1. From one of the December issues of The Economist, some interesting findings about “Age and Happiness”. The main discovery being the “U-Bend” – i.e. the finding that people are happiest in their youth and old age, and least happy in between. The most relevant section for us has to do with “the death ambition” (ht VH):

Maybe people come to accept their strengths and weaknesses [as they grow older], give up hoping to become chief executive or have a picture shown in the Royal Academy, and learn to be satisfied as assistant branch manager, with their watercolour on display at the church fete. “Being an old maid”, says one of the characters in a story by Edna Ferber, an (unmarried) American novelist, was “like death by drowning—a really delightful sensation when you ceased struggling.” Perhaps acceptance of ageing itself is a source of relief. “How pleasant is the day”, observed William James, an American philosopher, “when we give up striving to be young—or slender.”

2. A great overview on Slate of South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s dealings over the years with religion. They’ve certainly not shied away from the topic, as their upcoming Book of Mormon musical boldly drives home. Parker has always seemed to be the driving force, so it’s a shame they didn’t interview him, but nevertheless [vulgarity warning – duh]:

What Parker and Stone do isn’t religion-bashing. It’s religion-teasing. And it’s born more from fascination than disdain. “I’m an atheist that admires and likes religion,” Stone told me in an interview. He describes the new musical as “an atheist’s love letter to religion.” If you had to classify Parker and Stone’s world view, you might call it Hobbesian absurdism.

3. An impressively Old Testament approach to a bad report card in Tampa, FL, Mom Puts Son On Tampa Street Corner To Tell Of Poor Grades, ht JD.

4. From CNN, a rare instance of praise for those who withhold judgement, 4-Star General, 5-Star Grace. I always knew there was something special about Karl Malone… Meanwhile, the trainwreck that is Charlie Sheen certainly has a lot of folks talking about the nature of addiction and powerlessness. With the lynch-mobs on one side, and bloodsuckers on the other, I truly hope he find the help he needs.

5. A little blogroll round-up: Kenda Dean’s Did Louis Kill Jesus? is an inspired look at a recent episode of Louie C.K.’s much-acclaimed (overrated) new show Louie, ht NH. Recent highlights from Reboot Christianity are Law, Grace and Depression and Law and Grace in Business Management. Russ Masterson posted a terrific Pascal quote here. And speaking of lynch mobs, the always fascinating You Are Not So Smart has a great piece about Deindivduation.

6. In TV, I won’t give anything away, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the series finale of Friday Night Lights was about as touching and true and beautiful as it could possibly be. Mark my words: even with the (significant) blemish of the second season, the series will go down as one of the highwater marks of American television. Certainly the standard against which yours truly will evaluate things for years to come, esp Grace-wise. And to all of you who say, “But I don’t like football…,” this chief of sinners (in that regard) is grateful; if FNL had found its audience – i.e. people that don’t like football – we might not have gotten such a perfect ending.  FYI, in a final act of grace, the fifth season comes out on DVD before it debuts on NBC. Clear eyes, full hearts!

7. If you haven’t signed up for Bonnie’s study on petitionary prayer, let me, um, petition you to do so! This is important work and we need your help.

8. Finally, the rumors are true. The new Radiohead record, King of Limbs, is available for download today.