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Posts tagged "Failure"

Sharks in the Water: In the Event of a Failure (on Good Friday)

Sharks in the Water: In the Event of a Failure (on Good Friday)

I come from a pretty competitive family, so it should have been no surprise to find them enjoying the latest season of Shark Tank. Of this show’s many seductions — the edge-of-your-seat deliberations, the outlandish pitches (looking at you, Pinot Meow) — the biggest hook may be the sense of judgment hovering throughout each episode: a trembling entrepreneur stands up and pitches his or her idea before a squad of potential investors — the sharks! — who decide whether or not the business is worth their money.

The show’s producer, Mark Burnett, made an appearance at Unpolished 2015, an entrepreneurship conference described by Mya Frazier in her recent Bloomberg article, “What Would Jesus Disrupt?”…

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Unshackle the Should: An Overlong Post on the Art of Failure (and the Failure of Art)

Unshackle the Should: An Overlong Post on the Art of Failure (and the Failure of Art)

I had the honor of presenting earlier this week at “The Art of Failure” event here in Charlottesville, alongside Invisbilia co-host Lulu Miller and musician Devon Sproule. You can listen to all of the recordings on the Christ Church site, but here’s the modified/edited transcript, the first portion of which is adapted from A Mess of Help. Sincerest thanks to New City Arts and The Garage for co-sponsoring! What a fabulous evening.

In 1966, The Walker Brothers reportedly had a bigger fan club in the UK than The Beatles. Boggles the mind but it’s the truth, or close to it. The…

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Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Most of what lives on bookstore shelves marked “Christian” should actually be marked “Self Help with the Name Jesus Thrown In” (I’m looking at you, Osteen). But John Newton’s latest book, Falling Into Grace: Exploring Our Inner Life with God begins not with us climbing the corporate ladder to the Kingdom, but with us falling. In fact, Newton makes it pretty clear from the beginning:

“This book is an invitation to let yourself fall. It’s a reminder that because you’re already home free from the beginning, any fall can always be a fall into grace. And so don’t expect to find within these…

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Five Golden...Themes! What We Loved Writing about in 2015

Five Golden…Themes! What We Loved Writing about in 2015

As we blanket our house with nic-nacs and expensive toys, it’s the perfect time to look back at the things that matter—or the things that mattered—or the things that at least we thought mattered at the time—to us this year. Here are Five Golden Themes for 2015—repeated stories and obsessions that didn’t just creep into the collective cultural psyche, but seemed to define it, for better or worse.

Performancism and Suicide. I had to check and make sure this hadn’t been on one of our previous year-end roundups. I thought surely, with all the times we’ve written about “the epidemic,” this…

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Failure in a Society that Celebrates Triumphalism

HONY

If you don’t know Humans of New York, it’s one of the few creative things worth following on Facebook. It is curated by a guy named Brandon who simply collects quotes and photos of the people he meets (mostly in New York City), posting them on his blog and social media. He has a huge following. I was struck by a recent post. It’s a down-to-earth presentation of a theology of the Cross versus one of glory:

“I’ve written so many stories and novellas that nobody will look at, plays that I can’t get produced, screenplays that will never be made. Everything is so branded these days in the art world, it’s so hard for an outsider to get work.”

“In what way would you consider yourself an ‘outsider?’”

I’m interested in failure, so those are the themes that I like to explore. But we live in a society that celebrates triumphalism. A society wants art that reaffirms itself. We want to read about characters that win.

“What was your lowest moment as an artist?”

“I worked on a screenplay for two years, and it had just been turned down by the fifth theater in a month, and I remember walking down 5th avenue in the middle of winter, tossing the pages one by one into the slush, vowing never to do it again. It was just a few blocks from here, actually.”

Failed Confessions of a Success-o-holic

Failed Confessions of a Success-o-holic

We’re told that learning how to handle failure is an important part of growing up. Yet we do everything we can to make sure our kids never experience it. What did Samuel Beckett actually mean when he told us to “fail better”? And what does it have to do–if anything–with the theology of the cross? All this and (not) much more!

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King...or "Prince"

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

Yes, that’s Prince holding a scepter while watching Rafael Nadal play at the French Open this past weekend. Larry David rocked a cape in a Seinfeld episode, but it didn’t catch on. I’m not holding out hope for the scepter as a fashion accessory fad, but I’m kind of rooting for it. Best line in the USA Today article? – “Meanwhile, the folks at Prince, the tennis equipment company, looked at Prince watching tennis and couldn’t believe they never made this connection before.” Nadal seemed to respond well to the presence of “royalty”, making quick work of his opponent in…

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The Difference Between Your Business Card and Your Mother

When it comes to articulating religious insights in secular terms, no one does it better than philosopher Alain de Botton, AKA he of Religion for Atheists fame. We’ve written about his rather Bultmannian genius before, but none of that prepared me for the TED talk he gave in 2009 about notions of success (and failure). Whereas elsewhere he mines Christian wisdom more generally, here he goes straight for law and grace, albeit in their aggressively lower-cased forms. The conclusion may naturally be a little fuzzy/abrupt–be sure to listen to the Q&A–the diagnosis is absolutely stunning. If you’re at all like me, you’ll be hooked from the first sentence, ht JD:

Speaking of de Botton, much to his credit, when asked by The New Statesman to select his favorite book of 2012, he went with the following:

This year, I was touched by Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. As a non-Christian, indeed a committed atheist, I was worried about how I’d feel about this book but it pulled off a rare feat: making Christianity seem appealing to those who have no interest in ever being Christians. A number of Christian writers have over the past decade tried to write books defending their faith against the onslaughts of the new atheists – but they’ve generally failed. Spufford understands that the trick isn’t to try to convince the reader that Christianity is true but rather to show why it’s interesting, wise and sometimes consoling.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to link to Alan Jacobs’ rave review of the same liked-it-so-much-we-invited-the-author-to-speak-book, which just went live on the Books & Culture website.

Another Week Ends: OWL Pushback, Antihero Armstrong, Pearls for Gleason, New McCartney, Ambitious Slackers, Space Cowboys, Food-Profiling, and Dilbert's Failure

Another Week Ends: OWL Pushback, Antihero Armstrong, Pearls for Gleason, New McCartney, Ambitious Slackers, Space Cowboys, Food-Profiling, and Dilbert’s Failure

1. Yesterday I mentioned the name-dropping op-ed that appeared on the Washington Post, Tullian Tchividjian’s “The Missing Message in Today’s Churches.” It’s fine little piece, notable as much for where it was published as what it is saying, most of which will be familiar to readers of this site:

“Too many churches perpetuate the impression that Christianity is primarily concerned with morality. As my colleague David Zahl has written, ‘Christianity is not about good people getting better. It is about real people coping with their failure to be good.’ The heart of the Christian faith is Good News not good behavior….

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The Mercilessness of College Football's Win-Now Age

The Mercilessness of College Football’s Win-Now Age

What an interesting time it is for college football. Lane Kiffin and Paul Pasqualoni were fired from their jobs last week–Kiffin from USC and Pasqualoni from UConn–after only three years of coaching. After The University of Southern California suffered a loss to Arizona State this past Saturday, Kiffin was let go. Finishing his career at USC with a 28-15 record amid difficult NCAA sanctions, Kiffin’s coaching at USC isn’t universally perceived as failure. For USC athletics, and their fans, however, it’s failure with a capital F. ESPN’s Ted Miller says it best:

The problem with coaching USC is you’re coaching USC. If you…

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Mariano Rivera and Success Made Memorable by a Failure

Mariano Rivera and Success Made Memorable by a Failure

As a Red Sox fan, the many laws of sports kinship demand I hate Yanks closer Mariano Rivera. But the reality is, while I’ve watched him shutdown countless potential Sox comebacks, I’ve always respected him. Then the other day The Atlantic ran this article on his blown save in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks. This is the moment that shattered his aura of invincibility. When Rivera came into the game with the Yankees leading, the Championship seemed like a lock.

Whenever Rivera, often referred to as the Hammer of God for the merciless manner in which…

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Another Week Ends: Merciful Pontifex, Louis CK's Daughters, Winning Losers, Seinfeld Movies, Dairy Queen Grace, and Whitewashing Walter

Another Week Ends: Merciful Pontifex, Louis CK’s Daughters, Winning Losers, Seinfeld Movies, Dairy Queen Grace, and Whitewashing Walter

1. This guy! No doubt you’ve seen it elsewhere, but a must-read interview with Pope Francis I appeared this week in which the undeniably humble and surprisingly sympathetic Bishop of Rome articulated something like a new poetics of faith. Ironically enough, most pundits have jumped on his decidedly apolitical focus as evidence of some political agenda or other, but to these ears it just sounds like heartfelt Christianity of the most non-churchy variety. His comments aren’t easy to pare down, but if we had to put together a Mockingbird highlight reel, it would probably look like this:

I ask Pope Francis…

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