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On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

Just wanted to let you know you can all calm down: I figured out the Election of 2016.

Okay, maybe I didn’t “figure it out” so much as “choose the theory I find least disquieting among all the ones being thrown around right now.” The narrative of this election, after all, is being told and retold all over social and traditional media. There seems to be no escaping the countless voices clamoring to be heard, the opinions on why the winner won and the loser lost. One of the refrains that caught my eye early, though, and still sticks, is that so many…

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An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

It’s been two weeks since the election ended, though you wouldn’t necessarily guess it from the way election coverage has continued. DZ already covered some initial thoughts on the results, understanding our collective emotional turmoil from a lens of low anthropology. Since then, the vote has been dissected and discussed thousands of ways, and believe it or not, some of those reflections contain glimpses of a law and gospel lens. If for no other reason than posterity’s sake, here are a few links to articles whose contents might be worth a glance.

First off, in The NY Times, Rabbi Michael Learner articulates the…

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What You Should Say to Your Children: Shield the Joyous

What You Should Say to Your Children: Shield the Joyous

Nearly every news source in our lives right now is highlighting the question, “What do we tell our children?”

The morning shows have brought in psychologists. Photos have been posted of disappointed little girls crying. People are trying to simplify concepts like systemic racism and economic insecurity so that their second graders can “understand.” Good luck with that.

My advice is to tell them as little as possible.

It is easy to overexplain life to children. My favorite example is when a 3-year-old asks where babies come from, and the well-meaning parents launch into awkward detail about human genitalia. When they’ve finished their…

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Yesterday’s News

Yesterday’s News

“Shellshocked” is the only way to describe the feeling at our bus stop the morning after the election. Parents hobbled out of their homes, disoriented and bewildered, in obvious need of more caffeine. My neighbor hailed me and my son as we made the walk to the bench where the kids all congregate. “Well,” he said, “I guess we’re living in an alternate universe now.”

It was too early to filter my thoughts, so I blurted out that maybe yesterday was the alternate universe, and today is reality. Really helpful.

You see, we live in a university town where the possibility of Trump winning…

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Some Very Helpful Words from RFC

Some Very Helpful Words from RFC

I was on duty for the 7am chapel service at my church this morning and wasn’t quite sure what to say, especially since the Gospel reading contained Jesus’ famously opaque words about “salt of the earth” (Mt 5.13). I had a copy of Robert Farrar Capon’s Kingdom, Grace, Judgment on my desk, and looked to see what wisdom he might offer. As usual, RFC was enormously helpful, both for those of us who are feeling like “winners” and “losers” today, who feel “dead” and “alive.”

Consider the imagery. Salt seasons and salt preserves, but in any significant quantity, it is not of itself edible, nourishing,…

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Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

One of the oldest words in the history of hospital care is the French term “triage”—meaning, the sorting of patients. The practice of triage keeps a hospital organized (Intensive Care Unit here, Emergency Room there), but it also provides a way of prioritizing the care of patients. This is especially important on battlefields and in disaster zones, where the need for treatment can heavily outweigh the resources available. When the number of sick people is far greater than the number of doctors, triage provides a sieve for who sees the doctors first.

As you might guess, then, triage naturally moves medicine…

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 30:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs speaks to the media after the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in Game Five of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field on October 30, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 678125953 ORIG FILE ID: 619364242

Reversing the Curse by Making the Worst Decisions

If the Chicago Cubs had lost game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night, their manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t have been run out of the Windy City on a rail (he has to much pedigree for that) but he would have been buying his own deep dish pizza for a while. Talk about first world problems. Over their 108 years of futility (the longest drought  in professional sports history without a championship) the Cubs have had some great teams that played great only to be cursed by the most random of circumstances that were beyond their control. There was…

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“Young, Scrappy, and Hungry”:  The Restless Hearts of Hamilton, Bruce Springsteen, and St. Augustine

“Young, Scrappy, and Hungry”: The Restless Hearts of Hamilton, Bruce Springsteen, and St. Augustine

This one comes to us from Nancy Ritter. 

If you had told me in 2010 that in six years I would spend my Saturday nights watching a documentary on a musical about Alexander Hamilton or cheering its star Lin-Manuel Miranda as he hosted SNL, I would have scoffed at you. I was in high school when a friend showed me the video of the Pulitzer Prize-winning star performing at the White House for the Obamas, rapping about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I had been raised on 1776 and was consequently a loyal John Adams girl.

“I’m not into it,” I told her….

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Never-Ending Performance Measurement & The Pitfalls of Taylorism

Never-Ending Performance Measurement & The Pitfalls of Taylorism

This one comes to us from our friend Matthew Wilkins.

I first learned about the work of Frederick Taylor in a Public Administration course I took as an undergraduate. His book, The Principles of Scientific Management, first published in 1911, signaled a seismic shift in the way companies and organizations thought about workplace efficiency.

I remember being particularly fascinated by Taylor’s project. Think about it: here was a man who took the emerging disciplines of social science and applied them to the real world. For me as a burgeoning political scientist this meant better, more efficient government and therefore better services, better…

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The Big Mo: Feeling and Rationalizing ‘Momentum’

The Big Mo: Feeling and Rationalizing ‘Momentum’

This post comes to us from our friend Duo Dickinson.

What is momentum?

Soon, we will all hear pundits and political scientists declare that this or that candidate, policy, party or demographic has “momentum”. It’s a tidal surge of inevitability, a groundswell of overwhelming support: it is uniquely human. Animals can stampede, but that is in fear, fish can school, birds can flock – but that is instinct. Momentum is often expressed as a fact when it’s merely desired – like the long gone “Joe-mentum” of President Lieberman’s campaign.

Momentum is often cited in sports commentary when the “analysts” have no clue as…

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Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

Playing it Safe with Consumer Reports

It’s taken a while to write this love letter. Consumer Reports has for 80 years now provided its readers with solace from the fear of getting it wrong. Its slogan, “Smarter Choices for a Better World,” says it all. Who doesn’t want to make smarter choices? And when it comes to consumer products, who doesn’t want to get a deal—or at least not screwed? When an entire display wall at the Walmart gives you 148 different plaque and tartar removal toothpastes, when your kitchen remodel is stuck between electric smoothtop and pro-style dual-fuel ranges, when you wonder whose frequent flyer…

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The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

A brief review of the Persistent Widow parable from Luke 18, which many folks heard at church this past Sunday. It’s a short little parable of a widow with a just grievance. The local judge, however, is corrupt, and he refuses to hear the case. So the widow relentlessly pesters the judge until he finally agrees to hear her out to “see that she gets justice.”

The point of the parable is made clear at its telling: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” To quote our friend Derek Webb, there is…

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