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Posts tagged "Ambition"

Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Another amazing one from our friend Chad Bird. 

When the phone rang at his friend’s house, Tommy Shakur Ross picked up the receiver. And into his ears fell razor-sharp words that would keep falling and falling, shredding his insides in their violent descent…

Tommy—who goes by Shakur—was a member of the L.A. gang, the Eight Trays. Raised by a minister father and church-going mother, Shakur discovered within the gang a new identity, a new culture, new aspirations. He even received a new name; he became Joker.

But despite his moniker, Joker was dead serious. He was out to earn a reputation, score points,…

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Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

Kylo Ren and the Weakness of Love

For those of you who’ve spent the holidays under a rock and have yet to participate in the global phenomenon that is The Force Awakens (or if you just don’t care), I promise that this little ditty contains no spoilers like the one some Sith Lord left on a stickie attached to my Han Solo mug.

Coming out of Star Wars, my youngest son asked me an interesting question: “Kylo Ren just really wanted to be bad, huh?” I thought it over for a moment and answered “no, he just really wanted to be powerful.” And this led me to an…

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From the Archives: The Gospel of "Me" in the American Workplace

From the Archives: The Gospel of “Me” in the American Workplace

What does “the good life” really mean? It is a question which, in itself, may prove the point of the recent NY Times‘ op-ed, “The Gospel According to ‘Me’”. In it Jamieson Webster and Simon Critchley, a psychoanalyst and a philosophy professor, talk shop about today’s “church of self,” how the emptying pews of churches and synagogues aren’t representative of popular religiosity. Quite the opposite in fact–the religious faculties of the human race are doing just fine, thank you very much; it’s simply that their object has shifted.

So where is our focus these days if not on God, you ask?…

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Wheeling and Dealing with the Devil: Kierkegaard on the Intolerable Self

Wheeling and Dealing with the Devil: Kierkegaard on the Intolerable Self

If there is a band that has been a bit overplayed lately, Bastille would be it. But while you’ve probably heard their song “Pompeii”, you probably haven’t heard “Icarus”. The song, of course, is based on that famous Greek myth about a man named Daedalus who makes wings out of wax for his son, Icarus. Tragically, though Daedalus warned Icarus to avoid flying near the sun, Icarus just couldn’t help himself; so his wings melted, and he fell to the sea where he drowned. The story is a little on the not-so-happily-ever-after side, as the chorus reminds us: “Icarus is…

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What Usually Goes Under the Name Ambition

A quick thought from poet and author Christian Wiman, via his essay “God’s Truth in Life”, originally published in Image Journal, and collected in My Bright Abyss:

“I once believed in some notion of a pure ambition, which I defined as an ambition for the work rather than for oneself, but I’m not sure I believe in that anymore. If a poet’s ambition were truly for the work and nothing else, he would write under a pseudonym, which would not only preserve that pure space of making but free him from the distractions of trying to forge a name for himself in the world. No, all ambition has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self–except for that terrible, blissful feeling at the heart of creation itself, when all thought of your name is obliterated and all you want is the poem, to be the means wherein something of reality, perhaps even something of eternity, realizes itself. That is noble ambition. But all that comes after–the need for approval, publication, self-promotion–isn’t this what usually goes under the name of “ambition”? The effort is to make ourselves more real to ourselves, to feel that we have selves, though the deepest moments of creation tell us that, in some fundamental way, we don’t. (Souls are what those moments reveal, which are both inside and outside, both us and other.) So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence upon existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt and you are pursuing a ghost.”

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Start-Up, Stay-at-Home Visionary: Solace for the Perfect Mom

Start-Up, Stay-at-Home Visionary: Solace for the Perfect Mom

The New York Times Magazine’s cover piece for this past week is a rejoinder to one from 2003, about mothers “opting out” of ambitious, lucrative career fields, to become stay-at-home mothers. This time, ten years later, Judith Warner catches up with and spotlights three women in particular who want a way back into their careers, and the picture given is definitely (and mercifully) mixed. Of the three women, one is divorced and living in a condo, one is living her dream as the CEO of her own non-profit, and another just lost her new job, worrying how the kids will…

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Bicycle Wheels Unzipping Puddles: John Jeremiah Sullivan on the Death of the Dream

Bicycle Wheels Unzipping Puddles: John Jeremiah Sullivan on the Death of the Dream

This comes from John Jeremiah Sullivan’s first book, Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son. In it he chronicles, among many things, the archaeological and cultural story of the race horse, in tangent with his own relationship with his late father, the sportswriter Mike Sullivan. This particular segment details his father’s early ambition to be a literary giant, a person of great sway, and when and why it fell down, all the way down to sports writing–something Sullivan had always seen as a kind of sad destination for his very literary, very talented father.

In 1971 he was still in his…

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Ambition's Invisible Walls and the "Good Life" Ruthie Lived

Ambition’s Invisible Walls and the “Good Life” Ruthie Lived

Over at the The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith released a book review-slash-sociological study last week on the relationship between ambition and community. She sets up her article on the recently released memoir of Rod Dreher, whom we’ve mentioned on here before, entitled The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of the Good Life. Ruthie Leming is Rod’s sister, the sister who stayed home in small-town Louisiana, who embedded herself in her childhood community, who embraced the ordinariness of her present and who, in her time of great and unexpected weakness (cancer), found…

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David Foster Wallace on Cruises, Ambition and the Discontented Self

David Foster Wallace on Cruises, Ambition and the Discontented Self

A few more priceless quotes from the book-length interview Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, pg. 256-57, this time touching on the black hole of ambition, inwardly-speaking, in regards to the law (of achievement). In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone express the deadend of “works righteousness” so well:

The great lie of the [ocean-liner] cruise is that enough pleasure and enough pampering will quiet this discontented part of you. When in fact, all it does is up the requirement… I can remember being twenty-four years old and having my, you know, smiling mug in The New…

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