Religion

“I Wanna Get Better”—Self-Propulsion, Self-Reproach, and the Big Picture

“I Wanna Get Better”—Self-Propulsion, Self-Reproach, and the Big Picture

This reflection comes from our friend Mimi Montgomery:

And I miss the days of a life still permanent / Mourn the years before I got carried away / So now I’m staring at the interstate screaming at myself, / ’Hey, I wanna get better!’

I didn’t know I was broken ‘till I wanted to change / I wanna get better, better, better, better, / I wanna get better

-Bleachers, “I Wanna Get Better”

I have a compulsive need to continuously have some sort of background noise going on while I drive my car—NPR, the radio, my iPod, calling my mom so I can listen while…

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Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

There was a time in Christianity when approval could be gotten for free, when repeating X orthodox arguments against y heretics would, no matter how pandering to existing consensus or intellectually unoriginal, garner adulation. I think back to poor Tigranes, the Armenian king who was facing attack from the Romans in the first century. A messenger warned him and was killed, so subsequent messengers brought only assurances, and they spent several weeks in a nice, Armenian echo chamber. All voices concurred and dissent punished by exile or death (back to the RC church now), and this singleness of mind, leading…

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Stephen Tyng on Pardon, Preaching, and Unchangeable Acceptance

Stephen Tyng on Pardon, Preaching, and Unchangeable Acceptance

After being in the ministry for 50 years, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Tyng (who, from 1845-1878, was rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, where we hold our annual NYC Conference) was asked to deliver a series of lectures to the School of Theology in Boston University entitled “The Christian Pastor.” This particular quote comes from his lecture on the topic of preaching. He never intended to have them published, but evidently the students were so blown away by the whole presentation that they insisted the talks be made available. It’s always reminded me of the mission of Mockingbird:

This is your message…

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When a Foodie Repents

When a Foodie Repents

It’s been coming for a while now, but this past month may have been the tipping point. For the first time, more of the TV viewing in our household had to do with food than not. The new episodes of Top Chef were the least of the culprits. I’m talking about entire seasons of The Mind of a Chef and No Reservations, about on-demand movies like The Trip to Italy and Chef. (They’re all pretty great, btw). The only thing saving us from drowning in our own saliva was fresh Portlandia on Netflix. That show’s relentless, hilarious lampooning of foodie-ism was just the artisanal…

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Merry Halloween

Merry Halloween

Here’s a timely one from Nick Lannon, which was originally posted over at Liberate on this day last year:

Halloween has become more Christian than Christmas.

Christians have long had issues with Halloween. We’re not sure what to make of it, we’re not sure if it’s ok to celebrate it, if we’re celebrating demons, monsters, and evil things. Michael Jackson, at the beginning of the landmark video for “Thriller,” felt compelled to provide a disclaimer that this video, in which he turns into a werewolf and a zombie, did not endorse the occult. For the same reasons that many Christians have…

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Parenting Where the Ground Is Level

Parenting Where the Ground Is Level

This weekend we had one of those celebratory moments in our lives where virtually everyone we loved most in the world was able to attend. Our daughter was baptized on Sunday and that meant people from Mississippi to Wisconsin figured out a way to get to our house for the big event. And for the first time since my husband and I said our vows of holy matrimony, both sets of our parents were in the same room at the same time.

I worried for weeks about how this would go. I wondered what we would serve for dinner (Frito Pie)…

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Old Persuasive Words: Seven Common Theology Phrases That Should Be Used More Precisely

Old Persuasive Words: Seven Common Theology Phrases That Should Be Used More Precisely

In honor of our upcoming merger with Buzzfeed (just kidding), there are a few very commonly used, but imprecisely defined, Christian words which could stand some rethinking in how we use them.

Redemption – Often you hear questions like, “Can ____ be redeemed?” or ask questions like, “How will God redeem that job, that relationship, that bad decision? Will God redeem the suffering caused by Kim Jong-Un?” Or, at one dinner, “Can competition be redeemed?” The word means something like paying a price to buy back someone who is a slave or indebted, clearing their debt from one’s own store. A…

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Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

Another Week Ends: Misplaced Fear, Further Reflections on an Epidemic, Recovery and the Ego’s Death, Dave Eggers, Marilynne Robinson, and Clickhole

1. It’s a little too easy, but Barry Ritholtz over at Bloomberg helpfully reminds us that Ebola is no threat to the personal health of 99.99% of Americans, which goes into a broader point:

We fear the awesome predatory perfection of the great white shark, and have made the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” “the longest-running cable television programming event in history.” This seems somewhat disproportionate, given that 10 people a year die from shark attacks — out of more than 7 billion people. If you want to fear a living creature, than logic suggests it’s the mosquito — they kill more human…

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John Berryman’s Second Conversion

John Berryman’s Second Conversion

From the great poet’s 1970 interview with The Paris Review, shortly after the second volume of The Dream Songs was published. The ‘treatment’ to which Berryman refers is alcohol rehabilitation, for which he was hospitalized numerous times during that year. Thus the references to ‘leave’ being rescinded, etc. This interview was conducted less than 18 months before he tragically jumped to his death in Minneapolis. It’s worth reading the whole thing, if only to absorb the footnotes Berryman made a few months later about the various delusions he had expressed, ht MS:

INTERVIEWER

There has always been a…

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The Onion Interviews God

…The most hi-def apokatastasis in centuries, ht SB:

A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

1. Lots of interesting news on the how-can-we-be-sure-God-exists front. We’ve had our own part of that conversation, highlighting our own favorite Atheists and the hip trend of flogging Dawkins (dibs on Flogging Dawkins as a band name!). If the patterns are to be believed, it seems that the trajectory is toward a more humble, less aggressive atheism that acknowledges its own non-rational presuppositions. And humility is good for everybody, theist and atheist alike. Gary Gutting over at the New York Times sums up his series of interviews with religious philosophers, and while the ending seems disjointed (I’m an agnostic Catholic?), the middle is helpful:

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Thomas Nagel

These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Thomas Nagel

More Dr. Michael Nicholson goodness on his favorite atheists series! Check out last week’s pre-Camus for an introduction to the series.

Thomas Nagel (1937 – )

Thomas Nagel had me at, “I confess to an ungrounded assumption of my own, in not finding it possible to regard the design alternative as a real option. I lack the sensus divinitatis that enables—indeed compels—so many people to see in the world the expression of divine purpose as naturally as they see in a smiling face the expression of human feeling” (Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False,…

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