Many in the auditorium cheered as the Navy SEAL team took down the final three pirates at the movie’s climax, yet I sat silent. I know I was supposed to cheer at the superiority of our military (of whom I am incredibly proud, because HOLY COW they are good!), yet the moment felt somehow different than a similar scene in Zero Dark Thirty when SEALs took down Osama Bin Laden. It wasn’t as if the United States was wrong to kill the Somali pirates holding Captain Phillips hostage. In fact, the young men were committing one of the oldest and most contemptible international crimes. Yet, while grateful for the U.S. military and our incredible Navy SEALs who keep innocents like Captain Phillips and ourselves safe and free every day, I simultaneously mourned for those slain pirates. Not particularly the moment of their death, but instead the tragic inevitability of their life that led them to that moment.
In an era of social media and 24-hour news cycles, people disagree often. Whether it’s Miley Cyrus, the government shutdown, award shows, or football games, people disagree vehemently always and often. In this era, there is arguably no one who invokes more ardent loyalty or utter disgust than Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some view him as the lone voice of reason in the wilderness standing for what is right in America, while others think he hates minorities of every kind and is terrible for America. Most admit that he is one of the smartest and wittiest minds in the legal field today, although people debate to what extent he uses his legal powers for good or evil.
Regardless, Scalia is a fascinating figure and has had a front-seat to U.S. legal, political, and cultural shifts since the mid-1970s. So it was refreshing recently when New York Magazine interviewed Scalia in a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred interview. While there is a lot of insight for legal nerds of all ideologies, there was a lot revealed in the interview that should be interesting to all Americans. What does Scalia think about Facebook, Seinfeld, different media outlets, the current state of political gridlock, Pope Francis, poker, heaven, hell, the Devil, and his place in history?
Well, here’s the Top 20 things we learned. Enjoy! To read the entire interview (which is well worth doing especially if you want to understand how he thinks about legal matters), click here.
I woke up this morning to a phone call from Mary. Most of my mornings start this way. Like most of us, she’s anxious in the morning about the day’s events and responsibilities. She’s anxious about what she’s doing that day. She’s curious about what I’m doing. So we chat for several minutes before we each start our day.
This morning, after our usual conversation, Mary asked me, “What’s today?”
She remembered. She’ll never forget. She can’t forget. She was only 12 years old, but she remembers 9-11-2001. She remembers the fears, the tears, and the confusion. She also remembers more clearly the bravery of the firemen and policemen. The bravery of the ordinary Americans. The sacrifice of our soldiers.
If all Americans only remembered as well as Mary does.
I still remember where I was that morning. In 9th grade at White Station High School in Memphis, TN, I had first period gym. I jogged over to the office to drop off the attendance. I saw the images of flaming buildings on the news. The secretaries’ faces were glazed over. I assumed it was an early morning movie on TBS or the latest schtick on The Daily Show. Then, I saw the CBS logo in the corner. I knew it was real. And I had goosebumps all over.
Every year The Commercial Appeal releases a list, the best that Memphis has to offer—staple institutions in Memphis. These institutions, selected by the readers of Memphis’ most historic newspaper, are the quintessential establishments that continue to make Memphis proud, year and year again. They will forever be recorded as victors in the annual Memphis Most.
If one is a true Memphian, they will frequent these locations; not because they are on some list, but because they truly are the best of the best in Memphis. However, there are so many wonderful restaurants, museums, clubs, and stores that sometimes you may miss one or two. I spent the last two weeks trying to surround myself in winners from The Commercial Appeal’s Memphis Most. Here are a few of my favorites. Read more
I know it’s only July, but I think we can call this thing since it’s all politics anyway. The song of the year will be awarded to Macklemore’s Same Love. Aside from its obvious representation of a colossal shift in culture, the merits of this work are numerous. Its tone is not angry, but hopeful. He has taken the blame for hate toward homosexuals and spread it across the country, between many likely suspects: conservatives and Christians yes, but also rappers, anonymous Internet commenters, and even grade school children. He then affirms that hate is not a necessary byproduct of religion, but of a detached ignorance common in all of humanity. Macklemore reveals that his own activism is a result of his personal relationship with an uncle who is gay.
A few tears streamed down my face as I fell asleep last night reading this article. Sobs came this morning as I tried to relay to my wife, Palmer, the tragedy of Robert Ethan Saylor.
In early January, at a movie theater in a mall in Frederick, Maryland, a 26-year old man named Ethan Saylor saw “Zero Dark Thirty.” He loved it so much that he clapped when it was over and wanted to see it again right away. You see, Ethan is special. Ethan has an extra chromosome. He has Down Syndrome. Unlike 90% of unborn babies today who show this extra chromosome in prenatal screenings, Ethan got to live 26 years of a wonderful life. A life cut too short, too soon.
As Palmer and my second wedding anniversary approaches, friends often ask the question of what I’ve learned in marriage. I’ve written about the power of marriage before. Some of our contemporary society’s most divisive and polarizing debates concern the fundamental nature of what marriage is or what marriage is not. More than half of American marriages end in divorce. There are countless posts out there on the internet written by conservatives, liberals, and everyone in-between about the nature of marriage, the decline of marriage, how that decline increases poverty and chances that children will commit crime and numerous other indicators that should worry us as a society. I’m not writing a post about that today.
As my second anniversary approaches, I look at what Christ says about marriage. I look at what Paul says about marriage. I ponder why Christ’s relationship with the Church is a frequent model for husbands and wives in marriages. There are many theological and political debates to be had here, but that is not my intention. What Paul calls the “profound mystery” holds the key to my reflection on marriage, which reveals within me how self-centered I can truly be. But while Palmer loves me in spite of and sometimes even because of my self-centeredness, I’m humbled and begin to grasp 1% of what Christ’s unconditional and sacrificial love is all about.