John Inazu at The Hedgehog Review: This pandemic season has forced on many of us the painful absence of face-to-face relationships. When we are once again free to pursue these embodied relationships, we might discover that they also represent our best antidote to the information virus: other human beings who force us to confront complexity rather than caricature, and who challenge us to maintain friends, not just followers. But antidotes, like vaccines, don’t always come easily. They take work, risk, and perseverance
Current listening: TOOL - Fear Inoculum
Thankful for this amazing woman, and her cooking skills too. 🦃
My friend Zack recently built a dungeon generator in lieu of nanowrimo, and did a little write-up about it. I cloned the repo for it with the best intentions of contributing, but alas can take no credit for what he’s done here. Pretty neat stuff.
Our new cat, Jack, in peak cat position.
Finally made it to the Goochland Drive-In. 📍Goochland, VA
Fun fact, the unzipped archive of data is 28.4MB in size. 24.2MB is photos/videos/stories. The other 4.2MB is all JSON - likes, connections, contacts, etc. I look forward to digging into this.
I opened Instagram for the first time in a looong time today to export my data/tell people where to find me before I delete it. It is more of a dumpster fire than I even remember it, and feels like an unironic reproduction of something you’d find in a f*#king Black Mirror episode.
My good friend Kendall has a new project that I highly commend to you - Negative Love: a resource for queer Christians.
Leah Libresco Sargeant: “To give an honest accounting of ourselves, we must begin with our weakness and fragility. We cannot structure our politics or our society to serve a totally independent, autonomous person who never has and never will exist. “
this interview with John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock is a great introduction to radical orthodoxy.
Oliver Burkeman: “To stay sane, you need at least one foot planted firmly in your world: the world of your job and neighborhood, that letter you need to mail, the pasta you’re cooking for dinner, the novel you’re reading with your book group, and that guy on your street who never cleans up after his dog – the world where you can have an effect, even if I’ve admittedly yet to have one with the dog guy. “
I’m very excited for this new book from John Barclay: “But grace is both richer and more complex than we generally imagine, and I here highlight how grace is significant not just for the individual (as “amazing grace” that “saved a wretch like me”) but also for the construction of communities that find in the unmerited grace of God in Christ the basis for new forms of solidarity that subvert traditional concepts of worth.”
Thrasher magazine: cruisin’ with Ace Pelka.
Two things I love about this: 1) seeing some skate street with an old-school deck shape, and 2) seeing some familiar looking locations from Long Beach.
Daniel Herriges at Strong Towns: We Don’t Live in a World of Cartoon Villains.
I’m sure there no shortage of opinionating about Dave Chappelle’s recent SNL monologue, so I’ll throw my opinion into the mix and say it’s absolutely worth watching for yourself.
Since we’re not allowed to meet inside yet and the last two sundays got rained out, our church held a brief compline service followed by a bonfire.
Kendall Gunter at Mockingbird on Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf translation: “We could say that, like many modern, feminist projects, these are Christian projects, too, belatedly finding their true voices to chastise dualist moralism. Trying to shore up our own purity (non-monstrosity) is a delusion doomed to fail. Perhaps identifying with our enemies welcomes not only them but our true, complicated selves.”
Theologically-inclined people of microblog: any suggestions for free materials for prepping Bible studies on the web? I’m trying to piece together something on Galatians 3. The most accessible resources I know of are firmly entrenched in the reformed evangelical way of things and I’m trying to branch out.
I’ve been meaning to write some thoughts about the pandemic, joy, and embodiedness, but this newsletter from Mo Perry gives voice to them better than I could have imagined. HT to @ayjay for this find.
REBUILDING A SPOT IN HARLEM WITH JERRY MRAZ - Jenkem Mag
This essay about OnlyFans, the commodification of eros, and capitalism’s encroachment of the most intimate aspects of our being is fascinating, and devastating. Lord, have mercy.
God and the Gamemaster - Alexi Sargeant at Plough.
Camping practice in our backyard. @jensaplin
New morning read. 📚
I wrote some thoughts on distraction and burnout.
Eric Miller at Mere Orthodoxy on “the market” and Evangelical colleges: “The market’s inability to measure the actual historical loss that such decisions effect on the most crucial traditions we have—political, intellectual, ecclesiastical, ecological—is simply one more sign that our grand global system is yet another idol blind to the devastation in its wake. “
David French on the Breonna Taylor case: “In the contest between the rights of a woman to sleep peacefully in her own home and for her boyfriend to defend it against violent entry and the right of the state to make a violent entry, the law should prefer the homeowner.”
Brad Edwards at Mere Orthodoxy: “Evangelicals have had it all wrong. Secularism isn’t the root of the problem, but the inevitable fruit of an individualism cultivated within a domesticated church more interested in maintaining manicured lifestyles than exploring the messy inconvenience of the Kingdom. The threat isn’t lurking out there somewhere, but in here fueling the culture wars we claim to be victims of.”
I normally post pictures here, but today’s hike to Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park deserved a whole blog post of its own.
Received goods. More here darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hid…
Lovely day at Grace Estate Winery.
Neighbor from the pond behind our house visited my office today.
Since I missed Nick Cave’s livestreamed solo concert back in July, I’m very excited that it will be released as a film and an album this November. This performance of Galleon Ship from it is just gorgeous.
A fantastic Labor Day reflection from Chris Arnade: “Many Americans see work as a thing to deal with, that hopefully gives them enough stability or money to have a shot at being who they really are. … That doesn’t mean they don’t want to be good at their job, but that there are a lot of hard jobs because life is hard, and a lot of people would rather focus their energies on being good at their lives.
Work is only a part of that, let’s not try to make it the only part.”
VA beauty from our drive out to Solomons Island yesterday.
Mini vacation in Solomons Island, MD
Today Augustine sounds like Uncle Colm from Derry Girls. “So I says to myself, says I…” 📚
I’m reading St. Augustine’s Confessions, and I feel like his writings about memory sometimes read like the ruminations of a stoned freshman — “It also contains all that I have ever learnt of the liberal sciences, except what I have forgotten”. Just read it in the voice of Keanu Reeves. 📚
Neil Gong at LARB: As the country reckons with the failures of mass incarceration and hyper-policing, activists and sympathetic lawmakers have a unique opportunity to implement abolitionist ideas. Deinstitutionalization’s history tells us that the easiest political compromise will be defunding without sufficient reinvestment. We can’t afford to repeat that mistake. If we are to move away from police and prisons, we must prioritize community investment and avoid settling for half-victories in the form of defunding and closure.
Jeffrey Guhin at The Hedgehog Review: As we get ready for another COVID semester, the stress of combining full-time work and full-time de-facto homeschooling is matched by the sadness of smushing all the power and beauty of education into the meritocratic ideology it has come to represent. Our students, our children, are more than achieving automatons. Yet this is where our focus on schools as agents of social mobility has brought them, and us. Don’t let the crisis go to waste. Fix inequality in whatever ways we can. And then we can let education actually be about education, even if we’re still just doing it at home.
I already wanted to see the new Bill & Ted movie but John Scalzi’s review just made me all the more interested.
A friend passed this along to my wife, and I thought it worth sharing. Sometimes the prayer of another gives voice to what I’m feeling better than I ever could. A thousand amens to this.
Ventured out to Sandbridge yesterday to celebrate our friend James’s birthday.
Creeper in my office 🙀
Damon Krukowski at NPR: On Bandcamp, Spotify And The Wide-Open Future - Count me in the Bandcamp…camp
This essay on Cormac McCarthy, by Michael Berdan of Uniform, is really good.
Currently listening: Deluge, by Anura
This article by Nathan Robinson contrasting the abundant availability of low-quality writing and propaganda with the relative inaccessibility of substantive writing and research is definitely thought-provoking. I think Robinson stumbles into lazily dismissive hypocrisy when complaining about ideologically motivated thinktanks and outlets that express a different political philosophy his own, but he raises some really compelling points about cost, compensation, and access. I also think he overlooks the problem of compensating the labor of those who would build the kind of “universal access” database that he proposes, but the questions he asks and possibilities he explores are nonetheless a good place to start.
I am very much looking forward to reading this upcoming book about the history of drone music. Neolithic instruments, Brian Eno, medieval choral music, and SUNN O)))? Count me in.
Micah Latimer-Dennis on digitally mediated worship: But if dissatisfaction is often a distraction from worship, it is also potentially a tool. Our disappointment with worship’s digital mediation can remind us of the tragedy that’s caused our dispersal and can prod us to turn to God. The present’s substitute for gathering for worship can direct our eyes to the day we will return. Weil writes that “the great sorrow of human life is that to look and to eat are two different operations. Only on the other side of heaven, where God lives, are they one and the same operation.” Online worship is a reminder of this sorrow, since in it the distance between looking and eating is felt so acutely. But our longing for a world in which things are otherwise can point us to the world in which they are. Being reminded of the future in which we will share Eucharist again—truly eating, truly together—can remind us too of the world of which that meal is a sign. Together our eyes can look to that time and place where the whole church will be gathered to gaze and to feast, at once and for eternity, on the Lord.
John Scalzi: “F*** You, I’m Voting.”
Leah Libresco: “Christians, especially white Christians, should live in such a way that our doors are clearly open, as the Bendas’ were, to anyone in need. That might look like literally opening a door, as Rahul Dubey did in Washington D.C. to shield protestors from police. But we also keep the door open (or slam it shut) through our public actions. When we speak with contempt or indifference about George Floyd or any other victim of racism, when we amplify the voices of people who are at best negligently ignorant and at worst actively racist, we say that our door is not open to everyone.”
Kendall Gunter, at Mockingbird: ‘the “stammer” of poets, no matter their relation to God, takes cues from the “stammer” of doubtful believers. Because in some sense, that’s all of us, hoping for our felix culpa — hoping that consciousness feels like the gift that it is.’
Finally got to check out the Mudhouse on 10th to pick up some beans. Cool wall art adjacent to the building, and a lovely (and an understandably sparsely occupied) rooftop patio upstairs.
Visited the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design in Richmond today. More pictures incoming.
Zadie Smith on love, compassion, & relative suffering, via C.J. Green
I’m only halfway through, but I must say that Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby is very, very good. This southern noir is the perfect read for my first full summer living in Virginia. 📚
My friend Zack wrote up his favorite reads from summer 2020.
I wrote about my favorite reads from the first half of 2020.
Currently listening: From Clay Pipe Music - Adlestrop by Gilroy Mere
For anyone whose knowledge of Docker is ad-hoc and piecemeal, the Docker Handbook from freeCodeCamp is fantastic.
Playing with focus at Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard in Westminster, MD 🍷
Visited Londontowne, MD today, and saw and osprey carry a fish to its nest.
Sam Kriss: ‘We’re told that we’re “sharing” our online declarations with a community. But what if we’re just sacrificing ourselves to a god that can never be satiated?’
Zito Madu: “How should a people ask for justice from a world that has already denied them? That they have to ask at all says so much.”
Thomas Chatterton Williams: “We do now have a movement that I am very hopeful about, which is a movement to challenge and rein in and hopefully reform an extraordinarily abusive policing culture. But what is also starting to happen — and it began very early on — is that we’re getting a corporate-sanctioned effort to diversify certain elite spaces. So, you’ll get the Poetry Foundation that will replace its board, or the National Book Critics Circle, or certain university spaces, or, as you said, Netflix will make some gestures. And we’ll probably get some more black-created content, and we’re certainly getting more diverse op-ed pages. But what does that have to do with a man who is so poor that he’s passing a fake bank note? “
Alan Jacobs: “A few years ago I would have said that the greatest danger facing the Christians I know was a kind of carelessness about the truth, a shrugging at difference and disagreement; now I think it’s the opposite, a kind of premature foreclosure, which is a way of immanentizing the eschaton. Obviously in any group of people we will find both intellectual flaccidity and intellectual rigidity present, but I do think that rigidity is now in the ascendent, simply because it is in the ascendent in our ambient culture and Christians, for the most part, behave as their ambient culture behaves.”
S.A. Cosby: “I love my hometown. I love the magnolia trees that line my mama’s driveway. I love going fishing down on the river. I love cookouts and house parties. I love walking through the woods behind my house seeing a fawn and its mother in my backyard. I refuse to let that be taken from me, and I refuse to let it be erased. When I write, I’m telling the stories of my mother, my uncles, my grandpa, my friends. This place we call the South belongs to us too. We paid for it in blood. I think a lot of people in publishing have a hard time confronting those issues. The urban milieu is more palatable and in some ways easier to disseminate. It speaks in shorthand that is more accessible for some people. Never mind the biases that exist against everyone in rural America. But just because something may be harder to talk about doesn’t mean it isn’t worth discussing.”
“A Tale of Two Churchs” from NYRB. This feels more poignant, and painful, than ever.
Explored Wintergreen in the Blue Ridge Mountains today.
First time deep frying chicken!
Richard Thompson Ford: “In fact, almost all Americans share some responsibility for our excessively punitive public culture and the decades-long expansion of criminalization that has made unjustified police killings more frequent. Some of that punitive culture can be attributed to widespread racial bias, but much of it cannot. Consequently, effective change will require that almost all Americans accept less aggressive and less punitive responses to what they consider to be serious transgressions.”
I’m not well-versed in poetry, but I am loving Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts.
I’m typically hesitant to link to Quillette, but Roya Hakakian’s piece on why she signed the Harper’s letter is arguably more compelling than the letter itself.
Doesn’t seem to make much of an appearance in the news cycle right now, but I thought that the story of LGBTQ youths suffering in Chechnya should be told.
My friend Amanda wrote some great thoughts on “virtue signaling” and love.
Date night with @jensaplin at Selvedge Brewing/The Wool Factory last night.
Like a lot of people, I wrote down some thoughts on justice and open debate
Perks of homeownership: rollerskating in the dining room because you’re a grown-up now.
A reminder to everyone on Twitter that these posts are cross-posted from robertsapunarich.micro.blog, an alternative built for the open web.