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Posts tagged "Francis Spufford"

Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

1. First up, Amy Larocca over at The Cut delves into “The Wellness Epidemic,” ht CB:

Paltrow began to describe in detail her exercise regimen with her trainer Tracy Anderson, who believes one should work out two hours a day, six days a week. Then she began providing information on a cleanse she does each January. The mission became less about revealing the trappings of the good life and more about the notion that the really good life is internal. Rich and beautiful people don’t just go to nicer places, their organs work better. They even know how to breathe better, with more…

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Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, "Spiritual" Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, “Spiritual” Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

1. I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman who became supremely concerned over whether or not I would work on the 4th of July. “Surely you’ll take off a federal holiday,” she intoned. I admitted that I probably would but hadn’t made any plans yet. That wasn’t enough to defuse the tizzy that followed, an agonized cascade of complaints about workaholism, how young people these days are married to their jobs. “I get it,” she lamented; “there are ladders to climb, there’s money to save. But is work all there is?”

This week, B.D. McClay asked a similar question…

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When #adulting Gets Real: A Christian Response to Suffering

When #adulting Gets Real: A Christian Response to Suffering

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that at least once in the past three years, I have used the hashtag #adulting without the least bit of sarcasm. We were on a weekend trip with two other couples to Pittsburgh, where we visited the Warhol museum, ate at a nice restaurant, and drove out to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. It was a totally stereotypical weekend trip for millennials, and we knew it. But #adulting felt fun. We felt “mature.” Yet in reality, we were less “being adults” and more “playing” at some version of what we thought it meant to be…

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What Kids Can Teach Us About Screens

What Kids Can Teach Us About Screens

Devorah Heitner, who was interviewed on our podcast back in October, recently wrote an interesting article on the themes from her book, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. The kids in the piece demonstrate quite a grasp of the ambiguities and pitfalls of constant connectivity.

Heitner’s stance is that children are “digital natives” – this is the water they grow up swimming in. While generous towards their sometimes excessive usage, she also recognizes the hand of the Law in the social media landscape. Here, she addresses the tight-rope walk of curating an appealing online self-image: “Middle school…

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This Is Us, Unfortunately

This Is Us, Unfortunately

Golden Globe-nominated This Is Us follows the lives of triplets Kate, Kevin, and Randall. Kate and Kevin were the two surviving babies of a triplet pregnancy, and their parents, Rebecca and Jack, were determined to bring home three babies. Enter Randall: a black baby who had been left at the fire station by his biological father on the same day the other two were born. As the story unfolds during each episode, viewers get a glimpse into each character’s past and therefore a deeper understanding of their present—and an ever-increasing attachment to the characters themselves.

Unlike most entertainment today (including reality TV),…

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A Royal Progress and a Parody of a Royal Progress

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How better to kick off Holy Week than with Francis Spufford’s memorable description of the Triumphal Entry, via Unapologetic?

They arrive at the walls, but it’s too late in the evening for the entrance Yeshua has in mind, so they wait till the next day in the straggly settlement outside the gates. Then in they go, Yeshua and the nucleus of twenty or so men and women who have been following him about. The narrow stone streets are packed with visitors who’ve come in from the province for the biggest festival of the year, a festival of death averted, in which the people of the one God remember how he saved them by smiting the rest; and the visitors see, well, something like a parade, with Yeshua riding on a borrowed donkey, and the friends around him shouting make way, make way. Who’s this? It’s another bloody prophet. It’s that crazy preacher who says we don’t need the law. It’s the rabbi from up north who heals people. What, the river-dipping one? No, he’s dead. This is another one. It’s a kind! Rubbish, kings ride on horses, not donkeys. But there are prophecies about donkeys. Maybe he’s the one. Oh come on. This fellow? Where’s his sword? It’s the king, it’s the king! Keep your voice down, idiot. Better get the children indoors, just in case.

Is it a king? The scene is hard to read. It’s like a royal progress and a parody of a royal progress, all at once. Yeshua is doing exactly what a christos would do if he were making a momentum play, gambling on snowballing crowd support. Yet the details are off-script somehow, from the donkey, to the way that only some of the friends seem to be shouting the slogans you’d expect, to the way that the man himself doesn’t have his face set in the shining megawatt mask of charisma. It isn’t clear what’s happening. But something is, and though only a portion of the crowd are young enough, or hopeful enough, or desperate enough, or unwary enough, to give Yeshua their acclaim, quite a lot of them are curious enough to follow and see what comes next: for the parade, or procession, or whatever it is, is clearly heading for the temple, up the twisting alleyways to the top of the city, and.. into the wide forecourt of the one God’s most sacred place…

Yeshua looks around. He sees the doves in their wicker cages, and the half-grown spring lambs in their straw, and the nervous cattle sidling, kept perpetually antsy by the smell of blood that drifts out of the temple’s doors. He sees the money-change stalls where, before you can even buy your animal for the sacrifice, you have to swap the emperor’s dirty coinage for the temple’s own clean currency, good nowhere else. He sees the whole apparatus for keeping this one little walled acre of ground separate from the compromised, colonized world outside. And he begins to shout. Do you call this pure? Do you think any of this keeps you clean? Do you think any of this keeps that at bay?–waving his arms out at the city, the hills, the entire empire. Nothing is pure! This is the house of the loving father who welcomes home his lost children! This is the house of my father, and your father! Do you think you can sell his forgiveness? Do you think there is a price for peace with him? It cannot be bought! It cannot be sold! It can only be given! These are thieves! They promise you are buying what can only be given! God gives freely! (pgs 134-136)

To wit, a few days later, ht JE:

Francis Spufford on the Cruel Optimism of an Atheist Bus

Francis Spufford on the Cruel Optimism of an Atheist Bus

Another wonderful passage from the introduction of our 2014 NYC Conference speaker’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.

Take the well-known slogan on the atheist bus in London. I know, I know, that’s an utterance by the hardcore hobbyists of unbelief, but in this particular case they’re pretty much stating the ordinary wisdom of everyday disbelief. The atheist bus says: “There’s probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.” All right: which word here is the questionable one, the aggressive one, the one that parts company with recognisable human experience so fast it doesn’t…

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Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

There was a time in Christianity when approval could be gotten for free, when repeating X orthodox arguments against y heretics would, no matter how pandering to existing consensus or intellectually unoriginal, garner adulation. I think back to poor Tigranes, the Armenian king who was facing attack from the Romans in the first century. A messenger warned him and was killed, so subsequent messengers brought only assurances, and they spent several weeks in a nice, Armenian echo chamber. All voices concurred and dissent punished by exile or death (back to the RC church now), and this singleness of mind, leading…

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The Adventures of the Holy Ghost: “Clarity”

Yet another delightful internet find, this time via former Conference Speaker, Francis Spufford. It’s the comic strip, “The Adventures of the Holy Ghost”, humorously featuring the third-person of the trinity personified in ghostly form. There are a number of highlights, but I found the below, “Clarity”, to be pretty spot on take on Luke 18:

HG comic

Bonus: check out this gem as well! The rest of John hendrix’s work looks pretty amazing too.

On Not Being C.S. Lewis – Francis Spufford

A highlight, if not the highlight of our recent NYC Conference had to be Francis’ talk from Saturday morning. A true must-watch for anyone interested in speaking/writing/talking about Christianity in a modern context, as well as (what we would like to think are) our animating principles:

On Not Being C.S. Lewis ~ Francis Spufford from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Can You Say the Creed (and Still Call Your Soul Your Own)? – Francis Spufford

Conference videos are ready! Up first is Francis’ talk from Friday evening:

Can You Say the Creed (and Still Call your Soul Your Own)? ~ Francis Spufford from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Glimmers of Civilization (and Grace) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

I was bonding with a friend in New York last week over our mutual affection for the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. After swapping a few favorite lines, he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “So how’re you going to shoe-horn this one into your theological framework?” Quick wit that I am, I responded, “A story about adoption and inheritance that ends with an act of radical self-sacrifice – probably won’t need my shoehorn for this one”. Badabing! Obnoxious, I know. What’s even more obnoxious is that I’d been thinking for days about Grand Budapest and…

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