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From the Archives: Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

From the Archives: Optimizing the Sabbath (One Pillow at a Time)

The following originally appeared as a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places blog over at Christianity Today. Some readers may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts:

A couple of years ago, The New York Times ran a remarkably astute editorial about the state of American sleep. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared insomnia to be a full-blown public health epidemic. The “Sleep Industry”—a $32 billion/year endeavor—has responded. They’ve introduced a spate of new soporific technology, from pills and teas and chocolates to bracelets and mattresses. (The number one selling paid app on…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: American Idol

Welcome to the seventh and final installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own.  If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

Everybody worships … idols. Last time we reached this inevitable and undeniable conclusion, and in it hides the definition of greed.

Everybody worships idols.  At first glance you may disagree, but recall that worship need not involve a supernatural being.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>.”  Dictionary.com says it’s “to feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any…

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From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

From the Archives: In Praise of Guilty Pleasures

I brought two books with me on vacation last week: a collection of Jonathan Franzen essays and the recent Dark Tower prequel by Stephen King. One guess as to which one I read. That’s right: both books stayed shut as I inhaled 20 or so Batman comics on my iPad and caught up on Beach Boys message boards. Guilty pleasures in other words.

So upon returning to the world of ‘serious’ reading I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wonderful little piece in The New Yorker by critic Arthur Krystal, tracing the history and appeal of literary guilty pleasures. He touches…

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Misplaced Atonement

Misplaced Atonement

Everyone wants an answer for the violence we have witnessed over the past week. You are not going to get that from me. I may not be the most humble person on the planet, but I’m not delusional enough to think I possess some special insight on how to fix things. Besides, my answer will always be turning to Jesus. From what I can tell, people are no longer satisfied with that response.

What I can tell you is that we are asking too much of too few people. We are asking the police to do too much, we are asking…

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The Worst F-Word There Is (On the Elephant in the Room)

The Worst F-Word There Is (On the Elephant in the Room)

I feel sorry for those who have to put up with me this month. It gets pretty unbearable. You see, some people try to lose weight in January. For me, it’s June, the month when the calendar empties out and I can devote what little willpower I have to the project of reduction. The other eleven months of the year, for whatever reason, such attempts have always proven to be “subject to futility”.

So for thirty days at the beginning of each summer, the majority of my mental energy is occupied consumed by dieting. I try to play the single-mindedness for laughs, but it’s irritating.

The…

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Finding Our Roots: The Miniseries and the Exodus

Finding Our Roots: The Miniseries and the Exodus

This one comes to us from Heather Strong Moore.

“You can’t buy a slave, you’ve got to make a slave.” So says Kunta Kinte’s slave overseer prior to a vicious whipping. This line summarizes much of the struggle depicted in Roots (based on the 1976 novel by Alex Haley and 1977 original miniseries), a new miniseries which follows the Kinte family from West Africa in the mid-1700s through the end of the Civil War in the United States. It follows their fight to remember where this family came from in the face of the horrors of slavery and this vile institution that desired to take…

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Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me Down

Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me, Don’t Let Me Down

Last weekend, I went on a mini-staycation with some of my dear girlfriends from young adulthood. Between the group of us, we’ve suffered (either directly or indirectly) illness, addiction, money issues, mental health woes, parenting struggles, job uncertainties, and marital difficulties – in a nutshell: life. We spent the day at the pool catching up, and then stayed up late into the night (okay, 9:30 or 10 tops) discussing politics and grooming habits and all manner of subject-matter generally considered taboo at the dinner table. We did what all women do when two or more are gathered and rosé is…

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Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

This one comes to us from our friend Lindsey Hepler.

At a conference in Philadelphia two weeks ago, I heard Jane Golden, the Founder and Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, speak about her work in the city for the past three decades. Established in 1984 as a city-funded anti-graffiti project under the leadership of Philadelphia’s first black mayor, the organization is now the largest public art program in the U.S, with a collection of over 4,000 murals. Their programs address many of the city’s “intractable problems” through civic engagement, art education, restorative justice, and mental health services….

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The Love That Will Not Let Us Go

The Love That Will Not Let Us Go

A few weeks ago, there was a shooting in our quiet Houston neighborhood. It was random and terrible. I hurried our kids inside and made them sit in the room that seemed safest. I had to explain to the five-year-old what was happening because he was unwilling to come inside just because I had told him to. So I blurted out, “There is a man outside with a gun. And he is shooting people.”

Thus began several hours of questions about who and why the bad guys exist. Our son kept asking me, “Why is this happening? Why haven’t they caught…

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How to Win Voters and Influence People

How to Win Voters and Influence People

As November’s approach continues to dominate the news cycle, the social science research coming out of the election continues to challenge. Chief among the targets of social science research is the enlightenment cornerstone that human beings are functionally rational creatures. The data is suggesting that this cycle we’re all voting out of anger, spite, fear, or some other passion, even if the outward justification for those votes is thoughtful policy evaluation.

Now we have a new motivation to the list: voting by justification. Just kidding about the “new” part–self-justification has “never not” been a motivation for human behavior. As WaPo’s Wonkblog reported last week, new research…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: You Just Can’t, Okay?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: You Just Can’t, Okay?

Welcome to the fourth installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

In Terminator 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s titular cyborg is about to kill two innocent civilians in a dark parking lot, when young John Connor intervenes.

“You can’t just go around killing people!” John says to his protector.

“Why?” the terminator responds in his oft-imitated monotone.

“Whattaya mean, why? ’Cause you can’t!”

“Why?”

“You just can’t, okay? Trust me on this.”

We are on a year-long quest to find a collectively applicable definition…

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on after a play in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena on October 30, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Thy Jilted Lover Shall Rejoice?…May It Be So

Don’t look now but Loserville–the “mistake on the lake” that is Cleveland Ohio–is about to improbably get their NBA championship. The stars are aligning around the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s really pretty incredible. We had anointed the Golden State Warriors repeat NBA champions back in February, while they were on their way to the best NBA regular season of all-time. Stephen Curry had supplanted Lebron as the best player on the planet….and Lebron had begun to hint that this might be his last season in Cleveland. The Cleveland sports fan–the lover more jilted than any other for the past 5o+ years–looked…

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