Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky

What’s going to happen now that the internet has blown the old financial model which kept newspapers afloat for so long? An interesting essay by Clay Shirky suggests what I, too, think is the right answer:

I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it. The internet turns 40 this fall. Access by the general public is less than half that age…. We just got here. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

But with the death of newspapers comes the death of a Kabul bureau, the death of so much important news—right? No, says Shirky. And here’s where he helped me:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

It will be interesting to see what will happen.

HT: Alan Jacobs

How Science Fiction Found Religion by Benjamin A. Plotinsky, City Journal Winter 2009

Popular art both reflects and forges popular culture. Science is the ultimate authority for so many in the West, so it shows up in movies.

“The Force” is one detail in which the new [Star Wars] films are actually less spiritual than the old. In the 1977 movie, Obi-Wan described this mysterious entity as “what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things; it surrounds us, penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” In the 1980 sequel, Yoda . . . instructed Luke to “feel the Force around you: here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere!” Such language, smacking of the period’s flirtation with natural mysticism, gave way in the new movies to an explanation more in keeping with our current fascination with molecular biology: the Force, we learned in The Phantom Menace [1999], was actually the product of microorganisms in the blood. It’s as though Lucas, instinctively realizing the intellectual poverty of the New Age, gave it up, exchanged it for something resembling science.

[From How Science Fiction Found Religion by Benjamin A. Plotinsky, City Journal Winter 2009]

The above comes from an interesting article about popular works of science fiction and their clear parallels to (or pilferings from?) the Christian Message. I don’t recommend watching all the movies it mentions. Those who watch the culture must maintain a healthy fear of their fallenness. But that’s another post.

Laissez-Faire Must Not Be Lazy but Must Strive to Promote Fairness

Hunter Baker, evangelical economist (with a new Crossway book coming out soon), made some helpful points in this little blog article. His main point is that conservatives shouldn’t be so pro-capitalist that they overlook the effects of the Fall in the market. Here’s an excerpt:

Without Christ this is a world in which the strong will abuse the weak, the rich ignore or exploit the poor, and those with authority seek advantages for themselves as they exercise their power. We know these things both from the Scriptures and from examining our own hearts.

If our cultural critique is to have integrity, we must simultaneously respect the market and call the corporate sector to righteousness in its business dealings.

From FIRST THINGS: On the Square » Evangelicals and Economics: Reflections of a Conservative Protestant

Fish on Faith and Finance

Always provocative. Stanley Fish.

…in another popular Christian discourse, there is no way out of debt, and bankruptcy is the condition we are in from the moment of birth. This is a Calvinist discourse in which the language of money is allegorized. The debt we owe is owed to the God who made us in his image, an image defiled and corrupted by Adam and Eve, whose heirs in sin we all are. We may think that this unhappy inheritance could be overlain and covered by a succession of good deeds, but every deed we perform is infected by the base motives from which we cannot move one inch away. Every piece of currency we offer in payment of debt only increases it. The situation seems hopeless.

Read on at Fish’s New York Times blog…