Ellen Davis on Scripture’s Agrarian Themes

From the WaPo:

DURHAM, N.C. — With her gray hair tied neatly in a bun and her wire-rimmed glasses perched thoughtfully on her nose, Ellen Davis looks the part of a distinguished Bible scholar.

Her resume certainly reads like one — a Ph.D. from Yale University and teaching appointments at Union Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale and now Duke Divinity School.

Yet despite the traditional cast, Davis is leading a quiet revolution. For the past 20 years, she has been at the vanguard of theologians studying the biblical understanding of care for the land.

Her groundbreaking book, “Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible,” is considered a classic, and she travels widely to speak at churches and conferences about the role of agriculture and the ethics of land use in the Bible.

My former pastor Mike Hsu has spent a bit more time reading Davis’s work and has excerpted some quotations from it over at his blog.

Man Buys $27 of Bitcoin, Forgets About Them, Finds They’re Worth $886k

Funny story from The Guardian:

Kristoffer Koch invested 150 kroner ($26.60) in 5,000 bitcoins in 2009, after discovering them during the course of writing a thesis on encryption. He promptly forgot about them until widespread media coverage of the anonymous, decentralised, peer-to-peer digital currencyin April 2013 jogged his memory.

Bitcoins are stored in encrypted wallets secured with a private key, something Koch had forgotten. After eventually working out what the password could be, Koch got a pleasant surprise:

“It said I had 5,000 bitcoins in there. Measuring that in today’s rates it’s about NOK5m ($886,000),” Koch told NRK.

The Surprising Ingredient to Creating a Pro-life Culture

Tristyn Bloom saying interesting things at a recent Yale event:

I want to try and get at what the actual problem is here, because I don’t think it’s that we don’t have sufficiently compelling apologetics. I don’t think it’s that we don’t do a rigorous enough job of getting our message out there. I don’t think it’s that people can’t conceive of something they can’t see as human. I think the actual problem here, I think the reason people continue to defend abortion is because, essentially, of existential terror: fear of what will happen when something unexpected, uninvited, unplanned bursts into our lives demanding action. I think that is a crippling psychological problem that doesn’t even rise to the level of morality, that we can’t just tell people to suck up and get over.

We often hear that a problem with young people today is that we are irresponsible. We don’t have a sense of duty. We don’t have a sense of order. We’re immature. I think that the problem is actually the opposite.

We are pathologically terrified of risk and enslaved to our own ideas of respectability

I think that we are pathologically terrified of risk and I think that we have this enslavement to our own ideas of respectability, our own ideas of our life plan, our commitments, our existing duties such that something as radically changing as a new life doesn’t fit in with those existing duties.

Pushing Local Food to Its Limits

The Atlantic: Cities reports on a new market in San Francisco:

Yaron Milgrom owns two restaurants in San Francisco’s Mission District: Local Mission Eatery, a restaurant, bakery, and cookbook library that serves as gourmet sandwich shop by day and intimate dinner spot by night, and Local’s Corner, a seafood-centric neighborhood cafe that’s Michelin-approved. Now, he’s about to turn the idea of an urban neighborhood grocery on its head with the soon-to-open Local Mission Market, in which everything, unless it’s raw, will be made in-house.

Yes, really. I consider my current shopping list for pasta puttanesca, and Milgrom answers back: house-made pickles, olives, cured fish and meat, pastas, and cheese are all available.

He wants to make high-quality, made-from-scratch food available to everyone, and to take away the intimidation factor. “Generally, the most convenient food is the worst food,” he tells me. “We wanted to make the best food the most convenient food, because they almost never overlap.”

A Place’s Political Evolution

The WaPo reports on West Virginia’s move from blue to red:

PINEVILLE, W.Va. — Those old enough to remember still tell visitors how this mountain town helped make history on April 26, 1960. That was the day 600 people showed up in front of the Wyoming County courthouse to hear a patrician senator with a Boston accent make his case to be their next president.

Above: Nearly all the storefronts in Welch, W.Va., are empty. The town is part of McDowell County, one of the poorest in the state and one of the most impoverished in the nation. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

The electricity that afternoon in Pineville foreshadowed bigger things to come for the struggling candidate. Two weeks later, John F. Kennedy won more than 60 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary, a victory that helped move the country past the presumption that a Catholic could never be elected to the White House.

In late June of this year, another expression of Pineville’s values appeared on the terraced lawn of the old courthouse. There was no fanfare around the installation of the new stone monument, but like that Kennedy rally more than half a century ago, it was a way of saying how the town felt about where the nation is headed.

Why aren’t the neo-anabaptists libertarian?

Interesting piece from Juicy Ecumenism:

Why aren’t neo-Anabaptists and their kindred spirits who despise the armed state as Constantine’s legacy not enthusiastically aligned with Cruz, the Tea Party, and especially libertarians in combatting the encroaching tentacles of Babylon in Washington? If truly consistent in their witness against coercive violence, the neo-Anabaptists should mail checks to and preach sermons for the Cato Institute, the libertarian thinktank which which also shares their aversion to U.S. military adventures.

Shane Claiborne details the neo-Anabaptist view of the U.S. Government in his 2008 book JESUS FOR PRESIDENT. It describes the Whore of Babylon in Revelation as the Roman Empire, whose political whoredoms are replicated by modern America, which follows Rome in trying to “slaughter God’s love in the world.” Strong stuff! “Just as Caesar had his image on everything, America has its stamp,” Claiborne laments. “The world is branded with America.”

So why would neo-Anabaptists want the equivalent of the AntiChrist running health care, regulating food, trying to control the environment, micromanaging the economy and usurping the church and private charity with an unendingly expansive welfare and entitlement state? Who wants to receive food stamps from The Beast?!

Now There Are Five

Sedaris in The New Yorker:

In late May of this year, a few weeks shy of her fiftieth birthday, my youngest sister, Tiffany, committed suicide. She was living in a room in a beat-up house on the hard side of Somerville, Massachusetts, and had been dead, the coroner guessed, for at least five days before her door was battered down. I was given the news over a white courtesy phone while at the Dallas airport. Then, because my plane to Baton Rouge was boarding and I wasn’t sure what else to do, I got on it. The following morning, I boarded another plane, this one to Atlanta, and the day after that I flew to Nashville, thinking all the while about my ever-shrinking family. A person expects his parents to die. But a sibling? I felt I’d lost the identity I’d enjoyed since 1968, when my younger brother was born.

“Six kids!” people would say. “How do your poor folks manage?”

There were a lot of big families in the neighborhood I grew up in. Every other house was a fiefdom, so I never gave it much thought until I became an adult, and my friends started having children. One or two seemed reasonable, but anything beyond that struck me as outrageous. A couple Hugh and I knew in Normandy would occasionally come to dinner with their wrecking crew of three, and when they’d leave, several hours later, every last part of me would feel violated.

Take those kids, double them, and subtract the cable TV: that’s what my parents had to deal with. Now, though, there weren’t six, only five. “And you can’t really say, ‘There used to be six,’ ” I told my sister Lisa. “It just makes people uncomfortable.”

What is Piracy?

From the LA Review of Books:

“PIRACY,” the newly created National Intellectual Property Rights Protection Coordination Center (IPR Center) informs DVD viewers, “is not a victimless crime.” Setting aside the fact that the IPR Center and its partners in the FBI and Department of Homeland Security target this message at precisely the wrong audience — those who’ve chosen to purchase or rent a DVD — the campaign begs a couple of questions. Is this “piracy” actually a “crime”? And more importantly, what exactly is “piracy”?

While content-industry trade groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and Association of American Publishers (AAP) would doubtless like to take credit for popularizing the term to mean “using creative products without the permission of the creator or rights holder,” “piracy” has meant that for centuries, as Robert Spoo points out in his new bookWithout Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain (Oxford). But it’s never been so simple, particularly in the United States, long a holdout from international copyright norms. “Piracy” is always a term of rhetoric, suggesting a legal force that it frequently does not have; the word was and is a tool to sway the public and lawmakers. And even as their copyright protections were dramatically expanded in the late 20th century, rights holders sought to broaden the definition of “piracy” and concomitantly shrink the public domain, that ocean of content free for all of us to use.

Russell Moore on Evangelicals’ Continued Political Engagement

This is excellent:

What I’m calling for in our approach to political engagement is what we’re already doing in one area: the pro-life movement. Evangelicals in the abortion debate have demonstrated convictional kindness in a holistic ethic of caring both for vulnerable unborn children and for the women who are damaged by abortion. The pro-life movement has engaged in a multi-pronged strategy that addresses, simultaneously, the need for laws to outlaw abortion, care for women in crisis pregnancies, adoption and foster care for children who need families, ministry to women (and men) who’ve been scarred by abortion, cultivating a culture that persuades others about why we ought to value human life, and the proclamation of the gospel to those whose consciences bear the guilt of abortion.

That’s the reason the pro-life movement continues to resonate, with growing numbers, among young Christians. It’s very clearly not a singularly “political” issue, but an issue that demands political, ecclesial, and cultural reform and persuasion. Most importantly, it resonates because younger Christians recognize the gospel as of first importance, and the pro-life movement has demonstrated why the life issue is a gospel issue.