For Your Consideration (05/24/17)


William Zinnser wrote a book I’ve never read called On Writing WellHe died 2 years ago, and a few people I consider to be good writers and good readers took up the occasion to remember him.

Blogger and pastor Tim Challies evidently had combed through the volume shortly after his death and extracted a few of the key thoughts. His piece reads like a Cliffs Note, and made me genuinely interested to grab my own copy of the book.

You should take a few minutes to peruse it, especially if you want to improve as a writer. Challies includes a few gems such as,

A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard


Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going.

and I especially liked this one

Many of us were taught that no sentence should begin with “but.” If that’s what you learned, unlearn it—there’s no stronger word at the start. It announces total contrast with what has gone before, and the reader is thereby primed for the change.

Challies categorizes this as “5 Big Tips” and it’s a quick, rewarding read.


The USC Annenberg School of Journalism‘s site has an interesting section called Religion Dispatches—a section devoted to writing and reporting on religious issues.

Last month Deborah Jian Lee profiled the rift developing between white and non-white evangelicals in the current political climate. Having seen this first-hand for several years now, I was curious.

She writes of the “divestment” of non-white evangelicals from the broader evangelical church. Regarding the recent presidential election,

So while white evangelicals captured the election, they may have lost their fellow believers, the very people who could keep their churches, denominations and institutions from the attrition that has many Christian institutions and leaders genuinely worried for the future.

While the piece is mostly anecdotal and lacks a strong statistical case (e.g. “Jan is one of many evangelicals of color choosing to depart from white evangelical spaces.”), still I consider it a very valid observation that jives with my own last few  years of experience. It is probably sloppy to lump “white evangelicals” together actually, but there seem to be (to use Mike Frost’s term) a bifurcation happening in evangelicalism; a needless and unfortunate one.

I actually wouldn’t recommend the article itself. It’s a bit aimless and lacks a needed nuanced treatment of issues plaguing evangelicalism; caveat emptor.


Messiah College Theology professor Drew GI Hart wrote a piece in The Christian Century that mirrors some of my own recent writing. He addresses the question of “How Old is Racism.”?

It is a helpful, brief read. He elucidates the Enlightenment contribution to racism,

Western Europe gained confidence in their own ability to be objective interpreters and catalogers of the world around them. And so they classified everything, from plants to humans, based on their own supposedly objective perspective. It seemed common sense to them that biologically there were different kinds of humans. Through a pseudo-science, that has now been repudiated, they ranked humanity into a racial hierarchy. And to no one’s surprise, they classified white Europeans as the pinnacle of humanity at the top of the hierarchy. White people are superior and supreme. They are the standard for what is right. Likewise, for most people, the Black African, was in their estimation the opposite of whiteness and western civilization. They normally fell at the bottom of the racialized hierarchy.

There are hints of racial constructs throughout antiquity (Hart quotes Plato on the topic), and this needs to be acknowledged. However, Hart does return our attention to the “unique and distinct” aspect of Western racism, especially in it’s global and historical scope.

I intend to suggest that the kind of racism that developed, and how it has so deeply shaped our mindsets and human interactions not only in the United States but all around the world is unique and distinct. It is not a repeat of what has gone before. However, in some sense, there is a proto-racial imagination that goes back to ancient thought.


A dude trying to pull off a sick grind attracts a cheering section of black women in purple shirts. Things start looking up.

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