a follower of Jesus. And one thing I’ve noticed again and again is this disconnect between the life that Christ calls us to and the life that modern, evangelical Christianity sells (literally) to the world at large[1].

Michael Spencer has a good piece about why so many Christians buy into the notion of a culture war. It’s a lengthy essay, but here’s a small quote:

Both families and churches struggle in turning out disciples. American churches specialize in an consumerized, gnostic, experiential Gospel that is increasingly inseparable form the culture in which that church exists. American evangelicals have become as much like the dominant culture as it is possible to be and still exist at all. In fact, evangelicals continue to exist, in large measure, because they have mainstreamed the culture into their religion so that one’s Christianity hardly appears on the radar screen of life as in any way different from the lives of other people. We are now about values, more than about Christ and the Gospel.

Evangelicals should come to terms with this: they are in every way virtually identical to suburban, white, upper middle class American culture. They are not as bad as the worst of that culture, but they are increasingly like the mainstream of that culture and are blown about by every wind of that consumerized and materially addicted culture. In fact, go to many evangelical churches and the culture is so present, so affirmed, preached and taught that one would assume that there is nothing whatsoever counter cultural about the affirmation that Jesus is Lord.

I think it’s crucial that all Christians (but especially evangelicals) recognize that the counter cultural implications of following Christ have nothing to do with who you vote for, buying Christian CDs instead of “secular” ones, etc. and everything to do with who you live your life for.

[1] There’s a fantastic article on consumerism over at Leadership Journal by Skye Jethani: Leader’s Insight: From Christ’s Church to iChurch – How consumerism undermines our faith and community.

Posted on August 5th, 2006 | Culture, Jesus