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Addiction

AA and Free Gifts, from Lewis Hyde

AA and Free Gifts, from Lewis Hyde

Here is a timely excerpt from Lewis Hyde’s classic, The Gift.

A gift may be the actual agent of change, the bearer of new life. In the simplest examples, gifts carry an identity with them, and to accept the gift amounts to incorporating the new identity. It is as if such a gift passes through the body and leaves us altered. The gift is not merely the witness or guardian of new life, but the creator. I want to speak of “teachings” as my primary example here. I do not mean schoolbook lessons, I mean those infrequent lessons in living that…

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From the Archives: Be Not Afraid, O Ye Stone Temple Pilots

From the Archives: Be Not Afraid, O Ye Stone Temple Pilots

In light of this morning’s terrible news about Scott Weiland’s death.

I don’t think anyone ever expected Stone Temple Pilots to be more than a 90s punchline. But here we are, a few years after the 20th anniversary of Core, and as derivative as the band may have initially appeared, their music has dated infinitely better than that of their humorless post-grunge peers. They’re no nostalgia act. In writing about their 2003 singles collection Thank You, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide put it well:

“[Other bands] certainly had more indie credibility, but great pop music isn’t about credibility; it’s how the…

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Richard Rohr Goes to an AA Meeting in Albuquerque

Richard Rohr Goes to an AA Meeting in Albuquerque

America’s favorite Franciscan dropped a doozie of a daily meditation the other day, one too relevant not to pass on. It is drawn from his book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Here’s the lion’s share, but you can read the full text here, ht JE:

The spirituality of the Twelve Steps is another important part of my wisdom lineage. Although I have never formally belonged to a Twelve Step group, I have learned much from people who are in recovery. I truly believe that the Twelve Step program (also known as Alcoholics Anonymous or A.A.) will go down in history as…

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Any Woman’s Blues

Any Woman’s Blues

Literary portrayals of Alcoholics Anonymous are notoriously difficult. The primary challenge being, how do you write about “the program” without sounding either corny or patronizing. It doesn’t help that word people have such an allergy to the slogans and platitudes that populate AA. Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for effective depictions, and recently had to opportunity to ask someone who knows about such things if they were aware of any good ones–other than Infinite Jest, that is. Her answer surprised me. She told me that if I hadn’t read Erica Jong’s Any Woman’s Blues, I should consider it, that…

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Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Leslie Jamison’s book of essays, called The Empathy Exams, has a lot to say to about the reaches (and limits) of human love and compassion in their modern expression. The second essay in the collection, called “Devil’s Bait,” is about a group of sufferers who share a rare, controversial illness called Morgellons Disease. With Morgellons, strange fibers grow beneath the skin, causing the sensation that the skin is crawling. The term is formication—the sensation of crawling insects under the skin.

It is a controversial disease, though, because it has no known medical cause and no known medical cure. While it remains…

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Introducing the Technology Issue!

Introducing the Technology Issue!

Below find the Table of Contents and Opener of our forthcoming (sixth!) issue, which will be heading to mailboxes by month’s end. You can either subscribe directly, or sign up to be a monthly giver to Mbird, which includes a complimentary subscription to the magazine. The issue will be available individually soon.

Opener

What if your entire life was recorded? Like instant-replay on Monday Night Football, what if you had playback for every minute of every day? And what if everybody else did, too? Think of all the problems that would suddenly disappear: forgotten names now remembered, favorite stories always accessible, mysterious crimes…

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“In Your Guts, You Know You’re Nuts”: Amends by Eve Tushnet

“In Your Guts, You Know You’re Nuts”: Amends by Eve Tushnet

In her hilarious first novel, Amends, released this past August, Eve Tushnet brings together a lively troupe of totally unhinged characters to participate in a reality TV show about addiction. The novel’s “talent” (the cast) lugs around dark histories and fears and sins, but their instability makes them not only interesting but also completely approachable. Reading about screw-ups is always healthy: you’ll be reminded of the refreshing axiom that ‘no one is perfect,’ or at least that you aren’t as messed up as these guys, thank God. Featuring a wolf-girl, a confessional with a camera, some dangerously hard apologies, and any number of avant-garde sexualities, this…

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Forgiveness in Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels

Forgiveness in Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels

This week I’ve waded deep into the world of Patrick Melrose. He’s from the upper crust in Britain, and if his world of ten thousand dollar weekend splurges in NYC and posh dinner parties in the English countryside aren’t quite applicable to my life, the pressure he feels to interpret and weave together his threads of experience into a meaningful story (and an ugly form of self-absorption that only serves to breed dread and guilt) most definitely are.

Edward St. Aubyn’s acclaimed series of novels pick up with Patrick at the age of five and carries him through an abusive relationship…

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The Losing Economy of Forgiveness

The Losing Economy of Forgiveness

Here is Ethan’s essay from last issue on the furthest reaches of forgiveness, and its foolishness in a world bent on justice. If you’re hoping to get in on a subscription before the sixth issue hits the press, you can do so here. 

Somewhere in North Minneapolis in February of 1993, Mary Johnson received a visit from the police informing her that her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was dead. He had been shot and killed by a sixteen-year-old boy named Oshea Israel after a confrontation at a party. During the first months of grieving and into the trial period, Johnson…

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Singing Love Songs to Addicts (and Earth People, Too)

Singing Love Songs to Addicts (and Earth People, Too)

Been a while since we checked in on the world of addiction. Back in January The Huffington Post ran an article with the transparently baiting title of “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think” that went viral. I think we mentioned it in a weekender. It was the work of Johann Hari, a controversial British journalist and author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. In June Hari gave a TED talk–embedded below–based on the same material, in which he stresses the social factors that…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt. 3: How Much Is Too Much?

This is the third installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem. To start from the beginning, go here. To read the second installment go here. 

When the people feared that Moses had abandoned them to die in the desert, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make for us gods!” and from their jewelry Aaron forged a golden calf, and they worshipped it.

Wayne Rauh and his wife D’Ann own eighty Dodge Vipers, including one that is painted gold, “the only gold Viper in the world.”

It’s likely the Rauhs have spent well over $7 million for their Vipers and…

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The Mockingbird Issue 5 Out Now!

The Forgiveness Issue is here! Order your (boyfriend’s, stepdad’s, daughter’s) copy today! To check out the Opener and Table of Contents, click here.

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