Long Division: The Problem in Thinking We’re All That Different

The world of organized, reformed religion experienced a Mean Girls moment a couple of weeks ago, as a disagreement between The Gospel Coalition (@TGC) and Tullian Tchividjian (@PastorTullian) aired itself out on Twitter. Basically, TGC stopped letting Billy Graham’s grandson sit at their lunch table. Le scandale! Now I realize that this breaking news is about as interesting to some of you as paint drying, but being a member of the reformed, believing masses myself, I watched with interest. And–never fear–while I’m not going to get into the theological complexities of the disagreement itself (mainly because I would have to do a lot of reading to understand them and my two-year-old has not signed off on that activity for today), I would like to discuss with the Gayle to my Oprah, Juliet, some of the points brought up by the issue that we can all relate to; namely, how we treat people who believe differently than we do. Or to put it another way: how we treat people. Because we all disagree with each other at some point, can I get a (secular or religious) amen? Continue reading

Dear Abby is Off Today #15

(Editor’s Note: This post is part of an occasional feature in which Ryan takes an actual letter written to “Dear Abby” and answers it himself. For further background see the introductory post here, or maybe also here. This post may contain nuts. It also may not. This post is an enigma, wrapped in an EpiPen)

dear abby is off #15This month’s letter was published on May 25th, and quoted in full, reads as follows:

DEAR ABBY: I work in a small bakery. We have a very nice baker here who is an older gentleman. When he gets frustrated, he will shout out, “Son-of-a-rabbit-chaser!” We all laugh and have asked him what that saying actually means. He told us his father used to say it. Now the entire bakery is trying to guess what this saying’s true meaning and origin is. Can you help us out?

My boss seems to think a “rabbit chaser” is referring to a greyhound dog because they chase rabbits. I don’t think that makes sense. I’m wondering if maybe it refers to a dirty old man chasing a younger woman, but that doesn’t really make sense either. If you can shed any light on this, we would all appreciate it. — DYING TO KNOW IN MILWAUKEE

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Party Non-Sequiturs: 2014 Edition

There you stand, slightly sweaty in your summer best, summer cocktail in hand, amidst a crowd of strangers at a summer rooftop party. You’re ready to meet and greet. But what to say? How to make that crucial first impression? In an ideal world, we’d just talk about the weather, a source of endless interest and fascination germane to all. But the world isn’t perfect, and we’re left with small-talk tropes like “what do you do?” or “where are you from?” and other banal and overdone borers. Or you could turn those conversational tropes on their heads and be the firework you want to see in the sky. All you need is a party non-sequitur.

Beloved former Wheelhouse writer Sarah Davis inaugurated the tradition in summer 2012, updating in spring and back-to-school 2013. As the world turns, so do awesome party conversation topics. Here are the non-sequiturs of the moment that will dazzle strangers and mystify acquaintances. Read them, print them, memorize them, put them on little post-its on your bathroom mirror and then go forth to your barbeques, picnics, rooftop parties, weekends in the Hamptons, beach vacations or any other venue for summer socialization to shine!

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Reflections on the Isla Vista Shootings

Juliet

The UC Santa Barbara shooting has left me spinning and at a loss. Is this an issue of misogyny? Is this an issue of rape culture?  Is this an issue of what the culture defines as manhood? Is this an issue of misplaced priorities and disordered loves? Yes–to all.

I watched a couple of minutes of Elliot Rodger’s video and I had to stop. Here was this good looking boy in a BMW threatening a “Day of Retribution” because he was 22 and had never had sex or even been kissed. Sure, the first response is “well of course you haven’t because you’re kind of a jerk.” But it’s also incredibly heartbreaking to see how someone who seemed to have such a bright future, snuff it out because of a massive lie and twisted thinking.

It’s undeniable that Rodger had mental problems–you don’t do any of the things he did if you are healthy. And yet, not calling into question the cultural assumptions and values that were at play is to do him and his victims a disservice. As a woman, my gut reaction is “yes, I’ve been there and thank God that none of the creepy guys who were persistent tried to murder me.” My gut reaction is to see this as evidence of misogyny and the way our culture objectifies and commodifies women and turns us, as Arthur Chu deftly writes, from the protagonists of our own stories to supporting characters at best and props at worst in some guy’s.

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