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Where We Stand

Andrew Wilson asks where the West would be without Christianity for Plough Magazine. He points out that many of the beliefs which we now take for granted originated with Christian thought.

The fundamental equality of human beings, and their endowment with inalienable rights by their Creator, are essentially theological beliefs. They are neither innately obvious axioms nor universally accepted empirical truths nor rational deductions from things that are. There is no logical syllogism that begins with undeniable premises and concludes with “all people are equal” or “humans have God-given rights.” The Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov expressed the non sequitur at the heart of Western civilization with a deliciously sarcastic aphorism: “Man descended from apes, therefore we must love one another.”

What I worry about is the decline of Christianity in the West ultimately causing an erosion of those values. Perhaps it is an unfounded worry. Maybe these values have become so ingrained in our civilization that they will not be so easily lost, but I have yet to be convinced of that.

Save Us, Taylor Swift

Ted Gioia wrote an open letter to Taylor Swift about how she is the only one who can save the music industry. He has some harsh words about Silicon Valley’s participation in the sector.

They suck cash out of the music economy, and use it to support other projects. Apple would give music away for free if it would sell more devices. Spotify uses its music-driven cash flow to invest in podcasts and audiobooks and all sorts of non-music ventures. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that ten thousand musicians live on peanuts so Spotify can cut a deal with Joe Rogan.

This infuriates me. I haven’t made it a secret that I can’t stand seeing talented musicians getting paid almost nothing so Joe Rogan can chat with people for $100 mil. Having said that, I really don’t understand what Gioia’s real plan is here. It seems pretty vague, although maybe he is looking to Taylor to flesh it out.

Via just about everyone I follow on the internet

May They Persevere

The moment when I became a catechumen in the Orthodox Church is captured on Instagram. There are a few comments about our group of catechumens. One reads “may they persevere to the end.” I believe I’ve heard this before in the same, or similar contexts, so I think it is a pretty common saying under these circumstances. When I first read it, I wondered why there was such a strong statement of hope in our ability to run the race. I didn’t understand why this race would be considered to be especially difficult or challenging.

I think I’m beginning to understand the exhortation. There are difficulties which I theoretically understood in my mind, but are now becoming more a part of reality. This hit home when I listened to the homily that our priest delivered on Sunday, 9/10/2023. It was a poignant and powerful homily and one that contained a challenge. The call was to pattern life after the calendar of the church. This is not easy. For most of us (those who live relatively close to church and are in good health), the expectation is to attend no less than three times a week. This, in fact, is considered a modest goal. Throughout the year, there are weeks where the standard three services are but a part of a larger group of worship opportunities.

Though I have regained the gift of good health (thanks be to God) and stand miles apart from where I was two years ago, I still find energy to occasionally be in shorter supply than I would like. I have to pace myself, though my spoons are pretty close to filling a reasonably sized drawer.1 There are times when special events — outside of the church — are calling in competition with those sacred services.2 This comes up more when you have frequent church services. Then there are just the common and not-so-common reasons that people start to miss communal worship opportunities.

Just how much I may have to sacrifice is now dawning on me, and it’s presenting a dilemma that is provoking a lot of introspection. I don’t want to be like the rich young ruler, who walks away disappointed, because I simply don’t have what it takes to make the sacrifice to properly follow Christ.

Image by Denisbin via flickr

  1. Those with chronic illnesses that come with fatigue sometimes refer to themselves as “spoonies” and refer to the amount of energy they can expend in terms of a number of spoons↩︎

  2. This happened last week when I had to choose between the Hopscotch music festival and a liturgy. ↩︎

I’m sad that the Hopscotch music festival is over, but I’m happy with how my dance card turned out.

If you had told me in the early nineties that a PC magazine would be using a Bill Callahan song to test out the audio quality of products being being reviewed, I would have probably laughed so hard I would have spit out my Zima.

Japanese Breakfast @ Hopscotch

Soccer Mommy @ Hopscotch

Dinosaur Jr. were monsters of rock @ Hopscotch

American Football @ Hopscotch

Sam and Janet from Quasi rocking out @ Hopscotch. Two guesses who the covered Marshall stacks behind them belong to (there’s going to be a teenage riot in a public station).

Quasi playing at Hopscotch.

One thing I’ve learned from being at a music festival for three days is that there are a lot of things to smoke now!

Hopscotch music festival blowup sign

Cut Worms @ Hopscotch

Made with in North Carolina
© Canned Dragons