For Your Consideration (04/05/17)

Trump Housing Bloc


On October 19, 1885 the S.S. Eider completed its 12 day journey from Bremen, Germany and entered New York Harbor.

Aboard that ship was a sixteen-year-old barber’s apprentice named Friedrich Trumpf; our current president’s grandfather.

Ted Widmer of The New Yorker wrote this perceptive little profile of Trump (the F was dropped shortly thereafter) and the US immigration context into which he was thrust.

There is a subtext, but it doesn’t read like a polemic. You’ll probably appreciated it.

He writes,

On the day the S.S. Eider arrived, New York’s many newspapers advertised their headlines to passersby. The Times tried to cloak its news with a veneer of respectability, but the sounds of the street could still be heard through the newsprint. In Ohio, Democrats were decrying “technical and stupid blunders” in a local election. In Terre Haute, Indiana, a “bold real estate operator” was “dodging the law officers and leaving heavy debts behind him.” In Elmira, New York, a “rich farmer” was swindled by two “wealthy appearing men” who purported to be building a mill.

Somehow I can’t help thinking that if we can become better at humanizing one another (of which heritage appreciation plays a role), our nation could limp forward.

Let’s keep giving it our best.


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I was introduced to this wonderful interactive map displaying the racial composition of our nation back in 2013, shortly after it was released.

It was created by Dustin Cable, then a data researcher at University of Virginia, now a data analyst for Facebook.

It is described on their site the following way,

This racial dot map is an American snapshot; it provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country.

The map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual’s race and ethnicity.

Trust me on this. Take it for a test drive around the nation and even your own city. It’s fairly addictive! It is also fairly revelatory!

Toggle to black and white in order use it to see population density.

We rarely see a bird’s eye view like this, but it offers a helpful perspective. Enjoy!


Well I’ll be! Who knew an obscure rule devised by a traveling evangelist and his cohort in 1948 could become such a tempest in a teapot?

I’m fine-tuning my own response (which I intend to publish on Friday), but I wanted to prime the pump. The basic gist is that our vice president has been known to take his cues from evangelist and Christian leader Billy Graham’s principle not to travel, eat or meet alone with women not his wife.

A quote from the recent Washington Post article surfaced this leviathan:

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.

At this point you can simply google “Billy Graham Rule” and find a bevvy of material, but here are 3 takes on the topic. I’ll rank them from harshest to most sympathetic, ok?

  1. Washington Post OpEd by Laura Turner
  2. Danielle Kurtzleber on NPR
  3. Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist

One could go much further each direction than what I’ve provided, believe me! (The responses run the gamut of veneration to vilification.)

I do think this spotlights two important features for Christians in our society. Firstly, are our traditions and moral principles really internally consistent with the heart of our faith? Secondly, couldn’t we stand to interact with how the outside world appraises our behaviors and attitudes? It isn’t about messaging, but it is about awareness. I actually think the two go hand-in-hand.

Let’s not miss this opportunity!

(Want a real treat? Watch this obscure interview Graham did with Woody Allen. Yes, that Woody Allen!)


The medical establishment can be a pretty dogmatic place. Most doctors and medical professionals are wonderful, but some can be downright dismissive.

Specialists can tend project this preternatural sense of authority, making lilliputians like myself feel downright ashamed of daring to bother them with our quaint questions and clarifications.

And yet…

… in 87% of cases they are wrong. (Sorry!)

This according to a recent Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (a summary was released online at News Medical.)

Few things are more off-putting to me than dogma and dismissiveness, both of which I discover all too often in the doctor’s office. Maybe that’s why this piqued my interest.

They found the following regarding second opinions:

In only 12 percent of the cases was the diagnosis confirmed.

In 21 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was completely changed; and 66 percent of patients received a refined or redefined diagnosis.

Is this a call to question every diagnosis of strep throat or pink eye? No. But it should continue to stoke our fires of patient self-advocacy, right?

More than that, isn’t the whole “second opinion” thing applicable to more than just our medical care? Wouldn’t we do well to sniff out dogmatics and dismissives elsewhere; seeing what other viewpoints might be added?

I think so! Let’s start with news media, shall we?

2 thoughts on “For Your Consideration (04/05/17)”

  1. Matt –

    Love your stuff man! It’s been awehile since that KU visit!

    I read the WaPo article on the Graham Rule. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this. I particularly am curious about how a Christian’s effort to preserve integrity (which I think is at the heart of Mike Pence et al.) and our Western cultures response to those efforts intertwine. Also, how the living out of the freedom Gospel can and should be applied to situations like these. Tricky, I think upon first thought, but I wish it wasn’t so!


    1. Thanks for reading, man! That time in Lawrence feels like forever ago!

      I think you hit the nail on the head! Our freedom in the gospel introduces us into an Unavoidable tension between sober self honesty and risky forward to moving love!

      Let me know what you think about my Friday post! Fair warning: it’s a long one.


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