Thursday, March 19, 2020

Our lives are worth more.


There is a plan to save something very important during this pandemic we are experiencing. Lives will be lost in order to save this thing; my life possibly, hence my keen interest. Governments who love fiscal tightness will deliberately enter deficits largely by borrowing from the private sector so that this thing survives. The right and the left are united in calling for this thing to be rescued in some way. But I don’t know if the economy is worth saving.

Our governments tend to be elected or thrown out almost entirely on how they manage the economy and why wouldn’t they? When the economy is strong, indicators of this are full (or fullish) employment, which is people making money and investor and consumer confidence, which is people’s hope they will make more money in the future. When you hear the ka-ching of money landing in your opened hands from the fountain of the economy and when you look up and see so much more money potentially on its way to you it feels good. Good enough to want to re-elect a government despite their open corruption. That lovely money is pizza and fixing your car and getting your sore tooth looked at and it’s a Charles and Di wedding anniversary set of Celine Dion reads the Koran.  It’s choice. It’s control. It’s power in the marketplace in your hands.

Then the real magic of a strong economy happens. You take that power and give it to your dentist. They now have the power to hire a secretary who has the power to pop over to yours and pay you to walk their dog. That’s power back in your hands again. You’re not losing anything. You and everyone else is just getting more done from that kitchen refit to that tattoo they always wanted. The tattooist and the carpenter and you all benefit.

But economies don’t match the dream. In addition to increased income and spending another indication of a strong economy is inflation which is the reduction in actual value of any of that money that’s landing in your hands. That undoes the relationship between the ka-ching and the market power. Also not every body even gets to stand under the money waterfall. Some people stand under other people and catch what (if anything) spills out from their hands.  Those dregs they get will, due to inflation, be worth less in real terms. Anybody who gets the same amount of golden coins as they received before the economy blooms is actually facing a reduction in marketplace power. They can’t go to the dentist anymore. The dentist has to sack the secretary. Your dog walking business goes nowhere.

Lastly that circular effect of economic spending doesn’t always even happen when wealth increases. When you spend money you could be just pouring your money into some corporate conglomerate who sells tech products made for the cheapest labour costs in the world and pays no tax and whose overseas warehouse just sacked every employee but the unpaid intern who oils the robots. When this happens economic growth can’t achieve momentum. The extra pizzazz of a charged up economy is siphoned off into the same deep pockets who can’t seem to find a need for a twelfth bum wiper and so that economic power doesn’t return to you. But the recruitment officer does thank you for your enthusiastic application.

Somewhere buried inside a strong economy is a “general lift in living standards” but its not a given that you in particular will be part of the generally benefiting at all or that even more than a few will. It’s still considered, illogically, by governments, as a general improvement in living standards if Mr. Burns buys an island while his whole workforce can’t afford their rents anymore. This is because by the power of averages its as if everybody got a coconut from the islands palm trees. Utilitarians however would largely agree that concentrated wealth is worth less than distributed wealth in terms of pleasure “points”. The value of a meal to a hungry person is more than the value of a better cut of steak to a well fed person and certainly worth more than the second steak the tycoon can’t even finish. The rich person may whinge louder than seems possible from an adult, when they lose their luxuries, but as we used to say over beers in my student lefty days you’ve got to learn to filter out the wealthys tantrums as a non-concern because they’re bullshit.

For some time our relatively strong economy has been a horror for many of its participants. Rampant wage theft; No real wage growth despite corporate profits growing; Entrenched long term unemployment; Scandalous harassment of people on unemployment benefits, and disability and parenting payments; Robots (and I like Astroboy, he’s one of the good ones) are taking our jobs. In a number of countries student debt is growing astronomically. Good Old Boy Joe Biden was one of those who voted to prevent US tertiary students who couldn’t pay their loans ever declaring bankruptcy locking them in permanent financial servitude.  In Australia we have a housing crisis that means people can’t afford home ownership while rents keep them in anxious poverty. On the other hand global yacht sales including super yachts have experienced steady growth above 4% so it’s not all doom and gloom.

I am a teacher in a secondary school. I will work with kids because I value their education and I value them as people and because I am a part of preserving human knowledge across generations. I will work with kids for additional hours (call me up these pending holidays if necessary) to free up medical staff who need to work on fighting this virus. I will do this even though schools are impossible places to strictly impose infection controls, although we could do better than we are currently, especially if we have less kids attending and threw some more money to hire more people to our overworked cleaners. But I am not risking my safety, the safety of my kids and your kids in my classes, in order to save the economy from going under. We are seeing endless energy from this government for squeezing the tits of the poor, and zero energy cracking down on wage theft. Hospitality workers lost penalty rates recently. High income tax cuts have not been cancelled to save the surplus but the underfunding of the NDIS and public schools is supposedly acceptable to get us to one. Nobody I know has got a super yacht.

I say lets dump this economy. Let’s do something different. Something better. Something where everyone gets paid sick leave, where wage theft is taken seriously, where we have an anti-corruption commission with actual teeth, where nobody is homeless because housing is a right, not a way to make money. And if a teacher, a nurse or the staff at the supermarket checkout dies from this virus we can give them their own Viking funeral in one of those yachts.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Good Place reminds us of the offensiveness of afterlives.


Note: This post contains spoilers for the Good Place. They are pretty incidental to the piece so you wont need to watch the show to understand anything but if you are planning to watch the show then come back and read this after you’re done. I loved the show myself and the twists in the show are worth not spoiling.
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Recently the series “The Good Place” came to an end. For most of the series audiences seemed happy to laugh along with it as it depicted a flawed system of determining who dies and ends up in the bad place, the good place or somewhere in between.  “The judge” character came closest to some kind of God for the series and they were pretty much an object of good humoured ridicule but this was still not a problem for theists I know. The final episodes however rankled some commentators. I think this was because the whole series, despite being ostensibly set in the afterlife, played like its plot was a continuation of life. The real afterlife, meaning that which happens after the drama of life is complete, is only glimpsed at the very end and, as I’ve titled this piece, descriptions (and depictions) of the afterlife have the capacity to offend us.

Afterlifes are often but not always systems of reward and punishment. When they are set up like that what they reward or punish is potentially offensive even if we don’t believe in the afterlife. If you were sitting down your children and telling them that only the eldest would get into heaven and the other would go to hell I would be offended by the injustice of this and as a second child some of that offence would be personal too. It is as if somehow I was going to go hell because of what you said, even though I don’t actually believe I will. My thinking here is not foolish. Even if I only believe in this mortal world the impact of such an afterlife description on your second child is real in this world. Calling it emotionally damaging seems too slight. Spiritually damaging seems fairer. I am right to be somewhat offended.

This offence of injustice can work many ways. We can be offended if justice is too soft so that the experience of victims means nothing. Versions of an afterlife in which George Pell flies to heaven on the basis of his recitation of the Apostles Creed would fit such a description. We can be offended if the circumstances around a persons life are not taken into account so that a person who steals out of hunger is treated as someone who steals out of greed. We can be offended if justice is arbitrary or cruel such as punishing same sex relationships that bring joy to all involved. We can be offended if justice is so complicated, that everyone is set up to fail and face an eternity of "spiders up the butt", for drinking cows milk, or soy milk, and twice as many spiders for almond milk. This is the system that the characters in the Good Place must challenge and eventually overturn.

In its final season The Good Place replaces that punitive system with what is essentially a therapeutic model. Instead of the old bad place, people go through scenarios run by rehabilitated demons in which they grow past the reasons why they caused harm with their lives. Its not so much punishment as it is treatment for human toxicity. The conclusion is “universalist” in the sense that everyone eventually gets into the Good Place. As we hear Brent arguing with his spiritual coaches we realise though that this is a longer journey for some than it is for others. Nobody is being tortured though. Nobody is forever excluded from the Good Place either. Judgement isn’t behind those participating in this system.

Christian Universalism is a belief within Christianity that everyone will be reconciled with God at some point. While it has a very long history in the church it leapt into prominence again in 2011 with the publication of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. Due to influential commentary on the book Rob Bell gained the title of heretic in some circles and was bid goodbye by people who act as guardians of the evangelical faith. Universalism seems to me to offend people’s need for good to be seperated eternally from evil at a singular judgement point. As I don’t have that need I don’t fully understand it.

Perhaps the anxiety is that Hitler will be given a house in heaven under this system that they don’t deserve – the offence of too soft justice. However no universalist afterlife (and certainly not the one in the Good Place) suggest this is possible without Hitler first transforming into someone who any Jew would be happy to live next to. I think more likely it is offensive to people trying to get others to turn to salvation right now to suggest that there is no absolute deadline to secure salvation by. Evangelism in particular loses its bite if our death itself doesn't bring on our final judgement.

Issues of injustice centred around punishment and reward are not the only ways that afterlifes can offend us. The offence that the Good Place provoked in some commentators in its afterlife was the final obliteration of self-hood in the souls journey. At the very end of all things (serious spoiler alert...) the individual ceases to be the individual. The selves we came to know as Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi and Jason concluded their stories as they met their need to grow past self-interested survival or petty competition or paralysing doubt or simply an inability not to combine matches and petrol when left alone with them. They then, after all the time they need and by their own choice, end. This idea of an ultimate end to our self is as offensive to some people as an unjust afterlife.

Like the offence of universalism this is not an offence I particularly understand. I take solace in the line from Take this Waltz by Leonard Cohen: “Take this Waltz, It’s been dying for years.”; as a reminder that I am familiar with my own ending. The two year old me is in my past. The six year old me is in my past. The 20 year old me is in my past. And so on.  They ended and so too will I. I’ve been dying for years. One day finally the last me will die but by then they will probably be unfamiliar in many respects to the me of today.

Is this sad? Sometimes I find it terribly sad. Not only will I end but all the wonderful people I love will one day have no more versions of themselves in this world. You’d better believe that’s sad. But is this bad? I don’t think so. I come down on the show creators side that death, including ultimate soul death, is essential to valuing life. It is why “every human is a little bit sad all the time, because you know you’re going to die. But that knowledge is what gives life meaning.” (Series 4 Episode 12). I accept though this may just be a rationalisation of an unavoidable reality that I and others will die. If someday we can actually cure death or if an eternal afterlife actually exists I will be interested to see if that does actually turn life into a prison (with or without harps). I do think it might.

Recently I listened to a podcast in which two very different Christian spokespeople both agreed that from a Christian perspective death is bad. They argued that biblically death is not a part of the world until sin wrecks it and that the right way for the world to be is without death. Therefore they believed all death should be railed against and a world without any death at all should be longed for. From this perspective it is actually an end to the soul that is unnatural. This belief in our eternal identities is not always extended to people who go to hell. Their eternal existence is supposedly tortuous and given that non-universalists hold out no hope for their redemption, essentially pointless.  Some therefore conclude that denizens of any Bad Place will be annihilated rather than barbarically burnt without dying for ever (a theory called Annihilationism) but that those who are saved by God will live for ever.  Whether annihilationist or not the idea is that we are supposed to be eternal and an afterlife with a positive ending of ourself is a depiction that offends against that idea.

There are any number of additional ways that an afterlife depiction can offend us. I suspect the Trumps of the world would be offended by an afterlife in which there are no walls between rich and poor. People who have prided themselves on knowing theology will be offended by the lack of a doctrinal entrance exam at the end. The Good Place showed us that it is a topic people are interested in enough to devote ourselves to four seasons to. It also showed us that even when nobody is pretending its the truth the afterlife can still offend.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Who can we count on?

Recently I got into an argument. I suggested there was only a minority of people who would economically discriminate against same sex couples if emboldened by a government that permitted them to, but that they existed. When pressed on exactly how many people I thought there was who would do such a thing, I said perhaps more than 5% but less than 10%. I was told I was being ridiculous to think there was so many.

Since that argument I have been pondering. And pondering. When I was in my all boys high school about 30 years ago, a student gave a talk to the class. It was in legal studies and they had to argue for a law that should be changed. They argued that we should be allowed to murder gay people. (Little did they know that the homosexual panic defence as it was called, virtually gave them that licence back then.) The class applauded and the teacher did nothing. I got in trouble for provoking the student who spoke when I blew them kisses as an act of juvenile trolling. It’s a story I’ve told before and it sticks with me. It affects my estimates of the world around me.

I believe that every student there wasn’t really a killer at heart. Most will have forgotten the event all together by now. Some will be leading happy lives as members of the LGBTIA community. Even the homophobes probably wont want to see gay people murdered. But such belief is not certain. All the evidence I have is my memory of that day and the few students who I have kept up with since then or met long afterwards (and they are fine). Based on that day what percentage of people would actively discriminate against same sex couples if they had a chance? Upwards of 80%. But I believe without evidence that that high an estimate would be ridiculous.

We all carry around in our heads similar sorts of estimates about our peers. The Security chief at ASIO recently said that organised right wing violence in Australia is a growing threat. But how many people are really neo-nazis in Australia? When Australia exported that shooter to New Zealand we were partly shocked that they came from here and we were partly, sadly, not shocked at all. Egg-boy spoke for the majority of us when he egged the Senator who suggested the victims of that massacre were at fault. But that Senator spoke for some people. What percentage? Go on, have a guess.

Sometimes we get to know people as reasonable, likable and intelligent and then we discover that they think gay people shouldn’t be near kids or that #Metoo is an over-reaction or that the massacres of Aboriginal Australians didn’t happen. We wonder whether our radar that tells us how many people around us think these things is on the blink. We are left suspicious that we are assuming too few people we already know are homophobic, misogynistic, racists. We think we should adjust our estimates upwards.

This has happened to me recently. I am still processing the details and while it would benefit me to write about them I am not yet ready to. Does it mean that I should dismiss my own estimates of 5-10% homophobes as an over-reaction to recent events? Does it mean that my previous low estimates of homophobia, misogyny and racism  in the community around me were too low?

People who hold homophobic, misogynistic, or racist opinions aren’t even necessarily going to act in those ways. Holocaust denial doesn’t exactly equal a willingness to commit anti-Semitic violence but the two are linked. One is a stepping stone to the other. A boss that thinks #Metoo has gone too far is  more likely to let their workplace become unsafe and traumatic for female employees. A community that uses the phrase gay-agenda a lot is more likely to treat a gay person with hostility. At least this is what I think. I rely on this but I don’t know this. This theory of attitudes linked to behavior builds my estimates of who is likely to act in certain ways. I hear homophobic comments from about 5% to 10% of the population so I think about that many people might discriminate against same sex couples.

This question of what percentage of people are likely to be perpetrators of horrible acts (discrimination right up to murder) is too important to answer in this haphazard anecdotal inferred way. But we just don’t have good research to turn to instead. Consider sexual harassment. Most women have experienced this. In fact I am probably being overly cautious by not just saying all women have experienced sexual harassment. Many men have experienced it too. But what percentage of people, by gender as that would be relevant, commit sexual harassment? Or have committed it at least once? We have much better statistics and research answering how many people have been victims than questions about the number of perpetrators.

More than one in 20 Australians have been physically attacked because of their race. That is a shocking statistic and comes from the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2019 the ABC Australia Talks survey found 75% of respondents thought Australia was racist. But being racist isn’t necessarily physically attacking and how many Australians did those people mean were racists? Consider a specific pragmatic question; If someone was perpetrating racist violence I think 99%, maybe 99.9% of people could be relied on to support the victim in some way (call the police, if not intervene). I think we should be shocked by anyone choosing to support the perpetrator. But I am guessing. I am not basing this on any facts.

If I was one of those one in 20 Australians who had copped an assault based on my race, guessing that most people around me aren’t like my assailant (even if they are a little bit racist) is a tough ask. Someone who hasn’t experienced such violence certainly shouldn’t be insisting upon such an attitude. It might even be that those of us who haven’t experienced such violence have a very false sense that the willingness to support such violence is rarer than it is. I don’t really know.

Christian thinking is sometimes quite pessimistic about human nature. When the traveler in the parable of the Good Samaritan lies wounded, three people pass before one stops to help. Some Christian thinkers have gone on to claim humans by default are inherently rebellious and selfish. In other places though the Bible assumes basic human goodness. “Which of you,” Jesus asks rhetorically, “would give your child a stone when they ask for bread?” Psychology offers us better tools for understanding whether people have a dominant tendency for good or ill but the answer is complex and dependent on many factors. Sometimes evil is just people fitting in with the crowd, like those high school boys who applauded that legal studies talk 30 years ago. And the crowd can go either way.

We are all guessing in the dark about how scared and how trusting we ought to be of each other. So here is what we can do; we can advertise where we stand. Returning to the original discussion which was about the Australian governments religious discrimination bill, if Churches want people to know that they have no interest in discriminating against same sex couples, stick a rainbow flag in your window. Its not novel. I'm a little over rainbows graphically speaking. But people know what the rainbow flag indicates. If you don’t want to do that don’t get all huffy if people who have experienced homophobia from churches are suspicious of you. You can’t even put a sticker up.

Likewise if a boss wants their employers to know that sexual harassment is not tolerated then this should be said. It should be said a lot. Of course words must be followed up by actions when harassment occurs but lets not assume that victims know their bosses are on the same page as them. How would they know? Likewise for schools that want Aboriginal families to know their culture will be accommodated and celebrated; stick a bloody poster up saying exactly that. No that’s not the last thing to do but its an obvious start.

You will hear online a lot of criticism of “virtue signalling” when people advertise their progressive attitudes in lieu of doing anything else for others. But virtue signalling is only that when it is fake and hypocritical and when its purpose is to make the speaker feel good even at the expense of the experiences of victims. Advertising where you stand is something valuable when it takes into account the needs of victims for reassurance. It relieves those who have the most to lose from doing some of the initial mental work of figuring out if they can count on you.

True story: I knew someone who was very white. He shaved his head because he liked having a shaved head. Then Romper Stomper, the movie about racist white skin-heads in Melbourne, came out. He noticed people were anxious around him especially anyone who looked Asian. So he bought a t-shirt that showed someone binning a swastika and bore the slogan “No Racism”. He was a very wise guy.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The World We Resist.



A long time ago I went to a wedding. As I recall it, the minister who officiated stood aside for the sermon to let a younger hipper minister take over. Although we were Catholics by upbringing on the grooms side and the bride was an evangelical Christian I guess they presumed that many in the audience were un-churched or de-churched or in some way not particularly Christian. This young hip minister knew exactly how to reach us though. The gospel was relayed to us using the timely (this was back in the 90’s) analogy of Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant’s split.

Now if you have no idea about that split spare yourself the details. It’s just celebrity gossip and now terribly dated as well. I mention the story because it represents a misunderstanding that can occur in church cultures about the irreligious or even just those they think are slightly less religious.  People can think we are into the most superficial crap they can imagine. Celebrities. Selfies. Not having babies so that we can have fame and material success. They presume we are both very casual about sex and yet obsessed by it. We are secular culture or sexual culture even.

To understand this we need to look at the underlying myth of “the world.” The world, from which we get the negative descriptor of worldliness, has a particular meaning in Christian thinking. It is not merely the same as the earth – a planet we live on. The world is human society but not exactly. Human societies can be distinguished by their differences. Human societies have conflicting values across time and place and even in the same time and place. The world is either a reduction, or a projection, of diverse human societies into one consistent phenomenon shaped by inherent selfishness and a desire to rebel against God.

Let me explain what I mean by a projection. By projection I’m allowing for the possible meaning of the world to be a potential future or even a primordial past that is present as either destiny or cause of human society but is not the sum total of what human society is presently. With this description it is still possible to recognise both the good and bad and diversity of human societies because all present societies are becoming either more or less like the world and potentially in different ways.

I want to be as fair as possible to the Christian concept of the world. In doing so I must also note that there are echoes of this concept in all heroic imaginings. The rationalist who views critical thinking and hard evidence as the cornerstones of progress will contrast their own cause with a world that is shallow in its thinking, motivated largely by the pursuit of comfort and conformity. Although they might not use the term they are saying something similar to “the world” when they describe the Dunning Kruger effect or confirmation bias. Here the rationalist may view themselves as having escaped the world fully but the more critical will be aware that they share its weakness and try to police them.

This rationalists translation of the Christian world however might be better called psychology. Like the Buddhist idea of the human dilemma there is no sense that walking away from crowds will diminish the problem of mind the rationalist wants to overcome. By contrast the Christian notion of the world is social. For the Christian there might be a human psychology (or inherent sinfulness) that cannot be withdrawn from, that recreates the world, but there is also a sense that the flaws of individual psychology are amplified in the world or that the world manufactures flaws that a solitary human could not.

This resembles more closely Marxist ideas of how people are alienated within economies and how dominant ideologies in society become paradigms that we can’t even see. For example everything is reduced to property under capitalism so that perceiving land without an owner (even a state owner) becomes impossible. When such a system produces injustices it can be difficult to identify anyone who is responsible. Certainly the landlord who rents a house at unaffordable rents is not held responsible for homelessness when they are simply following the market rate. Neither is the train station guard who tells the homeless person that they can’t sleep in the doorway they’ve chosen. Everyone is simply complying with the dictates of property. This sounds very similar to the Christian concept of the world ; a totalising cultural phenomenon that is hard to resist. The world can be a useful concept for naming the “water we swim in” culturally.

As much as the world can help us bring to light unseen cultural trends it can also be a concept that goes sour very easily. This occurs when the world and the church are understood as two distinct spaces in their current form. The church then becomes code for us (if you are a believer) while the world is them. Us and them. So let’s look at the ways that Us and them thinking about the church and the world goes wrong.

1. It misses a call to deeper difference with the world.
Churches which hold to us and them thinking about the church and the world need to focus on superficial matters where they can draw clear distinctions. Once upon a time they might have used divorce or sex before marriage as a mark of distinction but increasingly they can’t because there are unmarried and remarried parents in their pews. Instead now they might talk about hook up culture or porn use or acts of piety like church attendance. Meanwhile the church and its’ members accumulate property, and otherwise live as parts of the political economy just like citizens of the world. On average church attendees give more to charity but as they pursue political and economic power and security with the excuse that they have the right to like any other group, the way they distinguish themselves from the world is a missed opportunity for challenge.

2. It at least appears to be astonishing in its ignorance of church failure.
Our Prime minister, Scott Morrison, made a big deal of his Christian faith in the lead up to the election. He is defending the most blatant practice of pork barrelling by any Australian government as I write this. Of course child abuse in the church has been a national scandal with our highest profile sex abuser, Archbishop Pell, being defended in character by our most well known Methodist, Ex-PM John Howard. The notion that the church and the world in their present forms are the contrast between Gods way and the highway cannot be believed. I believe Christians who make that sort of claim generally mean the Church as it should be rather than how it is, but if this is not made clear the effect is to seem blind to injustice enacted by their own tribe.

3. It is astonishing in its ignorance of what is happening outside the church.
When Church voices draw a distinction between church and world as two separable places in their current form they have to paint the secular world as devoid of hope and virtue. This is the concern that prompted my writing. I am so tired of people in church talking about secular people as “the selfie generation” without any irony. It honestly feels like the authors of those comments caught an ad for a mainstream television reality show and figured that’s what everyone outside the church is like.  Their benchmark for assessing popular culture is the Kardashians. But if you are generally concerned with opposing vapidity in culture how is it that you haven’t found any of the allies in all the spaces outside of church? Just talk to young people themselves and you will find many who don’t want mobile phones or are unimpressed with social media and celebrity culture. In another example every Christmas there are numerous voices from Christians and non-Christians wanting to simplify and move away from consumptive consumerism, and seeking to make the season kinder to planet and the poor. But to hear some Christian speakers use of the world, its as if secular society is all lining up for the sales while in contrast Christians reflect on the incarnation. What a missed opportunity for alliances.

Even worse is the attribution of millennial frustrations to selfishness and cultural priorities. Why aren’t non-churched people having kids? It would have to be a desire for fame, fortune and freedom instead... and a lack of hope. It couldn’t be a decline in real wages and a housing market that is an investors playground. Could it? OK Boomer.

4. It’s vague as all hell and can easily be an excuse for blind bigotry.
The call to be unlike the world can be misapplied to suggest that any compromise of rigid fundamentalism for compassion or common sense is a compromise with the world for worldly gain. Zippers on pants instead of good honest buttons? Contraception? “Secular” movies and music? Women priests? Blessing same sex relationships? Anything can be worldly if you don’t like it.
If a person wants to argue against those things then they should develop arguments unpolluted by just labeling something worldly.

Worse still the term worldly can be used to dog-whistle one’s prejudices without actually having the courage to express them or to sound like you mean different things to different audiences for maximum appeal. The hypocrisy of this frankly cowardly approach to preaching is that it uses the rhetoric of radical bravery as it makes supposedly challenging calls to reject the world. Meanwhile everybody gets to decide what that means for them while looking down on others who decide differently.

I hope some of what I’ve written inspires the Christians I know to challenge how the concept of the world is used in their own and their peers rhetoric. To non- Christians reading this please know many Christians are not actually like the preacher from Footloose, there are Christians I know who are ACDC fans, avid board-gamers, into musical theatre, or complete nerds about anime, but it can be hard to confront how the world is used negatively by Christian leaders and teachers particularly when it is all dog-whistle and lack of detail.

Lastly this isn’t just a problem for Christians. The idea of the world can take many forms. From my own left wing perspective I should be critical of what I see as the path capitalism paves for our culture without needing to think every participant in it is corrupted by it and that every product of capitalism is entirely destructive. The four errors I mentioned above can easily be made  by me. In a sense the world is always both present and being resisted at the same time and moving beyond simplicity is necessary for us all.