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I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

– Barack Obama July 13, 2012

When I heard President Obama utter those words I just about lost it. Usually I view the entire freakshow of politics as an insane sidebar — but this statement, made during the 2012 presidential campaign, marked one of those moments when a candidate inadvertently got up in my kitchen. All politics is local, but in this case it got personal. For…

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The Magic in Magical Thinking

The Magic in Magical Thinking

“…conscious uncoupling…”

“…and Mexico will pay for it!”

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We cannot help it. Humans desperately need to square the circle. I want to find a cosmic thread or Special Sauce that allows the New York Football Giants to somehow, over about 6 coaching changes and zillions of players post-LT/Simms, to somehow get to the Super Bowl every year.

That is Magical Thinking.

But not every illogical extrapolation is as delusional as the Giants making the Super Bowl in the next few years. Not all desire-driven reality-bnding is magical. Heroin, smoking, and bacon have no objective merit: to…

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Alternative Faith: Click Crack, Fake News, and Good News

Alternative Faith: Click Crack, Fake News, and Good News

America has a Tweeter in Chief. The response is a seemingly unending stream of Facebook sites and posts and comments and likes and friending and unfriending. Drudge had a record month in January — over 1,000,000,000 hits.

Is “SEE-CLICK” rewiring our collective reality? Apple’s Tim Cook seems to think so:

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s killing people’s minds, in a way.”

I am typing this on an Apple…

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Letter from a Hospice Chaplain in Las Vegas

Letter from a Hospice Chaplain in Las Vegas

Here’s one from Matthew Metevelis:

I work as a chaplain for a non-profit hospice in Las Vegas. Anyone who has served as a chaplain will tell you that the work can be routine but it is never dull. The problems and situations that you find yourself working through with people in hospice run the gamut from the touching to the tragic to the hilarious (“hospice humor” is a thing – next time you meet a hospice worker, ask). But one thing has never come up in seven years. Nobody has ever asked me if they’ve gotten their politics correct. I’ve never…

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Pray for Voldemort?

Pray for Voldemort?

As the post-Inaugural rancor-and-shrill show volumes up to a distilled deafening hysteria on the InterWebsNet megaphone, things are betting Biblical. It’s not politics or policy: it’s Good and Evil. Well, at least Evil.

In terms of expressing religious faith, I think of politics being the last best use of my favorite description of WASP etiquette: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” I see no upside in commingling the most exquisitely profane human endeavor, politics, into universal faithful messages of morality and grace. So when the word “Evil” is invoked for a politician (or whatever President Trump is) I cringe.

For me, faith is completely wrecked…

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US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Two Mockingbirds Talk Two Corinthians

Here’s a timely collaboration from Sarah Condon and Scott Jones, following up on today’s Mockingcast round table.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greets President-elect Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last week one of our friends (one of Sarah’s to be specific) mentioned how guilty she felt about not attending a women’s march in protest of the inauguration. Apparently a family member had chastised her for not going. “You can’t go to a freaking march,” Sarah barked back, “you are of no use to your small children if…

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Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting a 3-point basket during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, April 25, 2015. The Warriors won 109-98 to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Prejudice Like Crack: Confirming Confirmation Bias with Michael Lewis

I’ve been enjoying Michael Lewis’s new book, The Undoing Project, which picks up where Moneyball left off: When it comes to sports recruitment, if the numbers are more reliable than human judgment, the next question is why? What’s going on in the human mind that makes even the experts’ top picks hit-or-miss?

One answer is the inevitable confirmation bias. The following definition comes to us from our magazine’s recent Mental Health issue: “The tendency to experience the world through the lens of your already held beliefs. If you think, before you’ve eaten there, that La Frontera is a terrible restaurant…the odds are in favor of you hating it…

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How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

I think we owe ourselves a congratulations. We got through the holidays! The holiday-less S.A.D.-inducing winter spans before us and the countdown to new TV shows and MLK day begins.

Amid all of my complaining about 2016 and the politics of gift-giving, I had forgotten to expect one thing that can actually make the holidays challenging: just spending time with family…occupying the same dinner table, digging into the same refrigerator, watching the same movies with a group of people we never chose our relation to. It was only a matter of time before our great Uncle Fabio–we all have one–staggered through the doorway with all sorts of opinions…

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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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