1. Mark Galli continues his hot streak over at Christianity Today with a thoughtful editorial entitled “Insignificant is Beautiful,” in which he rightly explores why young people are so intent on making “a difference” and what that might mean. He doesn’t trash do-gooders per se as much as discuss how the yearning for significance often contains an unconfessed element of narcissism. The takeaway line being:
“…the human soul [is] subject to self-deception, and this colors even our highest aspirations. Even the best of intentions mask the mysterious darkness within, which is why we need to be healed also of our best intentions.”
2. Another moment of abreactive and repentant gold from Kanye West, this time talking with Matt Lauer about George W. Bush’s recent comment that Kanye’s infamous post-Katrina “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” was the low point of his presidency. Watch the interview below, check out Kanye’s twitter tantrum, read Jeff Hual’s post Kanye West Meets The Left Hand Of God, listen to Gil Kracke’s fantastic Kayne-related talk “The Law of Inertia and Human Psychology” from last year’s Pensacola Mini-Conference, and then… register for the next week’s Pensacola mini-conference!
3. Two top-notch new resources: 1. Mbird’s Jacob & Melina Smith and Dusty Brown terrific new course The Fundamentals is now available as a podcast on iTunes (listen here) and 2. The excellent new Rooted Blog, tagline: “encouraging grace-driven student ministry”. Add it to your blogroll post-haste – a more Mockingbird-friendly approach to youth ministry one could not find (esp not one edited by Mbird contributor Cameron Cole). Start with the recordings of theologian Ashley Null’s superb talks at their August conference, and go from there.
4. Some solid insights from author Zadie Smith in her article “Generation Why?” in the New York Review of Books touching on, among other things, the recent film The Social Network (ht KW):
“At the time, though, I felt distant from [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg and all the kids at Harvard. I still feel distant from them now, ever more so, as I increasingly opt out (by choice, by default) of the things they have embraced. We have different ideas about things. Specifically we have different ideas about what a person is, or should be. I often worry that my idea of personhood is nostalgic, irrational, inaccurate. Perhaps Generation Facebook have built their virtual mansions in good faith, in order to house the People 2.0 they genuinely are, and if I feel uncomfortable within them it is because I am stuck at Person 1.0. Then again, the more time I spend with the tail end of Generation Facebook (in the shape of my students) the more convinced I become that some of the software currently shaping their generation is unworthy of them. They are more interesting than it is. They deserve better.”
Speaking of Facebook, check out this chart of peak break-up times! Lowest day throughout the whole year is Christmas day. Just saying…
5. Interesting article in last month’s Atlantic Monthly about the long-running campaign to adapt Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz into a film, detailing the resistance he’s encountered from both the Hollywood system and the Evangelical subculture. The article contains some sad-but-true observations about the state of religion in film these days, but it was Miller’s comments about the Christian incapacity for self-deprecation struck a particularly sympathetic chord (ht SZ):
“In Jewish culture, Jewish people can criticize themselves and it’s endearing,” he says. “They do it all the time—Woody Allen’s a great example. In Catholic culture, it’s sort of the same thing—you can make a major motion picture and have some priest be a bad guy. And for some reason, those communities don’t rise up and get angry.” But that’s not the case in the evangelical community, according to Miller: “There’s an incredible sensitivity to self-criticism… It’s a community that’s unable to be balanced and have an objective view of itself, which is extremely unhealthy.”
“I hope that years from now—a few years from now, even—Christians can be self-deprecating,” he says. “That would be the biggest thing: that major Christian figures could make fun of themselves, and even make fun of their culture. That would mean we’d accomplished something.”
6. In movie news, Wes Anderson has announced some of the cast for his very promising-sounding new project, Moon Rise Kingdom, and Christopher Nolan let it slip that Batman 3 will be titled The Dark Knight Rises and will feature a female villain. Catwoman, anyone?
7. Finally, a little atheist humor from Steve Martin (ht RF):