Long Days and Good Reading

During this Pandemic the days of the weekend can sure seem long.  I always wake up early and have a number of hours until the rest of my family wakes up.  We have so much less planned than we used to so it is also easier to make more time to read.  I’ve been up for about two and half hours and here’s how I have passed my time so far:

I read a chapter for the New Testament book of the Bible, Colossians along with a chapter in a book I am reading called Colossians Remixed.  Then I read The Economist magazine to get updated on news – I’ve found this weekly magazine to be the best source of global news.  I read a chapter in The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism since our book group from church is meeting again this week to discuss the book.  I read some of The Conservative Sensibility by George Will.  Lastly, I played a little of my vocabulary building app that I now love: Vocab.com.

A little sampling from each of these:

Colossians

Colossians The Bible Project

I’ve been re-reading the book of Colossians from the Bible each day lately (it is has four chapters).  Today, I read chapter 3 and here are some of the verses I enjoyed:

  • 3:9-11 – “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free: but Christ is all, and in all.”
  • 3:14-15 – “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”
  • 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”

You can get a cool overview of the book of Colossians by watching this link from the Bible Project:  Colossians: The Bible Project

Colossians Remixed

Colossians Remixed

When I read different books of the Bible, I find it helpful and enjoyable to also read a commentary or a book about that book of the Bible.  This particular book attempts to help the modern day reader of Colossians understand the cultural and social context of the original biblical letter from the apostle Paul to the Colossians.  It also looks carefully at some interesting parallels in our modern world with the ubiquity of empire and globalization.  Today, I read chapter 3, “Placing Colossians: Discerning Empire.”  Some excerpts:

  • “Such myths, of course, drive contemporary globalization as well.  Most powerful is the progress myth, which has been the driving force behind Western capitalism since the Enlightenment.  The myth that we are moving as a culture toward increasing wealth and technological control, and that this is invariably good, provides the justification for all the economic and military policies of the North.” (p. 62)
  • “If the Pax Romana summarized the Roman imperial mythology, then the Pax Americana, with its clear distinction between good and evil and its self-righteous and aggressive foreign policy, encapsulates the dominant mythology of our day.” (p.62)
  • “Just as in the ancient world the images of peace and prosperity masked the reality of inequality and violence, so the contemporary images projected by advertising mask the reality of sweatshops, inequality, and domestic and international violence created by our lifestyles.” (p.63)

The Color of Compromise

Tisby The Color of Compromise

We have a number of small groups in our church reading this book together.  It’s been an educational book for me, but also disturbing.  I was particularly disgusted this morning as I read chapter 4, “Institutionalizing Race in the Antebellum Era”.  I am disheartened that Christians in previous generations not only failed to stand up to slavery and the dehumanization of blacks, but also were active in perpetuation of slavery and discrimination.  Here are a few excerpts:

  • “Despite the racism black Christians experienced, they did not abandon the faith.  In fact, the decades before the Civil War served as an incubator for newborn black American Christianity.  Black Christians began developing distinctive practices that would come to characterize the historic black church tradition.  Black Christianity in the United States grew alongside the explosive expansion of slavery and hardening of racial boundaries.  The faith of black Christians helped them endure and even inspired some believers to resist oppression.” (p.57)
  • “…of the more than 600,000 interstate sales that occurred in the decades prior to the Civil War, 25 percent destroyed a first marriage, and 50 percent broke up a nuclear family.” (p.60)
  • “If there is one concept that helps unlock the twisted logic of American slavery better than almost any other, it is the chattel principle.  The chattel principle is the social alchemy that transformed a human being made in the image of God into a piece of property.” (p.60)
  • “Indeed paternalistic attitudes toward black people defined much of American Christianity.  White evangelists compromised the Bible’s message of liberation to make Christianity compatible with slavery.” (p.66)
  • “A majority of white Christians refused to take a definitive stance against race-based chattel slavery, and this complicity plagued the church and created stark contradictions.” (p.68)

The Economist – Separate, Downtrodden: Race in the City

This last week’s The Economist had a special section on the Midwest.  One of the articles was about the particular problems in the Midwest with segregation and policing.  One quote from the article:

  • “The biggest concerns are inequality and segregation.  Carmelo Barbaro, at the University of Chicago, says too many people are born in neighborhoods that limit their prospects.  Historical problems are known: black students kept out of white schools; black people denied mortgages; violent attacks by white residents who corralled African-Americans into a few areas of cities.  Formally such restrictions no longer exist.  De facto many do.” (p.7 of Special Report in the magazine)

The Conservative Sensibility

George Will

I do not know why I like to pick such long books to read, but I am more than halfway through George Will’s 500+ page tome.  Mr. Will is not a Trump supporter and is not necessarily directly advocating for the current day Republican Party.  Instead, he focuses on the historical and philosophical roots and consequences of conservatism and progressivism.  I do not always agree with him, but it has been a good and thought provoking book.  Here is a sampling of what I read this morning:

  • “Paul Barton of the Educational Testing Service estimated that about 90 percent of the difference among schools in average proficiency can by explained by five factors: number of days absent from school, number of hours spent watching television, number of pages read for homework, quantity and quality of reading material in the home, and the presence of two parents in the home.  The fifth factor is supremely important, not least because it is apt decisively to influence the other four.” (p.316)
  • “By age three, children from poor homes have heard, on average, 30 million fewer words spoken at home than children in professional-class homes.  It is not altogether clear why more affluent and educated parents talk to their children more, although fatigue might be a factor in the relative silence of poor homes.” (p.317)
  • “Hence the vast-and increasingly misplaced-faith in schools as the great equalizers of opportunity for upward mobility in a meritocratic society.  Studies of early childhood development indicate that school comes too late for many children.  Before they cross their first schoolyard, severe damage has been done to their life chances.  Even superb schools often cannot correct the consequences of early deprivation, and superb schools are not frequently found in the neighborhoods where children who are damaged by their social environment receive those damages.” (p.321)
  • “Without the nurturing and disciplining done in intact families, individuals are apt to be ill-equipped to exercise the freedom to become unequal, and therefore are handicapped in the pursuit of justice for themselves and others.” (p.322)

Vocab.com app

I only played for a little while on my vocabulary app today.  A few Saturdays ago, I went a bit crazy and achieved 5th place in the world for my score (I probably played for about 3 1/2 hours that morning).  I don’t mind if you call me a nerd.  Here’s the screenshot:

Vocab.com #5

Here are a few sample words from today:

  • Overwrought: deeply agitated, especially from emotion
  • Malignance: the quality of being disposed to evil
  • Badger: annoy persistently
  • Lustrous: reflecting

 

 

 

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