1.  The timing just could not be any better. NYC Mockingbird Conference Speaker Mark Galli has been blowing up this past week, most notably on The Internet Monk. Start with The Evangelical Myth of “Transformation” and go from there – the discussion provides a helpful overview of where Mr Galli is coming from, not to mention a few clues as to why we asked him to speak. Speaking of NYC, we can now announce that childcare will indeed be available, for kids under the age of 8. Email us at info@mbird.com if you plan on taking us up on the offer. Register today. Otherwise, brace yourself for a rather somber week ends column…

2.  Why Am I Not Smarter Than My Eating Disorder? on Salon.com is about as unassuming an article on the bondage of will as we’re likely to find. Almost comically so – at least, if it weren’t about something so unfunny (ht JD):

I know what I need to do to overcome this disorder. I just need to get over it and eat healthily and according to the principles in which my intellectual mind believes. This shouldn’t be hard. For whatever reason, I don’t seem to be doing it.

3.  From the Scientific American, a revealing but also pretty grim article, “What It Feels Like To Kill Yourself,” which gives new meaning to the phrase “the Law kills.” The following portion was particularly relevant:

Most people who kill themselves actually lived better-than-average lives. Suicide rates are higher in nations with higher standards of living than in less prosperous nations; higher in US states with a better quality of life; higher in societies that endorse individual freedoms; higher in areas with better weather; in areas with seasonal change, they are higher during the warmer seasons; and they’re higher among college students that have better grades and parents with higher expectations.

Baumeister argues that such idealistic conditions actually heighten suicide risk because they often create unreasonable standards for personal happiness, thereby rendering people more emotionally fragile in response to unexpected setbacks.

4.  In an article entitled “The Myth of Aging Gracefully” in The Daily Beast (via Newsweek) author Susan Jacoby has some refreshingly counter-cultural things to say about the “thirst for glory,” ht RF:

“Who wants to live to 100? Just about everyone, if old age fulfills the fantasy that we can sail through our 90s with vigorous bodies and minds and die instantly of a heart attack, preferably while making love or running the last of many marathons. As the oldest baby boomers turn 65, it is past time to take a realistic look at old age as it is—not as a minor inconvenience to be remedied by longevity-worshiping hucksters of “anti-aging” supplements or brain-teasing computer games, not as a “disease” that will soon by “cured” by a medical miracle, and not as an experience to be defied and denied, in the spirit of a 2008 World Science Festival panel on aging titled “90 Is the New 50.” No, it’s not. It’s not even the new 70. The truth is that we are all capable of aging successfully—until we aren’t.

5.  The Wall Street Journal reports on the fascinating relationship between sobriety and hit records in “The Rehab Album“, using Mbird favorite Justin Townes Earle as one of their case studies, ht DW.

6.  The Washington Post published a touching story of grace in practice this week with the story of Joy Haynes, a documentary filmmaker who has bravely overseen and compiled video diaries for patients/inmates at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (for the criminally insane). For more info on the finished product “Voices From Within” go here. Haynes had this to say (ht CW):

“It was, to be perfectly frank, pretty emotional,” said Haynes, who is 37 and practices immigration law alongside her artistic endeavors. “I questioned myself, as far as what I was doing and exactly who I was giving voice to.” But she said she thought about why she wanted to do the project. For her, the diaries were about helping the men by allowing them to share their reflections about St. Elizabeths beyond the hospital’s campus in Southeast Washington. “I wasn’t there to pass judgment,” she said. “I was there to create the story that they wanted to tell.” 

7.  Stanley Fish lists some of his favorite English-language sentences over at Slate, the first of which comes from none other than John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Read it and weep (ht JS):

“Now he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it, began crying after him to return, but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, Life! Life! eternal life.”

8.  Finally in movies/TV, as if we needed another reminder that there’s no “I” in Teamocil… With all due respect, you can’t toy with us like this, Mr. Hurwitz.