Our Independence Day

The neighborhood where I grew up traditionally hosts its Fourth of July festivities on the Friday before the holiday.  The theory, so I understand, is to be able to draw revelers from adjacent communities by avoiding competing with everyone else’s Independence Day events.  I’m tempted to speculate that this profit-maximization logic makes this late June party more American than its July 4th counterparts. Though the celebration is supported by local government, it’s actually hosted by … [Read more...]

A New Meaning of Freedom

Marie was a young woman who struggled with her weight, starting from a young age. At seven, her mother placed her on her first diet. At fifteen, they took her to an institution to be treated for bulimia. Like all chronic dieters, she suffered from a weight that yoyo-ed. Marie could never be satisfied, for she was bombarded daily with advertisements demanding she live up to our culture's paradoxical ideal - enjoying food in overabundance, eating out often and cleaning her plate—while … [Read more...]

Kim Kierkegaardashian and the Culture of Nothingness

“Rise & grind! Busy day!! Gym then packing 4 Paris again! This is the despair of finitude, when the self is lost to the temporal, the trivial,” tweeted Kim Kierkegaardashian, a Twitter account that combines Søren Kierkegaard quotes and Kim Kardashian’s tweets. As the New Yorker reports, this feed offers “reflective maxims on life, death, sin, and emptiness, salted with luxury accessories of the Kardashian lifestyle.” The Washington Post explains, “Basically what you have is … [Read more...]

Sherwood Anderson and the Platonic Touch

A couple of weeks ago, Leah Libresco wrote an excellent article suggesting that our society’s neglect of platonic touch is among one of the many things we need to address if we are to reverse the sexualization of contact that dominates our lives today. In lieu of alternative stories and models of interpersonal relationship, the “friend zone” becomes a dead end, an impasse to be overcome if greater intimacy is to be won. She writes: The friendzone is treated as a wasteland not just because … [Read more...]

The Human Mystique

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  This fall, more than 200 Christian women met at the American Bible Society in central Manhattan to talk about calling. Hosted by Q Ideas, the one-day event drew women—most between the ages of 25 and 40—to discuss identity, ambition, and work-life balance. Shauna Niequist, one of the speakers and a well-known church leader in the Chicago suburbs, gave a talk titled “What My Mother Taught Me.” Niequist’s mom had spent almost all of her adult life being a pastor’s wife, … [Read more...]

Bulletins from a Second-Order Society

Mitt Romney was having a bad week. This, as anyone familiar with the 2012 election’s proceedings can attest, does not really narrow things down. That year’s primary saw President Obama and his opponent Governor Romney trade so many awkward, embarrassing blows that countless weeks from that season could be called “bad.” But this week had been particularly brutal. While traveling overseas to burnish his foreign-policy credentials, the hapless Republican had managed to seriously offend … [Read more...]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ambition

When it comes to ambition, it sometimes seems that feeding our egos means starving our souls. The Onion highlighted this ambivalence with an article headlined “Unambitious Loser with Happy, Fulfilling Life Still Lives in Hometown.” Quote: “Sources close to Husmer reported that the man, who has meaningful, lasting personal relationships and a healthy work-life balance, is an unmotivated washout who’s perfectly comfortable being a nobody.” This Onion piece juxtaposes the language of … [Read more...]


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