Sam Harris and the Great Untruth of Us vs. Them

In their book The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff spelled out three great untruths that they believe are infesting our culture. While I’m ambivalent about the book, these three great untruths have stayed with me. They are:

  1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
  2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: always trust your feelings.
  3. The Untruth of Us Vs. Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
Continue reading “Sam Harris and the Great Untruth of Us vs. Them”

Arc Burn: How Social Media is Breaking Us

There is one particular section in Jaron Lanier’s book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now that keeps me up at night. He describes the trajectory of online social justice movements. First, they experience a honeymoon phase of progress, but because of the invisible business model of social media, these social movements are algorithmically catalogued, manipulated, and studied for profit in a way that leads to greater social unrest, bigotry, and inequality. Lanier calls this process “Arc Burn,” in reference to MLK Jr’s moral ark quote.

Continue reading “Arc Burn: How Social Media is Breaking Us”

Hatred, Not Distrust, Fuels Conspiracy Theories

On Wednesday, we all watched in stunned horror as a pro-Trump mob stormed the capitol. We watched as they broke windows, hung from ledges, ransacked offices, and in one case, even died for their cause. Like everyone else, I’m still processing the events at the capitol. It will probably take months for a full picture of what happened this week to emerge.

Continue reading “Hatred, Not Distrust, Fuels Conspiracy Theories”

I’m a Satanist, Not a Leftist

The title of this article is, of course, something of a trick. If you know me or are even remotely familiar with my work, you know that I am robustly of the left. I am somewhere on the Social Democrat to Democratic Socialist spectrum, and I am pro sex work, pro degeneracy, and pro sex positivity. I believe every billionaire is a blight on the human race and a failure of our system. I believe Black Lives Matter, that trans women are women and that trans men are men. I believe we should have a broad social safety net, correct climate change, and empower minorities. If you gave me a list of leftist mantras and talking points, I would affirm most of them.

Instead, this title has to do with where I place my own identity, with how I name myself to myself. When I look at myself in a cognitive mirror, what do I see, first and foremost? What words do I use to filter the unfathomable complexity of self into a single narrative?

Continue reading “I’m a Satanist, Not a Leftist”

Free Speech and Misreading The Paradox of Tolerance

In the aftermath of the horrific Charlottesville rally, a memed quote by Carl Popper called “The Paradox of Tolerance” started making the rounds on leftist Internet. I’ve heard it invoked regularly since by figures like Vaush and Science Mike (this isn’t a dig at either of these creators. I admire both of them for different reasons. Please don’t be mean to them.) I myself have favorably invoked the Paradox in private conversation. The “Paradox” is this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

Continue reading “Free Speech and Misreading The Paradox of Tolerance”

Learning to be Antiracist

When I was writing exclusively about LGBT issues within the church, many people new to the topic would ask me what they could do to help LGBT people. The first response of many straight people new to understanding LGBT experience was feelings of helplessness, and a desperation to do something.

My answer was always the same. There are 4 preliminary steps, I told them, to standing in solidarity with LGBT people: 1. learn, read, and listen as much as you can. 2. Get to know LGBT people personally 3. Be in the process of learning and engaging for the long haul — don’t opt out once you feel like you’ve learned “enough.” 4. Let it fuck up your life –let it disrupt your privilege, worldview, and theology.

Continue reading “Learning to be Antiracist”

My Complicated Feelings About Sam Harris

Last week in my Sunday Curiosities series, I posted a fiery video in which Steve Shives explains why he thinks Sam Harris is a douchebag. Of all the interesting things I posted in that article, I was dismayed to see my item on Harris get the most attention. People on social media were aggrieved that I would post such an “unfair” portrayal of Harris.

Continue reading “My Complicated Feelings About Sam Harris”

The Anointing of Donald Trump

In the week following the election of Donald Trump, I found myself having many unexpected conversations with Trump supporters at work. As I rang them up at the register, I would joke about how much the election induced me to drink. Usually, after laughing together, they would start to share with me their own thoughts on the election.

One particular conversation stands out to me, in bold relief. Continue reading “The Anointing of Donald Trump”

Character Vs. Soundbites: the Post-Integrity Age

As a rule, I try not to offer political or social commentary. I feel ill equipped for such a task, and generally try to focus only on my own immediate world: my own thoughts and feelings, my close connections and relationships.

But as I’ve quietly watched this age of Trump, I’m noticing something that alarms and disgusts me: our willingness to forgive rotten integrity if someone agrees with us.

Continue reading “Character Vs. Soundbites: the Post-Integrity Age”