Atheism, Distributism, Digital Humanities, and Slow Reading

This week’s reading list is a little varied. We’ve got a look at the conflation of atheism and intellectual sophistication from the Atlantic, a piece on reading from the excellent new blog, “The Infernal Machine,” and a review of a ‘slow-reading’ manifesto from the Times Literary Supplement. Also, editorial board member Arthur Hunt has a new article over at The American Conservative on Pope Francis and distributism.

Also, just as a reminder, we’ve moved from biweekly publishing to weekly publishing. So be sure to check out our new feature article this week!

The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication – The Atlantic

Atheists have legitimate knowledge, and those who believe do not. This is the epistemological assumption looming in the so-called “culture war” between the caricatures of godless liberals and Bible-thumping conservatives in America: One group wields rational argumentation and intellectual history as an indictment of God, while the other looks to tradition and text as defenses against modernity’s encroachment on religious life.

Pope Francis Needs Distributism – The American Conservative

Late last year, when Pope Francis issued his first apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” much more was made of his utterances on economics and what he branded a globalization of indifference than his vision of evangelism for the Catholic faithful. Sarah Palin, a conservative evangelical, told CNN that the Pope surprised her, that his statements sounded “kind of liberal.” Rush Limbaugh said he was “befuddled” at the Pontiff’s remarks and then added, “This is pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.” R.R. Reno pointed out in First Things that these knee-jerk reactions from the right were as inaccurate as the knee-jerk reaction from the left: The Pope is one of us—thank God!

The New Heresy – The Infernal Machine

Don’t disturb the devotee while she reads, worships, prays–to literature. What is under threat is not just a particular practice of reading but deep assumptions about the very nature of literature. Digital humanities is a heretical intrusion into a sacred space. It dares to treat literature as a field of knowledge that could be cultivated with qualitative interpretation, as well as statistics, graphs, and data sets. Don’t sully my literature with your data because the quiet, close repose of reading is where I transform myself.

The medium is not the message – Times Literary Supplement

In the age of Slow Food, Slow Parenting and Slow Knitting, it is no surprise that we should be presented with a Slow Reading manifesto. Just as some are giving up Hovis or Mighty White in favour of artisanal loaves, so data-mining and webcrawlers have provoked some human readers to stage a slowdown.

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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is

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