Science
Striving in Our Sleep, or Resting to Work Better?

Striving in Our Sleep, or Resting to Work Better?

Talk about grist for the mill! Did you see Eve Fairbanks’ riff in this past Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, “When Did Sleep Become So Nightmarish?” Amazing stuff. She takes her own struggle with insomnia, what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared a full-blown “public-health epidemic”, and uses it as an entry point to exploring the mentality surrounding sleep in this country–or at least the sleep industry, which has apparently become a $32billion/year endeavor. What she finds could not be more relevant to those interested in the relationship between productivity and identity (or ‘works righteousness’). It’s enough to,…

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The Lion Shall Lie Down with the Zoologist

The Lion Shall Lie Down with the Zoologist

On the viral video front, there is an incredible story circulating about Kevin Richardson, the so-call “Lion Whisperer,” a South African zoologist (not the Backstreet Boy) who playfully interacts with lions and hyenas on animal sanctuaries. While watching the video, I kept thinking to myself this guy is crazy and going to end up like the Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin or Timothy Treadwell, the subject of the film Grizzly Man, who were both killed by the wild animals they studied. In comparison though, there is something very fascinating and almost otherworldly about how comfortable Richardson is with these lions—they actually know him and…

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Hitting the Bottle (of Purell): Control Issues in the Hygiene Hypothesis

Hitting the Bottle (of Purell): Control Issues in the Hygiene Hypothesis

This comes from biology nerd Lex Booth.

Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.’ — Genesis 11:4

Life in college during the cold & flu season is like navigating a Petri dish.  A roommate’s sneeze is enough to fill a house with the dread of an impending epidemic.  When a classmate coughs nearby, there is no sympathy, just offense by such blatant irresponsibility: ‘How dare you?  Don’t you know I have an interview next week?’  Parents of small children are equally familiar…

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Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry

Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, of Magnolia and, more recently, The Master fame, passed away this week in what the press generally called a “heroin overdose”. On the subject of addiction, it was painful and touching recalling his role in Owning Mahowny, and a moving reflection on Hoffman’s death comes from fellow Hollywood icon and recovering addict Aaron Sorkin at Time, ht BJ:

I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant…

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Another Week Ends: Doctor Death, The Yoga Righteous, Performance Reviews, Child’s Play, and Luther vs. Calvin Super Bowl Barbarism

Another Week Ends: Doctor Death, The Yoga Righteous, Performance Reviews, Child’s Play, and Luther vs. Calvin Super Bowl Barbarism

1) A head resident at Stanford University, aged 36, just found out he has inoperable lung cancer, and wrote about in the New York Times. In the recognition of his own (near) mortality, Dr. Paul Kalanithi talks about crossing the line from doctor to patient, and what that’s done to his perspective on the statistics of his condition. He knows that, as a doctor, what one must do is instill or summon hope in patients–tell them they’ve got a vague sense of possibility to go further, tell them what they need to focus on (their families, their own well-being) to…

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What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

What Can Woody Allen Trapped Inside John Calvin Teach Us About Anxiety?

“To some people, I may seem calm. But if you could peer beneath the surface, you would see that I’m like a duck—paddling, paddling, paddling…” – Scott Stossel

You don’t have to have a therapist on speed dial to relate. You don’t need a prescription to Xanax or Ativan, or a shelf full of ‘dealing with anxiety’ books to know what he’s talking about. You don’t even need to be interested in mental health. If you have a pulse, you know. Of course, it helps if you have an Internet connection too. The skyrocketing rates of anxiety in America are no…

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Modern Origins of Anxiety – Scientific Christianity and Epistemic Optimism

Modern Origins of Anxiety – Scientific Christianity and Epistemic Optimism

The question of what causes anxiety is one to which we’ve given an embarrassing amount of attention, especially within the context of Christianity. The Onion was good to remind us a few week ago that “Anxiety [Isn't] Resolved By Thinking About It Really Hard”, but the relationship between religion and anxiety is a fascinating and potent one; i.e., the decline of religion and rise of anxiety may not be completely independent phenomena… but by “decline of religion” we don’t just mean secularization, but also certain shifts within religion itself. As a Church called to look for the plank in our own eyes, I think…

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Marilynne Robinson Talks God and Science

Marilynne Robinson was on Krista Tippett’s On Being this Sunday, with physicist and professor Marcelo Gleiser, talking about the limits of knowing, and the much-hyped and far-lacking polarities drawn between God and Science. In their conversation, Robinson and Gleiser have some beautiful points about the untrue egotism of scientific “knowing,” and the differences between descriptive knowledge and explanatory knowledge.

T.M. Luhrmann’s Theory on Voices and Tulpa-Gods in Your Head

T.M. Luhrmann’s Theory on Voices and Tulpa-Gods in Your Head

I’ve just begun reading When God Talks Back, by T.M. Luhrmann, which is a psychological and sociological study, of the life of American Evangelicalism. Luhrmann looks with sober, even compassionate, appraisal within a Vineyard church in her community, where she spends two years “studying” the psychological dimensions of a faith community, of “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” If you’re familiar with the Evangelical trappings, she covers the whole bit–the coffee lead-in to worship, the very long worship as an individualized space to invite the Spirit, the “teaching” rather than the sermon, phrases like “God really showed up this…

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Wings Like Eagles and an Unlikely Love Song: Grace Gone Viral

Wings Like Eagles and an Unlikely Love Song: Grace Gone Viral

On the viral video front, if you’re feeling bogged down by all the heavy and life-sapping stuff out there, you’ll be glad to see that in contrast two very life-giving videos have recently landed on YouTube and are worth watching. They each provide a taste of grace. First, there is this one from a camera mounted to an eagle soaring through the French Alps. I want to say that this is what grace feels like: a sense of liberty, awe, beauty, response, and youthfulness (in all the ways that are good). To quote Isaiah:

He gives power to the faint, and to him…

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Another Week Ends: Religious Justice, Self-Esteem Pathologies, WWE SummerSlam, and Jealous Partners

Another Week Ends: Religious Justice, Self-Esteem Pathologies, WWE SummerSlam, and Jealous Partners

1)  Well, if you planned on taking your kids to see Planes, thinking it would be the aviary of the Cars legacy, think again. As it has happened before, Pixar has created something seemingly unrepeatable, except unto itself (and unto scripture), and the Atlantic tells us what it is. Luke Epplin says it is the Charlie Brown that is missing in today’s films—and replacing it is the “magic-feather” of self-determination that any chalky character can stir up within to reach his or her dreams. It’s not that the cult of self-esteem is just the name of the game with most…

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Science Is Not the Enemy (But with Friends Like These…)

Science Is Not the Enemy (But with Friends Like These…)

The New Republic recently posted some pretty provocative thoughts on (capital-s) Science – you know, the discipline that’s been martyred and victimized in the contemporary era like none other (?). Not that adjudicating on the territory of different fields of study is particularly fun or interesting, but there are definitely some nuggets in this piece, and also some coals – brownies n’ frownies, as one of my Bible study leaders from college put it.

The author, Steven Pinker, thinks that science shouldn’t be maligned or dismissed by the political left (for environmental/human rights atrocities made possible by Science) or by the right (for…

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Morphine for a Bed of Nails: Marilynne Robinson Talks Anxiety and “Reality”

Morphine for a Bed of Nails: Marilynne Robinson Talks Anxiety and “Reality”

A typical description of an anxiety attack or a panic attack goes something like this: a routine behavior suddenly and emphatically goes rogue. You are driving, you are eating an orange slice, taking a test, conversing at a party, and the moment becomes obstructed by an impossible–not just mental, probably just as much physical–and inimical height. The moment is inexplicably hummocked. You suddenly feel you cannot breathe, that your chest is closing like one of those cavern doors in the Temple of Doom. Or maybe you feel like your brain is drowning in its own rootless connections, all the neurons…

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So Lonely You Could Die

So Lonely You Could Die

Lots to be gleaned from Judith Shulevitz’s “The Lethality of Loneliness” in The New Republic and not just because it dovetails so neatly with Ethan’s post on the bodily aspects of anxiety last week. The article explores some recent research into loneliness and manages to ring a few alarm bells in the process. It may go without saying, but far from being just a spiritual or emotional malady, loneliness has been shown to have a clear physical component/consequence. Introversion or extroversion simply changes the way a person experiences loneliness–it does not protect them from it outright. More commentary at the bottom,…

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Tell Me Again What The Body’s For…

Tell Me Again What The Body’s For…

We have posted one of Brian Jay Stanley‘s essays before, and heaven knows we’ve posted nearly everything that’s come from the Opinionator’s “Anxiety” series. This one is an unique take. Stanley here is talking about the body-soul/body-mind dualism we still believe today, the gnostic cleanliness we desire over the viscera and guts of nature. We are made anxious, in other words, by the body and the parts of nature’s innards we cannot control. Stanley points to Plato’s discourse of mind over matter, and inverts it: as much as we’d like to lord our big hearts and nervy wits over the…

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