a historical, humble lesson. wait — from what?

Time to speak about something we’ve yet to ever speak about. Really. There actually are topics we’ve never ever addressed. Today I want to toy with something new. Something eventful. Something even a little fast-paced and sometimes even furious. Yes, let’s talk about hockey.

Ok, so it’s not really about hockey, and I’m not really all that much of an enthusiast. But I will admit to tuning into this year’s playoffs. Therein lies today’s topic… although, if I’m honest, it only starts on the ice; like most lessons in life, it applies to so much more…

The Florida Panthers are a professional ice hockey team based in the Greater Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. They are the NHL’s southernmost team. They began playing in 1993-94, and have never won the sport’s coveted Stanley Cup. They in fact barely eked into this year’s playoffs, as in order to qualify, they needed losses by two other teams at season’s end just to clinch the very last playoff spot.

But alas, the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins sadly-to-their-fans obliged, propelling the Panthers to seemingly woeful spot number eight. 

The eighth spot wasn’t all that surprising. True, they were very good last year; but this year, they were not. Their year has been rife with injury and inconsistency. They haven’t been all that good.

Hence, Florida found themselves in the first round matched up with the Boston Bruins — not only a storied franchise, but also the team with the best regular season record — not only in 2023-24, but also, in NHL history. (Yes, we said “history.”)

The Bruins masterfully skated to a 3-1 series lead in a 7 game series. They thought they had it all under control. But the Panthers soared back, forcing a Game 7 on Boston’s home ice. Let’s be clear; it was never expected to be anywhere close to close. The Boston Bruins were assumed not just to win, but to dominate.

But they did not. The unremarkable Panthers beat the league’s top seed. On to Round 2.

The Panthers then won Round 2 — impressively winning the 7 game series 4-1.

And then, Round 3 — even more impressively winning the series 4-0.

They now find themselves auspiciously entering the Stanley Cup Finals, with play beginning this coming weekend.

It makes me think about all that’s truly in play…

The Panthers’ initial opponent no doubt expected to win. They had been talked up, boasted about, and spoken of via generous superlatives. I wonder what dose of humility had ever entered into their thinking…

I wonder how hard they thought they had to try…

I wonder if they knew that winning is not deserved nor assumed… 

Was any entitlement thinking in play? And if so, how did that affect them?

And then I think of those Panthers; they had nothing to lose because they knew it was possible they could lose; nothing was assumed…

When you know you can lose, you tend to be a little more humble…

You tend to respect those around you…

You quit the boast and the brag…

You also tend to have a little more fun.

Time and time again, current culture doesn’t seem to see the perils embedded in power and pride. It doesn’t seem to realize nor promote the inherent beauty of humility; we too often allow ourselves to be lured into thinking something is deserved or assumed. That’s a little too entitlement-based. That means it’s also a little too unhealthy.

It’s true. We haven’t talked about hockey here that often. 

But as always, there is so much more to learn.



May’s questions

Let’s take a look at the month behind us. What were people talking about? What were they asking? Here are the first 100 Q’s we observed:

  1. A NY Jury Says Trump Is a Sexual Abuser. Now What?
  2. Are Limits on Gender Treatments, School Discussions Protecting or Harming Kids?
  3. Are the Nation’s Schools Failing?
  4. At 80, Can Biden Prove He’s Up To the Task?
  5. Biden Anxiety: What Should Democrats Do?
  6. Calif.: Why Hasn’t Massive Spending Cut Homelessness? 
  7. Can Biden Escape Fallout From Banking Turmoil?
  8. Can Biden Win Over the ‘Meh’ Voters Again in 2024?
  9. Can Biden Win Reelection by Being the ‘Alternative’?
  10. Can DeSantis Turn Trump Dominance Into Trump Doubts?
  11. Can GOP Be Persuaded To Vote for Someone Besides Trump?
  12. Can Joe Rogan Make Austin the U.S. Comedy Capital?
  13. Can Parents Trust Their Kids to Leftist Teachers Union?
  14. Can Reparations Bring Blacks Back to San Francisco?
  15. Can the Celtics do the impossible?
  16. Can Tim Scott’s Optimism Win Over The GOP?
  17. Can Trump Cure Biden’s Ills?
  18. Debt ceiling battle: Does it matter to your 401(k)?
  19. Debt talks run down to the wire: Does it have to be like this?
  20. DeSantis for President?
  21. Did Biden screw up his debt ceiling strategy?
  22. Do Americans really want “unbiased” news?
  23. Do Convictions Prove Capitol Riot ‘Was Not Spontaneous’?
  24. Do Dems Need Nixon-Like Intervention With Biden?
  25. Do RFK Jr.’s Supporters Really Know Who He Is?
  26. Do These Books Belong in Public School Libraries?
  27. Does identifying with religion make one more civic-minded?
  28. Does immigration increase housing costs?
  29. Does the term “anti-LGBTQ” show clear media bias?
  30. Four Tipping Points—Is the Left and Its Power Collapsing?
  31. From ‘Black Reconstruction’ to ‘Antiracist Baby’?
  32. GOP Claims Biden Is Compromised. Where’s the Proof?
  33. Has the Emerging Dem Majority Re-Emerged?
  34. Have Republicans Abandoned the American West?
  35. Hispanics Soured on Biden. Can He Win Them Back?
  36. How Bad Could A Government Default Get?
  37. How Have COVID Boosters Held Up?
  38. How Much Will Abortion Influence the 2024 Race?
  39. How popular is Joe Biden?
  40. How unpopular is Joe Biden?
  41. How Will Mr. DeSantis’ Wild Disney Ride End?
  42. If Biden Bows Out, How About Michelle Obama?
  43. Is AI the End of the World? Or Dawn of a New One?
  44. Is Democratic Unity Around Biden Breaking Apart?
  45. Is Dianne Feinstein the Victim of Sexism?
  46. Is Fox News in Trouble This Time?
  47. Is It Any Wonder Our Military Can’t Recruit?
  48. Is Target Selling ‘Tuck-Friendly’ Swimwear For Children?
  49. Is the debt ceiling stalemate just posturing — or is this time truly different?
  50. Is the Fed Done Raising Rates?
  51. Is the Press Too Cozy With the Administration?
  52. Is the Republican Party Growing Stronger?
  53. Is This the End of Russiagate?
  54. Is This the Navy’s Bud Light/Dylan Mulvaney Moment?
  55. Is Ukraine a Game Changer for European Defense?
  56. Is White Supremacy the “Most Dangerous Terrorist Threat” as Biden Suggests?
  57. Jordan Neely’s Death: What Would You Have Done?
  58. Majority Don’t Think Biden Is Fit To Serve. Now What?
  59. Melatonin: Effective Sleep Aid or Public Health Threat?
  60. Mystery at the Midterm: What Happened to the Red Wave?
  61. Really CNN? A Town Hall for Trump Now?
  62. Republicans Are Targeting Kamala Harris. Will It Work?
  63. Sherrod Brown: The Last Democrat in Ohio?
  64. Some Evangelical Voters Aren’t Sold On Trump. Will That Help DeSantis?
  65. Time for Amendment To Oust Incapacitated Senators?
  66. Trump and CNN: Let the Lovefest Begin?
  67. Trump Is Stuck in 2020: ‘Do You Want 4 More Years of That?’
  68. We Need Regime Change in Russia—But How?
  69. What Does Ron DeSantis Bring to the Presidential Race?
  70. What Does Sentience Really Mean?
  71. What Happened to Elon Musk?
  72. What Has Gotten Into Republican Women?
  73. What Has Trump Cost American Christianity?
  74. What If DeSantis Runs to the Right of Trump?
  75. What Is Best-Performing Asset Type During Recession?
  76. What Kind of King Will Charles III Be?
  77. What Kind of Woman Rides the New York Subway?
  78. What Would Johnson Need To Do To Save Chicago?
  79. What’s in the debt ceiling deal Biden, McCarthy are negotiating?
  80. What’s The Deal With The Fight Over The Debt Ceiling?
  81. When Will the NAACP Issue a Travel Advisory for Chicago? 
  82. Where Do We Draw the Line on Ethics in Public Office?
  83. Where in the World Is Joe Biden?
  84. Where Is the Electoral Payoff to Progressivism?
  85. White House Swells Federal Union Ranks–But at What Cost?
  86. Will Elon Musk Break the Legacy Media Stranglehold?
  87. Who Can Rein In the Supreme Court?
  88. Who Helped Overturn the ‘Pentagon Papers Principle’?
  89. Who Is Behind Coordinated Attacks on High Court?
  90. Who Is Tim Scott, The GOP Candidate Who’s Combating Trump With Optimism?
  91. Who Is Tim Scott, the Latest GOP Presidential Candidate?
  92. Why Is DeSantis Announcing His Campaign in a Twitter Conversation With Elon Musk?
  93. Why Is George Santos Still in Office?
  94. Why Is My Gender Research Being Cancelled?
  95. Why Is Shapiro So Quiet on Pennsylvania’s Energy Policy?
  96. Will Abortion Kill the GOP?
  97. Will Court Ruling Against Trump Change Anything?
  98. Will Harris Be an Asset or a Liability for Dems in 2024?
  99. Will Philadelphia’s Progressive Machine Prevail?
  100. Will the Debt Ceiling Cave In?

Remember: the question mark is the only punctuation piece that actually invites a response. Below are the sources from which the above came. Interesting that some sources don’t ask a lot of questions… in other words, they don’t really seem to want a response. What kind of response would that be? Critical thinking? Analysis? Discerning on our own, with wise checkpoints what may be true? Ah, good questions…



[Sources cited: AllSides, AMAC, American Greatness, American Prospect, The Atlantic, City Journal, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Cook Political Report, Daily Mail, Daily Wire, DC Examiner, Deseret News, ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, FOX News, The Free Press, The Guardian, The Hill, HuffPost, Intelligencer, Los Angeles Times, The Messenger, The Nation, New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, Real Clear Politics, Reason, RCP Takeaway, Sacramento Bee, Salon, Slate, The Spectator, Substack, Townhall, UnHerd, US News & World Report, USA Today, Vanity Fair, Vox, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Examiner.]

does it matter if what we believe is true?

I admit… it seems a bit of an odd question. Because if we believe it, it must be true… right?

Allow us to focus on the semi-short story of a single young man today, in his early twenties, of Mexican descent, and one who was considered no doubt to soon be among the best in his trade. Truth told, his is not a very common profession. In fact, the top tier in his trade consists of a mere 32 individuals. Suffice it to say, he was good at what he did. 

But they said he made a mistake… a huge one.

It was an off campus party. He was accused of gang rape. Worse yet, the victim was 17. People said some terrible things…

“What is going on… is obviously disgusting.”

“To say that the details are shocking and disgusting is an understatement — and an affront to the words ‘shocking’ and ‘disgusting’… this is beyond vile.”

“This was a horrific crime, the kind of which happens all too often. What makes these crimes different is not only that they were committed by self-entitled athletes.” 

Matt Araiza is a football punter. As a junior in college, he set the record for average punt yardage. He was so talented at such a young age, that even though he didn’t “necessarily love the nickname,” “Punt God” was the colloquial epithet bestowed upon him by avid onlookers.

In 2022 he was selected with the 180th overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Curiously at the time, two college punters were drafted before him with arguably less accomplished statistics. We would soon learn why.

A few months later, during the NFL’s August preseason, a lawsuit was filed against Araiza and two of his former college teammates for “the brutal gang rape” of a girl under the age of consent in California. Two days thereafter the Bills released the once budding young star. Said their GM at the time, “This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do. Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games.”

Now 10 months and an entire NFL season later, last week the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced that “it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges.” Not only that, but eyewitness and video accounts show Araiza leaving the party about 30 minutes before the alleged encounter.

The allegations were untrue.

As we sit back and attempt to digest the magnitude of what’s happened, it’s challenging. Matt Araiza’s reputation was ruined. As he said in response this week, “My name will never be the same.”

His name was ruined. His career was halted. He was unable to proceed with his professional gifts because of a lie.

That’s part of quandary of #metoo movement and its societal residue. Just because you’re a woman — just because you’re any specific gender — doesn’t equate to telling the truth/untruth. We are all capable of lying. Each and every one of us. Yes, all sexual assault accusations should be taken seriously. But no, they should not be assumed to be true. 

That’s also the quandary of attempting to determine justice in the court of public opinion as opposed to in an actual court of law. We emphasize emotion over evidence. We think we know what’s true. We can be incredibly passionate. But just because we believe it, doesn’t make it true.

It was American sports commentator Rich Eisen who said of Araiza’s case that “the details are shocking and disgusting.” 

With all due respect, he was correct.



encouraging us to ponder

I know that faith is a hard topic for many. Controversial at times, too. We’re aren’t always good at talking about what’s hard. We aren’t always good at respectfully exploring what we don’t understand. Especially when others are involved. We attempt to at times fit our understanding of God into some earthly, intangible box, as opposed to sitting with the hard, seeking to understand, allowing ourselves to learn and grow and be inspired — as opposed to thinking we can somehow figure it all out on our own.

One person who helped me learn much was Tim Keller. An author, pastor and father of three, he passed away on Friday. During his life, he humbly had much to say; he also had much wisdom in how he said it. As many would attest, including some of the celebs whom he also aided in significantly growing in wisdom, Keller found creative ways to teach and inspire by weaving together words from philosophy, literature, pop culture and more. I oft benefit from slowing down, pondering his words…

“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”

“Describe the God you’ve rejected. Describe the God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe that God either.”

“If you’re falling off a cliff, strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. Salvation is not finally based on the strength of your faith, but on the object of your faith.”

“You don’t fall into love. You commit to it. Love says, ‘I will be there no matter what.’”

“The central basis of Christian assurance is not how much our hearts are set on God, but how unshakably his heart is set on us.”

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said. If he didn’t, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether you like his teaching, but whether he rose from the dead.”

“Only if your god can outrage and challenge you will you know that you worship the real God and not a figment of your imagination. . . . If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.”

“To say ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself’ means you’ve failed an idol whose approval is more important than God’s.”

“The gospel says you are simultaneously more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet more loved and accepted than you ever dared hope.”

“If you want to understand your own behavior, you must understand that all sin against God is grounded in a refusal to believe that God is more dedicated to our good, and more aware of what that is, than we are. We distrust God because we assume he is not truly for us, that if we give him complete control we will be miserable. Adam and Eve did not say, ‘Let’s be evil. Let’s ruin our own lives and everyone else’s too!’ Rather they thought, ‘We just want to be happy. But his commands don’t look like they’ll give us the things we need to thrive. We’ll have to take things into our own hands—we can’t trust him.’”

“The temptation for those who suffer is to assume that because we can’t think of any good purposes God may have for our suffering, there can’t be any.”

“It is hard to stay angry at someone if you are praying for them. It is also hard to stay angry unless you feel superior, and it is hard to feel superior if you are praying for them, since in prayer you approach God as a forgiven sinner.”

“God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.”

“Christian communicators must show that we remember (or at least understand) very well what it is like not to believe.”

“Jesus is one of the very few persons in history who founded a great world religion or who, like Plato or Aristotle, has set the course of human thought and life for centuries. Jesus is in that tiny, select group. On the other hand, there have been a number of persons over the years who have implicitly or explicitly claimed to be divine beings from other worlds. Many of them were demagogues; many more were leaders of small, self-contained sects of true believers. What is unique about Jesus is that he is the only member of the first set of persons who is also a member of the second.”

Thanks, Tim… for encouraging us to ponder.



the challenge with the jordan neely responses

Two weeks ago a man was choked to death on a crowded NYC subway. He was black. The man who applied the chokehold was white. This is the most thought-provoking article I’ve read on the subject since. It’s written by Unherd contributor Kat Rosenfield. It’s a little longer post for us at the Intramuralist, but it’s insightful. Also, beware: the title begins with “What Neither Side Gets Right…,” which makes it just perfect for here…

Respectfully, of course… AR

* * * * *

During the peak of the #MeToo movement, the conversation about sexual harassment came down to two related but ultimately separate questions. On the one hand, there was the question of what men shouldn’t do; on the other, there was the question of what women could be expected to tolerate.

This was where some women, usually but not always older, rolled their eyes. Did an awkward joke, a bad date, or—as one memorable entry in the infamous Shitty Media Men list alleged—a “weird lunch” really constitute a form of harassment, let alone a cancellable offense? But other women, usually but not always younger, clucked their tongues: it was only because women kept putting up with such behavior that men kept thinking they could get away with it.

At the time, the younger cohort appeared to the older like a bunch of hypersensitive harpies, retreating to the fainting couch at the slightest whiff of insult. The older, according to the younger, were cozying up to the patriarchy, in a desperate attempt to stave off their own irrelevance.

“We’re tough enough to take it,” said the Olds.

“It’s sad you think you have to,” said the Youths.

This early rift in the movement represented a deeper philosophical disagreement, about the nature and importance of resilience. The narrow question is, when does an annoying man become an evil harasser? The broader one is, when does a tolerable nuisance cross the line to become an intolerable transgression?

This question has been on my mind this week, for the most tragic of reasons. On May 1, a 30-year-old man named Jordan Neely was choked to death on a crowded New York City subway train by a 24-year-old Marine named Daniel Penny. Neely, who was homeless and mentally ill, was reportedly screaming and confronting passengers; he was killed after Penny put him in a chokehold, while two other passengers held him down. Penny, in a statement released through his lawyers, said he did not intend to kill Neely.

This incident was preventable. Long before his death, Neely was known to New York City authorities as a person who could not manage independent living, and who had been spiraling in recent years, desperately in need of help. For him to die on the dirty floor of a subway car, screaming and defecating on himself while three strangers held him by the arms, legs, and neck, he had to be first failed at every turn by a system that was supposed to shelter and protect him—not just from doing harm, but from being harmed by others when his mental illness manifested in frightening ways.

That Neely slipped through the cracks is not the only sign of institutional failure here. As ridership on the NYC subway has increased in the wake of Covid, so too have instances of violence, including several high-profile incidents in which people have been attacked or killed. New York City mayor Eric Adams was elected in 2021 on a campaign that promised to flood the subway system with uniformed police officers, to combat both crime and the perception that the subway has become wildly more dangerous in recent years.

To what extent this campaign could succeed is not clear. There has always been a baseline level of criminality and antisocial behavior on the subway; sexual harassment and assault is so ubiquitous that brushing up against it is all but inevitable. I was groped, flashed, or masturbated at probably two dozen times during the seven years I spent living in New York. When a friend moved to NYC last year, I told her that she couldn’t truly call herself a New Yorker until she exited a crowded subway car to discover that someone had ejaculated on her coat. (I was only partly kidding.) It’s not that anyone thinks these things are okay; it’s more that they’re expected, a sad fact of life in a city of 8.5 million people, one of those things you cannot change and hence have to find a way to put up with. You look away, you shrug it off, you don’t let it ruin your day because if you did, it would ruin all of your days.

Here is where the notion of resilience enters in. New York City residents have perhaps a higher tolerance than most for antisocial behavior in public places, on the subway in particular. Warm and dry, with a captive audience, it attracts all kinds of colorful personalities: panhandlers and performers, pickpockets and preachers, as well as people like Neely who are in the grips of something darker. Until recently, it was standard practice to meet the arrival of one of these people on a crowded carriage with downcast eyes and silence; there was a tacit agreement that you neither react to nor acknowledge the transgressor. That agreement remained in place as crime rose, and as NYC saw a marked increase in behavior that, even if it started out as merely weird, could—and did—escalate rapidly to violence. In 2022, for instance, a video did the rounds, of a woman begging for help while a deranged man hauls her around a train car by her hair.

But if it was difficult to know exactly where a tolerance for breaches of decorum became apologia for criminal harassment, it was even harder to identify, after Jordan Neely’s death, where the tacit agreement to tolerate becomes a duty to intervene. How do we know when to stand by, when to step in, when to look away, when to be afraid?

Here, one might have expected that many of the same voices who argued so vehemently against the notion of resilience in the midst of MeToo—the ones who believed that the solution to harassment lay not in teaching women to be assertive, but in teaching men not to abuse—would now demand zero tolerance for male aggression on public transit. If you argue that a woman can be traumatized by bawdy humor in the office or awkward come-ons in a bar, surely you would agree that she’s entitled to be fearful when trapped underground on a metal tube with an erratically behaving stranger twice her size.

But, no: instead, many of the people who once insisted that men who slid into DMs deserved the complete destruction of their professional reputations became passionate advocates for toughening up when it came to dealing with volatile people on public transit. Coverage and commentary from the Left downplayed the possibility that Neely’s behavior was frightening; instead, he was “acting erratic,” or “houseless and crying for food.” One viral tweet suggested that tragedy could have been averted with “a dollar and granola bar.” The New York Times guide to navigating similar scenarios on public transit took it a step further, imagining someone like Neely as a wild animal it is everyone else’s duty not to provoke: “Don’t make eye contact—especially prolonged eye contact, which might be perceived as threatening.”

Meanwhile, threads proliferated mocking the notion that New York’s subways might be a dangerous place: “I’ve safely ridden the subway for 23 years and my child has never been menaced by a half naked lunatic, but these imaginary monsters in your head are addressable with therapy,” wrote Elizabeth Spiers, a founding editor of Gawker and journalism professor at NYU. This is a remarkable sentiment, and not just because of its stunning reversal of the MeToo-era catechism that allegations should be believed. Less than a year ago, Spiers was among those advocating for the suspension without pay of journalist Dave Weigel after he retweeted what some perceived as a sexist joke, owing to the way this was allegedly received by his female colleagues (“[Every] woman who works with you thinks you’ve telegraphed publicly that you don’t respect women.”)

To sum up: a man who reposts an off-color joke is advertising his innate misogyny, to the point where women should feel uncomfortable sharing a workplace with him. But an agitated and clearly unstable man announcing to a crowded subway car—as Neely reportedly did—that he’s been pushed to the brink and is ready to die, or go to prison for life: why in the world would you find that menacing?

This sudden rediscovery of the merits of resilience would have been almost refreshing, if not for the whiplash of its promotion by people who up until very recently were arguing that a tweet made them unsafe. There’s even something to it: the ubiquity of certain kinds of boundary-challenging behavior in big cities makes it not just impractical but impossible to treat every incident of one-off harassment from a stranger as if it’s the end of the world. And of course, once you’ve survived a run-in with the mystery subway ejaculator, sexist microaggressions are unlikely to faze you: cultivating resilience is how we learn to recognize that a situation can be both genuinely alarming but not materially unsafe, or to make peace with the fact that many things which make us uncomfortable should nevertheless be allowed.

But this mindset was considered anathema during MeToo. With trauma allegedly lurking just around the corner of every heterosexual encounter, distrust became the default. Not just the default, but celebrated—“men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter,” intoned Vox’s Ezra Klein, in a proto-MeToo celebration of this new, terrified paradigm for intimacy. The idea, of course, was that women already felt that fear, living as they did at the eternal precipice of victimization by the patriarchy; in a truly equal society, everyone would be scared.

Of course, today’s 180-degree pivot to brash fearlessness is identitarian horse-trading: MeToo is out, BLM is in. The dynamics of any conflict must be considered along these lines, and the narrative must be massaged accordingly. This was true in 2020 when a white woman called the police on a black man who threatened her in a public park; it is true now, as piety demands that the behavior of the black, homeless victim of this terrible tragedy must not be scrutinized in any way. On the Left, that is; the Right has spent the past few days waving Neely’s criminal history in the air, singing “He Had It Coming,” in an absolute spectacle of ghoulishness.

In the end, neither the malicious glee from the Right nor the aggressive minimization from the Left are treating this case with the sensitivity it deserves. The truth is, eyewitnesses did report that Neely was behaving in a threatening way, and other people on the train were calling 911 well before his confrontation with Penny, suggesting that whatever was happening, it was a cut above the ordinary subway madness that New Yorkers are usually so good at ignoring. 

But it is also true that the tragic conclusion of this incident seems, at least in part, like the result of a cultivated fragility—the kind that results when you encourage people to view every uncomfortable situation as a trauma in the making, every unpleasant interaction as a precursor to a far worse harm, every upset as an offense for which there must be consequences. That mindset, so ubiquitous in the wake of MeToo, so popular among progressives in general, says that no breach of decorum or moment of discomfort is too insignificant to ignore. It must be registered. It must be punished. It’s nothing more or less than a call for constant vigilance. The thing about that: when you demand vigilance, you get vigilantes.

what is a mom?

One’s mother. (Dictionary.com)

A female parent. (Merriam-Webster)

A woman whose egg unites with a sperm, producing an embryo. (American Heritage Medicine)

A woman who has borne a child. (Webster’s New World)

Also significant from Webster’s New World:

A stepmother.

An adoptive mother.

It is true that we each have a mother; we can’t be born without one. It is also true that we aren’t all capable of being a mother. So let us not fail to celebrate and give gratitude. Let us also not fail to be sensitive to those for whom this is hard. The reality is that our celebration does not exclude nor preclude our sensitivity. (A note for a future blog post: that’s one thing current culture really struggles with… we get dazed and confused in what we conclude as mutually exclusive… but alas, we digress..)

As we honor our mothers today, allow me a bit of a personal reflection — just sharing from my experience. Remember, of course, that each of our experiences are different. And that’s ok. It’s actually beautiful, too. We learn from one another…

My story is such that I have the very humbling joy and privilege to be the mother to three budding young men. Their gifts and personalities are distinct; we each have great, trusting relationships. No girls in my family. I figure God knew what he was doing as I still can’t tie a bow.

But when my oldest was born, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I felt this immediate, almost unconditional love for him. It’s like it came out of nowhere! It soon dawned on me that my mom must have felt that, too. That instant, agape kind of love.

When he was not even one and sent off in the ambulance due to emergency, unexplainable seizures, I remember never feeling fear like that before. This was different. This was deeper. I was so scared. I needed to trust in more than me, as this situation was so out of my control. I have no doubt I must have scared the living daylights out of my mom, too, some days. Not all my decisions were wise ones.

That fear only intensified when my youngest would fight for his life only five years later. Talk about a situation being out of our control. I learned then the intensity of a mother’s fear… even when the kid has no idea. Even when the mom says nothing. My older sons couldn’t see my fear. Sometimes as a mom it became oh-so-clear that it was not about me. It wasn’t. My mom knew that, too.

I remember, also, all those major pride moments… striking out the side, dancing the best routine of their life, going to prom, picking out a new car, or maybe the first time my youngest with special needs was successful at cooking eggs (including a wee bit of egg shell, of course). “You celebrate each kid exactly where they are.” No competition involved. I know now how proud my mom must have been.

Then there’s those big moments, the really big ones… when they graduate, choose a college, get that first job with a real paycheck with more than a singular zero. It’s fun to watch them — fun to watch them gain confidence in themselves, become increasingly more self-aware… again, even if they don’t notice we are watching. I know my mom was watching me. Sharing in that pride, no doubt.

And then there’s that leaving home. Ah, yes. That’s a harder one. But we’ve trained them for this — encouraged them to be independent. It’s time. And so we affirm and hug and say our goodbyes — but as soon as that car pulls out of the drive, the silent tears begin to more generously flow. I know my mom cried them, too. Those are good tears.

Yes, there’s something special about a mom.

Let me say again for some moms, I know this is a hard day.  There is still something deeply special about you.



to the class of ’23

Congratulations! Well done! Regardless of your individual path, you have completed something significant. You have persevered. No worries about figuring all of life immediately now out; your goal is simply to take the next step. It’s a big one. It’s beautiful, too. There are also a few things to remember.

Remember, grad… 

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance… 

As you enter adulthood — even in these current crazy, uncertain times — allow us to address some brief truths as you focus on these few, albeit noteworthy, next steps…

First, there really is a time for everything — every activity under heaven, every season under the sun. To be clear, you will not desire each of these times. Every activity will not be awesome nor every season incredibly joyous nor fun. Don’t let me discourage you; that’s not my intent. My intent is for you to be prepared to wisely wrestle with reality.

Remember that to enjoy and to embrace are not the same thing. As you face life’s next chapters, the truth is that there will be seasons and chapters that stretch you beyond your wildest imagination — beyond where you ever thought you’d go or perhaps ever even wanted. You have a choice in how to respond. Remember that. When the time comes to tear down or turn away, embrace the time; when the time comes to speak, speak — laugh, laugh — and certainly grieve, grieve. Enjoying the season is less important than learning from the experience. The wise one learns and grows from every experience… from the seasons that are hard. Even yes, from now.

Second — and don’t let me shock you — but contrary to any long-held belief or fictional, rhetorical chant, you cannot be whatever you want to be. Sorry. Remember we are wrestling with reality. (Note: I apologize now on behalf of parents everywhere for not always promoting reality either; see Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and/or that jolly old St. Nick).

The reality is you (we) cannot be whatever/whoever you want to be (ie. see the many who’ve thought they should be President). You can, though, be all that God created you to be. How?

Embrace your gifts. Utilize the unique wiring within you — the wiring that makes you distinctly, uniquely you. Don’t compare yourself to another, falling prey to society’s hollow teaching that another person’s wiring or set up is somehow better or worse than yours. Simply embrace your own strengths and grow from your weaknesses. Seek God first; seek his intention for your life; find your greatest identity in being his kid. Then be who he created you to be, and do what he created you to do. Don’t compare your calling to any other. It will never be lesser. Whatever you do, do it well. 

And third — perhaps because I’m more verbose than I wish to admit — allow me to humbly offer our traditional, brief, rapid fire of final encouragement — those final things we parents wish to say once more as we pass the blessed baton into adulthood…

Love deeply. Extend grace generously. Never view grace and truth as opposites, as each should be applied in full measure. Wash your sheets. More than twice a year. Don’t be selfish. Resist any quickness to anger. Be fast to forgive. Be humble. Forgive again. Pursue wisdom. Don’t judge any by the color of their skin. Don’t judge period. Know the difference between judgment and discerning right from wrong. Learn from others. Learn from the different. Don’t be torn down by lesser things. Don’t think that the different means wrong. Nor offensive. Expand your mind. Stay in the conversation. Be slow to find offense. Stay put. Stay put when it’s hard. Consider coffee. Limit sugars. Find the wisdom and joy in both fasting and feasting. Be intentional in enjoying a good donut. Be intentional with more. Take an interest in others. Be sincere. Separate the reds from the whites. Including the wine. Be charitable. Save some. Spend some. Give some away. Don’t be afraid of sorrow. Put down the device. Watch your screen time. Be cautious with social media. Talk to people. Don’t quicken to offense. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t think of equality with God as something to be grasped. Listen to the elderly; touch them. Invest in the young. Bow. Curtsy. Open doors for other people. Be unselfish. Do it again. Don’t keep count. Don’t make it about you. Show respect — in what you say and how you think. Remember that respect does not mean accepting as equally good and true. Remember that all things are not equally good and true. Know when to say that; know when to not. Look another in the eye. Use your napkin. Be discerning. Be aware that just because something feels good, it might not be wise. Be prayerful. Figure the faith thing out. And embrace each and every season shared above. Embrace the time to laugh. Again and again. Cry. Grieve. And yes, dance. Always dance.

There is a time for everything. Still and especially now. Don’t let any current circumstance make you doubt the hope and the future God has planned for you. He has a plan. And it is good.

Congrats, grads! It’s your time to dance. Enjoy as we so celebrate you.

To the Class of 2023…


is that all we’re known for?

As I tuned in briefly to watch the really royal affair, fascinated by the bona fide pomp and circumstance, all sorts of questions swirled through this western wonderer’s fairly inquisitive mind. (ie. Where’s Harry? Isn’t Kate awesome? Isn’t Prince Louis the cutest? What would Diana think? Where’s the diversity? Does Prince Andrew still qualify to don the regal garb? And of course… where do they get those hats? Do they not know they’re crooked on their heads?)

But alas, I digress.

Intrigued by much, many caught my eye. But one made me think a little more.

As I watched Camilla Rosemary Shand then Parker Bowles then Duchess of Cornwall then Queen Consort to now (hopefully in the Palace’s eyes, just) Queen, the magnificence of the moment made me think of what she is known for. 

The bigger question, no less, is are we known for singular moments? Sole seasons in life? 

Or do we look at more?

Queen Camilla prompts an excellent question. As yesterday’s private promenade made its way to Buckingham’s public balcony, the masses ardently cheered for the newly crowned king and his bride. Is she known for being Queen? Or… in a respectful albeit inconvenient question… is she known for being one of so-called “three” in the King’s first marriage, the married woman who would have an ongoing affair with then Prince Charles while he was married to Princess Diana? Longtime royal watchers will attest that for many years, after the affair was a most poorly held secret, Camilla was known as one of the most hated women in Britain. Princess Diana’s tragic, untimely death, vilified Camilla even more.

So which is she most known for?

The villain or the victor? The devoted or the deceitful? The conniver or the Queen?

So that bigger question — and the one that’s relevant here, as it pertains to far more than the British royals — is: is it fair — wait — is it accurate to be known for only one thing? In other words, can we be known for more?

For example…

Ray Lewis is a very respected NFL Hall of Famer, after a successful career, marked by his contagious leadership. Inducted in 2018, he would begin by saying, “Oh, listen to me carefully. When God tells you something, believe Him. Listen to me. No matter the journey, oh, there’s too many ups and downs, but, boy, when you believe Him.” 18 years prior, Lewis was arrested and indicted on murder charges. He would later accept a plea deal helping him to avoid prison. He embraced what it means to be graciously given a second chance.

Robert Downey Jr. now enthusiastically enthralls millions as American superhero Iron Man. He is engaging, charismatic, and just downright fun to watch as Marvel’s movie star man. Little would one know of what his career previously entailed. Becoming a drug addict at age 8, his substance abuse would swell, spending much of his 20’s floundering and his 30’s arrested on drug-related charges, time in prison, and losing roles. He, too, is therefore, a story of redemption… one indeed for whom, should be known for more than one thing.

I think of this often in this whole cancel culture movement — this idea that it’s ok to shut down something or someone for a perceived wrong committed at one time in their life. In contemporary times, it’s a shutting down of present activity. In past times, it’s an erasing of history. It’s assuming they know all that we know now. It’s assuming only they (never we) make significant mistakes. And it’s assuming that singular moment, that sole season in life, is all they should ever be known for.

In October of 2011, Robert Downey Jr. was being honored at the 25th American Cinematheque Awards. Downey chose actor Mel Gibson, another who has had more than one shining and not so shining moment over the course of his career to introduce him. Gibson would publicly say of Downey, after his very public moral failing, that Downey was one of the first not to shun, but to reach out, to recognize that we are always about more. Downey would call and say to Gibson, “Hey, welcome to the club. Let’s go see what we can do to work on ourselves.”

What sweet wisdom it is to know that we are known for more… to know, too, that redemption can be the most beautiful thing. 



the codependence of Biden and Trump

Ok, friends, let’s do it. Let’s go totally political today because we can. And because we know we’re going to be inundated with a coming monstrosity of ads, insults and manipulated impression management the closer we get to 2024 — and will thus need to turn the TV off and stay away from all newsy sources and sites in order to maintain some sense of individual sanity. Today, though, just today, before things get tougher, tenser and rhetorically turbulent, let’s talk one aspect of the 2024 presidential race.

Ugh. Egad. We said it out loud. Well, out loud for a blog post, that is.

The exasperated sigh within the above “ugh” and “egad” is because we know this is going to get ugly. I will say it and think it some three zillion times between now and ‘24’s November. I just don’t understand how seemingly intelligent people can justify speaking so consistently horribly about other people. On both sides of the aisle. One of my most prominent takeaways from recent election cycles is how obvious it is that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing. The wise one never justifies ongoing insult and disrespect.

So before more magniloquent fuel stokes the partisan fire, allow me to share a working supposition I’m playing with at the onset of the upcoming election season. Note that a supposition is only a theory — and a working one at that. But increasingly more, I’m believing it to be true…

Presidents Joe Biden and Donald Trump need each other, and as a country, we need neither.

Hear no inflammatory rhetoric. No ferocity either. With all due respect, from this admittedly limited, distant vantage point, I think Joe needs Donald, Donald needs Joe, and we as a country would be better off if neither of them was our primary leader.

Let me be as plain-stated as possible. When I listen to Pres. Trump, I rarely walk away impressed by any deep sense of humility. I don’t find him consistently compassionate. I thus often feel his real campaign slogan is “Elect Me Because I’m Donald Trump.”

When I listen to Pres. Biden, there are multiple moments where cognitive decline is clearly in question. I don’t find him consistently competent. But he beat Trump once. I thus often feel his real campaign slogan is “Elect Me Because I’m NOT Donald Trump.”

Both of them seem to be running on a referendum on the 45th President of the United States. Such was evident in each of their reelection campaign announcements. Neither touted a litany of accomplishment; each alluded more to personality than policy.

Friends, as a country, we’ve got some tough challenges in need of discerning next best steps and efficient solutions… the economy, health care, immigration, inflation, spending, national security, individual safety, civil liberties, welfare, election integrity, environment, poverty, climate, crime, gun deaths, free speech, religious freedom, national unity, not to mention China, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, and so much more. But if two people from two different angles are more focused on who they are or are not, that tells me it’s less about us than it is about them. And if it’s about them, then they are not serving our country well.

There is no one person our country is in dire need of. In fact, every HR director worth his or her salt, so-to-speak, will tell you that the best leaders are those who know they are replaceable — who know that we can survive and actually thrive with or without them… Do your job. Do it well. But have a level of self-awareness that recognizes you are just one person. You are not Jesus. You are not the Savior we are desperately in need of… I admit. I respectfully question the self-awareness of both the current and most recent President.

Presidents Biden and Trump keep acting like we need them. The reality is they need each other; it plays into their desired mantra since neither is popular with a majority of the country. So they propagandishly paint the other as some sort of death to democracy, and then each act as if they alone can and need to save us. Sorry. That’s misleading and used to promote their own partisan cause. There are far more people on this planet who are both compassionate and competent and know they are not called nor capable of being our Savior. There are far more people on this planet who know how to respect more than one political party.

We’re not the only ones noting this national dysfunction. NBC’s “Meet the Press” — not known for their absence of bias — kicked off this week’s “First Read” briefing by calling it “the codependent presidential campaign of 2024.” It’s codependent because the majority of us don’t want either to be President, but Biden and Trump are each relying on the other, nemesis and all, to help them get there. 

To be clear, “codependence” is unquestionably unhealthy. We deserve better and more.