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Surviving November

Surviving November

Even though it’s not even September, the weary need their rest. As we enter a particularly vicious (and ridiculous) election cycle, we bring out from the archives our “Surviving November” series from four years back. Based on Jonathan Haidt’s work, The Righteous Mind, DZ delves into the sociology of political strife, and what hope we might be able to gather in spite of it.

 

I. Political Divides, Intuitive Dogs, and Rational Tails

Maybe the non-stop and increasingly ludicrous “opposition ads” have started to make you dread turning on the TV. Maybe you can’t read your (predominantly pop culture-focused!) Twitterfeed without getting depressed about…

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Washington Football Just Can’t Win

Washington Football Just Can’t Win

♫ Are you ready for some football? ♫ We’re a less than a month away from professional gridiron action and even closer to our beloved college ball. Living in Morgantown WV, home to my WVU Mountaineers, the start of football season induces a Pavlovian happiness into my small community. Relief from summer heat, fall foliage, harvest festivals, the holiday season, it’s all coming right alongside the thunderous crush of helmets and shoulder pads.

And yet, despite the near universal joy that football brings, no thing is untouched by sin. There is much to be said about concussions and the increase in head injury. Violence and…

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Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

It’s not even September, which means we’ve only just begun to moan at the radio, “Good grief, another piece on approval ratings?!” With three months to go, we’re going to need all the help we can get, which is why I came back to Kathryn Schulz and her book Being Wrong. This excerpt discusses the allure of ‘public displays’ of certainty, even when the evidence plainly proves otherwise. Schulz explains why we, despite the false promises of the past, continue to cast our votes for a certain future.

Certainty might be a practical, logical, and evolutionary necessity, but the simplest truth about it is that it…

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Christmas in Colombia: The Gracious End of FARC

Christmas in Colombia: The Gracious End of FARC

Some incredible and beautiful news coming out of Colombia this week, and not just with their third place finish over the USA at the COPA. In a news cycle defined by #Brexit and the massive dip in your retirement portfolio, the 50+ year guerrilla insurgency FARC signed a cease-fire pact with the Colombian government. The odds are looking good that this war is officially over.

If you need brushing up on your South American Contemporary History, the FARC were really bad guys, and they were that way for half-a-century. Seriously, they’re the South American version of ISIS, motivated by Marxism instead of religion….

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Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me Down

Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me Down

Last weekend, I went on a mini-staycation with some of my dear girlfriends from young adulthood. Between the group of us, we’ve suffered (either directly or indirectly) illness, addiction, money issues, mental health woes, parenting struggles, job uncertainties, and marital difficulties – in a nutshell: life. We spent the day at the pool catching up, and then stayed up late into the night (okay, 9:30 or 10 tops) discussing politics and grooming habits and all manner of subject-matter generally considered taboo at the dinner table. We did what all women do when two or more are gathered and rosé is…

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How to Win Voters and Influence People

How to Win Voters and Influence People

As November’s approach continues to dominate the news cycle, the social science research coming out of the election continues to challenge. Chief among the targets of social science research is the enlightenment cornerstone that human beings are functionally rational creatures. The data is suggesting that this cycle we’re all voting out of anger, spite, fear, or some other passion, even if the outward justification for those votes is thoughtful policy evaluation.

Now we have a new motivation to the list: voting by justification. Just kidding about the “new” part–self-justification has “never not” been a motivation for human behavior. As WaPo’s Wonkblog reported last week, new research…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: You Just Can’t, Okay?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: You Just Can’t, Okay?

Welcome to the fourth installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

In Terminator 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s titular cyborg is about to kill two innocent civilians in a dark parking lot, when young John Connor intervenes.

“You can’t just go around killing people!” John says to his protector.

“Why?” the terminator responds in his oft-imitated monotone.

“Whattaya mean, why? ’Cause you can’t!”

“Why?”

“You just can’t, okay? Trust me on this.”

We are on a year-long quest to find a collectively applicable definition…

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The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

This is the first in a four-part series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism.

In the present presidential contest, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was the first person to say it out loud, to use the “N” word for Donald Trump. That’s right, he called Trump a narcissist. Specifically, in his news conference on September 10, 2015, Jindal said, “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself” and expounded on the meaning of this description for nearly ten minutes. Harsh words, indeed; but I do…

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PZ’s Podcast: Cook’d Books

EPISODE 216

070409_r16088a_p646-320The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.

That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.

The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.

The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.

I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Had the whole David and Goliath showdown happened in the age of Twitter, David may not have won. Here’s how it could have gone down today:

Goliath, after voicing his threats for weeks to the nation of Israel, finally finds his less-than-worthy opponent strut to the battlefield, slingshot in hand, nothing but his ruddy good looks and youthful optimism girding him. He says to Goliath, “I come to you in the Lord of hosts…the Lord will deliver you to my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Goliath, while not the brightest of the bunch, understands…

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Trump Semper Accusat

Trump Semper Accusat

Election season is always nasty, brutish and long. This cycle is no different, really, except that it’s worse. There are candidates running now who make some of the folks from the past few elections look like scholars and saints. Bread and circuses, indeed.

Of course, the chief offender is Donald Trump, and most of the culture hates him for it. Left, right, center, every major news outlet regularly publishes diatribes against him or exposés about him.

Some people have thought about Trump more creatively, though. For example, Paul Zahl used Trump as an instrument for identifying some of what ails modern American society. It…

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President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

Back in 2008, the New Monastic figurehead Shane Claiborne wrote a generally well received book titled “Jesus for President,” riffing off Woody Guthrie’s folk tune “Christ for President.” In the book, Claiborne argued that American Christianity was too invested in the American political system and, as a result, ignoring a significant amount of Jesus’s moral teachings. The title seems to have stuck- “Jesus for President” – and perhaps it’s just my carefully curated Twitter feed, but the phrase seems to be making a comeback again in 2016.

It’s an understandable sentiment: many Christians are scratching their head this year regarding the…

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