Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with friend/broadcaster Erik Guzman, author of The Seed: A True Myth.

1. Okay okay okay. Forget about the nay-sayers for a moment, forget about the fact that the whole game-show giveaway presentation was a bit of a false display. Maybe John Oliver was only saving people from a few nasty calls, a few petty, unusable debts—I don’t care, it was still a cool moment for television. And so much better than Oprah’s big giveaway. Forgiveness of debts long run cold. If you haven’t watched the segment, here it is. And don’t say I didn’t warn you about the ample f-bombs. Forward to the 15 minute mark.

I’m not saying it’s compelling because John Oliver—in typical John Oliver fashion—is so British, so morally appalled at those predatory, hypocrisy-laden, close-minded American ways. It’s compelling because of its kind of a quasi-biblical depiction of law and gospel(!). It may not have achieved much, but didn’t DZ just post this week that song from the Man in Black, that “The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago”? Even the accounts we aren’t aware still have our names on them? To me, it draws a silly parallel of the real CARP, Inc., the real “bottom feeder” who collected all the debts, and forgave them.

2. A lot in here to back up what CJ said just this morning. This comes from Jacobin Magazine, from a couple years ago. Entitled “In the Name of Love,” Miya Tokumitsu takes on the ever-tweetable “Do What You Love…Love What You Do” credo for the modern American. She discusses the phrase’s popularity from the mouths of celebrities and Silicon Valley tycoons, but also its latent dishonesty (what I love may put me in the jail) and its entitled superficiality (what a privilege, to do what you love for a paycheck!). She discusses the problem of the modern Ph.D. student who is, for all intents and purposes, “doing what they love,” only to leave school and find themselves ill-equipped for a job market that doesn’t need them.


No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to the most vicious exploitation and harms all workers.

Ironically, DWYL reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to Pin and Tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.

Instead of crafting a nation of self-fulfilled, happy workers, our DWYL era has seen the rise of the adjunct professor and the unpaid intern — people persuaded to work for cheap or free, or even for a net loss of wealth. This has certainly been the case for all those interns working for college credit or those who actually purchase ultra-desirable fashion-house internships at auction. (Valentino and Balenciaga are among a handful of houses that auctioned off month-long internships. For charity, of course.) The latter is worker exploitation taken to its most extreme, and as an ongoing Pro Publica investigation reveals, the unpaid intern is an ever larger presence in the American workforce.

While Tokumitsu is interested in the exploitative (and, for her, deeply capitalist) nature of this philosophy in the modern workplace, it’s interesting on a lot of other levels, too. “Do What You Love” is today’s clarion call for vocation; it’s also the pervasive call for weekend plans and grocery lists and even civic responsibility. Such a simple edict can sound as though it’s pulling together some common love, long lost in our collective consciousness. But it’s nonsense. We “love” with fickle, sporadic energies. Talk about a “little-L” law that is a total moving target. When the focus of our ambition is placed upon something as ephemeral as our temperaments, we’re doomed.

Mike Rowe says it better (ht BJ):


3. This one, from the blog of Victoria Fedden, shows us what a mom-blog from the 70s would sound like:

Around noon the kids all came back from wherever they were and I made them fried baloney sandwiches on Wonder Bread with some tasty-kakes for dessert. After that we had to go grocery shopping so I put the three older ones in the back of the station wagon and set the baby on the front seat and off we went.

I decided I needed another cigarette when we were in the car, so I lit one up and I’ve discovered that if you only crack the window instead of rolling it down that the smoke ventilates much better, so I have no idea why the kids were coughing and fussing for me to roll the window all the way down. They were just being dramatic, I swear. Naturally I didn’t listen to them.

Not only is this indicative of the increasing self-awareness and heightened expectations of today’s new-and-improved, almond milk mother; it’s also indicative of the fact that forty more years would reveal the same foolishness. I’m reminded of the “End of History Illusion,” our foolish belief that who we are today is the final product, and the kinds of stakes we are planting in the ground to say “This Is Me!” are not the last stakes we will plant. We will more likely than not look back at this moment with red faces (and, God willing, some laughter). It also makes me want Pop-Tarts.


4. David Brooks for President? How can one man sound like both a conservative traditionalist and a love-and-peace hippy? Here he makes it very clear that politics and political science have lost sight of what traditionally has made politics great—not in providing for human utility, but in providing for human morality and (what?) love.

If we talked as if people had souls, then we’d have a thick view of what is at stake in everyday activities. The soul can be elevated and degraded at every second, even when you’re alone not hurting anybody. Each thought or act etches a new line into the core piece of oneself.

The awareness of that constant process of elevation and degradation adds urgency to a bunch of questions. For example, what are we doing to a prisoner’s soul when we throw him in solitary? Can we really tolerate having so many people falling out of the labor force and unable to realize the dignity that comes with steady work? In what ways do our phones lead to attachment or isolation? When is shopping fun and when is it degrading?

We’d also need a new political science. The old one was based on the model that we’re utility-maximizing individuals, seeking power. That’s true, but love is the elemental desire of the spirit. People are desperately motivated to love something well, and be loved. A core task of communities is to arouse and educate the loves, to widen and deepen the opportunities for love and to appraise people by how well and what they love.

Our culture is overpoliticized and undermoralized. This new traditionalism would shift the debate and involve a thicker way of seeing and talking about public life. The debates that would follow would not be divided along the conventional lines.

5. From the Bee: “Teen Unsure If He’s Actually ‘Doing Life’”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—While Christendom is abuzz with saints ‘doing life’ together, local teen Brandon Hernandez, 16, is struggling to make sense of it, admitting to reporters Tuesday that he is unsure whether or not he is actually ‘doing life’ at all. “Everyone’s talking about ‘doing life’ all the time, but I have no idea what that means, to be honest, and nobody’s ever explained it to me. How is it any different from just, like, living? Or being alive?” asked the teen, wondering aloud which specific actions or thought processes he should be partaking in to make the transition from the type of living he’s engaged in currently to fully and actually doing life. “Am I ‘doing life’ right now, or am I just, you know, living life? I have no clue.” “I feel like I’m missing out,” he added. “Or maybe I’m already ‘doing life,’ and I’m just ruining it by questioning whether or not I actually am. Can anyone explain it to me? Please help.”

And there’s also this, from The Toast: Bible Verses Where “Behold” Has Been Replaced With “Look, Buddy.”

Numbers 23:20 “Look, buddy, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.”

Judges 13:5 “Listen, buddy, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”


6. For the Tolkien nerds out there, who also happen to be Luther nerds, here’s one you’re not going to want to miss: “Heidelberg and Hobbiton.”

“I will take the Ring, Frodo said, “though I do not know the way.”

Here Heidelberg meets Hobbiton. A theology of glory is turned aside by a hobbit, small in stature, and unnoticed by the men of Middle-earth and even Sauron himself. Frodo reveals himself to be a theologian of the cross, choosing to bear the One Ring with all its seething, restless evil, and take it to its destruction at great cost to himself and his companions.

7. Let’s send you off with some good news. That’s right: Gospel Rappin’