Another Week Ends: Cosmopolitans, Accepting Feedback, Instagram Envy, Ideology Trumping Art, Hawaii Sucks, Muggles, and Mudbloods

1. While we try to stay away from plugging anything too exuberantly, and Lord knows TV/movie recs can make one less likely to watch, not more, still – writer/director Whit Stillman is coming out with a new show on Amazon, Cosmopolitans, which sounds like a not-so-veiled reference to his acclaimed feature debut about young WASP life in NYC. Vanity Fair this week got a preview of the pilot, and TV snobs will be heartened to know that Stillman cited Everybody Loves Raymond and Desperate Housewives as favorites. Cautiously optimistic, Stillman said that even if the show doesn’t get picked up, he’s happy to have just a pilot: “I really feel that…

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Another Week Ends: Nick Cave, Cuddle Parties, Prognostalgia, Wine Snobbery, The Vicar of Baghdad, and the Post-Christian Politics of Jesus

1) “The Vicar of Baghdad” is a three-part series over at Vice, and it’s difficult to put into words the (foolish? amazing?) courage of Vicar Andrew White, an English-born Anglican priest who walks with a cane, and who has now served in Baghdad’s central districts for fourteen years, running St. George’s Episcopal Anglican Church, as well as running a clinic for locals and, most interestingly, working as a intermediary between Sunni and Shia leaders for peace and dialogue. It’s a real-life parable (ht JZ).

2) There were several au contraires to the presumption that we “live by looks” this week. Or,…

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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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Stephen Colbert and the Ancient Pulpit of Satire – Ethan Richardson

Another installment of our NYC Conference recordings, which ironically came the week before Stephen Colbert made the move to late night. Ethan talks about the weakness that is power in the ancient practice of satire.

Stephen Colbert and the Ancient Pulpit of Satire ~ Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Liberty

I believe it was Austin Powers’ father Nigel who once remarked, “There are only two things I can’t stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch.”

That movie came out while I was in college, and the joke struck a chord. Having been educated in proudly ‘progressive’ institutions, I grew up hearing a lot about tolerance. My secondary school, for example, hosted a semi-annual ‘Diversity Day’, where the student body took part in workshops designed to expose us to different cultures and points of view. Of course, there’s nothing more cynical than a bunch…

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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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Facebook, Politics, and True Forgiveness

There has been a new trend amongst my friends on Facebook that is truly terrifying. Somebody will go on another’s profile and scroll all the way back to their middle school days to find the most embarrassing pictures/videos/status updates they can find, they comment or like it, and then it appears on all of your mutual friends’ newsfeeds. So for about the past month, I’ve seen baby-faced versions of my friends with braces all over Facebook. One talked in a video about trying to become an internet sensation, one had an entire album devoted to the shoes he had…

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Another Week Ends: Evil Without, Fitness Within, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jesus and “My Wife”, Relentless Popes, Concessive Friends, Bad TV Fans and Worse Tinder Dates

1. Sarah Palin this week let loose another of the brand of comments she’s known for – offensive or courageous or whatever, depending on your politics. The exact line was something along the lines of, “If I were in charge they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” It would be a mistake to blame Palin too much; it’s hard to win primaries as a moderate these days, right or left. The more sobering news comes from the world of Stats: reporting on Palin’s comments, The Dish noted the following:

[The best recent research] reveals that vast swathes of American Christianity are…

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John Milbank’s Beyond Secular Order (or: Why I Can’t Sleep at Night: A Theo-Political Inquiry)

My Learn to Play Bridge program talks to me. Upon entry, “Welcome to Bridge Baron 23.” Upon exit, “Hope to see you again soon.” Mere visuals don’t work because, well, the voice is extraneous, but it’s hard to play a social game in solitude. I’m probably playing it alone, at any given time, only because I can’t find people to play with. The voice acts as an assurance, a psuedo-human element in an enterprise in which the human element could not be more glaringly absent.

The idea of depersonalization occupies us more and more: social media in particular serves as a…

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Cruzin’ to the Future (One Coloring Book at a Time)

Recently a news story has surfaced about a certain Ted Cruz coloring book. Cruz to the Future (get it?) has already sold out of its second printing. And just in case you’d rather not feast your eyes on that brand of politics, the same St. Louis based coloring book company has published a similar illustrated diddy for fans of Occupy Wallstreet.

What struck me about this endeavor wasn’t really the politics of it so much as it was who the politics were intended for. The coloring book company has made it clear that these publications were not intended to be gag…

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The Virtue of Just Showing Up (at the Hospital)

It probably won’t come as a surprise that my personal favorite book of the year, which actually came out in 2012, was Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing. A collection of essays on everything from Busyness and Friendship to Identity and Politics and Family to Death and Books (sometimes in the same paragraph), it’s as funny as anything I’ve ever read, grounded in personal experience (much of which is anything but funny), and unified by Kreider’s unwavering knack for gazing behind the curtain of everyday life (esp his own). If I had to describe his perspective, I’d borrow a phrase from…

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The Idiot Forgiveness of Nelson Mandela

I spent a semester during my Junior year of high school at a boarding school in the countryside of South Africa. It is a beautiful country with a vibrant cultural heritage. Yesterday, God called one of South Africa’s proudest sons home, Nelson Mandela, and I thought it would be apropos to celebrate the ways in which his life illustrated God’s idiot forgiveness.

Mandela was a political activist in South Africa under the brutal and repressive Apartheid system. Apartheid was a system of government largely run by the Afrikaners (descendants of the German and Dutch colonists of the area) which functioned by…

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