1. A stunning and sad cover story in this month’s Journal of the American Bar Association, entitled “A Death in the Office,” which reports on the recent suicide of 59 year-old attorney Mark Levy. By all accounts a passionate, “relentlessly upbeat” and highly successful appellate lawyer, his death came a week after learning that he was being let go from the firm Kilpatrick Stockton. Not surprisingly, the article gives a heartbreaking spin on the familiar themes truths of identity and achievement – “justification by works” writ tragically large. The quotes from a colleague at the end are particularly salien, ht RFt:

“[Levy] was a very proud person whose self-image was very tied to his profession. So to the extent he suffered from de­pression, I always perceived it as around his failure to achieve all as an appellate lawyer he had hoped to achieve.”

The lesson this lawyer says he takes from Levy’s death is that “none of us should have our self-worth tied up in our professional existence as lawyers. It is a fool’s errand to do that because it is a profession that is very hard on people even when they are succeeding.”

2. On a related note, the recent NY Times editorial “Chronicle Of A Death We Can’t Accept” is worth a read. Author Thomas Long gives a thoughtful critique of the state of modern funerals (ht Victor Hanson):

Today, our death rituals have become downsized, inwardly directed, static and, as a result, spiritually and culturally impoverished. We tend now to recognize our dead only for their partial passions and whims. They were Mets fans, good for laughs at the office, pleasant companions on the links. At upbeat, open-mike “celebrations of life,” former coaches, neighbors and relatives amuse us with stories and naïvely declare that the dead, who are usually nowhere to be seen and have nowhere to go, will nevertheless live always in our memories. Funerals, which once made confident public pilgrimage through town to the graveyard, now tread lightly across the tiny tableau of our psyches.

For the first time in history, the actual presence of the dead at their own funerals has become optional, even undesirable, lest the body break the illusion of a cloudless celebration, spoil the meditative mood and reveal the truths about grief, life and death that our thinned-out ceremonies cannot bear.

3. A pretty shocking article over at Bloomberg about two high-profile London businessmen who have recently invoked Christianity as a defense of the banking system (from church pulpits no less! ht SMZ). Goldman Sachs executive Brian Griffiths went so far as to say, “the injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest”. Say what you will about the merits/ethics of modern-day capitalism, but the poor judgment displayed in that statement is astounding.

4. For an utterly ingenious compilation of elephant jokes, go here (come the grapes!).

5. TV: If like myself you’ve been lamenting the decline of 30 Rock since its second season, be sure to read the thoughtful analysis over at The A/V Club. While you’re over there, you may as well check out their less-than-favorable take on Anne Rice’s latest, post-conversion book, Angel Time. Or their write-up on what sounds like a contender for the most-Mbird-friendly-movie-of-the-year, Richard Kelly’s The Box.

The first couple episodes of the 4th season of Friday Night Lights have been some of that show’s best ever! [If you haven’t found a way around the directTV issue, you aren’t trying hard enough.]

6. As a follow-up to JDK’s inspired All The Romery People post – the official and very respectful (though slightly headache-inducing) response to which was published here – check out this piece over at Christianity Today about the recent goings-on at the InterVarsity Christian fellowship at George Washington University. CT also reports that Nigeria is the Christian movie capital of the world (ht AZ).

7. Finally, everyone’s favorite new design mag LoftLife just published an article about everyone’s favorite indie-rock heroes Wilco (and their loft) written by our very own Caroline Henley!