The overall message is: here, readers, we have discovered a whole new mysterious island filled with these strange savages, previously unexplored. You wouldn’t believe what they’re doing out there! So now we’ll count them for you (can you believe there are so many of them?) and tell you their savage, uncivilized ways. Because we’re scientists.
We can never ossify the world because it is always moving and changing like the river. Yet we can open ourselves to this ever fluctuating movement. This is manifested in the moment when the angler, fly, and fish are suspended together, held as with the fragile tension of water molecules. This is that something.
For Kaplan, when comparing two countries and asking why one has succeeded where the other has failed, what matters most is not national policies but “societal dynamics—the strength of the social glue, the nature of relationships across groups, and the role of social institutions.” These are things that manifest (or fail to manifest) at the local level.
Before we totally condemn the Athenians as selfish, entertainment-addicted bad citizens—which, to be fair, they sometimes (or often?) were, just like us—it is worth considering what such shared democratic spaces of entertainment facilitated. And a related question to consider: What might we, as a democracy, gain if we had something similar?
I’ve been told that workers have had to step away from the register while checking out paying customers to chase away repeat shoplifters as they hurled all kinds of epithets at them…on top of one elderly worker having a milkshake hurled at her face. As much as middle management feels bad for the workers, there is little within their power to alleviate the situation, as most of the power is in the hands of distant (and indifferent) bureaucrats.
Criticizing the ministry-industrial complex does not mean professional resources have no place in ministry. It is not so much their use as their guiding role in congregational life that prevents churches from prioritizing deeper formation. Information and inspiration are good, but congregations must recognize their insufficiency to foster deep and sustained transformation—and must not confuse tools meant to inform and inspire with formation itself.
We need to love smaller, more energy-efficient houses and cars in order to love people more. We need to give up much of our casual oil consumption for leisure. We need to love being a little hungry now and then to avoid food waste. We need to create ways of leisure that are joyous and productive, instead of “drowning our troubles away,” as Anthony says.
children are inchoately aware of the sadness of the world; it’s another of the human mysteries that they already have access to. Lobel’s genius is in choosing for his subject tragedies that are too small to really qualify as tragedies, and thus by the paradoxes of the spiritual world become the deepest and most incandescent tragedies of all.
My point is not to get lost in conventional debate here. But seeking to heal from the culture war, I want to uncover the bodies of my neighbors, which industrial stories kick in the face, deform, and then at election time bury beneath the red-blue map. Aligned with my neighbors, I want to stand in a place off that map, outside those stories.