Friendship During Chaos | 58

January 6, 2021. How do we make sense of it? The short answer is we don’t; the longer answer is that we choose joy, hope, and peace though we’ve considered all the facts. Seth and Tsh check in on how they’re doing with all the news, work through how we deal with the emotions of witnessing a Christian-based insurrection, and process how to still be a good neighbor with those we disagree. The key to everything? Friendship.


Tsh: This is A Drink with a Friend, I’m Tsh Oxenreider.

Seth: And I’m Seth Haines.

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound and fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be. I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of stillwater and I feel above me the day blind stars, waiting with their light. For a time, I rest in the grace of the world and am free. It has been a despairing year and despairing month at the beginning of 2021, and a despairing week. When this kind of despair hits, I do need the sacrament of the great outdoors, but I also need the sacrament of friendship. And that’s what we’re talking about on this episode of A Drink with a Friend.

Tsh: All right, Seth, what are you drinking right now?

Seth: I am drinking a Topo Chico, which is just really fancy fizzy water from Whole Foods today. I worked out, broke a sweat. I realized I didn’t bring my water bottle. So I got fancy fizzy water. What are you drinking?

Tsh: About the same, recording from the land of Topo Chico, that’s everywhere here. It’s very hipstery and I live in that area. I am drinking, so it’s Cedar fever rampant here, this is actually allergy season in central Texas in January. I’m drinking the fake mocktail, which is water, apple cider vinegar, and lime. It sounds really gross, but it’s actually good. It’s good for my digestion and it’s good for, somehow it’s good for my Cedar fever and I can’t quite figure out the dots, but I’ll take it.

Seth: Say the mix again.

Tsh: It’s about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and then a squeeze of lime.

Seth: And it’s good for your digestion?

Tsh: It’s great for your digestion. And somehow it makes my symptoms, my allergy symptoms from Cedar fever, a little less insane. I don’t know.

Seth: For instance, if you have indigestion for whatever reason, what you ate or for instance, maybe the news of the year so far in the 10 days or whatever it is? 12 days. This somehow helps?

Tsh: Yeah. I’ve done this off and on for years and there’s something about the apple cider vinegar that I don’t know. I’m sure some of our more crunchy listeners could tell us, but there’s something about it that’s good for inflammation. I’m sure I’m saying things wrong and they’re all screaming, but it’s supposed to be good for you. It kind of tastes, I don’t want to say it tastes like a cocktail because it doesn’t, but it has that sort of feeling where there’s a little bit of tartness to it. I like it. I drink it maybe a couple times a week.

Seth: I’ve also heard there’s another thing that’s really good for a news induced indigestion.

Tsh: Which is what?

Seth: Which is whiskey.

Tsh: I legit was going to make me a real cocktail and then it was like, it’s still 3:00? I don’t want to do that.

Seth: It’s 2021.

Tsh: We’re recording this at the beginning of the week. It just doesn’t quite feel right. But it is 2021. I mentioned this to you before we hit record but on January 6th, when Stephen Colbert called it December 37th, because he doesn’t want to claim this as part of a new year. I think there’s a little bit of something we can all relate to that. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. We don’t want to be reactionary here on this show. We’re not going to riff on the latest current event all the time. However, it would be really remiss of us if we just pretended like nothing was happening in the real world and instead we’re going to talk about other stuff. There are times when it’s good to talk about other stuff when the news is crazy, but I feel like this is too, I don’t know, is intense the right word? To just not talk about it.
Seth: I think as we were discussing whether or not we do something, there are these moments in history that are sort of pointed moments. We’ve lived through at least one other, you and I have anyway with 9/11. In those moments it does feel like it’s good to make a record. Here’s where I was, here’s what I was doing. Here’s what my thoughts were. It’s really good to make that record with friends, with people you’re close to. And so we thought this makes a whole lot of sense. We are friends having a conversation who need to make a record and check in with each other, so let’s record it.

Tsh: Yeah. We’re really not over-planning this thing at all. We’re checking in. I like that you said that too, because I don’t remember if we talked about this in the last episode, something about there’s a sacramental nature to just checking with a friend and saying, how are you doing? Maybe we talked about this off the record. That to me is what I feel like a lot of what this entire show is about anyway, just a regular check-in of how you doing, not just between you and me, but also just the community that’s listening in. To me, that’s about the most sacramental thing we can do right now, when news was hard, when it’s hard to reconcile what’s true and what’s not. Or maybe it’s not hard to reconcile with what’s true, it’s hard to reconcile with people who have a hard time reconciling with what’s true, and what’s not. That at bare minimum, it is good to reach out to another human being and say, hey, how are you doing? And I think we all need to be doing that right now.
You seem to be doing, correct me if I’m wrong, but per what I’m seeing, you’re pretty frustrated at what’s going on. And as a lawyer, maybe, perhaps you’re a little frustrated at your fellow citizenries lack of critical thinking about what the purpose of our First Amendment rights are or what they even are. You wrote a great Twitter thread about this, and then I think it went elsewhere on social media. Would you mind reiterating that? Because I think it’s really good.

Seth: I think one of my frustrations, and I mean, again, going back to the sacramental nature of friendship, I think God made us to interact with one another and to share with one another and to share our knowledge and expertise where we have it and to really give encouragement and hope to people. There’s some real encouragement and hope to be found in the Constitution. I’ve been a practicing lawyer now for 16 years. The constitution is not my Bible. It is not my God by any stretch of the imagination, but I have studied it and I’ve studied it with some real constitutional scholars whom I will not name drop because that’s gauche, as they say. I am a little bit frustrated. The other day when representative Josh Hawley from Missouri, who’s just north of here, got his book contract canceled by Simon and Schuster. He started taking to the Twitters and other social medias and saying that his First Amendment rights, his free speech was being violated. Now this was, as you’ve mentioned, every news day is like a decade. This was the decade before Twitter suspended Donald Trump’s account, but it kicked off the whole free speech argument, like they’re infringing on my free speech, Twitter’s infringing my free speech. I just wrote a little riff on that on Facebook. It was before Wednesday, the events of last Wednesday when the insurrection happened at the Capitol. And or several days I just got comments behind the scenes. And actually Amber, said to me on Sunday of this week, the week that we’re recording this, she said, I really need you to help me understand this whole free speech, First Amendment thing a little bit more. I don’t think people know it as well as you think that they do. I was surprised by that because 1) I’ve studied this long enough now in a pretty deep context, not just speech, but also religious liberty and the parameters around that and also the rights of assembly that I just guess assumed that we all know that.

Tsh: You’ve got the curse of the guru, when you’re so hyper aware of a concept that you forget that it’s not at the forefront of everyone else’s mind.

Seth: Maybe that’s it? I was explaining it to her. I was just saying, look, you gotta think about the Constitution as a set of parameters or limitations on what the government can do. Like even when you look at the Bill of Rights, we shouldn’t look at that so much as a list of rights that you have, although it does have that, we should look more at it like these are the red lines around the government. They can’t cross these lines because the Constitution recognizes that certain rights are inalienable. You have them, they’re part of the panoply of being a human. So here are the things that the government cannot do. If you start with the base understanding that these are really less about your personal right, and more about the restrictions on the government, it really opens things up. And Amber said, I’ve never thought about it that way. I think you need to write something about it on Facebook or Twitter or something. I ripped off a really fast Facebook post. I think I wrote it in seven minutes or eight minutes. Basically, in the post, what I share is just, hey, look, you got to look at this as a limitation on what the government can do, not a general limitation. In the same way, that a coffee shop can decide who uses its open mic on a poetry night, because it’s a private company and the government can’t come in and say you have to let this speech or not use this speech. Twitter can do the same thing. They’re not the government. They can say we are a private company. We have terms and policies and procedures, if you violate those terms and policies and procedures, we don’t have to let you on our platform. In no way does that implicate the First Amendment, it doesn’t implicate the First Amendment because there is no government actor. In the same way, if Simon and Schuster comes along and says, no, Josh Hawley, we’re not going to publish your book because you’re an insurrectionist, they have the right to do that. Now can Hawley sue them for breach of contract? Maybe, I don’t know what the contract says. I mean, you and I are both in publishing. We both know that almost every publishing contract has a turpitude clause, which says, if you do something crazy, like, I don’t know, insight insurrection, they can terminate your contract. But again, these aren’t First Amendment issues because there’s no government actor. My First Amendment professor, when he was teaching us First Amendment, when I was really young in my studies of the First Amendment, the question that he always asked and led with was, is there a government actor? If there is no government actor, there is no violation of the First Amendment.

I post this on Facebook. I think I ended up cross-posting it to Twitter and then I cross-posted it to Instagram because somebody on Facebook said, hey, would you put this on Twitter? And then someone on Twitter said, hey, would you put this on Instagram? I was blown away by the response of people saying, I didn’t know that. Here was the big one that I came up with. Well what about the baker who doesn’t want to bake the cake for the gay couple, the LGBTQ couple? That’s not fair. Well, okay. Two things. 1) In that case, there was a government actor. It’s actually a First Amendment question, right? The local government said you can’t discriminate. And 2) that case went all the way to the Supreme Court and he won, the baker won. Now nobody tells you that. The people who are more on the left side don’t want to talk about it because it’s a loss for them. The people on the right side don’t want to talk about it because it’s a political point for them to try it out at every rally, which is why all of these people were asking this question to me because they had heard politicians say, well, this is just like when you tell the baker that he has to bake the cake or go out of business. No, it’s not. It’s not even remotely close, but that’s the problem that we have. I think that’s why you can hear me getting so worked up about it. The problem that we have is that really smart Senators, Ted Cruz, for one, from your neck of the woods, Josh Hawley, from just north of my neck of the woods, these guys are constitutional law scholars. They are not dumb. They know exactly what they’re talking about. When they say this is like the cake baking case, which the cake baker won, or when they say this is like some other corollary case that is offensive to the First Amendment, and it’s not true. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re trying to misinform people. They’re trying to lead people astray. They’re trying to lead them into outrage. That outrage spills over into what we saw in the insurrection in the Capitol.

Tsh: I follow, two of my favorite political newsletters that I subscribe to are two gentlemen who are, ones more left of center, and one’s more right of center. Michael Wear, he writes a Substack called Reclaiming Hope and he’s left of center, and David French writes The Dispatch. He’s right of center. David French, and the reason I bring them both up, because I was going to talk about them both, he wrote this excellent piece in his newsletter this weekend that has caused quite a kerfuffle because he is calling this a Christian insurrection and his headline is, “Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection”. He is a professed Christian. But he’s also a politician in a political pundit, I guess I should say. He says, this is why I’m calling this a Christian insurrection and he’s naming these different signs of all the things that were there in terms of crosses, Jesus Saves signs, Christian music blaring from loudspeakers. This follows the Jericho march that happened in December. And he says, are you still not convinced it’s fair to call this a Christian insurrection? And he says, I would bet that most of my readers would instantly label the exact same event Islamic terrorism if Islamic symbols filled the crowd. If Islamic music played in the loudspeakers and of members of the crowd shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they charged the Capitol. He’s making this case and then he gets into all the stuff. And he says, the problem is that all too many Christians are in the grips of two sets of lies. We’ll call them the enabling lies and the activating lies. And he says, and unless you deal with the enabling lies, the activating lies will constantly pollute the body politic and continue to spawn violent unrest. He gets into the difference between the two kinds of lies.
The activating lies are what motivates someone to then try an insurrection on the Capitol. But the enabling lies are all the things that they fertilize the ground with such as, he says, here’s an enabling lie: America will end if Trump loses. Another one is: the fate of the church is at stake if Joe Biden wins. And then he says, and here’s yet another: the left hates you. And he says, the sentence sometimes concludes with the phrase: and wants you dead. When you start believing these lies long enough, and if they are fertilized enough, then those activating lies, sprout. He’s making this whole case. I’ll link to it in the show notes. I’m not necessarily saying I endorse every single thing he’s saying, but the point he is making specifically to Christians is we are enmeshed, the American church is enmeshed in lies, and it’s almost like it’s in our soil, it’s in our, I don’t know, foundation. I’ve just been thinking about it all weekend. I don’t know. What are your thoughts there?

Seth: I definitely have thoughts on all of this. I haven’t read that piece yet. I did see it pop up today. I don’t subscribe to his newsletter, so I didn’t get it, but I’ve seen as you said, quite the kerfuffle and the image that I saw that was associated with it, I don’t know if it was the cover image but it was like a cross and then offset was the Washington monument. Is that right?

Tsh: Yeah, from Wednesday the 6th.

Seth: That’s interesting to me, I agree a hundred percent. I’m deeply troubled by this. I mean, I wrote about this a little bit on the 6th. You talked about the Jericho marches. There was actually a pastor the night before, I found this article that Pastor Greg Locke had posted on Parler. Yes, I have been on Parler. I monitor it because I think it’s important that somebody do it. In this video,it’s the night before, the night before the insurrection and he is riling up the crowd. I took a screenshot of it and I posted it on Twitter. I have been very clear, hey, if you don’t think that this is Christian nationalism at work, you need to be really careful and you need to take a strong and hard look at what’s happening because you have pastors praying for Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys and saying, hey, we don’t always agree with them, but we pray for them. We lock shoulders with them, I think is what he said. Whipping up this crowd, using Bible verses, inciting this spirit of 1776. When you have enough people doing that in the name of Jesus and enough people saying things like Trump has done more for religious liberty than any other president in history—demonstrably false. Or when you have them showing photos of him with a Bible or having flags that say Trump and Jesus, or all these conflated symbols of Americanism and Trumpism, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a Christian insurrection. It’s really sad to me. In fact, and this is where I could probably get myself in a little bit of trouble on this podcast if I speak too plainly, but this is a little bit of why I could not stay in the church circles I was in anymore. It’s not the whole reason. There are a thousand reasons that led me from where I was to where I am now. Ultimately the doctrine that I believe in is the doctrine of the eternal kingdom, not the doctrine of America. That’s what I feel like I watched play out last week. Again, conflated with the crosses and the Jesus and Trump flags and the Christian music was also at least one person carrying a Confederate flag into the Capitol building. There was an amazing article this weekend that came out and I’ll try to find it and send it to you that just said even through the civil war, the Confederate flag never made it into the Capitol building and it is 2021 and it made it in.

Tsh: That is profoundly offensive, and we’re white. I can’t even imagine, I can’t imagine what are our brothers and sisters of color must think, seeing that symbol just walk right on in to the rotunda. I don’t get it, you know? To what you were saying, a pull quote from David French’s piece that I thought was great. He is conservative, just for the record. And he says here,

“My political opponents are my fellow citizens. When I wear the uniform of my country, I was willing to die for them. Why would I think I’m at war with them now? I disagree with the left and much of the populist right, vigorously. If and when any of my political opponents seek to undermine our fundamental freedoms, I’ll be there to pick a legal, political, and cultural fight with them. I won’t yield, I won’t stop. I won’t be weak, but I also won’t turn my back on the truth of scripture. I won’t stop seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly. There is no political emergency that justifies abandoning classical liberalism, and there will never be a temporal emergency that justifies rejecting eternal truth.”

On this show, we talk a lot about sacramentality pointing to the beautiful, the good, and the true. I think this is where so many of us, and I’m assuming a lot of our listeners struggle with this, is whenever we have a breakdown on what is fundamentally true, and we’re not just talking about distant senators and people we read about in the news, but with our family members, with our neighbors. This is where it gets really hard to know how to live in community with people with different ideas of what is fundamentally true. That’s where the rub is with this.

Seth: Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think that’s why if you have an expertise in an area you have to share it, particularly if it’s an expertise in the area that that would offset these rumors and the misinformation. I think about even during COVID, who did I listen to? Did I listen to my friends who have been conspiracy theorists for 15 years tell me about masks and medical treatments, or did I listen to my friend, John Furlough, who’s a doctor. Well, I listened to John because he’s a doctor. He’s gone through the steps he’s gone through the school, has gone through the training. He and his wife stay up late reading actual articles. She’s a doctor, too. They do the work and they have the training and so I listen to them. I think now is really the time. It has to be done tactfully and carefully and peaceably and in some respects, gracefully, if you can. Empathetically, if you can. But just saying like, hey, I hear what you’re saying, but have you considered that maybe, and then share the First Amendment article. Or have you considered maybe, that the facts that you’re getting are actually not facts at all. Like the cake baker case that was cited over and over again in my Twitter thread and Facebook. Those were not the facts at all. I think that there’s a time now where we really have to say, well, you don’t get to pick and choose your facts. There is a fundamental underlying truth. We have come back to this over and over again on this podcast, but in the Social Dilemma towards the end, and I think it was Tristan Harris that came back and said, there has to be a fundamental underlying basis for truth and if there is not, we’re not going to make it. That was so prophetic in the months before this meltdown in DC.

Tsh: And I think that further makes the case for why when it comes to politics and the news we need to listen to, I would say a variety of sources along a spectrum, but also notice literally where you get your news. Are you getting it from headlines or 240 count tweets? Are you reading pieces? Are you watching news channels that are really infotainment and they’re disguised as news? Actually consider your sources. This is why, again, I recommend both Michael Wear and David French’s newsletters, I’ll put links to them, and why I’ve heard from other people, too. It’s good to read the news and listen to the news, not so great to watch the news because of what it does to our sensory input and emotions, and just the framework that it takes to create watchable news. It can be really distorting.

Seth: Onto that point, and just this practice of checking in, how have you felt as you’ve watched what’s unraveled the last few days?

Tsh: It’s now cliche to say shocked, but not surprised because everyone’s saying that, but that is pretty apropos with how I felt on January 6th anyway. Kyle called while I was working with the kids on their homework and he said, hey, have you been, I’m just making sure you’re up to date on what’s going on. We talk about the news all the time. I knew that’s generally what he’s talking about. It was like, no, what’s going on? I assumed it had something to do with Georgia, you know, the count in Georgia. Then he told me, and then we just turned it on and had it on, and I was just…okay, so you brought up 9/11. It reminded me a little of 9/11 when we were first watching the replay of it because we were in line. We had just flown into Istanbul. We were in the passport control line and we thought it was some action movie that we didn’t know about. Then the guy behind us had to tell us what had happened while we were in the air. It didn’t look real, I guess. I’ve got one kid who is very much all a data driven person, and this became fascinating to him. He started tracking the news nonstop. I have another kid who is very sensitive to this kind of thing, and she was not having it and wanted anything but reality. I landed somewhere in between. I find myself fighting, I was telling my Substack subscribers this morning. I find myself always having to walk the line that we all know about, of not burying our heads in the sand, because we need to stay informed, but also not falling into the doom scrolling posture that our news outlets wants us to fall into.

Actually, here’s a quote from Michael Wear that I thought was really great and this is what I’ve been thinking about a lot. He says,

“We have not made an idol of our politics because we take it too seriously. We have treated politics as a game. The problem is not that we take politics too seriously, but that we’ve taken it seriously in all the wrong ways. We’ve made an idol of our politics because we have looked to politics to do what God has not, while neglecting the very reason for politics in the first place. We have not been seeking to advance the common good in our politics. We have not viewed politics as the means by which we make decisions about how we will live together as a people. Politics, like so much else of our lives, has become a forum for self-expression. A forum which gives our animosities access of tools of coercion and cultural power.”

I thought that was interesting to think about, and that’s what was echoing in my mind when I just watch all these replay clips. I’m a sensory, I’m sensitive to a lot of that as well, like my daughter, so I can’t watch too much of it, but I kept hearing those words again and again, politics has become a forum for self-expression. That’s what I see happening here.

Seth: I love Michael’s writing and as a human he’s an amazing human. I wish more people in politics were like him. He’s the genuine article. I think he’s spot on. You hate to continue to bang the same drum. I think everyone on both sides brings the drums of politics of self-expression. The right calls it identity politics, the left calls it a cult of personality. But I think no matter what you call it, I think that’s right. I think that we’ve actually gotten to the point where we’ve forgotten what it means to listen to people, to listen to one another, to form opinions based on facts and not the other way around, not to form facts based on your opinions. That’s really dangerous for democracy when your facts are based on your opinions and your self-expression, then it’s a real problem. I think that’s why we’re seeing right now so many people saying that it was the Antifa that started the riots, the insurrection, which is what I’m going to call it. I refuse to call it anything else. It’s dangerous and what they’re trying to say as a form of self-expression, is we’ve been lied to, we’ve been held down, we’ve been pushed down. It’s time for us to be the center of attention. We’ve been forgotten. Well, these are all selfish motivations and it’s not that that parts of it may not be true. Parts of it may be true. I was raised in the South. My wife is from Alabama, from the Appalachians. There are parts of the country that feel like they have been forgotten, but the answer to that is not to form facts based on the opinion that you’ve been forgotten. It’s not to storm the Capitol. Hopefully, if you feel that way, the point is share that with people who represent you, who care about you, who are supposed to care about you and not just themselves, because frankly, look at many of the representatives in Washington right now. They’re using politics as their own form of self-expression, which again is why Hawley is so offended when Simon and Schuster cancels his deal. He has no more self-expression rights and this is a real problem. It’s a real problem in America. I think Wear is spot on.

Tsh: I do too. We could go on, this could be such a long episode where we are talking about where’s the root of all this coming from? American exceptionalism mimicking what we see now leading to the fall of Rome which is what Kyle and I are saying all the time, fall of Rome. I really feel like we have been predicting this for several years now, we meaning Kyle and I. That’s when I say I’m shocked, but not surprised because I feel like this is where we’ve been headed. I love my country, but it’s not my priority. This sounds like the Jesus answer, but this is not where my true citizenship lies. When I see people act as though they’re fundamental individual rights are worth dying for in this way, it just boggles my mind. To me, I think maybe what we need to do now as friends and as a community of listeners is figure out how do we be good neighbors in the midst of this? How do we love our neighbors? It’s not our job to make sure that they have a grasp on truth. It’s our job to be truthful human beings and point people to the true, good, and beautiful, but we can’t control the outcome there. Seth, what, what have you done? What do you think we should do as a community to just live well in our communities right now?

Seth: Well, first of all, that’s a really, I think that’s a really hard question for me to answer truthfully, because right now, I’m just angry. The long and the short of it is, I’m angry. I’ve never used the word insurrection in a working sentence in my life. I’m not sure that I’ve ever called a modern historical figure, a traitor ever in my life. Looking back in history, oh yeah, Benedict Arnold’s definitely a traitor, but I don’t think I’ve ever used that language. I’m so angry and I’m angry at the politicians who are manipulating the citizens also, and saying things that are not true about the law, about the Constitution. I think right now, probably for me the best way is to step back and cool off a little bit to take a few deep breaths. What is the best way that I can love my neighbor, particularly the neighbor who doesn’t share my political views? It’s probably to step back and to say, okay, I need to be quiet for a minute and not say anything particularly to my actual neighbors. The people who live next to me in my neighborhood. Because there are some, there are some that disagree with me and I disagree with, but we still have to live in proximity to each other. I saw a tweet this morning and I don’t remember who it was by. I sound like I’ve been on Twitter all day, I really haven’t. But I saw a tweet this morning from somebody who is very left of center. His comment was,

“If you begin to look at people who disagree with you and have taken actions that you disagree with and you immediately hate them, something inside you has died.”

Tsh: I saw that. Tyler Huckabee?

Seth: Did you say Tyler Huckabee?

Tsh: I think it was him, but yes, I saw that.

Seth: That’s right. I don’t know if that was satire or not. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but the tweet was that the sentiment was so powerful that I thought, yeah man, that feels right. If my immediate thought is I hate, then X, Y, Z, I hate the left. I hate the right. I hate the people that storm the Capitol or I hate Nancy Pelosi. If that’s your initial reaction, then I think you have to step back and say, okay, something in my soul is fundamentally off and I need to deal with that before I speak or act or move out. I don’t know how to answer your question more broadly for everyone. I think for me, I got to step back and be quiet, and share facts and knowledge where I can share facts and knowledge.

Tsh: Yep. I think that’s a wise answer, actually. I think a lot of us fall into your category of people. We tell this with our kids when they’re fighting, when in our own life, whenever someone pisses us off, we know it’s wise and good to go to our corners and cool off for a bit before we say something we’ll regret. Hold off, sending that text or whatever. It’s going to be the same thing here, I think we all feel this particular way. We might come to different conclusions as to what is best that should happen, especially right now, where every day is a decade of news, like we said. Things are changing so much faster than we mere mortals can comprehend and possibly keep up with that I think the other thing for us to do is not try to, stay informed, but don’t feel like it is your moral job as a citizen to hard refresh your news feeds all the time. It’s easy to think that, well, this is an important time we need to be doing that. Every time I do that and I’m preaching to myself here, but every time I do that, my sleep goes down the toilet. I feel anxious. I snap at my kids. It does not make me a better human. To keep those boundaries, I think around news intake is huge right now.

Seth: In fact, and I think it may have somewhat to do with the personality type, too. I don’t know. But I was checking in with some friends, I’ve really been lucky. I’ve checked in with a few friends. A few friends have checked in with me, knowing, hey, to be a good friend means to check in. But I’ve checked in with a few friends who tend to be more Type A active doers. We live in Arkansas, so we’re a long way away from Washington, D.C. There’s really nothing they can do right now except watch the news and except take that constant feed in. A couple of different people I’m thinking of have just said, I’ve found myself for a day where I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything because it’s like the weight of all this comes crashing in on them and they can’t do anything about it. That created this deep, deep sadness and tiredness that just landed them in the bed for the day. I think we have to know ourselves. If that’s your personality type, like you said, probably not a good idea to sit in front of a computer and refresh, refresh, refresh. Probably not good for any personality type frankly, but particularly if you’re the kind of person that’s going to spiral into darkness. I think too, for one of the things that I know that we can do, is if you have a friend that is prone to that kind of refresh, refresh, refresh, and then find themselves in bed for two days, not able to move, check in on them. See how they’re doing. Say, hey, how are you processing this? Are you processing this? Do you have a friend around help you process it? If you don’t, do you want to talk about it and what can we do to keep your life from spiraling into depression right now, or into bed or into inaction or whatever it is. I think we can all be that kind of friend right now. That’s pretty important.

Tsh: That’s a good idea and a good way to end this because, I tell this to my teen daughter all the time whenever she’s got some emotional situation, especially relational happening, I remind her go be a good friend to someone else, go check in on so-and-so and see how they’re doing. That’s a good antidote for when you’re feeling sad about your own life. I think that that holds very true for this situation as well. I’m glad you said that.

Crazy news happenings does not mean we should stop making sure we have some good, true, and beautiful in our lives. Seth, what are you reading, watching, and listening to these days?

Seth: Because we’re recording this in such close proximity to the last time we recorded, I’m reading, watching and listening to pretty much all the same stuff. Now that said, I’m gonna have a bonus pick, because I’ve already talked about Adrianne Lenker and I’ve already talked about The Expanse. I’ve already talked about Seven Story Mountain. I have decided that I’m not picking up another book until I finish Seven Story Mountain, but two bonuses. I got this old, I got this volume a few years ago, it’s a two volume set of the poems of T.S. Eliot. It has all of this amazing commentary in it in each of the poems. The commentary is not like, oh, this word means blah, blah, blah. The commentary is actually in footnotes, endnotes and all of the endnote commentary are letters to editors as he submitted or responses from the editors or letters from his mom about the poems or whatever. It’s amazing stuff. It really helps you understand the poems as T.S. Eliot wanted you to understand them, not as your favorite literary professor or literature professor might have wanted you to. I’ve been spending time in two of his poems, Ash Wednesday and East Coker. Ash Wednesday, everybody who loves poetry, we can see you, Tsh shaking, nodding your head like…

Tsh: I love that one.

Seth: It’s so good. It’s so good. East Coker, maybe a little bit less known, but it’s an amazing poem. You should read it.

Tsh: Nice. All right. I’ll look into that. Yeah. I’ve written a piece before and my friend, Crystal’s written a piece on Art of Simple about how, whenever things are terrible everywhere else, that’s a sure sell sign to read poetry.

Seth: 100%. The other thing that I’ve been doing, I had this thought, this inclination, oh, and this goes actually right along with your idea about the Christian insurrection. I had this thought the other day when I was working out and it was when there was a Christian insurrection, called the Reformation, there were a group of people that came along within the Catholic church and said, you know what? Yeah, there does need to be some reformation. These people are sometimes called counter reformers or I just call them saints. I’ve been really thinking, I was thinking as I was working out, maybe it’s time for a counter-reformation, a new counter-reformation. I haven’t shared this anywhere yet. You’re literally the first person to hear this come out of my mouth. Last night I gathered the family around and we watched the first half of the episode from the Word on Fire of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I think it is the series is maybe called The Pivotal Players. We watched the first half of that. It was amazing. And you talk about good, true, and beautiful. It hits on all of those. The art that they show is amazing. The landscape is beautiful. It is good. It is true. It is beautiful. I really love it. I think those are my bonus picks for this episode would be the St. Ignatius of Loyola and from the Word on Fire Institute and T.S. Eliot poems.

Tsh: I got to ask, just to piggyback, where are you watching The Pivotal Players series? Because I’m in the Institute for Word on Fire and that’s where I can watch everything. Are you as well?

Seth: I say institute, maybe that’s what they…

Tsh: Well, it’s the Word on Fire Institute and you log in and then you’ve got access to their stuff. Is that what it is?

Seth: I have an app called Word on Fire Digital, and it is an app on my phone. I downloaded it. I pay something for it every month. The resources are so good that it’s worth paying for, and I can stream it from my phone to the television.

Tsh: It sounds like the same thing. I’ll link to it. I’m just thinking if someone’s listening and wondering how to get in, it’s a phenomenal series. We’ll talk later as we get into our faith stuff, but it’s a great resource, the Word on Fire catalog and library of resources are phenomenal. That’s cool.

Seth: It’s so good. My kids, anytime I say, let’s do something spiritual that’s outside of just like family reading the Bible or something. They’ll be like, do we have to? I don’t want to watch something spiritual. I want to watch the Office or whatever, which could not be less spiritual. I don’t know, but we still love it. It’s still funny. Whenever I put something on that they’ve produced, my kids will actually sit through it and ask questions and I think it’s because the production quality is so good.

Tsh: That’s right. Yep. Agreed. Same thing at our house.

Seth: What are you reading, watching, and listening to?

Tsh: Kind of same answer. I haven’t changed on the book at all, still reading The Practice along with a few other things that I’ll talk about in another episode. All I’ve got is an article, so I’ll link to that. I’ve got a writing accountability partner, Sarah Makenzie that probably some listeners also listen to you. She sent me a piece called, “Why You Need an Untouchable Day Every Week”. This is just an article I literally read today. I’m counting it as something I’m reading. He’s making the case for why one work day of every week, we need to not schedule anything, have no meetings scheduled, have no appointments scheduled. This is when you do your deep work basically is what he basically says. I like it.

Seth: Does he recommend a day for that?

Tsh: No. I think he recommends whatever day that works best for your schedule. I’ll put the link in the show notes. I think it’s interesting. He talks about how this is when he got a lot of deep work done. He wrote a memoir that day, I mean, over time. He doesn’t even say, he says he just moves around his day to where, oh, here’s what’s key about what he does is that he schedules them in advance, 16 weeks in advance. I don’t know why he thinks, like four months worth, but he puts them in his calendar and he writes in all caps, UNTOUCHABLE, and then he makes those days, basically blocks them out. He doesn’t schedule anything, but he still works. He just doesn’t work in a meeting sort of way. I thought that was cool.

Seth: I do the opposite of that. I have a day where I cram all my meetings in, which I don’t know if that’s wise.

Tsh: I get that, too. I think it just depends on what kind of work you do. A far as watching, this weekend we watched some Father Brown reruns because they’re sort of like comfort food and I think our kids were wanting that and it was snowing outside and that feels English, I guess, to them.

Seth: Where do I find, you talk about this all the time. Where do I find Father Brown?

Tsh: I know it’s a little annoying. We subscribed to Brit Box, so they used to be on Amazon Prime and they went off, but Brit Box is the BBC streaming service. I think it’s like five bucks a month, something, we’re just sort of Anglophiles and it was worth it to us because we watch a lot of British TV. So it’s on there.
Listening to, and speaking of the kids griping about anything remotely spiritual, we’re doing this right now. Father Mike Schmitz has a podcast called Bible in a Year, this year for 2021. Literally, it’s exactly what it sounds like. He’s gonna read the Bible in a year. Basically you start on January 1st and if you listen to every single day, you’ll have heard the entire Bible. Each episode is about 20 minutes long and he reads and then gives a little bit of commentary. It’s just the right amount. It’s very accessible. My 10 year old, all the way to Kyle and I are listening to it. We’re basically telling our kids, we are going to listen to this every day this year. They have to listen to it before they get to listen to anything else, like podcasts or music or audio books. I guess our kids listen to a lot of stuff, so this is a thing for them. Basically everyone has to listen to stuff usually while they’re doing chores. Hopefully that doesn’t tie the Bible in with drudgery, but anyway, it’s been good. We’re in the weird part of Genesis where confusing stuff is happening. It’s been really good actually. I haven’t weirdly done this in a long time.

Seth: I’ll be interested to see what happens when you get to Numbers.

Tsh: I know, in particular with the kids. I was looking at the timeline because it’s done in this weird timeline. It’s chronological, but meaning it’s chronological and not necessarily the way the Bible goes. I’m not quite sure when we’re going to hit what I was looking at their little schedule and there’s going to be a long bout of some snooze fest, typically. I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ve already hit a few of those, a few of the begats but they were actually interesting. Maybe there’ll be okay and Numbers, too. We’ll see.

Seth: So maybe this is the heads up for if anybody knows Father Mike Schmitz to say, hey man, when you get to all the Numbers and Levitical stuff, make it interesting, man.

Tsh: Spice it up man. Keep us addicted to our phones so we can keep listening. I know. Our kids so far have said they like it. So who knows? Maybe.

Seth: That’s awesome. You’re a good parent. That’s a great parenting.

Tsh: I’m hoping it’s a parenting move they’ll thank me for in 10 years, because they’re probably not going to thank me right now. I’m just choosing to hold on to that.

Seth: They’re really just two outcomes. Either they’ll thank you in 10 years or you can pay for their therapy.

Tsh: Right, right. They’ll hate me and God and everything else, but that’s a whole other thing. Hopefully not.

Seth: That’s a decade from now.

Tsh: And you know what, that’s on them by that point.

Seth: That’s a decade from now. Or as we say, one news day.

Tsh: Right? Exactly.

It is time to wrap things up. We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at (401) 684-GOOD. If you’ve got a thing that’s pointing you to some beauty, goodness, or truth these days, we all need more of that. Call us, you can find a link for that number as well as all the episode show notes, transcripts, yada yada, at and you can find me at That’s where you find a link to all my Substack and my Twitter feeds and all that. Seth, where can people find you?

Seth: They can find me on Substack at Seth Haines. They can find me on Twitter or Instagram @SethHaines, H-a-i-n-e-s. Facebook, don’t find me there. I hate Facebook. You can find me on my websites at

Tsh: There you go. All right. Music for the show is by Kevin McCloud. Editing is by Kyle Oxenreider and Caroline TeSelle is our transcriber and assistant extraordinaire. I’m Tsh Oxenreider and Seth and I will be back here with you soon. Thanks for listening.

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