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On The Death Of Shopping Malls (via Wired)

Analysis of the situation of Shopping Malls that have closed in the USA in a video report from Wired.
It’s interesting to hear the balance of over-supply, changes in shopping habits, and changes in people’s social gathering habits are all thought to contribute to the change.
No one thing has contributed to the decline, and ongoing developments in demographics have meant that there are no simple responses that can return those facilities to viability.
The situation will continue to evolve, in the face of ongoing social changes, just as malls themselves were a response to post-world-war-2 social changes.
Solutions need to look forward and accomodate sociological developments instead of trying to keep meeting the culture that has passed.
Of interest to Christians is what changes in peoples’ gathering habits mean as we seek to interact with our culture in communicating the Gospel.
Malls were a development in ‘third space’ places beyond home and work and were one of the areas that supplanted churches.
There is a comment about churches taking over disused malls.
Larger churches sort of emulated some aspects of mall structure, and it will be fascinating to see whether that gets wound back or whether they have simply become their own sub-culture in that form.
The video refers to television program Stranger Things, but doesn’t require any familiarity with that program. I’ve never watched it.


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Planes, Rocketships, And Now (via XKCD)

Thoughts like this one give me pause.
I don’t know what they prove, but they give me pause.
Mostly I’m disappointed that we don’t have flying cars yet.
I also wonder if one day gaps like this will measure humanity’s first flight with our first steps on the moon, and the fact that noone’s been back to the moon in over that period of time. Surely one day we’ll return to space.
From XKCD


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Fullness Of Joy That Lasts Forevermore (via Stephen McAlpine)

With the seasonal observations of the euphoria that is experienced by winning football teams and their supporters, Stephen McAlpine reflects on how a joy that seems so complete will fade so quickly (pre-season training will probably commence well before Christmas) contrasts with a joy that is more complete and which will never diminish.
I’m a long way into a set of Bible studies on the book of Ecclesiastes at the moment and these thoughts are very relevant to the theme of that part of Scripture.
From his post:

When people ask the question “Can you be happy without God?”, I say, “Of course!” I don’t buy it when apologists say “no” to that question.
I don’t believe that you cannot be happy without God. Because lots of people – especially in this rich Western world – patently are.
But it won’t last. It will fade. It will die – probably before they do. For if someone dies without having experienced severe suffering, or deep unhappiness, then they are a rare beast indeed.
Die they will, and the joy of a premiership flag will not go with them. Nor the joy of sex, the joy of work, the joy of leisure, the joy of anything outside of the joy of God.
Christians are often described as “kill-joys”. We don’t need to be that. In fact our one true Joy was killed, then raised again so that our joy could go on forever.

Read the whole post here.


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Lawlessness And Anarchy

I came across the following observation arising out the biblical motif of the book of Judges: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Israel was not beset by lawlessness. People were not paying no attention to laws. They did not see themselves as lawbreakers.
Israel was beset by anarchy. They were doing what they saw as right in their own eyes. People were following the laws of their own devising.
Perhaps we are seeing a time in which our own culture is moving beyond a conscious rejection of authority, to embracing themselves as the only authority they heed.


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The Book Of Books: What Literature Owes The Bible (by Marilynne Robinson)

Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead writes about the influence that the Bible has had on Western literature.
The Bible asks questions, raises issues, and proposes truths about ultimate destinies that culture has engaged with in various ways. To be unaware of that link is to only hear half a conversation.

“The Bible is the model for and subject of more art and thought than those of us who live within its influence, consciously or unconsciously, will ever know”.

Read her article at Comment.


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Perfectionism Is Just Chronic Insecurity In Disguise (via Sam Kim)

Sam Kim writes about the social media fueled anxiety that seems to be eating away at younger generations.

Courtesy of Ed Stetzer’s blog:

In a culture based on shame and superficiality, the elephant in the room, which is the pressure to be amazing, is always staring directly at us.
If we truly want to win the hearts of the next generation with the gospel, we must help reclaim their identity as the beloved, because only perfect love can cast out fear.

Read the whole post here.


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Hillbilly Elegy


Hillbilly Elegy was on a number of ‘best books’ in 2016.
I found a copy in a remainder bookstore when I was on holidays and am reading it this week.
It’s an introduction to a culture that seems alien to modern sensitivities in this age that champions the marginalised, but can’t quite figure out what to do with marginalised who look pretty much the same as the mainstream.
There are some parallels in our country with sections of society that are generationally unemployed and family relationally fragmented.
Does the answer to their cultural malaise rest in individual endeavour or collective (government) intervention?
The book seems strongest when it deals with memoir; its efforts to provide social analysis will take longer to evaluate.