...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rhetorical Move

Below is what we call a rhetorical move. It's also a shockingly unimaginative, and uncharitable, way of characterizing collective responsibility.

"If I take money from you, and I have no intention of giving it back, that is not debt. That is theft." -- Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director, on the proposed Trump budget, 5/23/17

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Proverbs 11:1-4

A false balance is an abomination to YHWH,
          but an accurate weight is his delight.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace;
          but wisdom is with the humble.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
          but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
          but standing for justice on the behalf of others delivers one into life.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Flannery O'Connor

"We now live in an age that doubts both fact and value, which is swept this way and that by momentary convictions. Instead of reflecting a balance from the world around him, the novelist now has to achieve one from a felt balance inside himself."

[from Mystery and Manners, p. 49.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tomas Transtromer


After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.

The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.

The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.

I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:
"We do not surrender. But want peace."

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole.

[translated by Robert Bly]

Friday, May 5, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Robert Hass

"What else is experience in the second half of the twentieth century about, but the sense of a world run by people with insane assurance who manipulate large and unmanageable forces over which they have almost no control?"

Twentieth Century Pleasures, p. 158

So distressing.

Stephens’s column does not engage seriously with either climate science or distributional probability. He uses most of his limited column space to argue anecdotally. That is an approach that makes sense if your highest priority is limited government, and you are attempting to reason backward through the data in a way that makes sense of a policy allowing unlimited dumping of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. That is a tic of American conservative-movement thought — the conclusion (small government) is fixed, and the reasoning is tailored to justify the outcome. Nearly all conservatives argue this way...


I got into a FB argument with people I don't even know last night about this very kind of thing. The conclusions are foregone, on both sides, but the stakes couldn't be higher. I don't know what we're supposed to do. And I teach for a living.