Category: Family and Relationships

The Challenging Paradox of a Good Father-Son Relationship

It’s hard to be a father, and I can say that with confidence because I have made it hard for my own. Part of the reason is that I’m flawed. But part relates to a paradox at the heart of the father-son relationship: Good fathers want to teach their sons. Good sons want to make […]

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Memento Pater Mori

Remember that your father will die one day. “Memento mori” reminds us that we will die one day, and prompts us to act accordingly – to seize the day, to be all we can be, and to be grateful for this moment in life. But it’s not enough to reconcile yourself with your own doom, […]

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The Paradox of Rural Community

It’s a truism that rural communities tend to be more tightly-knit. We think of cities as places full of strangers and countrysides as places where “everyone knows everyone.” This is true to a great degree. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Communities can be stronger in the country. But they’re also harder to […]

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What Makes Your Family Different?

There’s a term I learned in church world: “cultural distinctive.” It basically means “what makes you different from everybody else,” and it’s a very important thing to understand, for yourself and for any group of which you’re a part. My family has a few of these distinctives that are notable. We hail from farmers and […]

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How To Have Deeper (Non-Intellectual) Dinner Table Conversations with Your Family

I thrive on a good philosophical conversation. For that matter, I thrive on a good artistic conversation, or a good historical one, or even a good political or religious one. I like sinking my teeth into ideas alongside my dinner mates. But not everybody shares my preferences. My parents aren’t into the same kinds of […]

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Being Your Own Man Doesn’t Have To Mean Rejecting a Legacy

People leave the family farm. Sons go to college instead of going to work into the plumbing business. It has a thousand faces, but there’s this American idea that inheriting a vocation is “settling,” so you’d better go off and find a new one. People leave the family farm. Sons go to college instead of […]

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Use Your Chore Time for Quality Time

The other night me and my roommate (who hardly see each other most days) were sitting in the living room doing our chores. He was stringing some lacrosse stick heads, I was writing and journaling for the day. While we did our mundane tasks, we got to talking. We talked about work, and ambitions, laughed […]

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How Would Life Change in a World Without Language?

Imagine waking up on an Earth without language. How is life different? In many ways, I’d think your life would be simpler. You could only interpret people’s intent and beliefs by their actions. You would never listen to the unproductive and unvirtuous. For all their words, their actions would speak louder. Your mind wouldn’t be […]

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The Companionship That Outlasts Coworking

If companies could have veteran’s organizations, my last company’s would be a thriving one. Tonight I gathered together with some current employees and past employees (I’m now one of those salty old-timers) as we bowled, played games, drank, ate, and caught up. The magical thing is that it felt to me like we were all […]

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Find Out How To Enjoy Your Family

My Dad doesn’t read much. My Mom will never be interested in philosophy. They watch the news – I don’t. They like to talk about the minutia of everyday life, and I like to talk about big picture stuff. Needless to say, dinner conversation with my parents is not the easiest. I sometimes wish it […]

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Don’t Name the Game: Use the Element of Surprise Against Manipulators

People play games. Some games are fun. Like soccer. They’re games you can join in on. Other games are not so fun. They’re games in which *you* are the soccer ball. I’m talking about emotional manipulation, pretense, posturing, and all of that jazz. People aren’t usually playing these games maliciously. Manipulation is sometimes unconscious and […]

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Why I’m Thinking About Invoicing My Kids for Everything

I really wish I had known more about the practical costs of living when I was much younger. I had the great blessing of having parents who had enough to take care of me, and enough to shelter me from knowing the costs of many of the things that they worked hard to provide. Our […]

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What Are You Trying To Reproduce Anyway?

This one’s for all my fellow 20-somethings (and myself). Nature is trying with all its might to make us reproduce. And that’s a good thing. Without it, we wouldn’t take nearly enough chances in love to be happy. But that energy also needs to meet up with wisdom somewhere along the way, or we’re very […]

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Jojo Rabbit: A Choice Between Authentic and False Community

“You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.” – Jojo Rabbit You know it’s a good movie when you clap spontaneously, laugh like a maniac, and feel your heart torn to shreds in the same two-hour stretch. […]

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Socialize On the Way To Your Goals

I have quite a lot of goals and projects and just 24 hours in the day, so I’ve had to get economical. One of my favorite ways to get the most from a day is to take on my challenges or goals alongside people I want to spend time with. Running is probably my favorite […]

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Building a “Family Wall” Against Oppression

In Forty Autumns, author Nina Willner tells a beautiful family history of life in a family divided by the wall between East and West Germany. Particularly interesting were the coping tactics of her family in the totalitarian socialist East Germany. Her grandmother watched as this family weathered the arrival of the Soviets and the rapid […]

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Everyone You Meet Is a Craftsman: A Clue to Good Conversations with Strangers

Today I had fascinating conversations with strangers across several spectrums of life. I spoke with runners about their favorite races, and I asked a race organizer about what it takes to organize a running event (lots of relationship-building). I spoke with an airport security guard about the celebrities he has seen in the course of […]

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He Who Takes the King’s Coin Becomes the King’s Man: Be Careful About Accepting Help

Here’s an old principle that is often forgotten: “he who takes the king’s coin becomes the king’s man.” This wisdom has many layers. The most common understanding is that taking pay from another person or group reduces your independent judgment and action when it comes to them. If you work for Ford, for instance, you’re […]

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Let Your Dog Work

This weekend I hung out with a few retriever dogs brought out to fetch doves at a hunt on my family’s farm on John’s Island. I saw one dog who had been hunting for what must have been 14 years. He found his bird. I saw a beautiful young dog sitting with her master out […]

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Three Generations of Manhood in Homer’s “The Odyssey”

Today I finished reading The Odyssey, that complex, brilliant, violent, old, relevant epic poem about the journey home of Greek hero Odysseus. I have many thoughts about this book (“why is the ending so abrupt?” “Wow, Odysseus is wily and violent.” “These feast descriptions make me hungry.” “Athena is one super-cool lady.”) here at the […]

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A Lesson from My Grandmother’s Frugal (and Generous) Life

I’ve put together this tribute from the notes for and my best recollection of the the eulogy I spoke at my grandmother Ruth McMinn McIntyre Shull’s memorial service in July 2019. The eulogy given differed in a few small respects (live edits, etc). Like many of her generation, my grandmother was the definition of frugality […]

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Find Community, Give, Receive, Repeat

Last night at a beer garden here in Atlanta, I got to see what a healthy modern tribe could look like. I was meeting with dozens of new and old participants, alumni, and team members from Praxis, the startup apprenticeship program that helped launch my career. If it sounds like a staid old business conference, […]

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Why Your Childhood Friends Matter

When I began an independent life at 18, I wanted to create myself anew. I lost or dropped touch with a lot of folks who knew me when I was younger. Life was starting over – why would I want reminders of the cringe-worthy person (or so I thought) I was as a child? Like […]

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Get To Know Your Aunts and Uncles While You Still Have Time

How often do you see your aunts and uncles? If like me you’re grown and out of your home town, you probably don’t get much facetime with these people, even if they were a bigger part of your life when you were younger. I see some of my aunts and uncles only once or twice […]

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Reward Someone’s Faith

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world in which humans had faith in other humans? Wouldn’t it be nice if people had faith that good wins out over evil, that virtue leads to happiness, and that freedom creates the best kind of society? Answer: it would be very nice. But the faith – the […]

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Conviviality and Popcorn: Or How To Make Meetings More Fun

Circle up chairs. Or sit on the floor. Pop popcorn. Pass around a bowl (of popcorn). These are things that make an ordinary night with friends into a convivial night with friends. That’s how we did things last night when my church small group met up. We’re already friendly – some of us are even close. […]

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Learn About Your Ancestors To Learn About Yourself

If your family had a history of cancer or heart disease, wouldn’t you want to know? So if behavior and personality is in large part genetic*, wouldn’t you want to know the patterns of personality that dominate your family’s history? Most of us stop with looking at the personalities (flaws and strengths) of our parents. But sometimes traits […]

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Orient Yourself on the Tail End of Time

I’ve been visiting my hometown and staying on my family’s farm for these past few days, so I’ve had lots of time to think about family. We’re all getting older now, but the time spent making some visits and flipping through photo books brought that home to me. Tonight my father showed me a photo of my […]

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Facebook Birthdays for Friend Reunions

Your birthday is one of those days that Facebook (and social media in general) is most useful to you. Today all kinds of people from all parts of your life come out of the woodwork to wish you well: your elementary school teachers, your youth pastor, your work friends from two jobs ago, and that guy you […]

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Things To Consider When Sharing Your Weaknesses

I’m a big fan of transparency – and so I often wear my heart on my sleeve, including when it comes to talking about my weaknesses. For people like me, self-revelation can be scary and relieving and empowering. There are other emotions I’m sure other people have mixed in there. That’s why it’s important to […]

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