1. “What I Lost When I Lost My Job” by Dominique Browning is the sort of subtle conversion story that will leave you in tears. Published in this past weekend’s NY Times Magazine (of all places), she touches on pretty much every major theme of this website: justification by work(s), achievement-based identity, the death/resurrection paradigm of personal change, etc – and she does so eloquently, with deep feeling and hard-won insight. But don’t take my word for it – just be sure to read to the end. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning (ht SZ):
My nightmare had finally come true… Work had become the scaffolding of my life. It was what I counted on. It held up the floor of my moods, kept the facade intact. I always worried that if I didn’t have work, I would sink into abject torpor.
I have always had a job. I have always supported myself. Everything I own I purchased with money that I earned. I worked hard. For the 35 years I’ve been an adult, I have had an office to go to and a time to show up there. I’ve always had a place to be, existential gravitas intended. Without work, who was I? I do not mean that my title defined me. What did define me was the simple act of working. The loss of my job triggered a cascade of self-doubt and depression. I felt like a failure. Not that the magazine had failed — that I had.
Elsewhere in the tri-state area, a conversion led to an admission of guilt in a 30 year-old murder case (ht WDR).
Life is not about us, about living up to our potential, proving our inherent worth, and all the other exhortations used in motivational rhetoric—what a burden all that is! Instead, life is about living in gratitude, the unworthy basking in the gift of sheer grace.
What we discover in God is that love is not love in the deepest sense if it is motivated by anything intrinsic in the beloved—another’s worth, value, gifts, or potential. If our actions are motivated by such things, it is not love. We are merely giving people their due, obligated by some value in them to honor and respect them. Love is not love unless freely given, given for no reason at all but merely out of that “great love.” Love needs no reason and has no reason. Love is its own reason.
3. Paul Westerberg paid touching tribute to his hero Alex Chilton in a NY Times op-ed “Beyond The Box Tops”. I may never have gotten to see Chilton himself play, but he certainly made an appearance when I saw Westerberg in concert. One of the best shows ever…
4. Did anyone read/see the interview that Tiger Woods gave to ESPN last week? The recovery terminology is striking (ht WDR).
5. In movie news, two very exciting tid-bits: One, the Jason Segal/Nicholas Stoller/James Bobin Muppet movie is a go, with Segal himself in the lead! And two, resident Pixar genius Brad Bird is in talks to direct Mission Impossible IV. Regardless of what you think of that franchise, you have to admit that this prospect is very, very exciting. In television, LOST just seems to be getting more and more theological every week. Absolution and penance galore… What do you make of it all?!
6. Read our brand-new Spring newsletter. And then pass it on. And then pass it on again.
7. I missed one crucial Elvis gospel moment when I put together that list a couple weeks ago. The single “Life” from 1970 strikes that rare laughability/vulnerability balance that only Elvis in his later days could pull off. It just drips with 70s-ness, from the ill-advised flute to the cosmic Jesus lyrics. But it’s also undeniably touching. “Somewhere out in empty space…”