Education
College Admissions, the Summer of George, and the Gospel of Free Grace

College Admissions, the Summer of George, and the Gospel of Free Grace

We are honored to present an exclusive excerpt from keynote speaker Tullian Tchividjian’s forthcoming book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. (Yes, the title is a shout-out to the man himself). This part comes from the opening of chapter nine, which deals with some of the common objections to the message of grace.

For many Americans of a certain age, the college admissions process is an oppressive and extraordinarily stressful area of life. It is performancism writ very, very large. One’s entire worth and value as a person is boiled down to a short transcript and application, which…

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“You Don’t Change People By Power”: Grace in a Norwegian Prison

“You Don’t Change People By Power”: Grace in a Norwegian Prison

A thought-provoking article from the The Guardian about Norway’s prison island Bastoy, where inmates are treated like human beings (i.e. sinners in need of mercy) and which has the lowest recidivism rate in Europe (16%!). Don’t call it imputation, but apparently, grace works. A couple choice quotes:

From the warden, Arne Nilsen:

“In closed prisons we keep them locked up for some years and then let them back out, not having had any real responsibility for working or cooking. In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is…

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High School Never Ends?

High School Never Ends?

While we’re on the subject of young people, Jennifer Senior’s “Why You Never Truly Leave High School” in New York Magazine is an absolute goldmine on the topic of identity. High school has long been understood as an incubator for identity formation, but it’s still fascinating to read about the research behind it, particularly why it makes for such a lousy incubator. Everyone knows that we bear the scars we receive during those years for a lifetime; to see them tracked and quantified is pretty scary. As if we needed another reminder of how identity can be a prison! (One…

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Schooled in Gospel: Grace, Identity, and Higher Education

Schooled in Gospel: Grace, Identity, and Higher Education

We couldn’t have said it any better.

You might have already heard Professor Francis Su’s lecture “The Lesson of Grace in Teaching” as it bounced across social networks last weekend. Su is Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and was recently awarded the Haimo Award for his work as a mathematics educator. All Haimo award winners are invited to lecture regarding their own pedagogical discoveries to their peers, and Su chose to speak the on role of grace in higher education.

Again, we really couldn’t have said it any better.

You can find the the whole transcript and audio for the…

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Grace in Sunday School: A Conference Preview

This breakout comes from Christie Walker and Kemp Hill, who have been involved in ministry for small children for over twenty years, have learned some insightful paths into the heart of the Gospel in a place where it so often seems dried up, what with the felt boards and church ladies. They have since created curricula that seek to bring the Gospel back into Sunday School. In their breakout session, they look into these questions:

How can we share the Gospel with children at church in a fun and meaningful way?  How can we meet the needs of families with children who come to church?  Has anybody ever tried to find a Sunday School curriculum that isn’t just moralism?

We are not “The Church Ladies.” In twenty years of children’s ministry, these are questions we’ve been probing at Christ Episcopal Church.  In our Breakout session, our hope is to explore these questions together and share some things that have worked well for us.

Here’s the audio from the breakout session.


Or, if you prefer, you can download the audio by right clicking here and selecting “Save link As…”

Comfortable Myths, Outright Lies and Breaking through the Fog of Disbelief

Comfortable Myths, Outright Lies and Breaking through the Fog of Disbelief

Hat tip to a wise friend who recently sent me an article from The Chronicle of Higher Learning entitled “Why Lies Often Stick Better Than Truth.” The thrust of the article has to do with recent psychological research about how people often hold onto slanted information and outright lies—even after being presented with sound counter arguments. It would appear that rejecting previously-believed misinformation involves some hard and undesirable work, which many of us would rather not do. In my context as a minister, the article inspired a brief exchange about why, even when we repeatedly preach salvation by grace through…

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Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ’s Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ’s Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

1. An incredibly moving account of “Depression and Despair at Harvard” in response to the suicide of a classmate by Jordan Monge on The Harvard Ichthus. With real vulnerability, Monge touches on the crushing power of expectation, the vicious circle of shame and fear, the grace of defeat, even the toxic and tragic way Christians revert to the Law, post-conversion. It’s a courageous testament to the reality that we are not saved us from pain, but in and through it, ht AZ:

via indexed.com

Admitting my weakness feels like admitting that I am not good enough to bear my own name….

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Teach Your Children Not-So-Well: When Success Means Failure

Teach Your Children Not-So-Well: When Success Means Failure

A couple of weeks ago on Slate, Allison Benedikt lamented, “Parenting Hate-Reads: When Will They End?”. She recalled a friend of hers who had become so turned off by the ever-escalating online ‘mommy wars’ that it made her not want to have children, period. And Benedikt realized that she couldn’t blame her friend for her hesitancy to wade into such outrageously judgmental waters: on top of the real and perceived exhaustion of bringing up little ones, parents are subjected to the inescapable voice of condemnation and criticism wherever they go on the Interwebs these days. In fact, all this talk…

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Another Week Ends: Delta Malaise, Self-Deprecating Obituaries, The Hill and Wood, Breaking Bad, Bound Atheists, Fall Conf Schedule and more Dark Knight Rises

Another Week Ends: Delta Malaise, Self-Deprecating Obituaries, The Hill and Wood, Breaking Bad, Bound Atheists, Fall Conf Schedule and more Dark Knight Rises

1. First up, The New York Times published an eye-opening article about sorority rush in US colleges this week that’s been spreading like wildfire. It visits all the usual themes of the Law of group belonging: self-doubt, attempts at identity improvement, the need to belong, and our single-minded attempts to live up to a certain standard – no matter how much or little positive correlation it has with Old Testament/church morality. To illustrate how far the phenomenon of belonging is going:

In the early rounds, [girls] have only minutes to make a positive impression… Many aspiring sisters spend their summer working…

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Another Week Ends: Spoiled Kids, Harvard Perfectionism, KKKlan Grace, Lonergan’s Lament, Negative Thinking, Mormonism, Golf Ethics, Sorkinisms, and Fall Conference Update

Another Week Ends: Spoiled Kids, Harvard Perfectionism, KKKlan Grace, Lonergan’s Lament, Negative Thinking, Mormonism, Golf Ethics, Sorkinisms, and Fall Conference Update

1. Over at The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert surveyed the latest swath of parenting books, asking the question “Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?” Much of the article reiterates what we’ve been hearing with alarming frequency the past couple years, namely that the current “helicopter/snowplow” culture of control is backfiring, royally. It’s an honest if also fairly depressing analysis: the “performancism” epidemic being perpetuated (somewhat out of necessity) by US colleges has filtered down to the preschool level, which, combined with the hangover from the self-esteem movement and incredible advances in technology has created this weird situation where kids grow…

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“What Doesn’t Kill You Almost Kills You” — Conan O’Brien

“What Doesn’t Kill You Almost Kills You” — Conan O’Brien

Today I will graduate from Yale University with a Master’s of Divinity degree. In the spirit of this season of graduations, I share with you this excerpt from Conan O’Brien’s speech at Dartmouth’s commencement last year:

I learned a hard but profound lesson last year and I’d like to share it with you. In 2000, I told graduates ‘Don’t be afraid to fail.’ Well now I’m here to tell you that, though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it. Nietzsche famously said ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ But what he failed to…

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Commencement 2012: Graduating to Humility

Commencement 2012: Graduating to Humility

A piece by Charles Wheelan that appeared in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago has been the go-to status update for the collective Class of 2012, many of who find themselves lamenting their impending commencement exercises. With unemployment still above 8 percent and college graduates leaving their alma maters with an average of $25,000 of loans, it seems as though any commencement address has an uphill battle ahead of it. Normally, these 30-minute monologues remind graduates of their duty to make “the world a better place,” or more shamelessly, to remember to give back to the annual…

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Another Week Ends: Inner Machiavellians, Lutheran Insults, Whisky Priests, Monkees, Mets, Parenthood, Veep, Viola Davis and Frankenweenie

Another Week Ends: Inner Machiavellians, Lutheran Insults, Whisky Priests, Monkees, Mets, Parenthood, Veep, Viola Davis and Frankenweenie

1. I’ll admit it: I’ve been trying to lay off the David Brooks, at least in the Weekend columns. As insightful as he frequently is, there are plenty of fish in the digital sea, are there not? Well, to paraphrase a Pacino, every time I think I’m out, he pulls me back in. That is to say, giving anything top billing other than his NY Times column from yesterday, “The Machiavellian Temptation,” would be dishonest. It’s getting to the point where I suspect we’re being punked a la Candid Camera. Anyway, this time around Herr Brooks is contrasting recent breakthroughs…

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Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

Another Week Ends: Joseph Mills, Commitment Devices, Anxiety Rights, Bible Rescue, Imposter Syndrome, Hitch on Chesterton, Elmer Bernstein and Liz Lemon

1. One of the many things to adore about David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is the cover (of the US edition). The collage manages to capture the torrential intellect at the heart of that wonderful collection without losing the humor. But it wasn’t until this past week that I knew anything about its designer, photographer/artist/pumpkin farmer Joseph Mills. The Washington City Paper did a feature on him back in 2003 in conjunction with an exhibit at the Corcoran, and Joseph’s words–and personal history with psychosis and depression–pack quite a punch, ht SJ:

When asked about…

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PZ’s Podcast, 80-83: I’ll Catch The Sun, Violette Amoureuse, Speaking in Tongues, and I’m Younger Than That Now

PZ’s Podcast, 80-83: I’ll Catch The Sun, Violette Amoureuse, Speaking in Tongues, and I’m Younger Than That Now

EPISODE 80: I’ll Catch The Sun

This is about sentimentality. I’m not so bearish about sentimentality as I once was. In fact, I’m pretty bullish on it these days.

Yes, I know: “Sentimentality (is supposed to be) long-term cruelty.” And some well-known dictators have been a lot nicer to their pets than to their subjects. In other words, it’s possible to be a sentimentalist and awful at the same time.

But sentimentality has the benefit of being in touch with feeling. And feeling is good. Feeling is deep, instinctive almost, and often allied with love. Don’t we generally wish we had more “heart”…

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