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A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

I almost called this post “The Cage of Anxiety,” but that seemed a little hokey. Still—playing off Auden’s poem is as good a place as any to start a discussion on anxiety, which was what Nitsuh Abebe does in the recent First Words essay for the New York Times Magazine:

In 1947, W.H. Auden published a very long poem that, despite winning a Pulitzer Prize, is now remembered less for its contents than for its title: “The Age of Anxiety.” Something about the idea that an age can be anxious must resonate deep in America’s cultural bones, because the phrase has been…

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MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

This wonderful reflection was written by Benjamin Self.

I.

The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the want of assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock…and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble.

— Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”, 1819

Between 1959 and 1968—the year he was assassinated—Martin Luther King, Jr., gave at least five speeches in which he referenced the early 19th-century American short story, “Rip Van Winkle”. These speeches included a commencement address…

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April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

As faithless as it is calculating, college admission becomes a decade of denial for most.

The first of April becomes the focus of lifetimes. Many parents and their issue have connived, planned, even negotiated for this date: college admission — April First. This April Fool’s Day, millions of households will have their 17-year-old collegiate lay locked and loaded, kinder-glued to their laptops. No, it’s not porn, binge-watching, or even OD-ing on FB. It’s all about admission to college. That’s Decision Day.

It used to be so simple: you got a fat envelope and were IN, thin envelope OUT, middle envelope MAYBE. We…

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The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

They say you can trace the exact moment the Great British Public fell out of love with Morrissey to the release of his 1996 album, Southpaw Grammar. It sounds like just the sort of brazen pronouncement rock critics love to make, more of a conversation-starter than a statement of fact. And yet, you can’t really argue that opening a ‘pop’ record with a 12-minute glam-rock dirge heavily sampling Shostakovich was the safest strategy for holding onto the affections of a wide audience. Which is precisely what Morrissey did with his “The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils”, an epic that…

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I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

– Barack Obama July 13, 2012

When I heard President Obama utter those words I just about lost it. Usually I view the entire freakshow of politics as an insane sidebar — but this statement, made during the 2012 presidential campaign, marked one of those moments when a candidate inadvertently got up in my kitchen. All politics is local, but in this case it got personal. For…

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PZ’s Podcast: Eternal Return

PZ’s Podcast: Eternal Return

EPISODE 228

I keep trying to make sense of the divisions we are almost all feeling currently. How can one get “under” them, i.e., in hopes of lessening them a little? Does anyone who is reading this enjoy feeling estranged from others, especially old friends, for example, because of political opinions? Very few, I’ll bet. But it’s happening.

Then the insight came: Remember what it was like 47 years ago. Remember what it was like in the Spring of ’70. Everybody, and I mean, everybody, was up in arms! If you were a college student then, your campus was probably shut down….

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Learning About the Gospel from Self-Help, AA, and Tony Robbins

Learning About the Gospel from Self-Help, AA, and Tony Robbins

The following comes to us from Bill Walker.

The kind of religion many people in America grew up with went something like this: do or believe these things in order to be “right with God.” But as experience will show, following either of these directives tends to lead to greater frustration, disillusionment and anxiety. “Am I really good enough?” “Am I really saved?” This encounter with church or Christianity for many did not enable a more joyful, tranquil and abundant life. It did the opposite. Sometimes it told folks they had to vote Republican. In other instances, it made them feel…

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Gaga for Gaga

Gaga for Gaga

“The glory of God is man fully alive.” -Irenaeus

I don’t know the last time I was so fixated on a Super Bowl half time show. Actually I can state with complete confidence that I’ve never been so fixated on one. From beginning to end, Lady Gaga’s performance at Super Bowl LI was one for the record books. It was glorious in the best sense of the word.

No doubt Gaga’s performance will inspire a sea of words on the interwebs in the next 24 to 48 hours. I hesitate to add the pile of prose. But something caught my eye that…

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SHADOWLANDS, Debra Winger, Anthony Hopkins, 1993, (c) Savoy Pictures

Super Bowl LI Postscript: Joy and Pain, That’s the Deal

Fact. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. Fact. Super Bowl 51: to rehash it would be to diminish it.  To explain how exceptional Tom Brady and the Pats were at the end (if we are talking human beings, celebrities, biggest stage) would be to diminish them. Hear this out: The arguably greatest QB in history, before Sunday, just orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  That’s not hyperbole. That’s what happened.

Cut to my very-much-in-Atlanta family room with all of our offspring fully present in full Falcon regalia. Third quarter: Falcons up 28-3. What? No really, seriously? We were…

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A Halftime Show Not of Human Origin

A Halftime Show Not of Human Origin

“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin” (Gal 1:11).

Lady Gaga began her halftime show from a perch high above everyone else: Above the stadium, underneath a drone-filled night sky, she was dressed in what Variety called “an MTV exec’s idea of what Y2K was going to look like” — in other words, a glittery silver spacewoman outfit; her eyes were bedazzled with a silvery mask.

Everyone I spoke to beforehand was eager to see what Gaga would do but anxious about whether or not she would get political. In that sense, it was…

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Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) – The Transformation of Tom Brady

Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) – The Transformation of Tom Brady

“Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough” – Prince Edward (to Heath Ledger/William) “A Knights Tale”.

We know a lot about Tom Brady, and there are so many reasons to hate him. He cheated. He is a good friend of of the person most centered in the cross-hairs of the ire of many right now. He’s married to (according to us) the woman who possesses the most robust combination of  wealth and beauty of any woman in the world. That pretty much covers it for many of us. Such a variety of…

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Pray for Voldemort?

Pray for Voldemort?

As the post-Inaugural rancor-and-shrill show volumes up to a distilled deafening hysteria on the InterWebsNet megaphone, things are betting Biblical. It’s not politics or policy: it’s Good and Evil. Well, at least Evil.

In terms of expressing religious faith, I think of politics being the last best use of my favorite description of WASP etiquette: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” I see no upside in commingling the most exquisitely profane human endeavor, politics, into universal faithful messages of morality and grace. So when the word “Evil” is invoked for a politician (or whatever President Trump is) I cringe.

For me, faith is completely wrecked…

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