So go ahead and read the depressing-looking cancer theology book. It’s actually life-giving, and you need it. Our planetary situation, after all, is more or less the same as Thompson’s bodily one. Our nomos is disrupted down to the level of plankton and sperm cells, and our disease is, in some sense, a part of us. The people in charge seem to want the world to be four degrees hotter by the end of the century, and reactionary movements in all the richest countries seem determined to make sure the refugees we’re creating will have nowhere to go but into the sea. We don’t know how long we’ve got, and none of our stories seem to be working. If we survive, it will be in a version of ourselves unrecognizable to ourselves. We’re all in exile from an ordered world. With the help of thinkers like Thompson, we can relearn how to sing our songs in a hot, barren land.
Wrote about a good theology book for the Christian Century, here.
I reviewed the correspondence between Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner, two of my favorite writers, for the University Bookman.
I reviewed The Death of Stalin for the Christian Courier and Minding the Gap for the Weekly Standard.
One, I reviewed Keith Gessen’s novel A Terrible Country for Commonweal and used the occasion to try to repay (well, acknowledge) some of my own intellectual debts to n+1, a journal of which Gessen was a cofounder.
On a much more serious note, I talked to the nice folks from Cape Town, an excellent superhero podcast, about my abiding and, in all likelihood, indefensible love of Hawkman. I may also have declared my intention to someday get big enough that DC Comics does a stunt-hire and puts me on Hawkman for a story arc that quickly gets canceled. I may have put that into the universe. Do you hear me, Geoff Johns?!?!?!
Many thanks to Aryeh Cohen-Wade for hosting me on Culturally Determined, his podcast/YouTube show, to talk about my last two essays. Aryeh is a cool guy who asks good questions and affably tolerates my rambling answers.
Some notes: Mom, there are swears. Also, I’m kidding when I say “burn the heretics” re: the use of “impact” as a verb in a certain denomination’s mission statement. I oppose killing except in self-defense.
Here is the ContraPoints episode of Culturally Determined that Aryeh mentions.
I am so happy to be making my Outline debut, part of their Unconditional Wisdom series, in which writers take on pieces of conventional wisdom that (in editor Brandy Jensen’s words) “make your eye twitch” with irritation. I decided to say a few things about that old chestnut “Religion is something people turn to so they can have a sense of certainty in a complex world.”
My response to this little platitude is always “I effing wish” and this essay talks about why.
Besides teaching and my union (yay!) and moving (boo!), this essay was the main thing I spent time on during the first half of this year. It is about masculinity, a subject some of my acquaintances consider me too little qualified to speak on, and others too much. It also talks about lawnmowing, poverty, The Godfather, Riverdale, Bronze Age wrist sizes, why overworked moms make me feel … small, Samuel Delany’s Triton, and the time my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I got robbed at gunpoint. It settles my beefs with the following people:
–Carl Jung’s one-man shitty Canadian cover band
–all those “traditional men” with YouTube channels and ex-wives who hate them
–the sport of cross-country. Oh, cross-country, why did I waste my time on you when we were so clearly adding nothing to each others’ existences? Why didn’t I just put in three comfy miles a day and spend all those grueling training hours learning Hittite or something?
–that dude who flicked my balls when I was clocking out at McDonalds that one time. Not cool, buddy. We both work at McDonalds. Haven’t we both suffered enough? Can’t we unite against our true enemy, capitalism?