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Feministic Fallout? More Thoughts on Underachieving Boys and Gracious G.A.W.F.s

Feministic Fallout? More Thoughts on Underachieving Boys and Gracious G.A.W.F.s

There’s a telling scene at the end of Whit Stillman’s film Barcelona (above). One of the characters remarks about how wonderful it is to marry someone from another country, that alienating traits, instead of being taken personally, can be chalked up to national differences. As in, “must be a Spanish thing”, or “in Japanese culture, that’s just how they operate”. The scene has been playing in my head these past couple of weeks, as various articles about the state of gender relations in America have crossed my desk. It’s led me to wonder if, in leaving behind some of the…

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My House Is Clean (But I’m Still a Mess)

My House Is Clean (But I’m Still a Mess)

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine told me about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing a book by a woman named Marie Kondo, a Japanese “cleaning consultant”. A mutual friend of both of ours had read it and had highly recommended it. I went home to look it up and was shocked to discover that it was THE number one bestseller in books on Amazon currently.

In her article for New York Magazine, “De-Cluttering Is the New Juice Cleanse (and Equally Annoying)”, Maureen O’Connor writes:

“Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo is the author…

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Eight Must-See 30 for 30s: A Magazine List

Eight Must-See 30 for 30s: A Magazine List

Another list from Issue 4, this one covers all that the sports world could not leave behind:

It would seem that the reach of ESPN’s 30 for 30 project surprised even ESPN. One might have imagined that a selection of human-interest stories and documentaries from the nether regions of the sports world could have some cult potential for the multitude of fans out there, but people are almost always surprised to know that there are more than just 30 of these documentaries under the franchise’s belt. They are also not 30 minutes long, another misconception. No, the reason for the name 30…

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No Fun at All: Trivia and Self-Justification

No Fun at All: Trivia and Self-Justification

This one comes to us from new contributor Adam Morton:

Three days before I heard Jamin Warren’s insightful presentation at Mockingbird’s NYC conference, I walked out of a bar with my wife following our usual Tuesday night trivia contest. Team Sweet Little Baby Jesus, an ecumenical assemblage of clergy and church workers between 28 and 40, had been trounced by our usual rivals, and I was not happy. It was week one of an eight week tournament spanning twenty or so bars in central Pennsylvania, and this result put us well back of where I felt we should have been.

Rumor has…

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Sick to Sick

Sick to Sick

An old article from Slate.com recently caught my attention. And by old, I mean OLD by interwebs standards. The article is dated November, 2013. But I’m just reading it now, which is common, as I’m not the most up-to-date person out there.

The article’s title is eye-catching: No one brings dinner when your daughter is an addict. Essentially, the author writes about how his family’s fridge and freezer overflowed with meals when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Visits, cards, well-wishes, and meals upon meals upon meals flooded their home. His wife recovered and the meals waned to a full…

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The Legalism of Swimsuit Season

The Legalism of Swimsuit Season

For 6 months of my life I looked really great in a swimsuit. I was 18, eating mostly fat free jello and running like there was a fat monster chasing me. After that season of inexplicable joy, I began to loathe wearing swimsuits as much as the next American woman.

Two things have happened to change my disdain for the pool. First, we moved to Texas where swimsuits are the yoga pants of suburbia. Which is to say, everyone wears them. And then I had a daughter and kept reading pieces that told me that the way to keep her from being…

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Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

Internet Shame and the Price of a Reputation

If you already have a list of podcasts you pretend to listen to, put Reply All at the top. It’s a show I had avoided for a while because it’s exclusively “a show about the internet,” a medium I surrender so much of my time to already. But I quickly found that, like most of the public radio offerings these days, it’s just another wide avenue for good human-interest stories. I mean, where else do you see human nature writ large than in your Instagram feed or in some nefarious Reddit comment chain? Besides, each episode is short—some are fifteen…

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Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Often, when I try to explain what Mockingbird is I am faced with the daunting task of articulating a “low anthropology”. That is, an unflattering view of humanity. People accuse me of being negative or of losing sight of the fact that human beings are “mostly good.” So I pause and consider their opinions. And then I start to judge them for having those opinions. “How naïve” I say to myself. Then I realize I’m sinning in the middle of a theological discussion. Which brings me back to square one: low anthropology it is.

Recently, I met a lovely person who…

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Mining Netflix: Frasier and Niles Try to Magically Change Everything

Mining Netflix: Frasier and Niles Try to Magically Change Everything

A bit of a nostalgic, I’ve been finding myself vegging out lately to old episodes of Frasier. (Thank goodness for Netflix!). Perhaps you remember the premise. Always trying hard to be people who are well-recognized in society, Frasier and Niles are a restless duo: members of gentlemen’s clubs, wine-tasting societies, country clubs… the elite of the elite. Naturally this leads to sibling rivalry as they try to outdo each other and fail miserably every time. They are portrayals of all of us living under… well, the law. As with all scenarios in which the self remains front and center, the…

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Judas’ Charitable Enterprise for the Poor

This passage in Georges Bernanos’ The Diary of a Country Priest comes from our hero’s mentor, the Priest of Torcy, who, if a little harsh, stands as a clear-eyed check on our young cleric’s idealism. This is his monologue on Christ’s love for the poor. But for the priest, and for Bernanos, the love for the poor is not some systematic ethic for justice—it is romance. Referring to the story of the widow’s costly perfume “wasted” on Jesus’ feet, the priest speaks (as Christ) to Judas, against his kind of cautionary, penny-wise methods for selling off a poor woman’s nard.

The poor you will always have with you, but me you have not always with you, answered Our Lord. Which amounts to this: don’t let the hour of mercy strike in vain. You’d do far better to cough up that money you stole, at once, instead of trying to get My apostles worked up over your imaginary financial deals in toilet waters, and your charitable enterprises. Moreover you think you’re flattering My notorious weakness for down-and-outs, but you’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I’m not attached to My paupers like an English old maid to lost cats, or to the poor bulls in the Spanish bull-ring. I love Diary_of_a_Country_Priestpoverty with a deep, reasoned, lucid love—as equal loves equal. I love her as a wife who is faithful and fruitful. If the poor man’s right was derived only from strict necessity, your piddling selfishness would soon reduce him to a bare minimum, paid for by unending gratitude and servility. You’ve been holding forth against this woman to-day who has just bathed My feet with very expensive nard, as though My poor people had no right to best scent…The poor you have always with you, just because there will always be the rich, that is to say there will always be hard and grasping men out for power more than possession. These men exist as much among the poor as among the rich, and the scallywag vomiting up his drink in the gutter is perhaps drunk with the very same dreams as Caesar asleep under his purple canopy. Rich and poor alike, you’d do better to look at yourselves in the mirror of want, for poverty is the image of your own fundamental illusion. Poverty is the emptiness in your hearts and in your hands. It is only because your malice is known to Me that I have placed poverty so high, crowned her and taken her as My bride.

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

Thesis 10 of The Humility Code (and the Scales of the Universe)

As Bryan alluded to in the most recent weekender, David Brooks’ new book The Road to Character hit shelves last week and has been lighting up our social media feeds, as the NY Times columnist tends to do whenever he gets into less topical territory. While the volume itself makes its way to our mailbox, a couple of reviews and write-ups are too tasty not to mention. Brooks has gone on record to state that, “my book is not a religious book. It uses religious categories … and I do that because I think the public square needs to have…

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Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

Simultaneously Frazzled and Fragile: Surviving a Culture of Overachievement

It’s getting to the point where I’d almost rather not draw attention to articles like Frank Bruni’s “Best, Brightest–and Saddest?”. Not just because I wish their subject matter wasn’t as urgent as it is, or that their claims were more groundless, but because the whole thing has become so excruciatingly obvious. As performancism escalates, so too does its fallout, and the affected demographics only seem to be getting younger. Reading about each new upping of the ante feels like watching a massive collision unfold in slow motion, one where we’ve all had our turn at the wheel.

Bruni’s article focuses on the teenage…

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