Ash Wednesday, then, should be seen as standing guard over Lent, reminding us at its start of the core truth of Christianity: we must give up. We must give up not this or that habit or food or particular sin, but the entire project of self-justification, of making God’s love contingent on our own achievements. And the liturgy of this day goes right to the ultimate reality we struggle against, which is death itself. We are reminded, both by the words we say and the burned palms imposed on our foreheads, that we will die. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Give up! Give up, for you will not escape death. The entire logic of the theology of glory, of all our Pelagian impulses, of all human attempts at mastery and control, are searched out and stripped away on Ash Wednesday. We are seen for what we are – frail mortals. All power, all money, all self-control, all striving, all efforts at reform cannot permanently forestall our death. Our return to dust is the looming fact of our existence that, in our resistance to it, provides a template of sorts for all the more petty efforts we make to gain control of our lives.

My Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 was an interesting year for me. But no matter how interesting it got, I always had great music to keep me company. These are the top albums that helped me pound out work during the day, dance with my kids after supper, and fall asleep at night. These are the soundtrack to my year, and because I think ranking would be totally arbitrary, they’re simply in the order that I embeded them (though Drake would be #1 if I were ranking). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

It dawned on me recently that every song, movie, and TV show that ever made an impression on me is available on YouTube. To test that proposition, and with so many options where to begin confronting me, I began by looking up a 1939 western called Oklahoma Kid with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart that I saw in 1950 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, one cold and snowy winter day while playing hooky from school. Not only was the entire movie on the website, but several isolated scenes and a trailer were also available, along with the astonishing information that 45,298 others had already viewed the clip I was watching.
Serendipitously, my mother got both of her memorial wishes. On October 27, a Sunday morning, my brothers and my sister, our spouses, and some of our children, joined my father to distribute her ashes in the woods between Friends Homes and the New Garden Cemetery, under the same trees where the ashes of my father’s mother, like him a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, were laid to rest. Then, we went to a Quaker meeting nearby, all fifteen of us, unannounced, and joined in the hour of silence, broken only when someone was “moved by the spirit”—hence the “Quaker” moniker—to speak.

Instead, I think we need to try to do as little as possible when we build the future web.

This isn’t a rationalization for laziness or shirking responsibility—those characteristics are arguably not ones you’d find in successful web devs. Nor it is a suggestion that we build bland, homogeneous sites and apps that sacrifice all nuance or spark to the Greater Good of total compatibility.

Instead it is an appeal for simplicity and elegance: putting commonality first, approaching differentiation carefully, and advocating for consistency in the creation and application of web standards.

Do As Little As Possible by Lyza Danger Gardner

Amen.