David Leonhart’s New York Times column on tax rate disparities has a mesmerizing interactive graphic that makes the article worth a glance.

It’s sobering to put in an LED bulb recognizing its pretty good odds of outliving me. #MementoMori

This should be the epigram on a sober Commentary.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Kislev in the year 145, King Antiochus set up The Awful Horror on the altar of the Temple

I Macabees 1:54 (Good News Translation)

That abominable and desolate translation reminds me why I prefer older translations.

I needed a break from surveillance capitalism.

Becoming human

When I became Orthodox, I often said of the idea of “theosis,” “divinization” or (as St. Peter had it) becoming one of the “partakers of the divine nature,” that it would suffice for me if I became fully human.

I got a reminder of that today:

In his his splendid biography of Fr Seraphim Rose, Fr Damascene Christensen tells the story of a young monastic aspirant seeking the esoteric spirituality of Orthodox Christianity on Mt Athos. But once he finally arrives at his destination, the Abbot hands him a copy of Dickens’ novel, “David Copperfield” to read.

When the young man protests in dismay that this is not the deep Orthodox wisdom he was seeking, but heterodox Western sentimentality, the Abbot smiles and replies: “unless you first develop normal, human, Christian feelings and learn to view life as little Davey did—with simplicity, kindness, warmth, and forgiveness—then all the Orthodox ‘spirituality’ and Patristic writings will not only be of no help to you—they will turn you into a ‘spiritual’ monster and destroy your soul.”

Webmaster’s introduction to Literature, Culture and the Western Soul by the Sisters of St. Xenia Skete.

The article that followed that just may belong in the “thanks, I needed that” category.

I have very recently discovered Tara Isabella Burton as a prolific writer, increasingly on religious topics. It’s premature to be very effusive, but I think her piece in Sojourners shortly after the 2016 election wears pretty well.

The plot thickens

a.co

“The government’s need to evade constitutional oversight, argues legal scholar Jon Michaels, leads to secret public-private intelligence collaborations that tend to be “orchestrated around handshakes rather than legal formalities, such as search warrants, and may be arranged this way to evade oversight and, at times, to defy the law.””
from “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power” by Shoshana Zuboff

The era of robocalls led me to change my call handling:

  1. I ignore unknown callers,
  2. voicemail greeting explains why, and
  3. if they’re legit and leave voicemail,
  4. I add then to contacts to avoid a repeat and call back.

With iOS 13, I’ve automated the first step. I’m happy.

I’m not a fan of generic “religion,” but error travels faster than truth, so I’m going to boost truth here.

Begins with “A is for aisle” …

The New York Times has a notable Overlooked No More “series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.”

A startling omission was Alan Turing, whose omission wasn’t really from Cancel Culture.

Ayjay on the transformation of “evangelical”

[W]e now have a peculiar situation in which people who don’t know what the term evangelical historically connotes and who massively distrust one another—God-and-Country moralistic therapeutic deists on the one hand, and a press that simply doesn’t get religion on the other—have combined to take the term away from those of us who know and care about its history.

This transformation of evangelical from a theological position to a “racial and political” one is not just bad for serious Christians; it’s also a prime driver of the increasing hostility of liberals to religion in almost any form.

Alan Jacobs

That second paragraph is why I can’t avert my eyes from my former tradition: it is, in the eyes of many, what Christianity is.

Looking for some hopeful reading as the nation sometimes seems to be flying apart? Try James Fallows on how good it can be when empire collapses.

Listening to my current favorite personal Pandora station, I kept hearing Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young.

Checked my inventory. Oh, dear! Is that all of theirs I’ve got?!

Problem solved digitally, but now the surveillance capitalists have (even more of) my number.

Nice twist. The “inevitable” here is total loss of privacy.

Conveniently sanitized via the passive voice.

Paradoxical choice to bind oneself.

The death of Cokie Roberts is of much more import to me than any of the recent Rock-n-Roller deaths. Get used to Rock-n-Roller deaths, as there’s a lot of legends who are, like me, past their “Sell-by date.”