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Posts tagged "Death"

Empathy in Sorrow, Freedom in Truth: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Empathy in Sorrow, Freedom in Truth: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Here’s a look at George Saunders’ new and acclaimed book, Lincoln in the Bardo (appropriately released just in time for these days of Lenten journey). This review was written by Ethan Richardson & CJ Green.

…As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave.

— Milton, Samson Agonistes

The first two pages of Lincoln in the Bardo detail a charming, Beauty-and-the-Beast kind of love story, albeit in a very George Saunders style: an older, overweight, lame-legged, toothless printer, a beautiful and young woman, their arranged marriage. The…

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The Magic in Magical Thinking

The Magic in Magical Thinking

“…conscious uncoupling…”

“…and Mexico will pay for it!”

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We cannot help it. Humans desperately need to square the circle. I want to find a cosmic thread or Special Sauce that allows the New York Football Giants to somehow, over about 6 coaching changes and zillions of players post-LT/Simms, to somehow get to the Super Bowl every year.

That is Magical Thinking.

But not every illogical extrapolation is as delusional as the Giants making the Super Bowl in the next few years. Not all desire-driven reality-bnding is magical. Heroin, smoking, and bacon have no objective merit: to…

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On “Omniscient” Narrators: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse”

On “Omniscient” Narrators: W.C. Heinz’s “Death of a Racehorse”

Sportswriters are not generally awarded the prestigious seats at writer’s guild meetings. But when the Library of America brings out a collection of your sportswriting, as they did for W.C. Heinz, the guild must make an exception. Imagine what Heinz’s reportorial eyes witnessed —  the right crosses of Rocky Marciano, the mercurial shouts of Vince Lombardi, and the sweet swing of Stan Musial (not to mention the Battle of the Bulge). Writing his best work at mid-20th century, Heinz bridged the golden era of sportswriters like Grantland Rice with the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe. His boxing novel (“The…

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Another Week Ends: Go Cubs Go!, Cormac McCarthy, Dead Mothers, Email Tics, Teen Depression, and the Church of McDonalds

Another Week Ends: Go Cubs Go!, Cormac McCarthy, Dead Mothers, Email Tics, Teen Depression, and the Church of McDonalds

1. Lots of Cubs love to be had this week. First, if you didn’t see the incredibly sweet line up of grandma and grandpa reactions on NPR this week, go there first.

And then there’s Bill Murray, at it again, giving a free Game Six ticket to a stranger from Indiana. And it was a ticket to sit right next to him!

And as if we needed any sort of Mockingbird defense of the whole spectacle—or of the whole spectacle of sports fanmanship overall—a great Science of Us bit about the power of sports teams to vicariously represent us. As the article…

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Studies Show…That Happiness Is a Waste of Time

Studies Show…That Happiness Is a Waste of Time

© sunlight cardigan CC-BY 2.0

For years, I lived with the nagging thought that my melancholy, pessimism, and cynicism were taking years off my life. I did not arrive at that conclusion based on research or conviction; I absorbed it from the assumption, endemic in American culture, that subjective positivity improves objective markers of healthfulness. Once my therapy regimen broke through the fog of clinical depression, I saw the difference between truly unhealthy behaviors and an intractable melancholy disposition. Even though I feel mentally healthier, will my lack of optimism or positive thinking kill me?

A recent study published in The…

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The Secret – Christian Wiman

From his new collection of poems, Once in the West.

Creeping_Ivy_2_by_TudorxRoseDaily higher the ivy dies,
Leaf by leaf subsiding white
Like a secret that seems to rise
Through vein and vine up to his eyes
And the green of what remains.
In spite of books and better light,
In spite of air and what friends say,
A rare arrested day, brief shoots,
In spite of all he cuts away:
From the ground up to the shelf,
From the leaves into the roots,
In spite of everything he tries,
Utterly the ivy tells itself.

Control Is Just an Illusion, But Love Casts Out Fear (in Disney’s Frozen)

Control Is Just an Illusion, But Love Casts Out Fear (in Disney’s Frozen)

This deeply personal, honest, and insightful reflection on Disney’s Frozen – and our love affair with control – comes from our friend Brandi Midkiff.

Lots of people sneer at the Control Freak archetype. I do not understand these people. They seem to think loss of control would be a good time—like a roller coaster, perhaps, which is actually a tightly controlled construct when functioning correctly and not killing people. Also people choose whether or not to get on the thing, thereby exercising control; so this is not the best illustration, though I see it used a lot.

Loss of control is not an…

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Brief Thoughts on the Great, Soon-to-Be-Late Poirot

Brief Thoughts on the Great, Soon-to-Be-Late Poirot

Next week, after nearly 25 years, ITV’s Agatha Christie-based Poirot draws to an end. Now just in case you start to think I’m more cultured than I actually am, I want to be clear that I have never watched a single episode of Poirot. It falls under the category of “shows my Dad tells me I should be watching that are usually British.” However, a recent article in the Telegraph has moved me to catch at least the end of this well-loved Agatha Christie series and perhaps to then start from the beginning.

On November 13th actor David Suchet will put the eccentric,…

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A Totally Biased Review of Robert Farrar Capon’s Between Noon and Three

A Totally Biased Review of Robert Farrar Capon’s Between Noon and Three

There are precious few books that elicit tears; even fewer books of theology. Walker Percy echoed T.S. Eliot’s “dissociation of sensibility” in saying that the modern person “cannot think and feel at the same time.” Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace, named for the period of darkness just before Christ’s death, comes as close as any contemporary book I’ve read to proving Percy wrong. Robert Farrar Capon, that masterful connoisseur of grace, weaves together thinking and feeling, storytelling and theology, in what he described as “a watershed experience… the most important piece of writing I have ever done.” At…

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The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

[Spoiler Alert – those who haven’t seen it, run don’t walk…it’s fantastic!]

“All their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest.”   -Ecclesiastes 2:23

“Put your sword back in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”   -Matthew 26.52

Nolan has now traced the Dark Knight’s journey from streetfighter to hero, from hero to villain, and from villain to…recluse. Wayne has died to the world and only holds on to the shadow-life of mourning for Rachel, and Alfred drops more than a few hints that…

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von Balthasar on Buddhism; or, Zen and Jesus

von Balthasar on Buddhism; or, Zen and Jesus

A well-known 20th-century Catholic theologian on non-Christian religions:

Because through his faith and love Socrates – perfectly and to the point of folly – subordinated his existence to the daimon within him, he can be an intimation of Christ: he points to the divine by himself being a highway for the divine. The same could be said of Buddha or Lao Tzu. It is from their lived doctrine that Zen developed, the essence of which is to give practical training in how to transcend one’s own consciousness, how to make the finite spirit a vessel of the infinite Spirit – a flute…

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John Donne: Holy Sonnets (1)

John Donne: Holy Sonnets (1)

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou…

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