June 26, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 10:13 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:25 PM


American will start filling planes after doing the least of big US airlines to protect passengers. (Thomas Pallini, 6/26/20, Business Insider) 

...courts should apply res ipsa loquitur to any contagion suits. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:53 AM


Covenants and the Common Good: Toward a Renewed Politics (Bonnie McKernan, June 25, 2020, Mere Orthodoxy)

Out of the post-Babel wreckage of disunity and disarray, he calls upon an individual, Abram, to form a new community that revolved neither around the individual nor the collective, but what Sacks describes as "a new form of social order that would give equal honour to the individual and the collective, personal responsibility and the common good."

And a covenant was "cut"--the Brit Bein Habetarim, or " Covenant of Parts." And Abram, like Adam, fell into a deep sleep as God walked through that which had been separated. Abram, like Adam, was told to multiply, yet this time God himself would take care of the math. Abram and Sarai stepped out of the darkness in faith, trading barren wombs and severed flesh for offspring like the stars, an everlasting land of promise, and the opportunity to share their blessings with all of humanity--the future restoration of the unity destroyed at Babel. God was throwing us a literal life-line: Give up your individual and collective toiling and striving that keeps breaking you, join my covenant, and I will accomplish great things through you, and for you. I will save you from yourselves.

This shows us how covenants can transform both the singular individual and the collective society. It can provide both with common values, purpose, identity, stability, and shared strength through shared sacrifice. They're held together not by self-interest or force, but fidelity and faith.

As the Israelites passed from slavery through the waters of the Red Sea into a covenant of freedom through fidelity, so the believer passes from death through the waters of baptism into a covenant of life through faith. A covenant with the Trinity itself, culminating on the day of Pentecost when the curse of Babel was dissolved and rather than "one lip" united for evil there could now be one lip (one "pure lip" as prophesied by Zephaniah) united for good through the covenantal sign of the Spirit. Abraham's far off promise of unity is now offered to the entire world.

A Covenantal God

Christianity must be understood covenantally because that's how God has chosen to relate to humankind. Biblical scholar Thomas Schreiner defines a covenant as "a chosen relationship in which two parties make binding promises to each other." Over and again, we see covenants as a means of God demonstrating who he is, binding himself to his people and creation, providing a means of flourishing, limiting and hedging in destruction, and forging paths of reconciliation between humanity and himself. Herman Bavinck reminds us that "God is the God of the covenant;" it's what joins us through the infinite distance to God, not as a master and a slave but in comunion and friendship--it's "the essence of true religion." [...]

Covenants build bonds that run deeper than politics, denominations, race, or even kinship. They are the blueprints handed to us by our Creator and modeled by the Trinity. In fact, if our lines and points neatly match up with the outlines of any group or person who did not make us, we're likely being unfaithful to the most important Covenant of all, and party to a dying contract that will never bring life and flourishing to our story or this world.

Here's the thing that should strip us of excuses--we don't even have to agree with what someone believes or does to covenant with them. It's not unequally yoking, it's not being of the world, it's reflecting the God who was willing to covenant with us. It's why Jesus loved his enemies, broke bread with sinners, and forgave those who killed him. It's why we've been given so much and are told to give it away freely. It's why every Christian should be able to say to each and every person before us: I see you, I care for you, I love you, I will hold what I've been given with an open hand so you don't have to be so fearful, because I have the best reason of all to never fear.

We worry it may bolster a political party not our own, Christians we don't think are theologically sound, a cause we don't want to advance. It seems messy and uncomfortable. It felt threatening to the world Jesus was born into as well. It didn't mesh with how they pictured God's kingdom being built. "Follow me," he assured them. In doing so, we are led along the way that often looks like weakness and feels like a death of sorts, but it's the strongest, most life-producing thing we could do. It's not sitting still and it's not conquering. It's both surrendering and asserting. Covenanting with those around us allows them to taste and see the source of holiness, peace, justice, mercy, and love.

Posted by orrinj at 8:27 AM

BLOOD-SUCKING FREAKS (profanity alert):

Posted by orrinj at 8:14 AM


My Confederate Past: Everyone who grew up in Mississippi was steeped in the Confederacy. Even if they didn't realize it. (STUART STEVENS  JUNE 26, 2020, The Bulwark)

Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the country. I ask myself now why did it take so long for me to realize what it might be like for nearly 40 percent of my state to go to school and work under a flag that represented a cause dedicated to the right to own their ancestors? Why is it that I had written books about traveling through China, Africa, and Europe, fascinated by every cultural quirk I came across, before I looked up at my own state flag and thought about the dehumanizing brutality it represented?

I don't have any good answers, most likely because there are none. I was given every opportunity in this life, an open door to the world, a chance at the best education in the United States and England, a family that supported my odd passions that I was lucky enough to turn into professions. I had passport stamps from 61 countries with different flags before I began to think about my own state's flag. It wasn't that I was actively for the flag . . . but that indifference was just as toxic as active support.

Today many white Mississippians of my generation--and even more of the younger generation--are eager to change. Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." We can't undo what we didn't do.

But my regret is mixed with a hope. Hope that perhaps we can take steps--small and inadequate as they might be--to face the truth of our Confederate past. And in doing so change the future.

It will never be enough. But I hope today we can take one more step out of the shadows of a bloody past into the brighter sun of a better day.

Posted by orrinj at 8:08 AM


Don't Be Afraid to Virtue Signal -- It Can Be a Powerful Tool to Change People's Minds (JAMIL ZAKI AND MINA CIKARA, JUNE 25, 2020, TIME)

Two key insights about social behavior are relevant here. First, people conform to others' actions and opinions; they often say what others say and do as others do. Second, when it comes to many issues, most people don't know what most people think--meaning that conformity involves a surprising amount of guesswork. Imagine 100 individuals in a pitch-black gym, each trying to join the rest of the crowd in a chaotic multiplayer game of Marco Polo. People will gravitate towards whoever they can hear, clumping around the loudest voices. Opinions can work this way: when a particular viewpoint gets a lot of attention, people assume it's popular, and shift towards it. We receive signals, and are changed by them.

This means social information can be a powerful force for social change, because people look to each other when deciding how to express themselves. For example, Chris Crandall and colleagues surveyed people to find out how socially acceptable they thought it was to be prejudiced against a variety of groups, ranging from child molesters to librarians. They also asked respondents to report their personal attitudes towards these groups. The two ratings were almost perfectly correlated: people reported as much prejudice as they believed was socially acceptable.

As social norms shift, individuals shift with them: adopting popular opinions and behaviors, and dropping ones that fall out of style. Norms are especially powerful as they gain steam. In one set of studies, Gregg Sparkman and Greg Walton presented diners in a cafeteria with evidence that 30% of the U.S. population was vegetarian, or that 30% of the population was newly vegetarian. People who learned about this second, "dynamic social norm" were twice as likely to order a meatless lunch themselves. They saw not just where the crowd was, but where it was going, and didn't want to be left behind.

Conformity can seem spineless, but in fact it reflects an ancient yearning to be part of something greater than ourselves--a smart yearning, given the many social advantages of coordinating and cooperating with others. It goes deeper than words, sometimes changing what we see, what we value, and how we behave, even privately. And no matter what we think of this, we are and will always be a herd species, more prone to move together than alone. Social norms will continue to change, and we will change with them.

This clarifies why signaling is so important.

He lived a life of virtue.

Posted by orrinj at 7:58 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM