life being what it is

My blog has a new name! Yesterday I sat down with a coffee from the Coffee Cat, a great little coffee shop in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With some white noise by way of a few high school students chatting in a steady, ceaseless stream about their high school drama, I worked on updating my site, and you can read all about it here, on my new About page.

Draining the tub

Here is an interesting defector: Paul Wehner is notable because he’s an old white guy and has served in three Republican administrations. But in one fell swoop he’s breaking ranks, both with evangelicals and Republicans.

He may over-romanticize evangelicals of the past, but I think he’s certainly correct to cite a friend of his who says, “the term [“evangelical”] is now so stained as to ruin my ability to be what evangelicalism was supposed to be.” For sure, dude, and this is how I felt, a decade ago, when I defected.

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The word abides

My affection for the word “dude” has increased with age. I had thought that my love of the word was simply related to my western migration, but I’ve been kicking around the West Coast for about a decade now, and the word “dude” continues to abide, increasingly infiltrating my vocabulary.

When I pause to think about it, the range of the word “dude” is truly staggering, particularly given that it tends to be such a chill, low-key word. One curious form that “dude” takes is as sort of a pause, a preparation for what’s next. As in “Dude, you’re gonna want to tune in to what’s coming next, cause it’s kind of a Big Deal.” And one might respond, in turn, with an affirmative “dude,” a sort of call and response that signals “I’m with you, dude, please proceed.” Read more

Writing around the labyrinth

About a week ago, I jumped into one of my book projects, first thing in the morning. I had stopped working on my “serious writings,” as the first thing, for a variety of reasons, among them the fact that I tend to check the news, sort my emails, respond to online comments, etc. The labyrinth, though, is endless.

Starting out with the world wide web had sort of become a habit, without me really thinking about it, until a week ago, when I started in on one of my book projects, before any kind of activity on the world wide weblings. It went well….And Jon looked at all he had done, and behold it was very good….

I had forgotten how good it feels to start in on a serious writing project, right away in the morning, when the mind is most fresh, when the brain is less fragmented. It was something I knew but had not practiced. Having not practiced, it sort of slipped the mind. Not to put too fine a point on it, or to wax too philosophically, but life is, in large part, an effort in remembering and doing what we already know.

Of the world but not in the world

A college friend, Dave Lester, posted a few thoughts on secular humanism. Dave is sort of a post-evangelical, of sorts. He still considers himself an evangelical but unlike most evangelicals, Dave remains truly engaged, both intellectually and emotionally, with “the world.”

I post a good bit about evangelical Christians. I’d rather not, but I do. I do it because evangelicals are some of the real movers and shakers within Cult Trump and are more or less responsible for this den of thieves that is otherwise known as the Republican Party. (And of course, I’m a former evangelical m’self.) You can ignore them, but evangelicals are the engine driving the Trump Train forward, pushing the United States toward the edge of the cliff. Read more

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s been a fairly dry and warm winter thus far, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s practically ungodly. Yet a few days ago I rose early, and I actually felt a little cold, even seeing a frost covered soccer field.

It may not be looking a lot like Christmas, at least for me, someone from northern Midwest states, but I’ll take the nice hiking weather.

Santa Cruz Mountains, Dec 2017

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Cowboys and Indians

“It’s turned us back into cowboys and Indians again,” he [Chapoose] said. “The tension is higher than it started but it hasn’t reached a plateau. That’s going to happen Monday. Then we’ll see the battle lines.” (Shaun Chapoose, councilman of the Ute Indian Tribe business committee)

Two areas designated as national monuments have knocked down to size, reduced by nearly two million acres all told, so as to be opened for development. White men coming in to extract resources is, of course, simply a variation on one of America’s central themes. It’s also an illustration of the way capitalism works. Read more

Being white, being black

I’ve recently been writing about my experiences in Africa and India during my seven month stint abroad in 2013-14. My writing over the last few weeks has focused on my experience of realizing that I was white. It’s not that I didn’t know my own skin color, in the technical sense, but it didn’t matter to me, and because it didn’t matter, my whiteness was irrelevant and hence unrealized.

While volunteering in Tanzania, I quickly learned to become aware of the color of my skin, or more to the point, I learned that I couldn’t escape the color of my skin. My skin color was economic, my whiteness meant something: I either had money or else I had access to money. My whiteness defined the nature of my experiences with other people and shaped my whole being. Read more

A trillion in debt? #thankscapitalism

Armed with a massive bill that no one took the time to read — a bill filled with last minute scrawls and scribbles in the margins and with pages crossed out with a ball point pen — Republicans passed a tax bill that will put us at least a trillion dollars in debt. Woohoo! #thankscapitalism

Here are 5 quick thoughts: Read more

The sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump – the full list

It’s quite clear that for a large segment of the U.S. population, allegations of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump will not deter their political support. As with anything else, for these people, Trump always gets the final word on what counts as fact and what should be ignored as “fake news.” It’s a danger road, to say the least, the road that leads to totalitarianism; however as many have pointed out, the greater harm is the legitimizing of sexual objectification and the normalizing of toxic masculinity. Trump sexually assaults women, and Trump holds the most powerful political position in the United States.

The Guardian has published a full list of the allegations of sexual assault made against Donald Trump.

Take it back — Free the Internet from capitalism

A bit of trivia:

Which nation invented the Internet?

Which nation’s tax dollars helped build the infrastructure of the Internet?

Which nation’s consumers gets the worst deal (i.e. they pay some of the highest prices for Internet connection while at the same time getting fairly mediocre service)?

Yes, oh yes, the answer is one and the same for all questions: The United States of America.

Like so many things, the Internet was a publicly funded enterprise paid for with our tax dollars, then it was essentially given to a few corporations so that they could monetize it. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts last year made $33 million. #thankscapitalism

But things don’t have to be this way. There are real alternatives, and we have a unique opportunity, now, to change course.

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Of kale and concrete

I live within striking distance of the Bay Area, but I rarely spend much time in the city. This afternoon, however, I went up to Oakland to meet with my meditation teacher. I left his house and started down the sidewalk. Just as I had kicked into a good walking stride, I stopped. Amidst the concrete and the cars, someone was growing kale.



Hacking the free throw

It was my senior year of high school. Our school was small, or perhaps dinky is a better word for it, but even so we managed to put together a formidable basketball team that year, and we were undefeated going into the Christian school state tournament. Even though we were a school of less than a hundred people (junior high through high school) we had a miracle year, even beating several public schools, in a state renowned for their obsession with hoops.

It was the championship game of the state tourney, and it was everything you dream of as a kid: with seconds left on the clock, we were down by one point. Dan Miller, my bff and our point guard, received the inbound pass, put his head down, and dribbled the length of the court. I was open on the wing, but Dan had tunnel vision — he didn’t look up, he just charged in for the layup.

Dan missed badly but was fouled, and so he stood at the line, in position to take two shots. He held the ball and the state championship in his hands.

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This should end well

Here’s one of the headlines in the New York Times today:


Even back in the mid 00’s, when I was still sympathetic to conservative politics, even then I could see that it was lack of accountability and lack of regulation that had led to the Great Recession. I didn’t know any conservatives (personally or in the mainstream conservative media), however, who were willing to acknowledge the problem, to take a hard look at reality. So, I got on board with Obama. When Obama failed to punish anyone responsible for crashing the global economy, I joined Occupy Wall Street.  Read more

The luxury trap and that random car in the Staples parking lot

Just yesterday I pulled into the parking lot of a Staples, running a quick errand, and I spotted this license plate:

A post shared by Jonathan Erdman (@erdman31) on


A big fan of the human race? I asked myself as I drove by the car, or is this person, like me, an enthusiastic reader of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I immediately assumed it was the latter, parked my car, jumped out and snapped a quick pic.

It might perhaps seem odd, to you, that someone would advertise their favorite non-fiction book on their license plate, but don’t dismiss the possibility. Harari’s Spapiens really is one of those kinds of books, the kind of book that makes you think in new ways about human beings and about our place in the world, or as one reviewer said Harari’s Sapiens is making the world strange and new again. Read more