Yoda and the Giving Tree: The Leaf-Green Faces of the Enemy

Two points connected solely by my desire to use this title. First, I am not going to say much about the long exchange in the comments to the post I was just talking about. You'll know pretty quickly if it's the kind of thing you can read without wanting to throttle a swan. But I wanted to register my full-throated agreement with Gabriel's disapproval of the Yoda line, "Do or do not. There is no try." People. This is very close to the opposite of the truth! First of all, many people who … [Read more...]

Fools, Drunks, And Americans

As much as I love the idea of a ballet about alcoholism, this article on "Why Russia's drinkers resist AA" seems to rely on unstated, wrong assumptions not only about addiction and recovery, but about the diversity of spirituality. Although the title is neutral--resistance can be heroic as well as bullheaded--the article itself seems pretty clearly slanted toward the conclusion that Russia needs to get with the Program. As you know, Dr. Bob, I have immense respect for the 12 Steps and my own … [Read more...]

“Thanks for Sharing”: Let Your Inhibitions Run Wild

Helen Rittelmeyer is obviously right that we're in a cultural moment where addiction and recovery provide almost the only common language we have for exploring subjects like grace, penitence, and hope. Thanks for Sharing, the sex-addiction romcom starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark "Ruffalo Ruffalo ruffalo ruffalo ruffalo Ruffalo ruffalo" Ruffalo (...sorry), is yet another example of Helen's point. Ruffalo (ruffalo) is a recovering sex addict named Adam, who after five years of sexual sobriety is … [Read more...]

‘Cause You Just Can’t Do Things Your Blogwatch Wasn’t Meant To

or, stuff I've been reading. The trust gap between working- and middle-class young people (related to my review here). Helen Rittelmeyer on "A Not-Quite-Recovery Memoir from 1813": "In his circle he was always the normal one." Timothy P. Carney: "Childbirth Made Me Love My Wife's Body More." Lovely. Interview with Dan Barden, whose very fun and insightful recovery-noir The Next Right Thing I reviewed here. … [Read more...]

The Words of Love in Whispers and the Acts of Love in Screams

A postscript: It's entirely possible to explain Christian morality to someone who does not know that God loves her. It's just that your words won't mean what you wanted them to mean. Even and maybe especially if she accepts the truth of the moral precepts, the conclusions she draws will be profoundly opposed to the Gospel. If she has never been tempted in this area or has overcome profound temptation (so far) then she may receive your moral teaching with self-righteousness; if she is especially … [Read more...]

“Broke and Alone”: I review Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty

at The American Conservative: Because most of the traditional pathways to adulthood—marriage, economic independence, stable job—seem out of reach or prove to be reversible, working-class young adults have developed a new definition of maturity. This new pathway relies heavily on therapeutic culture: You become an adult by overcoming the trauma of your past, whether that involved abusive parents, drug addiction, mental illness, or less flamboyant hardships. Young adults who take on this new … [Read more...]

“When a Child Is a Second Chance”: Me at Acculturated

continuing the series of posts on penitence: When I opened Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, I wasn’t expecting to include it in this series on portrayals of penitence. The new study by Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson picks up where Edin and Maria Kefalas’s 2005 Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage left off. Sticking with the same economically-depressed Philadelphia neighborhoods, Doing the Best I Can asks young men how they became fathers, … [Read more...]


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