Over the past six months, I’ve been going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program or RCIA. I’m an anomaly within my RCIA group: I have no religious background, zero complicated feelings about the church, and a crisis didn’t lead me here. I just never bought it that everything around me could be explained by science and happenstance. Believing in God simply meant putting a label on my longstanding belief that there has to be something bigger than me — a belief I found evidence for in the face of unexplainably intricate beauty: a newborn baby’s bare feet, misty redwood forest in the morning, breath curling out of pale, frigid lips. Being around beauty has long compelled me to spread its selfless essence, it just took me a long time to learn what that essence was made up of.
Which is probably why I felt so moved by the practices of Catholicism — the beauty of mass spoke a language I recognized but which had never been named for me. Gazing around at the sea of heads surrounding me while seated in the pews never fails to remind me that we humans were designed to believe in something greater. The orientation of our belief seems to be the operative factor — where I work in a small subset of Silicon Valley, it’s common for belief to be turned inward. Founders are taught to possess enough faith to will whatever they’re working on into existence but are rarely reminded to worship anything but themself. This creates a pressure cooker of responsibility that distorts reality to the point that they often find it hard not to confuse themselves for God — and we all know how that ends.
My baptism is in two months. I’m scared, a little surprised, but mostly it just feels right. I don’t have all the answers, nor was I ever supposed to. I’ve been surprised by how quickly this faith has started to feel like my own and where it’s taught me to sit. No longer am I spending much of my time observing myself from a far-removed vantage point. Instead I am situated so close to the world outside of me that I often cease to be aware of myself at all. It’s cathartic, anti-insular, and a state of being all the people I most admire seemingly share. So far, my main learning is simple: the best belief system is probably the one that makes you more of the person you want to be.
The Lost Charisma of Capitalism (essay)
On the types of technologists and the commercial instincts that define entrepreneurs.
Target Big Markets by Don Valentine (talk)
Excellent picture of Sequoia’s early strategy with lots of fun anecdotes.
Michael Lewis on luck and what we owe to the people around us (speech)
An intellectual argument for humility as part of Lewis’s 2012 Princeton commencement speech.
Big Tech at the End of History by Byrne Hobart (essay)
What happens after all the low-hanging technological fruit has been picked?
Shipping Out by David Foster Wallace (essay)
DFW in peak form, examining wealth through his philosophically literary gaze.
Questing for Transcendence by Tanner Greer (essay)
What does it mean to live for more than yourself?
The Option by David Friedman (essay)
A fun bit of fiction on paths not taken.
Art is for Seeing Evil by Agnes Callard (essay)
Art is for inspiring us to aspire to something greater!
My love, mine all mine by Frank Watkinson (song)
Heart-wrenching Mitski cover, especially for those with older relatives.
Just as good 29 years later.
Re-recorded (and vastly improved) version of the original song from 2018.
Brian Eno-esque contemporary piano, excellent while working.
Tavi Gevinson on Longform (podcast)
Wonderful portrait of Tavi’s magnificent and wildly creative mind.
Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.