Okay, I know I haven't been around much lately, but dammit, I am at least going to keep up this one tradition. Welcome to Professor Chaos's 4th annual Halloween Dance Party!
Ready? Let's dance!
(cw foor this next one: mention of attempted rape)
The Cathedral of Christ the King, Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church and the Cathedral of St. Philip have Peachtree Road addresses and are all within a block of each other. Sunday usually draws about 20,000 people to the intersection of Peachtree and East Wesley roads and Andrews Drive.
In the beginning there was Covid-19, and the tribe of the white collars rent their garments, for their workdays were a formless void, and all their rituals were gone.
The adrift may yet find purpose, for a new corporate clergy has arisen to formalize the remote work life.
They go by different names: ritual consultants, sacred designers, soul-centered advertisers. They have degrees from divinity schools.
In simpler times, divinity schools sent their graduates out to lead congregations or conduct academic research. Now there is a more office-bound calling: the spiritual consultant. Those who have chosen this path have founded agencies — some for-profit, some not — with similar-sounding names: Sacred Design Lab, Ritual Design Lab, Ritualist. They blend the obscure language of the sacred with the also obscure language of management consulting to provide clients with a range of spiritually inflected services, from architecture to employee training to ritual design.
Their larger goal is to soften cruel capitalism, making space for the soul, and to encourage employees to ask if what they are doing is good in a higher sense.
Having watched social justice get readily absorbed into corporate culture, they want to see if more American businesses are ready for faith.
“We’ve seen brands enter the political space,” said Casper ter Kuile, a co-founder of Sacred Design Lab. Citing a Vice report, he added: “The next white space in advertising and brands is spirituality.”
Ezra Bookman founded Ritualist, which describes itself as “a boutique consultancy transforming companies and communities through the art of ritual,” last year in Brooklyn. He has come up with rituals for small firms for events like the successful completion of a project — or, if one fails, a funeral.
“How do we help people process the grief when a project fails and help them to move on from it?” Mr. Bookman said.
Messages on the start-up’s Instagram feed read like a kind of menu for companies who want to buy operational rites a la carte: “A ritual for purchasing your domain name (aka your little plot of virtual land up in the clouds).”
Mr. ter Kuile [sic], who lives in Brooklyn and co-hosts a popular Harry Potter podcast, wrote a book on how to “transform common, everyday practices — yoga, reading, walking the dog — into sacred rituals.”
Evan Sharp, the co-founder of Pinterest, hired Sacred Design Lab to categorize all major religious practices and think of ways to apply them to the office. They made him a spreadsheet.
Workers have achieved measured success recently in pressuring employers to address systemic racism — some companies are making Juneteenth a paid holiday, for example, and investing in Black- and minority-owned ventures — and the sacred design consultants are wondering if employees might also begin to demand spiritual goodness.
Ooh, Ooh, I know! Is it "that they have no morals, principles or human decency?"
Last week I found myself reading “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” the new book by Stuart Stevens, the longtime Republican operative
Oh, man I could've saved you some time there. The Republican Party has always been Trump. It was just waiting for him to ascend the throne. If you need a book to show you the through-line from
then I don't think any book is going to really give you a lot of insight.
Stevens belongs to one of the notable sects in the church of NeverTrump, consisting of figures who once held prominent posts in Republican campaigns — Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson, most notably — and now have reinvented themselves as the Trump-era party’s would-be scourges.
Yeah , that's the only "sect" of "Never-Trumpers." The people known as "never-Trumpers" are Republican operatives and pundits who mis-read the room. They assumed, as did most of us, that if Trump were the nominee, he would go down in flames and take the party with him. Then he won the nomination. Once that happened, they had two choices, either grovel back to Trump on their hands and knees and try to attach themselves to him like a Remora (also known as "going full Lindsey) and hope he won't be too petty and spiteful (ha!) or stay the course hoping to be proven right in the general election. Once Trump won the general, they were pretty much in permanent exile from the party (or at least until 2024) so their next move was to wave the "never-Trump banner and try to sucker centrist Democrats into welcoming them into the Dem's oversized tent. Hence the Lincoln Project.
I turned to Stevens’s book because I thought it might supply an answer, since it’s billed as an examination of conscience, in which the author takes responsibility for various moral compromises that led to Trump’s rise. But the book only deepens the mystery, because “It Was All a Lie” doesn’t give you any sense of why its author spent his entire adult life (Stevens is in his 60s) in the service of a party whose supporters he mostly depicts as rotten frauds and hypocrites and racists, just as bad as liberals always suspected, if not worse.
Stevens would probably reply that he was led astray by the fact that the Republicans he tried to get elected, from Tom Ridge to George W. Bush to Mitt Romney, were good and decent public servants who tried to rescue conservatism from its own worst impulses.
And one could imagine a more interesting version of this book that leaned into this narrative, portraying an American right torn between its better angels and its devils, and Trump’s rise as a defeat in a battle that could have easily gone another away.
But Stevens is so determined to emphasize his party’s total depravity that his only answer to the hard question of why Republicans swung from Romney’s technocratic decency to Trump’s know-nothing flamboyance is that Trumpism was the beating heart of conservatism all along
“What does a center-right party in America stand for?” Stevens asks, in the closest thing to an ideological statement his book contains. “Once this was easy to answer: fiscal sanity, free trade, being strong on Russia, personal responsibility, the Constitution.”