Posts tagged "Christianity Today"

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: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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Another Week Ends: Tribal Morality, Passports to Eden, Reflektor, Spufford in the Times, Social Wiring, Hemingway’s Granddaughter, Anxious Simpsons, and Heisenberg on Ice

Another Week Ends: Tribal Morality, Passports to Eden, Reflektor, Spufford in the Times, Social Wiring, Hemingway’s Granddaughter, Anxious Simpsons, and Heisenberg on Ice

1. Next week, Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene is slated to release a new book on behavioral morality, examining the everyday irrationalities and subconscious biases that Kahneman, Tversky and company have popularized over the last few decades (aside: are all titles/covers copying Malcolm Gladwell?). A common behavioral problem, the “trolley experiment”, asks people to make a hypothetical decision: if a train cannot brake and is about to run over five people, would you pull a lever that would divert it, but cause it to hit one other person? Many people answer ‘yes’. But take the same scenario, and now you have to…

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The Frightening Moral Logic of Breaking Bad

The Frightening Moral Logic of Breaking Bad

Where will you be when the Breaking Bad finale airs? God-willing on a couch somewhere. In anticipation of that day, the good people at Christianity Today asked yours truly to write something up about the moral vision of the show. And they kindly gave me permission to post it here. It probably goes without saying but I owe a lot of the following to pollo hermano numero uno, Ethan Richardson:

You might not expect an Emmy-nominated tastemaker to tell The New York Times, “I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell.” Yet…

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Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

1. Forgiveness and apology seems to be a theme in the news as of late, or at least it was prior to Monday’s heartbreaking news from Boston. CNN’s belief blog highlighted the story of one man’s quest to forgive and restore the man who killed his brother when they were teens. I found the story enlightening as it ping-ponged between the two poles of forgiveness by grace (the victim’s brother) and forgiveness by works righteousness (the recently released killer). Quote: “I think for me, forgiveness will come in doing good works, trying to help others. But as far as forgiving…

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Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku’s Pizza Stage

Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku’s Pizza Stage

1. First off, a little pop theology. Phillip Cary contributed an encouraging review of J.D. Greear’s sensationally titled Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart to the recent issue of Christianity Today, under the header “Anxious About Assurance”. As he does in his book Good News for Anxious Christians, Cary gets straight to the heart of the matter:

Greear is not saying it’s wrong to ask Jesus into your heart. He’s saying it’s not the same thing as believing the gospel. And if we want to be assured of salvation, it’s believing the gospel that actually counts. We are saved by faith…

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“And Death’s Dark Shadow Put to Flight…” A Post for Newtown, Connecticut

“And Death’s Dark Shadow Put to Flight…” A Post for Newtown, Connecticut

It goes without saying that our prayers and hearts have been with Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown community since last week. On this side of our Sunday services, “Lord have mercy” is pretty much all I have left to say in my spiritually and emotionally exhausted state, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say that.

For those of us who are still struggling to maintain composure in light of tragedy, or for those exhausted from the 24 hour media coverage, or for those wrestling with the relationship between a good God and an evil…

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Another Week Ends: Advent Mudballs, Freaks and Geeks, Christian Pariahs, Yiddish Petraeus, Hitchcock Communion, Scott Walker and Super Wolf

Another Week Ends: Advent Mudballs, Freaks and Geeks, Christian Pariahs, Yiddish Petraeus, Hitchcock Communion, Scott Walker and Super Wolf

1. Not sure exactly what The American Interest is, but Walter Russell Mead’s reflection on the meaning of Advent is the most moving and poetic thing I’ve read on the subject this season, ht TH:

As a kid I could never understand why Advent was a season of fasting and solemnity in the church rather than a time of feasting and dancing. What better way to prepare for a really big celebration than to have a lot of little celebrations as you approach it? What better way to get into the mood?…

But as I’ve reflected on the holiday over the years,…

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Another Week Ends: Exceptional Children, Holiness Holes, AA Slogans, Reformation Sincerity, Online Niceness, Grateful Dead, Aimee Mann and Seinfeld-ized Game of Thrones

Another Week Ends: Exceptional Children, Holiness Holes, AA Slogans, Reformation Sincerity, Online Niceness, Grateful Dead, Aimee Mann and Seinfeld-ized Game of Thrones

1. An encouraging number of signs of life in the bibliosphere this week. First, over at The New Statesman, much to my surprise (and much to his credit), renowned atheist Alain de Botton selected Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense as his favorite book of the year. For a profound little excerpt from the book, go here. Can’t wait for it to come out in the States. Second, there’s the arresting depth of understanding and engagement in From Exile, Grow Man’s review of PZ’s Grace in Practice. Probably the most honest review I’ve…

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Another Week Ends: Our Dreams, Pixar and Brave Honesty, Lebron Bravery, Why Americans Apologize, Why Ryan Leaf Wants Prison, Why Women Pray More

Another Week Ends: Our Dreams, Pixar and Brave Honesty, Lebron Bravery, Why Americans Apologize, Why Ryan Leaf Wants Prison, Why Women Pray More

1) The Harvard Business Review released a behavioral study on the divergent ways apologies happen in American and Japanese sociality. It turns out not everyone apologizes in a way that implicates the apologizer as guilty (who knew?)…What’s more interesting, though, is the connection made between implied guilt and trust, that the Japanese way of apologizing without direct condemnation of personal responsibility actually allows for trust to be repaired more quickly, while the American (Western) way of the “apologizing culprit” tends to falsely distinguish sheeps from goats, making lines between those who have flaws and make mistakes from those who do…

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Another Week Ends: Dumb Smart People, VeggieRemorse, Pixar Tips, Transfigured Authority, Profanity Laws, Fiona Apple and Mad Men

Another Week Ends: Dumb Smart People, VeggieRemorse, Pixar Tips, Transfigured Authority, Profanity Laws, Fiona Apple and Mad Men

1. You’ve probably heard the classic arithmetic question, “A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” If your kneejerk response is in the double digits, well, think again. Jonah Lehrer kicked off his new post at The New Yorker with a couple of terrific new pieces. “Why We Don’t Believe in Science” was the first and “Why Smart People Are Stupid” is the latest, and it in particular warrants some excerpting here. Another cogent reminder that self-knowledge (or knowledge in general) is not…

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Another Week Ends: Jewish Anxiety, Christian Juvenilia, Male Demise, Cheap Law, Underachievement and Imperfection, Bearded Brooklyn, Ram and Beach Boys

Another Week Ends: Jewish Anxiety, Christian Juvenilia, Male Demise, Cheap Law, Underachievement and Imperfection, Bearded Brooklyn, Ram and Beach Boys

1. “Do The Jews Own Anxiety?” asked Daniel Smith in The NY Times last week, and his answer may surprise you. A member of the tribe himself, Smith traces the public (gentile) perception of Jewish neurosis, as well as how its poster-boys (Woody Allen, Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy, etc) have almost gleefully perpetuated the stereotype, and managed to eclipse such once well-known non-Jewish neurotics such as Soren Kierkegaard, Emily Dickinson, Ingmar Bergman and William James in anxious notoriety — to say nothing of our favorite “patient of great significance,” Dr. Luther! My own experience would be that those whose neuroses…

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