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Week In Review

Another Week Ends: Accountability Adventures, Word Violence, Linkin Park, Religious Activism, Dealing with Our S*%!, and Doing Yoga with the Rishi

Another Week Ends: Accountability Adventures, Word Violence, Linkin Park, Religious Activism, Dealing with Our S*%!, and Doing Yoga with the Rishi

1. First up, an insightful opinion piece from Mary Laura Philpott in the NYT, : “My Adventures with Accountability” (ht MM). Philpott explains how, as a driven writer, healthy-eater, and generally savvy twenty-first century woman, she uses accountability groups to aid her in achieving her goals. Hey, I’ve heard of that before. But I first learned of accountability partners, not from slick businesspeople or competitive entrepreneurs, but from Christians, of all people, with whom I shared an interest in living my best life now. Since we considered ourselves good people, on Jesus’ team, we needed friends who would help us achieve our…

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Another Week Ends: Prosecutors of Play, Video Gamers, Harvard Helicopters, Mimamoru, Starbucks Therapists, and Going To the Bone

Another Week Ends: Prosecutors of Play, Video Gamers, Harvard Helicopters, Mimamoru, Starbucks Therapists, and Going To the Bone

1. A very timely, and heartwarming, little essay from our friend Mark Galli entitled “A Theology of Play,” which has a lot to say about the inner-critics and scorekeepers that can trouble the summer frame of mind. Galli, who is a golfer and fisherman, describes the litany of moral reasons, practical reasons, and theological reasons he must lay out to defend himself from the accusations of uselessness and wastefulness of enjoying himself. These are the inner-lawyers with whom Galli must contend:

The prosecutors rest their case on a common but questionable assumption: That life’s highest purpose is to work, to get…

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Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

1. First up, Amy Larocca over at The Cut delves into “The Wellness Epidemic,” ht CB:

Paltrow began to describe in detail her exercise regimen with her trainer Tracy Anderson, who believes one should work out two hours a day, six days a week. Then she began providing information on a cleanse she does each January. The mission became less about revealing the trappings of the good life and more about the notion that the really good life is internal. Rich and beautiful people don’t just go to nicer places, their organs work better. They even know how to breathe better, with more…

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Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, "Spiritual" Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, “Spiritual” Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

1. I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman who became supremely concerned over whether or not I would work on the 4th of July. “Surely you’ll take off a federal holiday,” she intoned. I admitted that I probably would but hadn’t made any plans yet. That wasn’t enough to defuse the tizzy that followed, an agonized cascade of complaints about workaholism, how young people these days are married to their jobs. “I get it,” she lamented; “there are ladders to climb, there’s money to save. But is work all there is?”

This week, B.D. McClay asked a similar question…

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Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, "Psychological Safety" and Creative Relaxation

Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, “Psychological Safety” and Creative Relaxation

1. Another week ends, another writer gets fed up with positive thinking. This one was written by Freddie deBoer, a writer and teacher who just moved to New York and become acquainted with the writer scene there. This new world is as meritocratic and ambitious as he once suspected it was. As he says, “There’s a series of mini-Hollywoods that are tiny and meaningless to the wider world but which are tracked as obsessively as real Hollywood is by the tabloid press, by the people inside them. I never had this problem in Indiana.”

But what’s exceptional about this piece, entitled,…

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Another Week Ends: Greenblatt's Eden, Fidget-Spinning, Fake News Biases, Mandatory Euphoria, and A Horse Named Grace

Another Week Ends: Greenblatt’s Eden, Fidget-Spinning, Fake News Biases, Mandatory Euphoria, and A Horse Named Grace

1. Well, you just can’t make this up. An urban cowboy riding through the gang-ridden streets of Fresno, California, preaching the gospel of Jesus? On a horse named Grace? Aeon covered the story here, with a video. This below is not the full video, but you’ll get the picture. Totally cool.

2. Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt is working on a new book project about the legacy of Adam and Eve, which led to his New Yorker piece this week on Augustine, a less-than-judicious reading of the man he claims “invented sex” (and sex as sin) to the literary world. Greenblatt argues…

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Another Week Ends: Rote Religion, Prison Basketball, Google Search Data, Repentant Economists, Arrogant Philosophers, Space Music from Sufjan, and Water Slide Wonders

Another Week Ends: Rote Religion, Prison Basketball, Google Search Data, Repentant Economists, Arrogant Philosophers, Space Music from Sufjan, and Water Slide Wonders

1. First up this week, we have an amazing piece by screenwriter Dorothy Fortenberry, who is currently working on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In “Half-Full of Grace,” for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fortenberry explains why she still goes to Mass, every Sunday, despite all her expectations to the contrary as a child. In a world of performance, that gracious yet monotonous hour provides a break from the wheel:

I do not impress anyone at church. I do not say anything surprising or charming, because the things I say are rote responses that someone else decided on centuries ago. I am not special at church, and…

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Another Week Ends: Compassion at School, Kathy Griffin, Dystopian Fiction, the Feeling of "Liget," Transference in Therapy, and a Robot Priest

Another Week Ends: Compassion at School, Kathy Griffin, Dystopian Fiction, the Feeling of “Liget,” Transference in Therapy, and a Robot Priest

1. A segment from NPR this week poignantly illustrated how the law and the gospel play out in real life. The story takes place in New Orleans, where the aftermath of Katrina sent kids’ trauma levels off the charts and schools have begun to pivot away from “no excuses” disciplinary models.

The particular school profiled here, Crocker College Prep, formerly expected students to abide by a rigid set of rules; many of their students, however, had been exposed to horrific events that impacted their ability to behave accordingly. Trauma aside, anyone faced with a particularly unattainable rule will either fight it or run from it; but in “a kid…

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Another Week Ends: Cultural Morality, Internet Extremism, Pastoring Suburbanites, Theologies as Medicine, More Lutheranism at 500, and Pixar on Parenting

Another Week Ends: Cultural Morality, Internet Extremism, Pastoring Suburbanites, Theologies as Medicine, More Lutheranism at 500, and Pixar on Parenting

Jam-packed AWE this week. We’ll start with some articles examining our cultural (‘little-l’) laws, then look in on theology, and then turn to culture. Oh, and Sarah Condon went on Steve Brown’s show this past week – I hear it’s incredible, and you can check it out here.

1. The divine moral law and our own cultural imperatives intersect (and diverge) in interesting ways. God’s unchanging Law dwells in our hearts, but our cultural mores are mercurial, ever-changing. You could think of God’s law and each of our cultural norm-sets du jour as Venn diagrams: our cultural morality is (1) a partial recognition of true…

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Another Week Ends: Angelism and Gnosticism, Hero Donors, Internal Fact-Checking, Parent Gardeners, More Fleming, and Lots of Fishing Line

Another Week Ends: Angelism and Gnosticism, Hero Donors, Internal Fact-Checking, Parent Gardeners, More Fleming, and Lots of Fishing Line

1. “Gnostic” is the dig du jour, apparently. Has anybody else noticed it everywhere? Perhaps it is because “righteousness by knowledge alone” pretty aptly describes what’s going on in the never-ending politically divisive/campus sensitive saga we can’t seem to get clear of. Another article to add to that pile came to us from American Conservative this week, about the inherent gnosticism of the term “woke.” “Woke,” which is an ever-changing, never-achievable term, represents the ideal form (or infinitude of forms) of social consciousness:

This new adjective woke is a stamp of approval, a self-congratulating label, a goal, a challenge. Most importantly,…

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Another Week Ends: Specious Ideology, Moral Grandstanding, J Crew, Alain on Augustine, Passive Aggression, Yelp Reviews & Catastrophe

Another Week Ends: Specious Ideology, Moral Grandstanding, J Crew, Alain on Augustine, Passive Aggression, Yelp Reviews & Catastrophe

Alrighty, one last lap before the plunge (and this hits):

1. Another week, another report (or three) of ideological insularity in the halls of higher learning. This week the flashpoints were a peer-reviewed philosophy paper about transracialism and a sensitivity training seminar at a divinity school. Next week there will no doubt be fresh ones. The specifics vary and, even if I knew all the parties involved, I wouldn’t deign to comment on them here. I’ll spare you the links in fact; they can be easily found. What’s clear is that it’s only getting uglier out there, both in the academy…

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Another Week Ends: Too Much Fun, Deflating Pikachu, Rock’N’Roll Church, Lovely Creatures, Facebook Grief, Self-Control, and The Forbidden Apple

Another Week Ends: Too Much Fun, Deflating Pikachu, Rock’N’Roll Church, Lovely Creatures, Facebook Grief, Self-Control, and The Forbidden Apple

1. “Are We Having Too Much Fun?” asks Megan Garber, in this week’s Atlantic, re-examining the objections of renowned tech-skeptic Neil Postman.

Postman cautioned against a society focused too heavily on entertainment — a bitter pill to serve this Golden Age of TV that so often leaves us viewing life as a well-crafted episode. Moreover, Garber argues, when our entertainment is also our news (think late-night comedy-satire-journalism), politics become part of the joke, and apathy is sure to follow. Consider, too, all of those Harambe memes, and the more recent memes inspired by the United fiasco. On the one hand, should we be taking these things more seriously? On the other hand…

Scrolling through Instagram to see the…

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