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Alternative Faith: Click Crack, Fake News, and Good News

Alternative Faith: Click Crack, Fake News, and Good News

America has a Tweeter in Chief. The response is a seemingly unending stream of Facebook sites and posts and comments and likes and friending and unfriending. Drudge had a record month in January — over 1,000,000,000 hits.

Is “SEE-CLICK” rewiring our collective reality? Apple’s Tim Cook seems to think so:

“We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s killing people’s minds, in a way.”

I am typing this on an Apple…

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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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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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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 Mother I Was Going To Be

The Mother I Was Going To Be

Parenting is full of “I never thought I’d have to do/say/clean that” moments.

“Don’t touch your brother’s pee.”

“Please don’t put that necklace on the dog.”

“How did these fingerprints get there?”

I was not going to be the mom that made a separate meal for her kids. I cook delicious food! And it’s kid-friendly! They can eat what we eat, or go to bed hungry!

And then I had a kid who would not, could not eat, and woke us up all night long because he was hungry. And so, with torture like that, I surrendered, and my white flag was in the shape of…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Five Verses Thirteen Through Fifteen

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Five Verses Thirteen Through Fifteen

This morning’s devotion comes to us from SM White.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are…

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The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

I am an American Christian, however little I sometimes want to own that label. God, preaching, and proper theology may matter to me, but I know there is a business side of the church that demands pragmatic response. Bills must be paid, complaints satisfied, and attendance must be kept up, and all these things seem to ask technique of this pastor far more than faith. Pragmatism is rewarded, and this pragmatism easily hardens into cynicism when one knows how the ecclesial sausage is made.

I serve two congregations and converse daily with an assortment of other insiders, and I have to watch my tongue around…

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How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

How to Lose an Argument: Biased Assimilation in Rational Thinking

I think we owe ourselves a congratulations. We got through the holidays! The holiday-less S.A.D.-inducing winter spans before us and the countdown to new TV shows and MLK day begins.

Amid all of my complaining about 2016 and the politics of gift-giving, I had forgotten to expect one thing that can actually make the holidays challenging: just spending time with family…occupying the same dinner table, digging into the same refrigerator, watching the same movies with a group of people we never chose our relation to. It was only a matter of time before our great Uncle Fabio–we all have one–staggered through the doorway with all sorts of opinions…

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Humility in the Face of Lettuce

Humility in the Face of Lettuce

Rural Midwesterners like myself tend to have vegetable gardens. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like vegetables–you grow them because that’s what you do. I’ll refrain from going full Garrison Keillor on you, extolling the virtues of the first tomato of the year, but it’s a thing, really.

Starting with Thanksgiving, through Christmas and New Years, my holiday season is marked by the steady arrival of seed catalogs. The garden might be covered with snow, but for me, the growing season starts before the year ends. Dark days pouring over colorful catalogs filled with promises of huge, blemish-free fruit in overflowing…

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On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

On Surviving the Holidays: Personal Suffering and the Demand of Christmas Cheer

This one comes to us from Luke Roland.

I have always loved Christmas. This time of year is what I looked forward to for much of my life. I love everything about Christmas. Movies, decorations, music, food, Santa, gifts, and more food. My family Christmases growing up were near picture perfect. My mother and father went all out and made home a magical and fun place for my sister and me. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

This Christmas will be like no other Christmas I have ever experienced in my life. I have two children, and I’m currently going through a…

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What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?

It’s Thanksgiving again, that one day of the year where we used to loosen our belts to enjoy a glut of buttery foods. But things have gotten more complicated. In the current gastronomic climate we inhabit, even if we do loosen our physical belts, we tighten the moral ones. Whether it’s nutritionally clean or ethically sourced, Thanksgiving now provides us with a chance to be worthy of our own gratitude. Gluten-free stuffing? Vegan creamed corn? Quinoa sweet potatoes? One by one, our peerlessly tasteful G.M.O.s leave our tables, leaving us thankful for, well, other things. What gives?!

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In an article in the Times Magazine, Alex Halberstadt tells the story of his own moral search for the right turkey–a search which landed him with a heritage bird from a small farm in Pennsylvania:

For weeks we watched the turkey — our turkey — on the farmer’s webcam, a cluster of pixels frolicking inside a chicken-wire enclosure. It was butchered and shipped overnight (the FedEx shipping cost nearly as much as the bird) and when it emerged from the oven, mari­nated and basted decadently in butter, the turkey tasted so unspeakably bland that much of it was left on our friends’ plates, camouflaged awkwardly under brussels sprouts. The feel-good narrative of our lovingly raised, hormone-antibiotic-and-G.M.O.-free certified-organic turkey became supplanted with a more ambiguous one. We felt both duped and morally abject: Not only were we out nearly $200, but our ethical gambit put an end to the bird’s bucolic life.

I’m sure you’ve had no such experience. The rest of Halberstadt’s article is a love letter about the joys and complexities of, you guessed it, Frito-Lay’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles.

Which made me think, just in time for The Food & Drink Issue (out in January), ENOUGH! Let’s do something about this! Mary Karr once asked us a similar question, but this Thanksgiving, we put it to your gut: What would you eat if you weren’t afraid? Seriously, this is not rhetorical: what would you? What would you allow yourself to indulge were it not for the consequences–bodily and ethical and otherwise? Were it not for your self-consciousness?

We want to know! Leave a comment below or email us here, and tell us what heavenly nosh you so diligently (or not so diligently) avoid. And we’ll publish the answers (anonymously) in our upcoming issue! 

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever grub you’re pining for!

Lazaretto, or Where Is That Moral Progress I Was Promised? – Scott Johnson

Here comes the next video from Oklahoma, and the first of the breakout sessions. This one arrives courtesy of Dr. Scott Johnson, our resident expert in classical Greek and all things White Stripes-related:

Lazaretto, or Where is that Moral Progress I was Promised? – Scott Johnson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.