Attending Church via Twitch | Citizenship Revoked | A Trillion Dollar Book Empire


“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Ibid.


All the Empty Churches: In 1534 French navigator Jacques Cartier was the first European explorer to discover the St. Lawrence river in present day Quebec, Canada. The founding of Quebec City in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain marked the beginning of a string of French colonies along the St. Lawrence River. Today Quebec is the second most populous province of Canada, and the only one to have a predominantly French-speaking populous. Catholicism has been the dominant religion in Quebec for over 400 years, so it is no surprise that there are beautiful old churches still found in the province. In the 1950s 95 percent of Quebec’s population attended Mass; today that number is only 5 percent. The sharp drop in attendance, along with high maintenance costs, forced heritage groups, architects and the church itself to think of creative ways to preserve historic buildings. Naturally not all buildings could be saved; by April, 547 churches in Quebec had been closed, sold or transformed.

The Notre-Dame-du-Perpetuel-Secours is an imposing Catholic Church in Montreal that has undergone a $3 million renovation, transforming it into the Theatre Paradoxe. It hosts comedic routines, filmed inside a confessional booth, musical events, Zumba lessons, and fetish parties. Some years ago the owners of a local church in Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick transformed it into an upmarket cheese company, but decided to keep a small part of the structure as a functioning chapel for the community. Unfortunately, some residents refused to attend Sunday Mass because they weren’t okay with the former nave having been repurposed into a place to store and ripen cheese.

Then there are people who simply prefer to livestream church. Matt Souza is the 27-year-old Richmond, Va. founder of GodSquard Church, a nonprofit organization under the evangelical Assemblies of God denomination. He also happens to be one of 2.6 billion video game players worldwide. From behind a monitor on a desk in his gaming studio, which also serves as his pulpit, Reverend Matt broadcasts a 30-minute sermon on Saturday nights to his scattered congregation via the live-streaming platform Twitch. GodSquad Church is very likely the world’s first online-only church for video gamers.


Britain’s Empty Farms: There is a real downside to immigration control for farmers– who can they hire to harvest the fruits and vegetables? Britain is entirely dependent on foreign workers to do just that. Now that it’s leaving the EU, its doors will no longer be open to “free movement” of fellow members, including those seasonal farm workers who come for four or five months to pick crops, then go back home. Most come from Eastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania. Of the 60,000 workers in the fields last year, barely 1 percent was British. If farm owners can’t hire foreign labor, they’ll have to hire British workers. But a spokesperson for a recruitment company that supplies workers to about 200 British farms says they’ve had virtually zero Brits apply for those jobs. (WaPo)

Syria’s Real Soldiers: Over the past four years, military fighting units comprised of a variety of foreign, Iran-backed forces have shored up President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian war. Iran has recruited thousands of young Afghan Shiite men to fight on Tehran’s behalf. Spurred mainly be economic necessity, they reenlist over and over, just to take home a few hundred dollars in military pay. Some 840 have been killed, the second-highest number of deaths after those fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. So many of these foreign soldiers are the ones risking severe injury or death in front-line battles whereas few Iranian troops are ever sent to the front lines. (WaPo)

Faux Pas DiplomacyBritain’s new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is on an official trip to China, but his blunder during a conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is what has everyone’s attention. During a banquet, the two were conversing in Japanese, when Hunt mistakenly referred to his wife as Japanese rather than Chinese – a mistake he apologized for after during the conversation and on Twitter following the internet’s reactions. An attempt to sway the Chinese officials’ views toward his favor backfired dramatically considering China’s bitter rivalry with Japan and the suggestion of stereotyping portrayed by Hunt’s comments on his own wife. (BBC)

“I Don’t Really Care Do You” Merch: Melania Trump’s childhood was spent in the small, rural town of Sevnica, Slovenia. Now that she’s First Lady, Sevnica’s business community is capitalizing on her fame. Many products have been branded in honor of their famous hometown girl. There’s Melania cake, Melania cream, Melania wine, Melania tea, Melania slippers, Melania salami, Melania chocolate-coated apple slices. Even Melania-themed tours have really helped increase the annual visitor traffic. (NYT)

Malaysia’s Child Marriage Malaise: Malaysia may be a modern, multi-ethnic democracy, but age-old conservative Islamic traditions persist. About the worst is that in which adult men continue to marry children. Last month 14 year-old Norazila’s best friend, 11 year old Ayu, secretly became Norazila’s 41 year old father’s third wife. “My best friend is my stepmother now,” said Norazila. The government, citing religious freedom, has done little to protect minors. After the news of Ayu’s marriage broke on social media, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, who also serves as minister of women, family and community development, called the marriage an “alleged incident.” (NYT)

Women Safety Issues Abound in India: At first, when the 17 men aged 23 to 66 were arrested for violently raping an 11 year old school girl over a 7 month period, people were outraged in Chennai, India, where the girl lived in an upscale apartment complex with her family. But then, a few days later police stopped taking calls from reporters, and local people around Chennai started blaming the victim’s mother, and saying that, because the girl wears hearing aids and acts younger than her age, she was “deaf and dumb.” Questions about women’s safety were dismissed. The girl’s older sister was furious that, as with other violent assaults in India this year against women and girls, the men’s behavior just wasn’t an issue. (NYT)


Russia Initiates Cyber Espionage on a New Front: State-sponsored Russian military hackers apparently tried infiltrating the online accounts of two Senate Democrats up for reelection, but those attempts might have been a little half-hearted. More importantly, US intelligence officers believe the real danger is to the American electric utility grid. According to both intelligence officials and executives of the companies that oversee the world’s computer networks, there is, by far, more effort directed at implanting malware in the electrical grid. (NYT)

Domestic Cyber Failures: Amazon’s facial recognition system was tested for accuracy by the American Civil Liberties Union, and it did not pass with flying colors…or pass at all. After scanning the faces of all five-hundred and thirty members of congress and comparing them to the faces of twenty-five thousand public mugshots, the system created twenty-eight false matches. With so much concern over the possible dangers of implementing facial recognition, much more testing and development will have to be done before we’re all saying cheese as we wait for the bus. (Verge)


– “Know Thyself… by Writing Your First Novel: Dig deep inside, battle self-doubt, and become the person you know you can be.” (Guardian)

– “No, You Probably Don’t Have a Book in You.” Ironic considering our last selection isn’t it? Not quite – just because you can’t write a full on fantasy, sci-fi, romantic comedy thriller doesn’t mean it’s not a good hobby to have. “If you want to write a book, do it. It’s wonderful and horrible and fulfilling and soul-crushing all at the same time.” (Outline)

– Meanwhile if you do write a book perhaps your friends and family members will practice “Tsundoku: The Art of Buying Book and Never Reading Them.” (BBC)

– And if you your first book launches with incredible Amazon Reviews, then our first reaction will be skepticism as “Some Amazon Reviews Are Too Good To Be Believed. They’re Paid For: NPR spoke with several people who write Amazon reviews for pay, from a college student in Puerto Rico to a stay-at-home mother in the Midwest. Such reviews are a problem on e-commerce sites, outside auditors say, and they proliferate in online channels set up for this purpose.” (NPR)

– Those fake Amazon reviews indicate just how powerful of an e-commerce provider Amazon has become: “How Jeff Bezos Took Amazon To the Top: Amazon, which he founded in 1994, is now vying to become the world’s first trillion dollar company, having transformed from niche second-hand book seller to global jack-of-all trades.

– “The Equation That Will Make You Better At Everything: Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.” (Outside)


“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


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