Can’t believe we haven’t posted anything from Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic since we announced that he’d be the keynote at our 2014 Conference in NYC. For yet another taste of why we felt it so incumbent upon us to get him “to the church on time”, here’s his unbelievably awesome and compassion-inducing articulation of one our favorite hobby-horses, what Bo Giertz refers to as “the Hammer of God”, aka the role of The Law. The excerpt bleeds into a section we’ve posted elsewhere on Spufford’s view of the church. Not sure it gets any better than this:
“[Christianity] makes frankly…
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As we approach the holiday season, in which I look forward to Paradox Interactive’s Europa Universalis IV and a new sweater for the frigid mid-Atlantic, I was recently reminded of the floater, a (non-) fictional man on the ceiling lovingly created by Paul F.M. Zahl, an out-of-body person watching the doctors operate on his body. What could each religion mean to him, when he needs it most? Specifically, things – a new historic simulation video game or a Tauntaun sleeping bag?
Zahl, in his newest book, PZ’s Panopticon, examines the religion of Things in a remarkably fresh way, using his ‘panopticon’ (‘all-seeing’) of…
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We promised there would be more excerpts from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest! This one comes from a clandestine mountain-top conversation between a Quebecois nationalist/”Wheelchair Assassin” named Marathe and the US undercover agent Hugh/Helen Steeply. Some people consider their (lengthy) sparring matches to be the lowpoints of book, real momentum killers (pun intended), and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Still, taken out of context, DFW packed quite a bit of beauty and weight and humor into them. Their standing disagreement about the nature of freedom sticks out as particularly quotable–and lest you think DFW is being overly didactic, be sure…
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This is pretty amazing, ht DZ:
Iron Mike is at it again, and this time he’s brought some other hall-of-fame athletes. The short clip beautifully embodies a certain kind of freedom, each according to their own…interesting and sympathetic careers/lives. The root of the commercial’s charm is its candor–each athlete simply doesn’t take themselves very seriously. The sting of their ‘transgression’ is gone. “All is right with the world” indeed, I must say!
When it comes to articulating religious insights in secular terms, no one does it better than philosopher Alain de Botton, AKA he of Religion for Atheists fame. We’ve written about his rather Bultmannian genius before, but none of that prepared me for the TED talk he gave in 2009 about notions of success (and failure). Whereas elsewhere he mines Christian wisdom more generally, here he goes straight for law and grace, albeit in their aggressively lower-cased forms. The conclusion may naturally be a little fuzzy/abrupt–be sure to listen to the Q&A–the diagnosis is absolutely stunning. If you’re at all like me, you’ll be hooked from the first sentence, ht JD:
Speaking of de Botton, much to his credit, when asked by The New Statesman to select his favorite book of 2012, he went with the following:
This year, I was touched by Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. As a non-Christian, indeed a committed atheist, I was worried about how I’d feel about this book but it pulled off a rare feat: making Christianity seem appealing to those who have no interest in ever being Christians. A number of Christian writers have over the past decade tried to write books defending their faith against the onslaughts of the new atheists – but they’ve generally failed. Spufford understands that the trick isn’t to try to convince the reader that Christianity is true but rather to show why it’s interesting, wise and sometimes consoling.
I can’t pass up the opportunity to link to Alan Jacobs’ rave review of the same liked-it-so-much-we-invited-the-author-to-speak-book, which just went live on the Books & Culture website.
This one comes to us from local mod Lex Booth:
Last fall, my older brother (25) kept bugging me to listen to The Who’s 1973 ‘rock opera’ Quadrophenia, a concept album which tells a story about a kid named Jimmy who took amphetamines and rode a Vespa in 1960’s Britain… What are you trying to say, bro? Although I have no special love for classic rock, I must admit that ‘I liked it’ even after a single listen and have revisited the album many times since. When the AV Club recently made the bold claim that Quadrophenia is “cohesive and…
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Despite a few recent Mbird nods, as of three weeks ago I had no idea who Nadia Bolz-Weber was. But she has come up in conversation, in text messages, and in my Facebook feed about a dozen times since then. So I decided to pay attention and buy her new book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. Because I’m always on the lookout for how the humorous dimension links up with the theological, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Bolz-Weber is a former comedian with some thoughts on how standup comedy is an attempt at telling the…
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This terrific reflection comes to us from Ginger M:
I’ve never had a problem producing evidence that I am a Southerner. I was born and raised in southeast Tennessee around the corner from the site of a Civil War battle. As a little girl, my elderly babysitter told me “not to sass” her and Moonpies were served during snack time at Vacation Bible School. In second grade, I dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara for Halloween, hat and parasol included. In high school, if it wasn’t football season, you could usually find me on Friday nights at a place called the…
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“There’s an essay by Kierkegaard called The Present Age that I was reading a lot that’s about the reflective age. This is like in , and it sounds like he’s talking about modern times. He’s talking about the press and alienation, and you kind of read it and you’re like, ‘Dude, you have no idea how insane it’s gonna get.’”—Win Butler in Rolling Stone
Arcade Fire’s newest album Reflektor has brought out the inner philosopher in just about every critic attempting a review the Canadian band. This is Arcade Fire’s first album since their Grammy winning 2011 effort The Suburbs. Thanks to an…
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Our pride drives us to establish our own righteousness. We strive all our life to see ourselves as keepers of rules we cannot keep, as loyal subjects of laws under which we can only be judged outlaws. Yet so deep is our need to derive our identity from our own self-respect – so profound our conviction that unless we watch our step, the watchbird will take away our name – that we will spend a lifetime trying to do the impossible rather than, for even one carefree minute, consent to having it done for us by someone else.
Really, no one…
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We’re not finished milking Tim Kreider’s essay collection We Learn Nothing. Not by a long shot. The following passage from “The Czar’s Daughter” has made the rounds a bit and is worth reproducing here, as it touches on a dynamic we talk about with some frequency in reference to social media, namely, the difference between who we’d like to be or feel we should be and who we actually are. The essay is a rumination on, and almost a eulogy for, a deceased friend of Tim’s named Skelly. Apparently Skelly was quite the character, reputed in their circles for the…
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A quick thought from poet and author Christian Wiman, via his essay “God’s Truth in Life”, originally published in Image Journal, and collected in My Bright Abyss:
“I once believed in some notion of a pure ambition, which I defined as an ambition for the work rather than for oneself, but I’m not sure I believe in that anymore. If a poet’s ambition were truly for the work and nothing else, he would write under a pseudonym, which would not only preserve that pure space of making but free him from the distractions of trying to forge a name for himself in the world. No, all ambition has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self–except for that terrible, blissful feeling at the heart of creation itself, when all thought of your name is obliterated and all you want is the poem, to be the means wherein something of reality, perhaps even something of eternity, realizes itself. That is noble ambition. But all that comes after–the need for approval, publication, self-promotion–isn’t this what usually goes under the name of “ambition”? The effort is to make ourselves more real to ourselves, to feel that we have selves, though the deepest moments of creation tell us that, in some fundamental way, we don’t. (Souls are what those moments reveal, which are both inside and outside, both us and other.) So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence upon existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt and you are pursuing a ghost.”