Sam Harrelson

Cautionary Tale of Climate Change Prepping from Ancient Egypt and Bronze Age

These agricultural feats managed to extend the life of the Egyptian empire about half a century longer than it might otherwise have lasted, according to the archaeologists. The lesson for our own civilization — which is likely to face increasingly severe droughts as humans change the climate far faster than nature has ever done — is to plan ahead, Dr. Finkelstein said.

— Read on www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/climate/egypt-climate-drought.html



We need to have a conversation about what “godly” means, y’all

A majority of S.C. Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump was “godly.”

— Read on www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article208990104.html



Trump blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional, court decides

What a time to be alive.

It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account.

— Read on www.theverge.com/2018/5/23/17385298/trump-blocking-twitter-unconstitutional-court-ruling



Changing Conceptions of Marriage and Church Marketing

Fascinating stats here for same-sex and different-sex marriages. To think of marriage as a trophy or celebration of what two people have accomplished in life that come together into a new stage directly flies in the face of so much of what churches of all stripes and sizes (but especially my beloved Baptist tradition) have supported:

According to the Census Bureau, the median age at first marriage—the age at which half of all marriages occur—was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men in 2017. That’s higher than at any time since the Census began keeping records in 1890. It is six years higher than when I got married in 1972 (at the typical age of 24). In my era, a young couple usually got married first, then moved in together, then started their adult roles as workers or homemakers, and then had children. (I scandalized my parents by living with my future wife before I married her.) Now marriage tends to come after most of these markers are attained.

Source: Andrew Cherlin: Marriage Has Become a Trophy – The Atlantic

In an era where church attendance is declining and church donations aren’t keeping up with expenses, it’s interesting to ponder what something like the institution of marriage might mean for the future health of congregations based on their marketing and messaging.



Reaping Data

Not to mention how companies and governments so haphazardly use this data for causes and purposes…

The unchecked power of companies that harvest our data is a great problem—but it’s hard to get angry about an idea that’s so nebulous. Like climate change, the reaping of our data is a problem of psychology as much as business. We know that the accumulation of massive power in so few hands is bad, but it’s impossible to anticipate what terrible result might come of it. And if we could envision them, these consequences are imaginary: abstract and in the future. It feels so oppressively intractable it’s hard to summon the will to act.

Source: Cambridge Analytica Is Finally Under Fire Because of Whistleblowers | WIRED



Facebook is facing an existential crisis

Zuckerberg really needs to make a statement. This is going thermonuclear and Facebook’s sole commodity is trust via relationship.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has done immense damage to the brand, sources across the company believe. It will now take a Herculean effort to restore public trust in Facebook’s commitment to privacy and data protection, they said. Outside observers think regulation has suddenly become more likely, and yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears missing in action.

Source: Facebook facing an existential crisis over privacy and data – Mar. 19, 2018



Churches Should Turn and Face the Strange

 

The “America” that Baby Boomers and my fellow Gen X’ers grew up with is rapidly changing, and Protestant churches are an example of community institutions that will be most affected… and made irrelevant or obsolete if they continue to operate as if it’s still 1985.

Of course, whites are a smaller share of the post-millennial generation than any other, so their views will be less dispositive in shaping its direction. Other changes cataloged in the poll underscore how great a change the post-millennials could bring. In the survey, 45% of these young people identified as religiously unaffiliated or non-Christian (compared with about 3 in 10 among all Americans), according to results provided to CNN. And about 1 in every 16 young men and 1 in 7 young women identified as gay or bisexual.

Source: The Parkland students are our first glimpse of the post-Millennial wave that’s going to change the country – CNNPolitics



Should Americans buy Hauwei phones?

The Mate 10 looks like a pretty amazing device and I’ve wondered at times whether I should pick up a Hauwei device to make sure I’m staying on top of things. Last week, U.S. intelligence officials warned citizens about buying devices from Chinese companies such as Hauwei and ZTE over concerns that there are potential “back doors” allowing for the Chinese government to eavesdrop on Americans. Given all that we do on our mobile devices in 2018 (I literally run my company from my device), it’s easy to see why there might be concern.

However, the U.S. government hasn’t put forth any evidence of tampering or back-doors and Americans who do own devices from these companies haven’t been able to detect any intrusion or suspicious traffic. I’m not asserting that the concerns over Chinese devices isn’t warranted but I have wondered all week whether these warnings were a result of politic-economic motivation.

Great write up by Jerry Hildenbrand here:

Huawei is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and Apple. It is also the ninth largest technology company (by revenue) worldwide with 180,000 employees and an average annual revenue of $78.8 billion. In other words, Huawei is as “big” a company as Microsoft. That’s good news for Huawei, and usually seeing a company move up the ladder to challenge the market leaders is good for consumers, too. Officially, Huawei is a subsidiary of Huawei Investment & Holding Co., Ltd. in Shenzhen, China and that’s where the real issues the U.S. has with Huawei start.

Source: The U.S. government’s beef with Huawei isn’t really about phones | Android Central



School Shootings in America Since 2013

Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.

Source: School Shootings in America Since 2013



Baptist Fields

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

Rumi

The painful truth the Illumination Project uncovered in their long discernment process is how silent our churches are when it comes to what is life and death for real people in our pews. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach of most of our churches toward LGBTQ Christians leaves them in the shadows, if not in the dark. If we want CBF to be a bright light on the spiritual equality of all Christians, that light must begin to shine more brightly from our CBF congregations. CBF would not have to parse its hiring policy so carefully if our churches did the hard but liberating work of the gospel where Baptists know it matters most.

Source: Illuminations: Spiritual Equality of All Christians – EthicsDaily.com