WeeklyTech #141

Why a truncated vision of religious freedom is dangerous to the common good

One of the most respected evangelical intellectuals of the 20th century, Carl F.H. Henry, wrote, “If religious freedom is advocated only for pragmatic reasons, it can and will be sacrificed to expediency.” The cause of religious freedom is central to the Christian faith — especially in the Baptist tradition — because it recognizes the freedom of all people to act upon their deeply held beliefs in every aspect of public life. In a day when religious freedom can be invoked to bolster spurious claims of personal preference, while also being routinely trampled upon in the name of the ongoing sexual revolution, it is important to understand this crucial doctrine of soul freedom. Religious freedom recognizes that the state does not lay claim over the pre-political rights rooted in the nature of humanity. The state must operate within its God-given authority to promote the common good and publicly order society in a way that upholds the dignity of each individual.

Henry spoke to religious freedom in the American context by writing, “It is not the role of government to judge between rival systems of metaphysics and to legislate one over others; rather its role is to protect and preserve a free course for its constitutional guarantees.” Religious freedom, then, is central to a thriving democratic order as it recognizes that not only does the state have certain responsibilities in the social order, but it also reminds all people that faith is not simply a private matter of the individual nor can it be relegated simply to the “freedom to worship” as is so often invoked by those who want to banish any semblance of religious influence on the public square.

The Rundown

The last pay phones leave New York City – Jennifer A. Kingson | Axios

New York City’s last public pay phones said their goodbyes this week, hauled away to be displayed in a museum as history from a bygone era — one in which people actually carried dimes and quarters (that got swallowed by the machines).

🔒TikTok Brain Explained: Why Some Kids Seem Hooked on Social Video Feeds – Julie Jargon | The Wall Street Journal

The dopamine rush of endless short videos makes it hard for young viewers to switch their focus to slower-moving activities. ‘We’ve made kids live in a candy store.’

Why it’s time to ban algorithmic recommendations for children – Tom Siegel | Protocol

For all the good machine-learning technologies and algorithms do to improve and personalize the online experience for all of us, they also present one of the biggest threats for online safety, with real-world negative implications for the health and well-being of all internet users.

Why ‘Rise and Fall’ Narratives Are Surging in Popularity – Brett McCracken | TGC

Often cautionary moral tales about the perils of gaining the whole world only to lose one’s soul (Matt. 16:26), these narratives deconstruct the success story and temper viewers’ enthusiasm for “meteoric rise” ambitions in their own lives.

The Bookshelf: A Reader’s Discrimination – Matthew J. Franck | The Public Discourse

No reader can read all there is, but there is more to the reading life than a duty to edify ourselves. Even the ephemera of our reading will give us something of value if we experience the pleasure of a well-told tale.

Seeking justice in the SBC for survivors – Brent Leatherwood | ERLC

We ought to be more concerned with the fact that we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an answer for every idle word and action (or inaction), than institutional preservation, however great that institution may be. And, as Southern Baptists, we must join our voices together in California, following our Savior as we affirm the dignity of survivors by turning our lament into just, loving, and decisive action.