1. Stop the presses! Sit down if you’re standing! Pull over if you’re driving!  The BBC is reporting that a first edition of Martin Luther’s seminal essay On the Freedom of a Christian has been discovered in a library in France, with margin notes from the author himself on changes he intended to make for the second edition. Wild! What I wouldn’t give for access to that manuscript (and the requisite knowledge of late-medieval German)! Not only is this new potential insight into Martin Luther’s early Reformation mind, but the essay in question is one of Luther’s classics that drew many of us, including yours truly, to embrace afresh the Gospel of God’s unmerited grace.

Luther_01KopieSo color me excited, assuming the manuscript turns out to be authentic of course. If you’ve never read On the Freedom of a Christian before (also called On Christian Liberty), we commend it to you without reservation. And if you like that, we have some other summer reading suggestions for you.

2. All hail #Dadbod, the greatest catalyst for slow-news-day-think-pieces so far this year. What started as a Clemson student newspaper editorial on April 30 has become the latest buzzword in our culture’s obsessions with health, image, and self-cultivation. The idea behind the dad bod is that, theoretically, many women are counter-intuitively attracted to generally fit men with moderate flab as opposed to beefcakes or gym bros with chiseled physiques. A bit of dad bod supposedly implies that a man is self-sustaining, pays bills without parental assistance, enjoys good food and beer (but not to excess), and is skilled at the art of cuddling. In other words, a dad bod implies perfect twenty-first century father material. This cheeky Vox article gets the main gist of it, answering all your dadbod questions like “Is dad bod evil?” and “is dad bod just another tool of the patriarchy?” and “Is there such a thing as a mom bod?”

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As someone a bit too rotund and therefore outside the acceptable range of dad-bod-ness, it seems to me the meme has become more of a Rorschach test than a social theory, exposing more about the commentator than the trend. To ask the question “Is Dad Bod worse than Ebola?” is to answer it. So when I look at the cultural inkblot of dad bods, I see a bit of hopeful rebellion against body type expectations mixed in with new laws of romantic compatibility. Both genders could use a lot of grace when it comes to how we view our bodies, and to be fair, the expectation of father-skills is still an expectation. But if you’ve gotta fulfill a law, I’d rather have my standard be Seth Rogen as opposed to an Abercrombie and Fitch model.

3. Have you been following Bloodline, the latest Netflix TV show starring Coach Taylor Kyle Chandler? The great question has been whether the actor can shed the shadow of his remarkable football coach character from Friday Night Lights. In this interview with Time Magazine, Chandler can’t seem to shake the integrity part of Coach Taylor’s character, happily playing the part of coach while sternly distancing himself from the part of coach, unintentionally becoming more like the coach part he’s trying not to be (ht CM):

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Bloodline is being billed as Chandler’s big return to television — the moment when fans will finally learn whether he can shed Coach’s baseball cap and shorts (which, by the way, he’s not allowed to wear on the new show). But despite the stakes, Chandler doesn’t seem too concerned. If it succeeds, great. If not, that’s fine too. And if people keep calling out “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” to him on the street, he won’t try to run away from one of the coolest characters in television history. But, remember, it’s all just an act.

“I wish my dad had stayed alive because he used to call me a faker when I was a kid. If he knew what I was getting away with right now with this job, he’d call me something else. But that’s what we do. We get to lie on-screen. It’s not real.” He pauses. “I’m not a good person. I’m done with this interview.”

4. This essay from Esquire is a thing of beauty, grace-in-practice-to-the-max if you will. When the writer’s wife was diagnosed with life-ending cancer at age 34, a mutual friend moved in for over a year to help. Bring tissues (ht CB)

The night after Christmas, our pug, Gracie, threw up something black and putrid on the floor at his feet. He [friend Dane] put her in a basket with a blanket in his car and searched for an open animal clinic. When he found one, he explained our situation to the veterinarian, and after some testing she blurted, “I’m so sorry, but this dog has cancer and I think she’s going to die. Actually, I know she is going to die.” And then she burst into tears.

Dane called me. I sat in the blinking red and green lights of our hospital room, listened to the news, and offered, “Okay.”

Gracie’s death didn’t move me. It annoyed me. She was forcing me to have a talk with my daughters that would link cancer and death, and I wasn’t prepared yet.

Dane came to the hospital with a bottle of wine. We sat on the floor and drank amid the wrapping paper of the girls’ Christmas presents.

“I think maybe I should just move in with you guys,” he said. “Just to help out for a couple of months.”

That meant leaving his job, his city, his friends, his apartment, his life.

“Okay,” I said.

5. A funny gem of a commercial about redemption, (ht MS)

See also our Onion pick of the week: Until I had Kids I Never Thought I Could Love Something Almost As Much As Myself

6. Lastly, this essay from the National Journal rounds out an unintentionally dad-centered weekender. While not all parents whose asperger syndrome children have access to multiple United States presidents, the kindness of these heads of state to this reporter’s son is overwhelming. If you’ve put those tissues away after reading the essay about cancer and friendship, you might want to pull them back out again.

As the most powerful man on Earth prepared to pose for a picture, my son launched into a one-sided conversation, firing off one choppy phrase after another with machine-gun delivery. “Scottish terriers are called Scotties, they originated from Scotland, they can be traced back to a single female named Splinter II, President Roosevelt had one, he called it Fala, Dad says he kept him in the office down there when he was swimming, there’s one in Monopoly, my favorite is the car …”

I cringed. Tyler is loving, charming, and brilliant—he has a photographic memory—but he lacks basic social skills. He doesn’t know when he’s being too loud or when he’s talking too much. He can’t read facial expressions to tell when somebody is sad, curious, or bored. He has a difficult time seeing how others view him. Tyler is what polite company calls awkward. I’ve watched adults respond to him with annoyed looks or pity. Bullies call him goofy, or worse.

But the president was enchanted. Waiting for Tyler to take a breath, he quickly changed the subject with a joke. “Look at your shoes,” Bush told Tyler while putting a hand on his shoulder and steering him toward the photographer. “They’re ugly. Just like your dad’s.” Tyler laughed.

Ten minutes later, we were walking out of the Oval Office when Bush grabbed me by the elbow. “Love that boy,” he said, holding my eyes.

Parenthood - Season 4

Extras:

If Douglas Adams wrote The Silmarillion.

According to The Guardian, boys are (still) a mess. While we might take issue with the ideal that a Mother’s love should be unconditional and a Father’s love should be earned, there’s some interesting thoughts here about porn, Ritalin, and video games.

Enjoy your long weekend if you have one! Expect a slow Monday on the site with our travel schedules. Oh and one more reminder to sign up for our mailing list if you’d like to receive a copy of the newsletter that went out this past week and hear about how you can help support Mbird.

Nintendo of America hires Bowser as its new VP of Marketing.

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