Must Read Monday: Moral Acceptance of Polygamy at Record High —But Why?August 7, 2017
Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort— Washington Post
In a recent survey by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, religion is a significant predictor on how Americans view poverty. Christians are more likely to say poverty is a result of personal lack of effort or moral failings. Why is that?
There are clear teachings in the Bible about the dignity and value of work but there is also the recognition that even the nature of work and its benefits are changed at the fall. Certainly personal ability matters, but there are a myriad of other factors we must consider: systemic, generational factors and catastrophic events that set people back. The ideas of being self-made and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps are distinctively American, but they are not distinctively Christian. The world’s wealth meter is the not the Gospel’s measure of a man. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
Some of the most spiritually rich people I have ever met were living in abject poverty and some of the spiritually bankrupt people I know have access to millions of dollars. So how is it that so many Christians in America view poverty as due to a lack of effort and not the result of a complicated interplay of systems that have built wealth for some and deepened poverty for others? Part of the answer, I suspect, is the popular belief in a sly lie called the prosperity gospel. The belief that good works will earn you God’s earthly blessings. It is a distinctively American gospel and it’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Gallup tracks Americans’ views on different behaviors, and found something interesting. A recent survey found a record 17% of Americans perceive polygamy (having multiple spouses) as morally acceptable. Historically that number has been in single digits. Gallup looks at trends in entertainment, including the TV show, Big Love, which made the practice seem less extreme. The “moral” of the story here is that opinion changes gradually, but not without intentional effort to move Americans’ perceptions. We break down other moral milestones that lead us to this place on The Reconnect. Listen here.
Related: Denny Burk of Boyce College, on Four stages of “evangelical” affirmation of gay marriage
The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why garnered a lot of attention for its dangerous glamorization of teen suicide, but until now, the connection was only assumed— not proven. Now, according to Google search data, there was a notable spike in suicide-related searches around the time of the show’s release. Entertainment, culture and social groups all influence our thinking, and the Netflix show brings all three of these together for teens. We spoke with Sissy Goff regarding teen suicide and what you need to know about the show. It is already approved for a second season, so this is not going away. Listen here.
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?— The Atlantic
A generational researcher finds today’s teens (he names them iGen) are markedly different from previous generations because of two things: the power of the internet at their fingertips at all times and social media. He finds they are less independent, less interested in the responsibilities and benefits of adulthood and on the cusp of what he calls a mental health crisis. For equipping on this topic we encourage you to listen to our interview with Tony Reinke, author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. Listen here.
The Ghost of Hillary Still Haunts Evangelicals— David French, The National Review
David French writes of a regular experience speaking to Christian audiences. Older Evangelicals feel they must defend morally reprehensible behavior of the new President. Why are we more willing to excuse lying and deception from a Republican than a Democrat (or vice versa)? Why are we more comfortable rationalizing some sins than others?
Gene editing: Gateway to Promised Land, or key to Pandora’s box?— Religion News Service
American scientists successfully edited genes in human embryos for the first time. What does this mean for ethics of gene editing? For more reading on this: Explainer: American scientists “edit” human embryos— ERLC
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