Smart people saying smart things

Kimberly Knight: “What took you so long or PTL?”

Today, and last week, and last month, my gut reaction is gratitude Ð and hope. With that impulse I am choosing not to jump into the “nothing is ever good enough” or “why now, why not two decades ago” critique campaign. I just want to believe that one step and a time, one heart at a time compassion and justice are seeping into every corner of our beautiful and broken world.

OK, to be a little less squishy and more matter-of-fact, these powerful men and women hold the key to the equality of many, so at the end of the day I guess I don’t care so much why or when they’ve changed official positions, just that they are. Either way I believe that the end result is the same and that the arc is bending before our very eyes.

Gershom Gorenberg: “Don’t Be Naive, That Speech Was a Revolution”

After a couple of days for careful reflection, it’s clear: Barack Obama gave an amazing speech. The president of the United States stood in a hall in Jerusalem, and with empathy and with bluntness that has been absent for so long we forgot it could exist, told Israelis: The occupation can’t go on. It’s destroying your own future. And besides that, Palestinians have “a right to … justice” and “to be a free people in their own land.”

If you don’t think this is a breakthrough, you are letting naïve pessimism overcome realism. Yes, it’s true that one speech will be worth nothing if not followed by intense American diplomacy. That comment has become banal. A realistic assessment is that Obama’s visit, and the speech, were the opening act of an American diplomatic effort — a near perfect opening.

Dean Burnett: “Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test”

There are many possible reasons why the MBTI is so entrenched in workplaces and promoted so enthusiastically. There’s the expense and training involved, mentioned above. It may be because everyone uses it, so people conclude it must be reliable, and thus its success becomes self perpetuating. Also, any personality type you get assigned is invariably positive. There is no combination of answers you could give on the MBTI which says “you’re an arsehole.”

James McGrath: “What I Like About You(ng-Earth Creationists)”

The call of Jesus was not to hang around with him denying prevailing scientific theories in his time. It was to join him in loving Romans and Samaritans and not just Jews. It was to spend time with the marginalized and touch the untouchable. It was to live in a manner that embodied different values. Today’s Christians tend to think that by rejecting science, or claiming that something they call science is “true science,” they are “going against the flow” and embodying different values. But a closer inspection shows that in fact these things embody the same values – among them, science as the only means to truth (coupled at times with a dose of postmodern rhetoric suggesting that everything is just a matter of interpretation when that argument is convenient). But also distracting from the fact that we are not feeding the hungry, much less transforming society in Jesus’ name to eliminate hunger.

If young-earth creationists took their same willingness to stand against the flow, and applied it to the things the Bible emphasizes, they would put me to shame, instead of bringing shame on the Christian faith as they now do.

Women in Theology: “God Is Constantly Coming Out to Us”

Because in that stretched moment that surrounds the words “I’m a lesbian,” I’m not giving you information about who I am. I’m inviting you into who I am. Yes, in some pale shadow of how God offers herself — but also in one of the very ways that God’s self-gift is given. That is what I hold onto when I’m overwhelmed and exhausted with how coming out isn’t a once-and-done thing. That’s what I hold onto when I think I can’t bear the awkwardness of it one more time. I hold onto the idea that in coming out, I’m offering someone the opportunity to see how I love, and to love me and be loved by me in a way that doesn’t hold anything back, that has no part locked-away and inaccessible.

Because that’s how I’ve come to know God. She doesn’t dole out pieces of information, one tablespoon to one person but three cups to another. She doesn’t give out information at all. She gives herself.


"That's about right for the lowest rates for assisted housing around here, and I wouldn't ..."

A modest proposal regarding prayer breakfasts
"That's probably what happened, but the part still bothers me. Everyone thinks sacrificing Vision to ..."

‘A kind of resentful nostalgia’
"If it is a question of whether to inflict a punishment on someone, of course ..."

A modest proposal regarding prayer breakfasts
"I think a big part of DC's problem is that they're trying to jump right ..."

A modest proposal regarding prayer breakfasts

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • DStecks

    All personality tests are inherently worthless. A human identity cannot be summed up in four letters, or any number of letters. You cannot measure a personality, nor can you create a scientific control for one. They cannot be objectively assessed, nor do they remain constant over time. A personality cannot even be said to exist, so far as can be scientifically determined. You may as well categorize people by the colour of their aura.

  • David S.

    Then what? The Jews are not going to leave the area, and they’re not going to let themselves be slaughtered. If you don’t want a Palestinian state, then what do you want, and is it really feasible?

  • Lorehead

    Hope you don’t blame yourself for that. Glad you don’t have to worry about money, and hope you find something to do that gives you a sense of accomplishment.

  • David S.

    If someone applies to be my roommate, and I find out they have anger control issues and a pathological hatred of women, I think those letters on their personality are very important ones. Personalities are complex things, but I find it preposterous to think that they’re beyond all measuring.

  • Lorehead

    And the fourteenth says it applies to the states.

  • friendly reader

    Turned off leechblock because I feel I genuinely have something to contribute on the Meyers-Brigg thing…

    I’ve had a fourfold experience with the MBTI. The first was my very first therapists using it an introspective tool for me, and the relentless positive outlook of it is part of why she chose it. She wanted me to see that some of what I thought was “wrong” with me was just me being slightly different. She showed me the full results, which actually are on a spectrum (though you wouldn’t know it from how it’s applied), let me look at two personalities (INTJ and INFJ) because I was very borderline on the T/J continuum. We talked about it, and it was very helpful for teenage me.

    I’ve also had the opportunity to read the manual that is given to therapists who use MBTI, and while many of the problems in the MBTI’s methodology are left unaddressed in it, there are two things to note. First, it very adamantly insists that one’s MBTI results are NOT intended to tell you what job to get, where to be placed in work, who you are relationally compatible with, etc. Second, each of the four categories is divided into four traits, and someone like me who tests VERY strongly into “introvert” would still also be “enthusiastic,” an extroverted trait.

    The third way I’ve encountered the MBTI is in a class on “technology in education” where we had to take it online (because everyone answers truthfully!) and get our 4-letter designation that he would use to make groups. I initially posted a long, long rant about how the MBTI is useless for that sort of thing on my blog for the class, but my mother made me take it down. Anyway, the first group he put us together on worked out well, the second was a complete disaster, and I wound up breaking off from the group and doing my own individual project. Part of it was personality conflicts, part of it was the nature of the project (making a short film vs writing a report; one of these things should be done in groups, the other should not).

    And the fourth way I’ve used the MBTI is in “testing” characters I write in stories. I actually use a number of different personality tests to make sure I really understand my characters. If I can’t figure out how they might answer the questions truthfully, I need to go back and develop the character more. I got this idea from a theater director who made us choose an astrological sign for our characters as a way of testing how much we’d thought about what they should be like. And yes, there’s that MBTI and astrology analogy again…

    The MBTI can be useful sometimes, but 90% of the way that it is used is not just useless but sometimes harmful. Someone already mentioned “The Cult of Personality Testing,” and I strongly recommend its chapter on the MBTI.

  • Carstonio

    Obviously this theocratic nonsense won’t hold up in federal court. Ford and Warren and their theocratic cohorts probably know this. Instead of assuming that they’re ignorant about the Constitution, it’s likely that they’re simply clever demagogues instead. They’re pandering to voters who share their beliefs about separation of church and state. This is their way of proving that they’re pro-Christian and anti-federal government.

  • Matri

    Okay, that broke my brain something that I never thought possible for a while now.

    At least, not since the last time that happene. Which was several months ago, come to think of it.

  • SororAyin

    I think all tests _should_ get beaten on when the results are not interpreted by professionals, especially the MMPI. The MMPI is used to help in diagnosing mental illness. My therapist needs to know about my Seasonal Affective Disorder and Chronic Depression. My employer doesn’t have any right to that data until/unless I decide to share it.

  • P J Evans

    If the prospective roommate has anger control issues and a pathological hatred of women, you shouldn’t need the letters to tell you there’s going to be problems.

  • Because nobody’s ever been able to put on a mask, metaphorically speaking, and fool anyone, right?

    Srsly, come on. As has been amply discussed, people who have NPD or APD often fake it very well and can seem glib abd charming until they get their foot firmly in the door of whatever it is they want.

  • P J Evans

    The way it’s written, it sounds like he checks the letters *after* he finds out there’s a problem. (And if you find out there’s a problem, you should have a way out set up already. Because it does happen.)

  • David S.

    “Anger control issues” is made up of letters. Saying that is a measurement of a personality summed up in some number of letters.

  • I do the testing my characters with Myers-Brigg. It’s seriously useful for that.

    In that vein here is the best set of MB write ups I have ever seen (warning do not eat or drink while reading – I nearly died doing that)

  • If you think the Myers-Briggs test is useless, you oughtta see the Stephanie Meyer-Briggs personality test. It’s only got TWO categories, “Bland” and “Bland and Sparkly”

  • The_L1985

    It’s still funny to me that it took decades for somebody to say, “You know, the fairies in these photographs look a lot like the illustrations in a very popular children’s book from the time.” That’s like not recognizing a picture of the Velveteen Rabbit.

  • The_L1985

    I would have probably made the wise-ass remark: “If the moon starts to develop an atmosphere containing oxygen, let me know.”

  • The_L1985

    Plus they can call persecution when the nasty law is struck down.

  • Connor Park

    That seems like it would be difficult for a profiler with sixteen distinct results…

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, no. If somebody who answers twenty-six questions one way and twenty-four the other is considered as solidly I or T or whatever as someone who answers forty-five questions that way and five the other, it’s firmly a multiplicity of binaries, not intersecting spectra.

  • Connor Park

    Right, in that sense, it’s a binary construction. I didn’t read carefully enough to realise that the proposition wasn’t that the M-B Index only had two results. Mea culpa.

  • Connor Park

    Right, in that sense, it’s a binary construction. I didn’t read carefully enough to realise that the proposition wasn’t that the M-B Index only had two results. Mea culpa.

  • SpottedChui

    I think if you comprehend what Vermic actually wrote, you will note the opposite. That is, unless you want to be cheeky.

  • SpottedChui

    I’m my humble opinion, that’s pretty much the definition of an introvert.