1. First off, a timely rejoinder to our many social-media-is-making-us-lonely posts from Paul Miller on The Verge, entitled “I’m Still Here: Back Online After A Year Without Internet”. As the title suggests, Miller unplugged for a solid year, partly as an assignment to try to discover how technology, and the Internet in particular, had affected him (and us) over time. He reports that while the experience was initially incredibly freeing, he eventually found himself right back where he started, i.e. his new habits became just as constraining as the old ones. In theological terms, you might say that Paul’s story…
Another Week Ends: Techno-Fasting, Google Glass, Tiger Babies, Missional Burnouts, Serrano’s Backfire, Powell’s Joy, and Family Tree
I saw a tree inside a tree
as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close
to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit
that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind
haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision
over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.
Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would
(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow
even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,
that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.
To listen to Christian doing an astounding reading of an astounding poem, go here.
Another Week Ends: Abercrombie’s Hot People, The Neverending “Me Me Me” Era, George Jones’ “Choices,” Katharine Welby, New TV, and New Vampire Weekend
1) The Atlantic provided an insightful zinger to the finger-waggers of today’s adultescent. Looking at today’s young people, of whom I am one—blogging away, shoes off—the piece is a response to the recent cover article of Time magazine, “The Me Me Me Generation.” The Time piece is a backhanded spotlight on the millennials, a heat-ray at their unique and insipid self-absorption, their phones, their extended stays at home. Contrary to this, Elspeth Reeve writes that the Me, Me, Me Generation is every generation—that we’ve been locating (and writing about) the narcissism of youth since we’ve written. She then delineates a…
1. Forgiveness and apology seems to be a theme in the news as of late, or at least it was prior to Monday’s heartbreaking news from Boston. CNN’s belief blog highlighted the story of one man’s quest to forgive and restore the man who killed his brother when they were teens. I found the story enlightening as it ping-ponged between the two poles of forgiveness by grace (the victim’s brother) and forgiveness by works righteousness (the recently released killer). Quote: “I think for me, forgiveness will come in doing good works, trying to help others. But as far as forgiving…
In this month’s issue of The Atlantic, critic Christopher Orr asks, “Why Are Romantic Comedies So Bad?” He kicks off by quoting well known rom-com producer Lynda Obst, who recently claimed that this year has been “the hardest time of my 30 years in the business.” As an outspoken fan of the genre, I can’t say that I hadn’t noticed the decline in both quantity and quality these last few years. Normally February is chock-full of solid if formulaic romantic comedies, but the pickings are particularly slim this cycle. In fact, when The Onion published its fake headline earlier this…
Another Week Ends: Poptropica Love, Retrospective Bullies, Foolish Proof, Colbert Logs, Lucille Bluth, and the Nabokov-Anderson Connection
1) Club Penguin is one of several multimedia and game sites geared towards tweens from the ages of seven to twelve. Club Penguin itself has over 200 million registered users worldwide, and was purchased by Disney not long ago. And there are plenty of others: Poptropica, Wee World, Moshi Monsters, Fantage. Alongside the sheer breadth of these programs’ appeal to children, they also seem to picking up the tendencies of commensurate older-kid web lives. In other words, 8-year-old kids are getting boyfriends and girlfriends online, ht JD.
Kids pair off by asking “say 123 if u want me” and break up…
“You ask for these special powers to achieve these heights, and now you got it and you want to give it back, but you can’t…I drove myself so much that I’m still living with some of those drives…I don’t know how to get rid of it.”
These are the words of a 50-year-old Michael Jordan, in an interview with ESPN’s Wright Thompson this past week. The name of the article ESPN released is “Jordan Has Not Left the Building: As He Turns 50, MJ Is Wondering If There Are Any More Asses to Kick.” There is an illustration of a Bulls-era…
People are calling it “Beyoncé-gate.” Did she or did she not lip-sync the Inauguration’s National Anthem? If she didn’t, what was the fuss with the Marine Corps Band–who first said she had a backup track, and then “backed off” that earlier claim? What about that picture of her on Tumblr, hooked into her laptop, in her Inaugural get-up? What about the London Post, saying she had “switched tracks?” What about the fact that she never rehearsed with the Marine Corps Band? If she did lip-sync, well, doesn’t that say something about her?
The Atlantic has been stirring the pot with an…
Another Week Ends: Helpful Selves, Happy Meanings, Simple Saints, Good Bishops, Beloved Zombies and Portland Missionaries
1. Kathryn Schulz (of Being Wrong fame) wrote an article for New York Magazine that’ll get your motors running, “The Self in Self-Help.” It’s a bit of a conceptual quagmire to be honest, esp for those of us who consider God to be more than a metaphor, but it’s also pretty fun. Positively jammed with soundbites, a few of which include:
[The master theory of self-help] goes like this: Somewhere below or above or beyond the part of you that is struggling with weight loss or procrastination or whatever your particular problem might be, there is another part of you that…
I haven’t read anything by Jim Shepard but man, that’s going to change. His seasonally appropriate rumination on Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” that appeared on The Atlantic last week is just so deeply encouraging. He articulates O’Connor’s crucial insight about how/why people change with such humility and precision, i.e the notion that conversions are not a one-time thing–far from it–but that that doesn’t make them any less real or good. His observation about the relative impotence of information is also pretty striking, both as it relates to life in general and literature in specific. To…
Another Year Ends: Evangelical Decline, more Les Mis, Tebow Absurdity, Anxious Parents, The Hobbit, Apatow in Crisis, Millenial Affirmations and A Muppet Family Christmas
1. An uncommonly insightful piece by John Dickerson appeared in The NY Times about “The Decline of Evangelical America.” Writing as an evangelical himself, Dickerson recites some jarring statistics before launching into a sympathetic and genuinely hopeful conclusion, ht SZ:
In 2007, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, in a survey of 1,300 college professors, found that 3 percent held “unfavorable feelings” toward Jews, 22 percent toward Muslims and 53 percent toward evangelical Christians…
The core evangelical belief is that love and forgiveness are freely available to all who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the “good news” from which the…
One of the recent trending articles over at The Atlantic’s website is one entitled, “Single People Should Get to Have Weddings Too.” It’s not the first time they’ve talked explicitly about the singlehood issue. This time they claim that the “extraordinary rise of living alone” as “the biggest modern social change we’ve yet to identify,” describing its liberating appeal and the trenchant cultural norms standing in its way. Adult lives, Millie Kerr writes, are judged on benchmarks beyond singlehood—marriage, babies, homebuying—which means single people don’t get celebrated. She asks, “When will barometers of celebration reflect the growing number of singletons?”