1. A lengthy piece on prayer in this past Sunday’s NY Times Magazine entitled “The Right Way To Pray?”, in which the author surveys a number of different prayer traditions (Pentecostal, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, and yes, liberal Episcopal). I found his conclusion to be surprisingly sympathetic (ht R-J Heijmen):

“There are some 300,000 churches in America, and I could have picked any one to attend on Easter morning, but I liked being in this one [a Presbyterian church in West Virginia]. Especially the kids. They didn’t need Reverend Henderson’s prayer techniques, or the high-tech mantras of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Their prayers weren’t Rabbi Gellman’s suburban Jewish prayers of Thanks! offered to whom it may concern. They didn’t pray to de-center their egos or find transcendence or to set off on a lifelong therapeutic spiritual journey. They prayed to a God with whom they were on a first-name basis, and they believed their prayers gave them power, which they used on behalf of their asthmatic sisters and infirm grandparents and a kid they knew with burns on his body. Sitting in church on Easter morning, I realized that I was probably never going to become a praying man. But if, by some miracle, I ever do, I hope my prayers will be like the prayers of the kids I met at the Love church in Berkeley Springs. Straight-up Gimme! on behalf of people who really need the help.”

2. A great little post on Metafilter on “The Concept of Internal Cohabitation”, a psychoanalytic theory that sounds remarkably consistent with a Romans 7 view of the world (ht Jeff Dean):

“We are all born with two autonomous, sentient minds. One of them can think rationally and relate to other people, and one of them is fundamentally negative in outlook, and opposed to relating. Both minds watch the world through our senses, but compete for control of the body. But if this is indeed the case, why is it not common knowledge? How could such a fundamental aspect of human nature go unnoticed for so long?

The answer is twofold. The second, non-relational mind hates to be recognized or seen. It frequently acts covertly, influencing the actions of the relational mind and leaving it thinking that it is the only mind making choices. When the non-relational mind does take complete control of the body, it may well wreak havoc, but the relational mind is left thinking that it was responsible. After such an incident, someone might well explain that they had ‘lost control’.

3. It’s been hard to avoid all the Dan Brown hype this past week, what with the release of The Lost Symbol and all. In conjunction with the event, The Telegraph published an incredibly amusing list of “Dan Brown’s 20 Worst Sentences”. My favorites are:

“As a boy, Langdon had fallen down an abandoned well shaft and almost died treading water in the narrow space for hours before being rescued. Since then, he’d suffered a haunting phobia of enclosed spaces – elevators, subways, squash courts.”

My French stinks, Langdon thought, but my zodiac iconography is pretty good.”

4. If you’re looking for some great Grace In Practice-style parenting input, be sure to check out John Halton’s highly thoughtful series on Mockingbird Conference speaker/child psychologist Dorothy Martyn. It’s over at his Confessing Evangelical blog: part 1, 2, 3, and 4. I was especially excited to see him discuss the similarities between Martyn’s Beyond Deserving and the work of the controversial Alfie Kohn. When you’re done there, go here for some related inspiration.

5. TV Premieres. The NBC comedy train isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, thank God: The Office boasted a hilarious and anthropologically profound opener, further sign that it’s returning to its original tone and arresting the insufferable melodrama that crept in during the 4th season (and lingered most of last one), Community looks very promising, and perhaps I’m the only one, but I think Parks And Recreation is a riot. Modern Family is ridiculously funny and may finally put ABC back on the map for something non-LOST-related. On FOX, there’s Glee, which, although I’m not hooked yet, has a refreshingly Freaks And Geeks vibe (it also has Jane Lynch, which is always a plus). HBO-wise Bored To Death got off to a slightly underwhelming start and Curb, while I have high hopes for the psuedo-Seinfeld Reunion arc, seemed a bit tired.

On the drama front, I’ve heard from numerous sources that the House premiere was a tour-de-force of Mbird-friendly themes like addiction, recovery, confession and forgiveness – if you saw it, please enlighten us! After a several-episode slump, I would place last Sunday’s episode of Mad Men among the series best. Finally, Dollhouse premieres tonight and I could not be more excited (if you never caught the unaired 13th episode of season one on iTunes, do yourself a favor!).

6. Finally, mark your calendars and book your tickets: Dr. Rod Rosenbladt is speaking at the free Defending The Faith Apologetics Symposium in Tomboll, Texas during the last weekend of October (10/30-31). This is really not to be missed! You can find the details over at New Reformation Press (which is having a 10% off sale right now…).