What's Tony Thinking

Against Taking Sides


And now for your listening enjoyment . . . I mentioned in my last post that I had again been a guest on the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast. I joined Jason Micheli and Teen Hardy to discuss a piece I’d written that was published under the title “The Ministry Is Not a CEO.”

Against Taking Sides. Liked this a lot. From the literary critic and essayist, William Deresiewicz, quoted at the Dispatch Newsletter:

Do you take “sides” or do you have “positions”? For the good of democracy, William Deresiewicz hopes it’s the latter. “‘Side’ carries with it an entire worldview; it tells us how to think and feel,” he writes for Persuasion. “As soon as you say ‘side,’ you’re saying there are only two: the right one and the wrong one, us versus them, good versus evil.

“‘Positions’ involves a very different set of practices than ‘sides.’ ‘Sides’ goes with debates, where each party tries to ‘win,’ to show that they are ‘right,’ by bashing away at the other. At best you might decide the truth lies somewhere ‘in the middle.’ ‘Positions’ goes with conversations. You listen; you acknowledge doubt; you think out loud; you learn. You both learn. You discover things together neither of you would have come to on your own. You might meet in the middle, but you’re as likely to decide that the truth, or at least your next best approximation of the truth, lies somewhere else altogether—in a different direction, or another dimension. And you can do all this because the stakes aren’t existential anymore. Your identity—as a member of your ‘side’—is no longer riding on the outcome. You can breathe. You can think.”

Republicans: Time to Grow Up. Also liked this piece by former GOP Congressman, Bob Inglis, who suggested that many of his colleagues now in Congress need to grow up. (I’m not optimistic about Matt Gaetz paying heed as growing up would, in his case, mean losing his whole schtick.)

Inglis was confessional, acknowledging that in his own first stint in Congress in the 90’s he cast votes that he lived to regret and by which he is now embarrassed. Here’s Inglis:

“When politicians grow up, they search their careers for substantive accomplishments. The temporary affections of the political crowd, the petty disagreements, the party rivalries are lost in a quest for greater significance. ‘Am I/was I about something big enough to be about?’ the grown-up politician wonders. ‘Am I/was I about leading or following — the wandering crowd, the party leader presenting a clear danger to the Republic, the aging colleague needing to leave the stage?’ ‘Was I an agent of chaos in a house divided, or did I work to bring America together, healing rifts and bridging divides?'”

More, for your listening enjoyment. Lindsay Zoladz who writes about music for the NYT asked for reader suggestions about favorite autumn songs. Mine is “When Fall Comes to New England.” Here’s a recording of it by Cheryl Wheeler. Enjoy!



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