Month: May 2016

I spend a lot of my time arguing against the case against charity (and linking to this post). You might get the impression that I am a relentlessly negative person, always arguing against something. But that’s not the case. You see, I don’t just think that the case against charity is wrong. I believe that there’s a strong case to be made for charity. And, as a Christian, I believe this for three reasons. Charity Is a Cornerstone of the Christian Faith Charity in the West is deeply rooted in the history of the Christian faith. The practice of giving…
In the early-ish days of blogging, it was normal to have a blogroll: a list of links to other (often more popular) blogs that the author was interested in. The blogroll would sit calmly in the sidebar and let readers browse their way to other blogs and other authors, discovering fresh ideas and insights. Now, nobody maintains a blogroll. The best hope you have of finding someone else is to follow a link in the body of a post or in a comment or in a link dump. Around here, they also show up in link posts that I share…
And that is what we are saying, when we talk disdainfully about poor people buying lobster and steak, or nice phones, or new clothes. We are saying, you are not sorry and ashamed enough. You do not hate your poor existence enough. Because when you are poor, you are supposed to take the help that is never enough and stretch it so you have just enough misery to get by. Because when you are poor you are supposed to eat ramen every day and you are supposed to know that every bite of that nutrition-less soup is your punishment…
A few blocks from my apartment is a hip little downtown restaurant. I went there not long after it opened and the food had all of the traits I’ve come to expect from hip little downtown restaurants: it was complicated, it was expensive, and it was… okay. I’ve been back a few times since. Despite changes in the kitchen staff and the menu there’s a trend. It’s always complicated. It’s always expensive. It’s always… okay. Before my fundraising career and before seminary, I was a cook. I wasn’t a great cook. I didn’t work in the finest restaurants in…
As Tsemberis told Mother Jones: “Going from homelessness into a home changes a person’s psychological identity from outcast to member of the community.” That comes first, not last. The Week: Why Solving Homelessness Is Stupidly Easy FacebookTwitterLinkedInredditBuffer…
There was a time – when I was younger and had more free time – when I argued with people on the internet. A post or article or comment would touch a nerve and I would spend hours or days in an unproductive back-and-forth with friends, family members, and complete strangers. Then, eventually, I stopped doing that. Things still touch a nerve, but more often than not I pause and think about whether that particular thing is worth spending time on. Sometimes it is, and I respond. Most of the time, though, it isn’t. I know that I won’t…
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was…
In the early-ish days of blogging, it was normal to have a blogroll: a list of links to other (often more popular) blogs that the author was interested in. The blogroll would sit calmly in the sidebar and let readers browse their way to other blogs and other authors, discovering fresh ideas and insights. Now, nobody maintains a blogroll. The best hope you have of finding someone else is to follow a link in the body of a post or in a comment or in a link dump. Around here, they also show up in link posts that I share…
One of my favorite psychological concepts is the fundamental attribution error. The basic idea is that we tend to attribute the actions of others to their character rather than their circumstances. When we see someone speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, for example, we tend to think that their reckless rather than thinking that they’re trying to get the emergency room. It doesn’t say anything about our own behaviors and how we interpret ourselves. It simply says that we tend to interpret the actions of others as reflections of their character. And that’s a problem. It’s a problem…
Recently, I sat down with someone who was involved in the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He had a huge collection of material from that era, including a fake NAACP membership application that the White Citizens Council created as a publication piece. You can see the application on the right and click through for a larger version. What struck me about it wasn’t just the vulgar rhetoric of white supremacy of the propaganda piece. We’re all used to the idea that Mississippi at that time was virulently racist. Those of us who…

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