Jon Jordan

What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself, to which will was only attached as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a person, but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation.

Perelandra, C.S. Lewis, Chapter 12, during Ransom’s fight with the Unman.

GPT-4 scores well on a variety of common academic benchmarks, but I am most intrigued—though not surprised—by where it falls comparatively short:

AP Language and Composition (Rhetoric) and AP Literature and Composition.

These are the most humane benchmarks it has encountered.

A view from the Supporters Section after a late first-half equalizer this weekend. An early birthday + father’s day gift of FC Dallas season tickets being put to good use! FCD went on to beat LA Galaxy 3-1.

Lessons from Nicodemus this Lent: The problem with humanity is not a lack of information. You and I are not one New York Times opinion piece away from a changed life. Our first, second, and final step towards abundant life is to recognize, embrace, and (eventually) enjoy our dependence on God.

The eve of Ash Wednesday 2023 is a good time to remember that fasting is an exercise that leads to strength, not weakness.

The final chapters of Esther provide us with a reminder of why we have a liturgical calendar in the first place, and a framework for approaching these seasons of subsequent fasting and feasting.

Read more from my latest essay for Covenant.

A rediscovery of Moral Beauty?

Paul Vitz once said that in our age we will recover—or rather rediscover—many traditional beliefs and practices, and that we will do so primarily through science and the intellect.

Perhaps this is in that vein?

Dacher Keltner’s (UC Berkeley) forthcoming book Awe describes a study that sought to understand various ways people arrive at an experience of “being in the presence of something vast and mysterious that transcends your current understanding of the world.”

The participants were from 26 countries, including adherents to all major religions, as well as denizens of more secular cultures (e.g., Holland). Our participants varied in terms of their wealth and education. They lived within democratic and authoritarian political systems. They held egalitarian and patriarchal views of gender. They ranged in their cultural values from the more collectivist (e.g., China, Mexico) to the more individualistic (e.g., the United States).

Speakers of 20 languages at UC Berkeley translated the 2,600 narratives they produced. We were surprised to learn that these rich narratives from around the world could be classified into a taxonomy of awe, the eight wonders of life, from collective rituals to sudden intellectual epiphanies.

What most commonly led people to feel awe? Nature? Spiritual practice? Listening to music? In fact, it was other people’s courage, kindness, strength, or overcoming—actions of strangers, roommates, teachers, colleagues at work, people in the news, characters on podcasts, and our neighbors and family members.

Around the world, we are most likely to feel awe when moved by moral beauty: exceptional virtue, character, and ability, marked by a purity and goodness of intention and action

But the Turing test cuts both ways. You can’t tell if a machine has gotten smarter or if you’ve just lowered your own standards of intelligence to such a degree that the machine seems smart. If you can have a conversation with a simulated person presented by an AI program, can you tell how far you’ve let your sense of personhood degrade in order to make the illusion work for you?

Jaron Lanier, in a book published in 2011.

English soccer is worth watching in its own right, but it does not hurt that its commentators have quite the way with words.

Case in point: Peter Drury’s comments following Harry Kane’s 267th goal for Tottenham, surpassing the record previously held by Jimmy Greaves.

He sits on Tottenham’s loftiest perch, beyond even the great Greaves. Spurs’ most lavish scorer of all time. He has dared. And he has done.

Audeat est facere, indeed.

This must be the New Math everyone is talking about?

ChatGPT and tools like it are not the end of the world, but they do highlight a worrying trend: we have an increased appetite for seeking information over wisdom. In my opinion, the recovery of a better way begins with a rediscovery of the beauty of the Incarnation itself.

Rest in Peace, Benedict XVI

Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete.’ In light of the hour of judgment, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.

May you experience fear, trembling, and good cheer, Joseph of Rome.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Merry Christmas from the Jordan family. (Shown here in both our forced and natural poses. I will let you determine which is which for each of us…)

The final week of Advent means it is time for the seven O Antiphons. I find these to be helpful antidotes to the business of the final week before Christmas. You can subscribe to Rhythms of Habit today to receive daily reflections on these antiphons between now and Christmas.

A lesson in governance as I navigate changing traffic signal timing for a light near our school:

The people I interact with in the city office are very helpful, from the Director to the phone operators. The processes they are tied to are mind-numbinly bad.

A full few days of putting up lights, a family hike, USA soccer, basketball, Bob Goff, and work on the playhouse.

I named our sunroom lights by their cardinal directions, not expecting political commentary gems like this one when routines don’t work as expected.

Are you in organizational leadership in any capacity? I’d love some advice.

What helps you:

  • Make sure you personally spend your best time and energy on things that matter most. (Daily and weekly.)
  • Keep track of the goals, growth, and needs of people you most directly oversee.

Advent is about preparation for judgement, and that is actually a good thing.

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.

An under-appreciated mark of a truly great sports commentator: knowing when to say nothing.

Messi scored, and there was a 45 second period of commentary silence followed by a subtle, “It had to be him.”

Advent is coming. Time to set some intentions for this Holy New Year.

Oh no. It has happened. I tried to prevent it by asking reason to temper my expectations.

But mere hours before kickoff …


USA is taking home the trophy.*

*or advancing to the Round of 16 and remaining competitive in their first knockout match.

I just finished reading Pillars of the Earth. It was published when I was four years old, but seems to have been written for me to read at this exact age (37).

Great books tend to feel like that, don’t they?

An unusally free Saturday means that I had a chance to make some good progress on the playhouse.

I am pretty sure the title “Queen of Christmas” is already taken.