Gongol.com Archives: March 2021

Brian Gongol

March 5, 2021

News Which religious thinkers reach outside their particular sects?

A quarter of American adults say they are "spiritual but not religious". This is a rapidly-growing identity, and yet it isn't really an identity at all, since it's really just a statement of a negative. This raises an important question: Who among the religious thinkers is trying to reach out to them? Who among the religious thinkers is doing anything at all to reach out to anyone who isn't already a co-religionist? ■ This isn't a question about evangelism, really, but rather a question about the place for thoughtful religious introspection in a time when religion really isn't popular. The majority of American adults only attend religious services a few times a year. Monthly (or more frequent) attendance fell by almost ten percentage points between 2007 and 2019. ■ Yet the "eternal questions" of religion haven't gone anywhere. So, again, who is saying or writing things to reach the people who aren't already in their flocks? For instance, the Catholic Church once commissioned the Jesuits as "soldiers of God". The times of sending missionaries to convert "uncivilized" peoples are over -- but where are the missions to speak to the "spiritual but not religious" who are greater in number than any single church?

Humor and Good News Oh, not now, please

There's an ad for a Type 2 diabetes medication that uses an off-brand version of a song by the Sugarhill Gang and it's not clear that we shouldn't just declare civilization DOA.

Threats and Hazards "The 42nd reported expressway shooting just this year"

Exactly the kind of stomach-churning statistic that sets the nerves of the visitor on edge when in Chicago. A great city with a vast history and an always-promising future, but all too often riddled with bullets.

Humor and Good News In praise of the PB&J

Lent conveniently reminds one of the simple pleasure of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Socialism Doesn't Work China's relentless mission to destroy Hong Kong

Writes Matthew Brooker: "Xia Baolong, Beijing's top official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, declared that only 'patriots' can hold positions in all three branches of government: executive, legislature and judiciary. Xia and others have effectively equated patriotism with loyalty to the Communist Party". ■ It says something extraordinary that China's ruling class would torch everything that Hong Kong has to offer -- just to show they have zero tolerance for dissent. It's an incredible (and, long-term, wildly irrational) preference to reveal. Imagine being so terrified of the very idea of individual liberty that you would set fire to the crown jewel of your economy.

News It's OK to be wrong sometimes

The time will come (someday, one hopes) when we collectively realize it's possible to enjoy and even learn from some of a person's work without having to defend their entire canon like it's Gospel. And that it's possible to walk away from the bad stuff without making a scene about it. This is the cure we need for overheated culture wars and "cancellation".

Recent radio podcasts