5 Quick Things #254 🍂
Einsteins, Franciscans, Carmelites, & dirt
I’m a bit slow writing to you this morning because I was up way past my bedtime last night (midnight! The horror!) — my high school students and I went to see Hamlet performed by The Baron’s Men, a local Shakespeare troupe with a literal patron who literally built them a Globe Theatre replica on his land in central Austin. It was an absolute delight, and it was an absolute late night since the play didn’t begin until 8 pm and it’s Shakespeare’s longest! But I was reminded — yet again — how easily teenagers are written off as unable to engage in old works, long-form content, or otherwise difficult “cultured” affairs. They loved it! When you respectfully expect much from others, they’ll usually rise to the occasion.
My agenda for the next few days, especially after a weekend of work travel last Friday through Sunday, is to write, record a podcast, grade essays, and then dig in the dirt. Every time I engage for days nonstop in heady work, I find this is the best (and only, really) antidote. We need to remember we’re not just brains being carted around in human suits. Our bodies crave stepping on grass, getting dirt in our fingernails, and aching at the end of a day of manual labor.
5 Quick Things ☕️
1. “I think the most depressing fact about humanity is that during the 2000s most of the world was handed essentially free access to the entirety of knowledge and that didn’t trigger a golden age.” Oh man, I loved this deep-dive into why engagement with learning is so much more important than access. …He made a bajillion good points, yet I’m curious what the ideal 21st-century solution is.
2. A guy looking for a stand mixer at an estate sale instead finds a 13th century medieval manuscript.
3. “Think of all the things children and adolescents aren’t doing when they are staring into their phones: playing games, reading books, exploring the woods, riding their bikes to Dairy Queen on a hot summer day, giggling with a friend, having one of those deep conversations that changes their lives for the better.” A short but powerful reminder why it’s so ridiculous we give kids smartphones.
4. I’ve always loved October, and I love that so many powerhouse saints’ feast days are this month. St. Francis’ feast day was this past week: “The creatures of the earth begin to store their food and hoard items to keep them warm and comfortable during the winter. Perhaps they are guided by the gentle whispers of a Franciscan. In this, they seem wise.” St. Francis, pray for us.
5. And finally, beautiful cinematography, beautiful project, beautiful lives, beautiful message about authenticity — “if it looks like a stone wall it needs to be a stone wall. …I want the janitor’s closet to be beautiful.”
Currently Reading, Watching, Listening 📻
My new Cozy Autumn playlist
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne #
Who’s the Best Muppet? 🐸
For the first time since I started these little polls, you guys are unequivocally wrong. How is this guy not the best Muppet?
Find this week’s poll here.
Quick Links 🔗
Become a paying subscriber of The Commonplace (and thank you!)
The Commonplace is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts, consider becoming a subscriber:
Question(s) For You to Ponder… 🤔
What’s your version of digging in the dirt? How will you make time for it this weekend?
Have a good weekend,
p.s. If you do it right, once is enough.
I liked the autumn essay you posted until I got to the words "the lumbering yellow school bus" where students are whisked off to be "dehumanized, demythologized " and groomed "to live a meaningless life." I work in a Title 1 (high poverty) school -- you know, like Uvalde. Our students are loved, known by name and lifted up. For many, it is their safe place. Essays like these do a great disservice to the many, many Christians who work in public schools because of a call to serve all God's children. To paint such a dismal picture of the place I work is, to me, against the "magnanimous spirit" this website says it wants to espouse.