Life Versus Machine: 3 Essays on How Technology Is Shaping Us

I've had both the pleasure and misfortune this week of reading three essays about the way technology is shaping us and our environment. Things are mostly terrible, and yet there are some glimmers of hope. One of the authors (Alan Jacobs) nods at the philosophical tradition of Daoism as a potential framework to guide our future behavior in a direction that is more productive than other solutions on the table which so far have spectacularly failed. I don't claim to understand what Daoism is or how it could help, at least not yet. These are complex ideas---but also mind-blowing and super cool.

Measures Against Porn Abuse Are Not Enough

Last month Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a sobering investigative report about the dark side of the porn industry. His work inspired some concrete reforms designed to protect victims of crippling shame and sexual abuse. But are these reforms enough as long as porn continues on? Is the widespread availability of porn, now so easy to access via smartphones and the internet, a "public health crisis" (as one feminist scholars argues)? If so, what other steps can be taken to address it?

MLK, Social Media, and Forgiveness in 2021

To forgive is to cancel a debt, and to cease feeling anger towards a wrongdoer---whether or not they have repented. Wouldn't this go a long way in breaking the hate cycle that infects our divided culture, both in person and online? The question is fraught with complexity, and yet perhaps no one in history was better equipped to answer it than Martin Luther King, Jr. It's worth reflecting on his insights as we honor his legacy and look ahead at 2021.

Book Review: ‘The Color of Compromise’ by Jemar Tisby

Jemar Tisby has done the church a great service in documenting its pattern of racism during key epochs in American history and showing a way towards repentance and institutional reform. This isn't just a historical survey of the distant past but of events as recent as Black Lives Matter and the election of Trump. At the very least, Tisby's analysis ought to prompt Christians to critically examine how racism manifests in their midst in subtle ways today, and determine how to fight it.

True Solitude Is Not Retreat

With COVID we have more opportunities for solitude than ever before, and artists of all people should be grateful for that. Right? Well ... what if solitude is less about isolation from the world so you can paint or write, and more about a process of "concentrated fascination" that leads to the production of art not only for yourself but for the common good?