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Remedial Theology

First Things

Roundup3 min read

Today marks the day when I finish my 39th trip around the sun and start my 40th. It seems like a good day to start telling y'all a bit about where I am, where I've been, and where I'm going. I plan on doing just that with this blog.

Head over to the About Remedial Theology section to get an idea of what kind of space this blog is likely to be in the weeks and months to come.

The first series of posts I'm planning to write will be a multi-part look at my own story. I'll specifically be looking at my past through the lens of a particular idea that seems to present itself over and over again in my life. More to come in the first post of that series.

I'll also be dropping less serialized thoughts about things I'm watching, reading, or listening to from time to time. Sometimes they'll be stand alone, and sometimes they'll be more of a roundup like the rest of this post will be.

Things I'm reading

Octavia Butler's Parable/Earthseed series

I've really been enjoying Octavia Butler's Parable/Earthseed series. I finished Parable of the Sower last week and I'm about a quarter of the way through Parable of the Talents. This series is definitely scratching all of the right itches for me.

  • Post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy that feels oddly relatable to our current situation? Check.
  • Honest reckonings with both the difficulty and necessity of community? Check.
  • Grappling with the idea and identity of God with particular focus on change and transformation? Check.

If you're looking for relevant sci-fi that feels less like escapism and more like "what should we be learning from this cultural moment?" give these a read! Wildest thing so far: even though Parable of the Talents was written in 2001 it features a presidential candidate running on a Make America Great Again platform. 😵

Are we trading our happiness for modern comforts?

In the "shorter reads" category, I read an Atlantic editorial piece yesterday that left me feeling somewhat frustrated. It was a piece from the "How to Build a Life" column titled "Are We Trading Our Happiness for Modern Comforts?" The source of the frustration revolves around one particular tension - while the article has some real truth that I think is worth hearing and considering, it is framed by a set of assumptions that feel like they jump right over the reality of everyone who doesn't share the author's white-urban-upper-middle-class experience.

Maybe I'm being overly critical, but I couldn't help but wonder if someone with unmet needs on the lower rungs of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs would have a radically different set of thoughts about consumption, government, and technology than the ones the writer details. To be clear, I agree with some of his conclusions about where happiness comes from, but I think his critique is profoundly shaped by the relative comfort he finds himself in (and looking at this question through a critical lens would likely result in some very different conclusions).

I mean, sure, let's talk about where true happiness can and can't be found, but maybe we should start by making sure that people have the needs from those first couple levels of Maslow's Hierarchy met before we assume their issue is one of trying to use things to do what only relationships with other humans can. From where I sit, our society isn't one where we can assume that everyone's basic needs have been met. For far too many people, no matter how hard they work, secure housing and a healthy meal still feel out of reach. Regardless of the statistics and trends we can point to, housing stability, access to healthy food, quality healthcare for all, and a clear path to being involved in the democratic process seem like a good baseline to aim for if we want our society to be one where all of it's members share a basic quality of life that allows for the pursuit of happiness.


Things I'm listening to

(mis)representative democracy

NPR's Throughline is doing a killer mini-series right now called "(mis)Representative Democracy" that I think is a must listen. The main focus is uncovering and examining the basic fact that in the USA, the idea of "one person, one vote" has never been a reality.

The first two episodes are out now, and the third will drop later this week:

Visions of bodies being burned

As far as music goes I'm pretty blown away by the new clipping. album "Visions of Bodies Being Burned". I haven't even started to get my head around all of it yet, but I can say this with confidence: Horrorcore seems like the right genre for addressing the social concerns of 2020.

WARNING: the content of this record is intense and NOT for the faint of heart.

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