1. Libby Copeland at Slate asks the question “Is Facebook Making Us Sad?”, unpacking some findings from a recent study at Stanford. Very relevant stuff:

“The researchers found that their subjects consistently underestimated how dejected others were–and likely wound up feeling more dejected as a result. Jordan got the idea for the inquiry after observing his friends’ reactions to Facebook: He noticed that they seemed to feel particularly crummy about themselves after logging onto the site and scrolling through others’ attractive photos, accomplished bios, and chipper status updates. ‘They were convinced that everyone else was leading a perfect life,’ he told me.

“…the notion that feeling alone in your day-to-day suffering might increase that suffering certainly makes intuitive sense. As does the idea that Facebook might aggravate this tendency. Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one’s assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies.

“Facebook is ‘like being in a play. You make a character,’ one teenager tells MIT professor Sherry Turkle in her new book on technology, Alone Together. Turkle writes about the exhaustion felt by teenagers as they constantly tweak their Facebook profiles for maximum cool. She calls this “presentation anxiety,” and suggests that the site’s element of constant performance makes people feel alienated from themselves.

2.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education, a further look at the correlation between ambition and emotional health, “College Freshmen Report Record-Low Levels of Emotional Health” (ht AZ):

This year’s freshmen reported record-low levels of emotional health, according to the latest results of the University of California at Los Angeles’s national survey of first-year undergraduates. At the same time, more students gave themselves high marks for ambition to achieve. College counselors say the two are clearly related, as students put more pressure on themselves to excel.

3. Two sports-related stories of interest: First, a touching study of failure in professional bowler Tom Daugherty’s refreshingly light-hearted response to rolling the worst game ever televised by the PBA. And second, the telling bafflement at Royals’ pitcher Gil Meche’s decision, following a serious shoulder injury, to refuse the remaining $12 million in his contract and retire. Evidently, doing the “right thing,” i.e. not accepting money that you didn’t earn, is not the norm in the major leagues.

4. From The Onion, in case you needed an amusing reminder of how the world hears most theodicy, there’s “God Almost Forgot To Kill Dave Elfman of Boulder, CO Today”.

5. The perennial question of the relation of the Law to the Gospel in the life of the Christian is frequently in the air when the message is presented pastorally. Our friends at the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton to be exact, have posted a helpful take on the current discussion around this issue. Dane Ortlund of The Gospel Coalition also weighed in with a piece that is very much worth reading.

6. In the Film/TV department, if you missed The Office’s very entertaining riff on New Year’s Resolutions and relational ultimatums a couple weeks ago, it was particularly well done. Next, not sure how many Val Kilmer fans are left out there (the man is ridiculously interesting), but if the A/V Club’s recent New Cult Canon write-up of Real Genius doesn’t renew your admiration for the guy, nothing will. Also, Jonah Lehrer takes The King’s Speech to task about its portrayal of stuttering. Not enough to disqualify the beauty and profundity of the film’s meditations on Judgment and Love, and more than a little guilty of anachronisms it levies, but certainly something to consider.

7. Finally, straight from the janitor’s closet at Bluefield College, this 35 year old Old Testament mural has got to be one of the cooler pieces of biblical outsider art in existence. Apparently one of the maintenance workers, Earl Frankenfield, put it together during a lifetime of lunch breaks. Click on the image to see it closer up (ht DBB):

p.s. Tentative NYC Conference schedule coming on Tuesday! For those of you making your travel arrangements, the event will begin at 4pm on Thursday 3/31 and end at 1pm on 4/2. Also, don’t forget to book your hotel sooner rather than later – New York in Spring is a popular time.