Psychology
Infidelity in the Age of Transparency? But Why?

Infidelity in the Age of Transparency? But Why?

Slate interviewed (the fascinating) therapist Esther Perel a couple weeks ago, the new age Dr. Ruth, the “sexual healer” of Mating in Captivity, about her most recent project, Affairs in the Age of Transparency. In this new research, she speaks solely to patients involved in extramarital affairs, the vast majority of whom describe themselves as “content” in their marriages. In being asked whether or not her patients are interested in leaving their marriages, the vast majority say ‘no.’ Why, then, the infidelity? Why do we cheat, when today we are asked to be more honest than ever about our lives—more…

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Ministry as Leisure, from Comfortable Words

Ministry as Leisure, from Comfortable Words

In NYC a couple of weeks ago, we held a reception for Paul Zahl’s Festschrift, Comfortable Words (more details here), edited by Jady Koch and Todd Brewer. The work honors Paul Zahl’s life-giving influence upon academics, pastors, laypeople, and everything in between. Among many extraordinary essays, Dylan Potter’s “Ministry as Leisure” struck a note with its insight and empathy into a commonly neglected problem with ministers, one which easily extends to lay Christians, too:

One indication that a clergyperson has come under the law’s heavy hand is that they begin to eschew leisure in order to pursue what are perceived to be…

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“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

Major League Baseball finally “got with the ’90′s” this week, as it saw it’s first coach’s (manager’s) challenge, on an 0ut/safe call, in league history.    There has long been a debate within the sport over whether or not to slow down an already leisurely paced game by instituting a challenge system similar to what has been used for years in the NFL and other professional sports.  Despite the objections of some baseball purists, beginning this season, managers can challenge out/safe, fair/foul, catch/no catch calls.

In March 28th’s New York Times “Gray Matter” column, Brayden King points out that (oddly) the…

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Right: A Belated Memorial

Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Right: A Belated Memorial

When you work too much, you don’t experience events of life so much as you pass them by.  The dry cleaning piles up.  I need to take those shirts in; I do when I’m down to my last shirt.  Without realizing it, the only thing in my refrigerator is a carton of curdled half-and-half and some rotted vegetables.  I have some friends, I remember; I’ll catch up with them when work dies down (which it never does).  I need to refresh myself on the current events; yesterday I heard something about a lost airliner.  At the coffee shop, at two…

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A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

A Cure for Our Self-Knowledge: Why We’ll Always Want Our Milk in the Same Sippy Cup

The Paris Review’s (stunning) most recent issue features interviews with quite the coupling: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and our favorite psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips. Both men talk about the art of writing, Phillips using a lot of the dialectic idioms you seem him using on paper all the time. Things like, “Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge.” Or, “Analysis should be the need not to know yourself.”

That being said, Phillips covers a lot of ground, including his own childhood, the books that formed him, the initial interests that brought him to the analysands’ chair. But mainly the conversation covers the breadth…

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Henderson Wants!

Time for another memorable passage from Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King:

4535310075_f231037dbd_zNow I have already mentioned that there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it it got even stronger. It only said one thing, I want, I want!

And I would ask, “What do you want?”

But this was all it would ever tell me. It never said a thing except I want, I want, I want!

At times I would treat it like an ailing child whom you offer rhymes or candy. I would walk it, I would trot it. I would sing to it or read to it. No use. I would change into overalls and go up on the ladder and spackle cracks in the ceiling; I would chop wood, go out and drive a tractor, work in the barn among the pigs. No, no! Through fistfights and drunkenness and labor it went right on, in the country, in the city. No purchase, no matter how expensive, would lessen it. Then I would say, “Come on, tell me. What’s the complaint, is it Lily herself? Do you want some nasty whore? It has to be some lust?” But this was no better a guess than the others. The demand came louder, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want! And I would cry, begging at last, “Oh, tell me then. Tell me what you want!” And finally I’d say, “Okay, then. One of these days, stupid. You wait!”

This was what made me behave as I did. By three o’clock I was in despair. Only toward sunset the voice would let up. And sometimes I thought maybe this was my occupation because it would knock off at five o’clock itself. America is so big, and everybody is working, making, digging, bulldozing, trucking, loading, and so on, and I guess the sufferers suffer at the same rate. Everybody wanting to pull together. I tried every cure you can think of. Of course, in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too. (pg. 24-25)

Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

Lifelogging Mediocrity and The Quantified Self

They’re calling 2014 “The Year of the Wearable” in the tech world. Love or hate Google glass, it seems as if wearable tech is in the future- if not for us, then perhaps for our kids. Smart watches want to replace your smart phone. Smart wristbands want to track all your steps and exercise movements. Over 100 apps exist to quantify the quality of your sleep. There’s even a tiny camera that you can clip to your shirt pocket that takes photos every five seconds and uploads the photos to your social network of choice. It used to be that…

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Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

Play to Order and the Gamification of Parenting

One of the most difficult and awkward things about being a youth minister was billing the events we would organize. We would tell kids about how much fun or profound something would be, hoping they would come, and we wouldn’t be lying. We knew the retreat/camp/outing would be a great time; they always were. But the second those words escaped your mouth (“the most fun you’ll ever have! the trip of a lifetime!”), they rang hollow. You could see it in the looks on the faces of whomever you were addressing. How fun could something be if you had to…

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An Introduction to the Excessive World of The Mockingbird

An Introduction to the Excessive World of The Mockingbird

This letter from the editor opens up our first issue of The Mockingbird, our quarterly magazine which has just arrived in mailboxes! To subscribe to The Mockingbird, click here. 

“Tell me which kinds of excesses fascinate you, tell me which kinds of excesses appall you, and I will tell you who you are.” –Adam Phillips, “In Excess”

If Phillips is right, and excesses are the ways we are revealed, then there’s plenty to say about what’s been passing through my Newsfeed. Just this week: Kanye West commissions a Kim Kardashian pop-art portrait from one of Andy Warhol’s cousins in Arizona….

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Toothpaste Paralysis and the Difference Between Regret and Remorse

Toothpaste Paralysis and the Difference Between Regret and Remorse

I hate shopping for toothpaste. You probably know what I’m talking about. There’s the kind that’s good on cavities but doesn’t whiten. There’s the environmentally friendly brand that cleans well but doesn’t do much for the breath. There’s the all-in-one variety that looks promising but only comes in a small (expensive) tube. And then there’s every possible variation thereof. The hours I’ve killed in that brightly colored aisle are more than embarrassing, they’re borderline irresponsible.

Like you, I’ve read about the paradox of choice (the more options, the harder it is to choose), but truth be told, it has yet to…

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Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

1) A particularly Lenten roundup this week, starting with this very beautiful, concise reflection from Will Willimon over at OnFaith, called “Good News! You’re a Sinner and Lent Is Here,” which deals primarily with the deep relief that comes in knowing yourself as a sinner. (Reminds us a little of someone we get to meet in NYC this spring, who has spoken quite frankly about the “cruel optimism” of our contemporary world.) The truth is, more often than not, the scandal of the Christian faith is not merely the nature or existence of God, but the sin of humankind—and the…

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Does Raising Awareness Work?

Does Raising Awareness Work?

Sometimes, but maybe not as well as we’d like to think. I work in a downtown pedestrian area, and on any given walk to a coffeeshop or lunch spot, if the weather’s nice there will be environmentalists, Global Medical Brigades reps, pro-Tibetans, and other generally worthy and important causes. ‘Did you know…”. I can say, personally, that I do know, most of the time, what’s going on – I just tend not to act on it. I know the environment’s deteriorating but am often too lazy to recycle, etc. The assumption behind raising awareness is that if more people know…

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What Would Jesus Tweet? The Gospel in the 21st Century (Conference Recordings!)

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An enormous thank you to all the fantastic people at St Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY, who made the What Would Jesus Tweet mini-conference possible earlier this month! What a privilege it was to meet so many new friends; the warmth and graciousness of the welcome we received was nothing short of overwhelming. To read a (very generous!) re-cap of the event, go here. The recordings are now available, both on our Resources page and here, in the order in which they were given. Click on the talk titles to download, or on the players below to listen:

Talk 1: What Would Jesus Tweet? – David Zahl


Talk 2: Everybody’s Anxious, Nobody’s Bored – David Zahl


Everything New Is Moralism Again – The Rev. Jacob Smith


The Psychology of SalvationDr. Eric Johnson


Talk 3: What We Talk About When We Talk About Freedom and Closing Q&A – David Zahl and Jacob Smith


Why Scandals Are So Entertaining (and Hypocrisy So Infectious)

Why Scandals Are So Entertaining (and Hypocrisy So Infectious)

A particularly incisive passage from the fourth chapter of Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, in which our upcoming conference speaker expounds on the universality of hypocrisy and the intoxication of self-righteousness:

There is a special pleasure in the irony of a moralist brought down for the very moral failings he has condemned. It’s the pleasure of a well-told joke. Some jokes are funny as one-liners, but most require three verses: three guys, say, who walk into a bar one at a time, or a priest, a minister and a rabbi in a lifeboat. The first two set the pattern, and the…

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In Search of Lost Enchantment: Religious Reflections on Swann’s Way

In Search of Lost Enchantment: Religious Reflections on Swann’s Way

How do we remember things? At a fundamental level, sensory impressions from the past remain in our minds, as mental images we call forth, things from the past that we re-experience. Recollection often involves distortion – “I certainly never said that, at least not in that tone of voice” – as well as a re-connection with something concrete, objective, outside of us. Memories create our personality as things which inhere always in the mind, latent but present; yet they can also recreate us, redefine us. In Christian terms, we could say that all things are remembered or contemplated by God,…

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