I’m the Worst at Titles

Hi all,

I wish that the title of this post was a clever and ironic enticement to get you to read a charming anecdotal story, but sadly it is the truth. Picking a title is actually my least favorite part of writing.

I’ve been blogging for a short while now and I am still the worst at coming up with titles for the pieces I write. Occasionally I get inspired towards one that is both decent and a good fit for the piece, but rarely am I truly satisfied with the ones I come up with.  I never know what to call a piece I’m working on because my posts are by their nature sort of reflective either on something personal or a larger societal trend/event that I notice or have feelings about. It’s not the sort of stuff I find it easy to name, especially in a snappy way that draws people to read the post. Unfortunately, the topics I write about are also not as direct or explicit as “5 ways to lose 10 pounds” or “12 ways to get ahead at work.”

So to you writers out there, what is your process for coming up with titles for the piece you’re writing?

Any advice from people who are good at coming up titles, have been blogging for longer than I have, or have any advice whatsoever to get me past this extremely annoying hurdle is most appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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I Don’t Believe in Political Saviors

I get accused of being highly idealistic quite a lot.

It’s a fair accusation as I am highly idealistic. Due to my strong belief in Heaven, when I look at the world I live in I see ideals half realized. I see people longing to be loved and who I believe will be loved far beyond what they can imagine and well beyond what they deserve; because I believe them to be created by God who is love. I see purpose, promise and adventure behind what strikes others as common or even repulsive in its poverty.

But today I wanted to discuss a different sort of idealism, the political idealism that always sweeps around the presidential election season. Regardless of your personal politics, the quest for a political savior to single-handedly solve all the world’s problems by November the following year drives.me.crazy. Not only does social media make the process even more obnoxious, but the waves of idealism are too much even for me.

For starters, I can’t stand the “It’s Time for a Woman” President similar to last year’s “It’s Time for an African American” President. Would it be a cool and historic thing to have that happen? Most certainly. But do you know what I think it’s time for? Something cool, retro, and that the world hasn’t seen for decades and certainly not in my lifetime: a good president.

In my limited experience, American politics is a cross between a joke and a bad dream you can’t wake up from.

But it’s not just the establishment’s fault. Networks wouldn’t insist on showing those “debates” on T.V. if no one watched them. I never know who is more ambiguous, the voters or the politicians themselves. Most I encounter claim to want change but never talk about what sort of change or how to attain it. Instead, they all seem to prefer falling in love with the flowery rhetoric that requires no actual commitment because it’s easier than agreeing on an acceptable standard to determine what would constitute acceptable results/progress for any sort of change in the first place. Politicians can’t be held accountable if the people themselves give them nothing tangible to accomplish. Politicians won’t offer anything tangible because true change, true action, would risk alienating certain members of their voter base as it is impossible to please everyone.

If this weren’t true to some degree than Donald Trump would have zero appeal to voters as a candidate. While his idea to build a wall to keep immigrants may well be the worst, most un-American thing I’ve ever heard it is something tangible. Walls are either built or they are not. He doesn’t waste voters time talking about how walls are nice, or how walls work for some people but not others and how we need to respect all people’s opinions on walls.

And Trump is a frightening prospect because I don’t see any love or respect for anything other than himself and selfish men do not make good leaders. Neither do selfish women, in the spirit of equality.

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, the true inspiration behind this post was that so many on Twitter today were “feeling the Bern” and promoting him as a moral candidate by virtue of his pushing for a moral economy.

This is exactly the type of feel good rhetoric that makes me sad to be a millennial because we fall for it like the idiotic rats following the pied piper to their death because they were so enamored with his song. (That’s just one of my standard corny metaphors used to illustrate my point I do not mean to imply that Bernie Sanders would kill any millennials). “Feelin the Bern” is the perfect example of how everybody gets so caught up in their ideals, such as the vague notions of love and connectivity he promotes in his speaking engagements, that they lose touch with reality. He may have an eloquent message but I would rather be sold an honest truth than a pleasing lie. Because in spite of what the current culture would have you believe you can’t mandate morals. You can’t make a moral economy by forcing vaguely ethical requirements on corporations. The truth that no one wants to discuss is that you make a moral economy by making moral men and women and the unpopularity of this truth, I would argue, is directly tied to the fact that this job cannot be done by the state. And the reason that the state cannot do this is because it adheres to Enlightenment principals of liberty and a government neutral in matters of religion. However, the interesting result of that concept is that government tries to promote a morally good action divorced from a larger moral framework, and it ends up looking a lot like the cartoon below:

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Photo courtesy of churchpop.com

And it never works. Ideals are never realized and people become cynical because politics constantly promises more than it can deliver, and in my opinion that’s why all political people ever do is talk in varying degrees of hope and condescension.

Talk of how others should fix something, how others should change, how others should stop being ignorant in their love of Trump… In short, talk of how the world would be a better place if it was full of people more like themselves.

And I can’t stand it because this pride blinds to the only thing that has ever changed the world for the better: love. Yet this change they truly seek is not going to be dramatic, global, sweeping, or entertaining. It’s not going to have a bumper sticker or a benefit or a stage of any kind because none of those things have the power to change people’s hearts, which is the only way to make the world a better place.

What changes people’s hearts is when they say no to the world. No to the temptation to say something awful about their neighbors, no to crappy television, no to the temptation to pride and superiority, and yes to those brave and wild moments when they go out on a limb and actually love their neighbor even though it might be the opposite of what they feel like doing.

And my belief in this simple observation comes from the fact that I am a lifelong Catholic and was in a secular service sorority and, unlike vague political mandates, I have seen this method work time and time again. It is arguably the prime reason I am religious but not at all political because politics tells me to trust the power of the state whereas religion tells me to trust the power of God, and only one of those things has ever had the power to change my heart and open it up past my selfish nature to see in blazing color the needs of others. This may not have changed the entire world but it certainly changed mine and maybe my tiny corner of Pittsburgh is better because of it.

So now if I look remarkably calm in spite of the political mess we seem inevitably headed towards you can know it is because I’m not disappointed or even that surprised because I don’t believe in saviors.

The Force Awoke a Long Time Ago but I’m Just Writing About It Now

So May is a very exciting month for my family because my youngest brother and my mom have their birthdays literally one right after the other. Naturally, the atmosphere is very festive and there are ridiculous amounts of cake even by my own inflated standards of what is acceptable.

And in honor of my sweet youngest brother’s birthday, I thought I would dedicate a blog post to his favorite thing on God’s green earth: Star Wars Episode VI The Force Awakens.

Most bloggers have already gotten it out of their system but I haven’t!

I absolutely loved it. Could have cried with happiness to see some decent screenwriting for the first time since the seventies (that should definitely be interpreted as a slap against the horrible prequel trilogy. When Ewan McGregor can’t save your film you know it’s beyond saving.) But J.J. Abrams does not disappoint and the film is so well done from start to finish.

I would add that there will be SPOILERS past this point but honestly if you haven’t seen the film by now what are you doing with your life? Time to re-examine your priorities.

Anyways, to keep this thing easy to read and reignite some passionate controversy among fans I’m going to list reasons why I think Rey and Kylo Ren are siblings and NOT in fact cousins, which I hear a lot of people say.

  • Luke Skywalker is a Jedi and super in tune with the force. What part of that screams “has a baby mama” to people?
  • Luke does not strike me as the type of guy to go back on his Jedi vows/code. He was only willing to die rather than turn to the dark side and when they find him he is living as a solitary hermit…
  • Maz asks Han what’s the deal with the girl and then the film cuts to a different scene before he answers
  • Han acts as a father figure to Rey
  • It makes logical sense to me that if Kylo Ren had gone bad Han and Leia would have hidden the existence of their other child in order to protect her
  • The Millenium Falcon was on the planet where Rey had lived her whole life
  • Leia and Rey share force sensitivity and have a moment when Rey sort of wordlessly informs Leia of Han’s death
  • Rey and Kylo Ren are well matched in terms of force ability.
  • It would be soooo much better for future storylines

So maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I suppose only time will tell.

But now that this silly tribute is at an end, wishing the happiest of birthdays to the franchise’s biggest fan who turns SIXTEEN today! Too bad we have to wait until December for the next one…