On a blog, everything scrolls off the screen eventually. Sometimes that’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a loss. The most popular posts since I moved the Weekly Sift to weeklysift.com in July, 2011 are: The Distress of the Privileged, One Word Turns the Tea Party Around, Why I’m Not a Libertarian, Six True Things Politicians Can’t Say, Turn the Shame Around, and “Religious Freedom” Means Christian Passive-Aggressive Domination. Out of that list, The Distress of the Privileged overshadows the rest in popularity, having passed 275,000 page views by July of 2013.
[August 2014 update: Since I wrote that paragraph, a few more posts have joined the list: "What Should Racism Mean?", "#YesAllWomen and the Continuum of Aggression", and the very recent "Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party". Also, "Distress of the Privileged" has gone over 330,000 hits.]
Over the longer term, here’s a list of essays I’d like to be judged by. If you don’t like them, nothing else you read here is likely to meet with your approval.
Red Family, Blue Family. This essay meshed together ideas from two sources: George Lakoff’s framing theory and James Ault’s book Spirit and Flesh, an on-the-ground study of one particular religious-right church. Lakoff’s basing the conservative political worldview on the “strong father family” model had seemed a little distant and judgmental to me. Tempering it with Ault’s observations sharpened the theory.
Who Owns the World? This is a sermon I gave at the Community Church of Chapel Hill in 2009. Grounded in Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice and the papal encyclical Laborem Exercens, this essay identifies a basic mistake in the way private property got defined, the injustices that mistake has led to, and why social justice is a fundamentally different notion than charity.
Supporting My Troop. Pundits and politicians invoke the troops with more stereotype than empathy. For 25 years, I thought of “the troops” as one particular guy: my best friend from high school.
Terrorist Strategy 101: a quiz. Three years after 9-11, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had become mythical boogeymen, maniacs who only wanted to kill as many people as possible. But terrorism is a tactic, and it has its logic. If you understand that logic, a lot of apparent insanity makes sense.
Change in My Lifetime. When Don Imus got taken off the air for a comment whose racism was obvious to anybody under 50, he and a lot of other white guys of his generation were completely amazed. To understand why, you need to appreciate that racism used to mean something different than it does now. (This post got 535 comments on Daily Kos, which are even more worth reading than the article. By being direct and honest about the racial jokes I grew up with, who said “nigger” in those days, and what they meant by it, I got a lot of people talking about their own relationship to racism, and how the racial issue has played out in their families.)
Not My Father’s Religion. This is one of a number of articles I’ve written for UU World, the flagship magazine of my Unitarian Universalist faith. It’s a surprising article for an official magazine to publish, because it points to the difficulty UUism has in reaching out to the working class.