Orlando was Not a Tragedy

We all know that Omar Mateen’s rampage fits a pattern. But this pattern points to descriptions and explanations that are unpalatable, because they put demands on our leaders and us. So politicians and pundits default to a therapeutic stance. They call the slaughter a “tragedy,” in order to avoid giving it meaning. Continue Reading »

Ruthless Optimism

Mormon culture, especially in America, exhibits what I call “ruthless optimism,” which is the habit of unreasonable striving to be (or perhaps to appear to be) happy regardless of circumstance. This perpetual optimism is both ridiculous and endearing to outsiders, but for those within the faith, the association of righteousness with happiness can create incredible strain. If you’re not happy, is it because you’re doing something wrong? Congratulations: now you have two reasons to be unhappy. This pressure is compounded by the Mormon emphasis on evangelizing: how can you be an effective missionary if you’re depressed? Continue Reading »