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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma...

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    Holly Golightly and the Knight in Shining Armor Complex

    Holly Golightly and the Knight in Shining Armor Complex

    A recent Onion headline reads as follows: “College-Aged Female Finds Unlikely Kindred Spirit in Audrey Hepburn.” The article (which is about a girl named Emily and set in Charlottesville…) adds that, “while no one would ever suspect it, [Emily] has a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster hanging in her dorm room.” While I swear that I am not the basis for the fictional Emily of Charlottesville quoted in this article, at least two different posters of Audrey Hepburn have adorned my walls before, and I have watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s more times than I can count. What is the big deal…

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    New Research on Wealth Confirms What Jesus Said 2,000 Years Ago

    New Research on Wealth Confirms What Jesus Said 2,000 Years Ago

    Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

    A recent story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” discusses the findings of Dacher Keltner, a researcher who studies social class and generosity. Keltner says that, “in just about every way you can study it, our lower-class individuals volunteer more, they give more of…

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    “The Harder I Fight”: Neko Case on Parents, Depression, and Her New Album

    “The Harder I Fight”: Neko Case on Parents, Depression, and Her New Album

    I’ve never gotten into Neko Case, but after hearing an interview she did on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” I’m definitely going to listen closely to her latest album, called The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. In the interview, Case tells the story that inspired her new song “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” but the song itself also tells the story. Here are the lyrics, ht BP:

    Hey, little kid that I saw at the bus stop one day
    It was nearly midnight in Honolulu
    We were waiting for the shuttle to take us…

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    Christmas in August: G.K. Chesterton on the “Winged Levity” of Bethlehem

    Christmas in August: G.K. Chesterton on the “Winged Levity” of Bethlehem

    A quick excerpt from G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man:

    The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of [the Christmas] story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends…

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    What Does Your Selfie Say About You?

    What Does Your Selfie Say About You?

    Like wearing trucker hats and reading Snooki’s books, seflies have become a semi-ironic trend. They’re the most self-conscious of photos, made possible and ubiquitous by the reversible smartphone camera. Plenty of selfie-snapping individuals take pictures of themselves quite seriously, without any claims of “irony”, but even if you’re the kind of person who makes the duck face to make fun of people who make the duck face, no one takes a selfie unless they want to say something about themselves. It is yet another tool for self-selection and it is, perhaps, the most obviously intentional and transparent. As Casey N….

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    The American Hustle and How We’ve Failed

    The American Hustle and How We’ve Failed

    Last week The Atlantic ran an interview with “cultural historian and social critic” Morris Berman on “how American culture misses life’s meaning.” Berman, who got so fed up with America that he up and moved to Mexico, pinpoints the American “culture of hustling,” in which we’re all living on the treadmill of capitalism run by collective consumer values, as the culprit of our failure as a country. Berman puts it like this:

    This is, in some ways, the subject of my book Why America Failed. America is essentially about hustling, and that goes back more than 400 years. It’s practically genetic, in…

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    Two Sides of the Same Golden Coin: The Confidence/Humility Balance

    Two Sides of the Same Golden Coin: The Confidence/Humility Balance

    Another nugget from Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Carry on, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. In this passage from a chapter called “The Golden Coin,” Melton explores how we can be both confident and humble, and how this seemingly difficult balance is actually quite simple.

    We usually think of confidence and humility as character traits. She’s so confident. He’s so humble. But these character traits are easy to fake. Insecure people hide it by boasting. Prideful people hide behind false humility. It seems the more insecure a person is, the more likely she is to behave confidently. And vice versa. Tricky.

    Then there…

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    And The Law Won (Or Did It?): Netflix’s Orange is the New Black

    And The Law Won (Or Did It?): Netflix’s Orange is the New Black

    In prison, nothing comes for free—not food, not shower shoes, not even the past. For Piper Chapman, who goes from West Village yuppie to inmate, learning this comes at a tremendous price. Orange is the New Black is Netflix’s latest TV project and was released all at once in mid July for our binge-watching enjoyment. The show is (loosely) based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same title and follows protagonist Piper Chapman, a blonde with a Seven Sisters education, after she receives a 15-month sentence for having been involved with her ex-girlfriend’s international drug ring about 10…

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    Karmic Coffee and Surprise Saviors: College Humor’s First Movie

    Karmic Coffee and Surprise Saviors: College Humor’s First Movie

    A few weeks ago I made what, for me, is a slightly odd choice and decided to watch College Humor’s first full-length movie, Coffee Town. Don’t get me wrong, I like College Humor as much as the next girl, which means occasionally, when there’s not too much crude humor, but I usually go for poignant foreign films (ha!). Coffee Town, which was promoted and released almost exclusively online, has a talented cast that includes Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Steve Little (Eastbound and Down), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) and Josh Groban (yep,…

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    Spiritual Warfare 2.0: How Prayer is Not a Video Game

    Spiritual Warfare 2.0: How Prayer is Not a Video Game

    Anthropologist and author T. M. Luhrmann has written a guest column for The New York Times this week called “Addicted to Prayer.” Luhrmann, who has spent time studying the American evangelical community and written a book on “the evangelical relationship with God”, discusses the benefits of any kind of prayer (including secular meditation) on health. She also, however, distinguishes the idea of spiritual warfare from other forms of prayer, and warns that any practice too “imaginative” can actually be detrimental. Luhrmann describes her wariness like this:

    I was most struck by the dangers of prayer when people got deeply involved with…

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    How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

    How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

    You start to sing karaoke, and some kind of psychic heart-switch flips. If you’re lucky, and the beer doesn’t run out, it’s more than just a night of debauchery. It’s a spiritual quest. This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler.

    After the sudden death of his wife, music critic and Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield found unexpected comfort in karaoke. After moving from Charlottesville to New York, Sheffield found himself, night after night, in front of drunken strangers in dingy karaoke bars, mic in hand. But rather than jolting his audience out of their stupor and…

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    Obnoxious Grandmas and (Not) Aging in Style

    Obnoxious Grandmas and (Not) Aging in Style

    In her memoir, Disaster Preparedness, mbird fave Heather Havrilesky tells winning story after winning story of her childhood, adolescence and adulthood with the same humor and insight (and a healthy dose of cynicism) that we’ve admired in her articles (for example, this and this, and also this). Disaster Preparedness is a terrific and engaging read, with just the right touch of wit and self-awareness. In the chapter called “Faculty Wives,” Havrilesky explores the complex character of her fiercely independent mother. In the passage below, Havrilesky talks about her mother aging, the challenges (mostly to one’s pride) that come with the increasing reliance on…

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