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Posts tagged "Community"


The Postmodern Community: A Magnifying Mirror of Me

One of the most interesting books (if you are a nerd like me) I’ve read in the last couple of months is Babel, a book co-authored by Ezio Mauro, an Italian writer, and Zygmunt Bauman, a Polish sociologist. Himself a secular Jew, Bauman seems to always offer profound insight into our Western cultural climate, and if you manage to read Babel, it will likely leave you with more questions than answers. Here’s just one quote that is ripe for reflection and is good fodder on the self’s bent-inwardness (incurvatus in se):

41TCtCOvLTL…[C]ommunities came to be supplanted by ‘networks’—forms of association made to the measure of ‘self-communication’. In stark opposition to the old-style communities, a network is a grouping (more correctly, a list or a roll-call of names or addresses) meant to be selected/composed by the individual on his/her sole responsibility for the selection of links and nods. Its ‘membership’ and boundaries are not ‘given’; neither are they fixed—they are friable and eminently pliable; defined, drawn and endlessly redefined and re-drawn at will by the network’s composer placed firmly in its centre. By origin and by its mode of existence, it is but an extension of the self, or a carapace with which the ego surrounds itself for its own safety: cutting its own, hopefully secure, niche out of the dumbfounding, inhospitable, and perhaps—who knows?!—hostile offline world. A ‘network’ is not a space for challenges to the received ideas and preferences of its creator—it is rather an extended replica or magnifying mirror of its weaver, populated solely by like-minded people, saying what the person who admitted them is willing to hear, and ready to applaud whatever the person who admitted or appointed them says; dissenters, individuals holding to contrary—or just unfamiliar and thus uncomfortably puzzling—opinions are exiled (or, at least consolingly, amenable to being banished) at the first sign of their discordance.

Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

Another Week Ends: Lenten Anthropology Meets Carl Rogers, New Community, Charlie Kaufman, Oscars Morality, Auden (Again), and Katims on Crying

1) A particularly Lenten roundup this week, starting with this very beautiful, concise reflection from Will Willimon over at OnFaith, called “Good News! You’re a Sinner and Lent Is Here,” which deals primarily with the deep relief that comes in knowing yourself as a sinner. (Reminds us a little of someone we get to meet in NYC this spring, who has spoken quite frankly about the “cruel optimism” of our contemporary world.) The truth is, more often than not, the scandal of the Christian faith is not merely the nature or existence of God, but the sin of humankind—and the…

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Suspicious Communities and Hopeful Vicars in BBC’s Broadchurch

Suspicious Communities and Hopeful Vicars in BBC’s Broadchurch

I am still recovering. This hasn’t happened in awhile. For a variety of reasons our family was home all summer in the delicious humidity which is Annapolis. I’m pretty sure I watched more BBC in two months than I have in my entire life. Yet nothing gripped me enough to write. Until now. Until Broadchurch. Two times through the series in a week. About 11 hours glued to the computer. I am still reeling from devastation.

Yes, it’s one in a multitude about the murder of a child and the search for a killer. This takes place in the gorgeous cliff…

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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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The Year in Television 2012

The Year in Television 2012

Since we’ve been talking so much about television this week, why not go all the way and do our annual recap? Truth be told, it was a slightly off year on the small screen, the first plateau in quality that I can remember in about ten years. A number of the top-drawer shows experienced something of a “downturn”, e.g. Justified and Louie, and new contenders were not quite as numerous. Which isn’t to say there hasn’t been plenty worth watching and commenting on. God no:

Top Twelve Television Series of 2012

12. Game of Thrones. I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical after…

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Surviving November Pt 2: (Inner) Lawyers, (Inner) Press Secretaries and Presidential Debates

Surviving November Pt 2: (Inner) Lawyers, (Inner) Press Secretaries and Presidential Debates

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about Jonathan Haidt during the recent debates. When it comes to The Righteous Mind, they have been pretty much an Exhibit A situation. That is, for all the learning and sophistication and charisma up on that stage, when two ‘righteous minds’ are locked in what Haidt calls “combat mode,” autopilot takes over and you can almost write the script. Yet we all pretty much know that the script itself is not the point of these things–people respond much more to how things are said than what is said. “Do I like this…

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Community and the Law of Letter Jackets

Community and the Law of Letter Jackets

Anyone who played sports in high school knows about letter jackets.  It was the thing you always wanted to get, and the thing you wore at every opportunity.  My own relationship with my letter jacket was a complicated one: I was awarded a letter during my sophomore year…for marching band.  As if that wasn’t indignity enough, the marching band letter was a totally different style than the sports letters, making it impossible for me to pretend that I was a “real” letterman.  Eventually, though, I was awarded several athletic letters and could wear my letter jacket proudly.  I…

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Why We Need Community

Why We Need Community

The latest issue of Christianity Today includes a short review by Todd Hertz on one of Mockingbird’s favorite sitcoms, Community. The article, “Why We Need Community,” discusses what Christians in particular, and the world in general, will be missing if Community is indeed canceled and not renewed by NBC for a fourth season. Hertz argues that despite its wacky hijinks and endless parodies, Community is honest about, well, community—or  as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, life together.

In Mockingbird-like fashion, Hertz also insightfully touches on the abreactive nature of the show. (Cool. Cool, cool, cool.) Here are some highlights excerpted from the…

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Another Week Ends: Celebrity Body Image, Depression Chemistry, the Burden of Secrecy, Fitz Allison, Ryan Gosling, Community, Game of Thrones, and Spiritualized

Another Week Ends: Celebrity Body Image, Depression Chemistry, the Burden of Secrecy, Fitz Allison, Ryan Gosling, Community, Game of Thrones, and Spiritualized

1. On Slate, Emily Shire asks, “Should Celebrity Body ‘Struggles’ Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves?” and her insightful little response doubles as quite the treatise on the function of Standards (of beauty etc) and how attempts to allay judgment often backfire, i.e. that the notch on the scale isn’t the issue so much as the scale itself:

Allure’s feature is only one of the latest in a long line of magazine stories about female celebrities “bravely” grappling with their “physical imperfections.” A growing number of publications are trying to pass off barely-clad celebrities strutting their stuff as an inspiring act…

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Another Week Ends: Willy Loman Preaches, Complicated Mourning, Extroversion Mandates, Celebrity Marriage Formulas, Dependency Dilemmas, Kontiki, Mad Men and Rowan Williams

Another Week Ends: Willy Loman Preaches, Complicated Mourning, Extroversion Mandates, Celebrity Marriage Formulas, Dependency Dilemmas, Kontiki, Mad Men and Rowan Williams

1. A little over four weeks until our Spring Conference in NYC (4/19-21), which means that on Monday night 3/19, the “Earlybird rates” will expire ($150/couple or $100/person all-inclusive). You can’t say we didn’t warn you… If you need an extra push, earlier this week the Episcopal News Service published a generous piece about Mockingbird, which describes our past conferences in flattering terms. So pre-register today! And speaking of our little organization, in the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department, a killer Mbird headline appeared in The NY Times recently that was just too uncanny not to share, “Nazareth Defeats Christ the King in…

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Another Week Ends: John Carter, Obesity FAILs, Mary Karr on Suffering, Winning!, Friends with Kids, Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball and Community Returns

Another Week Ends: John Carter, Obesity FAILs, Mary Karr on Suffering, Winning!, Friends with Kids, Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball and Community Returns

1. “I am not Jesus, but I have the same initials.” Thus sang Jarvis Cocker on the classic Pulp track “Dishes” (at bottom), and it now looks like he has a new contender to the throne, Tim Riggins himself, Mr. John Carter of Mars. That’s right: Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton’s first live-action feature is out this weekend, and the consensus thus far is that there’s no consensus. Some claim that it’s an overblown mess, others that it’s the sort of exceedingly fun pulp adventure that doesn’t get made anymore. But Stanton is a filmmaker that I trust over any…

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The Year in Television 2011

The Year in Television 2011

Another banner year for the small screen! Comedy and drama, network and cable, domestic and abroad, great work flooded the airwaves. We’ve had a lot of fun commenting on and cataloging it all. Here are my favorites of the year:

Top Eleven Television Series of 2011

11. Portlandia. Put a bird on it, indeed. Can’t get enough of Fred Armisen.

10. Luther. The first of three absolutely gripping dramas produced by the BBC this past year, this one features Idris Elba AKA Stringer Bell in a career-making performance as TV’s first ever black cockney Sherlock Holmes-by-way-of-Jack Bauer serial killer detective. Forever skirting (and…

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