About Michael Sansbury

MICHAEL SANSBURY is a lawyer, writer, and beekeeper in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a member of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, where he has played Pontius Pilate, taught Sunday school, and served in the Advent Softball Ministry, which humbles itself each week during the summer so that others may be exalted.


Author Archive

    The Nerdy Pharisees

    When I was in college, a group of pledges from one of the socially-elite fraternities on campus painted “NERDS” in large capital letter on the roof of my fraternity’s house. It was a pejorative statement.

    Until that act of vandalism, we didn’t know that we were nerds. We dressed nicely. We drank a lot. We were involved in campus activities. We weren’t the glasses-wearing, teetotaling, social pariahs portrayed in movies like Revenge of the Nerds. We were nice people.

    But our niceness was precisely what made us nerds. The ever-evolving landscape of social distinctions can be difficult to discern. And, unless you’re one of…

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    On Christian Nakedness (Muy Caliente!)

    Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.

    –The Devil (as played by Al Pacino)

    I have a clothing problem.

    It’s not that I spend too much money on clothes or that I’m obsessed with having the latest fashions. It’s that I put too much importance on what I wear.

    In 2000, Nicolas Cage starred in The Family Man alongside Tea Leoni. It is basically a modern-day version of A Christmas Carol (directed by Brett Ratner of all people!), but the plot is not important to my point. What is important is a scene where Nicolas Cage, who has been magically transported from his life as a…

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    The Selfie on the Mount

    Instagram enhances Facebook’s most essential quality.

    Facebook allows you to keep in touch with old “friends,” but keeping in touch means subjecting yourself to climate-change rants from that girl who failed biology in high school, college football highlight videos from that guy who never went to college, and (if you’re friends with me) shameless plugging of Mockingbird blog posts. But we subject ourselves to this cacophony for one reason and one reason only: So we can see their pictures.

    Their pictures allow us to establish our place in the hierarchy. Her kids are cuter than mine, but mine are way cuter than his….

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    Finding Sugar Man

    Some people want to be the President of the United States when they grow up. Some want to win a Nobel Prize. Some want to win a Super Bowl or a World Series. But not me. When I grow up, I want to be a MacArthur Fellow.

    Every year, the MacArthur Foundation chooses a class of MacArthur Fellows, who each receive a stipend (currently set at $625,000 and paid out over five years) to do with as they please. These “genius grants” are typically a complete surprise to the chosen Fellows, who are “selected through a rigorous process involving thousands of…

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    Impossible Takes a Weak

    “Difficult takes a day; impossible takes a week.” -Jay Z

    “My biggest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist.” This clichéd job-interview response speaks to a wide variety of human frailties: our inability to recognize our own weakness; our inability to admit weakness to ourselves, even if we recognize it; our fear of others judging us for our weakness.

    Well, I can admit it: I’m not a perfectionist. I never have been, and, frankly, I’ve never really tried. My biggest weakness is that I’m a dilettante. I’m great at getting things 80% done. I can write a first draft in minutes; I can…

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    Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

    Palm Sunday is an annual reminder that what goes up must come down. As if we needed reminding.

    Remember Varsity Blues? Honestly, I don’t. I never saw the movie. But it was a huge success at the box office, and, as a Friday Night Lights knockoff, it really couldn’t miss, especially since it starred Paul Walker, James van der Beek, Ali Larter, and Scott Caan. The most unforgettable performance, though, (I’m told) came from one Ron Lester, who played the enormous offensive tackle, Billy Bob.

    At the time Varsity Blues was filmed, Lester weighed close to 500 pounds, which, combined with his…

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    The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

    People really hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Last year, Star magazine named her one of “Hollywood’s Most Hated Stars.” But, that same week, she was also named the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People Magazine.

    That juxtaposition confused Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, presumably because he prizes beauty above all else. But, to the non-beautiful, the juxtaposition isn’t all that difficult to explain: People hate Gwyneth in part because she is beautiful.

    Apparently there are other reasons to hate Gwyneth. Indeed, Vanity Fair commissioned an article exploring the reasons why people hate Gwyneth, reasons that Carter summarized well in this paragraph:

    Half the female…

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    Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Equal Marriage

    On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Lori Gottleib about marriage equality. No, not that kind. This article had the search-engine-optimized headline: “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” Like many New York Times trend pieces, the article combines social science data with anecdotes from anonymous friend-sources to provoke its navel-gazing core demographic of 18- to 46-year-olds.

    Well, consider me provoked.

    The core premise of the article is this: In marriages where household duties are equally and gender-neutrally divided between the spouses, the spouses are less likely to have sex. That premise is drawn from a study…

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    Don’t Gimme Shelter

    If I burden myself with a little help-mate during my adventures, it is not out of sentiment or caprice – it is that he has many fine qualities of his own that he has overlooked in his obsession with me. Indeed, any reputation I have for mental acuity and sharpness comes, in truth, from the extraordinary contrast John so selflessly provides.

    –Sherlock, Sherlock, Season 3, Episode 2

    Two items appeared on Andrew Sullivan’s blog Sunday morning that seemed, in proximity, to sharpen each other. The first item repeats a suggestion by Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, who wrote in the Washington Post…

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    You Won’t Deserve to Be Here

    Last week, an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education spread like wildfire through Facebook News Feeds. That doesn’t happen very often.

    The article, a commentary by Kevin Carey entitled “Welcome, Freshmen. You Don’t Deserve to Be Here,” begins at Stanford University’s freshman convocation. We can sense that the freshman are nervous about matriculating to such a mythical institution. Maybe, after meeting their brilliant, fellow freshmen, they are wondering whether they have what it takes or whether the admissions office improperly evaluated them. So the dean stands before the freshman and attempts to comfort them with these words: “”We have made…

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    You’re Just Too Good To Be True?

    After his election, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously undertook a great experiment in improving humanity through the use of new laws, banning outdoor smoking, trans fats, and, most controversially, Big Gulps. Since some of us have serious doubts about any law’s ability to change human behavior, we might be more tempted to find solace in Bloomberg’s latest initiative, which is focused on transforming hearts rather than actions: a campaign to improve the self-esteem and body image of young girls:

    The $330,000 campaign, called the NYC Girls Project, kicked off Monday with bus and subway ads starring 21 amateur models of…

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    Nick Saban is Human (Like Me)

    The first part of this series focused on Coach Saban, Purveyor of The Process, whose commitment to excellence can be received as judgment by those too weak to try. In the second part, we looked at Nick Saban, Winner of Championships, who seems uninterested in the glory that accompanies his accomplishments. In this third and final part, I want to consider Nicholas Lou Saban Jr., the man.

    By using The Process, Mr. Saban has managed to limit the flaws in his football team. That much is undeniable. The principles underlying The Process, however, are not limited to football. In fact, Saban…

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