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Be of good cheer, little pup, for thou too in resurrection shall have a little golden tail. ~Martin Luther @revdeaconb

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    Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

    Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

    This passage comes to us from John Jacob Raub’s 1992 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub is a Trappist Monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the abbey Thomas Merton called home. The book, so far, is a deep dive into the helpful waters of psychological Christianity, and his distinction between evaluation and condemnation has been particularly helpful:

    Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Mt 7:1), but just what type of judging was he prohibiting? Certainly we are to make practical judgments. We judge to say “this” rather than “that,” “do this,”…

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    Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

    Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

    Bust out the Italo and pull out your pasta makers! Aziz Ansari’s Netflix project Master of None is back for season two, exploring the difficulties of love and relationships in 2017. The show continues with storytelling inspired by Aziz’s Modern Romance research project, a book we loved so much that we invited co-author Eric Klinenberg to #MbirdNYC16. Sadly, book deals prevented us from sharing the recording, so just trust me when I report that it was one of the best (funniest? most poignant?) talks at an Mbird gathering from someone “outside” the fold.

    Season one, united by the theme of “fear…

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    A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

    A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

    Readers of the blog may be familiar with the 2001 French film Amélie, an indie love story powered by actor Audrey Tautou’s impish smile and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical storytelling. It’s on Netflix right now–if you’ve got time this week, put the kids to bed, snuggle up with a loved one, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a bit of that inimitable French joie de vivre. 

    Once you’ve caught up by seeing the movie, you can join the rest of the viewers in confusion over the reality that Amélie is now a musical. Attendees at last week’s NYC conference could have taken the N train to…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Ezekiel Thirty-Seven Verses Four Through Six

    Hopelessly Devoted: Ezekiel Thirty-Seven Verses Four Through Six

    Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6, NIV)

    This is one of the most famous passages in Ezekiel, and what a wild scene! The throwback King James English calls this…

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    Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

    Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

    Another TV season, another bid for our wallets. HBO is making its case this season with comic Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow’s latest, Crashing. Holmes is famous for his standup comedy and “You Made It Weird” podcast (see our writeup), and his biography of “almost-youth-minister-turned-comic” is one for the annals of Christendom. Fewer ex(?) Evangelicals have articulated so well what a law-saturated theology can do to a person. For those of us who can’t afford HBO-to-go yet, here’s a few lines from Pete Holmes interview on NPR’s Fresh Air that make it hard to say no. Hold on to your wallets!

    On the relationship between…

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    Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

    Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

    A doozie of an article from the WSJ last week, provocatively titled, “We’re All Internet Trolls (Sometimes).” The piece highlights recent research out of Stanford and Cornell on the patterns and habits of internet trolling. Like any study of taboo topics, the research has its own missing pieces, but some of the findings are, frankly, revealing:

    New research by computer scientists from Stanford and Cornell universities suggests this sort of thing—a generally reasonable person writing a post or leaving a comment that includes an attack or even outright harassment—happens all the time. The most likely time for people to turn into trolls?…

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    Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father's Love

    Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father’s Love

    Bust out your bagel-hair earmuffs and blast the John Williams! The latest installment of the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One, blasted its way into theaters this weekend. On the podcast last year, I noted my disappointment with Ep. VII, particularly derivative plot and narrative callbacks. Rogue One was the droid I was looking for. A standalone entry to the Star Wars Universe, the movie tells the story of how Princess Leia got those super-important Death Star plans back in 1977. It needed about three more minutes of character development, and a few of the CGI characters were a bit off, but…

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    An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

    An Election Cycle Ends: Deeper Identities, Social Media Bandwith, Listening Ears, Sore Knees, and the Last Three Verses of Amazing Grace

    It’s been two weeks since the election ended, though you wouldn’t necessarily guess it from the way election coverage has continued. DZ already covered some initial thoughts on the results, understanding our collective emotional turmoil from a lens of low anthropology. Since then, the vote has been dissected and discussed thousands of ways, and believe it or not, some of those reflections contain glimpses of a law and gospel lens. If for no other reason than posterity’s sake, here are a few links to articles whose contents might be worth a glance.

    First off, in The NY Times, Rabbi Michael Learner articulates the…

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    The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

    The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

    A brief review of the Persistent Widow parable from Luke 18, which many folks heard at church this past Sunday. It’s a short little parable of a widow with a just grievance. The local judge, however, is corrupt, and he refuses to hear the case. So the widow relentlessly pesters the judge until he finally agrees to hear her out to “see that she gets justice.”

    The point of the parable is made clear at its telling: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” To quote our friend Derek Webb, there is…

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    T.S. Eliot on Gentlemen, Youth Groups, and "New" Morality

    T.S. Eliot on Gentlemen, Youth Groups, and “New” Morality

    A letter from TS Eliot was published earlier this week in The Paris Review, and by golly, it’s just too good not to reproduce in full here [ht @FredOSphere]. The context is Eliot’s personality-revealing essay “Thoughts after Lambeth,” which is worth its own post in the future for no other reason than the poet’s prophetic thoughts on youth groups circa 1930. I kid you not. Either way, Eliot is actually arguing for teaching youth chastity, humility, austerity, and discipline. These may sound like “law” to us, but for Eliot, these are the virtues that help human beings cope best with life under the curse…

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    Major Expectations and Higher Ed Helicopter Parenting

    Major Expectations and Higher Ed Helicopter Parenting

    A doozie of a note from The Washington Post earlier this month, one raised that raised the collective blood pressure of Academic Twitter and Parent Twitter at the same time. It is the time of year, after all, when college students are either validated or terrified by their choice of major. As infamous weed-out professors once again earn their tough reputations, it turns out that this year’s crop of freshmen are, more than ever, forced into their major by their parents. George Mason professor Steven Pearlstein writes:

    “I have heard from many different colleges that there is now a considerable — and disturbing…

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    Washington Football Just Can't Win

    Washington Football Just Can’t Win

    ♫ Are you ready for some football? ♫ We’re a less than a month away from professional gridiron action and even closer to our beloved college ball. Living in Morgantown WV, home to my WVU Mountaineers, the start of football season induces a Pavlovian happiness into my small community. Relief from summer heat, fall foliage, harvest festivals, the holiday season, it’s all coming right alongside the thunderous crush of helmets and shoulder pads.

    And yet, despite the near universal joy that football brings, no thing is untouched by sin. There is much to be said about concussions and the increase in head injury. Violence and…

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