The best thing I’ve read on the internet today, from Metafilter user FishBike. Below is the G-rated version, the original has an instance of more intense profanity.
This is probably as good a time as any to publish the FishBike scale of Big Mistakes. Basically, you rate the size of a mistake by which field of study is affected by it.
Category 1: Journalism. Your mistake is big enough to be reported in the news somewhere.
Category 2: History. School children decades from now will be reading about your mistake in their textbooks.
Category 3: Geography. Your mistake is bad enough that maps are different afterwards. Entire towns or cities may have disappeared, or people change place names so they can forget about your mistake.
Category 4: Geology. Millenia from now, scientists will be wondering what made that giant hole in the ground or why that mountain isn’t there any more.
Category 5: Astronomy. Scientists on other planets, peering at our solar system through their telescopes, will see a bright flash and ask themselves “What the heck was that?”
I am happy to report that I have made no big mistakes this week, and I bet you haven’t either. Be gracious and don’t sweat the small stuff.
From the New York Times, an article by Eric Weiner: “Americans: Undecided About God?”
For a nation of talkers and self-confessors, we are terrible when it comes to talking about God. The discourse has been co-opted by the True Believers, on one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other. What about the rest of us?
The rest of us, it turns out, constitute the nation’s fastest-growing religious demographic. We are the Nones, the roughly 12 percent of people who say they have no religious affiliation at all. The percentage is even higher among young people; at least a quarter are Nones….
Nones don’t get hung up on whether a religion is “true” or not, and instead subscribe to William James’s maxim that “truth is what works.” If a certain spiritual practice makes us better people — more loving, less angry — then it is necessarily good, and by extension “true.” (We believe that G. K. Chesterton got it right when he said: “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.”)
This is certainly my experience. Young people I know are looking for a life path that will help them be better people. They are often very interested in mystical, reflective paths, which they have often seen very little of in Christianity. Buddhism holds some attraction because it looks like it will help them to be calm and focused, and to roll with the punches. They are not interested in preventing homosexual marriage, are increasingly moderate in their abortion views, and would like to see real help for the poor and the sick. You could possibly sell them on some specific Christian doctrines, but not until they have seen that there is a form of lived Christianity that appeals to them. If you lead with praxis, you can eventually move into theology. I, for one, don’t see this as a step backward. Aren’t we supposed to be inculcating virtues anyway? And aren’t things like peace and patience supposed to be the fruit of the Spirit? The American church needs to make some major adjustments here, but nothing that isn’t the right thing to do for other reasons.
Solid article from Antony Baker. The most devastating line:
In the memorable words of Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster, young people “look to the church to show them something, someone, capable of turning their lives inside out and the world upside down. Most of the time we have offered them pizza.”