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Identity

He Was Number One (or, Why Not Everyone Gets A’s, According to Alfie Kohn)

He Was Number One (or, Why Not Everyone Gets A’s, According to Alfie Kohn)

Imagine a high school graduation. Family and friends proudly jostle for a view of their students turning tassels on stage. Imagine the students’ camaraderie, the collective sigh of relief: summer spans ahead, former identities fade. Outcasts, athletes, nerds all face the world, now wide with opportunity. Imagine, also, the salutatorian standing and speaking about her […]

From The Atlantic: Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?

Apple’s magazine and news service, Apple News+, served me up another parable of the little-L law from The Atlantic last week as I perused my News app. It’s a classic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type report about how we Americans are building bigger homes than everand yet our happiness tends to be inversely proportionate to the square footage of our new real estate. As usual, the dynamics of comparison, judgment, and self-salvation (AKA self-justification) are at play. A couple of takeaway quotes (emphasis mine):

To be clear, having more space does generally lead to people saying they’re more pleased with their home. The problem is that the satisfaction often doesn’t last if even bigger homes pop up nearby. “If I bought a house to feel like I’m ‘the king of my neighborhood,’ but a new king arises, it makes me feel very bad about my house,” Bellet wrote to me in an email. […]

Bellet sketches out an unfulfilling cycle of one-upmanship, in which the owners of the biggest homes are most satisfied if their home remains among the biggest, and those who rank right below them grow less satisfied as their dwelling looks ever more measly by comparison.

A Little Ditty ’Bout Jack and the Desert Monks

A Little Ditty ’Bout Jack and the Desert Monks

In the gallows humor of this thing called Life, it’s usually in the afterglow of fulfilling our ultimate dreams that we wake up and ask, “What in the hell was I thinking?” Was it worth delaying marriage, foregoing children, neglecting aging parents and ignoring friendships, to find myself in my late-40s with a career fat […]

Experts and Engines: Ode to a ’99 Heep Cherokee

Experts and Engines: Ode to a ’99 Heep Cherokee

An indulgent dive into “My Documents” brought me to the following essay, which I began writing several years ago. Some time-defying adjustments—minus a metaphor, plus a William Davies reference—made for something I’m happy to dredge out of obscurity. Glad I’m past all of this… Having attended 3-4 different churches in the last five years (not […]

I’m a Vampire! I’m a Vampire! I’m a Vampire!

I’m a Vampire! I’m a Vampire! I’m a Vampire!

Another year, another Dungeons and Dragons campaign on the books. Fully enveloped within the modern resurgence of the classic fantasy roleplaying game, I’ve been running (“dungeon mastering”) a series of campaigns for my wife and our group of best friends over the past few years. We just wrapped up a six-month campaign where our party […]

Needles & Nails: Finding Identity in Ink

Needles & Nails: Finding Identity in Ink

I have little interest in getting a tattoo. Maybe it’s a matter of taste—I prefer expressing myself with music rather than body markings. Or maybe it’s my upbringing. Without a single tattoo in my immediate family there’s a sense of inertia working against me. But my wariness of tattoos is likely the fruit of a […]

I Am No Jean Vanier

I Am No Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier, the Canadian naval officer turned philosopher and founder of the L’Arche Communities, died yesterday morning. News of his death hit me harder than I imagined it would. I have read plenty of his books and followed the work of L’Arche for many years. It was only after his death that the reason for […]

The (Step)Ladder to Glory

The (Step)Ladder to Glory

This reflection comes from Rev. Will Ryan. I never thought I had outsized expectations of how my career would go, but I certainly did have expectations. Once I got through the first year of seminary—which admittedly was an eye-opener to this guy who thought he could turn in rough drafts and get A’s (spoiler alert: […]

Sixty to Zero

Sixty to Zero

In Lyndal Roper’s Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet, the author narrates the moment when Martin, a newly minted Augustinian monk, participated in his first mass as priest (1507). What made this moment especially charged was that his father Hans was present. Hans, you may remember, sacrificed to send his boy to college so that Martin […]

Rejoice: The Absurd Command, Part 3

Rejoice: The Absurd Command, Part 3

The conclusion of a three-part series. Read the others here. Beloved, we are always in the wrong, Handling so clumsily our stupid lives, Suffering too little or too long, Too careful even in our selfish loves: The decorative manias we obey Die in grimaces round us every day, Yet through their tohu-bohu comes a voice […]

I Love You Without All Your Accomplishments

I Love You Without All Your Accomplishments

This week, I read an article in the New York Times about an Olympic medalist who recently died from suicide. Kelly Catlin was a lot of things in her short life. Beyond Olympic cycling, she was also a horse enthusiast, a triplet, a mathematician, and someone who lived by her own “personal code,” which she […]

Can Loneliness Be a Good Thing?

Can Loneliness Be a Good Thing?

While most of the news coming out about loneliness is about how bad it is for our health, some people have stated that loneliness can be a good thing. Dr. Karyn Hall writes, “Just as physical pain protects people from physical dangers, loneliness may serve as a social pain to protect people from the dangers […]