For Your Consideration (04/12/17)



Having just concluded S-Town—that latest specimen of the meteoric podcast—I can assure you I am still ingesting the carcass of its moral. I’ll probably be ready to offer something cogent next week. Or not.

But for now, I happened upon this article by Cory Scarola from the (kinda cool, kinda geeky) site Inverse Culture detailing just how challenging it might prove for fans of the podcast to enact the salvation of John B. McLemore’s Woodstock, Alabama maze. (Even harder than enacting his own salvation?)

I’m one of those people who don’t want anything meaningful to befall demise or even deterioration, but ours is a world ushered along by entropies of many varieties.

I’m not going to spoil anything here (not here), but the article is worth the read. Especially if, like me, you are biding your time until you can make heads or tails of S-Town.

Incidentally, as with all things, the internet has found the coordinates of the maze!

33°12’08.9”N 87°07’52.0”W

On behalf of the internet, you’re welcome.


Jemar Tisby is a an author at the Reformed African American Network and a podcaster at Pass The Mic, and he’s been addressing issues of racism, racial justice and racial reconciliation through his various platforms very effectively (IMO) these days.

He wrote an article for the site Fathom on the importance of differentiating between intent and impact in dealing with racism. I really loved the angle he took.

He conveys something so important: namely, that a retreat to intent short-circuits empathy and sorrow. This is true in everything, right? (As though saying, “I didn’t mean to”, somehow solves the throb of the toe upon which a hammer has been dropped!)

Here’s how he puts it:

Many conversations about racial reconciliation get derailed before they can even begin because of one common misunderstanding—the failure to distinguish between intent and impact.

Tisby continues,

Motivations matter—brothers and sisters in the body should take care to discern whether a person’s actions display malice or ignorance.

The problem comes when the discussion stops at intent. In all the conversations about whether a person meant to be racist, what is lost is the damage done to other image bearers.

Please actually go read this well written piece. It will help you appreciate the role of empathy in race relations. Hopefully it will help you appreciate empathy in relations in general.

Inability to move beyond intent constitutes stunted emotional development; we can’t see beyond our own need for self-exoneration into that relationship space of simply understanding another’s anguish. It is one of the things most wrong with our world, and with our country right now.

Let’s unlearn this instinct, shall we?


Emma Green covers religion, culture and politics for the Atlantic well. (You can watch her talk about how liberals don’t know how to talk about faith and morals here.)

In her latest offering, she interviews Yale sociologist Philip Gorski, the author of the book American Covenant. The premise of the book is that dueling competing fictions of conservatives and liberals regarding the American enterprise are both woefully inadequate and divisive.

One such Q & A:

Green: You contrast civil religion with two other narratives of American democracy: radical secularism and religious nationalism. Describe what those are.

Gorski: The radical-secular interpretation of American history is that American democracy is an Enlightenment project based solely on secular values. The religious-nationalist interpretation is that America was founded as a Christian nation, and our laws and Constitution are all grounded in Christian or Judeo-Christian scripture. One of the points of the book is to show that at the many junctures of our history, those two sources have been intertwined with each other.

It’s a good taste of Gorski’s perspective.

Our nation is so fraught with needless againstness. Makes me want to read this 300-plus page volume.

Speaking of volumes.


Business Insider provided a list of the most famous book set in each state. It’s more of a frivolous scroll than a read. But still…

Some states have serious bragging rights on this! (Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird, or California, East of Eden.)

Others? (I’m looking at you North Carolina—A Walk to Remember?)

Overall, you’ll notice that the great American fiction skews decidedly south of the Mason-Dixon line. What’s the explanation? (Sweet tea? Grits? NASCAR?)




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