Month: April 2019

Why is this Night Different? The Problem of the Christian Seder

Beth Cole had not yet decided whether or not she would make a brisket for the Passover Seder this week. “I was going to bring the brisket, but I think I’m going to do a roast chicken, because I have to cook for, like, ten people,” she says. Besides, it isn’t her Seder; she will be a guest at the home of one of her fellow congregants of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. It’s a Christian Seder. Although once an unusual practice historically condemned by Church leaders, Christian Seders have become an increasingly common feature...

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Banned from Facebook

I write this in response to inquiries about my 29-day suspension from Facebook, determined, as far as I can tell, by algorithmic authority rather than human intervention. I can’t post, I can’t message, I can’t comment.  All I can do is hit “Like.”  It’s frustrating, especially since I have to ask friends, who have more pressing matters on their minds, to post what I’m writing at FB, where it gets more play than at P/L. Here’s what happened. A dim-witted law professor accused me of racism because I called John Brown, the purest of abolitionists, a terrorist.  I responded in kind, calling him “a holy fool” and “a fucking moron,” citing the authority of no less than Frederick Douglass and W E. B. Du Bois—Douglass declined to join Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, thinking that it was a dangerous fool’s errand, and Du Bois, in his biography of Brown, characterized him as a man obsessed, a man who had given up on politics.  (John Stauffer’s more recent book on these subjects verifies their judgments even as it praises Brown’s fierce devotion to the abolition of slavery.) The professor complained, or somebody did, and that was that. Now then.  The dim-witted law professor kept saying that slavery is terrorism, and therefore opposition to slavery can’t be.  By calling Brown a terrorist, he suggested, I was siding with slavery, and that choice...

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These Streets

  I walk these streets thinking of you, as always, I remember what never happened, I’m pitched forward in time, nostalgic  For the moments still unplanned.   You’re with me as I’m walking, as always, You remind me of things that never were, You’re somewhere behind me, speaking  Of events that won’t occur.    I love you for this ability, as always, You commemorate what’s come undone, Don’t be discouraged, you’re thinking Of the catastrophe to...

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Used Cars by David-Matthew Barnes

Installment 44 evokes landscapes of isolation and secrecy: queer kids driving under the radar, forced outside of the lines.  David-Matthew Barnes makes every word and line matter, conjuring rich life worlds with his concise simplicity. *** Used Cars Once we were kicked out of our shared room in the boarding house, we slept in a car for a month. We panhandled at gas stations, scraping together a first month’s rent and deposit. Not knowing about things like credit checks, applications, family trips. We saw the children of the people who gave us change, scared by our sorrow and what...

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“The Birds, and the Stars, and the Chimney Sweeps”: Revisiting the Anti-Capitalist Moral World of “Mary Poppins” in Light of its New Sequel

In December 2018 I strolled into an evening showing of a movie I had formerly committed to avoid as seriously as I do tailgates or seafood restaurants: Mary Poppins Returns, a film which, even before I say anything else, I think everyone can agree never actually needed to be made. I did, I think it’s worth saying, ultimately choose to go see it of my own free will, and by myself. But I did not go because I wanted to experience magic or wonder or “remember what it was like to be a kid again” (which is often the...

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