Robert Eggers on Creative Work in a Non-Religious World

I'm ruminating on this fascinating (and to me, wholly unexpected) observation from Robert Eggers on his latest movie 'The Northman': "This sounds super uber-precious, but I think it's hard to do this kind of creative work [directing] in a modern secular society because it becomes all about your ego and yourself. And I am envious — this is the horrible part — I'm envious of medieval craftsmen who are doing the work for God."

To Kill Debate

The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.

Silence Is Damnation: The Informal Justice Code of Social Media

This is the informal code of woke social justice that I have come to observe in the era of social media: You absolutely must be doing social justice, and a doing a lot of it, or there is something very wrong with you. Yet you must not post about the social justice you are doing, because then you are virtue signaling. Yet if you say nothing, you shall be judged for your abominable silence. So you have to say something---but you better watch how you say it, or you may wish you had never said anything at all.

Life Versus Machine: 3 Essays on How Technology Is Shaping Us

I've had both the pleasure and misfortune this week of reading three essays about the way technology is shaping us and our environment. Things are mostly terrible, and yet there are some glimmers of hope. One of the authors (Alan Jacobs) nods at the philosophical tradition of Daoism as a potential framework to guide our behavior in a way that is more productive than other solutions which so far have spectacularly failed. I don't claim to understand what Daoism is or how it could help, at least not yet. These are complex ideas---but also mind-blowing and super cool.

Measures Against Porn Abuse Are Not Enough

Last month Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a sobering investigative report about the dark side of the porn industry. His work inspired some concrete reforms designed to protect victims of crippling shame and sexual abuse. But are these reforms enough as long as porn continues on? Is the widespread availability of porn, now so easy to access via smartphones and the internet, a "stealth public health crisis" as one feminist scholar argues? If so, what other steps can be taken to address it?

MLK, Social Media, and Forgiveness in 2021

To forgive is to cancel a debt, and to cease feeling anger towards a wrongdoer---whether or not they have repented. Wouldn't this go a long way in breaking the hate cycle that infects our divided culture, both in person and online? The question is fraught with complexity, and yet perhaps no one in history was better equipped to answer it than Martin Luther King, Jr. It's worth reflecting on his insights as we honor his legacy and look ahead at 2021.