1. A few bits from the editorial “Summoned Lives” by David Brooks last week, in which he compares two ways of life: The Well-Planned Life (endorsed, ironically – or not so ironically – by a “serious Christian”) and The Summoned Life. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which one we gravitate toward:

“People who think in this [Summoned Life] mode are skeptical that business models can be applied to other realms of life. Business is about making choices that maximize utility. But the most important features of the human landscape are commitments that precede choice — commitments to family, nation, faith or some cause. These commitments defy the logic of cost and benefit, investment and return. 

The person leading the Well-Planned Life emphasizes individual agency, and asks, “What should I do?” The person leading the Summoned Life emphasizes the context, and asks, “What are my circumstances asking me to do?” 

In America, we have been taught to admire the lone free agent who creates new worlds. But for the person leading the Summoned Life, the individual is small and the context is large. Life comes to a point not when the individual project is complete but when the self dissolves into a larger purpose and cause. 

2. In the Wall Street Journal, 1986 Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden, a childhood hero of mine, reflecting on his career and the problem of internal and external expectations (ht WDR):

“I’ve done both,” Mr. Gooden said. “I’ve said, ‘I should have taken better care of myself off the field. Maybe if I had done this more. Maybe if there were pitch counts.’ Stuff like that. But, you know, you have to give yourself credit on the things you did accomplish. That was part of my problem: beating myself up, trying to live up to others expectations, and living up to my own expectations.

3. The wonderful discussion in our recent post notwithstanding, John Shore on The Huffington Post sums up many of this blogger’s sentiments about Anne Rice’s recent “announcement”: Yaaaaawn

4. Robert Duvall gave a fascinating interview to Christianity Today about his new film Get Low, where he also talks about The Apostle, his own faith, Mbird hero/screenwriter Horton Foote (Tender Mercies, To Kill a Mbird) and Hollywood’s attitude toward Christians. According to Duvall (ht RF):


Get Low is one of my favorite films in a long time and a wonderful character. “Get low”—I don’t even know what that means. I guess it means to get low for Jesus before it’s time. Keep above the ground before you go below the ground.

5. Talk to anyone who’s had contact with any of our nation’s so-called “Christian colleges” in the past ten years and you will hear about a rather disturbing trend (at least for those of us who consider ourselves convinced/committed Protestants): almost without exception, these institutions have become veritable factories of Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy. The cynic in me is tempted to reduce it all to psychological factors, reactions and counter-reactions to Law-heavy, anti-intellectual Bible church upbringings combined with a big dose of daddy-issues, but that doesn’t make it any less unsettling. Jonathan Fitzgerald takes a thoughtful look at the phenomenon here. 

6. Along similar lines, from gawker a few weeks back, an amusing update from the world of modern-day asceticism/Pharisaism known as Portland, Oregon, entitled Portland, Oregon: Backlash Capital of the World.

7. Finally, at the risk of PZ/nepotistic overload, “The Age of Anxiety AKA Two Fugitives on Their Way to the Same Place” appeared yesterday over at mardecortesbaja and really is worth your time. It’s a stunning look at the parallels between Akira Kurosawa’s 1955 film I Live In Fear and Roberto Rossellini’s 1952 film Europa ’51. Important note: the ultra-hard-to-find Europa ’51 is showing this evening on TCM – don’t miss it! 

P.S. The LOST epilogue just dropped online!