1. Two very moving additions to the coverage of the disasters in Japan. First, if you can decipher the google-translation, there’s the story of a woman who sacrificed her life to warn a village of the impending destruction here. And two, the footage that made this all very real to yours truly. If it doesn’t get you on your knees, nothing will (be sure to stick with it to the end):

2. An amusing report in the Guardian about Facebook and divorce. If ever there was an excuse to take a potshot at lawyers for having a shallow view of human nature…:

A 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that four out of five lawyers reported an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites in the past five years, with Facebook being the market leader. Two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said that Facebook was the “primary source” of evidence in divorce proceedings, while MySpace with 15% and Twitter with 5% lagged far behind.

A spokesperson for Facebook said: “It’s ridiculous to suggest that Facebook leads to divorce. Whether you’re breaking up or just getting together, Facebook is just a way to communicate, like letters, phone calls and emails. Facebook doesn’t cause divorces, people do.”

The NY Times Magazine had a similarly Zeitgeisty take on divorce this past week too, which is worth it for the candid quotes on depravity/original sin.

3. Speaking of the Zeitgeist, there’s the outrageous but evidently very real “Mother Sues Preschool For Damaging Her Daughter’s Shot at the Ivy League.” ht JD. 

4. For those of you interested in the ongoing Rob Bell-univeralism saga, conference speaker Mark Galli’s review of the Bell’s Love Wins book appeared this week, and it is very much worth your time. Galli rightly places Bell in the context of Protestant liberalism, not in order to callously write him off as such, but in an attempt to discuss the heart of the matter, which as always, has to do with atonement/justification:

While [Bell] writes eloquently of the cosmic scale of redemption, it’s his understanding of the personal dimension that reveals the most about his theology. The Cross is “a reminder, a sign, a glimpse, an icon that allows us to tap into our deepest longings to be part of a new creation.” And Jesus’ “giving act on the cross” shows us that “he is the source, the strength, the example, and the assurance that this pattern of death and rebirth is the way into the only kind of life that actually sustains and inspires.” This of course is the classic exemplar model of atonement—Christ’s self-giving death inspires us to live the Christian life. The emphasis is not on how that death atones for our sins or reconciles us to God. It’s about how it inspires us to change. It’s been a standard of liberal Protestantism, and is true as far as it goes. One would hope Christ’s self-giving inspires! But according to the New Testament, doesn’t it also accomplish something objective?

Most Christians grasp that to demythologize one doctrine is to make the others less coherent. They recognize that a Christianity that teaches about “a God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross” (H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic summary of liberalism) does not reflect the thickness of biblical revelation nor lived reality. And they see that when all is said and done, there is no painful contradiction between the love and justice of God. That in the end, not only does love win, but justice, too.

Another thoughtful review of the book comes to us from Casey Hobbs, ht CH.

5. On a much lighter note, check out If You Watch It Backwards for some quality laughs. Then head over to The Onion for the ultra-close-to-home “Attempt To Meet Different Kinds Of People Thwarted By Partygoer Who Also Watches ‘Friday Night Lights,” not to mention “Pope To Ease Up On Jesus Talk.”

6. A bunch of very good news this week in the music and TV department: The Beach Boys have finally agreed to release the Smile masters! Given how litigious they are, I’ll believe it when I see it, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Secondly, Robbie Robertson has announced that his backing band for his forthcoming tour behind How To Become Clairvoyant will be none other than Dawes. A match made in, yes, heaven. And David Lynch of all people will be directing the upcoming Duran Duran webcast (whose new album, by the way, is really pretty good).

Finally, NBC is renewing Community and Park & Recreation! In other words, life will still be worth living in the Fall…

7. Conference update: As of today we are less than a handful of people away from reaching capacity for meals at the conference (even taking into account “family holdback”). There is still plenty of room for the talks – walk-ins are more than welcome – but if you were planning on eating, especially eating dinner, act now! Either register on the conference site or send us an email post-haste at info@mbird.com. We’ll do everything we can to accommodate last-minute folks, but there you have it.