Category Archives: Politics

Aristotle argued that the human being is the “life that has speech,” but that this only comes in community, thus the human being is a “political animal.” Posts about our common civic lives go here.

Star Wars VIII: At Last, Jedi

Friends, the concern around spoilers has been strong with this one. I will reiterate here and now, you have been warned! If you are receiving this by e-mail, having subscribed, close it now if you don’t want spoilers!! I hate fighting opening night crowds, but we made a point of seeing it first thing Saturday morning after a Friday social media fast. Here are some thoughts below … I assume you’ve seen it if you read ahead!

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Filed under Myths, Stories, and Fairy Tales, Politics, Science Fiction

And Thor Feels Fine

Thor: Ragnarok is upbeat, hilarious, and high-octane. If you don’t enjoy this movie, you might not have a pulse. Ninety-nine percent of conversations I want to have about it start with that sentence. Then the other person says, “I know, right?!” and then we recount back and forth all the moments we loved in the movie.

But let me give you that last one percent, because they managed to stick just a tiny bit of deeper thought in there, too! Spoilers ahead.
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Filed under Movies, Myths, Stories, and Fairy Tales, Politics, Science Fiction

Generation Theory: A Latter-Day Phrenology

Around 1796, a Viennese physician named Franz-Joseph Gall explained to the world that the brain has about 26 organs, each of which grows when used, and shrinks if left unused. Gall told us that the skull changes its size and shape to accommodate these patterns, and that the character of a given person could be determined by measuring his or her skull! The scientific study of phrenology was born, ready to categorize the world!

Derivative branches of science sprang up, with craniometrists and anthropometrists offering their services to measure the brains and bodies of people and offer suggestions about their capacity for academic achievement or criminal propensities.

Yes, it was a good day for the social sciences, to be able to confidently predict aptitude and behavior by measuring the skulls. Apart from the fact that it was all, of course, bunk.

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Filed under How We Do Conflict, Politics

Where the Racism Hides

The George Zimmerman ruling has led many to feel like our legal system has failed.  Those who believed that a conviction of “guilty” would somehow offer something ordered back into a terrible situation are convinced that racism was somehow at play, and that the court or the jury failed in their duties.

I’m afraid that my opinion, which counts itself among those who are not shocked by this outcome, is different.  I believe the legal system performed its role.  Because we have not made racism illegal.
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Filed under How We Do Conflict, Politics

Beings in Time and Space

A very brief reflection, as my mind is active before bed tonight: When people talk about “historical critical methods” of understanding something like the Bible, they (we) receive an outcry of suspicion: that by suggesting that the understanding of something profound — such as the revelation of God’s love or mercy or Law or truth through scripture or the incarnation of Jesus — is something we experience through our time and culture, we somehow do damage to it, and make it less.  That is to say, there are those who believe that if we claim that the teaching changes over time (say, by saying that though previous generations believed the Bible to support slavery as a necessary or even beneficial human institution, we today cannot possibly believe that to be the case), then we’re saying the teaching isn’t true, or isn’t meaningful, or is just “whatever we want it to be.” Continue reading

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Filed under Myths, Stories, and Fairy Tales, Politics, Spirituality

Gun Violence Pathways

The topic of gun violence has been on hearts and minds in a more dramatic way since the Newtown Connecticut shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and the teachers and staff at their school.  This joins the sobering and tragic ranks of shooting sprees and mass killings in the United States; Mother Jones (an organization with one particular approach in mind to seeking an end to this violence) has a powerful guide to them here; has been keeping a tally of gun deaths since Sandy Hook, trying to give insight into how large the problem is, here.  (You might note that Mother Jones, tracking “mass shootings” and “sprees,” sets the minimum number of victims at 4 for their criterion, while Slate’s numbers are registering each shooting death)

Over and over again in the past weeks, I’ve spoken with, seen the blogs of, or “conversed” on Facebook and other media spaces with persons who are trying to make sense of their feelings about these tragedies.  While I don’t have a clear answer, I have come to believe that I have some insight into how I frame my own response, and so I’m going to begin some blog posts offering my voice, in the hopes that those who are struggling to find a way to respond might find something in this to help them claim their own voices and ideas. Continue reading

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Filed under How We Do Conflict, Politics

The Squares on the Board

Recently I’ve been thinking about how people make decisions (I’m usually thinking about this, on some level or another). Sometime in the last few weeks, I heard about “mirror neurons,” which basically, as I understand them, “fire” as if you were doing the same activity you observe someone else doing. So when we’re babies, we use these to learn how to perform increasingly advanced tasks, and when we’re more cognitively-developed, we can use these to empathize with others, “feeling” their pain, understanding what they’re going through, etc.

Now, I think that biology offers us some of the most powerful metaphors for other aspects of our lives (partly on the theory that, being embodied, all of our experiences come through bodies, so we can only analogize from those experiences, whether we like it or not). So I got to wondering, to what extent do we have emotional, spiritual, or ethical “mirror neurons?” Continue reading

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Filed under Growing Edges, Myths, Stories, and Fairy Tales, Politics, Spirituality, Uncategorized