America
Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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From Issue Two! True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

From Issue Two! True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

Now a month out from its release to your doorsteps, it’s now time to leak just a few samplings of what’s in our summer issue of The Mockingbird. If you feel you missed your chance, fear not! Click here and we’ll set you up.

This essay comes James Gilmore, business school professor and co-author of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want and The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, both published by Harvard Business School Press. In this essay, Gilmore examines the pervasive and nuanced Economy of Authenticity, where the myth of what is “real” is what…

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Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Babe Ruth taught me one thing: “Remember, kid,” he said, “there’s heroes, and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” All right, sure… maybe that was the not-so-historical Great Bambino from The Sandlot talking, but still, his advice has stuck with me since I was a wee lad. I believe it was my freshman year of high school that I heard Chad Kroeger of Nickelback opine, “They say that a hero can save us, I’m not gonna stand here and wait.” And I’ll never be able to expunge from…

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Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Officially speaking, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying tells the story of Bundren family traveling to bury their mother, Addie. Quickly in the narrative she dies. Children and husband must fulfill last request to take Mom’s body on a 40-mile trek in a wagon to be buried in Jefferson, Mississippi. Written in 1930, it dances the line between modern and post-modern literature. Different characters’ voices take over each chapter, and as the book progresses, the reader is given a complex, dark, and intimate narrative.

Unofficially, I believe it is a book written about a mother who simply wanted her family to…

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Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

It is now five years since the Common Core State Standards were introduced, the newest governmental answer to educational plight in America, and still it seems that no one really knows what they are—and if they do know what they are, chances are they don’t like them. It has been called (critically) a “one size fits all” policy, a nation-wide rubric for assessing whether America’s public school kids are learning what they ought to be learning. As Andrew Ferguson wrote this week in the Standard Weekly, it is one more reform scientifically stamped by the Gates Foundation’s “technocrats” and “educationists”,…

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Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

This one comes to us from the fascinating mind of Jeremiah Lawson, aka Wenatchee the Hatchet:

The Library of America recently rolled out the first installment in a set of Elmore Leonard novels that are now part of their line-up. To mark the occasion, critic and columnist Terry Teachout has revisited his skepticism about Elmore Leonard being regarded as a member of a literary pantheon. This isn’t to suggest that Teachout isn’t a fan of Leonard’s work. This is the same man who published a fine biography on Duke Ellington last year. Instead, he is concerned that our efforts to exegete…

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Another Week Ends (Quickly): Buzzfeed Ambivalence, Forgiving Bieber, The Jayhawks, Swedish Conversions, Ayn Rand Goes to Hogwarts, and Habsburg Sinners

Another Week Ends (Quickly): Buzzfeed Ambivalence, Forgiving Bieber, The Jayhawks, Swedish Conversions, Ayn Rand Goes to Hogwarts, and Habsburg Sinners

A digest version this week as we head out of town for the holiday weekend. May the Fourth be with you:

1. The NY Times Magazine brought us Heather Havrilesky’s brilliant “794 Ways in Which BuzzFeed Reminds Us of Impending Death”. It may not inspire immediate feelings of patriotism, but what do you expect:

American pop culture leaves little room for mixed feelings, thereby inciting mixed feelings every step of the way. No wonder filmmakers and TV producers like Steven Spielberg and Matthew Weiner have inserted the ambient glee of Saturday-morning cartoons and radio D.J.s gasping over sunny weather in order to…

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A Mockingbird World Cup Review (So Far)

A Mockingbird World Cup Review (So Far)

I gave myself whiplash celebrating a USA goal. When Jermaine Jones scored in the 64th minute for the US to even the score at 1-1 with Portugal, I raised my fists and snapped my head back so rapidly as I roared that I had quite the headache, and was left massaging my neck. Yes, it was idiotic, but no, I don’t regret it.

I have fully bought into the fanaticism of the World Cup. I took a little bit too much pride in being able to recite all of the possible outcomes for the US going into the final day of…

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On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

Was delighted to be asked to contribute a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places blog over at Christianity Today last week, something dealing with the topic of Sabbath rest. Those who read the whole thing may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Here are a few paragraphs from the second half:

Talk to a member of the “greatest generation” about their childhood Sundays and they will invariably relate youthful frustrations about Sabbath prohibitions. They will tell about blue laws. About no baseball on Sunday. No…

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Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders,  and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders, and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

1. The New York Times hosted a debate asking the question of whether capitalism has become incompatible with Christianity. It’s a pretty interesting forum, and some highlights with commentary are below:

[Gary Dorrien, Union:] The field I teach, social ethics, was founded in the late 19th century as a protest against capitalist ideology. American social gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch put it poignantly: “Capitalism has overdeveloped the selfish instincts in all of us and left the capacity of devotion to larger ends shrunken and atrophied.” Pope Leo XIII described capitalism as a system defined by the callousness of employers and the greed of unrestrained competition, including its…

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A Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to American Christians

A Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to American Christians

Excerpted from Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, Strength to Love:

“I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The postmark reveals that it comes from the port city of Troas. On opening the letter I discovered that it was written in Greek rather than in English. After working assiduously with the translation for several weeks, I think I have now deciphered its true meaning. If the content of this epistle sounds strangely Kingian instead of Paulinian, attribute it to my lack of complete objectivity rather than Paul’s lack of clarity. Here is…

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The Glory in the Struggle – Team USA at The World Cup

The Glory in the Struggle – Team USA at The World Cup

I found myself getting frustrated on my commute into work on Tuesday morning. All of the chatter on  sports talk radio was about how “lucky” Team USA was to defeat Ghana in the World Cup on Monday night, and about how poorly Team USA played. I must not have been watching the same game. I really thought I was though. First of all, do people realize that their beloved American team was not favored in this game? Ghana had knocked the U.S. (single-handedly) out of the last two World Cups, and odds were, they were going to send the U.S….

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Forgetting the Right to Be Forgotten

Forgetting the Right to Be Forgotten

There’s likely no such thing as the right to be forgotten. So why are we talking about it?

In the sixth grade, I opportunistically backstabbed one of my friends; the story reads like an appendix to a middle-school The Prince. I’d had a crush on a girl for three long weeks (give or take), and one of my two best friends, we’ll call him Phil, started ‘going out’ with her almost at random, I think after one of those weekend field trips which always seemed to break apart cliques, form new ones, and breathe fresh life into the daily math-science-history routine. The…

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The Drunken Downfall (and Death) of Thomas Kinkade

The Drunken Downfall (and Death) of Thomas Kinkade

To be honest, I didn’t even know Thomas Kinkade was dead. That was until I read this fascinating piece on Kinkade, America’s favorite sentimental “Painter of Light,” from The Daily Beast by Zac Bissonnette: “The Drunken Downfall of Evangelical America’s Favorite Painter.” I also had no idea Kinkade was (a) an Evangelical Christian and (b) an alcoholic. The story is at once alarming, yet not surprising, and ultimately really sad. Thus, I can’t help but explore it here.

(Before I move on, I should preface this essay by noting that Kinkade died on Good Friday two years ago, so I was probably distracted…

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Maid of Honor in a Dishonorable World: Problems with Wonder Woman in the Twenty-First Century

Maid of Honor in a Dishonorable World: Problems with Wonder Woman in the Twenty-First Century

Mockingbird Superhero guru Wenatchee the Hatchet returns with another installment of his Exiles and Orphans of the Justice League series, an rather in-depth installment on Wonder Woman beginning here, with a look at the problems she poses for 21st-century American narrative.

After the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel have had at least half a dozen movies each, you would think we would have gotten a single live action Wonder Woman film, but we haven’t. One of the recurring debates among fans of Wonder Woman has been exactly why this hasn’t happened.  Different explanations have been offered as to why.  Maybe Wonder…

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