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When Less Is More: Reflections on Christian ADHD

When Less Is More: Reflections on Christian ADHD

The number of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among our population continues to increase. There might be good, reliable scientific evidence to back it up, but I must admit I am a bit “old school.” There seems to be a tendency to affix labels and categorize every little thing resulting in the ‘baseline’ of ‘normalcy’ shrinking until nobody falls within its boundaries. But enough of that.

My contemplation of ADHD and where I find it under diagnosed is in our churches. A couple of months ago, I was at a conference aiming to ‘renew’ and ‘re-charge’ Christians. I know this sounds…

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On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

Was delighted to be asked to contribute a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places blog over at Christianity Today last week, something dealing with the topic of Sabbath rest. Those who read the whole thing may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Here are a few paragraphs from the second half:

Talk to a member of the “greatest generation” about their childhood Sundays and they will invariably relate youthful frustrations about Sabbath prohibitions. They will tell about blue laws. About no baseball on Sunday. No…

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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…

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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…

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C.S. Lewis Knocked Flat by a Sledge Hammer

In the essay “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger”, found in the posthumous collection God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis responds to the criticism that he does not ‘care much for’ the Sermon on the Mount but prefers the Pauline ethic, ht BT:

“As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount… Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.”

 

A (Quick) Journey to the End of Taste

A (Quick) Journey to the End of Taste

One of my all-time favorite posts from our “early years” is the NY Times Magazine article from 2009 about a man who was horrified to learn that he liked Celine Dion. The realization came during an email exchange with an official at Pandora, the free internet music service that creates custom playlists based on your personal taste. Apparently the man in question was upset by the Canadian diva’s conspicuous appearance on his curated Sarah McLachlan station—there must be some mistake! He was assured by their staff that the algorithm was functioning well. The Pandora official explains: “’I wrote back and…

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Resolving the Discrepancies of the Self

Resolving the Discrepancies of the Self

A few decades before Alexander’s conquest, the Macedonians were considered barbarous and uncivilized by the other Greeks. Many of their nobles felt they should be proper Greeks, and one young king in particular – Alexander the Great’s father, Philip – seems to have been very bothered by the discrepancies between the Macedonians’ actual status as outsiders and their desired identity as insiders. Philip addressed this discrepancy by transforming, in a few short decades, his backward country into a military powerhouse and conquering the snobbish Greeks. Near the end of his life, he held a Pan-Hellenic festival to celebrate the new order of Macedonian…

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Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

I became a Christian during summer camp at age eleven, and few experiences since then can compare to the bliss of that first night and the month or so following it. I still remember, though distantly, the thrill of morning devotionals and a general sense of wonder at the strange, unmapped new territory of Christianity.

Walker Percy wrote that every explorer names his island Formosa, “beautiful”, and such Christianity was to me. After a time, however, I started hearing an internal voice, one that said, roughly, why do morning devotionals for ten minutes – you could do them for thirty. So…

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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…

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Saul Bellow on Bookkeeping Versus Inspiration

In the great writer’s account of an unhappy, conflicted man who travels down to Africa – Henderson the Rain King - a tribal king teaches the exhausted American about the futility of ethical bookkeeping:

4006480423_8fb14fd37a“They say,” he went on, “that bad can easily be spectacular, has dash or bravado and impresses the mind quicker than good. Oh, that is a mistake in my opinion. Perhaps of common good it is true. Many, many nice people. Oh yes. Their will tells them to perform good, and they do. How ordinary! Mere arithmetic. ‘I have left undone the etceteras I should have done, and done the etceteras I ought not to have.’ This does not even amount to a life. Oh, how sordid it is to bookkeep. My whole view is opposite or contrary, that good cannot be labor or conflict. When it is high and great, it is too superior. Oh, Mr. Henderson, it is far more spectacular. It is associated with inspiration, and not conflict, for where a man conflicts there he will fall, and if taking the sword also perishes by the sword. A dull will produces a very dull good, of no interest. Where a fellow draws a battle line there he is apt to be found, dead, a testimonial of the great strength of effort, and only effort.

As a quick caveat, a generous reading of the king’s criticism of confession would perhaps see him lambasting confession as petty bookkeeping. A quick read of this (highly recommended) book would show that Bellow’s as interested as anyone in going past the myopia of mere actions to show a whole picture of human need.

The Right Hand of Godzilla

The Right Hand of Godzilla

This amazing review comes from Ian Olson.

Ladies and gentlemen, the slate has been wiped clean: the 1998 Roland Emmerich catastrophe lies buried, and the ignominy cloaking Godzilla’s good name like a miasma has been decisively decontaminated. Gareth Edwards’ new reboot delivers it all: character-driven drama, gnarly creature effects, epic devastation, and a high dosage of misanthropic Law to unsettle comfortable Western viewers.

Godzilla is a win because real, human characters find themselves engulfed within an unthinkable, inhuman crisis. Unlike most monster blockbusters, this film is first and foremost a drama about family. The narratives centers…

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Grace…for Donald Sterling?

Grace…for Donald Sterling?

If I step on and smash an acorn, have I killed an oak tree? If I answer yes, I’m implying that the acorn has the full capacity and possesses all of the attributes necessary to one day become an oak tree. In its present form, it would be correct to say that the acorn is in a latent (not fully realized) capacity status. The human heart also has (admittedly metaphysical) latent capacities – capacities for both God-shaped goodness and unspeakable evil. Usually, much of this unrealized potential stays unrealized. Few of us act on every good or evil impulse. However,…

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A Quick Depressing Fairy Tale

A Quick Depressing Fairy Tale

“The Ungrateful Son”, from the brothers Grimm, found in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift:

Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.

Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped…

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It’s Not/All About the Numbers

It’s Not/All About the Numbers

via thisisindexed.com

The NY Times tossed us quite a softball this week in the form of Bruce Feiler’s “The United States of Metrics”. The premise of the article is a familiar one: the advent of ‘smart’ technology has allowed us to quantify things that we couldn’t quantify before, from the steps we take per day to the friends we have to the size of our carbon footprint, and as a result, we are “awash in numbers. Data is everywhere.” It may sound alarmist, but Feiler tempers the diagnosis with some fascinating trivia and bits of humor. For example:

Samsung just added…

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Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

1. We all love The Incredibles, right? It’s as good a movie as Pixar has made, which is saying a lot (rumors of a sequel are legit!). And we all remember the rant that Bob Parr goes on in the middle of the film, when he objects to attending his son’s “graduation” from the fifth grade. “He’s merely moving from the fifth grade to the sixth grade,” Parr notes. Director Brad Bird put his finger on something that many have noticed in our culture, the rise of the “participation trophy”, where kids get prizes and acclamations just for showing up…

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