What's Tony Thinking

End of the Week, Beginning of the Month


August over, hail September. Footballs flying, although if you’re a college football fan you may have no clue as to which collegiate conference your favorite team is now a member. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners, part of the toughest division in baseball, the American League West, are making a run for first place and a return to October baseball. Yahoo!

Teen Happiness and Teen Angst. I blogged the other day on the wonderful essay, “A Constitution for Teenage Happiness.”

Flipping to the other side of the coin — to what is making teens, and their parents, crazy. A new book by Jennifer Breheny Wallace, Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic and What To Do About It. Wallace’s book is the subject of a “Prof G Podcast” with Scott Galloway. Definitely worth a listen.

While there isn’t any mention of religion or Christianity by Wallace, it is basically all about the difference between Law and Grace in the lives of kids and parents. Absent grace — what Wallace calls “mattering” — achievement culture becomes a toxic tyranny of Law and “never enough.” Another bit of what’s been lost with the decline of mainline and liberal Christianity and a gracious faith context for people and families.

I Traded My Smartphone for An Ax. You might also enjoy checking out the runner-up winners in the Free Press essay contest. One is titled, “I Had a Helicopter Mom. I Found Pornhub Anyway.” The other is “I Traded My Smartphone for an Ax.”

A Church for Nones? Several of you sent me Perry Bacon’s Washington Post column, “I Left My Church and Now Long for a Church for Nones,” expressing your appreciation and agreement with Bacon. While I was sympathetic to Bacon’s longing and liked his kind-hearted message, I agree with the Mockingbird writer, Ben Maddison, who responded to Bacon more tartly:

Bacon’s request. according to Maddison, could be boiled down to: “I want a church where I’m not required to believe anything, not expected to attend, don’t want my life changed, will never hear anything that challenges me, and I’m never asked for money.” To which Ben adds, “Sir, you are talking about a library and it’s just down the road.”

Ross Douthat also responded to Bacon’s column with one of his own. RD doubts you can sustain a church on only the secondary benefits of community and ethics, but absent any real faith/ theological convictions.

If you need to pee, go to Iceland. The Nation magazine had an article on the disappearance of public toilets in the U.S. Here there are 8 public toilets per 100,000 people. In Iceland, 56 per 100,000. The article blames this on underfunding in the public sector, while others point out that public restrooms have become haunts of the drug addicted. Anyhow, and as a man of a certain age, I agree with an expert on all this who said, “The state of a civilization can be measured by its public toilets.”

But Don’t Go to Seattle to Find A Bathroom or Business Open. Danny Westneat has been doing a bang-up job of shining a light on the degradation of downtown Seattle. This week’s focus, “Little Saigon.” He calls out the City Council, which has kept a law on drug use in public in limbo, as contributing to the problem. After citing the terrible overdose numbers and closure of businesses in Little Saigon, Westneat adds,

“This concentrated woe cries out for sustained intervention of some kind. It could be a place, for example, to try the state’s new law governing the use of drugs in public. The cops along with social workers could use the leverage of possible arrest to clear the sidewalks and push people toward counseling and drug treatment. If people don’t or won’t try those offramps, then there’d be possible charges and consequences. That’s the way state Democrats set it up to work. But this law sits in limbo right now in Seattle. The Seattle City Council is alone in the state refusing to codify it, calling it too reactionary. Now they’re off on a summer recess.”

Trump is going to demagogue the issue of drug addiction in the coming campaign, count on it.

All for now, enjoy the Labor Day Weekend!



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