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5 Quick Things #300 🥕
Michaelmas, unmixed attention, titans of technology, & good problems
In some ways I can hardly believe this is the three-hundredth (!) installment of 5 Quick Things, but on the other hand, I feel like I've been writing on the internet since it was done on stone tablets so it kinda checks out. I started this series before it was on Substack as an email-only enterprise, and I remember back in mid-2019 asking a few writing friends whether I should migrate both my Patreon and 5QT to this new-ish platform called Substack. The response? “What's a Substack?” Understandable. It was definitely a leap of faith to try out this newfangled platform that hardly anyone I knew was using.
I'm grateful for the wisdom over the past decade and a half that’s helped me make the decisions I've made about my work on the internet: starting stuff (a blog, a podcast, a newsletter), quitting stuff (a blog, a podcast, social media)—those little hints of intuition that peek at what's just around the bend, both good and bad, about the digital space, are worth listening to. They've been for me, anyway.
Four years in, and I am beyond happy with Substack. The collection of phenomenal Substack writers here just keeps growing by the day, so if you're at all inclined to write but aren't sure where to begin, I encourage you to consider starting a newsletter here and just be consistent. Yes, it'll just be your mom and an old friend for awhile. That's okay. Don't despise small beginnings. Stay true to your voice.
5 Quick Things ☕️
1. 📻 A new episode of A Drink With a Friend! 📻 We officially live in a world with AI, like it or not. It’s been around quite awhile, but its ubiquitous presence is escalating, and quickly. How shall we then live? Is there ethical space for AI? Seth and I have thoughts.
2. Arguably C.S. Lewis’ best non-fiction (my favorite, anyway)? Education? Parenting? The conundrum of today’s technology? All in one long-form essay? Sign me up. Yes, it’s long, but it’s worth reading in full, even in small bites. From: “The titans of technology aren’t just incentivizing ‘the conditioned’ toward actions that will make them sad. They’re conditioning people to habitually act in ways that are clearly connected to worse mental and physical health, for themselves and their loved ones.”
3. Happy Michaelmas! Today is the Feast of St. Michael and all the Archangels—here’s a lovely recap of some traditions, as well as some beautiful art from. (This afternoon I’ll be baking bread and smearing it with blackberry jam.): “I’m lost in the work as I find myself attuned to berries and bees, sun and shadow. The words of Simone Weil rise distinctly in my mind: ‘Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.’ And I feel relieved as I realize: I think I’ve been praying. Maybe the bees are too.”
5. And finally, the easier things have gotten, the unhappier we’ve become—I love a good mash-up of two good thinkers (I listen to both these ladies’ podcasts). We’re made to wrestle with problems, so when wisespread culture and technology has made life too easy, we look for problems. What’s the antidote? Good problems. (Look for an upcoming essay here in TCP about this idea.)
Currently Reading, Watching, Listening 📚
The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, by Joan Chittester
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“Don't be more serious than God. God invented dog farts. God designed your body's plumbing system. God designed an ostrich. If He didn't do it, He permitted a drunken angel to do it. Empirical facts can add significantly to the meaning of ‘being godlike’.”
- Peter Kreeft
What time period do you most think about? 📜
I’m not surprised that World Wars I & II is the most common topic—that’s high up there for me, too (especially with all the movies, books, and series set in this period!).
Don’t hate me, but the only wrong answer here is “I don’t really think much about history.” History is the story of our roots, so to learn it is to learn more about both us collectively and you individually (yes, you!). If you don’t think about it much, consider deep-diving into one tiny blip of history (there are lots of good podcasts!) or simply find out what happened in history today.
World Wars I & II: 29.9%
18th & 19th century America: 25.9%
I don’t really think about history: 15.6%
A time period not listed: 14.2%
The Ancient World: 10.9%
The Medieval Period: 10.9%
The Roman Empire: 3.3%
See You THIS Thursday! 🗓
Looking forward to seeing you at Fabled Bookshop in Waco, Texas this Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m. to celebrate First Light & Eventide. Enjoy drinks and an evening among kindred spirits as we welcome autumn and enjoy a laid-back Q&A.
Bring your friends and family — it’s free!
Quick Links 🔗
Question(s) For You to Ponder… 🤔
What’s one app you should delete from your phone? What’s holding you back from doing so?
Have a great weekend,
p.s. Street for the win.
This week I’ve asked paying subscribers more detailed questions similar to this so I can plan future pilgrimages. If this is you, check your inbox! I’d love to hear your input.