Filling in for DZ (a.k.a Charlie’s Dad!), I’ve dedicated these Week Ends to our tireless defense against spirituality, or, as it will, doubtless, come to be known: gnostosolipsism.

1. As Philip Yancey’s article Life in a Bubble attests to, few things illustrate the difficulty and necessity of properly distinguishing law and gospel like Christian educational institutions. Like the church, these organizations are easy targets for unexamined, lazy critiques along the lines of those exposed by PZ in his recent podcast: Green Light (1 & 2). The Law–not “those judgmental people”–is responsible for guilt and shame, and, as such, is not the sole concern of Christian colleges; but, as Yancey points out, sometimes neither is the Gospel. (ht SZ)

2. Slate magazine has an interesting article on the ways the interwebs have allowed those die-hard–wait for it–quicksand enthusiasts to share their love. And you thought the internet was just for serious research. Daniel Engber, from Terra Infirma: the rise and fall of Quicksand, laments:

For now, quicksand has all but evaporated from American entertainment—rejected even by the genre directors who once found it indispensable. There isn’t any in this summer’s fantasy blockbuster Prince of Persia: Sands of Time or in last year’s animated jungle romp Up. You won’t find quicksand in The Last Airbender or Avatar, either. Giant scorpions emerge from the sand in Clash of the Titans, but no one gets sucked under. And what about Lost—a tropical-island adventure series replete with mud ponds and dangling vines? That show, which ended in May, spanned six seasons and roughly 85 hours of television airtime—all without a single step into quicksand. “We were a little bit concerned that it would just be cheesy,” says the show’s Emmy-winning writer and executive producer, Carlton Cuse. “It felt too clichéd. It felt old-fashioned.”

3. While we’re on the subject of the power of the Internet, N+1 has an interesting set of reflections called The Intellectual Situation that will make you feel smarter after reading them. Also, an interview with AS Byatt, author of The Children’s Book–tagline: “I don’t belive in God. I believe in Wallace Stevens”contains some provocative observations about her appreciation of the role Facebook and Twitter and the media occupies with respect to that which religion used to play in many people’s lives. Although one may disagree with her conclusions, this is an insightful look into the way in which we are all hard-wired, self-absorbed Gnostics. I’m sure that’s what she meant:)

4. On the topic of Gnostics, Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine, is having none of Deepak Chopra’s attempt to update classical proofs of God’s existence. Such intellectual consistency among skeptics has to be seen to be believed. I think that they both could have benefited from Christian college.

5. Not to reincarnate a dead-horse, but if we’re on the topic of quicksand AND Gnostics, I can’t help but mention Lisa Miller’s NYTimes article Remembrances of Lives Past, (ht DZ) which examines the renewed interest in the karmic belief of previous lives. She writes: In one of his past lives, Dr. Paul DeBell believes, he was a caveman. The gray-haired Cornell-trained psychiatrist has a gentle, serious manner, and his appearance, together with the generic shrink décor of his office — leather couch, granite-topped coffee table — makes this pronouncement seem particularly jarring.

You’ve heard it here: this will be covered by the “pastoral clause” of the next Episcopal Prayer Book Revision.

6. Finally, in an interview with CNN entitled More Teens Becoming “Fake Christians,” something genuinely encouraging in the otherwise depressing reviews/interviews with Kendra Creasy Dean, author of Almost Christian, she writes of Anne Havard:

In 2006, Havard lost her father to a rare form of cancer. Then she lost one of her best friends — a young woman in the prime of life — to cancer as well. Her church and her pastor stepped in, she says.
“They called when all the cards stopped,” she says.
When asked how her faith held up after losing her father and friend, Havard didn’t fumble for words like some of the teens in “Almost Christian.”
She says God spoke the most to her when she felt alone — as Jesus must have felt on the cross.
“When Jesus was on the cross crying out, ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus was part of God,” she says. “Then God knows what it means to doubt.
“It’s OK to be in a storm, to be in a doubt,” she says, “because God was there, too.”

There you have it.

Stay classy Mockingbirds.