My third guest post at Times & Seasons is titled ““That They Might Have Joy”: Conquering Shame Through At-one-ment.” I use Steve McQueen’s 2011 film Shame as a springboard for discussion about shame, vulnerability, and human connection. The post can at times be a little graphic given the subject of the film (sex addiction), but it offers the chance to explore shame, the addictive behaviors that often emerge from it, and its possible role in the Fall.
This Monday’s Times and Seasons post went live a little late, but it’s live now. The title is The Assurance of Love, and if you want to see how a Mormon who talks about the dangers of epistemic humility works out a particularly tough pro-certainty talk (in this case, President Hinckley’s October 1981 General Conference address: Faith: The Essence of True Religion), well then here you go.
I didn’t really explain the image I picked in the post. It didn’t fit. But I’ll provide the explanation here. It’s a painting of Thomas doing his doubting thing (The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Hendrick ter Brugghen), and I went with it because President Hinckley’s talk made me self-conscious about not having enough faith. Of course, I’d like to have enough faith. But maybe I don’t, and maybe that’s my fault. And, if so, then Thomas is my hope. He caught a talking-to, but He was still allowed in the presence of His Savior.
Today was my day for another post at Times and Seasons. This time, I went for a very, very short post about the connection between suffering and empathy, with a little help from neuroscience, my favorite band (Thrice), and quotes from the books of Alma and Matthew. The message: Every Scar is a Bridge to Someone’s Broken Heart.
What do giant, angry pterodactyls, vegeta, Harry Potter, and the Book of Mormon all have in common? Read my latest post at Times and Seasons to find out: Reading the Book of Mormon for the First Time Again. (Sort of. In reality, the only thing they have in common is that they’re all in that post.)
I am reasonably certain that the rise of gender and sexuality politics in our culture is an opportunity for theological and cultural growth, but also that neither of the prevailing political attitudes are capable of revealing the lessons that are there to be learned. Social liberals are too committed to a view of human nature that is too shallow and superficial to do anyone any good. (In this, I’m basically echoing Pinker’s critique in The Blank Slate.) Social conservatives, I think, are doing a good job of holding onto important traditions that are necessary for a healthy society, but are also too willing to veer towards fearfulness that leads to bigotry on the one hand and prevents consideration of new explanations for why these traditions are important on the other.
This article is just another example of me trying to extricate myself a bit from this morass–without abandoning positions I think are important–and reach for new understandings of old truths.
After a long break, I’m officially restarting my regular posting at Times and Seasons. My first post is now up: Do Mormons Have a Duty to Vote? It’s an analysis / rebuttal of Jason Brennan’s argument that there is no civic duty to vote from a specifically Mormon perspective. Also: Donald Trump. I will follow that up with a more general response to Brennan’s argument here at Difficult Run in the next few weeks.
Now that I’m posting again, expect to see me posting at T&S every other Monday–usually in the morning.
We neglected to announce this, but Walker Wright has started a guest blogger series at Times and Seasons as well. I announced the series last week, and then he posted his first piece: Data, Doctrines, & Doubts: Improving Gospel Instruction. It’s a great piece–based on a talk he gave at a recent Stake General Priesthood meeting–and you should read it. Seriously, if you only read one of these two T&S pieces today, read Walker’s. Then, if you have time, read mine too.
I wrote a post for Times and Seasons today: Privilege and the Family. The post borrows heavily from work that Walker Wright has done right here at Difficult Run collecting research and data (like the chart above) on the impact of marriage and family for children’s outcomes, and also seeks to answer a couple of questions raised at By Common Consent recently: Who has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap about the Family? The questions are:
Why should we care about the family?
What does it mean to stand up for the family?
If that sounds like an interesting post to you, then you should check it out.
This American Life episode #544 has a lame title but really profound content. It got me to thinking about the nature of love and also the nature of symbolism. So I wrote a post for Times and Seasons: When Symbolism isn’t Symbolic. You should check it out.
Hypersensitivity is a pernicious way to win a debate: if you can brand an argument as offensive/harmful, then you never have to respond it. Trolling is a destructive response to that tactic: provoking more and more outrage undermines the credibility of your opponent. These are, I think, the twin central dysfunctions of political debate today, and that’s what I decided to write about for Times and Seasons this morning.