This is a follow-up to last week’s article about the loneliness that Social Media is supposedly creating. “A few years ago I had an interview for a job at one of the leading academic departments in my field. Maybe because I knew that I wasn’t likely to be offered the job, I saw the day as a relaxed opportunity to meet people carrying out interesting research. My comfort with the day was shaken, however, when a faculty member showed me ongoing research on avatars — bots — designed to interact with (and provide therapy for) human children with autism. I squirmed. I squinted. I tried to voice my discomfort. I lost my voice. I turned away. I was shaken for the rest of the day and on my way back. That flickering image of the bot we’d one day turn our children over to still haunts me.”
The sexual revolution of the last several decades has transformed any public conversation about sex and sexuality. The revolutionaries directed their attention to the dismantling of an entire edifice of sexual morality that had been basically intact for well over 2,000 years.
Daylight Saving came out in the U.K. in February, and in the months leading up to its release, the publisher used a novel strategy to generate interest in the teen novel: It placed a ticker at the bottom of the digital cover, counting down to the launch date. (It’s still counting, now into a negative number.) In addition to the digital jacket’s embedded clock, an underwater design ripples with the drag of a cursor, as if your finger could make waves through the screen. The interactive blue splashes (gimmicky, maybe) are nonetheless entrancing for the few minutes spent toying with the cover. And with that, the book has caught the eye of a potential buyer. Once purchased, of course, the water transforms into a static image, its graceful motion unsupported by the media formats in which it is ultimately consumed (print or the standard digital forms). The cover is seductive, but its spell is broken. Which brings to mind the tagline of Daylight Saving: “Can you save someone from something that’s already happened?”
At 3 years 10 months, Colton Burpo was a sunny child, a preacher’s son certain of his faith and his eternal fate. Then his appendix burst, and as doctors failed to figure out what was wrong with him, he lay in a hospital bed until his father, Todd, saw “the shadow of death” cross his face. “I recognized it instantly,” Todd, a pastor, recalls. With Colton’s face “covered in death,” Todd and his wife, Sonja, took the boy to another hospital, where he was wheeled into surgery. “He’s not in good shape,” the surgeon said. As Colton screamed for his father, Todd fled, locked himself in a room and railed at God.
From Marilynne Robinson’s essay “Wondrous Love”, one of several collected in When I Was a Child I Read Books, here are the quotes I referenced at this past weekend’s conference:
I have a theory that the churches fill on Christmas and Easter because it is on these days that the two most startling moments in the Christian narrative can be heard again…