A Guide for the Thoughtful High School Student

Your school is buzzing with the rumor: The handsome, aloof senior, with the square jaw and intense gaze, got arrested. They pulled him over for something harmless — a broken brake light, one person said, but it was probably just speeding — and the police smelled what everyone in your school already knew was in his car.

“They say he tried to fight the cops,” you heard in the commons.

He didn’t.

“There was cocaine under the spare tire!”

There wasn’t.

“They posted his mug shot on Facebook!”

They did. Because sometimes…

A post-election letter to our neighbors around the world

Yesterday, Americans elected as our next president a man with no relevant experience, a history of mediocrity, and a unique gift for lobbing insults, directing blame, and igniting fear.

Before he can take office — before Trump officially represents America’s place in this world we share — I need to tell you that I am sorry. In fact, this morning, while the wound is fresh and our pride is still hung over, I can safely speak for tens of millions of Americans (including some who voted for Trump) and tell you that we are sorry.

Trump is no statesman. He…

A short story for American voters

It was a curious election cycle in Midland Springs, a prosperous American town where, for three years, residents had regretted their decision to elect community positions every year the same way they elected their nation’s president every four years. It had felt like “a vote for democracy itself,” some had said, to expand voter reach and decide together who was best suited to fill every tax-funded position, and the measure had passed easily. But the clumsy two-party elections weren’t working the way people had hoped, and most voters were anxious to repeal the measure as soon as they could.


Did you like the State of the Union address last night? Your answer probably depends on whose side you think you’re on. No mistaking which side Paul Ryan is on — he couldn’t even let himself laugh when he wanted to.

“I wasn’t chortling. I was choking on my Republican-approved chewing gum. Obama has never amused me.”

Elsewhere in U.S. politics, is there any question which side Wayne Lapierre is on? The NRA is so convinced they have the only right answer, they don’t even want our government to study other possibilities.

via YouTube

Why are we fighting over an infinite resource?

You changed your profile picture last month, didn’t you? It’s got the colors of France over the top now, or it’s the Eiffel Tower turned into a peace sign, or that picture of you on the Champs-Élysées last summer. You changed it because you heard news of explosions and gunfire and senseless death, and you felt something profound. You felt human connection. Compassion.

And then some petit trou du cul left a comment that made you feel small.

“Where was your Facebook tribute to Beirut?” they demanded. “Or Kenya? Why is your…

And cynics are wrong about religious people.

In U.S. supermarkets, at least, the word natural has lost its meaning. There are no restrictions on ingredients or process, so companies print natural on their packages to persuade the average consumer to buy more. (Because nature!)

There are restrictions on using the word organic, but the rules are complex, and exceptions aren’t disclosed, and American shoppers can’t be bothered with that kind of thing, anyway. …

Do it anyway.

The internet is full of advice from self-made self-help experts preaching the “be who you are, do what you love” gospel. It seems like every online community hums along with the zeitgeist of vulnerability made popular by researchers like Brené Brown, marketers like Seth Godin, and hip millennials like that barista at your local coffee shop whose mustache, you suspect, is living a more meaningful life than you are.

The staff at Philz Coffee has it all figured out.

The idea at the core of the vulnerability movement is that we can’t really connect with others unless we show up and let ourselves be seen. What the…

with an egg-shaped stone, Facebook, and my bare hands.

Alright, I didn’t actually win the internet. Several people told me I did, so I looked into it, and there’s no such contest. No prize to claim, no oversized check, not even a Starbucks gift card. But I did manage to strike a chord with a certain corner of the internet, at least, even if I still have to buy my own coffee.

Delivered at the Sunstone Symposium 2015

Sunstone is an organization that brings together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, promoting an atmosphere that values faith, intellectual and experiential integrity. This is a longer version of an address I gave at the Sunstone Symposium July 30, 2015.

Since we’re all here at Sunstone, and specifically in this session, I’m going to make an assumption that you have all, at some point, felt that you were not Mormon enough — whatever that means. Today I’m going to share a story about a time when I was sure I was not Mormon enough.


An open letter to my Mormon bishop

Dear Bishop,

On July 2, 1964, The Civil Rights Act officially ended segregation and discrimination based on the color of our skin. The following spring, in General Conference, Ezra Taft Benson warned members about the dangers of going along with the “dangerous” civil rights movement:

“The Lord never promised there would not be traitors in the Church. We have the ignorant, the sleepy and the deceived who provide temptations and avenues of apostasy for the unwary and the unfaithful, but we have a prophet at our head and he has spoken.”

Benson’s warning…

Paul Malan

I love to write and I love to think. Sometimes I do them in the right order. Father of 5.

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