Or: That time I tried talking about capitalism in a way that I think matters and makes sense at personal and social scales

The Torment of St. Anthony by Michelangelo. Wikimedia Commons.

What I’m doing here: clarifying ideal types

This reflection touches on history, and it can help us think and talk more clearly about history. That includes the history in which we’re living at the moment. But the heart of what I’m doing here is clarifying some concepts and their relationships to each other. In other words, this is a modelling exercise, or an exercise in clarifying some ideal types.

What’s the point of something like that? It…

Who we are

We are an ecumenical network of people who are committed to practicing, studying and training the teachings that Jesus describes as foundational: the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

There’s more detail on this here.

How we build our movement

We are a training and equipping movement. We focus on impacting people and the world by helping people persistently deepen in the joyful art of creatively following Jesus.

We adopt a flexible and structured approach to training. Instead of a single method or program or process, we use and share a variety of kits.

A kit is a…

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If you want to understand US politics today, you need to understand cults and their mind-control methods. Here, I’ll use the idea of “coalitions of clay” to describe the way some groups are held together by an unstable combination of psychological denial and plausible deniability.

By psychological denial, I mean the “authentically inauthentic” process by which a person becomes genuinely unaware of some reality (at least at points and to some degree) by suppressing it. It happens a lot in abusive relationships, on the side of both the abuser and the abused. It sometimes happens automatically and non-consciously, but it…

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I think the US is potentially going through a deep political re-alignment right now, especially if Trump and Trumpists don’t end up being prosecuted effectively. The issue here is just the reverse of what happened in the courts with Trump’s election fraud claims: one of the most salient things to point to, in terms of US public life, is that Trump’s efforts collapsed completely in court. (It also doesn’t hurt that people like his communications director are admitting they all knew it was all lies.)

The US needs good prosecutors who can hold Trump legally accountable once he is out…

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One thing that the US Capital attack on 1/6 can help teach us is why “diversity of tactics” (a euphemism for campaigns that embrace both violence and non-violence, where convenient) is both bad and dumb.

I first encountered the concept of “diversity of tactics” among white anarchist kids during the anti-corporate-globalization movement. There, the debate was largely about whether property destruction is violence at all. Unlike the recent attacks on the US Capitol, nobody was planning things like kidnapping or murder. Still, “diversity of tactics” stood for the idea that it was tactically optimal to have some level of mayhem…

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The other night I had a long conversation with Katie about the use of the term “Banana Republic” in statements like this one: “This isn’t us. This is Banana Republic stuff, not what happens in the United States of America.”

She was disturbed by it and read up on the history of the term, and we talked about what is so wrong with this.

To condense a lot of reflection into a nutshell, the issue is that when someone says this, painful truths are suppressed by this strange and dysfunctional “other kind of country” that has nothing to do with…

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This year on Epiphany, the US had a moment that was even more apocalyptic than I was expecting. Apocalyptic doesn’t mean “the end of space-time”. It refers to concealed things becoming clear. Hidden things unveiled.

The events of Epiphany this year revealed the fruit of a particular pattern of power-building that has been with humans throughout recorded history. This pattern involves slander, mafia-style loyalty tests, harsh punishments and recriminations, the pleasures of solidarity (even if only imagined) with the powerful and rich, the hatred of enemies, and the avoidance of truth-seeking reconciliation practices. What does this pattern create? …

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Before I saw the Confederate battle flag flying over yesterday’s attack on the US capitol, I was confident that I would find it there. Trump’s entire effort to de-legitimize the votes of cities where many traditionally black-caste Americans live has a terribly familiar ring to it.

I’m not the only one who can see the neo-Confederate stamp on this movement as plain as we all saw that hateful symbol outside of the Senate yesterday. You can ask Senator Lindsey Graham, who until last night was carrying a lot of water for Trump’s attempt to revive the specter of the Confederacy…

Photo by Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

Parody packs a double punch, especially when it passes for the real thing. Especially these days, I don’t think we can understand parody without understanding both intentional and unintentional self-parody.

1. Parody Powerfully Discourages Parodied Behavior

On the front end, parody makes something laughable and embarrassing, and so it drives people away from it. Basically, it is a way of saying, “Don’t do that” because “that” (whatever is parodied) is so embarrassing that you should stay very far from it.

For example, I remember the excruciating feeling of watching the British Office while working as a manager, and wondering at every turn if I had ever…

Daniel Heck

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.

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