Week In Review

Another Week Ends: Health As Wealth, A New(ish) Take on Addiction, More DFW, Cellular Dependence, and Francis I

Another Week Ends: Health As Wealth, A New(ish) Take on Addiction, More DFW, Cellular Dependence, and Francis I

1. Whatever form the Law takes, dictated by fickle zeitgeist, it leaves behind a few years later. Forms can be remarkably inconsistent among different demographics, and after we finally escape one form of (little-l) law, we look back and scorn it, wondering how we (or anyone else) ever could’ve gotten so attached to it. For example, masculinity: the more and more we escape the pressure for men to be super macho, the more contemptible we find its earnest expression, as if embarrassed by our previous adherence. Even commercials which target the lowest common denominator of the masculine – such as Axe –…

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Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

1) Kicking off this week’s roundup we have a story that posted last week over at Modern Love. Entitled, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” it posits the theory that intimate love can happen between any two people willing to open themselves up. We read to find that not only has this theory been tested, by a scientific researcher named Dr. Arthur Aron, but that it is also put to the test by the writer herself, on a first date, in a bar. And it works.

It sounds like another sensationalized love algorithm, but the thought behind it makes…

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Another Week Ends: Technologic Prophecies, Bad Buzzwords, Kindness Diets, Hooker Wisdom, Herzog Humor, Andrae Crouch, and The Only Animal

Another Week Ends: Technologic Prophecies, Bad Buzzwords, Kindness Diets, Hooker Wisdom, Herzog Humor, Andrae Crouch, and The Only Animal

1. If only I’d held off on writing about sushi and productivity a couple days, I could’ve leaned on Leon Wieseltier’s masterful column for The New York Times Book Review, “Among the Disrupted.” It stands out amongst the sobering (translation: grim) crop of forecasts that have appeared over the first week of the year. I almost wish I didn’t agree with so much of what he writes, but alas, it’s hard to object when your arms have been nailed to the wall…! The erstwhile New Republic editor’s prognostications cover a remarkable amount of ground, from intellectual and journalistic history to…

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Another Week Ends: Failed God Movies, Vintner Jesus, Modernized Evangelicals, Church-Nerd Humor and (More) Futile Resolutions

Another Week Ends: Failed God Movies, Vintner Jesus, Modernized Evangelicals, Church-Nerd Humor and (More) Futile Resolutions

1. The Net’s been a little sparse this week due, I assume, to people traveling and days off work and such, so here’s a brief week-ender with a few good links. First off, at The Atlantic, Emma Green wonders why 2014’s most religious movies were some of its worst, citing Noah (which was pretty good in our books); Exodus, which seems pretty over-the-top/plain bad; as well as Left Behind, God’s Not Dead, and Heaven Is for Real, all of which we’d probably have theological (not to mention critical) reservations about. Anyway, she diagnoses a few interesting problems of the God-movie genre in our day:

Despite their varying…

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Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Housekeeping thing: a few copies of A Mess of Help sent out had lots of 5s in their tables of contents. Let us know if you got one of those, and we’ll send a new one.

1. As we’re getting into the Christmas spirit, The Economist makes a surprising contribution with a survey of the Magi’s reception history. Apparently the men were likely astrologers/sages of some sort, but people found kings more appealing. In medieval times, some strange theologians talk about massive royal retinues encamped outside Bethlehem, etc. And in other strains of the tradition, they were bumbling traveler types, something in between the…

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Another Week Ends: Elephant Mothers, New Journalism, More Lumbersexuals, Passwords, Tauntauns and Nettles

Another Week Ends: Elephant Mothers, New Journalism, More Lumbersexuals, Passwords, Tauntauns and Nettles

It’s Christmas time, and it feels like everyone on the Internet is talking about…the Internet.

In Hard Cover!

As the debate continues about what journalism is becoming—in light of the fall of the New Republic and the retracted reporting of a certain Rolling Stone article—much of what gets talked about is money, and the kind of click-bait that tends to get corralled for the sake of it. As the age of online news matures, it seems that content is more the handmaiden to investors than public dialogue and interest.

But deeper than this, other discussions have emerged pointing to the “radical liberal”…

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Another Week Ends: Secular Salvation Myths (and Martyrs), Two Joels, Gingerbread Genius, and more Chris Rock

Another Week Ends: Secular Salvation Myths (and Martyrs), Two Joels, Gingerbread Genius, and more Chris Rock

1. If there’s an overriding theme this week, it would have to be the increasingly unavoidable dogmatism which seems to be driving our social and political discourse at the moment. What Chris Rock noted in relation to resurgent ‘political correctness’ rings true: as awful as recent headlines have been–and here in Charlottesville, they have been pretty awful (if not altogether trustworthy)–one wonders whether the ideological fervor almost detracts from the events themselves, whipping us instead into righteous frenzy. I mean, anyone wanting a primer on heresy-hunting need only check Twitter these days. There’s enough apocalyptic jargon, demands for repentance, and assertions about salvation to make the…

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Another Week Ends: GiP, Skinny Law, Depressed Clowns, Motivational Luther, Hipster Businesses, Nickelback Hate, Father John Misty, and Penelope Fitzgerald

Another Week Ends: GiP, Skinny Law, Depressed Clowns, Motivational Luther, Hipster Businesses, Nickelback Hate, Father John Misty, and Penelope Fitzgerald

1. First, there’s Steve Hall’s remarkable podcast about one of our favorite books, Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life. Thoughtful, heartfelt, and ingeniously brief, he manages to do the book justice–and capture something genuinely important–in a mere five and a half minutes:

Those living in the tri-state area take note: Dr. Zahl will be presenting at Olmsted Salon in NYC this coming Monday evening, 11/24 at 7pm, on the topic of “An Odd Sighting of the Paranormal: ‘Penrod’ Crosses Over to the Great Beyond” Fans of The Magnificent Ambersons (those proto-Tenenbaums), both the Orson Welles film version and the original novel…

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Another Week Ends: Life in Psychiatric Records, Faith as Ambiguous Blessing, Evangelical Women, Relentlessly Positive Millennials, Flawed In-Laws, and Friends of Sinners

Another Week Ends: Life in Psychiatric Records, Faith as Ambiguous Blessing, Evangelical Women, Relentlessly Positive Millennials, Flawed In-Laws, and Friends of Sinners

1. If anyone thought that medical records couldn’t be riveting and deeply touching, you’re not alone. But George Scialabba, an acclaimed thinker, writer, and book reviewer, voluntarily posted his psychiatric medical history in the current issue of The Baffler. Apart from the courage and vulnerability  such a move shows, as well as the compassion for fellow sufferers which presumably undergirds his release, Scialabba’s post offers a curious mixture of elements as a reader: self-reproach for such intimate voyeurism combined with a feeling that you’re really seeing yourself; wonder at how far short even highly accomplished people can fall far short of…

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Another Week Ends: MacNicol Burns Out, Winton’s Discretion, Lomax Forgives, Skeletor Insults, Lena Bares, and Zissou Goes Digital

Another Week Ends: MacNicol Burns Out, Winton’s Discretion, Lomax Forgives, Skeletor Insults, Lena Bares, and Zissou Goes Digital

1. In an unintentional bit of foreshadowing, yesterday’s dispatch from The Onion condensed a number of today’s (anti-Gospel) themes into a succinct bit of satire: the frenetic pace of modern-day America, the exhaustion and restlessness and the humble-brag workaholism endemic to our way of life, the overvaluing of accomplishment/career and the cult of productivity, the fear of idleness and aversion to ‘being’, the compulsive, non-stop proving afforded by technology–the sum total being what we not-so-lovingly refer to as the World of Demand. The stakes were drawn afresh for me this week in an article that came across my desk from an unexpected source, Elle magazine….

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Another Week Ends: Death Row Hymns, L’Arche Communion, Heresy Polls, Haunted Houses, Gossip Law, Andy Warhol, and 70s Halloween

Another Week Ends: Death Row Hymns, L’Arche Communion, Heresy Polls, Haunted Houses, Gossip Law, Andy Warhol, and 70s Halloween

1. A nice change of pace this week, with not one but two stories of grace to get the tear ducts working. First, via The NY Times Magazine, lawyer and writer Bryan Stephenson recalls “The Man on Death Row Who Changed Me”. During law school, Stephenson was asked to visit an inmate on death row, to inform the prisoner that a ‘real’ lawyer had yet to be assigned his case. Bryan arrives feeling unprepared and nervous about delivering what he assumes to be bad news. To say that the condemned man’s response takes him aback would be an understatement:

The…

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Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

1. It’s a little too easy, but Barry Ritholtz over at Bloomberg helpfully reminds us that Ebola is no threat to the personal health of 99.99% of Americans, which goes into a broader point:

We fear the awesome predatory perfection of the great white shark, and have made the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” “the longest-running cable television programming event in history.” This seems somewhat disproportionate, given that 10 people a year die from shark attacks — out of more than 7 billion people. If you want to fear a living creature, than logic suggests it’s the mosquito — they kill more human…

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