Between my wife and I we probably subscribe to about 20 magazines or journals, and that's on top of impulse buys and the daily newspaper. I know this is ridiculous, as I cannot read all this material, but I love magazines almost as much as I love books. So, anyway, when vacations roll round (like this past week), I try to catch up a bit with all this reading. It's sometimes better this way, reading several at once, because on occasion there are some helpful coincidences -- articles that complement one another.
Such a coincidence happened when I read Steven Garber's review of Tom Wolfe's novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, called "I Am Charlotte Simmons: 3 Sentences, 1 Chapter, 1 Sad Conclusion," published in Critique, Issue #2, 2006, a publication of Ransom Fellowship. (not online but I will send it to you by pdf if you email me). I was aware of Tom Wolfe, but not the novel, which is an account of a young, smart, and rather innocent woman who leaves the rural mountains of North Carolina for an Ivy League school, where she is introduced to the sexualized (and very real) college culture, where sex is simply "hooking up" and carries no emotional commitment. Wolfe apparently does a good job of showing how the logic of this lifestyle leads to a loathing of self and offers no basis on which to build a life, but he has little to offer in the way of a solution. Then, thank God, I read an article by Terrence Moore, "Not Harvard Bound," in Touchstone, May 2006, which profiles college bound seniors in a charter school in Colorado who are quite different than those you find in Wolfe's book -- students who are bright, moral, faithful, energetic, and hardworking. So, there are two stories here, and Wolfe has one story right, but there's another group of students, students that might even help a Charlotte Simmons out there. There's hope.
I read yet another article on global warming, an issue I would really like to come to a conclusion on, and yet I cannot. This one in Christianity Today's April issue, "Looking After Creation," was an interview with Christian physicist Sir John Houghton, an advocate for greenhouse gas reduction, who says that the whole scientific community is settled that on the conclusion that global warming is really occurring. His confident assertions aside, I continue to read articles about the uncertainties that remain and the very high cost of tackling a problem we aren't sure is due to human activity or, at least, aren't sure we can control. I think back to that book The Population Bomb, published by Paul Ehrlich back in the early Seventies. His argument (in which he was not alone) was that population growth would doom the world to disaster by the turn of the century. Oh yeah? There is a population problem -- depopulation -- in Europe and Russia. Just about everything Ehrlich predicted was wrong. Could climate change be another one of those doomsday scenarios? God grant us wisdom.
Speaking of God, I read an article in that same issue of Touchstone about the recent meeting of the World Council of Churches. [Insert the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard here.] What a misnomer. They do not represent the church. The whole meeting was a litany of indictments of the United States, led by the "confessions" of our corporate sins by churchmen (yuch!) from our shores. And then, finally, this statement by the beloved Desmond Tutu: "God is not a Christian." What? He then went on to thank the churches represented for their support of the African National Congress in South Africa (you know, the ones who tied burning tires around the necks of whites and uncooperative blacks in their armed struggle against apartheid) and let them know that "God is allowing any and everybody into heaven." Even Bin Laden and George Bush. When I read such things I am simply incredulous; it reads like fiction.
On to lighter topics. I enjoyed "Loving Christ While I Cheer for the Yankees," in ByFaith, January/February 2006, wherein Peter Enns calls for some theological reflection on the sports that he so loves along with many others. I also appreciated David Delk's "Parenting the Heart: Helping Your Children Get Their Story Straight," also in ByFaith, May/June 2005 (see what I mean about getting behind?), which is a creative way to get at what is or should motivate our children -- stories like "The American Dream" or "Technological Paradise" or the Gospel story in their own life and part of the culture.
I've already blogged a bit from the excellent Spring 2005 issue of Christian History and Biography devoted to George McDonald. I commend reading that entire issue. McDonald is a treat to read and read about. And finally, I read about Beatle Paul McCartney, who just turned 64. Where did I read it? In my wife's AARP Magazine. Don't tell her I told you we receive that, but we do get discounts with it. And if you don't know what AARP is, don't worry -- you'll find out one day. Now, back to my rocker. . .