Bonhoeffer on True Leadership

“If [the true Leader] understands his function in any other way than as it is rooted in fact, if he does not continually tell his followers quite clearly of the limited nature of his task and of their own responsibility, if he allows himself to surrender to the wishes of his followers, who would always make him their idol – then the image of the Leader will pass over into the image of the mis-leader, and he will be acting in a criminal way not only towards those he leads, but also towards himself. The true Leader must always be able to disillusion. It is not just that this is his responsibility and real object. He must lead his following away from the authority of his person to the recognition of the real authority of orders and offices…He must radically refuse to become the appeal, the idol, i.e. the ultimate authority of those whom he leads…He serves the order of the state, of the community, and his service can be of incomparable value. But only so long as he keeps strictly in his place…He has to lead the individual into his own maturity…Now a feature of man’s maturity is responsibility towards other people, towards existing orders…”

Gratitude Detox

The Taylor Study Method has just posted an article I wrote on using gratitude to detox your brain. I pointed out that when you pay attention to negativity, you actually create toxins in your brain. This includes simply thinking negative thoughts. However, by cultivating an attitude of gratitude, you can starve all thinking that is negative, disordered or toxic. Just as fire can’t survive in an environment of water, so toxic thinking can’t survive in a neurological environment characterized by constant gratitude.

Use Gratitude to Detox Your Brain

Sin and Virtue are both Difficult

From my recent Touchstone feature, ‘The Cross of Least Resistance‘:

If we look into the faces of people whose lives revolve around the pursuit of sinful lusts, we often see how severe is the toll exacted by their lifestyle. In many respects, sin is hard work, but its fruits are things like heaviness, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. Those who strive to live for others and who strain after virtues like humility, gratitude, compassion, and charity also find life hard work, but the fruits they reap are things like serenity, inner well-being, and joy.

Strengthening the Habits of Virtue

From ‘Do What Comes Naturally…But Work at it‘:

Lab research shows that human beings have a limited amount of will-power in any given situation. That is why, if you try to run the Christian life on will-power alone, sooner or later you’ll run into trouble when confronting a big temptation. It is good for each of us to work on gradually increasing our will-power, which we can do through practicing ascetic disciplines; however, the surest defense against temptation lies not in will-power but in habituation. The thousands of tiny choices we face every day are opportunities to strengthen the habits of virtue, to make right behavior natural for us. It’s in all these small choices—the things that don’t seem very important to us at the time—that virtue becomes habituated and we gradually develop the inner resources to remain faithful in the face of more challenging circumstances and temptations. The decisions to serve others, to recall our minds back to prayer when we begin thinking about ourselves, to be patient with those who annoy us, to practice impulse control when we begin mindlessly surfing online, to practice attentiveness towards those we love, to constantly shift loss-frames to gain-frames, to practice mindfulness to control our brains—these and hundreds of other choices we face every day are opportunities to define the types of behaviors that become habituated in us, so that when we find ourselves in an extremely challenging situation, we won’t have to rely on will-power alone, but can act automatically out of habit.

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How to Discuss Politics Without Being Annoying

There’s an American maxim which says you shouldn’t discuss religion or politics in polite society. It’s hard not to have some sympathy with this advice, especially during the election cycle. After all, just look at how our political debates have become an emblem of all that is degenerate in our political discourse.

Even among friends, conversations about who should be our next president can quickly become divisive and alienating, while frank discussion of political disagreements rarely proves constructive and edifying.

Well, I’m here to suggest the impossible: political disagreements, when handled right, can actually be constructive and relationship-building.

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The Importance of the Electoral College

An article by Tara West for The Inquisitr makes a good case for why the Electoral College is important:

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This map shows the counties that Trump won vs. the counties that Clinton won. Without the electoral college candidates would only have to focus on the important counties that are crucial to tipping the balance of the popular vote.

…the reasoning behind the Electoral College [is] to ensure that non-urban dwelling citizens have their voices heard in the election. If there was no Electoral College, the 100 most populous counties (just 3 percent of the total county count) would determine every election unless something significant happened within the U.S. geography makeup. Therefore, rural voters’ concerns would be placed on the back burner of all presidential elections and platforms.” 

 

Pragmatism and the Keep-it-Simple Stupid Paradigm

From my article ‘American Pragmatism Comes to Roost in Donald Trump‘:

“…a hallmark of the pragmatic orientation has been to evacuate questions of ultimate meaning as we address only the question ‘What works?’ When one becomes animated by this type of radical pragmatism, the result is to gloss over the ambiguities and confusions that are inextricably bound up with life in the real world, and instead to propose grand narratives that reduce all problems to a single cause or set of causes. Within the calculus of this reality-is-simple paradigm, compromise becomes delegitimized while opposing opinions are demonized.”

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