God is a gutter ball

Miscellanea #50: In praise of doubt, some things to think about, and an early treat for your ears — plus some black and whites from the Quarter

“I’m interested in that thing that happens where there’s a breaking point for some people and not for others. You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there’s no sign that it’s going to get any better, and that’s the point when people quit. But some don’t.” — Robert Redford

It bothered me, this thought that particular people and places needed God. Obvious now, it was a phony idea. But allowed the space, it weighed on me — a draping purple curtain doused in holy water, the velvet crusting on my shoulders, becoming my shape.

In hindsight, I see the personal space I unflinchingly yielded to toxic belief systems and understand that it wasn’t the ideas themselves I cherished, but in vain I sought their benefits and the structure they rendered me — the sureness of basic friendships and the freedom from uncomfortable questions, the guide rails that became my god. No gutter balls; my god literally forbid I fail.

Separated from this delusion, it’s plain to see: god is everywhere. Nobody, and no place, needs God more than the next. Because do you feel the city breathing? God is the goofy-gaited cross-dresser, a waterside whiff of black-and-milds, the untimely distress of a bad phone call in perfect weather. God is a stick, dropped on your doormat. God is a mad lib.

God is a gutter ball.

In stepping away from a creed of tired believers, I see everything and know nothing. I step through time, in a slow embrace with dimming deltas, and I question. I wish I had known that the sun would still fracture the clouds. They’re only water.

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Think about it

“According to his teachings, you don’t have to follow Jesus or practice the tenets of any formal religion to come by salvation, you just have to ‘fall in love with the divine presence, under whatever name.’”
Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe

“Because I think a lot of the knots we're tied up in, just in our culture, are about us being so puritanical about the way another person says something. If they push any of our buttons with a word or phrasing they use, then we just give up on them. But in fact, we're all carrying all kinds of different connotations with the words we use and the ways we phrase things.”
Krista Tippett on How to Have Big Conversations

“The issue for many people isn’t exactly a denial of truth as such. It’s more a growing weariness over the process of finding the truth at all. And that weariness leads more and more people to abandon the idea that the truth is knowable.”
“Flood the zone with shit”: How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy

“When the Spanish took control of Louisiana in the 1760s, they brought with them a powerful legal instrument, coartacion, which gave slaves the right to buy their freedom. For enslaved black women in the city, Tooker says, selling calas was a key way to earn money for these purchases.”
Meet The Calas, A New Orleans Tradition That Helped Free Slaves

And by the way: Self-optimization misses the point and obsessive productivity is overrated.

For your pleasure

Previously, I’ve shared my ‘best of the year’ playlists at the end of the year. But this year I’m changing course and letting you in on the process. Feel free to follow along as I curate my favorite tunes of 2020. Just 6 weeks in, it’s pacing at a sturdy 30ish songs. Listen below — or if you love Apple Music like me, listen here.

Extra, extra 📷