The Future of Employment in the Age of Automation

I'm fascinated by the discussion taking place re: the automation of the workforce and the related topic of a "basic income". A few weeks ago I shared an interview conducted by Recode's Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan with future Governor of California Gavin Newsom (embedded below: see 19-24min). Newsom comments that many politicians don't want to proclaim "the robots are coming, the robots are coming," although, in fact, the robots are coming. Our politicians keep promising jobs to people in fields of work that will be best done through automation. We've seen this happening, but it's likely to increase speed.

A couple days ago Bill Gates discussed the need to begin taxing machines that replace jobs (see: "The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates"). This is an intriguing concept. Taxing robots would provide some economic resources for the many people whose jobs will no longer exist in the coming world. This could allow governments the opportunity to provide a basic or starter income for all citizens. This wouldn't be a deterrent for innovation—wouldn't future generations prefer to own the robots rather than be replaced by them?—but it could prevent the dystopian future where the automated workforce leads to a disenfranchised, impoverished populace with nothing but time and dissatisfaction to offer.

Most intriguing for educations: Mark Cuban stated in an interview a couple of days ago that the future workforce will be best served by.....ready for this....a liberal arts education (see: "Don't go to school for finance—liberal arts is the future"): "Cuban highlighted English, philosophy, and foreign language majors as just some of the majors that will do well in the future job market."

But Newsom is correct: politicians don't want to run on the platform of "sorry, you're jobs aren't coming back here, but we will prepare you for a future when the nature of work has drastically changed!" That's unfortunate, because the future is coming whether or not we're ready.

The Use of the Bible in Interfaith Dialogue

This is sad, but accurate commentary from True and Holy: Christian Scripture and Other Religions by Leo D. Lefebure (pp. 10-11):

In contexts where people inherit a past filled with hostility and where interreligious relationships continue to be highly conflicted, the Bible can tragically serve as an arsenal offering weapons of war with which to attack opponents. Viewed through a lens of hostility, the Bible can be interpreted as harshly condemning other religious perspectives, leaving no room whatsoever for dialogue. Most of the history of Christian interpretation of the Bible in relation to other religions has been dominated by a hermeneutics of hostility, which sees every other religious tradition as an enemy and which looks to the Bible as a resource for condemning other religions and their followers.

Lennox Lecture Series #ReinventingtheBible

The videos for the first three of four Lennox Lectures are available on YouTube now with Mark Chancey's talk coming soon:

Michael Satlow, "Who in Antiquity Read the Bible?"


Annette Yoshiko Reed, "The Bible Beyond the Bible: From Apocrypha to Anime"


Valarie Ziegler, "Submission, Sex, and Sinraptors: The Evangelical Adam as Alpha Male in American Popular Culture"

In the Mail: Hylen's A Modest Apostle

I received another book to review for Review and Expositor. it is Susan E. Hylen's A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church (Oxford: OUP, 2015). I'm excited about this volume. It appears to be a unique take on the old question of the role of women in early Christianity.


If you haven't heard of it, here is the blurb:

Scholars and mainline pastors tell a familiar narrative about the roles of women in the early church-that women held leadership roles and exercised some authority in the church, but, with the establishment of formal institutional roles, they were excluded from active leadership. Evidence of women’s leadership is either described as “exceptional” or relegated to (so-called) heretical groups, who differed with proto-orthodox groups precisely over the issue of women’s participation. For example, scholars often contrast the Acts of Paul and Thecla (ATh) with 1Timothy. They understand the two works to represent discrete communities with opposite responses to the question of women’s leadership.

In A Modest Apostle, Susan Hylen uses Thecla as a microcosm from which to challenge this larger narrative. In contrast to previous interpreters, Hylen reads 1Timothy and the ATh as texts that emerge out of and share a common cultural framework. In the Roman period, women were widely expected to exhibit gendered virtues like modesty, industry, and loyalty to family. However, women pursued these virtues in remarkably different ways, including active leadership in their communities. Reading against a cultural background in which multiple and conflicting norms already existed for women’s behavior, Hylen shows that texts like the ATh and 1Timothy begin to look different. Like the culture, 1Timothy affirms women’s leadership as deacons and widows while upholding standards of modesty in dress and speech. In the ATh, Thecla’s virtue is first established by her modest behavior, which allows her to emerge as a virtuous leader. The text presents Thecla as one who fulfills culturally established norms, even as she pursues a bold new way of life.

Hylen’s approach points to a new way of understanding women in the early church, one that insists upon the acknowledgment of women’s leadership as a historical reality without neglecting the effects of the culture’s gender biases.