I have written about echo chambers here quite a few times. Why? Because I have people in my life that have gotten sucked into tribalism, fueled by ceaseless echo chambers. I have seen the effects on them as their views are affirmed, never challenged, and they slide further and further in. One could, on a cursory glance think I am a victim of the same, and I get that. For me, I expose myself to a range of viewpoints within a space. For instance, Doug Wilson, Stephen Wolfe, and James White. If you think these men are united behind Christian Nationalism, you haven’t looked hard enough. I agree with White on many things and have followed him for the majority of my adult life. Much the same with Doug. White and Wilson get along much of the time, but White and Wolfe are at each other’s throats regularly.

Why do I bring up this example? Well, you are what you eat. You’ve heard that phrase, right? It’s a little weird. Well this week I am tacos. But applied to consumption of a different kind, it floats well. In the last few weeks I have been listening to audiobooks in all my available downtime. 600+ pages at this point. I am consuming a ton. When it comes to reading online, I prefer long-form articles over social media. If all I were consuming was snarky one-off posts, dank memes, and spit-fire takes against the latest thing, I would start to turn snarky, dank, and spit-fire. I know this about myself. I’ve seen it. I can feel that in my stomach, like the rising cynic that must always be denied in me. Hello darkness, never my friend.

We are told to watch what we eat, but then even Christians zone out in front of glowing screens consuming what could only be described as filth. Less degradingly, one could point that what we consume is often not edifying, does not build up others, does not encourage us, does not instruct us, etc. There is a place for entertainment, sure, but we as Christians must be mindful even there. If you watch a lot of violent content, it will start to darken your soul. If you read a lot of angry, sniping social media content, what do you think it will do to your heart? Have you thought about that?

If you only have an hour a day to consume, what should you intentionally consume? Facebook, Twitter, an audiobook about the crusades? Do you have a direction in your life? “I want to improve in this area.” Are you working in that direction? Think of it like losing weight. You choose to focus on specific things at the gym, change your diet, etc. to accomplish this goal. Maybe make goals when it comes to what you consume elsewhere and be just as intentional about your heart, soul, and mind as many are about their bodies.


Quick note. I regularly write articles that address two audiences: me and fellow Christians. Usually you can tell that I am doing this by my specifically addressing Christians. Such as:

But justice! They must pay for their actions, pay for what they’ve done to me! God didn’t say the same for you, Christian. No, Christ said “I’ll pay the bill.” Christian, you don’t want justice done for all that you have done and you surely don’t want justice done to your foes.

When You Forgive Someone, (emphasis added)

This article would not make sense if it was addressing non-Christians, as we cannot hold those outside the Blood to the standards set for those under the Blood of Christ. This article, along with many others, addresses me and fellow Christians and commands that are made of us as brothers and sisters in Christ. Namely, you are to forgive without any reason other than Christ forgave you.

If you are not a Christian and read an article like this and conclude that it is crazy to hold you to that standard, you are correct and I am not holding you to that standard.

Narrative and Storytelling

Stereotypes are helpful. Sure, some aren’t reality, but others help us start our understanding of a situation, a community, or an individual. The Right in politics has long been seen as facts-driven, dry, and lacking empathy— after all, facts don’t care about your emotions. The Left, where they might lack facts, the raw emotion they employ to tell their story, to spin a narrative and to dissuade men and women from disagreeing is powerful.

Now, that isn’t to say that the Left fully lacks facts or the Right fully lacks creative artistry. But there sure is a dichotomy.

And here is something many on the Right have started to realize and rectify. On the Right, if we want media— art, music, movies, novels— we have to consume Leftist viewpoints and narratives all the time. There just isn’t much good stuff coming from our side. So we learn to cringe quietly to get past the pushing of this topic or that topic and we keep buying and nothing changes.

The Left doesn’t have the same problem. There is little reason for them to consume non-fiction books the Right writes on this political or that philosophical topic, there is little reason for them to listen to our Holy Hip Hop, our Christian Metal, or our worship music.

We want to watch a superhero movie with our kids and we get Leftist talking points pushed on us. They don’t want to read a non-fiction book from our perspective.

So two problems.

First, we have little to enjoy but that which the Left produces. We sing songs that go against our views— even our deeply held religious views—, we watch movies that insult Christians subtly and overtly, and we binge TV that hates us. Slowly these views start to seep in, because of course they do. You cannot consume hours of opposing views a week without changing. And that is as an adult. Children are targeted harder and are so much more susceptible to the teaching. The Left is winning hearts by speaking to hearts really well— not a good message, but good messaging.

Second, we have nothing the Left can enjoy to hear our viewpoints. This is where so much division has come from. Most on the Right intimately understand the positions of those on the Left because unless we have no TVs, no smart phones, no social media, we have their views being pumped into everything we consume. But the Left tends to only know what the Left tells them about us. Stereotypes, mockeries, and characterizations designed as easy-to-tear-down straw men. You could respond that the Right does the same thing, but how many on the Left are watching our terrible church movie nights? Even we know how terrible the characterizations are because we know the Left well enough, but the Left doesn’t.

We have to get better at telling our perspective through stories. Guys like Brian Sauvé are doing this well in music and podcasts. We have to tell stories that everyone needs— an innate, irresistible draw— to hear. And we see what happens when we do. In the last couple months two songs have dropped that have shook the industry. Try That in a Small Town wouldn’t have been a blip had the Left not tried to shut it down. Country music is not generally loved outside of country music fans. But the Left branded it “racist” and, instead of succeeding, the song rocketed to the top of the charts. Why? Because folks that wouldn’t have listened to it listened and heard a story they could unite around, we need to come together as a community and protect our own.

Then Oliver Anthony came out of no where with Rich Men North of Richmond. Viral hit, 26 million views as I’m writing this. This song is a focusing. It is not you vs. me, but us vs. them. Our government no longer represents us— Left or Right— and the number of hurting Americans is growing and groaning. The Left-wing media is trying to find a way to respond to this, largely attacking the Right for adopting it as an anthem, but they are failing again. Why? Because narrative and storytelling is how to speak to hearts. And 26 million views shows the impact it is having. Oliver hit a vain and struck a nerve.

Conservatives.discd We need to protect these men, feed them, train them, and let them do their thing. That is what the Left does, for better or worse. Storytelling is central to humanity. We need it, even the most intellectual, facts-driven of us. Just this week I watched Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers instead of the latest drivel for “modern audiences.” For the countless books, blog articles, podcasts, and more discussing the topics, Jason Aldean and Oliver Anthony in less than 5 minutes captured hearts and brought diverse people together to rally and unite. Go look up react videos for both of these. People that we have been told shouldn’t be enjoying these songs, shouldn’t be agree with this, are soaking it up because what we were told was stereotypical lies.

We do not need to control the narrative, but we do need to start using the narrative. So let’s march forth. Festina Lente.

Write. Delete. Write. Delete. That writer’s block is back and is banging me over the head. Hey, ol’ friend, go away. I wrote for a few hours on Friday, ready to publish. Woke and edited. Then… it wasn’t… ready? Some permutation of it, at some point, but not it.

Learn from the past. Write through it. Get off social media, grab a book, turn up the music and get back to writing.

On Poetry and the Rise of AI

There were eras in which the work of Christian poets was respected and even lauded. But that was then and this is now. While we still value poetry in the form of songs, most of us pay scant attention to reading or writing poetry. There could be any number of explanations for this, though I am inclined to blame the decline of formal verse (i.e. defined forms of poetry) and the rise of free verse (i.e. neglecting rhyme and meter), much of which is enough to cause the best of us to give up on poetry altogether.

Tim Challies, Poetry of Redemption

I have been trying to will myself back into poetry. I used to consume a lot of poetry. Pretty sure I lost it in my tumultuous twenties. The quote above started my Sunday with lament and awareness that it wasn’t just me seeing poetry’s decline.

And then I read this morning that the rising AIs cannot write poetry. Or do basic arithmatic, which is unsurprisingly interlinked with poetry.

So I decided to try a nonce form and asked ChatGPT to produce a poem with a particular number of stanzas and a set number of stanzas per line. Over and over, it would write a few stanzas with the correct number of lines and then veer off towards the end and produce a much longer stanza. Like it lost count.

The danged robot couldn’t count.

AK Krajewska, Robot without rhyme or rhythm

Some very interesting points follow in the article— which you really should read.

Ted Chiang explained that when large language models (LLMs) are trained, they don’t actually assimilate the underlying principles. Instead, they produce the statistically likely next thing.

These LLMs does actually understand, as they cannot. Well, they can understand, but not truly. Because English doesn’t give us multiple words for understand. In Christian circles, we oft separate head and heart knowledge. These AIs have head knowledge but no heart.

More than that, formal verse is an exercise in applying principles you’ve understood. ChatGPT could produce a statistically likely definition of a sestina based on all the examples of sestina definitions it had come across in its training. To produce a sestina, it would have to have assimilated the principles.


There’s one more reason why LLMs can’t write formal verse, and this one is a little more obvious, though still, I think, worth mentioning. LLMs are trained exclusively on written text. They do not have the sound of words in their training, as far as I know.


Formal verse with meter and rhyme relies on the sound of the words. While you can guess what words are statistically likely to rhyme based on their spelling, it’s only saying them out loud that lets you know if you’ve succeeded.

Our language is far more complex than letters combined. Pronunciation is key to writing poetry. Manipulation of pronunciation too.

I wonder what other effects LLMs will have on literature. Might formal verse in English, which has fallen out of favor since the early 20th century, make a comeback as a prestige form, edging out free verse?

And there was the full circle to Tim Challies. Tim noted that the last hundred years have seen a dearth of poetry. But now it may be what separates us from the AI.

Finally, I wonder if, given that LLMs can produce polished but contentless prose corporate speak, will poetry make a comeback as the form for signaling sincerity? Could you imagine getting a notice of layoffs from your very humane VP in the form of sonnet? I’m not sure it would be a better world but it would be interesting.

As previously alluded to, due to a very low point in my career, I got hammered with writer’s block. I couldn’t write anything the way I wanted to. Everything that came out was wrong. It wasn’t long before I stopped writing. So often I have looked to solve my writer’s block, but couldn’t. But I missed something in searching for the answer.

Over the years, I transitioned my writing to social media. Little, short blips of commentary here and there. A bit of sarcasm. Twitter prevented me from ranting. From time to time on Facebook I’d post something more long and bloggy, but mostly kept to a link and something simple.

My expectation, I guess, was that I’d get back to writing full articles more quickly. Like a marathon runner that broke his foot, I didn’t want downtime. So I kept searching for answers to my writer’s block without realizing that I could write myself out of my writer’s block with consistency.

It is said that it takes two weeks of consistency to develop a habit.

So, on it’s fourth week, has seen over 70 posts. Six of those have been “feature” articles, the rest have been links. A habit of writing is forming once more. As I said two weeks ago, for once in my experience blogging, I have a backlog of entries.

As I try to keep my writing consistent, I am keeping my finger off the publish button. Between three and five posts a day is what I want here. So as I find links, they get saved and scheduled out to be posted over days. When something hot comes in, I push colder links back. Holding off on publishing allows things to stew a bit. I can take time to edit my thoughts. I don’t have to be reactive all the time, as my editing is worse when I am.

Writer’s block comes when you give up. The cure to writer’s block is to write. Write something. Write anything. Momentum is only built by objects in motion.