Grace in Practice
The Courage to Be “Weird”

The Courage to Be “Weird”

The internet got a little bit stranger this week with the release of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s newest album, Mandatory Fun. For close to 40 years now, Weird Al has embraced everything counterculture, playfully mocking the earnestness of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s versions of “cool.” From Michael Jackson to Celine Dion, from Star Wars to the Beverly Hillbillies, there are few pop culture themes and memes that the musical master of parody has left untouched.

Weird Al predates me. I discovered him as a nerdy elementary schooler at a friend’s sleep-over.  All we third and fourth graders howled with laughter,…

Read More »

The Jilted Lover Rejoices! Lebron Goes Home

The Jilted Lover Rejoices! Lebron Goes Home

The biggest professional sports play in their history is notoriously referred to as “The Fumble”. Their NFL owner literally packed up their beloved team and moved them to Baltimore in the middle of the night. Their NFL team has been in existence for 68 years and has never sniffed a Super Bowl, let alone won one. Their MLB team hasn’t won a World Series title since the ’40s. Their NBA team has been around since 1970, zero championships. Futility, thy name is Cleveland.

That’s not to say that the city hasn’t had it’s sports moments.  The Indians have found their way back…

Read More »

“Louie” Discussion 2.0 – A Season 4 Recap

“Louie” Discussion 2.0 – A Season 4 Recap

With the final five episodes of the fourth season of Louie, Blake (B.I.C) and I felt like another conversation over the remainder of the season was in order. So. For your perusal, here is part two of our ongoing email conversations on this season of Louie.

Blake: So there are two main story lines that must be dealt with to complete our coverage of this season of Louie. One is the about Pamela (who has been a love interest of Louie’s off and on throughout the seasons) and the other is a couple of episodes that deal with Louie’s middle school…

Read More »

The Messy Truth of the Axe Effect

The Messy Truth of the Axe Effect

Before the early 2000’s, the mention of the word “axe” conjured up visions of heavily bearded, weapon wielding men; men who were cloaked in bright red, pre-hipsterdom flannel, the kind of flannel that a man could wear while walking through a forest of ten foot tall thorn bushes and come out unscathed. Maybe hearing the word would even force out an occasional banshee like “TIMBER!” scream. But now, the word axe, attacks a different sense. It brings back the toxic smells of an overly fumigated high school boy’s locker room. Or, if you are a girl, the scent of that…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders,  and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

Another Week Ends: Capitalist Christians, Parents Teaching Achievement (Not Empathy), Post-Penitent Pantene, Sedaris’s Journey to the Ends of the Law (and Back), Antinomian Aucklanders, and Crooked-Timber Anthropology

1. The New York Times hosted a debate asking the question of whether capitalism has become incompatible with Christianity. It’s a pretty interesting forum, and some highlights with commentary are below:

[Gary Dorrien, Union:] The field I teach, social ethics, was founded in the late 19th century as a protest against capitalist ideology. American social gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch put it poignantly: “Capitalism has overdeveloped the selfish instincts in all of us and left the capacity of devotion to larger ends shrunken and atrophied.” Pope Leo XIII described capitalism as a system defined by the callousness of employers and the greed of unrestrained competition, including its…

Read More »

“Lest Ye Be Judged” – Dean Esskew and his Umpire Church

“Lest Ye Be Judged” – Dean Esskew and his Umpire Church

What if you made your living passing judgement? What if you, on the rarest of occasions (and without the intention of doing so) passed judgement incorrectly? (Maybe one time in 100). What if, for each “one” time, you were mercilessly berated and held responsible for ruining the “day” of tens of thousands? Keep in mind, you were absolutely stellar and were cheered (albeit unwittingly) the other 99 times. It doesn’t matter though. That one time? It can’t possibly be made up for by the other 99 cheers you heard because, honestly?, those cheers were for someone else. That one miscue?…

Read More »

Finding Myself at The Ontario Symposium; or Self-Forgetfulness

Finding Myself at The Ontario Symposium; or Self-Forgetfulness

Back in 1988, a bunch of social psychologists met in a sunny Canadian province to run through new experiments, theories, and approaches in social psych research. The theme was self-inference processes, or the ways we make judgments – accurate or inaccurate, constructive or merely descriptive – about, you know, who we are. The result is a mostly mundane, dry, and technical body of psych literature, littered with revolutionary insights into who we are (which, nonetheless, Luther had arguably discovered or personally reified centuries before), leavened with some real, concrete, original insight.

We’ve covered less psychology of late on the site, partly because it feels the field…

Read More »

Hopelessly Devoted: 1 Samuel 8:9-22

Hopelessly Devoted: 1 Samuel 8:9-22

This morning’s reflection comes from Leonard Finn, by way of the Mockingbird Devotional:

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Hearken to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel then said…

Read More »

On TV: Louis C.K. Babels About The Language of Love

On TV: Louis C.K. Babels About The Language of Love

Blake (B.I.C) and I both share a fondness for the television show, “Louie”, so we felt compelled to have an email conversation this week about the episodes entitled “Elevator” (parts 1-6). Here is the edited and streamlined result of an exchange between a couple of guys with certifiable Louis C.K. man crushes.

B.I.C: So, Howie, what did you think of the six-part Elevator episodes of Louie and what do you think the central idea behind them was?

Howie: Well, I think they’re called Elevator (parts 1-6) because that’s the situation that led to him meeting Amia—a Hungarian woman who cannot speak English…

Read More »

PZ’s Podcast: Farewell to the First Golden Era

EPISODE 170: Farewell to the First Golden Era

ACH000801895.1307708911.580x580Here is some recommended Summer reading, and listening; a few words of “Good Counsel”, as in Our Lady of Good Counsel; and a brief musical offering, at the end, by Johann Sebastian Bach.

You’ll note an animadversion to Aversion, a Hymn to Him (My Fair Lady), and an invitation to Him to Take the Wheel. All three are solid in me now, and all three I commend. Then there’s the Bach, and the happy birth-trauma pictured in the Offering.

By the way, a “Noye’s Fludde” of new reviews has appeared on Amazon for the updated new edition of PZ’s Panopticon. I find them to be short and shrewd, and some a little heart-rending. Here are some highlights:

“Arresting, Difficult, Funny, Brilliant, and Ultimately Hopeful! I loved PZ’s Panopticon. I started it in December, but I had to put it down after 40 pages because I found it too emotionally difficult. It was too close to something. I picked it back up in late January and finished it in one sitting. Then I wept. I pray it touches you in the way it did me.”

“The stultifying stupidity of defensive prejudice in the spiritual mud-wrestling ring that is organized religion is ripped apart by Zahl in a breathless romp to reanimate politically correct soullessness into a place where we live and long to be connected to what we know, but cannot prove: that God is with us every minute of every heartbeat…”

“Resurrection and mercy—that’s the diamond thread of hope that can withstand the testing-by-fire that is the question of death.”

“It is the only book I’ve ever read through from cover to cover, then immediately turned around and read it cover to cover again.”

Take my breath away (Berlin). Hugs always, and see you in September, –PZ

Another Week Ends: The Age of Forgiveness, Hollywood Denials, Good Fathers, Real Time Internet, Streakers, Sister Cristina, and Summer Camp Grace

Another Week Ends: The Age of Forgiveness, Hollywood Denials, Good Fathers, Real Time Internet, Streakers, Sister Cristina, and Summer Camp Grace

1. Turns out we’ve been writing quite a bit about memory and regret these past few months. Not sure why exactly–most of the posts predate the Google fracas happening in Europe–other than it feels like a fresh way into the old story. Just last week Bryan J. highlighted a piece of commentary worth revisiting, Giles Fraser’s prediction that “the internet generation will be a lot better at forgiveness than older people”. One can’t help but admire the optimism, or rather, envy it, ht RW:

For if we are going to find it more and more difficult to forget, then we are…

Read More »

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

Yes, that’s Prince holding a scepter while watching Rafael Nadal play at the French Open this past weekend. Larry David rocked a cape in a Seinfeld episode, but it didn’t catch on. I’m not holding out hope for the scepter as a fashion accessory fad, but I’m kind of rooting for it. Best line in the USA Today article? – “Meanwhile, the folks at Prince, the tennis equipment company, looked at Prince watching tennis and couldn’t believe they never made this connection before.” Nadal seemed to respond well to the presence of “royalty”, making quick work of his opponent in…

Read More »

Unexpected, Strange and Courageous: Cat Stevens Escapes the Mousehole

Unexpected, Strange and Courageous: Cat Stevens Escapes the Mousehole

I happened to catch a few minutes of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony when it aired on HBO the other night. Awards ceremonies usually make for great channel surfing interruptions (if awful destinations) and this one was no exception. KISS was giving their acceptance speech when I tuned in: Peter Criss gave thanks for his remission from male breast cancer (say what?), a self-congratulatory Ace Frehley struggled to read his notes through enormous rose-tinted glasses, and then Paul Stanley lambasted the board of the Hall of Fame for not allowing more people to vote. I must…

Read More »

Misogyny, Works Righteousness, and Nerd Culture

Misogyny, Works Righteousness, and Nerd Culture

Another year, another shooting- not to trivialize this heartbreaking matter, of course, but to highlight that the best laid plans have yet to stop the phenomenon. News is continuing to trickle out of UCSB as the school, state, and country return to a place of mourning, and the op-ed sections continue to suggest solutions related to guns or mental health. Churches are returning to their prayers as well with the words “Lord have Mercy” fresh on their minds and hearts.

The dynamics of this most recent shooting are somewhat unique in that they’ve started an online conversation about nerd culture and…

Read More »

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

Last week, as I watched 3 of my beloved TV series have their season finales – “The Good Wife” (the best show not talked about much on Mockingbird–there, I said it) “The Americans” (best 2-season binge watch currently available) and “Survivor” (the original reality show competition, accept no substitute) – it struck me that we’re entering the summer season. It’s the time of year when we go to our blu rays, On Demands, Redboxes, and Netflix to catch up on films we’ve been meaning to see, but have not because we have been too busy just trying to keep up…

Read More »