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Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

1. It’s a little too easy, but Barry Ritholtz over at Bloomberg helpfully reminds us that Ebola is no threat to the personal health of 99.99% of Americans, which goes into a broader point:

We fear the awesome predatory perfection of the great white shark, and have made the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” “the longest-running cable television programming event in history.” This seems somewhat disproportionate, given that 10 people a year die from shark attacks — out of more than 7 billion people. If you want to fear a living creature, than logic suggests it’s the mosquito — they kill more human…

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The Shelf Life of Athletic Grace

The Shelf Life of Athletic Grace

The Los Angeles Lakers get what they want. Period. Numerous franchises have flared up throughout NBA history in a prestigious Cinderella-like supernova only to, just as quickly, burn out. Since moving to the City of Angels from Minnesota, the Lakers have certainly been one of the association’s few spoiled evil stepsisters. As an Orlando Magic Fan, I abhor the Los Angeles Lakers above all other franchises for reasons that are obvious to any medial NBA fan (the Shaq embezzlement of ’96, dismantling us in the 2009 finals, and repeating history in 2013 when they yanked Dwight Howard away from…

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Manning Down

Manning Down

We are resentful at being the butts of the divine joke of grace that says nothing matters except plain, old, de facto, yes-Jesus faith.

–Robert Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

There are many reasons to admire Peyton Manning. He has a golden arm. He can read defenses like you and I can read a billboard. He even had to overcome adversity, teaching himself how to throw a ball again after suffering a neck injury.

On a personal level, I admire Peyton Manning because he is my age. I have a hard time recovering when I stub my toe on a coffee table; I can’t…

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A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

1. Lots of interesting news on the how-can-we-be-sure-God-exists front. We’ve had our own part of that conversation, highlighting our own favorite Atheists and the hip trend of flogging Dawkins (dibs on Flogging Dawkins as a band name!). If the patterns are to be believed, it seems that the trajectory is toward a more humble, less aggressive atheism that acknowledges its own non-rational presuppositions. And humility is good for everybody, theist and atheist alike. Gary Gutting over at the New York Times sums up his series of interviews with religious philosophers, and while the ending seems disjointed (I’m an agnostic Catholic?), the middle is helpful:

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Salvation by Sweat Alone

Salvation by Sweat Alone

An uncannily resonant follow-up to Evan’s recent post about the Church of CrossFit appeared in the NY Times Magazine this past weekend, courtesy of Mbird fave Heather Havrilesky. “Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?” she asks, and her answers are nearly identical to our own, i.e. we are all deeply religious, and a religion of law plays to our controlling inclinations. The line about the similarities with the faith of our pilgrim forebears is particularly telling; the roots of asceticism, regardless of the form it takes, can often be traced to the same place. Say what you will…

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Choose Your Own Narrative

Choose Your Own Narrative

I engaged in a Facebook fight recently. This hasn’t happened in a while. I try to avoid commenting on the status updates and posts that particularly (and regularly) annoy me–not so much out of a sense of honor as an awareness that my blood pressure can’t take it. But when I read a comment posted underneath a friend’s status update–a comment that appeared to defend prosperity preachers and minimize the evil of ISIS in one fell swoop–I couldn’t help myself. I loaded up my verbal ammunition and fired.

For the next several hours, I went back and forth with my virtual…

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Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Before we get going, the Houston Conference is almost here!! While we never turn anyone away–last minute walk-ins more than welcome–we need to know by Monday morning (10/13) if you are planning/hoping to dine with us. You can either pre-register on the site (through Tuesday at midnight), or send us an email at info@mbird.com so we can reserve you a plate. The food is going to be delicious!

1. First off, this is both incredibly fascinating and incredibly sad. Perhaps you’ve heard of The Downtown Project, a “start-up city” in Las Vegas founded and pioneered by Tony Hsieh, the guy behind…

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From the Magazine: How to Fail in Baseball (While Really Trying)

From the Magazine: How to Fail in Baseball (While Really Trying)

Timely for the onset of October baseball, but also for the arrival of the third issue of the magazine, which is now available for pre-order on our magazine page. This one comes from our second issue, a memoir from the bench, graciously told by the hilarious Michael Sansbury.

I was always afraid of Jenny Farmer,[1] and that’s probably why we became fast friends. Jenny was the queen of the Parkview High School Theater[2] Department, destined, everyone thought, for Broadway or Hollywood, whichever she wanted really. “I’d rather be famous than happy,” she once told a group of my friends. And they…

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Decentering, Humbling, and Sanctifying: David Brooks and Dorothy Day on What Love Can Do

Decentering, Humbling, and Sanctifying: David Brooks and Dorothy Day on What Love Can Do

NY Times columnist David Brooks spoke recently at The Gathering, an annual conference of Christian philanthropists, and his remarks have to be read to be believed. It’s an elongated and even more explicitly sympathetic version of what he said at the 92nd St Y earlier this year, and as such, could not be more worth your time–if you think you’ve got him pegged, think again. To whet your appetite, here’s a stirring portion about ‘what love can do’ (which is followed in his address by an equally stirring portion on the fruit of suffering). The ‘Adam One’ reference is pretty…

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Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

We could not be more excited to have Slaid Cleaves join us for the Houston Conference next week. It’s just one of the reasons we hope you’ll meet us there.

There’s plenty of eye-rolling when it comes to American country and folk music, mainly because so much of what used to constitute its storytelling now seems untrue. Songs about rust and horses and top hands and tree yodelers—this used to be far-reaching content; it has since shrunken into American oblivion, re-visited mainly in nichey beer bars by minor players. For anyone other than the Americana devotees, country songs consist, at best, of naïve nostalgia about “simpler times”, and at worst, of abject denial about who we are. And perhaps it is true.

Ebola, “Friends” and the Reasons We Give

Ebola, “Friends” and the Reasons We Give

Tim Keller has said that a Christian is someone who knows that they need to repent not only for the wrong things they do, but for the reasons they do the right things. That is to say, whatever we do, no matter how seemingly altruistic, almost always has some sort of selfish motivation mixed in – as Joey points out to Phoebe in “The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS” (or so my wife tells me). Who would’ve thought that Joey Tribbiani would subscribe to what Calvin (following Sts. Augustine and Paul) called “total depravity”?

Further illustrating this point was a recent…

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Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

1) Facebook at the top of our list again this week, thanks in whole to Joshua Rothman’s New Yorker article, “In Facebook’s Courtroom.” The article depends on a deadly cocktail of TMZ’s Ray Rice video release and Kafka’s “The Trial.” What he gets at, in doing so, is the idea of Facebook as our junk-room of judgment—a place where ‘likes’ are actually ‘hate-likes’ and a user’s status updates stand as verdicts on the world around them. Even the positive “Gratitude Challenge” trends that crop up are indirect judgments disguised as inspirational montages.

Rothman is not just talking about the tendency to…

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