Over the past century, my family has given enormous amounts of money to extreme evangelical preachers. After my great-grandmother in Dallas gave her 18-year-old son’s insurance settlement to her church (pictured above), she was too poor buy food. My mom has continued the donations, and nowadays she and my stepdad get their "news" from Kenneth Copeland's Christian nationalist Victory Channel, a non-profit entity treated by the IRS as an extension of his church. Lauren Boebert and the former president are recent guests. And Copeland is the preacher with three private jets who asked supporters for donations so he wouldn't have to fly with "demons" on commercial aircraft. I write about this and more at Slate:
“We don’t get our news from Fox,” my stepfather has been telling me for the past few years. He seemed offended when I joked that they probably got their updates on world events from John Hagee, a televangelist whose books fill my mom’s bookshelves and whose End Times “Blood Moon” posters have hung on her walls in the past, instead. But last summer when my mom was recovering in the hospital after a dangerous blood clot was removed from her brain, the two of them were unhappy with the cable offerings, and I learned that their actual news source these days is, in fact, another extreme televangelist operation: the viewer-supported Christian nationalist Victory Channel, which is owned and run by the church of self-proclaimed prophet Kenneth Copeland. As an extension of the church, the network is a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) organization. A donation link at the upper right of the landing page leads to a description of the site as a streaming network “that reaches millions of people with the uncompromised Word of God 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” The fine print notes that viewers’ donations are tax-deductible.
When I posted about the piece at Instagram, my friend Sarah Smarsh left this comment, which really gets to the core of so much of what I hoped to convey: “The topic: ‘She does not have a care plan outside of the Rapture.’ There it is, America.” Yep.
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I used to joke that I needed two tattoos, one on each wrist, to show in bars. The first would say, “Sorry, I can’t hear you,” and the other would say, “No, really, not at all.” Over time it wasn’t really a joke, though. In crowded events, I increasingly found myself nodding at strangers I’d just met, hoping they weren’t pouring their hearts out or saying something awful. A couple months ago I was diagnosed with a genetic but often treatable form of conductive hearing loss. I’m not entirely sure from whence it was inherited, but I do have some theories. And as of last Tuesday I have a teeny prosthesis in my ear. If it heals up okay, I should regain my hearing, or most of it!
At the start of my recovery, I posted the dispatch below showing the animals gathered round. Contrary to what I thought at the time, I was definitely still under the influence of anesthesia. I probably wouldn’t have given such an unvarnished view of the reality of the bedroom otherwise. But I’m glad Max captured the truth of our lives, as he has since we started dating (in 1994!).
If you’re wondering I devoured Lauren Groff’s The Vaster Wilds, a colonial adventure story that subverts just about every trope of the colonial adventure story, in the best way.
Registration for’s fall class, Ancestors to Elements: Reconnect to Nature, Mystery, and Joy, closes this Friday. Hope to see you there!
Abbott Kahler’snewsletter already promises to be as surprising and exciting and (I use this word as a compliment, having been on the receiving end of it myself so often that I had to own it) weird as you’d expect from the author of Sin in the Second City and so many other books, including her upcoming first novel, Where You End. The new book was inspired partly by the fact that both of her parents are twins: her dad fraternal and her mom identical. That’s a photo of her mom and her mom’s twin, above.
A quote from writer and New Yorker cartoonist Carolita Johnson at Instagram: “Grandmother, why do you keep haunting me?—Me? Haunting you? It’s you, Celaya, who’s haunting me. I can’t bear it. Why do you insist on repeating my life? Is that what you want? To live as I did?” — Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo (which obviously I intend to read asap)
I’m dipping into Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville, Michael Rogin’s 1985 book. In the preface, Rogin writes of a “crisis of bourgeois society at midcentury [that] in America entered politics by way of slavery and race.” He argues that Melville was highly attuned to this crisis because of the high status of his family, that Melville’s fiction is a history of society but also of his own family and relationship to his kin, and that Melville subverted and used his own family history “not only against American political orthodoxies but against his family as well,” leading to increasingly self-referential texts and Melville’s own isolation.
“Many people told me not to write this. Trina was the one who said to do it. 'The truth is the light of the world,' she said. 'The truth will set you free.'” Jenisha Watts’ cover essay for The Atlantic is wrenching and profound.
The Land Carries Our Ancestors, curated by artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), “brings together works by an intergenerational group of nearly 50 living Native artists practicing across the United States. Their powerful expressions reflect the diversity of Native American individual, regional, and cultural identities. At the same time, these works share a worldview informed by thousands of years of reverence, study, and concern for the land. Through a variety of practices—including weaving, beadwork, sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, performance, and video—these artists visualize Indigenous knowledge of land/ landbase/ landscape. Together, the works in The Land Carries Our Ancestors underscore the self-determination, survivance, and right to self-representation of Indigenous peoples.” On view at the National Gallery of Art until January 15, 2024.
Our human ancestors almost went extinct 900,000 years ago, with the total population reduced to about 1300 people, according to a study of present-day human genomic sequences reported in the journal Science. Other population geneticists not involved in the study have expressed skepticism about the findings and methodology, however.
In Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery, Joseph McGill writes about his project to sleep overnight in former dwellings of enslaved people that are still standing. You can see a little bit of the project at Instagram.
How much of Drew Barrymore’s wealth comes from the British East India Company? A TikTok inquiry.
Pure delight from pαnawάhpskewi novelist Morgan Talty: possible feather gifts from his late mom to his baby son.