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    Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

    Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

    1. First up, Amy Larocca over at The Cut delves into “The Wellness Epidemic,” ht CB:

    Paltrow began to describe in detail her exercise regimen with her trainer Tracy Anderson, who believes one should work out two hours a day, six days a week. Then she began providing information on a cleanse she does each January. The mission became less about revealing the trappings of the good life and more about the notion that the really good life is internal. Rich and beautiful people don’t just go to nicer places, their organs work better. They even know how to breathe better, with more…

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    Another Week Ends: Cultural Morality, Internet Extremism, Pastoring Suburbanites, Theologies as Medicine, More Lutheranism at 500, and Pixar on Parenting

    Another Week Ends: Cultural Morality, Internet Extremism, Pastoring Suburbanites, Theologies as Medicine, More Lutheranism at 500, and Pixar on Parenting

    Jam-packed AWE this week. We’ll start with some articles examining our cultural (‘little-l’) laws, then look in on theology, and then turn to culture. Oh, and Sarah Condon went on Steve Brown’s show this past week – I hear it’s incredible, and you can check it out here.

    1. The divine moral law and our own cultural imperatives intersect (and diverge) in interesting ways. God’s unchanging Law dwells in our hearts, but our cultural mores are mercurial, ever-changing. You could think of God’s law and each of our cultural norm-sets du jour as Venn diagrams: our cultural morality is (1) a partial recognition of true…

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    The God of Seven Buses

    The God of Seven Buses

    I recently started reading Gregory Boyle’s excellent Tattoos on the Heart, a memoir of his powerful ministry in Pico-Aliso, a low-income area in L.A. dominated by gangs. So far, it’s full of incredible stories about the action of grace upon those who had spent years cultivating facades of toughness and independence, almost as a matter of survival. Boyle, a Jesuit, and the grace-brimming adults (predominantly women) of his community find, through the love they show, an inside look at the hearts of the ‘homies’ they befriend. My favorite vignette from the first chapter is below:

    At Camp Paige, a county detention facility near Glendora, I was getting…

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    Another Week Ends: Questing for Cultural Innocence, Narrating Luther, Inverting Transhumanism and Reforming One's Pets

    Another Week Ends: Questing for Cultural Innocence, Narrating Luther, Inverting Transhumanism and Reforming One’s Pets

    Lots of love – commingled with envy – for everyone at the Tenth Annual Mockingbird Conference in NYC! “For the rest of us” (G. Costanza), some links for the weekend:

    1. First up, The Hedgehog Review here in c-ville posted a wonderful article on “The Persistence of Guilt.” Who knew that the great Sigmund Freud once quipped, “the price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt”? The author argues that Freud helped “demoralize” guilt, to suggest that our guilty emotions were the product of the superego and could be…

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    Suffering, Love, and the Sounds of Silence

    Suffering, Love, and the Sounds of Silence

    The camera hovers over a swelling sea, looking down, and a boat glides from the bottom of the frame, up through the middle, and passes, steady, up the frame and out through the top. The camera pans out slowly, the boat slowly being swallowed by the scale of the world it inhabits. Just as the stern goes out of view and the ocean dominates the screen, the camera cuts away.

    This is the world of Scorsese’s Silence, a place beautiful and alluring, but dark, chaotic, and threatening. The sea holds danger, chaos, and the boat’s stately but frail procession across the…

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    Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

    Valorized Intelligence and Less Profitable Truths of the Heart

    In recent news, CBS doubles down on eccentric male geniuses for its fall television lineup. One show, Pure Genius, treats us to an inside view of a Silicon Valley billionaire’s game-changing medical innovation; another, Bull, features the “brilliant, brash, and charming” titular consultant. And the MacGyver reboot, in addition to featuring an actor ten years younger than did the former series (!), snazzes up the clever factor, viz.,

    electronics! What differentiates this slate from earlier hit shows (e.g., NCIS, Bluebloods) is its emphasis on intellect as the protagonist’s defining trait. Sure, our hero may commit the occasional social gaffe, exhibit some…

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    From the Archives: Modern Origins of Anxiety - Scientific Christianity and Epistemic Optimism

    From the Archives: Modern Origins of Anxiety – Scientific Christianity and Epistemic Optimism

    The question of what causes anxiety is one to which we’ve given an embarrassing amount of attention, especially within the context of Christianity. The Onion was good to remind us that “Anxiety [Isn’t] Resolved By Thinking About It Really Hard”, but the relationship between religion and anxiety is a fascinating and potent one; i.e., the decline of religion and rise of anxiety may not be completely independent phenomena… but by “decline of religion” we don’t just mean secularization, but also certain shifts within religion itself. As a Church called to look for the plank in our own eyes, I think our complicity in the rise of anxiety is as…

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    Climbing Ladders with Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-26)

    Climbing Ladders with Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-26)

    The following is an excerpt from Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis, available on Mockingbird and Amazon. The chapter below focuses on the story of Cain and Abel.

    Here we follow the second generation of humanity, and we continue to see the effects of the Fall radiating outward. The first result of the Fall, in human relationships, was covering up and the second blame-shifting; the third will be murder. Cain’s competition with Abel follows so closely upon the Fall, and his crime is so closely linked with earning God’s favor, that a vital connection point with the later stories…

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    Another Week Ends: The Problem with "Parenting", Solipsistic Audiophiles, Más Havrilesky, Self-Defeating Happiness, and Dubious Decency

    Another Week Ends: The Problem with “Parenting”, Solipsistic Audiophiles, Más Havrilesky, Self-Defeating Happiness, and Dubious Decency

    1. Having a dog used to be easy, and were it 1995, I’d get one in a heartbeat. Fill up the gallon pail of food, a couple large buckets of water, and for the next three days the responsibilities were watching it run around (outside), fetch, the usual. Now I might be leaning cat-wards – dogsitters, crate-training, sticking to a strict routine… and the dog-hotel for vacationers business has been booming.

    First up, same with kids. A friend from college mentioned how much it annoyed him when, as a kid, his parents would use the phrase “underfoot” to describe him. For the record,…

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    Checking in with Game of Thrones (Season 6 Finale Edition)

    Checking in with Game of Thrones (Season 6 Finale Edition)

    Into the interregnum – spoilers abound. (Click here to listen to a special GoT episode of The Mockingcast, in which a few of us try to make sense of the religious elements of the show/books.)

    Cersei Lannister, first of her name: married to King Robert Baratheon in the wake of Robert’s Rebellion. Bereaved of Robert in a boar hunt gone awry, thwarted a power-grab traitor Eddard Stark in its wake, and consolidated the Kingdoms behind Joffrey I. Helped broker an alliance between Tyrell and Lannister, bedrock of security in the Seven Kingdoms during rebellions by the North, the Iron Islands, and Stannis Baratheon….

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    From the Archives - Coping with Our Failure to Be Happy: Moral Palliatives vs Repentance

    From the Archives – Coping with Our Failure to Be Happy: Moral Palliatives vs Repentance

    Well, we’re probably nearing our yearly limit for writing about anxiety, but great articles on the subject have been irrepressible. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that our increasing need to self-actualize, and increasing avenues for doing so, is a root behind the contemporary epidemic of nerves that had 1 in 5 American adults on anti-anxiety or antidepressant meds in 2011, numbers which have presumably risen since. An organization called the ADAA (anxiety and depression, etc) reported that almost one-third of the nation’s health bill is caused by anxiety disorders. You could reasonably ask to vet the numbers there, but even…

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    Nothing New: Notes on Game of Thrones, with an Eye on the Books

    Nothing New: Notes on Game of Thrones, with an Eye on the Books

    [Spoilers for s6e8 abound below:]

    “There is nothing new under the sun” -Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9

    “To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” -Quaithe of Asshai

    The most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “No One”, centered on return. For Brienne, Jaime, Daenerys, Sansa, Jon, and notably Arya, going forward means going back. Like the hobbits who set the Shire straight at the end of book six in Lord of the Rings, our characters must go forward, and then return to where they were, armed with new knowledge, new experience to either better “meet…

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