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The Culture of Narcissism, Part One: Politics and Personhood

The Culture of Narcissism, Part One: Politics and Personhood

This is the first in a four-part series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism.

In the present presidential contest, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was the first person to say it out loud, to use the “N” word for Donald Trump. That’s right, he called Trump a narcissist. Specifically, in his news conference on September 10, 2015, Jindal said, “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself” and expounded on the meaning of this description for nearly ten minutes. Harsh words, indeed; but I do…

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PZ’s Podcast: Cook’d Books

EPISODE 216

070409_r16088a_p646-320The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.

That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.

The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.

The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.

I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Had the whole David and Goliath showdown happened in the age of Twitter, David may not have won. Here’s how it could have gone down today:

Goliath, after voicing his threats for weeks to the nation of Israel, finally finds his less-than-worthy opponent strut to the battlefield, slingshot in hand, nothing but his ruddy good looks and youthful optimism girding him. He says to Goliath, “I come to you in the Lord of hosts…the Lord will deliver you to my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Goliath, while not the brightest of the bunch, understands…

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Trump Semper Accusat

Trump Semper Accusat

Another from new contributor Eric Dorman:

Election season is always nasty, brutish and long. This cycle is no different, really, except that it’s worse. There are candidates running now who make some of the folks from the past few elections look like scholars and saints. Bread and circuses, indeed.

Of course, the chief offender is Donald Trump, and most of the culture hates him for it. Left, right, center, every major news outlet regularly publishes diatribes against him or exposés about him.

Some people have thought about Trump more creatively, though. For example, Paul Zahl used Trump as an instrument for identifying some of…

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President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

Back in 2008, the New Monastic figurehead Shane Claiborne wrote a generally well received book titled “Jesus for President,” riffing off Woody Guthrie’s folk tune “Christ for President.” In the book, Claiborne argued that American Christianity was too invested in the American political system and, as a result, ignoring a significant amount of Jesus’s moral teachings. The title seems to have stuck- “Jesus for President” – and perhaps it’s just my carefully curated Twitter feed, but the phrase seems to be making a comeback again in 2016.

It’s an understandable sentiment: many Christians are scratching their head this year regarding the…

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An Email Blast, A Cancelled Rally, and Straight-Line Power

An Email Blast, A Cancelled Rally, and Straight-Line Power

Among the odder stories of the 2016 election cycle so far has been Louis CK’s recent email blast urging fans not to vote for Donald Trump.

Did you know Louis CK has a new show, by the way? He’s self released it–it’s called Horace and Pete, and you can only get it through his website. Someone around the Mbird blogger crew will get to it eventually, especially since our previous profiles of Louis CK’s material have been cautiously approving. And! he co-leads the show with Steve Buscemi, which sounds incredible.

So if you’re on Louis CK’s email list, you’d have received an update…

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Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment:  A Tragifarce in Two Acts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment: A Tragifarce in Two Acts

This review comes from Gilbert Colon.

Mikhail Bulgakov, grandson of two Russian Orthodox priests, is experiencing a minor resurgence. The Soviet-era author’s short story collection, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, finished a two-season run in 2014 as an Ovation cable series starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Russian television turned his novel The Master and Margarita, about Satan coming to Stalin’s Moscow, into a 2005 miniseries. And finally this year saw, thanks to Manhattan’s The Storm Theatre (at St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street), the American premiere of the Bulgakov bioplay Collaborators, first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2011…

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How Alexander Hamilton Got His Groove Back

How Alexander Hamilton Got His Groove Back

I’m that guy who made you watch “Lazy Sunday” two years after it aired on SNL, because he just heard it on his Weird Al Pandora station. (My gracious brother and sister-in-law have mercifully never mentioned it since.) Today, I’m the guy who heard a clip of Hamilton—after it smashed from Off-Broadway to Broadway to the Grammys—and has been obsessed ever since. Whatever, though, because I’m all in.

One of the odd features of Hamilton (a mostly hip-hop biography of Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda) fandom is that most people cannot feasibly see the play anytime soon. It’s currently playing in one New York…

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Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Paul Reubens, John Levenstein, Gray Eubank- Photo Credit: Augusta Quirk/IFC

Fearing “the Other” in November 2016

On Monday, NPR did a story on a newish vocabulary word making the rounds this election cycle, one that touches on last week’s thoughts on attempts to define an “Evangelical.” The word is “Otherize,” and if you have three minutes and want to hear more, check the story below:

Generally, to “otherize” someone is to label them as different and suggest they are against you in a zero-sum competition. Although it is a term often used to describe a method of victimization, it’s also a strategy that anyone, including victims, can employ. In the election context, “otherizing” becomes a political game…

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The Primary Definition of an Evangelical

The Primary Definition of an Evangelical

This election cycle, Donald Trump’s ascendancy to front-runner status has given religion beat writers a whole new angle of thinkpiece to write: what exactly is an Evangelical, and why are they voting for Trump. At least a half-dozen of them are produced daily, it seems, from major publications like The Washington Post and the New York Times to your friendly neighborhood religious blog. Evangelical bastions like Christianity Today magazine and Liberty University are weighing in on the discussion, and even smaller Evangelical outlets like Relevant Magazine are trying to parse the Trump phenomenon. Flummoxed political insiders aren’t the only ones left…

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Further Thoughts on The Donald

Further Thoughts on The Donald

A post-Super Tuesday reflection from Scott Larousse:

It’s likely that history will view Donald Trump in one of two ways: a flash in the pan, or the harbinger of a change in American politics and, to an extent, society. Many of us might hope it’s the former, in part because Trump as a President would lack the experience other candidates might have and would probably be more volatile – that is, there would be a wide range of outcomes if he were President, and many would agree that the odds of an extremely damaging action by him would be greater under…

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Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Slightly updated for context:

Living in a “swing battleground state” (VA), I get the privilege of witnessing the escalation of hostilities from a front row seat every election season. And escalate they do! From the ads on TV to the volunteers at the door, the signs on the street to the telemarketers on the phone, it’ll be hard to hide come November. Last time around, apparently even Walking Dead viewers were on the fence (Arrow viewers, not so much).

There’s obviously an important place in a presidential race for indignation and culpability, anger and blame, etc. The permanence of the logs in…

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