• The Honest Broker

    I’m sure many of you already follow Ted Gioia. But for those who don’t, he’s one of the country’s most perceptive cultural critics, as well as being the world’s preeminent jazz historian. Check him out. It’ll be well worth your time.

  • Not a bad mission statement

    “We aim to humanize those who have been objectified.”
       – Jessie Kornberg, Director, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

  • whatever happens this year
    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
    In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
  • Third Places
    American suburbs provide an excess of privacy, but deny proximity to those places upon which a community life depends.

    Ray Oldenberg, The Great Good Place

  • For 2024

    Ten days in, my theme for 2024 is: “Be attentive”:

    • Pay attention to what I pay attention to, and jettison stuff that doesn’t pay back with value.
    • Improve focus on stuff that is valuable. (Takes practice!)
    • Be attentive and responsive (or least present) to others.

    (NB: They all take practice.)

  • Pitiable, foolish, and cruel, all at once

    Louis Menand: “[Sontag] forbade her son to look out the window when they rode in a train; he needed to read about a place if he wanted to understand it. She never looked out the window herself.”

  • A thought
    Generally, the world says, "Work first, and benefits come after." (E.g., exercise, then fitness.) That's good, because, even for bad work, anticipating the reward eases the pain. But if you must pay after, that looming bill taints the enjoyment of the thing enjoyed. (Of course, taking joy in the work is best of all.)
  • You are what you eat
    David French: We’re misinformed not because the government is systematically lying or suppressing the truth. We’re misinformed because we like the misinformation we receive and are eager for more.... The market is very, very happy to provide us with all the misinformation we like. Algorithms recognize our preferences and serve up the next video or article that echoes or amplifies the themes of the first story we clicked.... It’s important to recognize that no person or movement is immune to the temptations of bespoke reality. We’re all vulnerable... That means following as many or more people who disagree with me as agree with me. That means reading the best and smartest people I can find who disagree with me. These practices help both challenge me and humanize my opponents.
  • A difficult question
    Jonah Goldberg: "If Hitler’s bunker was in a hospital in 1945, you can be sure we would have flattened it from the air (no doubt after dropping leaflets—just as Israel has). But Israel has not done that. Nor should it do anything of the sort. They sent troops in—carrying incubators by the way—to minimize collateral damage...
    [What's a real solution to] the very real problem of Hamas using Palestinian babies to protect their murderers and rapists?"
  • All In or All Out

    There is little excuse for pretending eloquence about the meaning of the Resurrection while holding reservations about whether the event really happened. The assertion that Jesus was raised from the dead cannot at the same time be theologically true and historically false.

    Andrew Christiansen, paraphrasing Carl Braaten - Covenant blog

  • Writers Who've Stuck with Me (or With Whom I've Stuck)
    an ongoing list
    P.G. Wodehouse • G.K. Chesterton • Dorothy L. Sayers • C.S. Lewis • Frederick Buechner • Kathleen Norris • Alan Jacobs • Terry Teachout • David French • Evelyn Underhill • Garrison Keillor, editor (for his Good Poems collections) • Naomi Shihab Nye • T.S. Eliot • Roger Scruton • John Donne • John Milton • Abraham Lincoln • Anthony Trollope • Jane Kenyon • John McPhee • David Brooks • Li-Young Lee • Tom Stoppard • Michael Chabon • Laurie Colwin • The author of the Johannine epistles • The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews • Witold Rybczynski • Angelo Pellegrini • Calvin Trillin (the "Tummy Trilogy" and beyond) • William Carlos Williams • Christopher Alexander, et al. (A Pattern Language) • Anne Lamott • Yuval Levin • Philip Yancey • Colum McCann • Hilary Mantel • William deBuys • Alex Harris, photographer • Victoria Goddard • Iris Murdoch • Virginia Woolf • Hampton Sides • Louis Menand • Sophocles • Charles Dickens • Jane Austen • Wendell Berrly • John Buchan • Dorianne Laux • Charles Portis 📘
  • maybe
    Is this how judgment day will be? "... something that would have been terror, but for the joy, and joy, but for the terror..." -- C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength
  • Carne
    "The way to battle abstraction in our time is to embrace the material, the incarnation of our lives, the fleshy, complicated, touchable realities right around us in our neighborhoods, churches, friends and families. And this enfleshed, incarnational part of ... life and work deserves some extra attention now, at least for a little while... " [Tish Harrison Warren, My Hope for American Discourse](https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/06/opinion/saying-goodbye-social-media-prayer.html)

    (I am not oblivious to the fact that I'm sharing this advice via the very medium that's causing a lot of the need for this advice.)
  • Manly
    "As I get older, I find that I care more and more about being a good man and less and less about career stuff. I think a lot of it is just a product of age. But the fact that I’m the last survivor of the family I grew up in plays a significant part. When my mom passed away last October, the only guide for how I behaved was asking myself how my parents would want me to deal with it..." -- Jonah Goldberg, ["In Defense of Manly Tears," Aug 4, 2023](https://thedispatch.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=7fb8ceb3bd59c7956b1df66729296a4c.1661&nosocial=1) 💬
  • Concrete
    ... the presentation of our bodies is our spiritual act of worship. It is a significant Christian paradox. No worship is pleasing to God which is purely inward, abstract and mystical; it must express itself in concrete acts of service performed by our bodies. [John Stott
    Romans](https://www.ivpress.com/romans-jsbs) 💬
  • Teachout on Stoppard

    Two-and-half years after his death, I miss reading new essays (and reviews and blog posts and tweets) by Terry Teachout. Here’s a good piece about Tom Stoppard, whom I also will miss profoundly, someday. (He said, perhaps naively).

  • Two(+/-) for Three
    SCOTUS last week:
    (1) Affirmative action - yep.
    (2) Student loans - yep.
    (3) Refusing to sell services to folks you disagree with - nope.*
    A web-design service is just that -- a _service_; it's not an expressive act. You're a hired hand. If you offer services, you can't say, "but not for the gays." * update: nope-ish. For some fool reason, Colorado agreed to stipulate that the plaintiff was, in fact, engaging in personal expression in creating webpages for hire. I don't get why they agreed to that, but there it is. Makes the ruling less wrong. Maybe not right, but less wrong.
  • from "East Coker" | T.S. Eliot
    > And what there is to conquer
    By strength and submission, has already been discovered
    Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
    To emulate—but there is no competition—
    There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
    And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
    That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
    For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

    Trite, perhaps. But true. Often, the “tried and true” is trite. But, so what? The truth is the point.

  • take the wheel
    Jill Filipovic via ayjay

    Just about everything researchers understand about resilience and mental well-being suggests that people who feel like they are the chief architects of their own life — to mix metaphors, that they captain their own ship, not that they are simply being tossed around by an uncontrollable ocean — are vastly better off than people whose default position is victimization, hurt, and a sense that life simply happens to them and they have no control over their response. That isn’t to say that people who experience victimization or trauma should just muscle through it, or that any individual can bootstraps their way into wellbeing. It is to say, though, that in some circumstances, it is a choice to process feelings of discomfort or even offense through the language of deep emotional, spiritual, or even physical wound, and choosing to do so may make you worse off. Leaning into the language of “harm” creates and reinforces feelings of harm ...

  • A mediating device for difference
    Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez:

    ... Some students might feel that some points should not be up for argument and therefore that they should not bear the responsibility of arguing them (or even hearing arguments about them), but however appealing that position might be in some other context, it is incompatible with the training that must be delivered in a law school. Law students are entering a profession in which their job is to make arguments on behalf of clients whose very lives may depend on their professional skill. Just as doctors in training must learn to face suffering and death and respond in their professional role, lawyers in training must learn to confront injustice or views they don’t agree with and respond as attorneys.

    Law is a mediating device for difference. It therefore reflects all the heat of controversy, all the pain and suffering, and all the deeply felt moral urgency of our differences in position, power, and cherished principles. Knowing all of this, I believe we cannot function as a law school from the premise that appears to have animated the disruption of Judge Duncan’s remarks -- that speakers, texts, or ideas believed by some to be harmful inflict a new impermissible harm justifying a heckler’s veto simply because they are present on this campus, raised in legally protected speech, and made an object of inquiry. Naming perceived harm, exploring it, and debating solutions with people who disagree about the nature and fact of the harm or the correct solutions are the very essence of legal work. Lively, candid, civil, and evidence-based discourse in disagreement is not just positive for our community, constituted as it is in difference, it is a professional duty. Observance of this duty matters most, not least, when we are convinced that others haven’t. [emphasis added.]

  • manic
    Saw 2023 Best Picture winner, "Everything Everywhere All at Once," today. It had its moments, but not enough of them. We often think if something is complicated or difficult to pull off, it's praiseworthy. But difficult and complicated doesn't necessarily mean enjoyable, moving, or insightful.

subscribe via RSS