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Publish and Perish: Law in Academia

Publish and Perish: Law in Academia

A tonic for the anxious academic, written by our friend Matthew Milliner. 

Every community has its own law. But academia’s penchant for the oppressive ought, its tilt toward domineering expectations of accomplishment is, one could say, special. The undergraduate — once justified by acceptance into the right college — is freighted with the inadequacy of not having gotten into the right MA program. Should this happen, the weight of PhD applications hovers like a fixed cloud. If the sun of acceptance breaks through, the gathering storm of comprehensive exams billows on the horizon. When these pass, the student — known now as a “PhD…

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Kirk the Preacher and the Holy Ghost Album That Won’t Leave Me Alone

Kirk the Preacher and the Holy Ghost Album That Won’t Leave Me Alone

Kirk Franklin (thanks to St. Chance the Preacher) appears to be having a moment.

If you are all, “Who is Kirk Franklin?” then try to be less white and enjoy the following piece.

It has been well documented on Mockingbird that I was a theatre nerd in my youth. In Mississippi public high schools, math is almost as important as football, and so theatre was below the bottom rung. It was for the weirdos, misfits, and kids who were (understandably) too scared to come out of the closet.

Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation Project was our joyful, heartbreaking soundtrack.

Allow me to set a scene for you….

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From the Archives: Sneezing at the Cult of Productivity (over Sushi)

From the Archives: Sneezing at the Cult of Productivity (over Sushi)

The New Yorker made me laugh out loud the other day with their poking fun at the ever-escalating ‘cult of productivity’ in this country. In their Daily Shouts column, “3 under 3”, Marc Philippe Eskenazi introduced us to “the innovators and disruptors of 2014, all under the age of three years old, all impatient to change the world.” It’s really funny. For example, their top “pick” is two and a half year old Cheryl Kloberman, who is apparently making major strides as an Energy Conservationist:

What does it take to power an entire household with a flick of a switch? This…

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20th Century Women and Guilty Filmmakers

20th Century Women and Guilty Filmmakers

If I need another reminder of my overwhelming guilt and shame, I can always turn to the movies. It’s perverse, but I definitely derive some libidinal satisfaction in recognizing guilt on screen. Over the years we’ve seen various heroes or, more appropriately, antiheroes of this ilk. Martin Scorsese’s developed an impressive oeuvre on the subject. Manchester by the Sea overtly depicted a man dealing with it. You don’t have to look far. Movies like this do well to highlight the fact that we mess up. The gap between who we aspire to be and who we really are is significant….

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Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) – The Transformation of Tom Brady

Super Bowl Preview 2 (and Prediction) – The Transformation of Tom Brady

“Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough” – Prince Edward (to Heath Ledger/William) “A Knights Tale”.

We know a lot about Tom Brady, and there are so many reasons to hate him. He cheated. He is a good friend of of the person most centered in the cross-hairs of the ire of many right now. He’s married to (according to us) the woman who possesses the most robust combination of  wealth and beauty of any woman in the world. That pretty much covers it for many of us. Such a variety of…

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Humbled on the High Horse

Humbled on the High Horse

For our jail bible study this past week, we decided to do Sunday’s gospel reading, which just so happened to be the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12), the litany of blessings that Jesus bestows on the weak, the discouraged, the sad, and the lonely. I thought, in the jail of all places, that people would really be able to understand the pertinence of Jesus’ upside-down view of things. I thought, well, if anyone understands this passage…

The guys were definitely appreciative of the good news in those lines. The meek inheriting the earth? Comfort for those who weep? They said it sounded like…

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Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson.

Fathers, Sons, Law, and Grace in August Wilson’s Fences

My mother and father always attempted to instill into me and my brothers an appreciation for culture. Mom was and remains extremely well-read in classic literature, hailing Steinbeck as her favorite; she enjoyed foreign cinema and took me (while in the womb) to an Ingmar Bergman film festival; she could reference renowned plays and decided to middle-name me after Neil Simon; and her record collection lined the living room perimeter containing everything from Funkadelic to Simon & Garfunkel, Temptations, Barbara Streisand, The Police, Rick James, etc…

But I think the most significant (though at the time not fully appreciated) exposure came…

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The Immigration of Our Hearts

The Immigration of Our Hearts

A few weeks ago I was on a plane bound for a church retreat, when the guy next to me struck up a conversation with me about what I do for living.

Immediately he wanted to tell me about his own walk of faith. He had been raised in India as a Hindu and his family moved to England when he was a small boy. He had lost the religion of his childhood and expressed to me that he was now “very into” Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

“It is interesting,” he went on to explain to me, “how people are…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Twenty Three (and The Tyranny of “The Ought”)

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Twenty Three (and The Tyranny of “The Ought”)

Terry Cooper defines the idealized self as “an image of what we should be, must be or ought to be, in order to be acceptable.” He goes on, “[It] is born out of the imagination and is quite impossible to actualize. It is a romanticized portrait built on exaggerated self-expectations.”

In a recent chapel message at Wheaton College, Dr. Anthony Bradley – Associate Professor of Theology at my alma mater, The King’s College in New York City – distills this idea and explains how the pressure of “the idealized self” crushes college students. Anxiety, perfectionism, and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy…

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PZ’s Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

PZ’s Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

Episode 227: Do the Bus Stop

The animus expressed in connection with the Inauguration has made me think about events that happened almost 47 years ago. The catalyst was the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, and then Kent State. Everyone went wild.

A few of us were conservatives then. (Don’t blame me, please. It’s just a statement “du fait”.) And did we get clobbered!

One night five or six of us were having lunch in Adams House. That particular residence hall was “crawling” with SDS (i.e., Students for a Democratic Society). We had somehow forgotten about that. All of a sudden, our table in the refectory was surrounded by yelling SDS’ers….

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“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Death of a Salesman is one of my favorite stories, not because it is a piece of great “litracha,” but because it is about a man to whom I can profoundly relate. For anyone who wasn’t subjected to Arthur Miller’s masterpiece in high school, here are the basics: Willy Loman is a salesman harboring great expectations for his son, Biff. When grown-up Biff returns for a visit (“I’m mixed up very bad,” he says), Willy’s delusions about who Biff should be collide with who Biff really is. Willy nevertheless maintains a blind sort of optimism: “Certain men just don’t get started…

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A Series Of Unfortunate Events

On Being an Imposter: “Fake It Till Ya Make It” in a World of Expectations

This one comes to us from pastry-making imposter, Madeline D’Elia. 

The social science concept of imposter syndrome, or imposter phenomenon (IP) as it should properly be called, has been in the spotlight for a few years now. It was the topic of Facebook CEO’s Sheryl Sandberg’s 2011 book Lean In, social psychologist’s Amy Cuddy’s 2012 Ted Talk, and Carl Richards’ piece in the New York Times. We’ve all heard the hackneyed expression, “fake it till you make it,” and IP can best be thought of as the deep seated anxiety that you will always be on the former end versus the…

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