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Friday roundup: Five things worth paying attention to this week

8.17. 2018 Posted By: The Mennonite 428 Times read

The last several weeks have been flooded with remarkable items to spark passionate conversations; here are the five we have chosen to lift up for special attention.

1. Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, by Messiah College professor and historian John Fea (Eerdmans, 2018, $24.99). If you don’t have the energy left to read 248 pages of insightful commentary and analysis about how a politics of fear tapped into a deep stream of anxiety about race, morality, immigration and white decline, then read the excellent review in the August 1 Christian Century by Steven Miller, “The 81 percent.”

2. Jonathan Gold. Only days after diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, we lost one of the most unifying figures in Los Angeles. Gold was the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic whose weekly reviews passed the linen and crystal restaurants to find the mom and pop, ethnic store front or food truck places that won your heart and admiration for the grand mosaic of peoples that make up our city. Last year we reviewed the documentary on his work, City of Gold, and now we treasure his Counter Intelligence and the annual 101 best lists. He reviewed culture as well as cuisine, identities not menu items, and he saw the dignity and beauty of all ethnicities. So the city illuminated the major buildings in Gold light to memorialize who and what he had been to us all. We ran into him one morning at his and our favorite bakery in Pasadena, California, where all customers bus their own tables. The new or the distracted forget, and we watched as Gold cleaned up after those who had left their plates and scraps behind, no fuss, no big thing, just a self-forgetful servant.

3. The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump by Michiko Kakutani, formerly the chief book critic of the New York Times. Released in July, this book by one of our most brilliant critics confronts the outright lies that, she documents, appear almost daily on Twitter from the president of the United States and are overlooked by GOP “Yes-men” and the coalition of voters who also turn a blind eye. She notes how falsehood and misrepresentation have become the new norm and the popular utilization of post-modern ideas, which claim that all truth is partial, has become the justification for creating deliberate lies. If you cannot find the book immediately, read the review by Stephanie Zacharek in the August 6 TIME.

4. Queer Eye. Season Two of this reboot of an earlier relatively lightweight reality TV series has surprised us as the new team does interventions into lives of citizens of Georgia, offering not just an external makeover of a selected person’s wardrobe, hairstyle and home décor, but an actual challenge to values, faith structures, psychological thought loops and courageously initiates steps toward reconciliation of alienated or avoidant people. The story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind—it is the outsider, the one foreign to the person’s private world that offers disinterested, compassionate care and authentic aid.

5. How the American Left is Rediscovering Morality. Jim Mininger suggested we read The Guardian for an article that is provocative in myriad ways. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders talk to Sarah Smarsh about knowing what’s right from wrong. “The more interesting because the writer is from red state, evangelical Kansas, though admittedly, Wichita is an anomaly for this state,” Mininger told us. We sent it to everyone at Peace Mennonite Fellowship, Claremont, California, for discussion of its analysis of the rising majority of those born from 1970 to the present who describe themselves increasingly as “spiritual” though uninterested organized religion. Spirituality with morality? What a novel idea, we say with tongue firmly in cheek.

David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.

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