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Posts tagged "David Brooks"


Jesus and Therapy: A Conference Breakout Preview

The recent New Yorker cartoon (above) says it all. We’re living in an age of “subjective sovereignty,” where life is “all the feels” and emotional offense is king. It is a time less describable by policy discord and differences of opinion, but instead by vindictive joy and holy rage. Arguments are couched in first-person noise—disagreements have the sting of personal attacks—which means the arguments are, on the whole, harder to argue or critique. As we’ve become “touchier” about the things we care about, the logic behind those sensitivities has also faded.

This trend goes hand in hand with another trend that’s been provoked, namely, that America is only becoming more spiritually bankrupt/unmoored. David Brooks recently wrote along these lines, that

Religious frameworks no longer organize public debate. Secular philosophies that grew out of the Enlightenment have fallen apart. We have words and emotional instincts about what feels right and wrong, but no settled criteria to help us think, argue and decide.

You’d think this would lead to the age of great moral relativism, where all the objective strictures are let go and the only mantra remaining is “You Do You.” But this hasn’t happened. Instead, Brooks writes, “society has become a free-form demolition derby of moral confrontation.” It seems we feel so much, but we can’t seem to agree on why we feel it and who’s to blame.

So the answer, of course, is to get some Truth, right? Get to church! Fall on the Rock! God provides the mooring—the why behind your hurt—and the cross gives you your scapegoat. The Good News gives you your needed justification.

But what do you do with all that rage? Therapy? I don’t know about you, but the term “therapeutic” has always bristled—it sounds like the hippy-dippy opposite of “grounded” or “objective.” It sounds a lot more like “You Do You”—do what feels good to you. But this is largely a misunderstanding, mostly because of counseling that truly hasn’t helped. Just as God gives us the Good News, God also administers his healing in the gracious counsel of another.

With the help of some of our favorites, let’s look into the relationship between the objective News of the Gospel, and very subjective (though no-less-real) needs we carry around with us every day, and how those needs are addressed within the realm of pastoral care and counseling.

David Brooks Addresses the (Ecclesial) Cubs

Last Sunday, David Brooks gave a remarkable sermon (or talk) at the National Cathedral in DC. There’s a lot of wonderful stuff in here, addressing both our “moment”–the attenuation, the loneliness, the over-politicization, the blandness of religion, the emotional avoidance–but more than that as well. If you stick with it til the end (and you can get past some of the agency language), you may even find he follows a bit of a familiar scheme, ht TB:

Another Week Ends: Robotic Employees, Free Speech Zones, Travel by Bubble, Carnival Culture, More Love, Less Self-Help, and Mary Tyler Moore

Another Week Ends: Robotic Employees, Free Speech Zones, Travel by Bubble, Carnival Culture, More Love, Less Self-Help, and Mary Tyler Moore

1. Ever feel like a robot at work? Well, the good news is, it’s the weekend so maybe you can hit your off-switch.

The bad news comes from an article John Harris wrote in The Guardian, “Digital giants are turning workers into robots.” It’s about increasingly invasive programs which monitor work ethic. Eugh.

The US retail chain Target announced in 2015 that Fitbit trackers were to be offered to its 335,000 workers, as part of its embrace of what the business vernacular calls “corporate wellness programmes”. As things stand, workers who opt to have their metabolisms monitored are organised into teams who compete to raise money for charity. Just…

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Another Week Ends: More Meritocracy, Hakuna Matata Election, Dating Apocalypse, Loving Psychos, The Ambush of Grief, and Irresponsible Gender Equity

Another Week Ends: More Meritocracy, Hakuna Matata Election, Dating Apocalypse, Loving Psychos, The Ambush of Grief, and Irresponsible Gender Equity

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with Zac Hicks, author of the brand new book The Worship Pastor.

1. In a great piece called “Meritocracy Is Exhausting,” from The Atlantic (ht DT), Victor Tan Chen explains how a society built on reward can be not only tiresome but also inescapable. Chen says that the cogs of America rely increasingly on “performance reviews,” synthesized by “data-gathering technologies.” He cites behavior tracking apps, marketing algorithms, and online review forums as just a few examples. Such technologies, or “models,” have obvious flaws: namely reinforcing a sense of supremacy among certain groups.

Even…

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Another Week Ends: Dirty Jobs, 70s Moms, Debt Collectors, Doing What You Love, "Doing Life," and Yes, Gospel Rappin'

Another Week Ends: Dirty Jobs, 70s Moms, Debt Collectors, Doing What You Love, “Doing Life,” and Yes, Gospel Rappin’

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with friend/broadcaster Erik Guzman, author of The Seed: A True Myth.

1. Okay okay okay. Forget about the nay-sayers for a moment, forget about the fact that the whole game-show giveaway presentation was a bit of a false display. Maybe John Oliver was only saving people from a few nasty calls, a few petty, unusable debts—I don’t care, it was still a cool moment for television. And so much better than Oprah’s big giveaway. Forgiveness of debts long run cold. If you haven’t watched the segment,…

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Another Week Ends: Bad Luck, Egyptian Daggers from Outer Space, Piety Vacuums, The Golden Calf of College, Eulogy-Virtues, Spiritual Shins, and Baptist Justice

Another Week Ends: Bad Luck, Egyptian Daggers from Outer Space, Piety Vacuums, The Golden Calf of College, Eulogy-Virtues, Spiritual Shins, and Baptist Justice

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with author and film critic Alissa Wilkinson.

1. This week New York Magazine covered the fascinating tug-of-war between meritocracy and luck in modern culture. Entitled, “Why Americans Ignore the Role of Luck in Everything,” the article discusses the inflammatory remarks of Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell, who said that luck plays a more important role in success than we like to think.

The article explores what luck is and why we tend to react so negatively to any serious mention of it. First of all, because we don’t know…

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The Gospel's Steady Work of Reversal

The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

David Brooks’ most recent op-ed discusses the late career of Ernest Hemingway, how he became in his later years “a prisoner of his own celebrity.” Hemingway was a famous writer by 25 and by middle age he was simply “playing at being Ernest Hemingway.” Of course, this is where most of us might roll our eyes, and say few are so lucky. It’d be nice to a prisoner to your laurels instead of your demons. But when it comes down to it, Brooks isn’t just talking about fame. He is instead talking about works righteousness in a most literal sense: that becoming righteous (or noteworthy,…

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Who Will Save Us From Our Shame?

Who Will Save Us From Our Shame?

For anyone who went to college in the last quarter of the 20th century you’ll be well aware of the rise of what was called “moral relativism”, i.e. the loss of absolute standards of right or wrong and the rise of the moral choice or preference of the individual. Equally esteemed or feared, particularly within Christian circles, this do-it-yourself morality was the talk of the nation.

The moral winds, though, appear to be shifting. And in a recent opinion piece David Brooks suggests that the once formidable doctrine of moral relativism has slowly become a passing fad with the increase of…

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Another Week Ends: (More) Addiction, Infidelity and Death, and Music to Get You Through It All

Another Week Ends: (More) Addiction, Infidelity and Death, and Music to Get You Through It All

1. This week, The NY Times made the astute observation that the new buzzword, “moment,” reflects something significant about the human condition. You need only glance at headlines to see how the word is being used—as far as media coverage goes, a “moment” is usually something trending, anything that garners fifteen minutes of fame. It could be a celebrity or a musical group; there are election moments and hurricane moments and Kanye moments. The article explains:

No nexus of events is too large or heterogeneous — no geopolitical weather too swirlingly turbulent — to avoid being reduced to the…

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Another Week Ends: More Paglia, More Brooks, Plus Bullies, Hipsters, Tattoos, and To-Dos

Another Week Ends: More Paglia, More Brooks, Plus Bullies, Hipsters, Tattoos, and To-Dos

1) A provocative new study from The National Post sheds some new light on contemporary understandings of bullying in schools and beyond. The focus of the conversation stems from the (argued) misconception that bullies are socially maladapted, due to some underlying issues at home. The role of schools, then, is to combat these tendencies with positive and negative reinforcements upon their behavior—carrots and sticks.

The new study in Canada finds, to the contrary, that bullies are better adapted to their environment—more socially adept than their peers, less likely to be depressed, and more likely to have higher social status and self-esteem…

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David Brooks Goes to the Basement

David Brooks Goes to the Basement

A buzzword like “character” could mean just about anything you want it to mean. Like a lot of reclaimed, lofty words from Ancient Greece or Rome — virtue, beauty, culture — character has picked up a lot of fuzz along the way, enough to become a proverbial lightning rod for just about any self-help guru and pop academic and thought-leader under the sun. Which is why David Brooks’ newest title, The Road to Character, did not exactly grab me like the earlier Bobos in Paradise. It sounded too much like the kind of book a dad pushes on an eighteen-year-old graduate. Or an HR executive plants in her office giftbags.

But Brooks is…

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Another Week Ends: Victim Purity, Atheologies, CCM, HuffPost, Clutter Craze, and Brad Bird

Another Week Ends: Victim Purity, Atheologies, CCM, HuffPost, Clutter Craze, and Brad Bird

1) One of the books on the Mockingbird bookshelf right now is Violence Unveiled, by Gil Bailie, which looks into the philosophy of René Girard. A prime focus of the book stems from Girard’s “Violence and the Sacred,” where Girard looks at the cross of Christ as the origin of human concern for ‘the victim.’ This cruciform concern, since then, has headlined much of history. Bailie writes:

“However savagely we behave, and however wickedly and selectively we wield this moral gavel, protecting or rescuing innocent victims has become the cultural imperative everywhere the biblical influence has been felt. Both our Mother…

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