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Week In Review

Another Week Ends: The Loneliness Minister,  Divine Retribution, Sexual Misery, Lighthearted Poetry, Smart Pills, Astrology in the App Age, and David Bentley Hart's Grocery List

Another Week Ends: The Loneliness Minister, Divine Retribution, Sexual Misery, Lighthearted Poetry, Smart Pills, Astrology in the App Age, and David Bentley Hart’s Grocery List

1. This week brought some good news from the Old Country… In response to the increasingly acknowledged correlation between loneliness and physical deterioration/illness, the UK has appointed a minister for loneliness. I don’t know about you guys but, having grown up with a deep-seated appreciation for self-reliance, I couldn’t help getting a little smirky at this headline. But then, you can’t deny the humility in play here. Publicly admitting that not only is loneliness a legitimate problem but also that an entire nation is dangerously affected by it? That’s a pretty powerful admission of human need—which is in no way specifically…

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Another Week Ends: Breakfast with Dads, Dead Memoirist Romance, Twitter's Mercilessness, Sarah Silverman's Forgiveness, Metric Fixation, and the Wonder of Grace

Another Week Ends: Breakfast with Dads, Dead Memoirist Romance, Twitter’s Mercilessness, Sarah Silverman’s Forgiveness, Metric Fixation, and the Wonder of Grace

Click on the poster to see more about the Tyler Conference in February!

1. Lots of amazing stuff hitting our inbox this week, including this news story from a middle school in Dallas. After deciding to hold a “Breakfast with Dad” event at the school, teachers worried that many of the 150 students who signed up for the breakfast would be without their fathers. So they took to Facebook and Twitter, asking for 50 male volunteers to come in their stead for the fatherless boys. Amazingly, SIX HUNDRED dads came.

‘I will never forget witnessing the young students surrounded by supportive…

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Another Year Begins: Gracious Mosques, Chaotic Normals, Blizzard Bingo, (Re-)Moralized Sex and Perfectionist Students

Another Year Begins: Gracious Mosques, Chaotic Normals, Blizzard Bingo, (Re-)Moralized Sex and Perfectionist Students

1. How about we kick off 2018 with a pair of fresh instances of grace? First, there’s the story of a Baltimore city councilwoman who has become a mentor to the two boys who carjacked her last year. Beautiful stuff. But merely a precursor to the story of “The Vandal and the Mosque”, which you can listen to here. The gist: in late 2016, a poor young man in Arkansas named Abraham Davis, along with a couple friends, deface a local mosque in the most ugly fashion imaginable. He is caught and convicted of a felony, which means community service…

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Another Week Ends: Thomistic Burnout, Reforming Halloween, I'll Be Small for Christmas, Christian Book Parodies, and More Fleming Rutledge

Another Week Ends: Thomistic Burnout, Reforming Halloween, I’ll Be Small for Christmas, Christian Book Parodies, and More Fleming Rutledge

1. First up, the Angelic Doctor. Aquinas’s body of work has always been daunting to me, but I’d never realized just how prolific he was–an average of 4,000 words a day, by one reckoning. And one of the great unsung heroes of theology was his poor scribe Reginald, who faithfully took dictation almost continuously–imagine trying to scrawl out hundreds of words on the back of a donkey, traveling some unkempt road in thirteenth-century Europe, while your era’s leading theologian painstakingly uses Aristotelian metaphysics and encyclopedic scriptural knowledge to deduce the approximate size and weight of an angel. That’s how I…

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Another Week Ends: Burial Road, Rethinking Infidelity, Batman Smells, Curationism, the Anti-App, and the Absurdity of Hope

Another Week Ends: Burial Road, Rethinking Infidelity, Batman Smells, Curationism, the Anti-App, and the Absurdity of Hope

New episode of The Mockingcast (“Tis Better to Receive Than to Give”) now up on iTunes! Click here to subscribe.

1. Let’s begin with “The End,” The Times’ heartwrenching but incredibly moving series on death. This week’s entry, “The Heroes of Burial Road” by Catherine Porter, chronicles how, in response to unaffordable funeral costs and an unfathomable death rate, a shocking number of deceased Haitians have been left unburied. It’s a gut-punch of a story, terribly affecting, but, as with so many things of this weight, a swift flume for grace in practice.

Porter details the way a patchwork of various workers…

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Another Week Ends: Christmas Tree Frappes, Scrabble Therapy, Self-Esteem, Teenagers, Tech Angst, the Religion of Self-Hatred, and the Heroism of Tonya Harding

Another Week Ends: Christmas Tree Frappes, Scrabble Therapy, Self-Esteem, Teenagers, Tech Angst, the Religion of Self-Hatred, and the Heroism of Tonya Harding

1. A great story coming out of Modern Love this week, from Christie Tate, who talks about her ongoing conflation of relationships with accomplishment and success. After serially dating addicts and abusers, she starts going to a therapy group, and slowly comes to grips with the really vital ingredient: vulnerability. With the help of her group (and her therapist), she met her husband with whom she has a healthy marriage. Except for when her husband beat her at Scrabble. Losing at Scrabble, she soon realized, became an abreaction of sorts, a lens into all her previous ways of looking at…

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Another Week Ends: Justice and Revenge, Tiger's Comback, Fleming's Advent, 35 Year Old Thrillers, Avocado Toast, and Truly Terrible Movies

Another Week Ends: Justice and Revenge, Tiger’s Comback, Fleming’s Advent, 35 Year Old Thrillers, Avocado Toast, and Truly Terrible Movies

A bit of a truncated weekender today, as we recover from a flurry of activity here in Cville, most notably the relaunch of The Mockingcast and the sending of our year-end newsletter and appeal. If you’d like to find out more about what we’ve got planned for 2018 (#mbirdtwopointoh!) and how you can help, we’d love to put a copy in the mail to you. Just be sure we have you on our physical mailing list. And as a reminder, anyone who signs up for any amount of regular monthly giving receives an automatic subscription to The Mockingbird. We rely on…

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Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

Another Week Ends: Grindelwald and Kierkegaard, Homer and the Other, Faith and Fear, Athletica and Aging

1. The National Review published a take on the Roy Moore scandal that focuses less on the man’s misdeeds and more on the guiding theology that Moore’s Christianity espouses. David French’s article suggests there are two competing temptations within the Church today, one of which is total cultural assimilation (“the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears”) and the other being its opposite: the sectoring off of Christendom into a virtue haven for the righteous. This, French argues, is the Christianity of Roy Moore, “a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family…

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Another Week Ends: A Heaven-Sent Car Crash, the Anti-Aging Taboo, Fearful but Trendy Parents, the Legacy of Flannery O'Connor, and Sending Books to Kids in Houston

Another Week Ends: A Heaven-Sent Car Crash, the Anti-Aging Taboo, Fearful but Trendy Parents, the Legacy of Flannery O’Connor, and Sending Books to Kids in Houston

1. An amazing story of reconciliation in the latest episode of Jonathan Goldstein’s Heavyweight, the podcast DZ recommended in last week’s AWE. Every episode turns back the clock, diving into the past of a different person with unique resentments or grievances to air out.

The most recent episode is the story of Jesse, a man who at age twenty-one was t-boned by a car going 45mph. For a time he was legally dead, and seventeen days after the accident, he awoke from a coma half-paralyzed, expecting never again to walk, never again to drive. The life he once lived, his dreams, his…

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Another Week Ends: Happy Misconceptions, Pietist Flavors, MLK's Debts, WeWork Cults, Pixel Artists, Misery Filters and Dylan's Gospel Years

Another Week Ends: Happy Misconceptions, Pietist Flavors, MLK’s Debts, WeWork Cults, Pixel Artists, Misery Filters and Dylan’s Gospel Years

Before I dive in, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who made the DC event last weekend such a smash, especially the wonderful people at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase and the super talented Meaghan Ritchey. It was everything we could have hoped for! The audio files should be up in the next few days. They’ll drop first on the Mockingcast feed, so be sure you’re subscribed (speaking of which, the program itself is coming back! More soon).

Okay, a ton of strong material this week. At the top of the pile…

1. “Happiness is Other People”…

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Another (Conference) Week Ends: Paranormativity, Dream Deprivation, Millennial Morticians, Martin Luther, Christian Book Titles for the Age of the 'Net, and More Russell Brand

Another (Conference) Week Ends: Paranormativity, Dream Deprivation, Millennial Morticians, Martin Luther, Christian Book Titles for the Age of the ‘Net, and More Russell Brand

1. I think it was PZ who said that belief in the paranormal is almost a precondition of Christianity. It’s easy to think that science – which is properly concerned with empirically testing and proving/disproving those things which are subject to empirical testing – has vanquished the paranormal. Back in the old days, supernatural forces pressed on human existence from all sides. Beyond the village perimeter, the brooding night contained many things, and they were all threatening. Across Europe, peasants reported sightings of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly cavalcade of riders spreading terror and heralding catastrophe. In a world where…

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Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

Bonnie Poon Zahl has an amazing interview in the Salvation Army magazine about the psychology of religion and anger at God. Bonnie, who wrote an amazing essay in our Mental Health Issue on attachment theory, here discusses the link between religious life and the life of the mind. Incredibly wise, she notes the fear Christians have of expressing their negative feelings and uncertainties towards God, very often because they have learned that such emotions mean a lack of faith. To the contrary, she says, such invitations to honesty comes directly from God:

God gave us emotions as important cues. We need…

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